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Fertility Doctor of the Month: Sherif G. Awadalla, MD

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Sherif G. Awadalla, MD, Institute of Reproductive Health, Cincinnati, OH

June 2011 is pleased to honor Dr. Sherif Awadalla as Fertility Doctor of the Month. We recognize Dr. Awadalla for his work with fertility patients as Medical Director of the Institute of Reproductive Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his philosophy of individualized care.

“Our practice philosophy is that every patient has a story and that by paying attention to that story you do better,” says Dr. Awadalla. “That means everybody does not need IVF. Everybody, every case, is a little different, and you do better by not being fixed to one treatment modality."

Areas of Interest

One of Dr. Awadalla’s major areas of interest is difficult in vitro fertilization (IVF) cases. Analyzing a fertility patient’s previous cycles helps the fertility doctor ascertain if there is an issue with the embryos or the uterus, or whether there is a problem with ovarian stimulation. “We see a lot of patients who have difficulty with stimulation — either hypo- or hyper-responding," Dr. Awadalla says. "One of our emphases is on not using an aggressive dose of gonadotropins, because we think it deteriorates egg and embryo quality."

Another area he’s very interested in is “stimulation without suppression.” Many of fertility centers treat patients with birth control pills or Lupron at the onset of an IVF cycle, but, according to Dr. Adawalla, a number of patients can’t handle that shut down because they don’t stimulate well. “So we just stimulate them with their period and then give a GnRH antagonist (a type of fertility drug), and we get good results,” he says. “We’re finding a lot of patients that are in their in mid-to-late 30s or early 40s that can handle no suppression."

One thing Dr. Adawalla says is unique about his practice is, “We tend to try to optimize stimulation and transfer, and we have the scheduling flexibility that we can accommodate it seven days a week.”

How Times Have Changed

Dr. Awadalla has been a practicing fertility doctor for more than 20 years, and he shared a number of observations about fertility treatment and how it’s changed during this time. He explains how the early phase of IVF was about physician collaboration and trying to improve fertility treatment success rates. Ineffective surgeries have been supplanted by IVF, and today's fertility patients are subjected to fewer pelvic exams and blood draws today.

In the 1980s, before IVF, gonadotropins (fertility drugs) weren’t prescribed to women who were already ovulating. And other treatments were a spin off from IVF, Dr. Awadalla explains, including artificial insemination/intrauterine insemination (IUI).

“In the 1980s, the pregnancy rate was 16 percent. And when we discussed this with patients, nobody ever said, ‘How come it’s 16 percent?’ And now, the pregnancy rate is 50 percent and patients say, ‘How come it’s only 50 percent?’ So it’s really ironic to see how far it’s come, and the expectations are even greater,” Dr. Awadalla says.

Dr. Awadalla says that 60 percent of his time is spent doing IVF, and the balance of it is spent performing reconstructive surgery, such as surgery related to endometriosis, and tubal reversals. He also has teaching responsibilities at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

In addition, Dr. Awadalla is working on the second edition of "The Fast Track to Fertility," a book he co-authored with Dr. Michael D. Scheiber. All of Dr. Awadalla’s patients receive a copy of the book to help educate them on all aspects of fertility and fertility treatment.

Nominate Your Fertility Doctor features a dedicated fertility doctor (reproductive endocrinologist) each month. You can nominate your favorite fertility doctor by clicking here. We will contact you if your fertility doctor is chosen to be our Fertility Doctor of the Month.