Describe your experience with Southern California Reproductive Center.
SCRC is a busy but efficient clinic. I appreciate that they open as early as they do (6:30AM) so I can go in for my lab work and ultrasounds before work. The staff are friendly and I have always found the wait times reasonable. Unfortunately the cost is significant, especially if you're health insurance doesn't cover infertility, which mine doesn't. I'm sure there are some who would balk at the cost but from what I can tell infertility treatments are expensive no matter where you go and I'd happily pay more to know I'm getting the best care possible.
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
Dr. Chang has always treated both me and my husband with great respect and sympathy for what we're going through. During each step of our treatments with her she has taken the time to inform us of the process and made us feel comfortable with the next steps.
Describe your experience with your nurse.
Both of Dr. Chang's nurses who have overseen my care, Jess and Kimberley, have been kind, organized, and always available to answer my questions during the course of my treatment.
How was your experience with Wendy Chang?
Dr. Chang is a kind, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable doctor who has made the IVF process feel less intimidating. She is not one to sugar coat the truth or make promises she can't keep but always maintains a positive outlook and shows great concern for you as an individual. She has taken care to ensure that both me and my husband are informed about each step of the IVF process and made herself accessible for questions and follow-up discussions. After our first FET failed Dr. Chang immediately put a plan in place to determine the reason for the failure before attempting a second transfer. She was even able to include me in a clinical trial for an ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Analysis) so that my costs for the test would be reduced. Though I'm not pregnant yet I have complete trust that Dr. Chang will do everything in her power to help me achieve a positive outcome. I truly can't recommend her enough.
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Wendy Chang?
Though going through IVF, or any fertility treatment in general, is a difficult and emotional experience, Dr. Chang is someone in whom you can place your trust and who will never make you question the level of care you receive.
Describe the protocols Wendy Chang used in your cycles and their degree of success.
When we first began seeing Dr. Chang, she was very throrough with her testing to determine the reasons for our infertility. I was found to have narrow Fallopian tubes and a low egg reserve, which means that natural pregnancy is possible, just very unlikely. She suggested the less aggressive route of IUI to begin with and adjusted the protocol for each round. For the first round of IUI I took Clomid and when that didn't work she had me switch to injectsble Gonal-F for the second round. The second round was unsuccessful as well so she increased the dose of Gonal-F for the third round. Though all theee rounds of IUI were unsuccessful I appreciated her adjustment of the protocol each time so we weren't simply repeating the same approach and expecting different results. After the third round of IUI failed, Dr. Chang sat us down and explained our options. Though we could continue with IUI, the expected success rate after three failed cycles in a row was lower and might be a sign that we need to try a more aggressive approach with IVF. At no point did we feel pressured into doing IVF but we understood that Dr. Chang was trying to provide us with realistic expectations and next steps that could possibly be more successful.
My husband and I elected to try IVF rather than a fourth round of IUI and prior to beginning Dr. Chang had an in-depth discussion with us about what to expect. About two weeks later Dr. Chang had me start the protocol for egg retrieval. When it came time for the retrieval I had about 9 follicles but upon waking up from the procedure Dr. Chang informed me that 4 were mature enough to be retrieved. Though we initially wanted to have half of the eggs fertilized naturally and the other half fertilized with ICSI, Dr. Chang recommended fertilizing all eggs with ICSI since we had so few and she didn't want to risk the possibility of any eggs not being fertilized. I was thankful for this recommendation because all eggs were successfully fertilized.
The week following the retrieval is nerve wracking as you wait for news about embryo development but Dr. Chang called me almost every day to update me about the status of our embryos. After genetic testing, we ended up only having two top-quality embryos of the initial four but Dr. Chang had told us ahead of time to expect that.
Following my retrieval, which was in September, I was given about a month of recovery time prior to starting the FET protocol. I began with active birth control pills, followed by daily Lupron injections for about 10 days, after which I began the PIO injections along with oral Estrace and suppository Endometrin. My uterine lining developed nicely and was about 9mm prior to the FET. My hormone levels also looked good so we went ahead with the transfer after 5 days of PIO and all went well.
Unfortunately the transfer was unsuccessful, which I could tell puzzled Dr. Chang given how good everything looked prior to the FET. Because we only had 1 embryo left she wanted to determine the reason for the failure before proceeding with another transfer. I was scheduled for a hysteroscopy to see if there were any polyps, scar tissue, or anything else in my uterus that could have prevented successful implantation. Fortunately that came back clear. Dr. Chang also recommended an ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Analsysis) to determine if 5 days of PIO was enough or if I potentially needed more (as 20-30% of women do) and was able to include me in a clinical trial that SCRC was participating in so as to reduce my costs. The ERA came back normal so Dr. Chang also recommended that I see a Rheumatologist to rule out possible auto-immune disorders that could affect implantation.
So far, all test results have come back normal and I'm starting to accept the fact that the failed FET may have just been a fluke given that there's never a 100% success rate but I'm so appreciative that Dr. Chang has been so through and relentless in her search for answers. I'm confident that by the time we begin the protocol for our next FET Dr. Chang will have done everything in her power to prevent another failure.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Wendy Chang.
Though I can't remember the exact costs of each procedure, here is what I do recall:
Each IUI cycle cost about $1500-$2000.
My stim medications were about $5000 and then the retrieval plus embryology and genetic testing cost about $17,000 (this number changes significantly depending on the 'add-one' you choose).
The FET protocol was about $5,000.
All in all, for three rounds of IUI and 1 round of IVF we spent close to $30,000.