Our favorite time of the year happened in April with the celebration of The Fertility Center of Charleston babies. At the 2017 Baby Party, toddlers and babies filled our practice with infectious giggles, balloon art, delicious treats and beaming parents. With each shared journey to parenthood we were reminded of why making the dream of motherhood and fatherhood possible for so many families is important work. Our Baby Party is a celebration of all the hard work we did together to get there.
To see all the festivities, go to http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/understanding-fertility/testimonials/ or visit us on Facebook to tag your favorite. View our new videos of families sharing their fertility journey and advice, go to http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/understanding-fertility/in-her-words/.
To the mothers and fathers to be in our Fertility Center of Charleston family, we look forward to celebrating your little one in the future.
Listen up! It’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), a week to highlight infertility, the causes and treatments available. According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples will experience infertility. The goal of NIAW–Listen up! (April 23-29) is to bring this statistic to the forefront so couples struggling can realize that they are not alone in their infertility journey. The Fertility Center of Charleston and Dr. Stephanie Singleton support this initiative through educating physicians and staff with personal visits during the week, sharing testimonials from patients that have experienced infertility, highlighting treatments available and the cost savings programs in place for couples facing fertility treatments.
The Fertility Center of Charleston, with locations in Savannah and Charleston, has a dedicated financial counselor who educates patients on fertility costs. TFCOC has saved patients more than $100,000 in medication savings in the last year! Dr. Singleton encourages couples to ask questions and meet with a financial counselor before assuming the cost of their treatments, as each case varies. TFCOC has many programs in place to help save on medications and offset the cost: http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/affording-treatment/
One example is ARC Financial and Refund programs. TFCOC understands that choosing the right fertility treatment can be overwhelming and works with ARC to provide patients with the most affordable options through financial programs and refund packages. TFCOC and ARC are committed to making the cost of fertility treatments predictable and affordable. In addition, The Fertility Center of Charleston has a Compassionate Corps program in place for military and veteran patients. Through this program our military can save on medication costs.
The Fertility Center of Charleston will highlight all aspects of infertility throughout NIAW on their social media outlets and website. Dr. Singleton kicked off the week by hosting the annual Baby Party, a time for all graduated patients to come together and celebrate their families in place thanks to fertility treatments. As part of Listen Up!–NIAW, there will be several opportunities to share infertility journeys and read personal testimonials via social media. TFCOC will also be posting pictures of graduated TFCOC babies on social media and highlighting various services provided such as IVF, HSG testing and cryopreservation (egg freezing).
The Fertility Center of Charleston recognizes National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) with daily features. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week.
Dr. Stephanie Singleton works daily to help those struggling with infertility to start a family at The Fertility Center of Charleston. Patients often have a lot of questions surrounding infertility, especially those that come in for an initial consult. She answers those questions and breaks down key components as she offers a look infertility by the numbers.
Age is a primary factor discussed in a fertility consult. Says Dr. Singleton, “Age is the most important thing. Many are surprised to learn that age becomes an issue at just 32 years old. Once a woman hits her 40’s, getting pregnant becomes increasingly difficult.” Advancing maternal age greatly diminishes the effectiveness of all available treatment options, and there is a certain age when it is better for patients to schedule a consult than wait. She advises, “35 is the magic number. After the age of 35, if a woman has tried to become pregnant for more than 6 months, it is time to come in.”
There are many causes of infertility that a timely evaluation help pinpoint. Says Singleton, “ A lot of couples don’t discuss infertility, but they should. One in 8 couples will struggle. Usually the cause is a 1/3 female infertility, 1/3 male infertility and 1/3 combined.” A variety of things can contribute to infertility including: endometriosis, male factor, unexplained, PCOS, amenorrhea and more.
