A Doctor Offers Hope for Those Struggling to Conceive
Education & Research Dr. William Schoolcraft, the founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, explains the high-tech care process of fertility treatment.
What are the first options you suggest when a patient is unable to conceive?
First, a patient will undergo a fertility assessment to evaluate the most important aspects of fertility: eggs, sperm, structures such as fallopian tubes and the uterus, as well as hormone levels of one or both partners. The results of the assessment, along with the patient’s medical and reproductive history, help us to formulate a treatment plan that will provide the patient with the optimal chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. Treatment could be as simple as taking a medication, such as Clomid, to stimulate the ovaries, or it could be more complex and involve in vitro fertilization (IVF) with chromosome screening. Every patient’s fertility needs are different and require individualized treatment plans.
For all of our patients that are trying to conceive, we recommend that they make lifestyle changes to help improve their odds of getting pregnant. This includes quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine, eating a balanced diet (leans meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
How do you manage patient expectations throughout the process?
It’s important that, as clinicians, we not only provide hope but we always provide our patients with realistic outcomes and educate our patients throughout their entire fertility journey. We believe that a well-informed patient is a successful patient. From medication teaching consults, to new patient IVF classes, to daily calls with a nurse, we make sure our patients know what to expect every step of the process.
A well-educated clinical team is also best able to deliver exceptional care to the infertility patient. We provide a clinical care team for each of our patients, made up of exceptionally talented and well-educated nurses that work closely with your physician through the entire fertility journey. Nurses take the opportunity to teach patients every step of their journey through new patient IVF classes, medication teaching consults, individual consultations and daily phone calls. Nurses will explain the role of fertility medications, ultrasound results, lab results and what is actually occurring during their treatment cycle each and every time a patient is having any testing or monitoring. Many patients’ response after an initial class is — “I wish I was taught this when I was at my last clinic before starting my treatment.” More than an advocate, nurses are your care manager — they know when and how to escalate or flag concerns that might change your care plan with your doctor.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Every day I have the opportunity to help patients have the child they’ve always dreamed of. When I meet babies born with the help of the clinic, I’m thrilled. The chance to give people a family is a joy.
What’s the greatest advice you can offer readers who are experiencing infertility?
Remember that infertility is not your fault, and you are not alone. One in eight couples experience infertility. The vast majority of patients, with the right treatment plan, can conceive a healthy child.