While most IVF doctors are competent and ethical , the sad truth is that not all doctors are equally good - and some doctors will actually cheat their patients. What can you do to protect yourself ?
IVF is an extremely competitive field, and in order to lure patients, some clinics with overpromise and under deliver. They do not share information with patients and are not transparent about even basic information, such as how many eggs were retrieved. Only a minority provide photographs of embryos to their patients; and as result of this shroud of secrecy, most IVF patients are completely clueless about their treatment details and they know painfully little about what is happening during their IVF treatment.
Partly this is because patients do not take the time and trouble to do their homework before their IVF treatment cycle . Unless they do so, they are not able to ask the doctor intelligent questions about the treatment ! It's easy to hide information from ignorant patients - and this is why most IVF clinics will share precious little with their patients. They use many pretexts for this:
- The information is too technical and the patient will not understand this
- We need to keep all our record for data analysis
- This information is our property
These are all specious reasons - and just end up harming the patient, who is left in the dark about what was done and why.
Patients need to take a proactive role and engage with their doctor during their IVF treatment . If you find that the doctor is not willing to be open and that the clinic does not routinely share information with you , you should worry a lot about your choice of clinic. The hallmark of a good clinic is high quality documentation; and one of the important tangible end points of an IVF cycle are photos of your embryos.
Every good IVF clinic routinely provides photos of embryos to their patients, because this provides proof that the IVF clinic created good-quality embryos for you , which means they provided you with good quality medical care. Whether those embryos will implant is not something which the IVF clinic can control , but having proof that good-quality embryos were created gives you peace of mind you have selected a good clinic . ( If you have done an IVF cycle, and don't have photos of your embryos, this is a red flag !)
Some doctors refuse to give you photos of your embryos . They devise many clever pretexts for doing so :
the microscope is not working ;
the camera is broken ;
taking photos damages the embryos;
it's not our policy to take photos.
This suggests that your doctor may not be very competent - and may even be cheating you.
Another common problem is that some IVF clinics claim extremely high IVF success rates, even though they don't tell the patient that the success rates are not their personal success rates , but the success rates of some of the best clinics in the world !
While most doctors are honest, there will always be a few bad apples - and some who deliberately cheat their patients. The list of unethical practices can be long.
Some doctors who offer egg sharing programs may donate your extra eggs to others without telling you; They may not freeze your embryos and donate them to another patient;
They may use donor sperm instead of doing ICSI with your husband's sperm
Others will cover up the truth when they fail to retrieve eggs from you ( a problem called empty follicle syndrome, which is usually because the HCG injection was not given properly); or if your eggs do not fertilise because of a lab problem, they will blame a low sperm count or poor quality eggs !
Some doctors even go the extent of giving all their patients a HCG injection after the embryo transfer, in order to get a positive pregnancy test , thus fooling the patient that the cycle was successful !
Not all IVF clinics are equally good - and not all IVF doctors are equally competent. You need to take the energy to drill down ; do your homework ; and ask these important questions . You will never be able to find the best possible doctor for treatment , if you do not invest this effort. You will most probably end up going to the nearest IVF doctor ; the one with the biggest ad in the yellow pages; or the one who's been recommended to you by your family physician . You are likely to end up with poor quality IVF care and this will compromise your chances of getting pregnant