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Archive for December, 2011

What the #@WI-FI&* Happened to Your Sperm?!

By Tracey Minella

December 30th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Last post of the month… so it’s one for the guys as usual.

We all know the things the ladies are doing (or should be doing) to increase their chances of conceiving a healthy baby. Tests taken, prenatal vitamins, dental work, healthy diet and exercise, etc. And you both should be avoiding excessive caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, of course.

But if you think sportin’ those loose boxers is all you need to do to maximize the potential of “your boys”, think again!

High tech breakthroughs have advanced the fields of assisted reproductive technologies, like IVF. But not all things “high-tech” are beneficial. Some things can potentially do harm.

Like Wi-Fi. (a/k/a wireless internet connections.)

We already know that a laptop on your lap for extended periods of time can cause scrotal hyperthermia, or increased testicular temperature. But great balls o’ fire, there’s another sperm quality killer to worry about!

It’s possible that laptop of yours, with its Wi-Fi could be messing with your sperm’s motility (ability to move) and quality. It could be fragmenting your sperm’s very DNA!

Now don’t try this at home…yes, I went there… but when semen samples were placed under a laptop for four hours, one group with the Wi-Fi on and the other with the Wi-Fi off, there were noticeable differences in the quality of the sperm.

The Wi-Fi sperm sample showed 25% lost motility and 9% suffered DNA fragmentation, compared to the non-Wi-Fi sperm sample which showed 14% lost motility and 3% suffered DNA fragmentation. Scientists theorized that the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the Wi-Fi may be the reason for the results. For more information, click here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/238455.php

So fellas, be careful what you allow on your lap!

Which brings me to a potentially-related closing comment, depending on how wild your plans are tomorrow night: Have a safe and healthy New Year’s Eve. I hope all your dreams come true in 2012.

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How do you plan to spend New Year’s Eve? Do you put infertility aside and have fun out with a crowd or have a romantic dinner for two? Do you stay in with a small group or alone and watch the ball drop on TV? Or do you treat it like any other night and go to bed early?

 

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Hormones, Stress, and…Murder?

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

December 29th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

We’ve all got ‘em. Stories of when we blew up at our guys. I don’t mean just normal arguing. I’m talking about ripping him a new one. And he may not even have deserved it this time. But it was those damn hormones…

Dr. Kreiner shares a husband’s tale:

I’m racing a 40 foot sailboat in 25 to 30 NNW winds yesterday out of Manhasset Bay. Gear was breaking, sails ripping, we broached twice….nearly did a “death roll” (when the boat gets knocked down and the tip of the mast nearly hits the water). A competitor had a man overboard; the USCG and NCPD were involved with another boat in distress. It was insane. The adrenaline is pumping, the testosterone is flowing and I walk in the door 12 hours after I left and there is Gina.

She is sitting on the couch watching reruns of 90210. I just spent 10 hours engaged in manly man activity in conditions that no one intentionally goes out in and I am hyped to share it with my wife. But nooooo she is on the edge of her seat fully engrossed in a show that went off the air 12 freaking years ago….she knows what happens. Her man just returns from the sea and she cant be bothered, I lose it….I get nuts….she yells back and then without notice gets all weepy.

Suddenly, as quickly as the tears came, they are gone and she is glaring at me with a look that bores right through me and in a voice similar to Linda Blair’s (just as her head does a 360 in The Exorcist) says, “I took 15 *&% &^%$ pills today and 12 of them went in my @#&! vagina, where they still are and I feel like a G*D damn gumball machine….let me put just one in your *@#!% penis.

Man, I spun on my heels thinking, “Why couldn’t that have been me who went overboard?”

This is one husband’s story about living with a woman on hormones. It is not always this dramatic but the stress can be very difficult for a couple and many relationships benefit from professional support when going through fertility treatments.

Imagine dealing with the stress, frustrations and cyclic disappointment couples feel when trying unsuccessfully to start a family. Add to this that your wife is being pumped up with hormones that have the potential to lower her threshold of rationality and sanity. Outbursts of anger directed at especially those closest to them are very common.

Under normal circumstances most of us can control our reactions without letting our emotions get in the way. Hormones can greatly diminish our ability to control our behavior when circumstances become tense and stressful. Hormones have even been used as a defense in murder cases.

