It’s hardly ever discussed in school. And it’s shockingly still considered a taboo topic in most social circles. But we’re going there because knowledge is power. There’s no doubt fertility can feel scary to talk about, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Instead, educating yourself means you can make informed decisions that feel right for you and/or your family.
To help start the conversation about fertility–and stop the spread of so much misinformation that’s out there–we decided to talk to Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, a licensed, practicing reproductive endocrinologist and infertility (REI) specialist at CCRM in Houston, a global leader in fertility science research and treatment. Below, she helps shed light on a few of the most pressing fertility-related questions.
SheFinds: Why do you think it’s still so hard for people to talk openly about fertility?
Dr. Rashmi Kudesia: Though people are certainly more open about fertility now than in the past, there is definitely some stigma and hesitation that persists. For one, many people feel embarrassed–they may think they are personally responsible for the disease, or that infertility reflects on their femininity or masculinity. Some have moral or religious concerns about fertility treatment, or have family members they believe will judge them for how they build their family. Many people are still processing their feelings about infertility and may be too traumatized by their challenges thus far to publicly discuss the topic.
SF: What are the biggest myths about fertility in general?
RK: I think the fertility myths that impact the most women are a misunderstanding of the rates of natural fertility (~25% monthly pregnancy rate when we’re in our mid-20s, dropping to about 5% by 40) and the current success rates of fertility treatment (with individuals both under- and overestimating their chances!). I think many patients also don’t realize how much IVF success rates vary from fertility center to center, and that they should absolutely do research into the laboratory when choosing where to pursue treatment. It’s worth it to travel a bit further if the success rate is substantially higher! CCRM delivers some of the highest IVF success rates in the industry. Through CCRM’s proven methods, it takes our average patient 1.2 IVF cycles to get pregnant (versus the national average at 1.6).
I also do think that many prospective patients end up never seeking consultation due to fears about cost, but the initial visit to discuss your case, do an ultrasound and give you the full information on a potential treatment plan is relatively affordable. I would always encourage those thinking about infertility, or fertility preservation, to at least seek the initial consult. After that, there are all the old wives’ tales about certain sexual positions or keeping your legs up in the air after intercourse–though most of my patients are appropriately skeptical about these misconceptions!
SF: What are the biggest misconceptions about working with a fertility center?
RK: I think many individuals assume they should only come to a renowned fertility practice if they are ready for IVF. To the contrary, we all offer a variety of treatments, and I love helping patients work holistically on their lifestyle and complementary treatments to craft a personalized fertility plan that they feel comfortable with. Many in the LGBTQ community also wonder if a big practice will be sensitive to their family-building, and utilizing the correct pronouns and so forth. I’m very proud to say that we are a leading fertility center, having partnered with the Family Equality Council to help all patients build the families they envision.
SF: When should families start looking into using the services of a center like CCRM?
RK: For straight couples, one should schedule an evaluation after one year of unprotected intercourse without pregnancy (and after only 6 months if the female partner is 35 or older), or if they’ve experienced 2 or more miscarriages. There is no reason, however, to wait if you have irregular cycles, known fertility diagnoses such as endometriosis or fibroids, or if you feel very anxious about your fertility. We also help women and couples looking to freeze eggs or embryos, all of which are best done before the mid-late 30s. And for our LGBT patients, who will need donor eggs or sperm, and potentially a gestational carrier as well, we are ready to help plan your family building whenever you are!
SF: Can you shed some light on what exactly happens when individuals or families partner with CCRM?
RK: Once an individual or couple schedules a visit, they are partnered with the entire CCRM network, but also on a smaller scale with their individual doctor and her team. The initial consult is an information-laden visit, with an hourlong consultation, often an ultrasound to evaluate the reproductive organs, bloodwork and a consultation with the finance team to understand benefits and cost of treatment. The patient(s) will also be assigned to a nurse who will help them along the way, so that they should leave knowing who is on their team, and ready to help. Our physicians partner with each individual patient to develop custom-tailored analyses and treatments to help ensure the best outcome possible. From there, it depends on the treatment plan chosen, but we are typically ready to start treatment quickly, whenever the patient is ready! Unlike many other fertility clinics that outsource their specialists and testing needs, CCRM leverages its own data, as well as a dedicated team of in-house reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists and genetic scientists in order to deliver consistent, successful results. This centralized approach to comprehensive fertility care relies on in-house lab operations, proprietary research and data to set the gold standard in fertility care and treatment.
SF: What’s the one thing you want more people to know about what you do at CCRM?
RK: I want people to know what the advantages are of being part of the amazing CCRM network. For me, it’s having a team locally that has consistently delivered far above-average success rates alongside compassionate clinical care. It is also having the national resources to conduct groundbreaking research and present it at national and international conferences each year, to partner with community organizations to push the envelope on providing the best and most sensitive clinical care, and to stay up-to-date on the rapidly-changing landscape in our specialty. I am very lucky that what I do at CCRM not only involves offering patients cutting-edge and holistic treatment, but also includes research and advocacy to help advance the entire infertility community!
Moreover, CCRM is the only fertility center in the U.S. with its own internal genetics lab and team of molecular genetic scientists, spearheaded by world renowned geneticist Dr. Mandy Katz-Jaffe in Denver, Colorado. Founded by Dr. William Schoolcraft in 1987, CCRM has been one of the nation’s top leaders in fertility care and research for over 30 years. As Medical Director of CCRM, Dr. Schoolcraft has helped families conceive over 22,000 IVF babies.
The editors at SheFinds wrote this post on behalf of CCRM and received compensation as part of our agreement.