We spoke to Althea O’Shaughnessy, MD, a practicing Fertility Specialist at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, about her professional passions, exciting new research and what she does to stay healthy.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your job?
Women’s healthcare was always my passion, even in medical school. I knew I would be in a field that would allow me to educate and teach women about their health.

The field I ultimately chose, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, is such a dynamic subspecialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Making sure women are educated regarding their reproductive health is my top priority. There have been so many changes in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology making it difficult for women to understand their choices in terms of treatment options. My goal is to help them fully comprehend fertility testing and treatment so that they are comfortable and confident when navigating fertility treatment, which can be an overwhelming and painful process.

What current research in your field are you most excited about?
Increasing successful pregnancy outcomes is the ultimate goal in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. The most challenging aspects of our field are increasing embryo implantation and decreasing pregnancy loss.

The most common reason for failed implantation and miscarriage is genetic abnormalities in embryos. These adverse outcomes increase with maternal age. Chromosomal testing of the embryo has become an exciting and ever-changing technology that has increased embryo implantation rates and decreased miscarriage rates.

A continuing upgrade in technology to enhance detection of embryo abnormalities has been a major focus in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Newer technologies to detect specific genetic diseases and treat these disorders such as CRISPR, continues to evolve and may become a mainstream technology allowing for the eradication of certain lethal disorders in embryos.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
The most difficult part of my job is not being able to help all my infertility patients achieve their goal of having a family. There are insurmountable obstacles that prevent some women to conceive and have a successful pregnancy. Explaining these obstacles can be challenging.  The most important aspect of sharing “bad news” is honesty and providing information/education that gives them alternatives that they never explored.

What do you do to stay healthy?
Staying active has always been very important to my overall physical and mental health. Exercise has always been an integral part of my life. I was a dancer in my younger years and transitioned to Pilates. Pilates has kept my core strong and kept my lower back issue at bay. I also enjoy outdoors exercise such as road biking and running.

What’s your favorite heath app?
I have invested in a Fitbit Blaze health monitor/watch and use the Fitbit app to track calorie expenditure, activity levels, heart rate and even my sleeping patterns. Fitbit also provides food/calorie intake. Keeping track of my daily activity has been easier than I thought and pushes me to be more active every day.