Individual Care At Top
of the TREATMENT List
By Dianne Gebhardt-French

There are days of blessings for fertility specialists as well as days of heartache, says Dr. Glen Hofmann, board certified in reproductive endocrinology. "At the end of the day, we have a lot of successes and we have failures, too."

So, he says, individualized care and compassion are as important as the most advanced technology.

"It's very emotional. You want a practice that treats you as an individual. The second time you visit our office, our receptionist greets you by name," Hofmann says of the Bethesda Center for Reproductive Health and Fertility.

The center serves Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Middletown, Lexington, Louisville and Southeastern Indiana.

"I think I have the best job in the world," he says. It's critical to be honest and never to give false hope.

"Still, it is extraordinarily rewarding. Guys walk up to you at Kroger and flash cell phone photos of their children."

'This Is Your Baby'

Folks are eager to show the doctor that the results of the treatments are now adventurous toddlers and engaging youngsters.

Once, across a crowded mall, a woman pulled her baby out of a stroller and shouted, "Dr. Hofmann, this is your baby!" The doctor's wife was a bit taken aback, but once the two of them recovered, there was little to do but smile and wave.

There are so many different levels of care and causes for fertility issues that he recommends patients see board-certified specialists sooner rather than later.

"The older the woman is, the sooner they should be seeing one of us rather than, especially if they have no children, spending six months to a year" working with an OB/GYN before going to a reproductive endocrinologist.

Initial tests are key, from semen tests to the woman's hormonal issues, past surgeries, past pregnancies, etc. Solid research is the first step. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that ranges from explanations of the biology of infertility to the technology available.

Hofmann says patients should explore the data maintained by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) at www.sart.org. It is the primary organization of professionals in assisted reproductive technologies, and it details treatment types and success rates (birth outcome data).

It provides critical resources including how to choose a clinic or doctor, treatment types including in vitro, donor eggs and donor embryos and an exhaustive patient guide. It provided standardized reports on outcomes, based on age and procedure. It also provides procedure and diagnosis frequency statistics.

The SART Research Committee is chaired by Dr. Valerie Baker of Stanford University Medical Center. SART issues practice guidelines and requires minimum standards of care as a requirement for membership.

"It allows you to see how it performs for couples like yourself," says Hofmann.

The field is evolving rapidly.

"Of all areas of medicine, this has changed the most," he says. In the mid 1980s,a lot of the work was observational, meaning doctors tried something and if it did not work, they tried something else. Improvements in research and technology has brought breakthroughs including the dramatic increase in the success rate of donor egg programs.

Begin with Basics

Since Dr. NeeOo Chin started his practice in 1987, 9,000 births have been achieved with his assistance.

Each treatment plan requires extensive review of the individual's medical history as well as an evaluation. The approach includes hormonal therapy for ovulation induction, timed intercourse and sperm insemination.

"You have to look at the basics, if you break it all down, and against all the high tech, it is still a man and a woman and sperm and egg," Chin says.

He first examines all the basics: ovulation, options to improve the sperm, if it is necessary to bypass it with in vitro and medication.

He was trained at Stanford University Medical Center to use acupuncture to promote conditions for conception.

"I want to do the most natural thing possible "¦ after two sessions, it's the movement of chi, the life force energy of the body, which helps balance. When we are balanced, the energy pushes through. Scientifically, it improves hormonal releases, blood flow to the uterus and blood flow to the ovaries."

Chin founded the Bethesda Fertility Center in 1987. In 1992, he went to the Christ Hospital to establish a new facility. He was co-director for the center, providing services in reproductive endocrinology and infertility including in vitro fertilization.

Initially, he didn't buy into the effectiveness of acupuncture, but after he used it to resolve a physical condition which struck him, he investigated it further.

"There are lots of neat things out there "” you don't have to jump to the high tech thing," Chin says.

Although he still performs in vitro, he first listens to the patient and starts with the least intrusive treatment, which is often acupuncture. "Patients make my life so easy "” if you listen, they will tell you exactly what they need," he says.

He recommends patients seek physicians who are board certified in reproductive endocrinology and fertility.

Bethesda Center for Reproductive Health and Fertility, 10506 Montgomery Road, Suite 303, Cincinnati, OH 45242. (513) 865-1675 or www.bethesdafertility.com.
Dr. NeeOo Chin, Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, 6396 Thornberry Court, Mason, OH 45040. (513) 326-4300 or www.chinbaby.com.