Susan Willman, MD
- See Also: Reproductive Science Center
Just a note on not pursuing IVF because conception doesn't seem to be the problem. I managed to conceive three times (with some minimal fertility treatment such as Clomid) but each pregnancy ended in either miscarriage, or in one case, a partial molar pregnancy that had to be terminated. After these experiences, my reproductive endocrinologist suggested IVF, because she felt that with IVF, the most promising embryos can be selected, and the chances of miscarriage of a faulty embryo were thus lowered. Obviously just anecdotal, but on our first IVF attempt we ended up with two embryos implanting, and healthy twins eight months later.
I can recommend Susan Willman as an excellent RE. I don't know if she has any particular expertise in immunology. Best of luck to you--I sympathize, it is indeed a difficult experience.
We worked with Dr. Wilman at RSC and highly recommend her. She is kind, science-based and helpful.
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: Reproductive Endocrinologist covered by my insurance?
I saw Dr. Susan Willman at the Reproductive Science Center (offices in Orinda and San Ramon) for fertility. I highly recommend her as a doctor, advocate, and resource. I am a single soon-to-be mother and she was nothing but supportive. Although she works at a fertility clinic, she was listed as an in-network RE in my last 2 insurance networks. Perhaps she will be in yours. Feel free to email me with more specific questions if you wish. nm
Re: Considering IVF after repeated miscarriage
Hi, We've been doing IVF with Reproductive Science Center of the Bay area, and we have had a good experience (plain old unexplained fertility over here!) ... If you do decide to stay local, I highly recommend Dr Susan Willman at Reproductive Science Center in Orinda/San Ramon. She is very smart, caring and honest about the likelihood of success. I think she is also the director of PGD at RSC. Best of luck to you--M/c's are awful. Sarah
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?
I recently started seeing Dr. Susan Willman at RSC in Orinda (she works in the San Ramon office too) and I really like her. She's very good about patiently explaining every step and option-- something that my previous RE wasn't good at (Dr. Hirata at Kaiser Oakland-- who is very nice and a good doctor, but rushes through things at an alarming pace). Also, Dr. Willman is very understanding about doing wanted tests to get to the bottom of things. I recently had a miscarriage-- and many doctors won't start testing you for problems if you've ''just'' had one-- but she was willing to explore possible problem areas for me to put my mind at ease, something I greatly appreciate. Good luck. I'm sorry you've had to go through this. m
Re: Infertility over 44
I was 42 with my first and 45 with my second. My #s were such that donar eggs seemed like the only way. I, like you, did everything groovy; acupuncture, acupressure, years of herb drinks, clomid and oh yeah! sex and ovulation kits....first. I had a couple of possibly incompetent and certainly untalented fertility doctors before I lucked into Dr Susan Willman out in Orinda.
She did a series of plastic surgeries on my uterous, made it a good place to grow in and set me up with the egg brokers. (my words, not hers) That was an amazing process. I could write a lot about it but, in the end, we got a lovely woman who was the same chop suey mix that I am. She had the same hands, feet, coloring, texture, and general build as me. However, she had no history of insanity or anything except the occaisional alcoholic in her background, which, in my case was trading up.
So, while I felt a lot about having to have a donar egg, I also feel a lot of relief knowing that I am the only one genetically pre-disposed to senile dementia and paranoid delusions in our little family. As a mother, there is enough powerlessness!
Re: Infertility in our 40's
Infertility is extremely common for women in their 40s. I recommend going to a reproductive endocrinologist rather than a regular ob-gyn to find out what's going on and to discuss your options. I highly recommend Dr. Susan Willman at RSC in Orinda. She's very competent, compassionate, and a great communicator. anon
Because of your age, I think you should go see a fertility doctor. I got lucky with Dr. Susan Willman after wasting quite a lot of time & $ with others. I also did a lot of accupuncture, Chinese herbs, and everything elsealternative. Willman did some plastic surgery on my uterus and IVF and I have 2 perfect children. I think doing everything is good. I mean some people never get lucky no matter what they do but I felt that it all added up to make it work. I only mention your age because I was 42 & 45 when I had my kids and man! TIRED? So tired. Plus, most of my ''peers'' in motherhood now, could be my kids if not for birth control. Good luck!
