How to Be the Best IVF Patient You Can Be: A Guide to Communicating With Your Fertility Team

By Nelly Burdette, Psy.D.
Clinical Health Psychologist & Mind / Body Group Leader
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF

Communicating with your fertility team is a very important and often under-recognized aspect of the healthcare process. Your fertility team may include your reproductive endocrinologist, nurses, psychologists, social workers and administrative staff.

The relationships between you and those individuals who treat your fertility concerns should be based on trust, feeling like your views are heard or recognized, and/or feeling like you are a part of the team making treatment decisions, to name a few.

While numerous studies have focused on how physicians can improve relationships with patients, for equal collaboration to occur, patients must also have a part in the equation. Knowing your communication style and preferences can be quite helpful.

Consider some of the following questions:

  • Are you a “big picture” person or do you want to know all of the details?
  • What are your expectations for how fast someone should return a call/email?
  • How does your culture and/or gender potentially impact how you communicate with your fertility team?
  • How does your previous experiences with illness and or medical care impact your current situation?
  • How have your emotional responses impacted the relationship with your fertility team?
  • Answering these questions may be challenging but also quite helpful in navigating the often difficult fertility process.

    Some commons suggestions I recommend include writing down questions to bring to appointments, bringing a significant other or another trusted person to the appointment so that information understand and recall are enhanced; and if your need for communication does not appear to match those of your fertility team — get a second opinion.

    No one expects you to have any training in how to communicate with their fertility team and it’s expected that the relationships may take time to develop.

    However, involving an objective and compassionate psychologist trained in fertility and health psychology may allow you to take control of those aspects of your fertility care that are within your control.

    Psychologists at the Domar Center for Mind / Body Health can be scheduled for a mind-body consult to meet with either you individually or in a couple’s format. A mind-body consult is typically the first-step in learning how to take control of stress in any form throughout the fertility process.

    Dr. Burdette is a clinical health psychologist. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a Health Psychology emphasis from Spalding University in Louisville, KY.  She completed a two-year fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Primary Care Psychology and completed internship at Cherokee Health Systems in Knoxville, TN.  Her experience with adults, children, families and couples has been specialty focused on how chronic health conditions impact mood and anxiety. She was trained using a blended model of cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness that assists patients and their family to collaboratively work within the healthcare system.