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IN THE LIFE Dr. Juan Alvarez
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Dr. Juan Alvarez specializes in helping make dreams come true.

Alvarez works at the Fertility Centers of Illinois as a reproductive endorcrinoogist/fertility doctor. His role is to evaluate couples who are trying to get pregnant ( whether same- or opposite-sex ). According to Alvarez, "they come in for consultation—why they can't get pregnant and what we can do to help." Treatments include artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.

The road for Alvarez ( who was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and grew up in Miami ) has taken him around the country, from the University of Miami to the University of Illinois College of Medicine. ( And as for why he moved from Miami to Chicago, Alvarez said, "I needed a change after 20 years in Miami." ) He also attended and/or worked at the Emory University School of Medicine ( in Atlanta ), the renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

However, after being in L.A., Alvarez decided to return to Illinois—and the Fertility Centers of Illinois, which is where the seeds of his desire to work in this field were planted. "Through my OB-GYN rotation as a third-year medical student, you do one day at a fertility clinic—and my day was here, in the IVF lab. There, the egg retrieval and the embryo transfers are done—and I thought, 'Oh, my God; this is amazing.' You don't really learn about this field in medical school, so I loved being here. Plus, I wanted to be part of one of the [fastest]-growing fields of medicine."

As one might expect, the best aspect of the job for Alvarez is the "joy of a couple that finds out they're pregnant. They go through this journey, and the joy and relief they feel is amazing," he said. Conversely, the low point is "not getting someone pregnant, even when we try several different methods—those are the most challenging cases, because you've exhausted all your resources and you think about what you can do the next time around."

Talking with Alvarez yielded all sorts of interesting facts about fertility, such as that "surrogacy laws and very good for the intended parent" and that "about 30 percent of patients have what's known as 'unknown infertility,' so there isn't a specifiic reason known, using our technology now. Maybe 10 years from now, we may be able to know." In that case, Alvarez said that empirical treatment is performed, which may involve procedures such as stimulating the woman to produce as many eggs as possible.

For the LGBT community, Fertility Centers of Illinois ( which has been in the business for 30 years and has one of the best success rates in Chicago ) is a great place, Alvarez stated. "Not all fertility centers are created the same," he said. "On our website,, there's even a special tab for LGBTQ family planning. We try to make the process smooth, because it can be a little more difficult for male same-sex couples. Having a clinic that understands the process is key."


*Age: 34

*Occupation: Fertility doctor

*Preferred pronoun: He, his

*Sexual orientation: Gay

*Relationship status: Single

*Favorite snacks: Greek yogurt, chocolate

*Neighborhood: River North

*Hobbies: Crossfit, circuit training, traveling

*Favorite TV show: American Horror Story

*Personal mantra: "Things will always turn out the way they're supposed to."

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