Reproductive Science Center
- See also: reviews of Susan Willman, MD
I did IUIs at Kaiser Oakland and one round of IVF with Kaiser in Fremont. They were mediocre for IUIs but basically got the job done. They were TERRIBLE for IVF and literally quadrupled the stress I was under just by being incompetent/having a terrible system for care (examples include the Dr. flat out ignoring an email I sent about my concerns, hour long waits for a 2 minute ultrasound, being on hold for 20 minutes every time you call with a routine question (you can't email their nurses) and taking 3 months of weekly phone calls to get my refund after my cycle was cancelled.
Round two of IVF we went with Reproductive Science Center out of Orinda with Dr. Willman. The experience was like night and day- they were really great and very patient centered (our case manager, Jenny Miller, was wonderful as well). I highly recommend RSC even if they hadn't managed to get me pregnant (which they did ) the care there made you feel like a person not cattle. I was pregnant through RSC BEFORE I would have even been scheduled to have my embryo transfer with Kaiser (had my first cycle not been cancelled). I still feel very lucky that we switched. Infertility is SO stressful, find a place that is going to support you!
We both loved Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh in San Ramon. Her positive outlook and help was wonderful. I wish we could have tried IVF with her but we didn't get lucky enough, unfortunately (not enough viable eggs). Hoping you do get lucky with her. :)
I am sorry you are going through this. It is SO hard! We went to RSC in Orinda/San Ramon and worked with Dr Wilman. We did two IVF cycles and ended up having a beautiful boy on the second try. Dr Wilman is not warm and fuzzy per se, but was amazing and helping us through this process. I have heard great stories from other friends who ended up there. I highly recommend this clinic. I am happy to answer more questions too! Also, a good friend went through and egg donor cycle there and had a healthy beautiful baby girl. Judy
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: Fertility specialists in the east bay, ambivalance
Hello!! I was a patient at the Reproductive Science Center of the East Bay. Dr. Willman was my doctor and we conceived a beautiful little girl through IVF this past January. Although Dr. Hinckley wasn't my primary doctor, she did perform 2 of our IUIs prior to IVF and we found her to be very warm with a great sense of humor and we really liked her. I don't know your current doctor. We were happy with our experience at our fertility center and are planning for a 2nd IVF using frozen embroys this winter. Good luck to you!! Kim
Hi, I highly recommend Dr. Mary Hinckley. You asked about a couple of things, so here goes.
First, travel: We mostly went to her Orinda office, but occasionally went to the San Ramon office for special procedures or weekend measurements. It's certainly not super convenient, but it was doable. Frequently for weekday visits I would just Bart there and back to avoid traffic. It's an easy walk from the station... Maybe 5-10 minutes.
Second, they take this very seriously and don't mess around. Granted we didn't start seeing her until 9 months of difficulty (2 early miscarriages, then nothing for several months) by which point I was already 39. We bypassed clomid altogether to do a couple of rounds of injectibles with IUI; she encouraged me to use use an acupuncturist to supplement however needed. While we did get pregnant, we had a miscarriage at 12 weeks due to Turner's syndrome. She let us grieve without pressure for a couple of months, and when we returned she encouraged us to consider IVF (with the option to do genetic testing on the embryos). Sadly, we discovered my egg quality was just really poor. When we reached this point (I was 41) she again laid out our options and encouraged us to consider alternative routes rather than continuing to pursue more IVFs with my eggs. I'm happy to say we're 30 weeks pregnant with a donor egg from a single round of IVF. I've not always been in love with the various staffers at RSC, but I've never questioned my respect for Dr. Hinckley. She does an amazing job of balancing all the contradictory emotions involved in the infertility process: compassion and sympathy/ hope and encouragement, urgency and moving forward/ reflecting and caution, reason and logic/ irrational desires.
Best of wishes as you make your choices. Should you decide to seek out Dr. Hinckley, I trust she will help you navigate this often tortuous and torturous path. Robin
Re: Recurrent miscarriage - resources & fertility recs
I'm so sorry to hear about your miscarriages. After two miscarriages, my OB referred me to Reproductive Science Center, a fertility clinic in Orinda and I saw Mary Hinckley. At the time I had a 2.5 year old daughter. We ended up going through two cycles of IUI with no success and were deciding whether to proceed with IVF. Dr. Hinckley then referred me to an acupuncturist, Leslie Oldershaw (510) 595-1175) in Piedmont. A few months after beginning treatment with Leslie, I got pregnant and now have an active and healthy 17-month old son. I wish that I'd gone to Leslie before trying the IUIs because the drugs are no fun. Best of luck on your journey for baby #2. Shauna
Re: Infertility with donor eggs
I had a very good experience with Dr Susan Willman out in Orinda. 2 normal kids aged 7 & 11 from the same donor cycle; 1st fresh, 2nd frozen, to show for it. Yeah, and I had several awful experiences before I found her. So, I have a clue about what you are feeling and am wishing you the best!!! A lot of it is just the luck of the draw, of course, but I do think that Dr Willman is particularly talented. Lucky
Re: Kaiser won't cover fertility--where to transfer?
I had the same problem at Kaiser it was ridiculous! I only did 3 iui's and cost me over $1000 with no meds! We had to hold off. Luckily we have new insurance now...but I do recommend the Reproductive Science Center in Orinda,they are amazing. The Dr's actually call you on the phone to check in, what a concept?! http://www.rscbayarea.com With Kaisers records you can get most of that online and print out your lab results. I did have Kaiser copy all my IUI procedures for me too and that took a few weeks to get to me. I recommend getting your own copies that way you can have it on hand if you want to switch clinics. I also tried UCSF prior to RSCB, but I am glad I found RSCB they are wonderful. A.
After three (unsuccessful) rounds of injectibles/IUI at Kaiser, we switched to RSC (reproductive science) in Orinda and San Ramon, where we ultiamtely did IVF. (We left Kaiser at that time due to job change, so couldn't have stayed in any event). I found the experience at RSC to be far, far superior. At Kaiser Oakland, for example, I had to come in every morning for blood work by 7:15 am, then had to have ultrasounds after 8:30-- except every single ultrasound patient was scheduled for 8:30, so it was a total crapshoot as to when you'd get your actual appointment and the whole experience was horrible demoralizing. At RSC, you'd come in for your specific time, quickly give blood, get your u/s, and then go. I didn't have problems transferring my records-- although what I did do (at the Kaiser nurses' advice) was to come in and they photocopied my fertility treatment record, and I took it, as I understand that going through the official channels (which I also did) takes much longer. RSC accepted most of the tests I'd already had done, though I did have to repeat Day 3 tests, etc. (which would be standard, as these can change over time). Oh, and I'm now the proud mother of twins glad to be done with fertility treatments
Re: OB/GYN with fertility expertise
If you have fertility concerns, head straight to a reproductive endocronologist. Most ob/gyns have some fertility knowledge and will try to be helpful, but what they can do is quite limited. On the other hand, there are many great doctors in the Bay Area associated with fertility clinics who can answer the questions you have, suggest other things to look into, can go as far as you need/or want to go, and save you a lot of time in the process. I found Drs. Willman and Weckstein very helpful, but the best thing to do is to interview someone and if it doesn't feel like a fit...interview someone else. Hopefully everything will resolve quickly and easily for you. Good luck
Re: Considering IVF after repeated miscarriage
I would seriously consider consulting with RSC http://www.rscbayarea.com/ regarding IVF. They at one time had the highest success rate in the area (I am not sure if this is still true). The doctors are exceptional, compassionate and truly experts. I have nothing but praise for both Dr. Wilman and Dr. Hinckley in the Orinda office. Keep in mind that the CDC data on success rates includes those with a wide range of issues and I suspect you may get a more positive prognosis in person. RSC has info. seminars fairly regularly where they pass out coupons for half priced initial consultations. Dr. Wilman helped me with my first pregnancy and hope she will help me with a second- at age 38. Best of luck to you and your family! -Erika
After two miscarriages and a few tests that have come back normal, my OB is recommending that I see a fertility specialist to see if they can find the cause of the miscarriages (I have one child born in 2006 with no intervention). I'm looking for comments and experiences (b/c the archives are several years out of date) specifically about: The Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area (in Orinda/San Ramon) - which doctor should I try to see?
