Ten Minutes With an IVF specialist – Rachel A. Bennett, MD
Rachel A. Bennett, MD is a reproductive endocrinologist, or to put it more simply, an IVF specialist. She opened her private practice, Westchester Reproductive Medicine, in Mount Kisco in 2006 and has been practicing for 24 years. She trained with some of the world’s leading pioneers in the field at Cornell Weill and Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. Her practice is considered to be a “boutique” operation; she sees about 150 women and couples a year.
How big of a problem is infertility?
Throughout the US, as well as in our area, about ten percent of couples who attempt pregnancy have difficulty. However, infertility is definitely age-driven. Women hit their peak fertility in their late 20s and early 30s, and then it starts declining. But we are no longer an agrarian society, based on a homestead where men go out to provide and women stay home and have the babies. Our biology, unfortunately, has not kept up with our changing societal structure.
What major advances have happened in the past two decades?
Since I have been practicing, the two most significant advances have been: 1) Egg freezing—and that has changed in a way that women in their early 30s who are not yet ready to start their families are considering doing that. It has become more and more popular in the last five years. We have also really improved our knowledge on how to most successfully freeze eggs and increase their viability. 2) The genetic testing of embryos is becoming standard practice. There are clinics where every viable embryo is tested. And the testing has become much more reliable, too. We have much more information about which embryo is a good embryo, which embryo will likely work, which one will end up in miscarriage, and which one will end up with a healthy baby
Is IVF often successful in the first round?
It totally depends on age; that is the biggest determinant. Across each age category, your ovarian reserve and the egg quality changes. A young person with a good reserve—meaning women under the age of 38—is likely to be successful on the first cycle. Over 40, it may take more than one cycle. People can see a prediction of their chances using the online tool at the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology:
What types of costs are associated with this?
Some insurance companies cover some or most of the costs, but without insurance, a patient should expect to set aside between $10,000 and $15,000 for one cycle.
What is one of your favorite success stories?
One patient came to me after a grueling time with seven failed cycles. She got pregnant on her second cycle with me, and she had twins. She sent me a photograph when she was pregnant, and she looked like an angel—just ethereal. Her story from where she started to how she got to this place, it just made me so happy for her.