Choosing Your Fertility Doctor: The Importance of Patient Education

In the fabric of life, sometimes the threads of personal and professional experiences intertwine in the most unexpected ways. This is certainly true for Dr. Kevin Maas, a renowned physician at the Idaho Center for Reproductive Medicine. Initially drawn to the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility for its medical complexities, Dr. Maas’s journey took a deeply personal turn when he found himself navigating the very challenges he helps patients overcome. Unbeknownst to him when he chose his specialty, Dr. Maas and his wife, an embryologist, would embark on their own infertility journey, eventually involving the use of a donor and a surrogate. This unique blend of personal and professional insights not only enriches Dr. Maas’s understanding but also deepens his empathy towards those he treats.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Maas, discussing both his personal and professional journeys, and gaining invaluable insights into the world of reproductive medicine and third-party reproduction from someone who has experienced it as both a physician and a patient.

Becoming an infertility specialist

Dr. Maas was drawn to obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) for its blend of general medicine and surgery, allowing him to provide comprehensive care as both a primary care provider and a surgeon. His specialization in reproductive endocrinology and infertility was influenced by his strong science background, including a Ph.D. in immunology, which aligned with his interest in fields driven by basic science and cutting-edge research.

A unique and rewarding aspect of fertility medicine is the nature of its patients. Unlike other areas of medicine, fertility patients are often highly motivated and deeply invested in the treatment process. This commitment from patients makes the fertility journey a collaborative effort, filled with determination and hope, something that Dr. Maas finds incredibly fulfilling. The most gratifying part of being a fertility doctor, Dr. Maas shared, is the ability to help individuals and couples achieve their dream of having a family. The joy and satisfaction that come from successful treatments are unparalleled.

For Dr. Maas, the opportunity to play a crucial role in the creation of new life is not just a professional achievement but a deeply personal one, making his work in this field both rewarding and meaningful. When Dr. Maas chose his career in obstetrics and gynecology, and subsequently reproductive endocrinology, he didn’t anticipate becoming a patient in his own field. This unexpected turn in his personal life offered him a unique perspective, deepening his empathy and understanding of his patients’ journeys.

The decision to use a surrogate

Despite their expertise in the field, Dr. Maas and his wife encountered hurdles that many couples face, underscoring the unpredictability of fertility issues. After several IVF cycles, Dr. Maas and his wife confronted the harsh reality that their chances of a successful pregnancy were slim due to her low egg supply. This led them to consider and eventually choose the path of using an egg donor. Dr. Maas shared that for his wife, carrying a pregnancy was an important experience, one that they hoped to achieve despite the challenges.

Their journey was not straightforward. Despite multiple IVF attempts, success eluded them, leading to the decision to move forward with an egg donor. This decision was not just about biology; it was about maintaining a cultural connection, as they sought a Japanese donor to preserve his wife’s heritage. The process was intricate, involving choosing a donor not just based on genetic traits but also on personality.

You get dealt the problems you’re going to have to deal with. You don’t necessarily have a choice. You do have a choice on how you choose to approach the problems, and that’s a very personal decision. We were willing to use a surrogate. That may not be the right choice for everyone, but I think it does show my patients that as hard as things can be, we can help almost anyone.

– Dr. Kevin H. Maas, M.D., Ph.D.

The couple’s first successful pregnancy with a donor egg was a joyous yet challenging experience, marked by complications during delivery that led to a life-saving decision. As they considered expanding their family, Dr. Maas and his wife faced another tough decision. Given the risks involved in another pregnancy, they opted for a gestational carrier for their second child. This decision, while difficult, was made with the safety and well-being of his wife in mind and the knowledge that third-party fertility options, like surrogacy, can offer a viable route to building a family.

Advice to couples considering surrogacy

Dr. Maas’s advice to couples considering surrogacy is rooted in his personal experience. He emphasizes the importance of weighing priorities and understanding what one is comfortable with in the journey of building a family. Surrogacy, he notes, is a very personal decision and can be driven by various reasons, including medical and genetic factors.

He shares that for some, like his wife, carrying a pregnancy might not be a safe option, but that doesn’t preclude them from having a child that is genetically theirs. The key, according to Dr. Maas, is understanding and accepting the available options, even if they deviate from the initial vision of parenthood.

