How was your experience with Brad Swelstad at Pacific NW Fertility?
Overall we were very happy with Dr. Swelstad. The only negative thing we encountered was the way in which he approached his recommendation that we use ICSI in our first IVF cycle. According to my husband's sperm analysis all his numbers were above average, except for morphology, which was at the low end of average, but still in a normal range. To me, this indicated that there was no male factor, or at least not one that had been proven. Dr. Swelstad's rationale was that because we had unexplained infertility and had never conceived, it was possible that the sperm were having trouble fertilizing the egg despite the numbers being normal. He recommended that we use ICSI and gave us a ballpark figure of the price (not included in our IVF cycle plan) that turned out to be significantly lower than the actual price. Though he apologized for this later with the usual "I'm a doctor, I'm not in billing," we felt that if a doctor is going to strongly recommend an optional and expensive add-on treatment, that he should be informed about current pricing. After discussing it on our own and discovering the real price of ICSI, which seemed to be exorbitant compared to some other clinics we looked into and the national average, we decided we did not want to do ICSI. Dr. Swelstad then proceeded to call us to make the case again. In some ways we appreciated the personal attention, especially as he made the call at 5 pm, but we also felt quite pressured to proceed with ICSI. In the end, since we only had 7 eggs that were mature enough to be fertilized at all, we were glad we did ICSI, which resulted in 6/7 being fertilized. However, if we had had more eggs I don't think this procedure would have been necessary at all, and the clinic would not give us the option of making the decision after the egg retrieval. It is a fine line since the clinic does, of course, have a vested interest in achieving success, but we did feel pressured, despite Dr. Swelstad's generally kind demeanor and obvious commitment to getting us our positive outcome.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Brad Swelstad at Pacific NW Fertility?
I felt very good after our first consultation with Dr.Swelstad. He was a great conversationalist and seemed interested in our situation in both a professional and personal way.
Describe the protocols Brad Swelstad used in your cycles at Pacific NW Fertility and their degree of success.
We did a fresh IVF cycle using my husband's frozen sperm and my own eggs. I was on fairly standard doses of follistim (increased from 300 daily to 375 when I wasn't responding enough), mini HCG, and later Ganirelix. My follicles weren't getting big enough, thus the increased dosage. If I did it again I would want to be on the higher dosage from the beginning, as I believe this was the cause of our relatively mediocre-average egg retrieval count. But at the time there was no way of knowing how I would respond, and we definitely didn't want to over-stimulate. I needed a few extra days, and therefore extra doses of ganirelix, but it all worked out well in the end, and I experienced almost no side effects at all from the treatment. 11 eggs retrieved, 7 were mature, 6 were fertilized using ICSI, and 5 survived to day 5. We transferred two and are now pregnant with twins.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Pacific NW Fertility. (Assigned nurse: Alyssa Fox)
Alyssa, who no longer works at PNWF, was awesome at communicating with us by email while we were still overseas and trying to get everything organized to start our cycle. I contacted multiple clinics and never got a better or more prompt response than from her. This was crucial to our decision to go with this clinic and her continued support and communication made the whole process very smooth.
Describe your experience with Pacific NW Fertility.
The quality of care is great, very easy to get appointments at times that work for you, overall atmosphere is very welcoming. The downside is it is extremely expensive when compared to the national average, especially for extra things like ICSI.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Brad Swelstad at Pacific NW Fertility.
We opted for the refund plan, which, once you added the extra fees for ICSI, anesthesia, etc came to over $20,000. The terms were that if you used all your embryos in 12 months and still hadn't sustained a pregnancy to 12 weeks, you would be refunded 80% (not including those extra fees and add-ons).
Describe Brad Swelstad's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Pacific NW Fertility.
There was no option because we chose a refund plan that required us to transfer two at a time, and we were fine with that.