Let’s talk infertility.
With seven million men and women across the country facing infertility every year, it’s more common than you think. If you aren’t struggling with infertility yourself, you probably know someone who is. You may have even held a baby born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) without realizing it. With in- fertility affecting so many people, it’s time we starting talking about it—and with hope.
One of the main goals of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), which ended April 28, is to break through the stigma of in- fertility by talking openly and putting faces to the struggle. To be clear, infertility doesn’t discriminate.
The good news is that neither does science. The scientific and technological advancements made since 1981, when Elizabeth Carr became the first U.S. baby born through IVF, have brought hope—and healthy babies—to tens of thousands of people.
But a lot of people still don’t know that good news. For example, a study released last month by Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ), one of the most successful infertility centers in the U.S. based on live birth rates, revealed that 72 percent of people said they were concerned about having multiple births through IVF. The truth is, if you go to a clinic practicing the latest science, you likely won’t have to worry about multiples. Because twins or triplets delivered from IVF often come with health complications, the best clinics will transfer single embryos as of- ten as possible.
“A lot of patients don’t know about the advances in the field that have made us very hopeful,” says Jason Franasiak, M.D., FACOG, HCLD/ALD, an infertility specialist and laboratory director practicing at RMANJ’s Marlton office, which will open a world-class embryology lab by year’s end.
“Because we focus not only on patient care but also on researching the science of reproduction, we can help a lot of patients begin their family using the safest, most sound medical science today—and that’s really rewarding.”
So, now that you know infertility is common—and treatable—where do you begin?
The first place to start is at home, so learn the facts. A woman’s peak fertility is in her mid- to-late-20s, so if you are under 35 and have been trying for a year or more, it may be time to talk to a fertility doctor (a reproductive endocrinologist). If you are over 35 years old and have been trying for six months, you can head to a fertility doctor right away. Other reasons to see a fertility doctor include a personal history of miscarriage, painful menstrual cycles or a family history of early menopause or genetic disease.
Once you decide it’s time to see a reproductive endocrinologist, do your research and choose the right clinic for you. The reality is, there are hundreds of fertility clinics in the U.S., but they are not the same, and have different success rates for live births. Doing some homework can save you time, money and stress—and boost your chances of success. For the best chances of a healthy pregnancy, there are three important questions to ask your clinic. First, what are the clinic’s success rates? And don’t settle for pregnancy rates, either—you want to know what their live birth rate is. For example, RMANJ, the practice for which Dr. Franasiak works, has success rates well above the national average.
Second, does the clinic usually transfer a single embryo? Because double embryo transfers often result in twins with health problems, single embryo transfers are the safest way to go. Success needs to be redefined as a heathy, full-term baby—not a pair of babies born prematurely. The center you choose should have low rates of double embryo transfers, and the rate of triplet transfers should be near zero. How will you know? Go online to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART.org) and check the data yourself.
Finally, ask the clinic if they perform the latest genetic screening, called Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS), to choose the embryo with the best chances of success, and whether they use endometrial synchrony to increase the chances of a successful implantation.
“Choosing the right clinic is one of the most important choices you’ll have to make during your infertility journey,” says Dan Kaser, M.D., FACOG, who practices with Dr. Franasiak in Marlton. “While dealing with in- fertility is trying, it’s possible to decrease risk and stress by having the right treatment from the right doctor using the best technology.
“And that’s exactly what we do in Marlton with every one of our unique patients.”
After you’ve decided on your clinic and made an appointment, tell someone—and have hope—because your infertility journey doesn’t have to feel solitary or last forever.
Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey
767 Route 70 E., Suite B-10, Marlton
(856) 267-8100 | RMANJ.com
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 2 (May 2018).