During National Infertility Week I recently received an amazing opportunity to interview an extremely dedicated double board certified specialist in Obstetrics, Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology, and Infertility, Dr. Robert Anderson. Dr. Anderson is the Founder and Director of the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine.
Timing couldn't have been more perfect as our interview would coincide with the 25th anniversary of National Infertility Week Awareness.
Who better to address and educate us regarding infertility and the latest advanced treatments than a very successful specialist in his field, and dedicated in,"helping couples become families", like Dr. Anderson.
Dr. Anderson is one of the most easy to talk with, congenial, and enlightening gentleman I've had the opportunity to interview, and I know you'll learn so much about the topic at hand... infertility awareness!
MY INTERVIEW WITH DR. ROBERT ANDERSON:
1. VICKI: You've been a practicing reproductive endocrinologist for over 25 years and are double board certified in obstetrics , gynecology , reproductive endocrinology, and infertility. That's quite an impressive track record… Congratulations ! What motivated you to pursue this particular field of reproductive medicine?
DR. ANDERSON: 1."I think it was a couple of factors. One, it's very dynamic field that is changing all of the time and it still is relatively young. The first IVF baby was born 1978 so it hasn't been around for a long time. Scientific advancements seem to happen almost every year and continue to improve our ability to help our patients. It's a challenging field, an ever changing field, and one that is a lot of fun to be in. Secondly, what we do makes such a huge impact on patients' lives. My patients aren't sick, they're not dying, but their ability to go from a couple to a family when they weren't able to do that before just transforms them in way that I think very few other fields can do. Certainly having my four children I see that more than ever."
2. VICKI: I believe you made a great choice with reproductive medicine for all the right reasons, Dr. Anderson. That being said, with the ultimate outcome to have child , what are some of the challenges facing a couple that might bring them in to see you?
DR. ANDERSON: "Well the biggest one is age. Now more than ever age is a tremendous factor, if not probably the most important factor, but there are certainly other causes such as male problems, ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes, structural problems, and things like that. Age, however, transcends all of them! In any factor that we see that causes infertility, the older a woman is the more difficult it will be to correct."
3. VICKI: You are experiencing encouraging results within a wider age range. How does this affect an older gal who would like to have a child ?
DOCTOR ANDERSON: "Well we are, but you know one of the things , and this ties into the whole perception of age not necessarily being a factor in fertility, is that women of virtually any age can get pregnant if they are willing to use an egg donor. I've had women get pregnant up to the age of 54 but they are using eggs from somebody who's 20 to 25 years old.
You see in the public, celebrities in their mid to late 40's and some of them in their early 50's getting pregnant, and most of them are using egg donors and just aren't saying they did.
You could be 48 years old and get pregnant.... No big deal....Well it is no big deal if you're using eggs from a 22 year old!! A lot of our patients do believe that it doesn't matter, and you can wait as long as you want, and "so & so got pregnant with twins when they were 47"...etc.
Well I can tell you this... I've been doing this since 1986 and I've never seen a woman over 45 get pregnant using her own eggs. The reason for it is that when we test their embryos they are all abnormal. The incidence of abnormality is 100%
4. VICKI: Wow! That's some very interesting data for one to consider! I'm very curious about your successful "One Embryo, one Baby"via your "SET" Technology . Could you please share a bit about that with our readers?
DR. ANDERSON: Sure... The thing that's really changed everything is our ability to test embryos for their genetic makeup before we put them back into the mother, and that's made everything that we're doing now possible!
"In the past when you did in vitro fertilization going way back to the beginning, the early pregnancy rates (when I got into this 27 years ago) were about 10 to 20 percent positive. Obviously technology has changed a lot since then. In those days because we didn't know if the embryos were genetically normal or not we had to put in more than one in order to even get that not so great pregnancy rate. Even as things got better over the last 25 years, or so, we still put in multiple embryos because we just didn't know if we were putting normal ones in or not. The older the person was the more we put in so occasionally you'd have a situation where more than one of those embryos was normal. When that happens you end up with a multiple pregnancy. A lot of times it was twins. Probably, most frequently twins, but we all had triplets, quadruplets, and sometimes even more! Those are obviously undesirable outcomes.
