Most healthcare clinics here in the city feel outdated and impersonal. A sterile environment is what we have come to expect. Heck, we probably don’t even think twice about it. We’re just grateful to have access to healthcare providers. But what if the environment was warmer and more inviting? What if I told you it is out there and it’s also accessible to everyone?  I recently had the opportunity to tour the new Pollin Fertility Clinic in Toronto in the Yonge & Eglinton area. What I discovered was a surprisingly fresh, modern and personal approach to reproductive healthcare.

When I first stepped into Pollin I could immediately see and sense just how different this place was. The vibe felt more “luxurious spa” than clinical. I actually had to step back from the entrance to re-read the signage to be sure it was the right place.

The space was beautiful and completely unexpected. But aesthetics aside, I was visiting to find out what they were all about and how they are changing the medical landscape for women’s health.

The Team – Who Are They?

Pollin Fertility offers more than a soothing space. They provide access to highly regarded and experienced healthcare practitioners with a focus on women’s health. Primarily, they offer patients who are going through their fertility journey with a more personalized approach. They also use state-of-the-art technology to help create an experience that is more fluid and efficient. And, that goes for both patients and staff. Led by some of Canada’s most reputable and recognized top-tiered experts in the fertility field helps!

Medical Director, Dr. Kim Garbedian, MD, FRCSC, is one of Canada’s leading reproductive health experts. Her incredible experience alongside her passion for helping patients make informed and evidence-based decisions are just a few reasons she is highly sought-after.

When she had the opportunity to create this new clinic she envisioned a space where patients would feel more at ease during one of the most challenging times in their lives. She also recognized that a positive and soothing environment can help to lower stress levels for staff. So, everyone would benefit.

Pollin Fertility - Dr. Kim Garbedian

Founding Doctor, Dr. Evan Taerk, MD, FRCSC, has over a decade of experience in reproductive health and specializes in Fertility surgery. With a Masters also in psychiatry, he has a specialized interest in the emotional toll of fertility and infertility treatments on individuals and couples.

Dr. Shirin Dason, MD, FRCSC is a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist, who is passionate about modernizing the field of traditional medicine by prioritizing the well-being and individual needs of each patient.

Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Irene Bergmann, ND, brings over 20 years of experience with a focus in fertility, women’s health and Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) acupuncture. As part of the Pollin team, she brings an understanding and unique blend of holistic care and in-depth medical knowledge.

Their unique approach to offering a comprehensive and well-rounded women’s healthcare team under one roof is exciting news! And that’s one of the many reasons that sets Pollin Fertility apart from others.

Pollin Fertility - Toronto

The Pollin Fertility Clinic Space:

Enter and you’ll find a large, warm and inviting lounge like area complete with plush seating, warm lighting and soothing zen music. Its vibe is light and airy with modern design elements that feel way more elevated than others.

The incredible 20,000-square-foot space is designed with efficiency and flow in mind. Their state-of-the-art IVF laboratory is the most advanced and evidence-based for the best possible outcomes in a positive environment.

Through her experience, Dr. Garbedian understands how stressful this journey can be for patients. She envisioned a place where everyone could feel more comfortable in their fertility treatment process at every step of the way. “Patients tell us that visiting here makes the experience a little less stressful and more relaxing,” said Dr. Garbedian.

Mindful touches are implemented at every level of the clinic. For example, there are multiple bloodwork rooms and quiet waiting pods where patients can have more privacy instead of standing or waiting in hallways. There are slippers and robes provided to patients that are cozier than the standard ribbon-tied thin gowns we’ve seen elsewhere.

There are also lockers to keep their belongings and lots of other conveniences. The footprint of the space was also created to be more efficient so there is fluidity to the entire process at every visit.

Pollin Fertility

Pollin is also advanced in its use of technology. The in-house IVF laboratory includes the most advanced and evidence-based technology along with a team of expert IVF doctors and embryologists. Patients can also download the Pollin app for a digital experience that allows for quick and easy ways to book appointments and order medication when needed.

Dr. Garbedian explains that many of their patients feel more empowered with their decision-making when they are more connected. Their safe patient portal and advanced electronic medical records for full transparency have been very well received.

Pollin Fertility’s App makes booking simple

Pollin Fertility

Pollin also offers a wide range of expertise and consultation including egg and sperm freezing, preconception, pregnancy loss, LGBTQIA2S+, single parenting by choice and more. A range of testing is also available for all genders. The website also offers informative blog posts that can be accessed even if you’re not a current patient.

And when it comes to pricing? Pollin Fertility’s pricing is transparent and they aim to make it work for everyone.  Consults, like any other fertility clinic is covered by OHIP.  They’ve also partnered with The Modern Miracle Foundation to launch a Pollin Patient IVF grant program for those who need financial assistance. You can learn more here.

Whether you’re starting your fertility journey or looking for a more modern approach, it’s worth checking in with Pollin. You may also want to follow their social media on IG to provide useful and interesting information on reproductive health.

And what’s in the future of Pollin Fertility? Dr. Garbedian mentioned in the future, they would love to make the clinic a one-stop location not only for reproductive health but those who seek medical attention for women’s health areas including menopause. We’ll keep an eye out for that!

