Renowned Fertility Clinic Opens in Vienna
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant month after month without any success, you might think that IVF will be your only option.
Excitement was high in the brand-new Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) Northern Virginia office in Vienna on Sept. 1 as the fertility clinic prepared for its first-ever egg retrieval.
While the actual procedure was not scheduled to take place for one or two weeks, everyone at the spacious facility, which occupies an entire floor of the Towers Crescent building in Vienna, already seemed primed for the upcoming milestone.
“We are excited to bring CCRM’s top-rate services to Northern Virginia,” CCRM Northern Virginia co-founder and practice director Dr. Mark Payson said. “Like other CCRM fertility centers, CCRM Northern Virginia will offer individualized treatment with a focus on delivering high success rates and an excellent patient experience.”
Founded in 1987 by Dr. William Schoolcraft, the flagship CCRM office is located in Lone Tree, Colo., but the fertility treatment center has since opened nine partner clinics around the country, including one in Toronto, Canada.
CCRM Northern Virginia, the most recent addition, officially opened on July 26 with a 17-person staff, and it is averaging five or six patients per day, according to Payson. It is located at 8010 Towers Crescent Drive in Vienna, on the 5th floor.
Payson, who served as director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s in vitro fertilization (IVF) program until 2012, works with Dr. Vasiliki Moragianni as CCRM Northern Virginia’s two resident physicians.
According to her CCRM website profile, Moragianni was named top obstetrician/gynecologist by the International Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2013 and worked at a private practice in the Northern Virginia area before joining CCRM Northern Virginia.
CCRM selected Fairfax County as the location for its newest facility in part due to its large population.
“When we were looking at the D.C. metro area, it seemed like a logical place to be,” Payson said. “Being just outside the Beltway here in Tysons Corner, we felt it made us very accessible to this area and even for people…in Maryland and D.C., it’s a lot closer for them to drive here than to fly to Colorado.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines infertility as not being able to conceive after a year or longer of unprotected sex.
According to the CDC, about 12 percent of women from 15 to 44 years old in the U.S. have difficulties getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Male infertility is a contributing factor for about 35 percent of couples with infertility, and it is the sole identifiable cause in 8 percent of cases.
As medical technology improves, people have been increasingly turning to assisted reproductive technology (ART) as a possible solution to infertility.
The most common method is IVF, where an egg is fertilized with a sperm outside of the body and then transferred back into the uterus, but patients can also use intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a type of IVF used for male infertility, as well as donor eggs or sperm, previously frozen embryos, and gestational carriers, where a surrogate carries the embryo.
The most recent CDC data found that 231,936 ART cycles were performed at 464 reporting clinics in the U.S. in 2015, resulting in 60,778 live births. Approximately 1.6 percent of all infants born in the U.S. every year are conceived using ART.
With a clinic that features ultrasound rooms, a full-service operating room, and an embryology laboratory, CCRM Northern Virginia offers all of the services expected of a fertility clinic, including fertility assessments, IVF treatment, egg freezing, and a donor egg and sperm program.
However, Payson says that CCRM also boasts novel techniques and sophisticated technology that separate it from other fertility treatment centers.
To start with, the clinic keeps its IVF laboratory as pristine as possible. The lab has its own air filtration system that continuously monitors for the potential presence of toxic compounds, and the room is set at a higher air pressure than the rest of the office so that no outside air enters, even when the door is opened.
“The air in the embryology laboratory is really the best air you’ll ever breathe,” Payson said. “I joke with the embryologists that they’re going to live forever because of that.”
In addition, CCRM Northern Virginia provides optional chromosomal screenings that examine an embryo to determine whether it could result in a healthy baby.
According to Drs. Joe Leigh Simpson and Sandra Ann Carson’s “Genetic and Nongenetic Causes of Pregnancy Loss” report for The Global Library of Women’s Medicine, at least 50 percent of clinically recognized pregnancy losses occur due to a chromosomal abnormality, meaning that the embryo does not have the usual 23 pairs of chromosomes.
The existence of three copies of chromosome 21 is the mildest abnormality, resulting in Down Syndrome, but other abnormalities generally either do not result in a viable pregnancy or end in a miscarriage, Payson says.
By doing chromosomal screenings, CCRM Northern Virginia reduces the chances that a patient will get pregnant with multiple fetuses as a result of IVF treatment, since the clinic usually transfers only one embryo back to the uterus at a time.
IVF more frequently produces twins, triplets or more only if it is conducted incorrectly or without the necessary precautions, according to Moragianni.
“By doing the genetic or chromosomal screening that was pioneered here at CCRM, we are more confident about the embryo we’re transferring back, because we know it has normal chromosomes,” Moragianni said. “Therefore, we’re more confident about just transferring back one embryo and further decreasing the chance of having multiples as a result of IVF.”
According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology’s (SART) preliminary 2015 clinic summary report for CCRM, single babies comprise between 1.7 and 34.1 percent of the outcomes per egg retrieval cycles at the clinic, depending on the patient’s age.
CCRM has a 47.2 percent live birth rate for women 35 years of age or younger, though that rate decreases as the patient gets older.
According to the CDC, the average national success rate for assisted reproductive technology resulting in a live birth is 37 percent for women younger than 35.
While Payson and Moragianni are currently the clinic’s only two physicians, CCRM Northern Virginia was designed with the belief that its staff will soon expand, as evidenced by a row of empty offices occupying one corner of the center.
Payson says they expect to add one or two more physicians within the next couple of years.
“This is the beauty of starting a practice from the ground up,” Moragianni said. “You combine our experiences in the past and things that we have liked and not liked in previous practices or organizations where we worked, and we try to design this the best way possible for our patients.”