Now, because we can test the embryos, and we know that they are genetically normal, if we only put one of those in and it's normal the pregnancy rates we're getting in women under 40, for instance, are about 85%! It's almost a total reversal from when I got into this field, and it's simply because we now know which embryos to use and not to use! It's like nothing I've seen in the field!!! That's HUGE!
5. VICKI: What a wonderful advancement for the field of reproductive medicine! That is quite amazing, as is your sought after Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine which is staffed with a variety of exceptional professionals with varied expertise that compliments your mission in helping a woman to bring about a healthy pregnancy. Is it a "team work" approach that helps your endeavor and deals with some of the challenges we've addressed in this interview to achieve such successful outcomes?
DR. ANDERSON: It's essential! First of all, we have an exceptional team put together in that regard. From our clinical staff , being my nurses who are the primary educators for our patients who tend to the large amount of teaching that we need to do both in terms of the helping patients understand the treatment, process and why we're doing the the things we're doing and instructing them how to give the injections, managing medication and all of that.
Then we have our laboratory staff, especially the ones that work in the invitro fertilization lab that do some very technical and specialized procedures that are really amazing when you think of what they are able to do...
Along with all of our support staff... nutritionists, acupuncturists, counselors... everything you can image to help the couples along because there's many components to their needs and treatment plan, and we think that its best accomplished by a lot of specialists who are able to do their particular part.. very well!
6. VICKI: No wonder you, your incredible staff and clinic are known world wide! With your amazing 85% success rate "in helping thousands of women achieve a successful pregnancy", and personally after viewing all of the heartfelt videos of some of your patients, I can see why you have treated women from all over the world. How might a person from another state or country, who is dealing with infertility be treated by you, and are there suggested places where they might stay while being treated?
DR. ANDERSON: We've had patients virtually from every continent come to us over the years, and certainly from other states is not as difficult, but what usually happens is now I'll conduct an interview with them like they were here via SKYPE. We do our new patient visit that way. I get all of the information and they send me all of the records if they have some and then often times the treatment can be coordinated with a doctor in their home town. If we need to start and do some tests or even do the very beginning of ther treatment that they can begin it at home and then they'll come out here for the critical part.
We actually have a concierge service dedicated to helping them set up anything they can think of like transportation, places to stay, things to do while they're here, giving them shots, helping them with places to eat, or whatever they want...everything ! We've made it very easy for them, plus it's a nice place to come. People love coming to Southern California!
In fact, yesterday I had one of those patients from Rhode Island who had done an IVF cycle and it hadn't worked. I looked at the way it was done and I spoke with them and made some suggestions, especially regarding the genetic testing. I asked her if her physician had talked to her about that and she said that "he doesn't do it, and that he doesn't think it's necessary!" I said that it certainly isn't necessary, but it sure has made things work a lot more frequently....why wouldn't you want to do that! But the point is that we do some things that people aren't doing! We focused on staying on the cutting edge and keeping track of the developments in the field that are most significant !
I go to the European Fertility Society Meeting every summer because the Europeans do things a whole lot differently than we do and a lot of times they're able to do things before we can and use medications before we can because they don't have as many of the regulations in some of those countries as we do.
If you're not really kind of keeping your finger on the pulse of this field , you're not going to be able to do the things that we're doing, and then there are people who live in parts of the country where they just don't have a lot of these services available just because of location.
VICKI: In closing , Dr. Anderson, I really can't thank you enough for your time and wish you continued success with your wonderful endeavor in helping women be able to experience the miracle of child birth! All the best to you, your staff, and the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine, which, by the way, has two beautiful locations in Newport Beach and Mission Viego.
All of Dr. Anderson's conversation was so good to hear, and very encouraging with the knowledge that things can work out, and not only is there another chance but another choice to look into with Dr Robert Anderson and the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine.
I encourage you to view Dr. Anderson's website: http://www.socalfertility.com/
View the wonderful testimonials, and whether you are experiencing reproductive problems, or know someone who does, be proactive with the available information and reach out to Dr. Anderson and his staff. You're only a phone call away.....
Southern California Center For Reproductive Medicine:
• Mission Viejo
• Newport Beach
(Information included in this interview with Dr. Anderson was obtained from an interview I had with the doctor. Much gratitude to Dr. Anderson for his time, wonderful commentary, and "up to the minute" information regarding reproductive medicine and infertility. May this be very inspiring to all who seek assistance in overcoming their challenges in starting a family.)