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Fertility Doctor of the Month: Ahmad O. Hammoud, M.D., M.P.H.

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Ahmad O. Hammoud, M.D., M.P.H., Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine

May 2013

Dr. Ahmad Hammoud is the Medical Director for the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is an award-winning researcher whose interests include the effects of environment and diet on male and female fertility. “My research does not take me into the lab away from my patients,” he says. “My research is really well integrated into my patient care.” FertilityAuthority is pleased to recognize Dr. Hammoud as Dr. of the Month.

The Environment and Infertility

Hammoud explains there is a winter phenomenon in Salt Lake City called inversion that causes a higher concentration of pollution a few days each year. He determined a correlation to male infertility: every year, a month or two after the inversion, the sperm count and motility of his male patients decreased. (Sperm have a three-month shelf life, so to speak, so the effect would not be seen immediately.) “It was very surprising that something as short as a few days of higher pollution can effect male fertility, so imagine what we’re exposed to throughout our lifetime; what can that do?,” Hammoud asks.

Interested in determining possible ways of improving the effects of any kind of environmental exposure through antioxidants, led him to a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in collaboration with the Minnesota Center for Reproductive Medicine. The Folic Acid and Zinc Supplementation Trial (FAZST) will study the effects of folic acid and zinc supplementation on semen quality and fertility treatment outcomes among male partners of couples seeking fertility treatment. The five-year study of 2,400 couples is currently in the recruitment phase.

“I always thought delivering the best patient care is what I want to do, but there’s one layer above - that is try to help patients find answers to some of the questions we don’t know,” he says. Such as: What are the causes of unexplained infertility? What are ways of treating patients who failed classical fertility treatment? What are the factors we need to understand that are contributing to the failure or success of IVF? With that curiosity it’s helpful to be at the University level, Hammoud says, because you have a large infrastructure, a strong collaboration and access to information and laboratory testing that may not be available elsewhere.

Patient-Focused Fertility Practice

In practice since 2008, Hammoud says he is lucky to be a reproductive endocrinologist at a time where the success of fertility treatment is high and where technology helps allows him to provide patients with options not available to them before, such as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). And patients are seeing a faster and safer route to pregnancy.

Hammoud says he has a fairly diverse patient population and works in close collaboration with urologists trained in make fertility. As such, in addition to seeing and treating all causes of infertility including PCOS, endometriosis and tubal disease, he also sees patients with complex male factor infertility.

“I see myself as a coach to help my patients figure out what would be the best next step in fertility treatment,” Hammoud says. “I always put myself in my patient’s shoes - where they come from, their financial status and their stress level, and try to provide them tools that one, help them understand the problem and two, help them overcome the stress related to infertility and fertility care, and the ups and downs in terms of success and failures.”

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