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Archive for February, 2018

Who Will Carry the Baby in LGBT Family-Building? (Part Two): For Lesbians

By Tracey Minella

February 28th, 2018 at 12:25 pm

 

image: shutterstock

At Long Island IVF, we take pride in building families for the LGBT community. And the first question in LGBT family-building is the same whether you are a single gay man, a gay couple, a lesbian couple, or a single lesbian: Who will carry the baby?

Don’t jump to the seemingly obvious conclusion that a single woman or a lesbian couple necessarily has a uterus—or two—that would be suitable for carrying a pregnancy. Things are not always that simple. That’s why if the idea of having a baby now or someday is something you’re considering, it might be wise to see a reproductive endocrinologist for a baseline fertility evaluation now to catch any “red flags” that could compromise your fertility.

One (or both females) may have uterine or other medical issues that either prohibit her or them from carrying a pregnancy or would make attempting to do so unsafe or unadvisable. In addition, there may be non-medical factors that make a woman an uninterested, unwilling, or otherwise a poor candidate for baby-carrying. When that happens, a gestational carrier would be needed to carry the baby for the intended parent(s). That’s assuming there are healthy eggs.

In addition to a uterus in which to carry the pregnancy, the single woman or lesbian couple needs to produce healthy eggs. Again, it may be easy to assume that a woman—or especially two women—would have that requirement covered. And they generally do. But if premature ovarian failure, poor egg-quality, or another medical condition precludes the use of the intended parent’s eggs, an egg donor may be required.

In the vast majority of cases, a lesbian couple will not need a gestational carrier to overcome uterine issues. And, depending on their age, most lesbian couples won’t need an egg donor. The availability of two female reproductive systems instead of one basically gives lesbian couples a second chance at overcoming many fertility obstacles one might face. But there is one thing all lesbians do need for family-building.

Lesbians have the obvious need for donor sperm. Fortunately, obtaining that missing biological piece is far easier and cheaper for them than obtaining donor eggs is for their gay male friends. Pre-screened donor sperm is readily available and relatively inexpensive. A single woman or lesbian couple generally selects an anonymous donor after reviewing the profiles of available sperm donors. Frozen specimens from the sperm donor would be shipped to the reproductive endocrinologist’s lab so they may be thawed and used at the time they are needed for conception.

Although sperm donation from a known individual or friend is possible, that option comes with additional complexities related to medical pre-screening, a mandated quarantine period and re-testing period as well as psycho-social and legal considerations, which need to be considered. These additional elements may complicate as well as add time to the process.

In many cases, where no tubal or other fertility issues have been identified, the partner wishing to carry the pregnancy –or the partner who wants to carry a pregnancy first–would be monitored for ovulation and, at that time, inseminated with the donor sperm through an intrauterine insemination (“IUI”).

Here’s how an intrauterine insemination (“IUI”) works: The woman who wants to carry the baby is carefully monitored through blood work and ultrasounds to determine when she is ready to ovulate and her insemination is scheduled to coincide with ovulation. She can do a natural cycle, without added hormones, or she can do a medicated cycle in which oral or injectable hormones are added to the protocol. For the IUI, the donor’s specimen is thawed and deposited into the woman’s uterus via a thin, flexible catheter during a fast and simple office visit at the time of ovulation.

Through careful monitoring and minimal or no ovarian stimulation, the risk of a high-order multiple pregnancy in IUI can generally be reduced but not eliminated. Since the egg(s) remain inside the woman’s body in IUI and are therefore capable of being ovulated (rather than being retrieved from the body as in IVF), there may be a greater chance for multiple eggs becoming fertilized and multiple pregnancies implanting with an IUI than there is in the more-controlled IVF procedure.

If the lesbian partner (or the single woman) who wants to carry the pregnancy doesn’t become pregnant after a few IUI cycles, she might want to consider undergoing in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) — or in the case of a lesbian couple they might decide that the other partner will carry the pregnancy instead. In the event neither partner is willing or able to conceive or maintain a pregnancy for health or other reasons, the lesbian couple or single woman would still have the option of using donor eggs and/or a gestational carrier as mentioned above.

Here’s how IVF typically works for lesbians: The woman whose eggs are being used to create the baby will receive hormonal injections, blood work, and ultrasound monitoring over a period of weeks that is designed for her to produce multiple egg-containing follicles rather than the one egg she would generally produce naturally each month. When the time is right based on close monitoring, the eggs are retrieved by the reproductive endocrinologist transvaginally–using a needle aspiration procedure–and combined with the donor sperm in the hope that fertilization occurs. If it does, generally one or two embryos will later be transferred back into the woman’s uterus in the hope of a pregnancy implanting and developing. In IVF, the hope is to produce many more eggs than in IUI because they are being retrieved instead of ovulated. The excess embryos can be frozen for future use. Sometimes, enough eggs can be retrieved in a single IVF cycle to create a couple’s entire family—which can be built over time through successive pregnancies.

