Infertility is not something people talk freely about very often, but it shouldn’t be that way. Infertility is not an inconvenience, it is a disease. It is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction, and it affects millions of women – and men – everyday.
I can attest to this both professionally – as a Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist (long title for Infertility Specialist!) and personally – as I struggled for years with infertility myself.
While I was in school at MIT obtaining my undergraduate degree, my sister was struggling with infertility as she and her husband were trying to start their family. Little did I know, that I would eventually encounter similar struggles first-hand and that I would then go into the field of reproductive endocrinology and help other couples dealing with infertility, too.
After I graduated from MIT, I came back home to New Orleans for medical school training at LSU. I completed my residency in OB/GYN at Ochsner and started practicing at LSU. After a year in practice doing OB/GYN, I decided to pursue a career in infertility and went to the University of Iowa where I completed a three-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) with a focus on elective single embryo transfers.
It was while I was in fellowship for REI in Iowa that I discovered I had a really low ovarian reserve. Ovarian reserve refers to a woman’s fertility potential in the absence of any problems in the reproductive tract. It mainly depends on the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries and how well the ovarian follicles are responding to the hormonal signals from the brain. So here I am learning all about infertility in my fellowship and meanwhile my husband and I are personally dealing with infertility as we try to start our family.
After 1 failed IVF cycle and no embryos left to freeze, I really thought that was it. But we moved forward with a second cycle which was converted to an IUI (short for intrauterine insemination, another form of fertility treatment) and it took!!! We had a beautiful baby girl, Dawson.
Following the birth of Dawson, I knew I was in premature ovarian failure – early menopause. There’s only a 10% chance of getting pregnant on your own for women with premature ovarian failure so we thought that was going to be it. We were okay with just having one child … but we did talk with someone about the possibility of using donor eggs and knew that was an option. That ended up not being necessary, because I got pregnant on my own with my second daughter! While we were extremely grateful for this second blessing, we realized how lucky we were since the odds were not in our favor.
It gives me great satisfaction that I’m able to help women like me achieve their dream of conceiving a baby. An infertility diagnosis is not something most people would look back on and be thankful for. But I think infertility made me a better doctor and mom. From my personal and professional experiences, I know how to navigate the infertility journey—and I can share this unique perspective with my patients.
In 2011, we were so excited to open Audubon Fertility & Reproductive Medicine in a converted shotgun house in Uptown New Orleans. We are a cutting-edge fertility clinic providing services in all aspects of reproductive health but we take great pride in the relaxing and patient-focused environment we’ve created at our clinic.
In an effort to further provide comprehensive and convenient services for our patients, we now have the Vivere-Audubon Surgery Center and In Vitro Fertilization Laboratory right next door to our clinic. This facility also really focuses on providing comfortable and convenient care for our patients with a shared mission of assisting couples hoping to grow their family with the help of advanced reproductive technologies. Aside from traditional fertility treatments, we also offer oncofertility for cancer patients who want to protect their fertility for the future as well as egg freezing for women who want to delay parenthood due to diminished ovarian reserve or personal circumstances.
I am so happy to be offering all of these services here in New Orleans – my hometown. Nothing compares to the food, the festivals, the great neighborhoods and the exhilarating atmosphere here. It is truly an honor for me to help couples create the next generation of New Orleanians.
An infertility diagnosis doesn’t mean you will never have children. In fact, most couples can and do become pregnant. And often, an infertility specialist, like myself, can help to shorten that journey to parenthood. I hope by sharing my personal struggles with infertility it helps others who are also struggling know that they are not alone and there are resources out there to help them along the way.
All the best,
Dr. Lindsay Wells of Audubon Fertility