Apr 22, 2015


Interviewer: Infertility is more than about just getting pregnant. It usually means that something is not healthy about the woman, the man, or both, and it's important to treat the underlying conditions because that not only helps the couple conceive, but it makes both healthier in the process. That's the philosophy behind restorative reproductive medicine for infertility and we're going to examine that next on The Scope.

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Interviewer: If you're having difficulty getting pregnant and you're interested in treatments that focus on correcting the abnormalities, rather than bypassing the normal conception process, you might want to consider a philosophy of medicine called restorative reproductive medicine for infertility, which is also called natural procreative technology. It could be the solution for you. Dr. Joseph Stanford is with University of Utah Health Care. So, first of all, what's up with these names? They're very complicated, robotic, and isn't it really just about getting pregnant organically?

Dr. Stanford: A lot of it is. It's really about understanding what's going on with the underlying process and for couples to know what's really going on with their fertility and how to take advantage of it. There are also underlying medical conditions. Infertility is not just about accidents or people not knowing things, it's also about underlying medical problems, and we need to figure out what those are and fix them. So, there's medicine involved.

Interviewer: Okay, so this philosophy to me sounds like sometimes you don't want to treat the symptom, you want to treat the cause. And a lot of other reproductive therapies, it sounds like within this philosophy of medicines a view of them is treating the symptom and not the cause. Is that fair?

Dr. Stanford: I think that is fair. We are trying to find as much as we can about underlying cause and correct them. That's right.

Interviewer: So, what type of patients do you usually see?

Dr. Stanford: Reproductive age couples, of course. Women anywhere in their reproductive years, early 20s to mid-40s. Obviously, earlier is better in terms of their age. Then men can be any corresponding age in that couple.

Interviewer: Yeah, is there a reason why they come to you as opposed to maybe going a different route?

Dr. Stanford: There are a number of reasons people come to see me when they want something a little more natural. They've tried something else and they want to try this. Cost sometimes, this is definitely a cost efficient way to look at things.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Dr. Stanford: So, there's a number of reasons they may be trying this out.

Interviewer: All right, so I understand a lot of times there are multiple issues that's causing problems with getting pregnant. Can you talk about some of those?

Dr. Stanford: Certainly. This first and most important thing to say is that couples who are not getting pregnant usually have more than one problem. The norm is to have more than one condition that's underlying and there are many possibilities. In at least half of the time, there's a male factor involved as well. So, on the woman's side, we can have problems with ovulation.

We can have problems with hormone levels, low progesterone. We can have problems with the luteal or the post-ovulatory part of the cycle not being optimized for the embryo to implant. There can be conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and there's other things. I could make a longer list, so we have to really look at all the possibilities.

On the man's side, there can be a number of issues that reduce the sperm count and those can include lifestyle issues where the man's not as healthy as he should be. There can be some medical conditions. There can be hormone imbalances in the man as well.

Interviewer: So other than just kind of try to sort through some of these problems, is that essentially what you do, is you use your broad expertise of all the things it could be going wrong and sort through that with the couple?

Dr. Stanford: Definitely. We do a comprehensive history and an exam for both the man and the woman. Then, we also look at targeted blood tests and sometimes other tests like ultrasounds to get the full picture of what we can of what's going on.

Interviewer: And how effective is this type of treatment, because it seems kind of crazy that this could cure a lot of the cases?

Dr. Stanford: I'd say it's very effective and for most couples we have at least a 50% live birth rate, which compares very well to other fertility treatments. There are some couples that have certain severe conditions that we can't help and we'll tell them if that's the case. But I can say most couples can do very well with this approach.

Interviewer: How long does it generally take to find the root causes of what's causing a couples infertility?

Dr. Stanford: So, infertility doesn't happen overnight and we don't necessarily cure it overnight. But I would say within two or three months at most, we have a really good picture of what's going on and how to treat it moving forward. Then on average it takes about eight or nine cycles for a live birth, or for a pregnancy that leads to a live birth.

Interviewer: So couples that are having trouble getting pregnant and having a baby, it sounds like a lot of them are just these types of issues.

Dr. Stanford: I think that's true, yeah. There's a lot of underlying medical issues that haven't been adequate, or lifestyle or health issues that haven't been adequately dealt with.

Interviewer: Does it result in healthier babies as well?

Dr. Stanford: We think so. That's ongoing research to prove that, but that's our belief, yes.

Interviewer: Yeah, and then also, of course, if you're curing the problem that's causing the infertility, a lot of times that's healthier moms and dads as well.

Dr. Stanford: Definitely. Healthier everybody, yes.

Interviewer: Yeah. Are there any other thoughts that you have for a couple that's considering restorative reproductive medicine?

Dr. Stanford: They could go online and look at the web page I have for natural procreative technology and learn a little bit more. They can contact me. I'm happy to have a little bit of a discussion in advance of an appointment, if they have specific questions, and then come see me. We'd be happy to talk about it.

Interviewer: And what is your web address?

Dr. Stanford: Google "natural procreative technology Utah." We'll come up at the top.

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