My recommendation is to get rid of any guns in the house and not respond to apparent emotional outbursts. This should pass when the cycle is completed and the hormones have faded from the system.

If not…?

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So, what’s YOUR best “blow-up” story? Come on. Confess.

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NWW Photo Caption Contest

By Tracey Minella

December 28th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

It’s the last NWW contest of the year! So it’s only fitting we go out with a bang!

But first, we present the winner of the most recent contest. The winner of last week’s photo caption contest is Jessica! Congrats!

Remember the four bare-chested men in tutus out  frolicking in the snow? Well, Jessica’s caption: “I didn’t know the polar bear club had a dance troop!” just won her a free Starbucks.

Jessica, please email your address and the words “12-21-11 NWW Men in Tutus” to Lindsay at lmontello@eastcoastfertility.com to claim your Starbucks gift card.

Ready for this week’s challenge and your chance at stardom and Starbucks?

It’s New Year’s Eve in New York City! Millions of people. Freezing for hours. Now…

Check out the woman in the very bottom center of the photo— and make your caption something SHE is either thinking or is about to say!

Give this photo a caption either below on this blog or on our Facebook page.

Best entry winner gets Starbucks on us! It’s a fast, fun and free contest open to anyone, whether infertile or not, and whether a patient of our practice or not.

Either provide your email address with your entry or check back to see if you won and we’ll tell you how to email us so we can mail you your gift card.

Plus, if you “LIKE” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ecfertility#!/ecfertility, we may be able to send you the prize as a Starbuck’s Card e-gift right through Facebook, so you could be sipping your winnings as early as on the day we choose the winner! (And as much as we’d love you to like us on Facebook, it is absolutely not required to either enter or win our contests!)

Enter today! Or at least before next Tuesday!

And if you’re planning to go to NYC for New Year’s, you might want to check out the link whose photo is featured in this week’s contest for ideas on what to do this New Year’s Eve: http://brooklynbased.net/blog/2010/12/new-years-parties-2011/

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The Miracle of Birth

By Tracey Minella

December 27th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Less than an hour ago, a long-awaited miracle baby was born on Long Island.

My beautiful niece didn’t want to know the sex of her first child. So much of the spontaneity of family-building had been taken away when infertility treatment crept into their life.

My husband and I (IVF vets who made the same choice) were big supporters of that decision, often telling them of the indescribable magic of the moment of birth, when they’d first learn what kind of child they’d had. And how much more interesting things would be for everyone to be kept guessing.

We were all together on Christmas night. It was a bit sad as we’d lost several close family members in 2011, but we had the baby to look forward to in January.

Imagine our surprise to learn that, less than 24 hours after we said goodnight on Christmas, her water broke and she was in labor. Preemies at this age are generally fine, but still…

The extended family gathered in the waiting room to await the birth, as we’ve done for every baby born for the last 34 years… including the little girl who, when we weren’t watching, somehow grew up to become a mommy today.

Suddenly, lullaby music began to play over the loud speaker in the waiting room. As if to answer the perplexed faces of the crowd, the nurse announced that the music meant a baby had just been born. Moments later, my nephew the daddy came through the door beaming with pride to spread the news.

Welcome, Kane Alexander.

You were sent down with love by a team of angels and arrived just when we needed you most.

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If you’ve had a baby, did you find out the sex in advance? If you haven’t had a baby yet, will you want to know?

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History of Embryology

By admin

December 26th, 2011 at 8:55 pm


Know what a “wave of negativity” is? It’s the phrase embryologists use to describe the moment when “the” one sperm penetrates the egg cell and all other sperm are shut out as if a door slammed in their faces. Um, if they had faces. Well, you know what I mean.

Even if you don’t generally love history, this essay from Embryologist, Sharlene Gumbs, is a fascinating read about an African-American pioneer in embryology from the early 1900’s. Read on about how Sharlene became the master of her domain:

Through the Eyes of an Embryologist

“When were you introduced to the word ‘embryologist’”?   This question was posed to me at a recent dinner meeting with my colleagues and other health care professionals.

At the time that I was asked, my mind was preoccupied with the triple chocolate mousse on the dessert menu. Thus, a very generic reply was given.  “School,” I said. On my way home that evening, the question popped in mind and I remembered that my introduction to the word “embryologist” began with a U.S. postage stamp.

