Through Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, couples struggling with infertility issues find hope in their quest to make their dreams of giving birth come true.
The photographic reminders arrive in color. Living color, one might say. Sent on birthdays, holidays, or on any day at all, each photo is delivered from the heart. The photos depict healthy, happy children being embraced by beaming parents—snapshots of lives made whole.
The practitioners of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ) take tremendous pride in helping their patients overcome infertility issues, become pregnant, and make their dreams of giving birth come true, later taking those smiling photographs to preserve their precious memories.
“It’s so nice to get those pictures over the holidays,” says Melissa C. Yih, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician, and gynecologist at the recently opened RMANJ office in Princeton, N.J. “It’s also so gratifying to run into former patients at the airport, the mall, the supermarket, or the playground, and they’re there with their children.
“It’s wonderful to be able to help someone have a child when they weren’t sure it would ever happen,” she continues. “That’s pretty amazing to give someone that kind of gift. The look of thanks I get from them is special. It’s one of the reasons we love what we do here.”
Beating the Odds
RMANJ utilizes innovative procedures and patient-centered care to cure infertility, a condition that is recognized as a disease both in the United States and throughout the world. Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant, or to successfully carry a pregnancy to term, after one year of unprotected sex. Approximately one in eight U.S. couples struggles to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy to term. One third of infertility is typically attributed to men, another third to women, and a final third is thought to be caused by a combination of problems with both partners.
The reasons for female infertility are typically due to damage to fallopian tubes, the structures that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, where the baby develops; cervical issues, which prevent sperm from passing through the cervical canal; hormonal issues, in which the body isn’t going through the usual hormonal changes that lead to the release of an egg from the ovary and the thickening of the lining of the uterus; and uterine problems, such as polyps and fibroids that interfere with getting pregnant.
Since its founding almost 20 years ago, RMANJ has been recognized as a world-renowned leader in the field of infertility care. A state-of-the-art laboratory and extensive fertility research have played a huge role in RMANJ having achieved remarkable in vitro fertilization (IVF) rates in New Jersey and beyond. With a 64 percent cumulative outcome per egg retrieval cycle for women under 35, RMANJ says its success rates are well above the national average.
Among the reasons for RMANJ’s success is its use of Comprehensive Chromosome Screening, or CCS, a technique that allows selection of the healthiest from a group of embryos. After IVF, a few cells from each embryo are tested in a genetics lab and chromosomes are counted.
“Having those genetic results help us define the pool of good embryos for transfer,” says Dr. Yih, a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG). “Twenty to 30 years ago, when we did IVF, you didn’t have that testing. So you could’ve been placing three embryos and hope they were normal. Pregnancy rates were not good then. Today they are.”
According to Daniel J. Kaser, M.D., FACOG, among the most effective ways to improve a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant through IVF is to implant only one embryo back to the uterus.
“As IVF labs gained experience, we were able to distinguish between viable embryos and not viable ones,” Dr. Kaser says. “We only select the best embryo based on the genetic profile.”
The inability to become pregnant after a few months is understandably stressful for a woman. However, when six months becomes a year, and perhaps longer, the worry she may never give birth to a child can become stressful beyond description. According to Dr. Yih, women under the age of 35 who haven’t conceived in a year should probably seek medical help. Women over 35 who haven’t conceived after six months should also seek help.
Dr. Yih explains it is at that point where the human touch can help assuage a patient’s fears.
“I try to encourage them,” she says. “I say, ‘I’m here to help you. Don’t be disappointed. We’re on a fact-seeking mission. Let’s see what we can do here.’ Most patients at that point haven’t had any testing done. It’s like they feel stuck in a black box. After talking with me, and after I explain everything to them, they often feel relief.”
The initial consultation with an RMANJ physician is one of information gathering. After assessing how long the woman has tried to conceive, and after learning her medical history, the patient will undergo diagnostic testing, including an assessment of her egg reserve, uterus, and fallopian tubes. A sperm and semen analysis of her male partner will also be performed.
Beyond applying the science to help women overcome their infertility issues, RMANJ physicians such as Drs. Yih and Kaser dispense a commodity which their patients are seeking most.
“The message we convey is one of hope,” Dr. Kaser says. “It’s difficult to predict which patients will be successful. But the vast majority of patients who come to us have treatment options that allow them to have a child. One of the joys of my job day in and day out is not only the cutting-edge science and innovation, but meeting with patients and helping them understand the process of reproduction and the likelihood of conceiving.”
Dr. Kaser cannot find the words to describe the degree of joy he feels when a couple that struggled with so much heartache looks at him after being told they are pregnant. “That look is pretty indescribable,” he says.
Almost as pretty as a picture, one might say.
To find an office nearby, set up an appointment or learn more about Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, call (973) 656-2089 or visit RMANJ.com.
Photography by Alison Dunlap
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, September 2018.
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