Have you ever been curious about fertility treatment and what that entails? Are you not sure what infertility looks like? Would you like to know how to get your first consultation and when to get an evaluation for possible infertility? Lead physician Dr. Lauren Sundheimer at Kindbody Newport Beach is here to help!
I asked Dr. Lauren Sundheimer these questions and many more, and she was so kind to thoroughly explain some commonly asked questions about infertility. If you don’t already know who she is, Dr. Sundheimer is a SoCal native who boasts an impressive educational resume that includes UCSD, UCI, and UCLA. She is both caring and outstanding in the field of reproductive health, two qualities you definitely want in a fertility doctor. You can find her at Kindbody Newport Beach where she currently is the main fertility doctor.
So, if you have been even a bit curious about this facet of your own reproductive journey, or if you know someone who might be, read on!
If I really think back, I believe I got into the field of reproductive/fertility medicine because of a friend in college that was diagnosed with cancer. It was, of course, heartbreaking at the time, and thankfully she is doing well now and flourishing, but it was her experience that really got me thinking about fertility. I watched on as she navigated the emotional, sensitive, and personal idea that she might not be able to have kids in the future after receiving her necessary and life-saving treatment. This was before egg freezing was widely available and it was a staggering thing to have to deal with. I wanted to help her and others like her.
I always keep that feeling close. As I progressed through medical school and developed a strong interest in women’s health, the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) really stood out to me. Not only is it a good mix of science and humanity, but I knew I could really make a difference! After a long journey (4 years medical school, 4 years OB/GYN training and 3 years of REI training), I am honored because I get the privilege of helping make people’s dreams come true! I love that I am able to help people achieve the family of their dreams after struggling with infertility. It is so rewarding and beautiful! I also love the side where I can help empower women and individuals to preserve their fertility with egg/embryo/sperm freezing as well as those affected by cancer. I am lucky to be able to do what I do!
The fertility clinic I work at is Kindbody. It is a fantastic clinic that is just opening in the Orange County area (Newport Beach). We have clinics all over the US. I am thrilled to work at a clinic whose thoughts align with my own and I am really focused on you as you go through your fertility journey. Our clinic stands for making the process of going to the doctor more intuitive and empowering. We have a very technology driven vision and deliver the highest quality of care with fantastic outcomes. In addition, it is my and Kindbody’s belief that everyone should have access to convenient, affordable fertility and family-building care. We are happy to provide that!
Unfortunately, infertility is fairly common with about 1 in 4 couples being affected. The definition of infertility can be met if a couple has been trying for pregnancy without success for one year or more if they are under 35 years old, or six months or more if they are over 35 years old. This is because fertility is age dependent. It becomes harder to get pregnant as you get older. The quality and quantity of eggs that you have goes down with age, so we do not want you to spend too long trying on your own as you get older if you have been unsuccessful.
Approximately 30% of the time infertility is due to female factors. This includes things like ovulation disorders, blocked fallopian tubes, etc. Another 30% of the time it is due to male factors such as abnormal or low sperm production/function, anatomic blockages for sperm delivery, and so on. Twenty percent of the time it is due to combined male and female issues. Then there is another 20% of couples that fall in the category of unexplained infertility. This is the group where unfortunately they are unable to get pregnant, but all the testing results are normal and there is no clear explanation for their infertility.
Yes! If you have medical conditions, make sure these are under control and optimized before you start trying for pregnancy. If you are on medications, be sure to talk to your prescriber about if they are safe for pregnancy. Start prenatal vitamins to make sure you have all the good nutrients on board. I recommend to everyone I see to live your healthiest and best life as you are trying for pregnancy and on your fertility journey (really good advice for always too J). Avoid smoking, alcohol, drug use. Eat a healthy, nutritious diet (the Mediterranean diet has been shown to be beneficial for fertility). Limit caffeine to no more than 200mg per day. Get good sleep. Avoid extremes of exercise.
There are different types of fertility treatment that can range from minimal invasive to more invasive. On the simplest level I can help monitor ovulation and give recommendations for when to time intercourse. A next step up would be non-in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) where we help get the best sperm and put it as close to the egg as possible. Then there is our most invasive but also most successful treatment of IVF which entails taking daily hormone injections and undergoing a procedure to remove the eggs from your body to allow fertilization in the IVF lab. IVF can also include genetic testing of embryos (preimplantation genetic testing or PGT).
Most women tolerate fertility treatments well. This is not to say it is easy though! It is helpful to keep your eyes on the prize to get through it. Some women feel more hormonal or emotional. Certain medications have side effects like headaches or hot flashes, but on the whole it is tolerable. In IVF when we are growing multiple eggs, many women will feel increased pelvic pressure/heaviness or bloating from the hormones being elevated and enlargement of the ovaries. These symptoms are temporary and should resolve after treatment.
I proudly offer the full range of fertility treatments. I am happy to work with you to tailor your testing and treatment plan to what is best for you and your goals. My clinic offers fertility assessments and evaluations, IUI, IVF, embryo transfers, egg freezing. Pretty much any fertility related treatment you could desire! I care for all people as individuals and treat single people, couples, LGBTQ+ people. I also feel it is important to approach things as a whole person and support you and your health and wellness beyond the fertility treatments themselves.
Infertility can affect anyone at any age. I have seen a full range of people ranging from in their 20s to the 50s. I think it is important to have an open discussion of options at all ages.
I would advise anyone who is coming for their first consultation to keep an open mind. I know that it is a huge step to even get to the point of booking that first consultation and it can be daunting. My goal in seeing you is for you to know that you are supported and in good hands. I want you to come away from our visit feeling informed and have a good understanding of next steps and potential treatments (and this does not always mean IVF)! Feel free to reach out to me, Dr. Lauren Sundheimer, here at Kindbody Newport Beach to schedule your appointment today.
Follow me on social media too! @sundheimermd
I look forward to seeing you!
I hope you have learned more than a few things from my interview with Dr. Lauren Sundheimer. As you can see, she is truly an empathetic and knowledgeable physician. She’s exactly the kind of doctor you would want in your corner when navigating the mystifying world of infertility. Be sure to reach out to her office at Kindbody Newport Beach for any questions or to get a consultation to see what her recommendations are regarding your personal fertility journey.
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