Partnering with Vios
It’s been my privilege to get to know Vios Fertility Institute, and today I would like to share them with you! Here is the result of a Q&A I did with them recently.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about Vios?
Established in 2015, Vios Fertility Institute has offices in St. Louis, Swansea, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The staff at Vios is dedicated to helping each patient, couple and family with all of their reproductive health needs by focusing on the patient from day one. We develop a personalized plan best suited for the emotional, physical and financial needs of each individual.
Our founding doctors Dr. Angeline N. Beltsos, Dr. Julie S. Rhee and Dr. Amber R. Cooper wanted to start a practice that focused on the patient. While that seems obvious a lot of practices lose site of the patient as an individual. Our goal is to always do what is right for that specific patient and make them feel like an individual we are caring for.
The doctors also wanted to take advantage of new technologies and participate in clinical studies with our top REI colleagues across the country. Fertility is a field that is ever changing and to provide our patients the best possible care we must stay abreast of these advancements.
What makes Vios unique from other clinics?
Everything we do and every decision we make is with the patient in mind. When you come into our offices we don’t want you to feel like you are coming into a sterile white clinic. We want you to feel at home and comfortable which is the reason for reason we choose the furniture and décor we have. Instead of our patients moving from room-to-room we come to the patient in a consultation room so that the doctors, nurses, financial coordinators etc can answer any questions they have. This space has couches, soft lighting, drinks and snacks.
Our practice is made up of all board certified or board eligible fellowship trained doctors. We want to provide our patients the best care possible. Being board certified/eligible Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist gives our doctors a strong infertility foundation as well as a network of other REIs to continually be learning from. If we aren’t learning, we are doing something wrong.
Our all female team of doctors are not only highly educated in fertility but they are also wonderful, strong, intelligent women that care about our patients and make them feel at ease. A couple of our doctors have also faced fertility issues when building their own families. This gives them a unique perspective into the patient’s mindset when seeking treatment at our clinic.
Do you offer additional services beyond the standard fertility treatments?
We provide the standard treatments: medications, timed intercourse, IUI, IVF, egg/sperm/embryo preservation, 3rd party reproduction and genetic testing (PGS/PGD). Not all clinics suggest genetic testing but we think it is an important aspect of patient care and treatment paths especially in a couple subsets of patients including those with recurrent pregnancy loss and patient’s with an advanced maternal age.
Our two St. Louis offices are also utilizing a new technology called INVOcell (INVOcellStLouis.com) that is an intravaginal incubation device. Eggs are retrieved like a normal IVF cycle but then are placed in the INVOcell device with sperm. The device (4cm x 3cm) is closed and place in the woman’s vagina. She goes home and resume her normal activities. On day 3-5 she returns to the clinic and we look to see if an embryo(s) have developed. A transfer would take place shortly following the removal of the device.
It is basically a step between IUI and IVF. It is ½ the cost of traditional IVF and has comparable success rates for patients who are candidates. INVOcell is also 4x more successful than IUI so it gives patients doing IUIs a higher success rate for a little more cost and there is also the potential that they will have embryos available to freeze for future FETs. There is only one other clinic offering this in St. Louis. Vios Fertility Institute’s Chicago offices will have this device after a non-compete window ends in Chicago.
What is your most in demand treatment and why?
It’s hard to pick just one. There are a lot of factors when patients seek treatment. Their medical history will help determine which treatment options are a viable option for them. They then must consider the financial obligations associated with those treatment paths. Finally, they must prepare for the emotional aspect of the treatment path options. All of these combined can lead patients to choose different treatments.
Insurance also plays a role in what treatment they seek. If they don’t have fertility coverage and have to pay out of pocket they can be limited by cost. If they do have insurance coverage they may have to meet certain criteria before moving on to another treatment. An example of this is when patients are required to do several IUIs before insurance will cover (some or all) of an IVF treatment cycle. This can be especially frustrating when insurance companies are dictating care even though the doctor knows the patient won’t be successful with IUIs and the patient has to go through the emotional toll of several failed cycles.
Is there anything you’d like to say to families who are experiencing infertility right now?
There are a lot of misconceptions about infertility and it is an issue most people don’t talk about. 1 in 8 couples experience trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. So just know that you aren’t alone. There is an amazing network of clinics, support groups, agencies, etc that can help you achieve your dreams of parenthood. Reach out to us and we can at a minimum share with you options so you can decide how/if you would like to proceed.
When should someone get in touch to start looking into whether they may have a fertility challenge? (eg. after how many months of trying?)
If you are under 35 and have been trying for a year you should schedule a consultation. Or, if you are over 35 and having been trying for six months you should schedule a consultation. And if something seems off (ex: you aren’t having regular periods) you should seek a consultation regardless of age or length of time trying to conceive.
What are some things friends and family can do to support a loved one going through infertility?
The biggest thing is to just listen to the individual/couple going through fertility treatments and take cues from them. Some will want to talk and others won’t. Ask them what you can do for them – bring dinner by or do something to distract them for a while. Refrain from giving advice and if they aren’t constantly bringing it up don’t ask how it is going all the time. They may be trying to think about other things.
While being pregnant after infertility is a time of joy, I know it also accompanied by it’s own set of struggles. What are some of the challenges a family faces when they are pregnant after infertility struggles?
This is definitely a time of excitement and stress because so many of our patients do experience miscarriages. During this time, it is important to be hopeful and also take some time for yourselves each day and week. Enjoy a massage, a movie date or a nice dinner with your partner. Share your concerns and worries but don’t let them consume you. There are also a number of wonderful support groups of individuals and couples who have gone through infertility treatments and have become parents. They can share their experience and help you navigate your pregnancy.
What can a family do to help with their fear and anxiety?
Every family is different in how they deal with their fears and anxieties. For some, talking about it helps whether it is with friends and family, support groups of others who have experienced infertility, with their doctor and other medical staff, or a licensed psychologist.
It is also important to ask questions and receive the answers to them. A lot of fear and anxiety comes from the unknown. While we can’t know and predict everything we can help answer your questions to hopefully calm your fears.
Some fear and anxiety is normal but if you feel it is getting in the way of your day-to-day activities please reach out to us so that we can help.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One of our top goals at Vios is to educate. With knowledge comes power and if more individuals understand that good fertility isn’t a given and get tested for their baseline fertility at a younger age they have more options and can plan accordingly. Our Vios Pulse testing is $99 for blood work, an ultrasound and a semen analysis. If this testing were part of a general check up at say, 22-25, individuals would know if they have a lower ovarian reserve (other issues, etc) and should consider having children sooner than planned or consider egg freezing. This could help them avoid costly treatments at an older age and reduce the heart ache of coming into our office at 35 after trying for years and years to find out there is an issue that could have been addressed years ago.