How was your experience with Marwan Shaykh at Assisted Fertility Program?
Dr. Shaykh was very knowledgeable and explained each step of the procedure accurately and with great detail (I am a biologist so that's what I wanted). But I also expect he would be great at just giving a basic understanding of what to expect for those who aren't interested in the nitty-gritty details. He did not appear to have a lot of the biases that I have seen in other fertility doctors -- I am gay and obese and neither of these facts were issues to him. Other doctors have refused to treat me for my weight, but Dr. Shaykh didn't even mention it. And he was always good about including my wife in my care. He is so warm and inviting and made me feel well-cared-for. Everyone who I ran into in the office I saw being treated with the same care. There are photos in his office of the huge reunions for the children and families he's helped over the years, and I think that really speaks to how much of an impact he's had on those he treats.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Marwan Shaykh at Assisted Fertility Program?
Be prepared for expense -- not just from the cost of treatment. Obviously fertility treatments are expensive. But if you're planning to do IVF through the Roanoke office you also need to pay to fly to Jacksonville and stay there for at least a few days because the Roanoke office isn't equipped for surgery. I still think it's worth seeing him over the other doctors in the Roanoke area, but just be aware that that will add to the budget.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Marwan Shaykh at Assisted Fertility Program?
Dr. Shaykh was very caring and established early on that he cared about our wishes and outcomes. He explained the procedures well and has answered many questions. His staff was always available and it was much easier than I expected to go from speaking to a receptionist to speaking with Dr. Shaykh when I wanted to contact him. He even gave me a free appointment after our second cycle didn't work and we needed to discuss medication changes.
Describe the protocols Marwan Shaykh used in your cycles at Assisted Fertility Program and their degree of success.
We decided to begin with IUI. I had wanted to do an unmedicated cycle but Dr. Shaykh recommended we go straight to medicated.
First and second cycle -- Clomid for first five days of cycle, ultrasounds every two days starting around day 7, when egg reached maturity, at-home HCG trigger shot (10,000), then insemination 24 hours later.
Third cycle -- same procedure but with letrozol.
All have resulted in negative pregnancy tests. If you miss your period, you call the office, and he will order a blood a few days after your period is supposed to start. On my third cycle my period was late, but arrived before they ran a blood test.
How competent was Marwan Shaykh at LGBTQ care?
Dr. Shaykh treated us with respect throughout the process. He wasn't sure about a few of the legal questions we had, but that wasn't really his wheelhouse. Other than that, he never treated us poorly because of our same-sex status and was very kind and understanding about our frustrations with not being able to use insurance since we weren't straight.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Assisted Fertility Program. (Assigned nurse: Lisa)
Nurse Lisa was responsible for the majority of our care as she followed Dr. Shaykh's orders. She did all of our ultrasounds and inseminations, taught us how to do the trigger shots, managed my medications, and was our main point of contact for our care. She was very easy to talk to and always very kind. She was organized and always available -- she provided text and phone support 24/7 and would do inseminations on weekends if needed.
Describe your experience with Assisted Fertility Program.
The clinic is very organized and clearly works well as a team. The big part of the clinic is in Jacksonville, FL, which is where the doctor is during most of the month. This means that they have to have very good communication, since there is such a huge distance. That totally worked in our favor -- paperwork had a turnaround time of less than 24 hours and I knew there was a big staff working on it, but we had that single point of contact from the Roanoke office that made it so much easier to keep everything organized. Everyone we spoke to was courteous and kind. I can only speak to the Roanoke office as I haven't visited the Jacksonville one, but we had a great experience in Roanoke.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Marwan Shaykh at Assisted Fertility Program.
For three rounds of IUI, we paid about $7,000.
Each appointment with Dr. Shaykh is $300.
The HSG test was required and cost about $1,300 with insurance coverage. If we hadn't had insurance cover part of it, it would have been about four hundred dollars.
The first ultrasound of each cycle costs $250 and the subsequent ultrasounds (to monitor egg size) are $200 each.
Clomid and letrozol were covered by my insurance but the HCG trigger shot was not. The office can provide the trigger shot for $100, which ended up being way cheaper than any pharmacy in the area.
The cost of the IUI procedure itself is $300.
Sperm runs around $900 each cycle for one vial of washed sample, ordered through an outside sperm bank. The clinic can wash sperm for $100, which is the same as what the sperm bank charged.
All in all, each cycle cost about $1,700 with an upstart cost for pre-treatment testing of about $1,600.
How competent was Assisted Fertility Program at LGBTQ care?
They treated us exactly like I expect they treat every other client. This was great and SO much better than the other clinics in the area, so we're entirely satisfied. But they weren't very strongly pro-LGBT, just very neutral, which, again, was great.
Describe your experience using 3rd party reproduction (donor eggs, donor sperm, or gestational carrier) at Assisted Fertility Program.
We used donor sperm from a bank. There isn't a storage facility in the Roanoke office, so we had to order a new sample separately each month. This probably added $300 in shipping to each cycle as opposed to buying several vials at once, but we were likely to go this route anyways in the hopes that we wouldn't need very many cycles. The sperm also cannot be delivered to the office since there isn't someone there full-time, so you have to get it delivered to your home address. This requires a little bit of extra work when ordering the sperm for the first time -- you need to submit a form signed by Dr. Shaykh that he's overseeing your care (this isn't true for all sperm banks, but most will require something like this). The turnaround time for that paperwork was about 24 hours with the Jacksonville office, which was very reasonable. It just means you need to be prepared before you get the go-ahead to order sperm about two days in advance of your ovulation.