Disclosure:: This post is sponsored by Audubon Fertility & Reproductive Medicine and Vivere Health. While we have shared lots of stories of infertility we are excited to share a unique perspective today, that of someone who has walked through infertility as both a doctor AND a mother.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs one’s ability to conceive and it affects millions of women – and men – everyday. It’s a topic that makes many people uncomfortable to talk about. Most of us just assume it will be pretty easy to get pregnant one day and it comes as somewhat of a shock when it’s not. I can attest to this both professionally – as a Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist (long title for Infertility Specialist) – and personally, as I struggled for years with infertility myself.
“Most of us just assume it will be pretty easy to get pregnant one day and it comes as somewhat of a shock when it’s not.”
While I was in school at MIT obtaining my undergraduate degree, my sister was struggling with infertility as she and her husband were trying to start their family. The process of infertility treatments that she went through at that time was fascinating to me. And things have changed quite a bit since then (jeez – that was almost 20 years ago!). After I graduated from MIT, I returned home to New Orleans for medical school at LSU. I completed my residency in OB/GYN at Ochsner and practiced general OB/GYN at LSU for a year. I then went to the University of Iowa where I completed a three-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) with a focus on elective single embryo transfers.
It was during my fellowship in REI that I discovered I had a really low ovarian reserve. And I mean really low. Ovarian reserve refers to the quantity and quality of eggs that a woman has remaining. So here I am learning all about infertility in my fellowship, and I am diagnosed with one of the most difficult things in our field to treat. Our first IVF cycle failed and we had no frozen embryos. We decided to try one more time and, as is typical for someone with very low reserve, I had only one follicle on max doses of medications. “Not worth going to retrieval for” so we converted it to an IUI (intrauterine insemination). To our surprise, it worked and the result is our beautiful daughter, Dawson.
Following the birth of Dawson, my labs were even worse, consistent with complete ovarian failure at the age of 34. We thought, it would have been nice to have another child but felt blessed to have the one we did. It was quite a surprise one day a couple of years later when it finally dawned on me why I was feeling SO exhausted all the time. And that was our second daughter, lovely Phoebe.
It gives me great satisfaction that I’m able to help women like me achieve their dream of having a family. An infertility diagnosis is not something most people would look back on and be thankful for. But I think infertility made me a better doctor and mom. From my personal and professional experiences, I know how to navigate the infertility journey—and I can share this unique perspective with my patients.
In 2011, I was so excited to open Audubon Fertility & Reproductive Medicine in a converted shotgun house in Uptown New Orleans. We provide services in all aspects of reproductive health but we are most proud of the way we deliver those services – in a very relaxing, stress-free, and at times, humorous environment.
In 2013, I partnered with Vivere Health to open the Vivere-Audubon Surgery Center and In Vitro Fertilization Lab next door to our clinic. This facility also has a focus on providing comfortable and convenient care for our patients. In addition to traditional fertility treatments we also offer fertility preservation for cancer patients as well as egg freezing for women who want to delay parenthood due to diminished ovarian reserve or personal circumstances.
Our practice and IVF program has grown tremendously in the last couple of years. And our pregnancy rates (and single embryo transfer rates!) from this past year are as high as the top programs in the country. I am very proud of what our team has accomplished and am looking forward to making it even better. This is such an amazing city, and I love getting to know the couples that come through our door. It’s exciting to think I am helping them create the next generation of New Orleanians.
An infertility diagnosis doesn’t mean you will never have children. In fact, most couples can and do become pregnant. And often, an infertility specialist like myself, can help shorten that journey to parenthood and hopefully make the process not so stressful. I hope sharing my personal struggles with infertility helps others who are also struggling know that they are not alone and there are resources out there to help them along the way.
Do you want to learn more about Dr. Wells and how Audubon Fertility & Reproductive Medicine can help you or a friend? Submit a consultation request or read more HERE.
Dr. Wells is a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist with Audubon Fertility & Reproductive Medicine. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She then returned home to New Orleans for medical school training at Louisiana State University and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation. After a year in practice at LSU, she went to the University of Iowa, where she completed her three-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Wells recently published her work on long-term follow-up of IVF children in the journal Human Reproduction. Her clinical interests include operative hysteroscopy and laparoscopy, and single embryo transfer for IVF.