How much will infertility cost? It is one of the most frequently asked questions at The Fertility Center of Charleston and other infertility clinics around the country. The Fertility Center of Charleston offers patients competitive, cost effective financial programs. Says Dr. Singleton, “We are committed to trying to ensure that fertility treatment is possible for any couple or individual seeking our help with conception. We extend the extra effort to help patients look at the cost of infertility. Often they have visions of it costing a certain number, and it is not as high as they think. When patients come for their first visit they always meet with the financial counselor so that even from the beginning they can get an idea about coverage and cost. This financial counseling continues throughout their treatment journey. We often encourage patients to come in and get the financial information up front. Call and get started early.” She advises patients to meet with a member of the finance department and ask about insurance as well as financing options. At The Fertility Center of Charleston, a financial consultant meets with families as they begin their fertility journey. Says Dr. Singleton, “We work with medication companies to help patients save money. After filling out the paperwork, patients can receive 25-75% off of medication costs. We have saved patients more than $100,000 in the last year alone.”
Taking a look at the numbers can help couples understand the fertility process. Says Dr. Singleton, “Every couple is coming to the table with different issues. They all have 1 goal: to start a family. We see a lot of happy endings. Patients bring their new babies by to see us. It is very rewarding.” Dr. Stephanie Singleton is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG) and a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist. Dr. Singleton and her staff at The Fertility Center of Charleston compassionately guide each patient to parenthood using the latest advanced reproductive technologies including IVF. The Fertility Center of Charleston has locations in Mt. Pleasant & Savannah.
A new year marks a time of self-evaluation and preparedness. A raised awareness of health and wellness occurs. With 1 in 6 couples diagnosed with infertility, the time is now to work to change how we educate and manage fertility health.
For patients disappointed by infertility, this is a good time to evaluate an infertility diagnosis more closely and provide information on natural options for healing and restoring healthy fertility. A good understanding of the potential underlying cause of infertility can start the conversation about next steps for resolution. Are there lifestyle factors that could play a role? Wellness options may include managing stress, diet, alcohol, tobacco and other lifestyle factors. Do symptoms of common disorders that lead to infertility exist?
The leading health issues and disorders contributing to infertility are the following:
Endometriosis causes 35-50% of infertility cases in women. Endometriosis occurs when the glandular tissue that should grow only inside the uterus begins to grow outside the uterus and can contribute to excess scar tissue and adhesions in the pelvis as well as cysts in the ovaries. This can cause monthly, and sometimes even continuous, pelvic pain. It can also contribute to infertility. Women with endometriosis should seek a fertility specialist to proceed to infertility evaluations early to combat conception complications. Find out more at http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/endometriosis-risks-treatments/.
2. Ovulation Disorders
There are a variety of reasons a woman may have irregular menstrual cycles, but this may mean that she is not regularly releasing an egg (ovulating). Hormonal imbalance is the primary reason women have ovulation disorder. Hormonal imbalance may occur as a result of:
– Poor egg health
– Problems with one or more of the endocrine glands
– Poor nutrition
– Poor lifestyle choices
– Low Body Weight
– Genetic predisposition
The spectrum for ovulation disorder is wide and varied. Many patients can overcome this form of infertility with ovulation induction or intrauterine insemination (IUI). Learn more at http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/our-services/ovulation-induction/ and http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/our-services/intrauterine-insemination/.
3. Sperm Issues
A man is considered to have a low sperm count if he has fewer than 20 million sperm per milliliter on a semen analysis. However, there can also be issues of sperm movement (motility) and shape (morphology). The causes of sperm issues may include:
– Poor lifestyle choices; smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet, stress, environmental pollution
– Antisperm antibodies (can be present with a history of vasectomy and vasectomy reversal)
– Genetic predisposition
– Damage to the reproductive organs
– Illness, for example cancer treated with chemotherapy
A male infertility evaluation begins with a simple sperm test (semen analysis). Find out more at http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/our-services/male-fertility-evaluation/
4. Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Blocked fallopian tubes can prevent the sperm from finding the egg and / or the embryo from reaching the uterus. Approximately 25% of infertility cases are due to blocked fallopian tubes and may be caused by:
– Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), often from sexually transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, Trichomonas, etc.)
