Dr. Marjorie Dixon
Founder, CEO, & Medical Director, Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health
Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health, a leader in fertility treatment and IVF, has opened a new University Avenue location in Toronto.
Canada is considered a “late” childbearing country. In 2020, the average age of mothers at the time of delivery was 31.3 years old. And the COVID-19 pandemic is further affecting families’ fertility plans. In a Statistics Canada survey, 14 percent of respondents said they wanted to have a child later than they had originally planned because of the pandemic.
In 2020, Canada’s fertility rate, which has been steadily declining since 2008, decreased from 1.47 children per woman in 2019 to a record low of 1.40 children. Meanwhile, about one in six Canadian couples experience infertility.
Anova recently opened its fourth clinic, which is located in the heart of downtown Toronto at 40 University Avenue, Suite 420, to improve access to high-quality fertility care to serve Torontonians and international patients looking to grow their families. The new location will offer services such as early fertility assessment, in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection, intrauterine insemination, and fertility preservation, such as sperm or egg freezing.
Dr. Marjorie Dixon is the founder, CEO, and medical director of Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health, a full-service fertility and IVF centre that’s home to the first next-generation embryology laboratory in Canada and is a leader in innovation and education for high-quality, humanized fertility and reproductive care. Dr. Dixon says that while the need for assisted reproductive technologies has never been greater, there is much reason for hope. With advances in the field, women no longer have to choose between their career and their family. Canadians have many options and don’t have to be at the mercy of their biological clock.
In a Statistics Canada Survey, 14 percent of respondents said they wanted to have a child later than they had originally planned because of the pandemic.
Why did you choose to specialize in reproductive health?
I wanted to make a difference. Reproductive health is a privileged opportunity to help patients achieve their dream of having a family regardless of their marital status, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
What would you want people to know about fertility treatment?
Patients accessing modern fertility come from all genders, family statuses, and sexual orientations. Some patients may not be in a relationship. Thus, everyone’s fertility journey will look different. Family building is a fundamental human right, and fortunately, more options are available to suit diverse needs. Individuals can use donor sperm, donor eggs, or surrogates to conceive. For couples who both have uteruses, reciprocal IVF is a fantastic way for both partners to feel connected to a pregnancy.
What recent advancements in fertility treatment are you excited about?
Genomic advancements have added tremendous tools for IVF clinicians. Pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A), for example, is a genetic screening tool that makes IVF more efficient and specific. After removing a small number of cells from the outside of an embryo, PGT-A technology ensures an embryo has a normal number of chromosomes and is considered healthy. We can even screen for single gene disorders (PGT-SR).
As the implantation of an embryo with abnormal chromosomes often results in miscarriage, this has dramatically increased success rates and live birth outcomes from IVF. It also decreases the time from the first visit to when you take home a baby, as it’s the most specific option for ensuring success in select scenarios.
What is unique about Anova’s approach – in medical treatment and in the way you care for patients?
At Anova, we’re devoted to delivering holistic, patient-centered, interdisciplinary care. Our fertility physicians work alongside endocrinologists and registered psychotherapists to ensure we treat the patient as a whole. We individualize our treatment plans based on each patient’s goals and needs and empower our patients with up-to-date scientific knowledge to ensure they play an active role in making treatment decisions.
Anova is leading the way in terms of reproductive health education. We advocate for early intervention to make fertility care more accessible and improve fertility treatment outcomes. Early fertility assessments can empower patients to be more proactive about family planning.
What would you want to say to provide hope to an individual or couple starting this journey?
Most importantly, you’re not alone. One of the best ways to instill hope throughout your fertility journey is by seeking support from fellow travellers. Those who struggle with infertility describe it as an isolating journey, especially for individuals with family and peers who are unaware of the challenges of infertility. Sharing your experiences with others going through fertility difficulties can help break down feelings of isolation by creating a community. Support groups, either in person or through a virtual platform, are a great place to find emotional support and get advice from others with similar experiences.
“When I opened our first location, I wanted to create a fertility centre that I would have wanted when I was an IVF patient,” Dr. Dixon says. “I championed a centre that would be home to Canada’s most technologically advanced embryology laboratory and at the same time, could have a warm, trusting, and inclusive atmosphere, with kind providers seeing each patient for the whole person that she, he, or they are.”