Re: local fertility specialist
I can highly recommend Dr. Susan Wilman of Reproductive Science Centers of the Bay Area at (925) 254-0444. She has an office in Orinda and Pleasanton. She was very caring, practical and gave you all the information you wanted about the processes you were considering. Her staff was always friendly and helpful. kate
Re: Fertility at age 39
I noticed someone recommended Susan Willman to you and I want to add my 2 cents:
She is great. I went through what you are now experiencing. I tried everything and crying, begging, many times with my HMO to change Doctors, I somehow finaly got with Susan Willman.
I don't want to bore you with what I had to live through to get there, and it was worth it. She did quite a lot of ''plastic surgery'' on my uterus, removing non-oxygen producing areas, making room, etc.....pronounced it ''beautiful'' and did IVF. I will say that she never gave me a ray of false hope and sometimes I wished she would not make it sound like such a long shot. I did 4 rounds before I got my son. He is perfect.
The second (IVF) pregnancy came & went easily and I have 2 perfect boys; 5 & 8 years old thanks to her.
I can not say enough good things about her. I have heard people get mad about this and that, the office / business end / her manner..... I can only praise her. Because when all is said and done, I have 2 perfect children after 7 years of trying everything and a lot of demoralizing incompetence from other Drs who have good local reputations.
I feel disloyal mentioning that there even was a negative side, but, we are so pumped up on hormones and hope and fear, frustration, sadness,....so much.....! How could there not be something? And what we have to do to pay for it? Another whole subject! But anyway, I just wanted to chime in and say that Susan Willman is a saint in my heart and I am eternally gratefull to her. She is a very talented reproductive endocrinologist as well as a uterus sculptor. She is great!
Re: Reproductive Specialist Recommendations?
You don't say where you are located. That will make a big difference, because if you end up doing any ''assisted'' reproduction, you are in the doctor's office/lab a lot for ultrasounds, blood work, etc. So if possible, find a great physician near to your home or workplace. If you are in Oakland or Lamorinda, I highly recommend Dr. Susan Willman of Reproductive Science Center in San Ramon and Orinda. She works out of Orinda, although some procedures are done in San Ramon because that facility is bigger. Our experience is not that recent (1999 through 2001) but she helped us through our fertility adventure with compassion, dedication, up-to-date knowledge of procedures and a nice dry sense of humor. We became pregnant three times under her care, although lost two of the pregnancies to miscarriage. However we now have 5-year-old twins and couldn't have asked for a better doctor than Dr. Willman. She repeatedly worked weekends on her own to do procedures, spent tons of time with us and also urged us to do one last assisted cycle after we had pretty much given up on the whole thing. That cycle produced our twins, and we are so glad we listened to her advice.
One piece of unsolicited advice, especially if you are 35 or older: do not delay your visit--see a reproductive endocrinologist like Dr. Willman as soon as possible. A regular OB/GYN, even one who ''specializes'' in infertility, is not good enough. You need an RE. Good Luck, It's All Worth It
My husband and I used Dr. Susan Wilman before she joined a group. She is now associated with a Fertility Group in San Ramon. She has an office in Orinda. We can't say enough about her and would highly recommend her. She is very compasionate, while still being straight forward. We have a beautiful little girl! But it did take us a few years. Good luck anon
Re: Weckstein or Willman?
I'm a former patient of Dr. Willman's -- she's in the same practice with Dr. Weckstein, with whom I have had no experience. We have a 2-year-old (via IVF and a surgical miracle performed by Dr. Willman) and #2 is due in early November -- a natural conception supported in the dicey early weeks by Dr. Willman and her staff. The reason I'm writing is that I DO recommend Dr. Willman, but also because I think your post revealed a misconception about what fertility treatment should be. Dr. Willman will look at your case in a very specific-to-you way. She will first listen to what you've tried and where you've been with self-treatment or OBGYN treatment, and then recommend further tests. If IVF is not indicated based on a combination of your age/FSH level/results of other hormonal and physical/anatomic tests (i.e. the hysterosalpingogram) then she'll work with you on a strategy that doesn't include IVF. However, she's a very straight shooter, and knows probably as well as any of us the devestating effects of months and months of unsuccessful IUI's/clomid/accupuncture/temperature taking/sperm-count-boosting/antibodies & blood-type checking, etc. has on a couple. I feel sure that if she doesn't think these things are going to work in your case, and she thinks that IVF does have a reasonable chance of succeeding, that she'll tell you just that. I think you need to prepare yourself for that possibility with any doctor who is your partner in fertility treatment, and not go into it thinking that if he/she recommends IVF right away that there's something wrong with the way the doctor is treating you.