– Uterine fibroids
– Ectopic pregnancy
– Scar tissue in the uterus or pelvis related to previous surgeries
A female infertility evaluation includes an on-site evaluation of the fallopian tubes with the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) procedure. Using a fluoroscopy machine, contrast can be visualized filling the uterine cavity and moving into and out of each tube. This test determines if the fallopian tubes are open and capable of allowing for fertilization of the egg by the sperm. Find out more at http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/our-services/female-infertility-evaluation/
5. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS affects 4 – 18%of reproductive age women. It is the result of hormonal imbalances in the female body and may cause infertility, menstrual cycle irregularities, weight gain, insulin resistance, skin problems, small cysts in the ovaries, and excessive facial hair growth. Due to the frequency of infertility in patients with PCOS, an early consultation with a fertility specialist is often recommended. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication and ovulation induction.
6. Other common causes of infertility include:
Couples with primary or secondary infertility who have not be able to conceive after trying for a year or more of unprotected intercourse, should schedule an infertility evaluation with a board certified reproductive endocrinologist. An infertility evaluation can provide couples with a plan for conception and a good understanding of treatment options. Convenient online appointment requests may be found at http://www.fertilitycharleston.com/schedule-an-appointment/.
‘Tis the season for holiday parties, family time and probing questions! Infertility can take the joy out of the holiday season for many that are struggling to start a family. One in eight couples face infertility and will need to seek help to conceive. Dr. Stephanie Singleton of The Fertility Center of Charleston is a well known and respected reproductive endocrinologist and treats patients across SC and Georgia. She offers tips on how to survive infertility during the holidays.
This holiday season it is the women and men open to the possibilities that fertility technologies and treatments provide that fill us with joy. We love your spirit and your commitment to all we can do together in this journey to parenthood. You are a gift that we are thankful for daily at The Fertility Center of Charleston. Hailing from all over the Southeast, our patients are unified by the unwavering desire to share their life with a child. We applaud your strength, your positive attitude and your tenacity. You are a part of our family. Your hope shines bright. We wish you peace and joy in the New Year.
– Dr. Stephanie Singleton and The Fertility Center of Charleston team
The inability to have a child affects 1 in 9 women in the USA. The advancements in assisted reproductive technologies over the past decade have opened the door to parenthood for countless recipients. Here are a few of the latest advances for which we are grateful.
1. IVF Success Rates Improve: Optimizing IVF
In 1978, we welcomed the first IVF baby into the world. Today, millions of babies have been born through IVF. IVF is the process of fertilizing an egg with sperm in the lab. The resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus.
IVF success rates continue to rise. Improved treatment techniques such as ICSI, vitrification, and embryonic chromosomal screening contribute to the improved success rates for IVF.
2. Frozen Sperm, Eggs, and Embryos
Freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos appeals to a wide variety of fertility patients. While women and men undergoing chemotherapy were the initial candidates for cryopreservation, many couples now choose to freeze healthy eggs, sperm and embryos in order to create a more timely future pregnancy. Cryopreservation of eggs, sperm and embryos can increase the viable age for conception and can allow women to “stop the fertility clock”.
3. Single Embryo Transfer
IVF is producing lower risk pregnancies for mothers and babies with single embryo transfers. Historically, two or more IVF embryos were transferred into the uterus after 3 or 5 days of development to improve the odds of a successful pregnancy. Now studies have proven that waiting until Day 5 for an embryo transfer allows us better embryo selection and can allow for excellent pregnancy rates with even one embryo in women less than 35 years of age. The predicted risk of twins with a single embryo transfer is only 3-4% as opposed to 20-30% with a two embryo transfer.
