Infertility struggles: Newport Beach doctor aims to put her patients’ experience first
With National Infertility Awareness Week, April 18 through 24, approaching, one local doctor says her practice is doing its part by extending a helping hand and actively encouraging women facing fertility challenges to seek assistance.
Sanaz Ghazal, MD, FACOG, is the medical director and founder of RISE Fertility in Newport Beach, one of more than a dozen fertility clinics in the city. The double-certified fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinology and infertility as well as obstetrics and gynecology) attributes becoming a mother to helping make her a better doctor.
“Because of the connection, I understand on a deep level what patients are going through,” Ghazal said in an interview this week. “I was in training before becoming a mother myself and prior to building my own family I went through my own experience to become a mother.”
RISE Fertility officially opened this week to provide in vitro fertilization, egg freezing and fertility preservation, embryo transfer, intrauterine insemination, LGBTQ care, third-party options and genetic testing.
Ghazal, who was born in San Diego and grew up in Temecula, said she always knew she wanted to pursue a future in medicine and that it was women’s health that most resonated with her.
She has an East Coast education, doing her undergraduate work at Harvard University before studying to become a doctor at the Yale School of Medicine.
Upon completing her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at Yale, in 2015, Ghazal joined a large private fertility practice in Southern California.
“In 2019, after thinking about the struggles and challenges that infertility patients face, I came up with the concept of RISE Fertility and how I wanted to change the way fertility care is delivered and experienced,” she said.
Ghazal said she chose the name “RISE” for her clinic because she sees it as an empowering word that embodies the journey.
Her work, she said, is “deeply about how much my patients struggle to go on. They feel isolated and lonely, which can bring you to your knees.”
Ghazal explained that while technology is available, what sets her practice apart from other clinics and makes it unique is its high quality of the latest in fertility care that puts patient experience first.
For example, barriers are removed to improve access to the doctor and medical team. Also, her clinic offers its own financing to help make the process more accessible.
Ghazal says her philosophy is to listen to a patient’s individual needs and goals in order to build a strategy to get them where they need to go.
She went on to explain that markets are changing, and people no longer follow blindly what doctors advise. They are savvy and smart with all of the information available to do their own research and look for a true partner to help achieve their goals.
“Our goal is to elevate the patient experience, beginning with space, create warm, inviting comfortable setting rather than a cold, clinical doctor’s office,” said Ghazal. “We want it to feel like our home, where we create space that allows the patient to let their guard down.”
Ghazal resides in Irvine with her athletic family, consisting of her husband and three children, ages 7, 4, and 1. Tennis and golf are among the family’s favorite outdoor activities.
National Infertility Awareness Week was established in 1989 by Resolve: the National Infertility Assn., an organization that began in 1974 with a group of people who shared the disease of infertility and were seeking support.
Today the association provides resources toward the care and education of individuals struggling with infertility.
As the Resolve website points out, infertility does not discriminate. No matter the economic status, race, religion, age or sexuality, anyone can struggle to have a family.
The goal of the national awareness week is to educate, to inspire grassroots advocacy and to encourage those with infertility to be open with friends and family about the issue.
Resolve: the National Infertility Assn. makes its mission clear on its homepage: “We are here until barriers to starting your family are not.”
Ghazal shares the association’s goals to make information and resources available to those who need them.
“I’m big on education,” Ghazal said. “I want my patients to understand [the treatment options], which will build trust. I love when patients are active participants in their own care.”
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