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ASU Research Park now hosting 'one-stop' pregnancy services

By Doug Snover

Sept 23, 2006

It is not something often talked about, but an estimated 15-18 percent of all couples will at some time in their lives need the services of a fertility physician. Now, for the first time, there’s a one-stop shop in Arizona dedicated to helping women get pregnant.

Reproductive Medical Institute, at ASU Research Park, is the first medical complex of its kind in the southwestern United States, according to Dr. H. Randall Craig.

As a medical “institute,” RMI offers a full range of fertility services, from diagnosis and X-ray to an on-site pharmacy that specializes in fertility drugs, as well as in vitro fertilization and other medical procedures.

RMI even plans to bring in an attorney who specializes in reproductive law, and a reproductive psychologist for monthly consultations.

Craig, a board-certified fertility specialist, recently moved his Fertility Treatment Center onto the 37,000-square-foot RMI campus at 2155 E. Conference Drive, part of the sprawling research park complex.

“FTC’s newest facility defines the patient experience by combining the ultimate in comfort with high-tech equipment in a warm and inviting environment,” Craig said.

“Our patients are usually coping with a great deal of stress and their needs go beyond providing state-of-the-art medical care. We planned every aspect of this new center to integrate patient-friendly design that fosters an environment of trust and respect.”

For example, he noted, all telephone calls during business hours are answered by a person, not an automated system, and all exam rooms are equipped with private dressing rooms.

Fertility patients often are older professionals who are having trouble conceiving. Age and stress are two obstacles to pregnancy, according to Craig.

Two times out of three the problem lies with the woman, not the man, Craig said. Female fertility drops rapidly as a women age, he explained.

For example, a woman at age 23 might produce two “good” eggs for every egg that will not support pregnancy, he said. By the time a woman reaches 30, she might produce only one “good” egg out of five, which means it usually takes longer to get pregnant even without other fertility problems.

A 40-year-old woman produces only one “good” egg out of 18, which means it could take a year and a half of trying before she produces one egg that will support pregnancy, Craig said.

In other words, “a woman’s biological clock runs faster than you would think.”

Many of his patients are women who put their careers first “only to find out that their biological clock has just about run out when they come in” to FTC, he said.

He should know. He and his wife, Claudette, a former labor and delivery room nurse, waited eight years to start a family and weren’t able to conceive. They used in vitro fertilization, which resulted in twin girls, Mariah and Katrina, now six years old.

Stress also reduces a woman’s ovulation capacity, according to Craig. The good news is that fertility drugs easily compensate.

In fact, the secret of fertility drugs is knowing how to regulate the dosage so a woman produces three to seven eggs per month instead of one. The risk is producing too many eggs, which often results in multiple pregnancies, i.e. twins, triplets and more.

FTC has the best pregnancy rate in the Southwest for fertility treatments without creating what is called “high multiple” pregnancies, meaning triplets or more, according to Craig.

Craig, 50, didn’t start out to become a fertility specialist. In fact, his first career choice was to be a physicist. He studied physics and anthropology as well as philosophy, literature and other liberal arts at Grinnell College in Iowa.

He was drawn into medicine from the engineering side but soon decided he preferred medicine to engineering, earning a certificate in Biomechanical Engineering and his M.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

He utilizes his science background in researching fertility procedures, holding several U.S. patents, and working on a process to freeze and re-use a woman’s eggs – a process Craig believes could revolutionize fertility medicine and even be adapted to protect endangered animal species.

Besides doing research on-site at RMI, Craig manages a residency program to teach fertility medicine. FTC takes in seven medical residents each year as part of its four-year OB-GYN residency training.

One thing Craig does not do is deliver babies. When a woman conceives, his job is pretty much finished.

“I get ’em pregnant, then off they go,” he quipped.



Photo by David Stone


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