Describe your experience with Fertility Centers of Illinois.
FCI River North is a beautiful facility with a very friendly staff. All of the doctors and nurses are great. It is usually very busy but the wait times are never long and I never feel like just a number. Your doctor may not be the one doing the actual procedures, like egg retrievals and transfers (it will be whoever the doctor on duty is). But as mentioned, they are all great, just something to be prepared for! Also, they don't always use the online portal consistently when it comes to posting treatment updates, but they are very responsive if you ever have a question and always call to communicate any updates or important information.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
Dr. Hirshfeld always made time to go over every detail of our IVF cycle and answer our long list of questions. She is very intelligent and honest, while also being compassionate and empathetic to our situation. The clinic is very big and usually busy, but I always felt like the staff was very attentive and we were never rushed.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
The nurses at FCI are incredible. They are all so kind and take the time to answer any questions you have. The only downsides I experienced were inconsistency with using the online portal to communicate protocol updates and the size of the nursing staff. The online portal is great when you need to ask a question regarding treatment and the nurses are always quick to respond. However, they used the portal to post my medication schedule at the beginning of my cycle but then stopped using it later on in my cycle. It was not a big deal because they call you every day with the information you need, but it would be great if the information was also consistently posted on the portal through the whole cycle, just in case I failed to write something down from the phone call. Also, you rarely talk to the same person twice, as the nursing staff is pretty big. Again, not a big deal since they are all incredible, but it made it more difficult to establish a deeper relationship with the nurses.
What specific things went wrong at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy
- Provided conflicting information
How was your experience with Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
My husband and I came to Dr. Hirshfeld after 9 months of TTC. In the past, I have felt dismissed by doctors regarding my infertility concerns, many of them believing that we had nothing to worry about because we were young and had been trying for less than a year. However, Dr. Hirshfeld took our concerns seriously and wanted to do everything possible to find answers. She took a very detailed history of both of us and explained our next steps. When we discovered that the reason we were not conceiving was azoospermia, she immediately referred us to an incredible urologist, who ended up performing a sperm retrieval operation. From there, Dr. Hirshfeld recommended we go straight to IVF and went over every detail of the process. The only thing I feel wasn't fully communicated was the possibility that our fertilization results may be lower than average due to my husband's azoospermia. So when we got a very disappointing fertilization report following a successful egg retrieval, we were shocked and very upset. After our first cycle ended with no viable embryos, we met with Dr. Hirshfeld to go over what happened and how to move forward. Before we could go into how disappointed we were about the failed cycle and the dozens of questions we had, Dr. Hirshfeld stated that she knew this was not the result we were hoping for but that there were concrete things we could do differently to get a better result next cycle. She explained that low fertilization is common following a sperm retrieval and was honest about that not being something we could change. However, she could make changes to my medication protocol in hopes of obtaining more mature eggs to fertilize. She also recommended a fresh transfer instead of the frozen transfer we originally planned to do. She explained that the clinic had seen higher success rates with fresh transfers and the possible reasons for this, but stated that the decision was of course ultimately up to us. She answered many of the questions we had before we even asked them, and remained very hopeful despite the disappointing results of our first cycle. She answered the remaining questions we had very clearly and thoughtfully and we left feeling very hopeful about our next IVF cycle. Dr. Hirshfeld is extremely intelligent and always takes the time during appointments to go over everything. She is positive and optimistic, while also being honest about the situation and chances of success. She also remembers details about our personal lives, like what we do for work, and always asks us how things are going, making us feel like more than just a number.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
Ask any and all questions you have. Dr. Hirshfeld always takes the time to give very clear and thoughtful answers. While she is very kind, don't expect a lot of hand holding. Her intelligence and thoroughness is what makes her comforting, not hand holding.
Describe the protocols Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron used in your cycles at Fertility Centers of Illinois and their degree of success.
Dr. Hirshfeld put me on the most basic protocol, since all of my initial bloodwork and ultrasounds looked good. However, during stimulation, my left ovary was much more active than my right, which struggled to keep up. She kept me at a pretty low dose of medications since my left ovary was responding well and I had a good number of follicles. But my follicles grew at different rates, leaving only a small number within the preferred range. So while they were able to retrieve 17 eggs, only 8 of those were mature and because of my husband's azoospermia, only 3 fertilized. On day 5 we only had 1 blastocyst and unfortunately it was genetically abnormal so we did not do a transfer. Dr. Hirshfeld plans on changing my protocol next cycle so that my follicles grow more evenly and we get a higher number of mature eggs. She is adding birth control and Lupron to accomplish this, which I did not take during my first cycle. The way she described it, there are different types of protocols, and they can choose one based on initial tests but they don't really know which is the best for you until you do a complete round and see the results. Now that we saw how I responded the first time around, she can better choose a protocol to give us better results. This is exactly why they say IVF is the most expensive science experiment!
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
The monitoring appointments are very efficient and convenient. The appointments are usually in the morning, with times early enough so that it didn't interfere with my work schedule (I believe they start as early as 6:15 but I usually went in between 7 and 8). They were typically very quick, with the exception of one very busy Sunday where I waited longer than normal. All of the ultrasound techs and nurses are fantastic and very friendly.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Our insurance covered egg retrieval, fertilization, and transfer. We paid out of pocket for embryo biopsy ($1200), genetic testing ($300 for one embryo), embryo freezing ($1500), medications ($5000) and storage of my husband's sperm from his retrieval ($500 per year). We also paid smaller bills here and there for bloodwork and ultrasounds, a few hundred dollars approximately.
Describe Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Dr. Hirshfeld said that they prefer to do single embryo transfers unless the female is over a certain age or has recurrent pregnancy loss. We do not fall into these categories and prefer single embryo transfers ourselves so we did not push for more information.