Ask an Expert - How is Fertility Treatment Changing?
Afsana Islam is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Kofinas Fertility Group. With a science background in physiology, kinesiology, and neurorehabilitation, as well as experience in business development, Afsana serves as a link between the fertility experts at Kofinas to referring physicians and patients alike. In this interview, Afsana discusses what has changed in fertility care - both in the medicine and in the public's perception.
Afsana: "I know, just from Dr. Kofinas’s experience, what has changed is accessibility for patients. We have the internet now, and where it was just referral-driven patients before, now you have options with the touch of a button."
What has new research discovered?
Afsana: "There used to be the perception that infertility is all the woman’s fault. In actuality it’s about 40% women, 40% men, 10% combined - because of carrier genes for things like cystic fibrosis - and then 10% is technically still unexplained. This also sets us apart because Dr. George Kofinas wants those patients. He doesn’t believe in unexplained fertility. He says, ‘Nope. We’re going to take it. And we’re going to do the best that we can.’ We’re not going to turn anybody away.
We don’t have an age limit either. We’re the only ones that take people over 40. If you go to a different clinic and you’re over 40 they will not accept you into their program. It will hurt their success rates at the end of the year. We don’t even think about our success rates until they come out, and we end up on top anyway. Especially in that 40 - 47 range. Nobody else even has that data because they don’t serve that population.
Freezing has changed. It used to be what was called 'slow-freezing.' Basically you would drop the temperature of an egg, of an oocyte, or the sperm, very slowly until it froze. They found out that they were getting malformed genetics because of that. Think about an ice cube - when it slow freezes you get ice crystals in the middle that look like spikes. That was happening to the eggs and to the sperm. Those spikes can go straight through a genetic code and completely ruin it.
Then came vitrification, which is the process of liquid nitrogen instant freezing. Literally every new technology that has come out, Dr. Kofinas has been witness to. It’s just constant process improvement. When we open up our surgical center we’re going to be one of two places in the entire country that do a certain type of cryopreservation on your ovarian tissues."
How have conversations about fertility treatments changed?
Afsana: "The medicine has changed, the patients have changed, the accessibility has changed, the attitudes have changed. Every now and then we see that people don’t tell their families or their friend because it’s still not a subject that they want to talk about. Think about it from a human nature perspective - it’s almost like admitting something is wrong with something that you are biologically made to do. So there’s a lot of blame, there’s a lot of guilt there. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist anymore, because it absolutely does, but I feel like the conversation is much more common now, and because of the internet, people are able to find communities and support groups, and validation that it is more common than you think..
It’s important for patients to feel comfortable. This is a huge decision, and it's very taxing emotionally, physically, and financially. It’s important to have that trust and rapport with whoever you choose to go to. We spend a lot of time with our patients. Our physicians do things like sonograms, as opposed to somewhere else the nurse might do it. Which is just fine, they know what they’re doing, but our physicians actually do that because they want to make sure that they get the first eyes on what’s going on."
Dr. Kofinas and Providers at Kofinas Fertility Group
What's important to know when considering fertility treatments?
Afsana: "It’s just about continuous improvement on all aspects of our medicine and patient experience. Dr. Kofinas wants to be the industry leader in our medical portion - which he kind of already is - and he also wants to be the industry leader in patient experience.
I want people to have a bit of hope still. And I know that it sounds corny and cheesy, but that’s what we provide: a glimmer of hope. I want to help more and more people. I meet our patients, we have relationships, it’s amazing. They are a part of our family. "
For 30 years, Kofinas Fertility Group has been on the cutting edge of reproductive procedures and technology. Our dedicated staff of fertility experts will create a personalized and unique plan that fits your needs and goals. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!