We went to the RSC Bay Area, specifically the Orinda office just because of proximity. We used Dr. Hinckley and really liked her. She is very up front and honest and I liked that a lot. She also has great bedside manner, which is important in this whole process. However, when it came time to the actual IVF transfer she was out of town and we had Dr. Galen do the procedure. He was SO nice and I would also recommend him. All and all we were happy with our Dr.'s there and also had a successful IVF treatment (after 3 unsuccefful IUIs). Good luck! happy mama
Re: local fertility specialist
My husband and I tried out several fertility specialists before settling on Dr. Mary Hinckley at the RSC in Orinda. We also have Blue Cross HMO with ABMG. We haven't had much interaction with the other RSC docs, but Dr. Hinckley has fabulous bedside manners. She allowed us to ask lots of questions, gave us very clear and sensible answers, and was friendly and encouraging. We ultimately went through IVF with her after several IUI's. It was our decision to go forward more aggressively at the time. It was probably one of the toughest times emotionally that we've had in our lives, but Dr. Hinckley was always calling us personally after each procedure to let us know the results and to immediately discuss what seemed to be working/not working and what to try next. We credit Dr. Hinckley and our acupuncturist for helping us get through all the hurdles and finally have a baby earlier this year. Before, we had done some IUI's with doctors that were not interested in discussing what to try, and who just wanted us to do whatever they recommended at whatever cost. And they didn't call us to talk about what to try when things hadn't worked. One of them would even leave for vacation for months at a time and not mention it to us until he was about to leave! This all left us feeling very uncared for. Also, a lot of these private doctors didn't take our insurance even for meds which made it very expensive even for IUI's. On the other hand, we felt that the RSC really tried to bill insurance for as much as reasonable (of course, IVF isn't covered). As for location, they are in Orinda, but it's a very short walk to their clinic from the BART station. All the best to you! Anon
I underwent two procedures at RSC. The first was using a donor (from which I believe 24 eggs were harvested but the lab was only able to produce a small number of embryos.) Despite being told that the procedure was perfectly executed, that procedure was unsuccessful. The second procedure was an FET (frozen embryo transfer).
The day before I was to go in for the FET, a nurse called to confirm the medication I was taking. It turned out that one of the necessary medications had not been prescribed, after a brief silence on the phone, the nurse said that she would call me back. When she did she said it was still okay to proceed. The next day, I asked the staff if not having that medication made a difference. All assured me it would be fine. Well, that cycle also failed, maybe because of the medication or not, who knows.
I decided that after spending thousands of dollars and having nothing to show for it, I wouldn't proceed any further. I told RSC to either discard or use the remaining embryos for research. Several months later they billed me for several months of storage saying that I needed a notarized document to discard. Of course, it would have been nice if they had told me that originally instead of waiting several months and racking up more fees of $250/quarter.
