Patient FAQ

Columbia University Fertility Center

About the Center

When should I see a doctor regarding my fertility?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that you see a reproductive medicine specialist when conception does not occur after one year of unprotected intercourse for women under the age of 35, six months in women 35 to 39, anyone over the age of 40, or if there are known problems causing infertility. If you suspect you are experiencing issues with your fertility or want to discuss options for fertility preservation, it is highly recommended that you schedule an initial consultation with one of our doctors as soon as possible by calling (646) 756-8282.

What are the success rates for your center?

As a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), we report our ART cycle outcomes to SART. We are proud to care for even the most complex cases and work with every patient to give the very best chance for success. To see our past success rates, please visit the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).

I have been turned away from other fertility centers due to my age or other conditions. Can Columbia University Fertility Center help me?

Each patient is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Columbia University Fertility Center has helped women of many ages and with complex conditions achieve their goals of pregnancy.

I am interested in treatment at Columbia University Fertility Center, but I do not live in the area. Is it still possible for me to become a patient?

Yes, we have many patients who select Columbia University Fertility Center for their fertility care but live out of town or internationally. They choose our center based on our excellent reputation, services offered, and expertise in fertility treatments. Depending on your specific needs, our team of dedicated experts are ready to help facilitate your care and minimize your travel needs to our center in New York City.


What insurance plans do you accept?

We accept most insurance plans. We recommend that prior to your first visit, you contact your insurance company to determine what your benefits plan cover. Be sure to ask about coverage for the initial consultation, diagnostic testing, medication, and infertility treatment. Please visit our Financial Information page for more details.

What if I don’t have infertility benefits in my plan or have no health insurance?

To learn about your financial options if you have no infertility benefits, please visit our Financial Information page, where you will find contact information for our team of patient financial coordinators (PFC). Our PFC’s can explain all costs and fees associated with your treatment plan and work with you on options for assistance.

Can I use my healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) or health saving account towards treatment?

Many healthcare FSAs and health savings account plans include fertility treatment as an eligible expense. Please check with your employer to determine eligibility and restrictions. A letter of medical necessity may be required for authorization for reimbursement of specific procedures and treatments.

For Female Patients Undergoing Treatment

Is it safe to have intercourse during treatment, and when can I resume intercourse in early pregnancy?

Whether intercourse is safe during treatment depends on the type of treatment. It is typically safe during timed intercourse or IUI cycles, unless you are at risk of high response (multiples).

As the ovaries enlarge in response to stimulation medications during egg freezing and IVF cycles, intercourse should be avoided. Intercourse will not negatively affect the quality of eggs or embryos, but the ovaries can be sensitive and at risk of twisting (torsion).  It is safe to resume intercourse after your menses return, 10-14 days after egg retrieval.

In pregnancy, intercourse has not been shown to cause miscarriage. However, bleeding and spotting with any kind of vaginal penetration is common as the cervix is more sensitive during pregnancy. If this causes anxiety, it may be better avoid intercourse in the early weeks of pregnancy.  Pain after orgasm is also normal in the first trimester, as the uterus contracts. 

What pain relievers are safe to use during treatment? 

Acetominophen (Tylenol) is the safest option for pain during all treatment cycles. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen should be avoided prior to egg retrieval. 

When should I avoid strenuous and rigorous exercise?

In general, we recommend that patients take it easy during ovarian stimulation for IVF or egg freezing, until you get your period after retrieval (usually 1-2 weeks later). Walking, taking the stairs and using light hand weights are fine, but avoid exercise more rigorous than that. You’re more prone to dehydration during stimulation, and the ovaries are enlarged, so it is best to be cautious.

In general, exercise is fine during frozen transfer cycles and IUI cycles until the actual transfer or IUI – after that point, you should act as though you are pregnant. In pregnancy, we recommend keeping an average heart rate below 140 – or stated another way, you should be able to speak in full sentences while exercising (i.e. not exercising to the point of breathlessness).

I use various herbs and supplements: Are they safe?

Herbs may be safe, but they are not regulated by the FDA (so dosing and contaminants are not evaluated). Herbs could interfere with fertility medications or cause blood thinning (which is not ideal if you’re having an egg retrieval or other invasive procedures). So, in general, we recommend avoiding herbs during fertility treatment and pregnancy.

Please check with your doctor regarding specific vitamin or mineral supplements, and avoid very large doses of any vitamins or minerals (i.e. well over the daily recommended value).

Is it OK to consume alcohol during treatment?

We recommend three alcohol-containing drinks or less per week before conception, and none after ovulation/IUI or embryo transfer. We recommend avoiding alcohol during ovarian stimulation (IVF or egg freezing) because it is dehydrating and may interfere with liver metabolism.

Is it OK to consume caffeine during treatment?

Caffeine is fine up to 200 mg per day for women, which is roughly two cups of coffee (some brands maybe have more caffeine per cup). Tea has about 50 mg/cup. Men can try to stick to 3 cups/day or less (though evidence for male caffeine intake is less clear). There is no evidence that caffeine in moderation has a negative effect on treatment outcomes or pregnancy.

Can I go swimming? Are hot tubs and saunas safe? 

Relaxing in the pool is safe during stimulation, however vigorous aquatic exercise should be avoided. Hot tubs and saunas use should be avoided as you may experience lightheadedness or dizziness.

Is it OK to use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes during treatment? 

Studies looking at marijuana use when trying to achieve pregnancy are limited and conflicting. Women trying to conceive should exercise caution with cannabis use until more definitive evidence is available.

Is Botox safe in treatment?

There are limited studies looking at Botox treatment prior to pregnancy. If you are undergoing fertility preservation treatments such as egg freezing or embryo freezing it is safe to receive Botox during your cycle. If you are planning for an embryo transfer or intrauterine insemination (IUI) it would be better to avoid Botox treatment.

Can I dye my hair during treatment? 

Yes it is safe to dye your hair during a treatment cycle as well as in pregnancy.

Are probiotics safe to take during pregnancy?

Yes, probiotics are safe to take during pregnancy.

For Male Patients Undergoing Treatment

Is it OK to use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes during treatment? 

No. There is data that marijuana may have negative effects on sperm.

How long should the abstinence period be for IUI, IVF, ICSI and sperm freezing?

There is no evidence to recommend a minimum abstinence period, but abstinence longer than one week is probably not ideal.

Prior to semen analysis, abstinence of two to seven days is standard.