In my junior year of college, I received an endearing letter from a fellow classmate. The letter was posted with a stamp of Ernest E. Just.  I knew little about the man on the postage except that he was African- American, a biologist, and worthy of a commemorative stamp.

After doing some library research, I discovered that E.E. Just, PhD was biologist in the early-mid 1900’s who studied the process of egg fertilization and embryo development in marine invertebrates.  Just is credited with being the first biologist or embryologist to observe and document a cortical change that sweeps over the egg at the point of sperm entry. This change or shift in egg cell membrane potential was defined by Just as the “wave of negativity” that prevents fertilization by more than one sperm (i.e., polyspermy).

Today, this wave is referred by scientists as the “fast block”.  Just was also the first to infer that the second block to polyspermy known as the “slow block” occurs as a result of the formation of a protective membrane around the fertilized egg.

In addition to being a pioneer in his field, Just was a humble and unassuming man who did not flinch at challenging the theories of leading biologists of his time. In one of the 70+ scientific papers published by Just, he criticized the theory of geneticist and noble laureate, T. H. Morgan.  Morgan, a former embryologist, theorized that genes on chromosomes within the nucleus controlled inheritance and embryo development. 

Just, however, believed otherwise.  He was a traditional embryologist who postulated that the factors for inheritance were located in the egg cytoplasm and consequently the cytoplasm played a dominant role in embryo development.  Although Just’s cytoplasm- centered theory was ultimately erroneous, his explanation contained traces of truth.  Through scientific research, we know today that embryo development is a multi-faceted process that combines genetics, cytology, and embryology.

E. E. Just, PhD had a notable career in academia and in experimental embryology that spanned 50 years and two continents but he was not oblivious to the feelings of discomfort towards people of African diaspora.  Over the years, his tolerance for racial inequity in early 20th century America waned and he relocated to the Mediterranean.

In Italy, aside from room temperature vino rosso, Just discovered a relationship between blastomere adhesiveness in a cleavage embryo and embryo development.  Although his experiments were conducted on non-human subjects, a similar relationship can be observed when we, the clinical embryologists, assess IVF embryos.

With the onset of fascism in Italy, Just decided it was best to move his family to France.  It was in France that he completed his magnum opus The Biology of the Cell Surface, in which he writes “The cell is the biologist crucial unit of observation and the egg cell is the special domain of the embryologist”.

Sharlene Gumbs, T.S. (ABB)

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Any questions about embryology? Ask them

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IVF, Christmas, Santa, and Faith

By Tracey Minella

December 23rd, 2011 at 7:40 pm

There’s the religious side and the commercial side to Christmas. But when you’re facing the holiday without kids, there’s not much comfort in either side, if you ask me. (And I know you didn’t, but work with me here.)

As for the commercial side: Anyone undergoing infertility treatment automatically makes it onto Santa’s “nice” list. Yep. It’s a rule, you know. I don’t care how many times you’ve ripped someone a new one this year when they overstepped in the none-of-your-business-baby-making-questions department. There’s no hunk of coal with your name on it. But it’s little consolation when what you want most in the world can’t be found under a tree.

An exemption from the naughty list will hardly make your spirits bright this weekend. Especially if this isn’t the first Christmas you’ve been trying to conceive. Or the second. Or the third…

I went through seven miserable Christmases. Seven.

I “get it”. And I also will never forget it. There’s nothing I can say to make it better, but I will offer the fact that the success rates for IVF today are astronomically higher than they were when I conceived my kids. So most of you won’t have as many miserable Christmases, or at least you will have me for company.

As for the religious side of Christmas: That topic is so personal and such a hot potato. Some lean on their faith to get through the journey. Others may be questioning or turning their backs on their faith. After all, isn’t it natural to ask why this is happening? Not conceiving is awful. Miscarriage is awful. A loss after birth is unspeakable, I imagine.

I used to take the subway from my job over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC every year on the last work night before Christmas. I’d just stand there and soak it all in, trying to draw some strength to make it through the holiday with the family. I lit enough candles to power a village. Year after year. For seven years.

Again, I “get it”. I’ve felt the full range of religious emotions. I’ve made my own bargains with God. And all I will offer is that when the prayer that seemed like it’d never be answered got answered, I felt all the awful waiting time melt away. And I couldn’t imagine having any other baby than the one in my arms at that moment.

For those who believe in the miracle of the Immaculate Conception and the birth of Christ, I hope your faith remains strong even through the challenges, and I wish you your own little miracle in the New Year.

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In your opinion, what is the hardest part of Christmas when you’re infertile? The commercial or the religious part, and why?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=4807&picture=nativity-scene

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Miracle on Old Country Road

By David Kreiner MD

December 22nd, 2011 at 11:09 pm

In this season of miracles, I decided to pull out my very favorite old post of Dr. Kreiner’s, edited for the current holiday. Any infertility patient fortunate enough to conceive will be jealous of this patient’s luck.

Here’s Dr. Kreiner’s story:

I was feeling depressed the other day.  It seemed that we had insurmountable computer issues, staff morale was down and my family was acting rebellious.  My kids were arguing with each other, with me and I found myself mindlessly walking out of my office down Old Country Road.

I came to a busy intersection and just stood there as cars sped by me.  Honestly, at that moment in time I was thinking, why am I here?  Why put up with all the hard work at the office trying to make the practice viable despite the pressures of the recession?  Insurance companies were denying claims and when they were paying claims, it was at lower reimbursements that threatened to not compensate for our expenses.  The government was planning to lower reimbursements even more.  Patients, also experiencing financial difficulties were either asking for more breaks in the fees or not paying.  I have to admit I gave thought to giving it all up as the pain and aggravations were not worth the efforts.

Suddenly, a white Audi convertible came to a screeching stop right next to me.  It was one of my patients in the passenger seat sporting a very pregnant belly and apparently blowing through what I assumed was a labor pain.  Her husband spoke.  “Dr. Kreiner, Lara went into labor early this morning and we are on our way to the hospital to have the baby…can you come with us?”  Speechless and shocked, I let myself into the cramped backseat and tried to comprehend what was happening as Lara’s husband took off.

We pulled into the emergency room five minutes later.  Lara and I were taken to the labor floor while her husband dealt with the paperwork at the desk.  Nurse’s barked orders, the doctor was called, and Lara started screaming during her pains and in this laboring frenzy I was awakened from my funk.  It has been awhile since I was involved in a delivery but this baby was not waiting for the doctor and I got back into obstetrical mode, checking the baby’s position and heart rate and getting the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural.  Lara’s husband was now at her side assisting her with her breathing.

“Push Lara, push”, I yelled as I saw the baby’s head crowning.  She and her husband acted as if they had trained all pregnancy for this moment, working together as a team, his arm around her shoulders, breathing with her and supporting her back as she pushed.

Well, the doctor got there just before the baby was delivering.  I stood on the side watching this miraculous event…Lara and her husband together pushing the baby out of the same womb that I had implanted nine months earlier.  I remembered the image of showing Lara and her husband the photograph of the embryo and then watching on ultrasound as I injected the drop of media and air bubble containing the microscopic embryo into her uterus.  I thought how sweet life was and I smiled.

Moments later, Lara put baby Adam to breast, her husband a proud new father was beaming as he gave out chocolate cigars to the doctor and nurses and then came to me with tears in his eyes and said, “thank you, so much Dr. Kreiner.  We could never have done this without you.”

What can I say?  It was as if my problems never existed.  I thought the only thing missing for me was to be with my family and appreciate what I have.  And what my wife and I have is truly amazing.  We have my two lovely daughters and two sons, one a newlywed with a fantastic wife and another son who has the best wife and most gorgeous three children one can ever wish for.  Playing with them, having brunch and dinner with the family I love, I enjoyed a very Happy Hanukkah.

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How do you feel about having to leave your fertility doctor once you get pregnant to go back to your OB/GYN? Do you wish your RE could deliver the baby?

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday Photo Caption Contest

By Tracey Minella

December 21st, 2011 at 2:28 am

Happy Hannukah. Again. I got ahead of myself last week! Oy!

So last night, when the festival of lights actually began, after gathering with your family for a night rich in tradition and religious significance, I know what happened. You don’t have to tell me.

I know you were all sitting around laughing about my faux pas from last week! You were also talking about the Hanukkah dog picture and wondering who won the contest and what great photo we’d come up with this week for Nearly Wordless Wednesday. I know you’re addicted to the fun.