What are some MYTHS when it comes to Fertility Treatments?

MYTH: Infertility is a woman’s issue

Dr. Garbedian tells us it’s common for people to believe that fertility is an issue for women and talked about the most especially online. But we were surprised to learn that about 50% of all cases have a male factor and 30% are just male factor.

“Women who are married and have, say tried, for three years often come by themselves and even still they tell us they just want to test themselves – and they want to do it all to see what the results are before doing his,” said Dr. Garbedian “We always tell them ‘it always takes two’ so we really encourage the male to get a sperm test.”

There are many factors that the clinic says are adding to the concerns of healthy sperm. What we’ve been learning about in recent years is the growing scientific research behind such common-day conveniences. Dr. Garbedian mentioned heated car seats or even frequent visits to saunas are known to have an impact on sperm.

“Anything heat-wise is actually bad for sperm so there’s a lot of factors to think about and we need to get the education out there.”  Maybe, there should be warnings for men in places like saunas for those who are trying to conceive.

By the way, did you know that while sperm is constantly being created by a man’s body, it actually takes about 90 days on average to produce, or regenerate, a full cycle sperm from start to finish? (yes, you can go on a deep dive on that fascinating information like I did…I had no idea).

What about plastics and microplastics? I had recently heard a Michelin-starred chef speak about this and how this is affecting men on the topic of infertility and asked Dr. Garbedian about this.

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“Yes, even water bottles. Definitely, the global sperm numbers have dropped in the last little while and the normal values have had to be re-established. It’s pretty stressful and people are just really starting to learn about these concerns,” said Dr. Garbedian. “There are all these products now that are supposedly fertility-friendly. Think about shampoos, cosmetics, and even frying pans, we’re now being told to use them differently. It’s actually pretty important.”

And that can be seen right inside this clinic. Would you like tea or water? You’ll find glassware here and not plastic cups or bottles. “Some people actually get annoyed that we don’t have plastic water bottles in our clinic but that’s because we don’t want our patients to use plastic. Everything we have in the clinic is fertility-friendly. It’s important to us that we consider these details in every part of our practice whether the patients notice or not.”

Why are we sounding the alarms on plastics? Dr. Garbedian tells us studies have shown that there are endocrine disruptors in plastics that alter your hormones. “We educate our patients who are trying to get pregnant to understand that even one per cent of change might make a difference. They already know the bigger lifestyle changes like not smoking or drinking but we also have them to look at what creams they might be using on their bodies.”

Many women who turn to the clinic also head in and tell the doctors they’ve already been taken all the prenatal supplements and trying to do all the things but men rarely have taken any. Part of the stigma when it comes to fertility is that it’s all about the women. So, Pollin also mandates that the men are present, involved and doing their part so the couple feels like they are on this journey together.

MYTH: Age is a factor?

The other myth is that fertility concerns happen when you’re older. “We definitely have gotten the message out that fertility declines with age but you can also have infertility at a younger age of 30,” said Dr. Garbedian. “We have a lot of younger women come in frustrated because people keep telling them that they are young and don’t worry about it and to just relax and keep trying. But it’s not always that easy and we want them to know it’s okay to check.”  By the way, she tells us the clinic has seen young women who are in menopause. Yes, it happens.

MYTH: You had a baby, you can have another

Another myth is that people say “When you have one baby, it’s easy to have another one. It sometimes shocks people that this is not always the case,” said Dr. Garbedian.

As fertility doctors they know how much they are valued and they consider every patient’s journey as important. “For us, there’s not one concern that is a bigger deal than another or any comparison on what journey is harder. I don’t think people realize how important fertility treatments are for others.  A fertility treatment can be a long journey. For some, going through six months is fine but then for others the first month of treatment can be really hard,”  said Dr. Garbedian. “Also, a fertility diagnosis is as stressful as a cancer or even an HIV diagnosis.

People are often surprised at the scale of treatment. Part of the reason is all the things patients need to do can feel overwhelming. There is the bloodwork, and tests but also vitamins for both the male and female to take and not a lot of people realize that at first.”

Pollin Fertility is a Calming Space for Everyone

To help lower stress levels, the staff believe in educating patients while they are on this path. As much as people comment on how beautiful this space is, there’s just so much more that they are doing by offering the best quality of care. Dr. Garbedian tells us that doctors and nurses do everything they can for the best possible outcome for each and every patient. But they are also mindful of the staff.

“We know that when your nurses are happy, your patients are happy. I think we do a lot of things to try and make the work environment a positive one for everyone.”

I noticed the nurses have quieter spaces too where they can get work done and meet with patients in a more discreet manner rather than an open space where everyone can listen in.

What’s next at Pollin Fertility?

Dr. Garbedian tells us there’s a big demand for a dedicated clinic that specializes in menopause and within Pollin there is enough space to build that in. So, we’ll be keeping an eye out for that. Stay tuned!

To learn more about Pollin Fertility (2360 Yonge Street, Toronto) visit their site here.

*lead in Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash