Finding the right fertility clinic for LGBTQ parents-to-be

LGBTQ couple illustration.png
  by: Dr. Mark Leondires    Founder, Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at    Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut

by: Dr. Mark Leondires

Founder, Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut

Finding the right fertility clinic for LGBTQ parents-to-be

Part 2: Dr. Mark Leondires discusses the questions you should ask to find the right clinic for your future family


 

Selecting a fertility clinic, whether you’re just seeking advice or are ready to start treatment, can be a difficult decision to make. Family building options can be confusing and sometimes frustrating, and when it comes to being an LGBTQ person trying to navigate those waters, it can be even more so. I’m hoping that the suggestions below will make choosing your clinic a little bit easier.

Here are some questions that I suggest you ask when deciding on the best fertility clinic for you:

1. Are the doctors at the office board-certified reproductive endocrinologists?

This designation is important because it means that the fertility specialist has completed seven years of training after medical school and has been practicing for a number of years. It also means they have passed both a written and oral exam to be board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. A fertility specialist with this designation can recommend evaluations, advanced treatments, and medications that may not be available from another specialist.

2. Does the office provide an LGBTQ-friendly environment?

One of the best tools for evaluating whether your clinic upholds standards of LGBTQ inclusivity is the Healthcare Equality Index, or the HEI. The HEI is the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities, policies, and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees.

I’m proud that my own clinic, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, is a designated HEI leader, which we earned based on criteria such as inclusive bathroom signage and involvement in local LGBTQ community activities. One of the amazing benefits for any clinic included in the HEI is that all staff are afforded the opportunity to sign up for trainings on LGBTQ inclusivity, which helps ensure patients and fellow staff members receive the best inclusive care.

In addition to being a tool for healthcare providers to better themselves, the HEI can also be used by LGBTQ patients to find facilities that provide equitable care. These ratings are determined by a comprehensive survey of all policies and practices, and how they address all patients and staff, especially LGBTQ persons. And it’s easily portable! You can read it online, or download it to your mobile device — this is especially helpful if you’re moving or traveling, and trying to identify an LGBTQ-friendly practice.

In addition to the HEI, look for subtle signs pointing towards inclusivity in the office, such as LGBTQ signage and logos on the clinic’s website and materials and inclusive pronoun usage on patient intake forms.

3. Will I have a dedicated care team? What other resources will be available to me?

You want to make sure that your most important needs are being taken care of consistently, so during your first consultation at a new clinic, be sure to ask what your care team will look like.

Here are a few additional questions to ask:

  • Will I have a dedicated patient navigator or a primary point of contact who will help me schedule necessary appointments?

  • Will I always see the same provider throughout my treatment journey?

  • Is there someone on staff who is knowledgeable about the intricacies of insurance, who will be able to check my personal fertility benefits and discuss the financial options available to me?

  • Does the office offer support groups for LGBTQ couples or single parents?

  • And if you’re interested in the role holistic wellness plays in your fertility treatment journey, be sure to ask if there is a wellness program associated with the practice that offers an acupuncturist, nutritionist, or reproductive counselor

Of course, once you research prospective offices, feel free to call those practices with any questions you have. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident with those you entrust your care to.


Dr. Mark Leondires is the Founder, Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut and Gay Parents to Be. When he became a parent with his partner, he recognized the limited options available to the LGBTQ community, which led him to create and launch Gay Parents to Be, an educational resource supporting LGBTQ couples and individuals to make family building choices.

You can keep up with Dr. Leondires by following him on Twitter and stay up-to-date with the latest from Gay Parents to Be by subscribing to their blog and following them on Facebook and Twitter.