Infertility is a common problem that plagues many who want to have a baby. About 13 in 100 couples in the United States have trouble becoming pregnant.
Here in the Central Valley, Dr. Carlos Sueldo and Dr. Carolina Sueldo are a father-daughter duo, collaborating to help patients fulfill their dreams of being parents.
Dr. Carlos Sueldo is an infertility specialist, one of the very first here in the Valley and world-renowned for his knowlegde of infertility and reproductive medicine. Two decades ago, he helped Judy Rouse get pregnant.
Judy said, “I got pregnant with twins, twin girls in ’98 and I delivered full term in June 22, of 1999.”
Judy sought out Dr. Carlos Sueldo’s expertise in fertility because she and her husband were not getting pregnant after trying for about two years.
“My cycles were irregular… and that’s where the blockage was, like my ovaries were fine but both my fallopian tubes were blocked, and they don’t know why,” commented Judy.
She underwent in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. IVF is a process where a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm are combined in a special laboratory to create an embryo. then an embryo or embryos are transferred into a woman’s uterus, and if successful, pregnancy occurs.
Dr. Carlos Sueldo explains, infertility is quite common. However, “The causes of infertility are very complex and sometimes couples try a year, other’s try two years, others try five years and until they come and consult us, so the sooner the better.”
He said a woman’s age is one of the most important predictors of fertility. The older a woman is, the more difficult it can be to get pregnant. Dr. Carlos Sueldo introduced fertility treatments to the Central Valley in 1984. He said he finds great satisfaction in helping his patients, like Judy, achieve their goal of parenthood.
“I think it’s very rewarding area to be in, sometimes the impact the opposite way, when things don’t work or I’m not able to accomplish what really the patient wants, it hurts you very, very significantly. But for the majority of the couples of who you’re able to produce what they want, it’s just an incredible feeling of satisfaction,” said Dr. Carlos Sueldo.
Judy said her IVF experience was sometimes lonely, and wished in 1997 there were the same support groups there are today for couples going through infertility.
“We know that infertility can be a very isolating disease to go through,” commented Dr. Carolina Sueldo. “This feeling of ‘I’m the only one’, and shortly after my arrival here in the Central Valley I realized there was this deep need, that patients were looking for an outlet in terms of support and resources.”
Dr. Carolina Sueldo decided to follow in her father’s footsteps in reproductive medicine here in the Central Valley. She now works alongside him at the Women’s Specialty and Fertility Center in Clovis. One of her goals in working with her patients is to support them emotionally.
She said, “The resilience that my patients have is just honestly something to be respected. They fall off the horse or they get a period or something happens, or a treatment is cancelled and they have to pull themselves back up and get back up on that horse, it’s really admirable honestly.”
Dr. Carolina Sueldo has been treating 30-year old Megan Garza for the last year.
Megan stated, “When I was 16 my endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, so they kinda told me then ‘Hey later down the road when you want to be a mommy, you’re probably gonna have fertility issues’.”
Megan has gone through two IVF cycles, but both failed. She hopes the third time produces the baby she’s always wanted.
“It’s a lot of emotions, the financial headaches of it all, it’s all there. It hits you on every level, spiritually, all your relationships,” said Megan.
Megan said she leans on Dr. Carolina Sueldo not only medically, but also for support, as the infertility journey can be emotionally taxing.
Dr. Carolina Sueldo encourages her patients to join RESOLVE, a non-profit organization that provides support groups to those dealing with infertility. Every April, she promotes National Infertility Awareness Week, and this past Spring, the doctor organized the very first local Walk of Hope, but it was unfortunately postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“She’s there, she is on her phone, she’s promoting stuff for us. She works really hard for this community, bringing awareness,” said Megan.
It’s a commitment to patients Dr. Carolina Sueldo said she has learned from her father. Both doctors pledging to always go above and beyond for the couples they see.
Judy ended, “Dr. [Carlos] Sueldo is very easy going, he just gives you that fatherly touch that everything is going to be okay and he’s just reassuring.”