"We really wanted to be parents, but it just wasn't happening for us," recalls 29-year-old Amy Kostner. The Winona native and her husband, Travis, had been trying to get pregnant for longer than a year, but without success. Her physician ran tests and discovered that her fallopian tubes were blocked.
"I didn't want to have surgery for the blockages because there was still no guarantee I'd be able to get pregnant," Amy shares. Her doctor recommended that she visit the Gundersen Fertility Center.
"I'm not the kind of person who uses this word often, but our experience at the Fertility Center was amazing," Amy says."It was just the best."
As it turns out, Amy was an ideal candidate for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). She was under age 35 and in good health, and she and Travis had viable eggs and sperm. After her first IVF transfer, Amy learned she was pregnant. Fast forward to Dec. 7, 2011, and the Kostners welcomed 7 pound, 10 ounce Berklee to their family-the 100th baby born with the help of the Gundersen IVF program.
"He's a wonderful little boy," Amy says with a laugh. "We are very lucky."
While only 5 to 10 percent of couples need IVF, Gundersen's rate of success is excellent. Outcomes are consistently well above the national average for women of every age up to age 40.
Ideal candidates for the Fertility Center are women like Amy, who are younger than age 35 and have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for a year or longer, or women above age 35 who have been trying to get pregnant for at least six months.
Because only a small percentage of couples require procedures like IVF, an experience at the Fertility Center begins with a customized evaluation. Familiarity with the patient's history helps Fertility Center staff recommend the best options and avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.
Once any infertility issues are identified, the Fertility Center team works with the couple to determine their treatment path.
"The Center offers many options for couples to try prior to IVF, such as stimulation of the ovaries when a woman has difficulty with egg production or placing sperm in the uterus using the husband's sperm or donor sperm," explains Joy Peterson, BS, TS, ELD, Fertility Center embryologist and laboratory director.
For most couples, IVF is tried only when other options have not worked, or in the case of Amy and Travis, when a known medical issue shows IVF as the best option.
"We get to know our patients very well because we go through the journey together," Joy continues. "It really bonds us-they become like members of our family." Amy agrees, adding, "The support I received from the staff at the Center was amazing. The IVF process was new to me and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right, so I called all the time. Someone was always available to answer my questions and reassure me."
Amy and Travis plan to return to the Fertility Center to try to expand their family. "This was such a successful experience for us," Amy shares. "We want to come back to try to give Berklee a little brother or sister."