An old-fashioned, personalized approach to care is behind the success of the Center for Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Emily's healthy twin girls were born on the 4th of July 2002.
Many couples find solutions to their infertility problems at the Center for Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Annual studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine rank the Center's in vitro fertilization program the best in Maryland.
Infertility -- defined as the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse -- can be caused by a number of factors. These include ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, low sperm count and tubal obstruction.
A team of reproductive endocrinologists, andrologists, psychologists, embryologists, nurses, genetic counselors and urologists make up the staff at the Center for Assisted Reproductive Technologies. They perform in vitro fertilization and a number of other procedures to treat infertility.
"We have a first-class lab staff here," said Howard McClamrock, M.D., director of the Center for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and co-founder of the Center's in vitro fertilization program.
McClamrock, who is also an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, attributes the Center's success to the time he and his team spend making sure each patient gets the right treatment. Because every couple's situation is different, every treatment must be individually tailored to fit their needs.
"We run a lot of tests to understand as much as we can about what is causing the infertility," McClamrock said. "We have a good program because we are very thorough with our patients."
Emily* is a woman in her early forties, who had a lot of difficulty conceiving on her own. She refused, however, to give up on her dream of becoming a mother.
With the help of the reproductive team at the University of Maryland, not only was she able to conceive, but she gave birth to twin girls in July .
Happy with the choices she and her husband made, she advises other infertile couples to seek out a knowledgeable and caring team of specialists like the ones at the Center, and to keep on trying. Below is her story.
Emily: I am 42-year-old doctor, who postponed having a child while I was training for my career. In my late 30s, I found out that I was rapidly approaching the end of my fertility due to a rising follicle stimulating hormone level.
After failing to become pregnant, I contacted reproductive endocrinologist Dr. McClamrock and his team at the University of Maryland. I'd heard that McClamrock consistently has one of the highest reproductive success rates in the state of Maryland.
After meeting with him, he advised me to undergo in vitro fertilization to increase my chances of ovulation and conception. Dr. McClamrock was very warm and caring. Through every step of the process, he and his team impressed me by their genuine concern for my well-being.
I received extremely personalized attention. There was no assembly line care.
I had to take daily shots in the morning and evening for nearly two weeks to stimulate my ovaries so that they would produce more eggs. The shots weren't painful, and I was able to give them to myself with no problems.
I also had blood work and ultrasound tests done every few days to monitor my ovaries, but the staff made things as easy for me as possible. The lab opened early in the morning, which meant that I could get out of there between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. and head off to work. This was very convenient.
Each day, after the lab results were available, Dr. McClamrock and Dr. [Laurence] Udoff would meet with the team to review them. Then, they'd contact me if there were a need to make any adjustment to the "cocktail" of medications.
One thing you have to realize is that I was on different medications than any other patient. Each protocol was designed for each individual patient. My medication regimen was geared towards my body's specific needs and responses, and not just based on cookbook recommendations.
I believe it was this personalized service that was the key to my eventual success.
When my ovaries appeared ready, they altered my medication to "trigger" my ovaries to release my eggs. Then, they performed a surgical procedure called egg retrieval. Once they retrieve your eggs, they fertilize them with sperm and transfer an embryo back into your uterus a few days later.
I went through the in vitro fertilization process three times, and experienced an early pregnancy loss each time. I felt that this was because of the poor quality of my eggs due to my advanced age.
I found that the most difficult thing was to be optimistic with each cycle without becoming too invested emotionally. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Everyone at the Center was helpful in dealing with those feelings. They were all extremely professional and clinically excellent, yet completely understanding of the myriad of emotions and feelings that accompany such a process.
Dr. McClamrock's bedside manner was comforting and instilled confidence. He was there to explain each procedure, review the findings and give me reassurance.
After the third IVF procedure, my husband and I had a consultation with Dr. McClamrock. We decided to go ahead and try again because everything Dr. McClamrock and Dr. Udoff had done up to that point had worked. Each cycle had produced several eggs and I had, after all, become pregnant. The losses were out of anyone's control. I felt certain that as long as we were producing eggs that I still had a fighting chance of having a child.
The fourth time, I produced four eggs, but only three fertilized. One of the fertilized eggs divided into four cells and the other two divided into two cells.
Two weeks after they transferred the embryos back into my uterus, I discovered I was pregnant. Two weeks after learning I was pregnant, an ultrasound showed that I was pregnant with twins.
My pregnancy proceeded and I now have healthy twin daughters. They were born on the 4th of July .
We have the team at the University of Maryland to thank for their expertise and care. I'd advise anyone considering in vitro to have perseverance. Without perseverance, I wouldn't have my two, beautiful girls.
* Patient's name has been changed.