In this interview, you’ll get a behind the scenes look at my work and learn about some of what’s coming up (The Egg Whisperer App!) and how I originally got the name “The Egg Whisperer.” Plus, I am sharing how I work with patients.
I know that I approach things a little differently than many doctors. I come from a family of OB-GYNs (my grandfather and father), and I love being able to treat patients the way I would want my own family to be treated. This means that sometimes, patients come to my house to get shots. It means that I talk to people about what happens if the treatment we have planned doesn’t work for them. Each treatment is personalized for each patient, and each patient gets my undivided attention.
Because for me, it all comes down to love. Fertility patients want to bring more love into the world, and I feel I am the luckiest person around, knowing that I get to help them do just that. If you want to learn more, I invite you to tune in. And, I want to give Dr. Arrach and his team a very special thank you for including me on their show! You can find Dr. Arrach’s Progenesis Academy here: Progenesis Academy Education Program
This interview was originally hosted by Dr. Nabil Arrach of Progenesis Academy, and offers a behind the scenes look with The Egg Whisperer.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Welcome to Progenesis Academy. For those who are not familiar with our webinars, you can find them all on our YouTube channel. You can also find them on our website, Progenesis.com.
Today, we have a very special guest, Dr. Aimee, also known as The Egg Whisperer. Dr. Aimee, thank you so much for joining us.
Dr. Aimee: Thank you for having me.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: I’m super excited. I have to be honest with you. I am a very big fan of your program and your educational webinars and those interviews that you do. It’s such great content. You don’t see that very often among the medical community. What brought you to do those interviews?
Dr. Aimee: I feel like I have a message of hope that I want everyone to hear and have, even if you’re not my patient. I’m one of those people that believes in positive vibes only. I’m very positive, but at the same time, I’m very practical with my patients. I just want people to get that, no matter where they live. I felt like this was a perfect opportunity for me to share my message with people everywhere.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Awesome. Obviously, you get patients who ask you from different countries and different continents. How do you manage all of that communication? It must be very challenging.
Dr. Aimee: I feel bad because, obviously, I can’t answer everyone’s question who reaches out to me. I’m actually developing an app, The Egg Whisperer App, so there will be a chatting platform for people to be able to reach out to me and I can have all of the questions in one place. You can imagine if I’m getting direct messages on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s just not possible for me to answer everybody and still be present for my practice, because obviously my patients in my office always come first. The questions that I get online aren’t going to be answered right away and sometimes I can’t answer them.
I’m hoping that with The Egg Whisperer App I will be able to answer people, within 24 hours is my goal, as they have questions about fertility.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Awesome. Let’s talk about The Egg Whisperer. That’s exciting, very nice branding and a nice name. How did you come up with that and what’s behind it?
Dr. Aimee: It wasn’t me. I had a very special patient who is now one of my closest friends in the entire world who came to me ready to have a baby and she wasn’t having the luck that we had hoped for through the IVF that she had done so far. I told her just one more try, I said, “I just feel it in my bones that it’s going to work this time.” It did, and she ended up having twin boys. As a gift to me, years ago, she bought me EggWhisperer.com and said, “You’re my egg whisperer.”
Then, as you probably know, I started something called EggFreezingParty.com. Egg freezing parties are something that I started throwing back in 2014 to educate people about egg freezing. At my first party, she actually attended because she was a very close friend of mine and she wanted to support me, there was a reporter there. She whispered to the reporter and said, “That’s my Egg Whisperer, she’s an egg whisperer.”
That’s how it all started. She lovingly gave that website to me and called me her egg whisperer, and it just kind of stuck. She said, “One day you’re going to do something amazing with this. I don’t know what it is, but this is for you.” I’ve basically turned it into a site where people can go to get their hormonal levels checked and have a discussion with me about them, and then we can talk about what their priorities are, and I can guide them as well.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Very interesting. The way you practice, besides the medical aspect, just the communication channels that you have with the patients, is not very conventional. The typical physician will have webinars once in a while, and then it’s just a direct to patient communication. You have chosen a completely different approach, which is this brand of The Egg Whisperer. How did you make that choice to not be conventional? The way your practice is also not very conventional, tell us a little bit about that.
Dr. Aimee: Doctors started with medicine where you would go to the doctor’s house. The doctor lived on your block, and if you had a problem, you would go to the doctor’s house. Doctors used to make house calls. We were part of people’s families and lives. I grew up with my grandfather being an OBGYN that delivered more babies than any other OBGYN in Iran. Then my father was the same. So, it’s like it’s genetic.
It’s part of me to not just have empathy, but to have what I call hyper-empathy. It’s maybe a curse, a gene defect, I don’t know. I know that I open myself up in ways that a lot of people don’t, and that’s okay, but that’s just something I do. For example, if I have a patient that can’t do her shots, she’ll come to my house and I’ll do them for her. Everyone in my family knows that someone is coming over. Actually, my kids love to participate. It’s just something special for them to see as well, and they know what Mommy does. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I was trained by someone who actually, back when cell phones weren’t a thing, patients would call him and he would give out his cell phone number. When I started my practice, that’s the first thing patients got, they got my cell phone number. They knew they could text me, they could call me, and there was no question that was off limits. Emailing was never bothersome to me, a phone call, or a text. It’s just for me a way to make patients feel less anxiety and make them feel like they are very important to me, because they are. Every single patient in my practice is a VIP, very important patient. Everyone has that status with me.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Awesome. This is really nice to hear that you make so many exceptions for patients.
Patient expectation is a very difficult thing to manage. If you look at pregnancy rates across the entire industry, you have 50–60% pregnancy rates in the first shot, so you have about half of the patients that don’t really satisfy their need in the first try. How do you manage that?
Dr. Aimee: I like to just say it out loud, “What are we going to do if this doesn’t work?” Talk about those worst case scenarios upfront so that when it happens to someone, it’s less overwhelming. For them to know that there is a plan if it doesn’t work is really nice to know upfront. I think that when people don’t have that guidance, they feel lost, they feel like no one cares about them. Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations where people have a cycle that doesn’t work and there’s no follow up, there’s no post-IVF consult. I like to call it pre-plan the plan, then you do the plan, and then you pre-plan the next plan, until you’re finally pregnant.
I know that some fertility journeys sometimes turn into an odyssey. I feel like when you’re trying to have a baby, it’s a journey that is basically about love. You’re doing something because you want to bring this incredible love into your life and into the world. I want people to enjoy that journey as much as possible. Of course, no one is going to enjoy doing injections and having ultrasounds, and all that kind of stuff. That would be weird if someone said that’s fun and they really enjoy that.
But I feel like using the journey or odyssey to learn as much about yourself and be as healthy as you can possibly be, really tune into your emotions. If you’re partnered, your partner as well. It can be a really beautiful thing for two people to go through together. They become stronger, I hope. If you’re not finding that connection, you really want to question what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and make sure that you maybe get a second opinion so that you have the support you need throughout the whole process.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: In IVF, there are limitations. There are situations where you may have a patient with advanced maternal age, or PCOS, or conditions that are difficult to treat. Do you have to say no or I can’t help you to certain patients?
Dr. Aimee: Yes. If a woman is a certain age and she doesn’t have any eggs left, what can I do? I’m not a magician. I can’t regenerate eggs when they’re completely gone. That’s the hardest part, because ovarian aging is one of the hardest things that we have to deal with, and everyone suffers from it 100% of the time.
When you run out of eggs, you don’t run out of desire to have a baby, that desire keeps going. So, I have to tell people very honestly, “Your chances are,” I never like to say zero, “close to zero and this is probably not likely to work the way you want. Take time with it and talk to a therapist. Let’s figure out what you feel comfortable moving forward with.”
For me, it’s never no, it’s always, “What else can we do to help you reach your goals?” For some people, they have a stop point where they’re not going to do this or that. Then, sometimes in that moment they say they won’t, but maybe four or five years later they’re like, “You know what? I’m ready now.” I know that not everyone is ready to do everything that is an option for them in the very beginning, but sometimes you learn along the way that you might need to be more open to other things.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Did you have to change the way you practiced medicine during Covid?
Dr. Aimee: From the very beginning, I’ve always been doing video calls and I’ve always been talking to people on the phone. For me, the hardest part is, as you can tell, I like to talk. I like to engage with people, I like to teach them about their bodies. I have all sorts of stuffed animals back here. I like to show them things. All of a sudden, I had to put a mask on my face and try to talk to people, and that’s really hard.
For me, that’s how I changed things. I don’t do any consultations with people in the office with a mask on. I just can’t. I can’t have meaningful conversations. I do all of my follow ups over calls or videos. People are like, “I want to come in and talk to you.” I’m like trust me, I’m working 12 hours a day with a mask on, you’re going to have a better conversation if I’m able to see you or talk to you without being masked. At least, that’s how it was here in the Bay Area. I saw a lot of patients in the office, but they were all in treatment, doing their follicle checks, or doing a procedure.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Among other things that have changed in the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of consolidations in IVF, a lot of networks have started, and then the solo physicians decided to disappear somehow. What do you see with this trend of conglomerations of IVF versus solo IVF practitioners, what does the future look like to you?