Success rates with IVF typically are very good, but they are not 100%. And sometimes you find out things are tougher than you can have. I have patients sometimes where things look great on paper. Their egg supply looks really good. Everything looks great. You do less aggressive treatments. Things don’t work. And that’s not that uncommon. When you’re doing an IVF cycle that things may be more challenging than you thought, and it wasn’t obvious with the initial testing, and it can be really heartbreaking, but it doesn’t mean that people can’t be parents.

– Dr. Kevin H. Maas, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Maas’s journey, both as a physician and a patient, offers a unique perspective. His experience has not only deepened his empathy but also his understanding of the emotional and medical complexities involved in fertility treatments. His story highlights the importance of informed decisions, resilience, and the willingness to embrace alternative paths to parenthood.

Choosing your fertility doctor and the importance of patient education

Choosing the right doctor is a crucial decision when beginning fertility treatment. Finding a medical professional who not only has expertise in reproductive medicine but also places a strong emphasis on patient education is an important step for navigating the complexities of fertility treatments and setting realistic expectations. A doctor who combines professional knowledge with a deep understanding of the emotional aspects of fertility challenges can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your journey.

Speaking from personal experience, Dr. Maas shared the following tips on what his priorities were for selecting a fertility doctor.

You want your physician to be honest with you if things do become challenging. Ask for their suggestions, even if they’re suggestions that might be hard to hear, because sometimes that may be the option you have to explore to build your family. When you look at it, pregnancy is a miracle.

– Dr. Kevin H. Maas, M.D., Ph.D.

Things to consider when choosing a fertility doctor:

  • Understanding Fertility Treatments
    • Ensure the doctor can clearly explain your lab results and their implications.
    • Ask how they handle different fertility diagnoses, especially complex cases like egg supply issues in older women.
    • Discuss realistic expectations for potential outcomes based on your specific situation.
  • The Role of Transparency and Honesty
    • Look for a doctor who is transparent and honest about success rates and potential challenges.
    • Be wary of clinics claiming 100% success rates; seek a realistic perspective.
    • Ask how the doctor handles situations when treatments don’t go as planned.
  • Navigating Complex Decisions
    • Choose a doctor who can guide you through tough decisions, such as considering surrogacy.
    • Discuss your personal boundaries and what you are willing to consider in your treatment.
    • Inquire about alternative options available if standard treatments are unsuccessful.
  • Embracing the Miracle of Science
    • Find a doctor who is optimistic yet realistic about the possibilities offered by modern reproductive technology.
    • Ask about the range of options available to build your family beyond traditional methods.
  • Experience and Insights
    • Seek a doctor who understands the emotional journey of fertility treatments.
    • Discuss how they’ve helped others in similar situations and what unique insights they bring to their practice.
    • Ensure they are open to discussing all available options, respecting your personal choices and limits.

In choosing your fertility doctor, it’s essential to find a professional who not only possesses the necessary medical expertise but also aligns with your personal journey, offering transparency, understanding, and a commitment to exploring all paths to parenthood.

Building your family with Fairfax Surrogacy

For those embarking on a similar path, Dr. Maas’s story serves as a reminder that with the right support and guidance, the dream of building a family is within reach.

If you’re considering surrogacy or facing fertility challenges, remember that you’re not alone. At Fairfax Surrogacy, we understand the complexities and emotional nuances of this journey. Our team is dedicated to providing support, guidance, and the highest level of care to help you realize your dream of building a family.

We invite you to reach out to us, share your story, and explore how we can assist you in this significant and life-changing journey. Contact Fairfax Surrogacy today to take the first step toward bringing your dream to life.


About Dr. Kevin H. Maas, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Kevin Maas is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at Idaho Center for Reproductive Medicine. He graduated with Highest Honors in Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and earned his M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he also completed a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. His research, particularly on autoimmune disorders, has earned significant recognition, including the American College of Rheumatology REF/Abbott award.

Completing his residency at Stanford University, Dr. Maas was twice honored with the Julianne O’Callahan Award for compassion in patient care and is known for his exceptional teaching abilities. His research has been presented at national conferences and published in various respected journals. His recent work during his fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, focused on androgen excess in polycystic ovary syndrome.

A member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Maas is fluent in Spanish and enjoys cross-country skiing and exploring the Boise area. He is a key figure in advancing the field of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, combining his extensive medical knowledge with a deep commitment to patient care.