Specialty: Reproduction Endocrinology
Practice: Montefiore’s Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health, Center for Fertility Preservation
Hospital: Montefiore Medical Center
As one of the most sought-after reproductive endocrinologists in Westchester, Staci Pollack, MD, MS, is passionate about helping women get pregnant and grow their families. “There is nothing better than when a patient visits my office with a child I helped them conceive,” she admits. “One particularly memorable holiday card I received from a patient read: ‘Dr. Pollack, I know you won’t remember, but it was so important to me that you said we are on this journey together and we will find a way to make you parents. Now look what we have!’” Beyond her practice, Pollack also loves educating others to get them interested and excited about reproductive endocrinology. Pollack runs all of the reproductive medicine and OB/GYN educational programs for medical students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “I have the best job in the world,” she says.
Is infertility a growing problem for women in Westchester?
Westchester women reflect what is going on in the rest of the country: Nationwide, the rate of infertility has gone down from 7.4 percent of women aged 15 to 44 in 2002 to 6.1 percent in 2011 to 2013, according to the CDC. But overall, 11.3 percent of women utilized infertility services. That is a lot of women!
Have you noticed any shift in attitudes toward infertility over the course of your career?
Possibly the most exciting thing that’s changed is that infertility is not as often kept in the closet. People are much more open about their fertility struggles, and with this sharing comes empowerment. In addition, fertility treatments are much more available to people of different socioeconomic classes, not just the affluent.
What advances in fertility treatments are you most excited about?
There have been many exciting advances over the years. PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, is now a common procedure, whereby a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization (IVF) to obtain embryos, and the embryos are biopsied and tested for a genetic disease that both partners carry, to ensure a baby does not have that disease. We do this for many diseases, such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.
Another advance is the ability to freeze eggs, which was considered experimental until recently. We now can obtain eggs from a woman and freeze them for her to use in the future. This is an option that gives hope to a lot of women undergoing treatments for cancer, who might be likely to lose their eggs due to their cancer treatments.
Is IVF still associated with an increased risk of multiple pregnancies?
In the past, multiple pregnancies were common after IVF, but with improved techniques in embryology laboratories, we can now transfer only one embryo with better success rates than previously, and with only a 1 to 2 percent identical-twin rate.
Any advice for women regarding their reproductive health?
Fertility declines as we get older, for both women and men, so don’t think you can wait indefinitely to have children. Think about your reproductive plans, and discuss with your doctor, so you can be in charge of your reproductive life. Eat healthy, exercise and be at a normal weight to best ensure success getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. Take a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms daily, eliminate tobacco and limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks twice a week.