Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Decision I Never Though I'd Have To Make

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that tonight Keegan and I had a dinner date with one of Keegan's co-workers and his wife who just recently went through IVF. They're the first couple we know in real life who's dealt with infertility, so we wanted to pick their brains about the steps they went through in deciding on their RE since we've decided we need to break up with our OB.

The couple, P and A, were so easy to talk to and extremely helpful. We both went over our histories and Keegan and I explained what we're hoping our next steps are. They mentioned that they ultimately ended up at an RE in Birmingham, about 2ish hours away from us, who they loved. They felt like they got great care, the staff was attentive, they really had nothing negative to say (except the $13,000 they spent.)

Then they dropped the bomb. They said that before they went to their RE, they saw a OB about an hour away that does infertility treatment up to (not including) IVF for free.

Yes, you read that correctly, for free.

A said that she did several rounds of Clomid and a few IUIs with this doctor and only had to pay for the medications. Apparently this doctor and his wife suffered from infertility, and providing free infertility treatments is his way of giving back to the community. According to A, his bedside manner isn't the best, but they ultimately had good things to say about him.

You'd think it'd be a easy decision to make: either go to the free doctor, or pay out the wazoo for an RE.

I'm not finding it so easy.

There are a few things about this "free doctor" that make me wary, besides his bedside manner. Apparently during a Clomid cycle, he does do mid cycle ultrasounds, which is a step up from my current OB who refuses to do so, but he doesn't do blood work. A also said that if you're doing an IUI and need to come in on the weekend, he'll make you come in on Friday because he doesn't work weekends. He also apparently doesn't keep any sort of records. I looked up his website and there's not much to it.

One could ask, if this "free doctor" is so great, then why did P and A ultimately end up at their RE? Well, P had an SA done at the beginning of their journey which, according to their OB at the time, came out great. When P and A ended up at their RE after a year or so at the "free doctor," they repeated the SA and found out that P has severe male factor infertility, something "Free Doctor" didn't find out or even bother to check. No matter how many free IUIs they had, P and A would have never gotten pregnant without IVF with ICSI.

These things make me nervous, let alone the fact that he's giving away free infertility treatments. The saying "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" keeps running through my head.

My heart is telling me to make an appointment with the RE, someone who has statistics I can look at, who's associated with a well known university, who has rave reviews from this couple, as well as another blogger I've spoken to. But my head is yelling at me "free treatments!"

Ultimately it boils down to the fact that I'm scared, and I'm mostly scared about spending the money. Our insurance isn't going to cover anything, so we're paying out the pocked for everything. I'm really scared about paying an RE to increase my dosage of Clomid once and I get pregnant, something this "free doctor" could have done for, well, free. On the flip side, I'm scared of going to this "free doctor" for another year, not getting any closer to being pregnant, and having to go to an RE anyways. If that happens, will I regret not going to the RE in the first place?

This is a decision I never thought I'd have to make. I was honestly ready to move onto an RE, but now I'm faced with this "free doctor" that could knock me up for free, or cost us another year of our time.

What would you do?


  1. Hmmmm. That is a tough decision. You could always try a couple cycles with the free doctor and then go to the RE. But, I think either way whatever decision you make will be good for you.

  2. I would at least start with the RE consult to see what he/she says about your suggested treatment/protocol. For example, if he finds something, similar to your friends, that suggests that IVF is your most preferable route, then you would be happy you didn't waste time with the free guy. However, if the RE is suggesting some sort of IUI route, you could always go back to free guy to actually get it done? This is all assuming that your testing that the RE would want to do is somewhat covered by insurance. If not, then paying for that may sway your decision. (I'm however in the camp that you should do all available testing upfront, even if costly, to save years of heartache if possible). Good luck!!

  3. I'm sorry you're faced with such a decision. I too would find it hard to ignore the free option, considering the alternative is the opposite of free. I agree with CAM. I'd recommend seeing an RE to get their opinion on where you are at. If they believe there is nothing saying an IUI couldn't work, you could try it for a short while with Dr Free.

    I think the most important thing is to understand what you're facing, if it isn't unexplained infertility. Then hopefully you'll know which direction you should try.

    Wishing you much luck regardless of direction!

  4. I know you already had SA done for Keegan, so I think the most important factor right now is monitoring. Ultrasounds are important, definitely, but I know my doctor uses bloodwork to tell if I've ovulated and whether my luteal phase hormones could support a pregnancy. Vital because mine can't, so I'm on Crinone and estrace. I would be very tempted to see the free doc for a couple cycles if only for some free ultrasounds to check on egg development, but in the end I have the feeling you get what you pay for. Maybe have a consult with the RE and get his/her opinion on your best steps? This is a tough one! Definitely not something I've heard before. Good luck! You're smart and logical. I'm sure you'll come to the right decision for your family.

  5. Wow that is really a lot to process! I guess I would try with the free doctor, but not draw it out too long if things aren't happening quickly? And I guess you could always deal with the free doctor in between? While saving up for non-free doctors? Gosh, good luck with that decision!

  6. Honestly, if it were me, I'd probably get all the standard testing done at the RE first, then go to the free doctor for the treatments. Since Keegan already had an SA (at least that's what Anne said above) and I assume all was good, then they can do tests on you. If they wanted to proceed with meds and IUI, you could do that with the free doctor. It doesn't have to be either/or! It can be both! : ) Good luck with your decision!

  7. Perhaps a consult with both? Even if you just end up going the free doctor for a couple cycles, might be worth a shot. I think it's acceptable to ask both doctors all of your questions and then go from there.

  8. I agree with AuntMimi. Talk to both of docs and go with your gut. The more information you have about your particular situation, the easier it will be to make the right decision for you. However, I truly believe in that get what you pay for. Doing treatments without proper monitoring doesn't seem very safe. Also, OBs don't have the same level of training or education as an RE. Just because you went through infertility, it doesn't mean your qualified to do an IUI. I don't think I'd have a lot of confidence in the free doc. Also, that whole "I don't work on the weekends" thing doesn't work for infertility patients. IUIs have to be administered on a particular day of your cycle when your follies are the right size. WIthout US monitoring how would he know the right time? Also, you can just make your body be ready the day before it is for the convenience of the doc. I don't get that part. Last parting note (from someone 5 years into this IF crap), you can always make more can't get your precious time back. So I wouldn't waste too much before moving forward with the RE. Good luck!

  9. Hi, I'm a new blog reader who has experience with two REs in Birmingham. One was cheaper and much more convenient, but I feel like did a much shoddier job than the one I am with now. Feel free to email me for more info if you'd like!

  10. Yikes! That would be such a tough decision, but I think everyone has given you some great advice. I'd be leery of the free doctor too. No IUI's on the weekend? Well, that could potentially mean you wasted a lot of money on the meds to prepare for said IUI. No bloodwork? I like the suggestion of doing a consult with each, maybe get all the monitoring done with the RE and then go the free doctor route if you feel like that would be worth a couple cycles at that point.