It’s Wednesday again, which means time for another Nearly Wordless Wednesday photo caption contest. And your weekly shot at stardom and Starbucks!

But first, we award the caption crown for the most recent contest. The winner of last week’s photo caption contest is Cathy! Congrats!

Remember the dog with the menorah strapped to its head? Well, Cathy’s caption: “Maybe they’d stop doing this if I convert!” won her a free Starbucks. Easy, right?

Cathy, please email your address and the words “12-14-11 NWW Hanukkah dog” to Lindsay at lmontello@eastcoastfertility.com to claim your Starbucks gift card.

Ready for this week’s challenge?

Give this photo a caption either below on this blog or on our Facebook page.

Best entry winner gets Starbucks on us! It’s a fast, fun and free contest open to anyone, whether infertile or not, and whether a patient of our practice or not.

Either provide your email address with your entry or check back to see if you won and we’ll tell you how to email us so we can mail you your gift card.

Plus, if you “LIKE” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ecfertility#!/ecfertility, we may be able to send you the prize as a Starbuck’s Card e-gift right through Facebook, so you could be sipping your winnings as early as on the day we choose the winner! (And as much as we’d love you to like us on Facebook, it is absolutely not required to either enter or win our contests!)

Enter today! Or at least before next Tuesday!

Photo credit: http://growabrain.typepad.com/growabrain/ice_sculptures/

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Happy Hannukkah From Long Island IVF & ECF

By Tracey Minella

December 20th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Hanukkah. (I thought it’d never get here!)

Spinning dreidels, collecting gelt, and eating latkes are all rich Hanukkah traditions that many of you are anxiously waiting to pass on to your own children some day.

For those who are frustrated or losing faith due to the delay in your family-building plan, I hope you’ll draw strength from the Hanukkah story.

When you feel you have only enough left in you to go on for one more day, you will somehow, inexplicably, go on for much longer. You will keep the faith.

And for many, you will witness a miracle.

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Do you believe in miracles?

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Is Micro-IVF the Answer?

By David Kreiner MD

December 19th, 2011 at 9:08 pm


You’ve already crossed the bridge from “We’re going to get pregnant!” to “We need help…” But this other side looks filled with more obstacles, including expensive and risky fertility medications.

How far do you have to go just to have a baby?

Micro IVF (sometimes called MiniIVF) may be your answer.

The primary point of MicroIVF: fewer fertility drugs, less cost.

Plus you get additional benefits: decreased chances of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and of multiple pregnancy.

Additionally, East Coast Fertility and Long Island IVF patients who choose MicroIVF can increase their savings if they also use our Single Embryo Transfer Program — embryo freezing, storage, and future frozen embryo transfers are free.

Why go Micro?

I learned long ago that pregnancies of twins, triplets, and more can bring heartache to what should be a joyous journey for fertility patients. So the ECF team has dedicated our practice to the achievement of safe, healthy pregnancies.

IUI or IVF?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is often considered the first order of business for many infertility patients.

Sometimes called “artificial insemination,” the usual protocol — oral and injectable fertility medications to induce superovulation (of more than one egg in a cycle), followed by insemination via exam room procedure — is believed to be simpler and, therefore, less costly than IVF.

That’s just not true any longer.

The facts now are that success rates can be far better for IVF than for IUI, depending on the individual’s or couple’s cause of infertility. Many women undergo several IUIs before achieving conception.

Some infertility causes — pelvic adhesions/scarring, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, and severe male factor issues — will not respond to IUI but are treatable with IVF.

Even patients who would otherwise try IUI to get pregnant will find that choosing MicroIVF can result in cost savings and greater safety:

Micro IVF fee (current as of Dec 2011): $3900

ICSI (if required): $1000

Anesthesia (as requested): $550

IUI with hormone injections: $3500 to $4500

Is MicroIVF right for you?

Each patient’s case is considered carefully and individually. The following are conditions that might respond best to MicroIVF:

Young healthy women with PCOS or who otherwise produce many follicles

Women with pelvic adhesions or scarring, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis

Couples with severe male factor infertility

MicroIVF really is a case of a little treatment going a long way! With it, you can access the world’s most successful assisted reproductive technology at far less cost.

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Has this blog post changed your mind about the course of treatment you are taking (or planned to take)? Did you know about Micro-IVF and Single Embryo transfers prior to this post?

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