In our case, my infertility was ''unexplained'' (and happily, my sudden fertility in the case of #2 is also ''unexplained''). Our indicators were such that Dr. Willman recommended a couple rounds IUI/Clomid first. Then, we went to injectables with IUI, presumably to save money, but against her repeated recommendations based on the clinical outcomes of the previous cycles. (She was saying our best option was to cut to the chase with an IVF.) Finally, after the 8th unsuccessful IUI, we took the advice Dr. Willman had given us after our 3rd IUI, and did IVF. We had excellent results, 12 viable eggs, 9 viable embryos. Four were transferred and two took (but one was ectopic -- see reference above to the surgical miracle performed by Dr. Willman). Our daughter came after 4 years of increasing depression and unromantically timed intercourse. I don't know the specific clinical details of your infertility issues, so IUI's or other treatment might very well be indicated and successful in your case. But I can say with confidence that Dr. Willman is focused on treating individual women/men so that fertilization and implantation do occur, and supporting them well in early pregnancy (this is where I experienced her warmth most -- she truly becomes excited with you!) -- as opposed to being focused on signing you up for their most expensive and invasive proceedures. Infertility ...can I say ''sucks'' on this board?... and many of us want to blame the doctors because there is almost nobody else to lash out at. But I'd say if you forge what you feel is an honest relationship with your doctor, you then need to trust what they're telling you. Warm wishes and best of luck in your search for a doctor that you feel comfortable with, and the subsequent course of treatment. anon
I saw Dr. Willman in San Ramon back in 2001 and found her to be very knowledge, very warm, caring and gentle. She has the best bedside manner I have seen in a long time. For unrelated reasons, I stopped seeing a fertility specialist, but I still recommend her. ellia
We've been trying for our second child for some time now, and were just referred to either Dr. Willman or Dr. Chetkowski. I've checked the recommendations on the website, but since the most recent were in 2001, I was hoping to get more current information. Any recommendations for either, positive or negative experiences, would be greatly appreciated.
I worked with Dr. Willman about 1 1/2 years ago and thought she was terrific. Her staff is wonderful too. Both Dr. and staff were very sensitive and extremely thorough. Working with them made an otherwise difficult experience manageable. Anonymous
For bedside manner, I can highly recommend Dr. Willman. She was just affiliating with RSC when we were ending our treatment there, and I wish we had been seeing her all along. She was on call for the practice the weekend that our second (and final) IVF try was cancelled, and she could not have been more supportive. I have other friends who have used her, and all say great things. I have recommended Dr. Willman to others, and would go back to her if treatment was still an option for us. You won't be disappointed. Lisa
I used Dr. Willman to have my 2nd child way back in 1999. I would highly recommend her. Took her only 2 cycles to help us get pregnant after 2 years plus with another doctor. Her treatment was very aggressive which was what we needed at that time. I read somewhere that she was not the warm and fuzzy type of doctor, but I had a totally different experience with her! On our first meeting with her, my husband and I met to talk with her and liked her immediately. Her office staff was friendly and helpful with everything, including insurance issues and more important directions on injections and other meds. When I used her she practice alone, but now I believe she is with the Reproductive Science Center, here's the web site:
I think she is the main doctor at the Orinda office. Anyway, when I finally did get pregnant, she gave me this great big hug! We were very impressed with that! Oh, she always returns phone calls herself and you will find that this is very important when dealing with infertility Anon
If I had to do it over again (and I probably will) I'd go to Dr. Willman. I met her at a seminar and know several people who were under her care. I have no way of knowing whether she would have treated me differently, I just think personality wise she'd be better fit for me. Best of luck, I hope number two shows up soon. Susannah
I have been a patient of Dr. Willman for over 4 years and was successful having one child and am now pregnant with my second. IF treatment is VERY STRESSFUL and there are certainly times that I am frustrated by her office. Although her practice is in Orinda ( in a small office) all weekend visits are now in San Ramon since she merged her practice with the large RSC. Dr. Willman is a very skilled doctor and I would certainly recommend her. Anon
I went to Dr. Wilman to get pregnant with both of our children - the first using IUI and the second ultimately going to IVF. She is great -very smart and on top of the latest procedures. She is aggressive if it is warranted, but is cautious about putting you at risk for multiples. The entire Infertility process is VERY stressful,so prepare yourself. You will become frustrated, but keep reminding yourself that Dr. Wilman is really one of the best and if you get pregnant it is all worth it. Good luck. anon
regarding OB/GYN Dr. and miscarriages ...
