A Fertility Doctor’s Struggle With (Her Own) Infertility

I am a 41-year-old woman with a one-year-old child. She is my first child. Her birth was not my first time in a delivery room, though. I’m an Ob-Gyn who had been in hundreds of delivery rooms before I was checked in under my own name. I’m also a fertility specialist who helped hundreds of other women get pregnant before I admitted that I was a specialist who needed a specialist.

Even fertility doctors can have a hard time conceiving. No matter how much help we give other people, like all human beings, sometimes we have to ask for help too.

Consider also that I was doing everything “right.” Sure I was in my late thirties when my partner and I started trying to have a baby. But I also felt young, and I am a healthy woman who exercises, eats well and takes care of myself. It should have been easy, right? Not so much. After many months of trying, we realized that it wasn’t happening.

It became harder to be around happy moms with their beautiful kids. That was something my clients often expressed when they first visited me, and here I was, having similar thoughts.

If they could do it, why not me? So I gave myself the advice I’ve given countless friends in similar situations: go see a specialist.
My doctor told me what I had told so many women: getting pregnant at age 39 can be tricky. And even though I already knew that as a fact, coming from my doctor, it still made me feel better.

Sometimes women who come to see me are shocked to learn how difficult it can sometimes be to get pregnant in their late and sometimes mid-thirties. This is in part because the media too often highlights celebrities who get pregnant in their 40’s and50’s which lets us draw the incorrect conclusion that this is the norm. What is not advertised though is that women conceiving in their late 40’s and 50’s usually conceive with the eggs of younger women rather than their own.

There are many reasons to see a fertility specialist.

Some women want to conceive faster than they are able to do so on their own. Some women have their potential pregnancies can be tested before conception in order to increase the chance that they will give birth to a healthy baby.

Some women want to use donor sperm to conceive either because they are in a same-sex relationship, because their husbands are unable to donate, or because they want to be single moms.

A young and healthy woman who wants kids “one day” may consider visiting a fertility specialist to check on the status of her eggs now. If you have a good and healthy egg supply then you may feel comfortable waiting and seeing.

On the other hand, if you are running out of eggs faster than would be predicted based on your age, you may want to make a decision earlier. A fertility specialist can help figure this out using blood tests and ultrasound.

Technology today also gives you choices your mother and grandmother never had. For instance, you may want to freeze your eggs. This would allow you to use those eggs one day in the future if you happened to have trouble conceiving down the road.

For me, deciding after a very emotionally difficult period of time to take some of my own medicine was the best thing I ever did. I saw a specialist and was treated for infertility. After a few bumps in the road, I gave birth a year ago to a little baby girl who has brought more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined was possible. I often thank her for coming into this world and making me a mommy.

So, should women eat healthily and stay fit and decrease their stress?? Absolutely! That will only increase the chance that a woman’s body will be able to house a happy, healthy and growing baby one day. But sometimes we just need some expert, outside help.

Statistician Beats the Odds with HRC Fertility

Maria had her first baby at 41. She conceived her daughter naturally, but only after experiencing the heartbreak of two miscarriages. Though she realized she was considered “advanced maternal age,” she had embraced motherhood and wanted to give her daughter a sibling. So she tried to get pregnant again.

“With each passing year, I knew it would be harder to conceive,” said Maria. “After another miscarriage, I pursued treatment at a local clinic, where I had four unsuccessful IUI cycles. Then, I decided to consult with other infertility specialists, including doctors at HRC Fertility. I’m glad I took that route.”

After visiting HRC’s website, Maria discovered the clinic was conducting a clinical trial, admitting women up to age 42 at a discounted rate. She also was impressed with HRC Fertility’s IVF success rates, which she researched online at SART, the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

Maria attended a seminar to learn more and met Dr. David Tourgeman, who managed her participation in the study. Though her participation was not successful because of the trial’s limitations, she had the opportunity to freeze embryos. Maria subsequently decided to transfer to HRC’s Pasadena office under the care of Dr. Jeffrey Nelson.

“I knew Dr. Nelson was a good match for me. I’m a numbers person and liked how he described my chances of getting pregnant, which were very slim. But I appreciated his candor and patient, kind-hearted manner. Based on his advice, I decided to transfer the three best of my nine frozen, blastocyst-stage embryos. The eggs were retrieved when I was 43. I was shocked, but overjoyed, when I found out I was pregnant at 44 with Arianna, who was born on February 26.”

Like many women, Marie acknowledges she thought she had more time to get pregnant.

“In Hollywood, you see all these women getting pregnant in their mid-40s. Many probably used donor eggs, but most people don’t realize that,” explained Maria. “After every miscarriage, I felt farther away from my goal of having a healthy baby. As a statistician, I knew the odds for women my age were against me. I felt confident with Dr. Nelson, however, because he approached IVF as both an art and a science and went the extra mile to learn the cause of my miscarriages versus simply assuming they were due to my age.”

Based on her experience, Maria advises younger women to freeze their eggs. But if that’s not possible, she hopes other patients don’t give up and understand they may have to pursue several cycles of IVF to statistically beat the odds. As she adds, “Every failure will get you closer to your goal.”

Maria feels infertility has allowed her to fully appreciate her new life as a mother of two beautiful daughters. She is very grateful to both Dr. Tourgeman and Dr. Nelson–and everyone on their teams, including the embryologists who helped her cope with both the medical and emotional aspects of infertility and create her miracle baby.

Embryo Adoption = Success for Dr. Potter Patient

Lara1

When Laura returned to Dr. Daniel Potter to help her get pregnant a second time, she had every reason to be confident. After all, Dr. Potter was responsible for her successful pregnancy with her first child.

Unfortunately, after three unsuccessful treatments, blood tests revealed that Lara’s FSH levels–which control the production of healthy and mature eggs–were so low that her eggs were no longer viable.

Lara remembers that Dr. Potter sat her down in the office to break the news. “He offered me tea, and was very nice. He’s always nice, no matter what. He went over the tests in non-medical terms, and I asked him a thousand questions. That’s one of the great things about Dr. Potter; he will tell you what’s going on in plain language that anyone can understand.”

Lara and her husband eventually decided to pursue embryo adoption and, with IVF, Lara became pregnant and gave her son a little sister!

According to Lara, it wasn’t just Dr. Potter who made her experience so great, but the entire staff that made her feel important and cared for as a patient. She also liked how informative and reassuring the team was during ultrasounds.

“Everyone at HRC is kind, friendly and available to patients. Whenever I called, someone either got back to me in a timely manner or would leave me a message in the morning, apologizing for not getting back to me right away.

“When it came to procedures, everything was explained step by step and all of my questions were answered.”

Laura knows firsthand the difficulties of infertility and the importance of being comfortable with your doctor and staff. She and her husband found that comfort with HRC and Dr. Potter.