Sweet’s Rules: Four simple rules I use each day to guide me as I diagnose and treat my infertile patients

During National Infertility Awareness Week, I’d like to share my four patient care rules. I made them up rather spontaneously nearly 22 years ago and I still use them each and every day when I am uncertain of what to tell a patient or how we should proceed.

Before the rules are invoked, it is most important to first understand what brings patients to my clinic. By understanding the causes of their infertility, I will better be able to tailor a treatment plan specific to their needs. Some patients feel this is a waste of time and want to proceed immediately to treatment, but I strongly recommend understanding the issues first before proceeding forward.

So, once the evaluation is complete, my Sweet’s Rules are used to guide us forward-

1. Get my patients pregnant as fast as I can

Time can be an enemy and patients are not necessarily patient. We need to complete the evaluation quickly and move forward as most of my patients wanted to be pregnant many yesterdays ago. Some will call this a “duh!” rule, but it is still a good one to keep me moving forward as the patient desires.

2. Achieve success in the most cost-effective manner possible

We always want to choose the least costly conception method. This might even mean sending the patients on a date to try natural means for a tad bit longer. Hopefully, the successful patient potentially saves a bundle by my guiding them away from costly alternatives. Sometimes, adoption is also the best option and I’ll send them down this new road, if it is needed, even if the practice loses a patient. My cardinal rule is to treat the patients like family and tell them what I would tell someone close to me, regardless of the gain or loss to the practice. Practicing this way has always served may patients well.

3. Minimize complications (i.e., no litters)

I took an oath to do no harm and I take that oath very, very seriously. A multiple pregnancy can be a million dollar pregnancy with complications too long to list here. Always pull back, no matter how much pressure from the patient, if I fear a complication is likely.

4. Minimize the use of procedures with minimal chances of success

This may be the most important rule. I do not like being a “Gynechiatrist” (borrowed from the movie “Knocked Up”) by performing procedures that are unlikely to work. While some patients need to try a procedure destined for probable failure, to have closure and the inner knowledge that they gave it a shot, I prefer to move quickly through these treatments and get the patient to understand what will truly bring them to their goal.

I tell patients these rules when I am trying to guide them through their treatment plan. I believe it helps them to understand why I am telling them something, especially when they don’t necessarily want to hear it. Understanding my motivations, I believe, helps them to appreciate that I truly have their best interests at heart. By following these simple four rules, I will always keep my patients’ needs first and foremost.

While I may not be successful with all my patients, I will always try my best, give them the best information I can and provide options that simply make sense. Interestingly, these rules help me keep on the path, as much as they simultaneously guide my patients, as we make decisions and travel the infertility to fertility journey together.

By: Dr. Craig R. Sweet

Medical Director & Founder

No Longer Silent – National Infertility Awareness Week

national infertility awareness weekEach year, physicians such as myself, fertility patients, their caregivers and families dedicated to raising awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans. RESOLVE, the national infertility association, has coordinated this week, April 24 through the 30 and we fully support it and encourage you to speak up in support as well. For information on how you can get involved in infertility awareness projects around the country and upcoming Advocacy Day on May 5, visit RESOLVE at www.resolve.org/takecharge.

At SRMS, we are committed to providing the highest quality care and support to patients and their families. Infertility is a disease, it is important and we are working to raise awareness on your behalf. For more information, visit www.dreamababy.comor call 239-275-8118.


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What is Infertility and What Causes It?

One of the main focuses of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24 – May 1) is creating awareness. Sometimes, understanding infertility and explaining it to others can be challenging so we try to offer a simple description for an often complex disease. Infertility occurs when a couple has unprotected intercourse for one year without conception. Around 15 percent of all couples that try to conceive over a 12 month period will not succeed. Forty percent of women have problems such as damaged Fallopian tubes, endometriosis, advanced age, ovulation problems and hormone imbalances. Forty percent of the time it is due to the male caused by hormone imbalances, a scrotal varicose vein, obstruction, infections, chronic medical conditions and antibodies. The remaining 20 percent of couples have issues on both sides. For more information, please call 239-275-8118 or visit www.dreamababy.com. A visit to a reproductive endocrinologist is a good first step to diagnosing, understanding and treating your condition.

Read a “Sweet success story” from one of my patients

National Infertility Awareness Week is focused on awareness. With so many couples struggling to build their families, it’s especially important that we remind you what it’s all about. Read about one of my patient families as they share their “sweet success story.”

Help us advocate for infertility treatment. Take Action!

With health care reform taking shape, infertility patients are left to wonder about their coverage and rights. RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has drafted a call to action to encourage advocacy for infertility treatment. For more information on treatment options and coverage, visit http://www.dreamababy.com/ or call 239-275-8118.

Spread the word – help us create awareness about infertility

National Infertility Awareness Week is a time to create awareness. Use your preferred social media platform to help spread the word. Add “Because 1 in 8 is someone you know” to your status update, twitter feed, or blog posts during National Infertility Awareness Week and share my blog, tell your friends to become a fan on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for the latest news in infertility.

What is National Infertility Awareness Week and why is it important?

This week is an especially important week for fertility patients, their caregivers and families dedicated to raising awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans. National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24 – May 1) provides an opportunity for patients, families, physicians and advocates to get involved in support communities, to learn more about conditions and treatments and to share their experiences with others. At SRMS, we are committed to providing the highest quality care and support to patients and their families. For more information, visit www.dreamababy.com or call 239-275-8118. For information on how you can get involved in infertility awareness projects around the country, visit RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.

Take Charge of Infertility: 7 Things You Can Do in 7 Days

Okay folks, this is a call to action. With National Infertility Awareness Week kicking off tomorrow, April 24, it is the time to remind couples struggling to conceive about the options for diagnosis, treatment and support. RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has drafted a call to action, Take Charge: 7 Things You Can Do in 7 Days. Here are the steps to follow with links for more information:

Day 1: Educate yourself. Do you need to see a specialist?

Day 2: Design a plan. Insurance info, options, support, we got you covered.

Day 3: Become an advocate. No matter why you care, it's easy to make an impact.

Day 4: Send a free ecard message to someone.

Day 5: Impact your community-volunteer, host a support group, raise awareness.

Day 6: Navigate the costs of family building.

Day 7: Find support.  Do you need help coping with your infertility diagnosis?

I encourage you to share this information with friends, colleagues, your physician and your family. For more information, call 239-275-8118 or visit http://www.dreamababy.com/.

Check us out on national TV!

Several of my patients and I will be featured in the new independently produced television series “The Fertility Chase” scheduled to begin airing on May 1, 8:30 – 9 a.m. EST on WE tv, the Women’s Entertainment cable television network. The launch of the series coincides with National Infertility Awareness Week, April 24 – May 1, a week dedicated to raising awareness about infertility, a condition affecting 7.3 million Americans. The half-hour program produced by Exodus Productions will run over the course of eight weeks. To see a preview of the show, visit www.dreamababy.com and click on The Fertility Chase icon in the top left-hand corner. For more information, call 239-275-8118 or visit http://www.dreamababy.com