From everything you wrote, it sounds like you'd love Dr. Susan Willman. She's an infertility doctor, but great in every way you ask. Analytical, very smart, thoroughly discusses alternatives and what they mean, etc. Karen
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 used Dr, Willman's office and was very happy there. Although I did see the nurse practitioner a lot, I always saw Dr. Willman's whenever I came in. She made sure to either stop in to talk with me or to check on any procedure. As I recall, she also did perform most of these procedures herself (this was last year and I know she had begun training people to take over for some of this work). In other words: I found Dr. Willman's to be very accessible. Not only did she answer all of our questions, but she covered every angle of my medical history extremely carefully. She is very precise and good at what she does. And her staff is terrific. I really like everyone who works there from the nurses to the receptionist. Dr. Willman's hires caring and competent people. That said, she is so uncompromising in her style ( she works like a dog and she makes time for every patient and she is super thorough) that I know she can be tough to work for. I don't know what her turnover rate has been, but these women worked super hard and although they were always pleasant to the patients, I could tell there was some tension and fraying around the edges. Could be par for the course in this line of work. In any case, I would recommend Dr. Willman's to you because she will honestly find the most appropriate treatment for you, and she is conservative and honest. She won't rush into IVF and she will tell you the hard facts about success rates, drugs and other treatments. WE worked with her from September to May. We got pregnant twice, had a miscarriage and I am now due in February. I know this can be really tough. Hang in there. Best of luck.
I have been a patient of Dr. Willman's for 3.5 years now. I have had a few IUIs, and then a successful IVF pregnancy. We are now trying for a second child with IVF. I love Dr. Willman. She is a wonderful person, very knowledge, very competant doing procedures (I had an IUI with Dr. Chetkowski, and the contrast was huge.), and open to patient's ideas and suggestions. Dr. Willman used to basically do all her own work, so my previous IUIs were with her, and now we are IVF patients, so we usually see her. I have seen the nurse practitioner, Stephanie, once and she seemed very good. I trust that Dr. Willman would only hire someone in whom she had complete confidence. But, for the IUI itself, (as opposed to just monitoring you while you are on the drugs), maybe you could request Dr. Willman. I haven't seen Dr. Smikle, so I can't help you there. Karen
You asked about reproductive endrocrinologist treatment with Dr. Willman. I saw Dr. Willman a couple of years ago for infertility. There had been several glowing recommendations on UC Parents which made me choose her. She is very calm and intelligent, and her office is pleasant. She seems like a very hard worker, and she took the time to look at my records and make a treatment plan. However, there were two problems. First, I think she missed the true cause of my infertility, which was addressed later somewhere else. Second, she is so busy that it was sometimes difficult to get simple questions answered, and her front desk assistants didn't convey the messages clearly, or they made errors - you might be on clomid for example and the dosage needs to be regulated well, sometimes you really need to be able to get questions answered fast. I have gotten great care from nurse practitioners, but I would not like one to have primary responsibility for my RE workup. So in the balance, I would say there are some very good reasons to see her but also some reasons to look around. Maybe you could get clearer on exactly what RE interventions are now being done by her nurse practitioner. Good luck! Check out the UC parents website for the glowing recommendations!
