It’s All in the Sauce: Why the IVF Laboratory Matters So Much

How many chefs do you know that will hand over the ingredients to their famous, to-die-for, take-seconds, -thirds, and even -fourths “sauce”? Not many. What makes their dish unique is usually kept under lock and key and shared with only their closest confidants. The same can be said for the conditions in an IVF laboratory. “Secret ingredients” (a.k.a. laboratory culture conditions, temperature settings, and embryologist technique) are in many ways what distinguishes one IVF center from the next.

When trying to figure out what doctor you should go to and where you should do your fertility treatment, it is important to have some stats about their lab. Think of a pitcher or a hitter. Would you draft a pitcher without knowing their ERA or a hitter without knowing their batting average? Probably not—especially not if you want to win! Think of pregnancy as the win. If the IVF laboratory the doctor works with has poor stats, no matter how much you like the player (a.k.a. the doctor), you should probably draft someone else.

Where you get these “player’s stats” can be tricky. Some sites and resources are not so reliable. We suggest you check out the CDC and SART websites. They are reputable and well researched. They give data to you straight and perform due diligence in getting accurate information from individual clinics before sharing it. Use their information to become informed. Checking them out before you draft your team might make you re-think your roster.

The old saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Nowadays, you could say, “Behind every great woman is a great man” or “Behind every great woman is a great woman” or “Behind every great man is great man.” Whichever combination is specific to you and where you are standing, you can be sure whoever is standing behind you is the key to your success. The same goes for us fertility doctors and our IVF laboratory staff. Without the men and women who sit behind us, we are powerless. We can tell you what’s not working and figure out how to fix it, but only with the skill of our embryology colleagues.

In line with the overarching theme of Truly, MD (honesty and transparency), we are going to give it to you straight. The lab is where it’s really at. No matter how many accolades one physician receives, that person cannot do it alone. So while we can’t share the secret to each center’s sauce, we can recommend that you do some serious taste tasting before settling on your choice—it can make the difference between success and failure.