4. Genetic Screening
Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) addresses the tendency for older women’s eggs to have an abnormal number of chromosomes, which can cause a lack of pregnancy or miscarriages.
Now embryos can be biopsied on Day 5 of development and special labs can analyze the DNA allowing us to choose only chromosomally normal embryos for transfer. This method allows for higher pregnancy rates, lower miscarriage rates, and lower risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
Evidence based medicine supports that screening embryos prior to implantation does improve birth rates per transfer. Studies found that 84.7% of the 72 women who had their embryos screened gave birth, compared to 67.5% of the 83 women who did not have screening.
5. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Male factor infertility is the primary cause of infertility in 1/3 of infertility cases. It is often treated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracystoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). ICSI is the injection of a single normal appearing sperm directly into an egg to achieve fertilization. Fertilization occurs 50% to 80% of the time. ICSI allows the use of a much smaller number of sperm to produce a successful pregnancy. A JAMA study reported that among fresh IVF cycles in the United States, ICSI use increased from 36.4% in 1996 to 76.2% in 2012. ICSI is most often used in cases with a low sperm count, low motility, a history of a vasectomy, or the need for testicular biopsy.
Cancer and cancer treatments vary in their likelihood of causing infertility. Individual factors such as disease, age, treatment type and dosages, and pretreatment fertility should be considered in counseling patients about the likelihood of infertility.
Methods of Treatment
The methods of fertility preservation with the highest likelihood of success are sperm cryopreservation for males and egg or embryo freezing for women. Conservative surgical approaches and transposition of ovaries or gonadal shielding prior to radiation therapy may also preserve fertility in selected cancers. Other approaches should be considered investigational.
STAT, No Charge Consults
Patients who are interested in fertility preservation should consider their options as soon as possible to maximize the likelihood of success. Some female treatments are dependent upon phase of the menstrual cycle and can be initiated only at monthly intervals. Discussion with reproductive specialists and review of available information from patient advocacy resources (e.g., fertileHOPE, the Lance Armstrong Foundation/LIVESTRONG, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) can facilitate decision making and treatment planning.
Both the House and Senate have now finally passed, and sent to President Obama for his expected signature, HR 5325, a bill which funds the government for the start of Fiscal Year 2017. The bill contains two provisions of particular importance to ASRM members.
First, it contains authorization for the Veterans Administration to provide fertility counseling, adoption reimbursement, and ART services to veterans who sustained service related injuries which have impaired their fertility.
As you know, the VA has been unable to provide these services until now, while active duty services members with these same injuries are provided access to this care. Fixing this gap in coverage for our veterans has been a major goal of ASRM and the highest priority for our advocacy efforts. The hard work of all of you has been a vital component in our fight to right this wrong. Many of you came to Washington to lobby on this issue, spoke to your Members of Congress at home, called, wrote, tweeted, posted and authored opinion pieces about this issue. Every one of these actions was important and played a part in this important achievement. ASRM also worked collectively with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and a coalition of veterans organizations over the past several years to advocate for this coverage for wounded veterans. ASRM is proud to have worked to help advance this legislation, introduced more than five years ago by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, and to gain the support of many other Members of Congress, including Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Charlie Dent.
It is important to understand that our work is not done. ASRM will be working with leadership at the VA to assure that implementation of this program goes smoothly and quickly. Every indication we have had is that our colleagues at the VA are as anxious as we are to make this service available to our veterans.
We will also need to be diligent to protect this and other federal programs that promote access to needed reproductive services. As this measure wound its way through Congress, we saw efforts to derail and defund it and related programs. We can only assume we will continue to see such efforts, and we will need to fight them again.
HR 5325 also includes over $1 billion dollars in desperately needed funding to fight the Zika virus. ASRM worked with a number of other organizations including the March of Dimes and ACOG to secure these badly needed funds and to keep them free of unwarranted restrictions. ASRM’s own Zika Task Force will continue its work, but now the federal government can bring greater resources to bear.
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