Renewing Hope
Couples throughout the region turn to Shady Grove Fertility to help grow their families
by Lindsey Getz

For the one in eight American couples who are struggling with infertility, several exciting advances in science are giving them renewed hope. However, the cost of fertility treatment, coupled with the big question—“Will it work?”—is enough to add a whole new layer of anxiety to an already stressful situation. That’s why the Shared Risk 100% Refund Program offered by Shady Grove Fertility is breaking new ground for many couples in the area.

In short, the Shared Risk 100% Refund Program is a guarantee that treatment will work—or patients receive their money back. Qualified, self-pay patients may attempt up to six in vitro fertilization (IVF) or donor egg cycles and any subsequent frozen embryo transfers (FETs) for a flat fee. If the attempts are unsuccessful, patients will be fully refunded (some exclusions apply). They can also withdraw from the program at any time and be fully refunded.

“It’s really unprecedented,” says Isaac E. Sasson, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the team at Shady Grove Fertility’s Chesterbrook location. “Imagine if the world offered ‘shared risk’ programs in other areas of life—your dishwasher breaks and you get a new one or your car breaks down and it’s fully replaced. You would feel even more confident about big purchase decisions. This program takes away so much of the stress that couples experience when going through the process of fertility treatments.”

And there’s no doubt that struggling with infertility is stressful. Dr. Sasson says that women are already experiencing the stress of feeling as though their body has failed them. They are struggling with the emotional question of whether fertility treatments will work. On top of that, there’s a huge financial burden they must face. All of that stress is rough on the body—not ideal in a time when a woman is trying to conceive.

It’s important to know that infertility is present based on the following definition: when a woman is under 35 with regular menstrual cycles and no pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse; age 35 to 39 if no pregnancy after six months, or 40-plus if no pregnancy after three months. Further, the Shady Grove Fertility physicians recommend a fertility evaluation even sooner for women with irregular menstrual cycles—a possible signal of polycystic ovary syndrome—a history of pelvic surgery, severely painful periods or a diagnosis of endometriosis.

When it comes to the financial burden that couples must bear, Dr. Sasson says it’s not uncommon for patients to base medical decisions on money. And he says this often results in decisions that are not in the best interest of the patient. But Shady Grove Fertility’s Shared Risk 100% Refund Program allows couples to make overall better medical decisions as some of the financial worry regarding “how many attempts it will take” is relieved.

“If you decide you are just going to give it one shot—based on cost—you may choose to transfer multiple embryos with the hopes that one will take,” Dr. Sasson says. “That’s not ideal. That is a case of finances dictating medicine. But with our Shared Risk Program, you know that you have up to six transfers and can now feel confident doing a single-embryo transfer. It allows you to make that better medical decision.”

Of course, the downside to the Shared Risk Program is that couples who get pregnant from the very first embryo will have, in a sense, paid more. Dr. Sasson admits this does happen, which speaks to Shady Grove Fertility’s proficiency in accomplishing its ultimate goal.

“I have yet to hear anyone complain about it,” Dr. Sasson adds. “They’re just thrilled to be pregnant and appreciated the confidence that if it didn’t work, they could try again.”

Of the program participants, 82 percent go home with a baby. The remaining patients receive their refund to put toward other family planning options. Patients do need to qualify for the program, though there are only a few criteria. Women must be younger than 39 and have viable eggs in order to utilize their own eggs. Women who are 39 and older can participate in the program if they are utilizing donor eggs.

Dr. Sasson says that in this day and age, the technological advances have come so far that women who once had very little chance of ever conceiving can now become pregnant and bring a healthy baby to term. He calls the technology utilized in IVF “cutting edge,” and says that the science is ever improving.

“Not only are we able to rescue a woman’s eggs from dying utilizing egg retrieval, and then fertilize them in the lab and grow the embryos before transfer, but we are also able to perform genetic testing on those embryos,” says Dr. Sasson. “With genetic testing we can confirm that an embryo has the correct number of chromosomes, which is vital as too many or too few could lead to miscarriage or a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome. It’s truly amazing how far the field has come.”

As the technology has advanced over the years, so has the mindset, and Dr. Sasson says one of the greatest changes he has seen is the willingness for couples to open up about their struggles.

“Infertility and miscarriage were once shrouded by stigma,” Dr. Sasson says. “But we’ve come a really long way. Couples are willing to open up about what they’ve gone through and that’s providing others with a huge advantage. As that stigma begins to go away, couples are realizing that hope is out there.”

Certainly, the field of fertility medicine is restoring hope and giving couples a chance that they may have thought was lost. However, Dr. Sasson admits the technology isn’t for everyone.

“It’s so important that patients connect with a responsible physician and that they understand the benefits as well as the risks,” Dr. Sasson says.

Patients who come to Shady Grove Fertility will be well versed in what to expect, as Dr. Sasson values patient education. He also takes a very “hands-on approach.” Rather than have a technician or nurse perform ultrasounds, he does all of them himself.

“Patients are never treated like a number here,” he adds. “They get a very personalized experience. In fact, all of my patients have my personal email and know that I’m available to them 24/7. It’s safe to say that the level of attention they get from our practice is unmatched.” 

For more information on Shady Grove Fertility locations throughout the area, visit   

Photograph by Jody Robinson