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Would You Use a Yelp For IVF Doctors and Clinics?

Before you go to a restaurant, you check on Yelp for reviews. Before you go to a hotel you check on TripAdvisor, and for products, Amazon. There's even a special review site for handymen and local service people—Angie's List—to help you weed out the wheat from the chaff.

Unfortunately, from the patient's perspective at least, there aren't great sites for reviewing medical professionals. Yes, there's Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, but when it comes to finding a doctor, most people seem to want personal recommendations. (Not that I blame them—it's not the same as finding a good place to eat.)

And that's especially true when searching for a fertility doctor. As I wrote about here, I found mine by word of mouth. But it's not easy. So many people still keep their fertility struggles a secret—it's not like they're posting on Facebook and Twitter "Need an I.V.F. doc rec" like they would for, say, a chiropractor or dentist.

RELATED: How Expensive Are Fertility Treatments?

Until now, that is. A new website aims to crowdsource fertility reviews— but only from former or current patients and their partners to ensure authenticity. Fertility IQ aims to build "the first truly comprehensive and trustworthy database of fertility doctor reviews."

When it comes to finding a doctor, you need someone who will be successful—i.e., help you have a baby (and that's why there are national statistics)—but there are many other factors that are important too. For example, are you the type of person who needs to know as much detail as possible about a treatment? That might influence the doctor you go with. One of my doctors seemed annoyed at my constant questions. But the one who finally succeeded, a reproductive immunologist, gave me so much detail I felt like I could write a book on it.

I could have ended up at my 10th doctor three years sooner.

But that's only one of the questions the website survey asks. It also wants to know if you prefer your doc to be blunt, delicate or somewhere in between (I think I prefer delicate), and if the clinic made mistakes on your medication, failed to call in a prescription, didn't inform you about changes to your protocol or didn't give you the right information. It also asks how you communicate with them, how soon you can see your doctor, how much insurance covers your procedures and meds, and if the billing department was easy to deal with.

In other words, questions you wish you'd known the answer to before you committed to a particular clinic.

The website was started by Jake and Deborah, a young Bay Area-based couple who started fertility treatments three years ago. After going to multiple doctors in multiples states, they realized that finding the right fertility doctor is an "extremely personal choice," but the process is "lonely and intimidating," hindered by the lack of "credible" information.

I can relate. My insurance didn't really cover consultations, which ran between $300-$800, so I couldn't really meet too many docs without committing to one. But what if I had known that one fertility clinic was more like a factory, another was only for women with really traditional problems (blocked tubes or advanced age, and not multiple factors like mine), and another had a doctor with the personality of a postage stamp or a billing department that constantly screwed up your finances?

RELATED: Why I Still Feel Hopeful About My 20th Fertility Treatment

I wouldn't have stayed at that "factory" for so long, thinking it was only me who felt like we were cattle, or at the second one, depressed by their kind but slow method, which produced less than optimal results. I could have ended up at my 10th doctor three years sooner.

That's why I'm going to fill out the survey. And I hope anyone who has done fertility treatments—successfully or not—will too. Crowdsourcing our experiences will help others avoid the mistakes we ourselves have made in the past and prevent others from making them in the future.

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