Dr. Aimee: I think the future looks like more OBGYNs practicing fertility medicine. That has to happen. There are not enough fertility doctors out there. If an OBGYN knows how to deliver a baby, or do a hysterectomy, or do a C-section, they can be taught how to do an egg retrieval and an embryo transfer.
We have this huge amount of patients in this country right now and a small number of physicians that can serve that need, so what’s happening is patients are being put on waitlists for months and months. Three months to get in, then three months to do an IVF cycle. If your IVF cycle doesn’t work, another three months to get in again. What are we doing to people? We can’t do that.
We have to train more people to do what we do. I know it’s not a popular opinion, because as fertility doctors we went through a long time to figure out an egg and sperm makes a baby. The reality is I think that someone who is a skilled surgeon can definitely do the procedures that we do. That’s what I think the future will hold. I think more non-IVF-trained doctors from the beginning will be trained by doctors like me and other IVF doctors to do the procedures that we need so that we can serve the need in this country.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Quite frankly, we have already started to see that trend in a different way, where there is a combination of OB GYN and fertility specialists in the same organization. We’ve seen it in a few places. This could also be another configuration, a mix of both. Very good.
Let’s talk a little bit about the medical field, and I’m going to go a little bit more technical now. The future of technology in practicing medicine, there is a lot of talk about the future of the IVF lab and how automation is going to take place, ICSI, biopsy, and all of that will be automated, and the use of AI in this space. Does technology have more space in the way physicians practice fertility treatment?
Dr. Aimee: Absolutely, and it has to. The reason is staffing. We don’t have enough humans to staff the cases that we have in the IVF lab. Even medical assistants in the office, we don’t have. The more we can use technology to serve the needs of the patients who need us, the better, I think.
At the end of the day, we can’t replace the human touch and we can’t replace talking and communicating to patients. Patients still want to talk to a human about their results. They want to feel like someone cares about them and they feel connected to them. What I’m hoping is that we don’t use technology as an excuse not to interact with people, because people still need people.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Exactly. Let’s take embryo transfers as an example, or maybe the way you decide what stimulation protocol to use and how you adjust it over time. Would technology play a role there?
Dr. Aimee: As far as embryo transfer as an actual procedure, maybe. Maybe I don’t necessarily need an ultrasonographer holding a probe. I used to do the probe, have the patient hold it and then I would do the transfer, a long time ago. There might be a way technology can help us with simple solutions like that.
What was the other one in the question?
Dr. Nabil Arrach: How do you decide what stimulation protocol?
Dr. Aimee: I think there’s an art to that. I know it sounds cheesy, but I get really strong feelings. Maybe I can automate those feelings that I have about the patient’s body size, her age, her previous experience, and all of the different things that are going on, does she have PCOS, is there endometriosis, and then I come up with a protocol for her. I don’t think AI can do that.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: I have had a chance to ask another physician about this a while ago, and she said that humans are super powerful AI computers because they have seen so many cases over time and they have judgment that maybe an algorithm cannot have. I also see an opportunity where an algorithm can look at thousands and thousands of patients, different situations, different age groups, different histories of fertility, AMH, all the measurements, and can predict somehow the patient response based on all of these elements. Sometimes humans are good at making some judgments, but also sometimes the computer does beat the human at picking up patterns on some occasions.
Dr. Aimee: I don’t know. My first name is Aimee, and the first two letters are A I.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Awesome. We are close to wrapping up this interesting interview with you, and I appreciate it.
Dr. Aimee: What? I’m having so much fun.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Thank you so much for taking the time. You literally just had a procedure, but I wanted to talk to you about how you practice medicine. For patients who want to seek your advice or your treatment, how can they find you?
Dr. Aimee: I’m easy to find. My website is DrAimee.org. You don’t necessarily have to be my patient to see me as a patient. What I mean by that is I have a class on Teachable, it’s EggWhispererSchool.com. I run IVF classes, TUSHY method classes, which are classes that teach you about your fertility. I obviously see patients as well, but I can provide guidance, and you can take what I share with you and apply it to what you’re doing, no matter where you live. I hope anyone who is watching this feels like they can reach out anytime and take advantage of some of the opportunities that you have if you want to hear from me about your case.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Awesome. Dr. Aimee, I really appreciate your time. I wish we could have another opportunity to talk about other topics in the future.
Dr. Aimee: Anytime.
Dr. Nabil Arrach: Thank you so much. Thank you for your time. Take care.