To add to the already pleasant experience of two unsuccessful procedures, shooting needles in my legs for months, and spending thousands of dollars for failed treatments, they then disputed a $500 discount that had been offered for 2nd cycles and threatened collections. Happy Mom Of Beautiful Adopted Son
I am a mom of two busy boys and am going to be 41 years old soon. We are thinking of doing IVF to have a third child. My OB/GYN recommended Dr. Mary Ramie Hinckley of Reproductive Science Center in Orinda. I met her recently and had a good impression. However, I could not find much information about her or the practice online. Has anyone had IVF with Dr. Hinckley or at Reproductive Science Center? What was your experience like? I looked for an archives but I did not find much. If we will do IVF, we are also going to do Pre Genetic Analysis (PGA) since we would like to conceive a child whose HLA type matches to our older child who may need a transplant in future. Please do not try to educate me whether PGA is right or wrong. We are sure that we will do this analysis. Mom new to IVF and PGA
Dr. Hinckley was in charge of my infertility treatment at RSC last fall - we did Follistim and an IUI, not IVF, but I thought Dr. Hinckley was great - very warm and caring, good at providing info about what was going on, very conscientious about monitoring my progress and walking that fine line of maximizing my chances without risking multiples. We had help from RSC when conceiving both our kids, and almost everyone I worked with there was great - I felt like they were my fertility cheerleaders. Grateful for the help
Re: Experience with Bay Area Fertility clinics? (June 2005)
I am currently 24 wks pregnant with my second child, conceived through Reproductive Science Center in Orinda in December 2004 (the first was born in 2003, also through RSC), and I've always had a good experience there. I found the office staff caring and supportive (almost like cheerleaders for me) and both times we conceived within 2 tries with Follistim + IUI. Someone was always there to hold my hand during the IUI; the technician even told me she sang to our, uh, sample, which I found oddly comforting. The doctors and nurses went out of their way to make sure I had last-minute prescriptions filled on time, find me samples and freebies to help reduce the cost, etc. I would definitely go back there again if we decided to try for a third. anon
Re: Weckstein or Willman?
I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Louis Weckstein of the Reproductive Science Center in San Ramon. He is truly wonderful, caring, warm, extremely professional and knowledgeable about infertility and as far as I know, very successful in this field. I was a patient of Dr. Weckstein's and I owe the birth of our little boy (now 4 months old) to him. In addition, his staff is just as wonderful as he is. Good luck! dms
Dr's Weckstein and Willman are both part of the same practice - Reproductive Science Center. See their website at http://www.rscbayarea.com/ I have recently started seeing Dr. Smikle in the same practice. Depending on the causes of your infertility (or fertility challenges!), one or another of the doctors' speciality might be a good fit - I chose Dr. Smikle because he specializes in PCOS - and I'm not going straight to IVF. (It's too soon for me to recommend him one way or the other.) I went to a free seminar they gave in Berkeley to get more information and meet the doctors (at least those who were there), get a feel for it. Plus, there was a drawing (which I didn't win) for one free IVF cycle for one lucky couple or single, and a certificate for $150 off a consult - actually $75 off the first consult and another $75 off if you go with IVF. They are expensive, at least compared to my regular ob/gyn - but probably all fertility specialists are. Good luck! Another woman trying to conceive
I'm looking for an RE and I'm trying to decide between Dr Smikle in San Ramon at the Center for Reproductive Science and Dr Susan Willman's practice in Orinda. According to Willman's office she only sees people for IVF and all other work is handled by a nurse practitioner. Smickle comes well recommended but it is so far to go and I'm thinking I'll have to trek out there several times (I'm planning to start with drugs and iui). Does anyone have experience with either of these two practices? Particularly the nurse practitioner at Willman's or the Center for Reproductive Science in general. Thanks!
I would choose the San Ramon Center, because I believe their success rates are higher than anyone else's in the Bay Area, which isn't saying all that much.a Even UCSF is not very good.a For IUI, experience with large numbers of people, and technique, is important.a For IVF, transfer technique and the lab (embryology) are everything.a See the CDC site at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/drh/arts/index.htm, and http://www2.cdc.gov/nccdphp/invitro/Cliniclist.asp?state_code=CA for the San Ramon clinic, specifically.a You can waste years and a lot of money going to someone with low success rates, then find immediate success with a better clinic.a The best IVF centers in the U.S. are on the East Coast.
The link above refers to the 1995 CDC IVF report. The most recent report is for 1997, and can be viewed at http://www2.cdc.gov/nccdphp/drh/art97/clinics97.asp I have looked at IVF centers nationwide. On the entire East Coast, there are maybe five centers which have slightly higher pregnancy rates than the Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area in San Ramon. It's hard to say without knowing exactly their criteria for accepting patients. None of these have higher pregnancy rates in the 40+ age range, though they do better with younger women, based on the 1997 report. Dr. Willman does her procedures and uses the embryology lab at the San Ramon Center. Karen