“It is such a basic human desire to have children and if you can’t its pretty tough,” Poma Fertility Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Michael Opsahl said. “It is important to us that if people are going to come see us that were going to deliver on our product and actually give them that baby that they want. That’s key and we do that really well.”
Dr. Opsahl graduated in 1978 from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed an internship in obstetrics and gynecology. Soon after, he served as a medical officer on the naval vessel USS Nassau. Following his service, he became resident at the National Naval Medical Center in obstetrics and gynecology. He went on to serve for two years as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Naval Hospital Okinawa Japan.
In 1987, Dr. Opsahl completed his fellowship training at Walter Reed Army Hospital and the National Institutes of Health in reproductive endocrinology. Dr. Opsahl spent the remainder of his naval career as Director of Reproductive Endocrinology at NNMC in Bethesda, MD. He was an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology until his move to Washington State in 2004.
“We offer the greatest value in the Pacific Northwest because of our pricing,” Opsahl said. “In infertility treatment, too many people risk a substantial portion of their savings and then have nothing to show for it. The low cost of our treatment allows a lot more people to take advantage of these technologies than would otherwise be able to if they had to pay the standard rate for infertility care in the U.S.”
In addition to his clinical responsibilities at Poma Fertility, Opsahl has authored more than 25 scientific papers, serves as an ad hoc reviewer for fertility and obstetrics and gynecology medical journals, is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society for Assisted reproductive Technology and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Dr. Michael Opsahl’s professional career begins when he graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1974 with a degree in biology. He knew he he wanted to be a physician so he accepted a Navy scholarship to medical school.
Opsahl went on to attend the Medical University of South Carolina, graduating in 1978. During medical school, Opsahl spent one summer at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit and research facility in Panama City, Florida. He then went on to serve his internship in obstetrics and gynecology at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Opsahl then became a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, MD. Upon completing residency training, he served as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan for two years Opsahl says that his time working in Okinawa, “cemented my desire to become a reproductive endocrinologist after many nights awake delivering babies!”
After returning to Washington D.C. for fellowship-training in reproductive endocrinology at Walter Reed Army Hospital (WRAMC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Opsahl finished his training in 1987 and transferred to the National Naval Medical Center as a reproductive endocrinologist.
“I think that the real passion that all of us have is for helping people build families. You like to think that your doctor is always thinking about you and wanting the best for you and I think by and large that’s true of professional medicine but I also think that people who go into infertility take a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that they’ve helped somebody create or build or enlarge their families,” Opsahl said. “It is such a basic human desire to have children and if you can’t it’s pretty tough.”
The Navy rarely had more than four reproductive endocrinologists at any time and each of them served to train Ob-Gyn residents. Dr. Opsahl spent the remainder of his naval career at the NNMC in Bethesda as director of reproductive endocrinology.
While working at NNMC, he also held an appointment as an Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). NNMC was one of the primary training hospitals for the medical students at USUHS. During these seven years of his career, Opsahl remained involved in teaching, research and academics. He retired from the Navy after 20 years service in 1994.
While at GIVF, Opsahl says he was exposed to a wide variety of REI technologies.
“I rotated as the director of the donor egg program. We had 100 donors available at any time and at our peak we performed 300 cycles/year. When I left, the institute had more than 1400 cycles experience,” Opsahl said. “It was at this time that I learned the value and role of embryo genetic testing because we had about 25% of the world’s PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) babies from our clinic, at that time. The genetics division was outstanding – I only wished I learned more genetics from them.”
“When I arrived in 1994, GIVF was one of the first centers in the US to offer ICSI. Our staff also developed the technique of fine needle testicular aspiration of sperm. I later was able to teach these techniques to other infertility doctors.”
“I was the principal investigator for a fertility preservation technique of ovarian tissue cryopreservation, the first in the US. I interviewed and counseled more than 3000 women regarding their treatment options at the time.”
It was here that Opsahl also developed the understanding of the symbiotic relationship between fertility doctors and the IVF laboratory team. Opsahl said this was when he first decided to make the move to his own practice. He knew that he needed a business model in which the physician and laboratory scientist were truly equals in order to produce the best possible outcomes for the patients. Opsahl says that his relationship with Klaus Wiemer, PhD, HCLD was “critical to outstanding and implementing high quality outcomes.”
In His Own Words:
I love learning new things so I am almost always listening to an audiobook wherever I go. I read mostly nonfiction, history and biographies. One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell.
I have a passion for golf, which was rekindled with the help of my wife’s first cousin. I try to play once a week now which can be a challenge as a solo practitioner.
With my wife, I have had a lot of fun rescuing and fostering animals both dogs, primarily Airedale Terriers, and cats. My wife, Megan, has been a volunteer with Seattle Humane Society. We have fostered about 40 kittens and 30 or more Airedale Terriers dogs. The pets have been a lot of fun to do with her because she has a huge passion for animals. She supports me in so many ways and has over our 32 years of marriage.