I was a patient of Dr. Willman 3 years ago and was not happy with the care I received. She ordered all the routine tests for infertility. She told me everything was normal and she decided to perform IUI. After months of taking drugs and having 3 unsuccessful IUIs, she realized that she has not seen the results of one of the routine lab tests that she ordered many months before (it seems that it got lost). She requested a copy from the lab and the results indicated hormonal problems that she said could be the cause of the infertility although sometimes there are many causes involved. Therefore, Dr. Willman carelessly performed 3 totally useless IUIs which implied to put me on drugs that should not be taken for more than 3 or 4 IUIs attempts since they eventually could provoke serious illness. I was very disappointed to see that all the chances for successful IUIs have been wasted. The inappropriate procedures made me also lose time and money since I was paying 50% of all the consultation, tests, drugs, (my insurance only covered 50%) (though Dr. Willman offered to reimburse what I paid in her office) Finally, Dr. Willman recommended an endocrinologist who gave me a treatment for the hormonal problem which turned out to be the cause of the infertility. As soon as the hormones were in balance, I got pregnant without the need of any other treatment/procedure. I also want to mention that when I called the office to check for results of IUIs/tests, they often had to call me back because they could not find them or find my chart. From this experience, I cannot recommend Dr. Willmam.
Fertility Doctor in the East Bay Dr. Susan Willman in Orinda was excellent - very nice, smart, competent. She takes the time to explain and is not put off by your questions. She is also open to going at your pace, but was frank with her opinion. 925 - 254-0444. Megan
I too recommend Dr. Susan Willman in Orinda. We found her to be very caring, skilled, and open to any questions or suggestions from us, which is a great combination in a doctor. We have seen other fertility doctors before, and have a far less favorable impression of them, especially when compared to Dr. Willman. Karen
I highly recommend Dr. Susan Willman. I can't say specifically whether she specializes in issues around diabetes; I have endometriosis. She performed a laporoscopy on me and later we ended up having to do an in vitro cycle, which was successful. I shopped around quite a bit and found her exceptional in terms of (a) knowing the research on all the things we asked her about, (b) communicating her knowledge clearly, (c) communicating respectfully (e.g. ALWAYS talking in her office and not in the examination room), (d) giving plenty of time to answer questions, (e) being open to suggestions, (f) being available. Her office is in Orinda, 925/254-0444. Susan
I have been to both Dr. Willman and Dr. Chetkowski. I love Dr. Willman. I felt she was not only very competant, she was sympathetic and very open to questions and trying my ideas in addition to hers.
I had several IUIs with Dr. Willman shortly after [my experience with Dr. Chetkowski]. She never had to dilate me, and the procedures were painless and caused no bleeding. They were so quick, they were often over before I knew it. I also did get pregnant with one IUI (though I later miscarried, and ended up having IVF, which was successful.)
We are now seeing Dr. Willman again, trying to have a second child.
I would also recommend Dr. Willman, she is an absolutely fantastic Doctor. We found that she always took plenty of time with us and I never felt like I was doing something I wasn't sure of or was being pushed into something I didn't feel comfortable with. She is conservative, extremely smart (she diagnosed a genetic blood disorder that has never been detected before just by reading my medical history. She sent me to a specialist and now I am receiving proper medication for it), and she handles all of her own emergency calls. I was able to get pregnant with Dr. Willman, but unfortunately miscarried and she performed the D and C (which was a bit complicated due to my blood disorder) and she did a terrific job. I am now pregnant and due in February. Molly
As for infertility work, I used Dr. Susan Willman (she was in Orinda at the time and may still be.) She also is very knowledgeable, sensitive, professional and takes time to connect with the parents. I have the sense that the rest of the doctors at East Bay are better during pregnancy than during the awful, uncertain times of infertility work. BTW, Dr. Willman was the fifth doctor that I went to and the only way that really seemed to know what she was doing!
I've been seeing Dr. Susan Willman in Orinda. She is a one-doctor office who specializes in infertility but she is affiliated with the S.F. Center for Reproductive Medicine, and all surgery is done there. We'll be doing an in vitro there next month. I like Susan very much and feel that I'm in very capable hands. I have spent more time talking to her in her office than in the examining room, which I think says something about the way the she doctors.
Regarding fertility doctors in the east bay. My OBGYN specifically told me not to go to the practice that you are going to. We had been with a doctor in S. F. for almost a year and were at the end of our rope. My Obgyn here, from Berkeley-Orinda Womens Health suggested Dr. Susan Willman in Orinda - she was incredible and after more than two years of trying to get pregnant, she got me pregnant my first cycle with her. I might also add that UC Care/Prudential insurance covered all of our treatments - drugs, tests, office visits. I can't recommend her highly enough. Good luck