Today, I’m pleased to introduce y’all to Rhonda Levy, Founder and CEO of Empowered IVF. It was actually my interview with Rhonda last month that inspired me to launch an entire interview series for NIAW. I’ll let Rhonda take it away about the work she does to help empower infertility patients on their fertility treatment journeys.
Hi Rhonda! Tell us a little bit about your story: what is your connection to infertility that brought you to the work you’re doing now?
Rhonda: In the early 90s, I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility and after multiple failed IVF cycles, became a serious student of assisted reproductive technology, spending hours in medical libraries and traveling throughout the US meeting with renowned physicians at cutting edge, research-oriented fertility clinics. My background as an attorney enabled me to be a strong advocate for myself. I finally became pregnant with our twin sons, now 17, on my fifth IVF cycle, which was my first cycle at one of the most elite fertility clinics in the country.
Until I made my way there, I had been relying on physicians who had a vested financial interest in promoting their own fertility clinics; I didn’t learn until after the fact that their competitors could offer me a better chance of success. The experience troubled me and 18 months after my sons were born, I continued to study the world of ART, continued traveling around the country meeting with and learning from renowned physicians, and began to work as a consultant providing guidance to others faced with infertility.
What makes an empowered patient?
Rhonda: An empowered patient is a patient who does not take everything at face value. The patient sees his or her self as a “consumer” who has a right to ask the physician detailed questions and who is entitled to receive meaningful answers. An empowered patient believes that knowledge is power and they are their own best advocate.
What does an infertility consultant do?
Rhonda: Well I can tell you what I do! I help my clients select fertility clinics, fertility specialists (physicians) and reproductive surgeons. I help them with success rate interpretation and provide information about the latest treatment options. I help my clients select agencies (egg donor, surrogacy and embryo donation), egg banks and sperm banks, as well as reproductive lawyers and mental health professionals. I help my clients understand their financing options, prepare for consultations and arrange second opinions. If they are interested in getting help from a fertility coach, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a mind-body program or a yoga for fertility program, I help them select those as well. I am not affiliated with any clinics, agencies or other service providers and do not benefit financially from any choices that my clients make.
How can infertility patients benefit from working with an infertility consultant?
Rhonda: Infertility patients need to spend their money wisely and to become informed and discerning; they must do this quickly because they have to keep time on their side. The world of ART is difficult to navigate. Marketing efforts within the industry can be aggressive and patients are sometimes too easily drawn in. Patients can benefit tremendously from working with someone who is an unbiased “insider” and expert. Working with the right consultant is a much better way to make critically important choices than by relying solely on information from Google and anecdotal stories or selecting the most geographically-convenient solution.
At which stage of the infertility journey is it best to seek out an infertility consultant?
Rhonda: Unfortunately, most people seek help after experiencing multiple failed cycles. I wish they would seek help earlier because that would enable them to ensure that they make the best possible decisions at an early stage. My clients often tell me they wish they had consulted with me earlier because they would have done things differently had they known then what they know now.
Where can interested infertility patients go to learn more about you, becoming an empowered patient, and the services you provide?
Rhonda: They can learn all about me and the services I provide on my website, Empowered IVF. If they give me a call, I would be pleased to provide a free 20 minute consultation to learn about their situation and explain how I can help. I also have a blog at Fertility Authority and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks Rhonda for this enlightening look at infertility and IVF consultancy! Stay tuned tomorrow for our last interview when we hear from Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos about the resolving without parenting option.
#NIAW Interview Series:
“Resolve to Know More About…”
(All links will be live at the conclusion of the interview series.)
- » The IVF Option
Keiko Zoll, The Infertility Voice
- » The Surrogacy Option
Whitney Anderson, Infertility Advocate & Kymberli Barney, The Smartness
- » The Open-Hearted Adoption Option
Lori Holden, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption
- » The Mind/Body Connection
Joanne Verkuilen, Circle+Bloom
- » Empowered Treatment Options
Rhonda Levy, Empowered IVF
- » The Resolving Without Parenting Option
Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Silent Sorority