Sometimes, one partner in a lesbian couple will become pregnant first and then the other will follow. Sometimes only one partner may want to carry all of the couple’s pregnancies. Other times, both may attempt pregnancy at the same time.

But there is another exciting family-building option for lesbian couples that is rapidly gaining popularity: reciprocal IVF.

Because reciprocal IVF involves one of the women in a lesbian couple undergoing IVF, it is a more expensive treatment option than a relatively simple IUI cycle, but it’s increasingly popular because it allows both partners to be involved in the creation, pregnancy, and birth of the baby.

This is how reciprocal IVF works: One partner undergoes a typical IVF cycle, including routine hormonal injections, blood work, ultrasound monitoring, and the egg retrieval. Those eggs would be fertilized using donor sperm. Now, here is the twist: After fertilization, instead of the resulting embryos being transferred into the partner the eggs were retrieved from, they get transferred into the uterus of the other partner. If the embryo implants and a pregnancy occurs, one partner is the genetic mother of the baby growing inside the uterus of the other partner who gets to carry the pregnancy and experience childbirth!

If you are interested in LGBT family-building, Long Island IVF has decades of experience helping the community become parents.  Please contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial consultation.

We are proud to partner with the LGBT Network to provide information, education, support, and access to the most advanced traditional and holistic assisted reproductive technologies. All while understanding, respecting, and being sensitive to the unique needs of the LGBT community.

This year, Long Island IVF is celebrating a milestone–our 30th anniversary. If you are ready for parenthood, we would love the opportunity to assist you with your own milestone. Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for info on our upcoming free events.

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Will You Conceive in the Year of the Dog?

By Tracey Minella

February 17th, 2018 at 7:22 pm

image courtesy of 9comeback at freedigitalphotos.net

The celebration of Chinese New Year has begun. Out with the Year of the Rooster. Welcome the Year of the Dog. You don’t have to be Chinese to appreciate the richness of that culture’s traditions and the mystique of the Chinese methods of enhancing fertility.

In addition to being a pioneer in cutting-edge Western medicine and assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, Long Island IVF offers fertility acupuncture to its interested patients. This inexpensive, complementary holistic therapy is a hallmark of ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) and is administered by our own Dr. David Kreiner–Long Island’s first reproductive endocrinologist who is also a certified acupuncturist.

Want to learn more about how fertility acupuncture might influence your ability to conceive? Register here for our free upcoming Fertility Acupuncture Seminar on March 29, 2018 at the Long Island IVF Melville office.

The Chinese zodiac consists of a cycle of 12 years, with each year being named for a different animal, and supposedly bestowing upon those born in that year certain characteristics which are similar to the traits of the featured animal.

Children born in the Year of the Dog are said to be loyal above all else. They are also honest, popular, give good and helpful advice, but can be worried and anxious, too. Of course, having a healthy baby any day of any year is likely all that really matters to most.

A Chinese co-worker enlightened me years ago about some Chinese New Year’s traditions, and since many involve luck and good fortune, it’s no wonder people—especially those experiencing infertility– might want to get in on the celebrations, which last a couple weeks.

On New Year’s Eve, the Chinese often celebrate by eating dumplings called “jiaozi”, which translates literally to “sleep together and have sons” according to http://www.theholidayspot.com. They also sweep out the house from top to bottom with a broom and give it a good cleaning. It symbolizes the sweeping away of all the bad luck of the past year so the good luck can enter.

On New Year’s Day, celebrants wear something red. It’s the color of good luck and symbolic of wealth. Elders often give children red envelopes with money inside on Chinese New Year. (And wouldn’t you know—there’s an app for that.) Maybe you can break out a red envelope, start a new tradition, and get your relatives to contribute to the IVF fund.

Tradition dictates that you put away the knives…this is good advice for hormonal women anyway. Using knives and scissors at this time symbolizes the “cutting off” of the good luck and is an omen of bad luck in the year to come. Finger foods today.

My point is that you don’t have to be Chinese to embrace some of the Chinese culture and have some fun. Wear red. Try your hand at jiaozi from an internet recipe—or order Chinese take-out and help a local business start its year of good fortune! Surround yourself with the richness of red and gold. Sweep out that old bad luck and embrace the new year that waits.

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Do you celebrate Chinese New Year or follow any other cultural traditions with fertility-related traditions? Would you like to learn about fertility acupuncture?

 

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Infertility and Anti-Valentine’s Day

By Tracey Minella

February 14th, 2018 at 5:30 pm

image: gratisography.com-ryan mcguire

Ugh. Valentine’s Day…another rough day for many infertile couples.

Sure you can have a romantic night alone. But there’s all kinds of stress with tonight’s “expectations”. Don’t you want to scream “I really just want a snotty, crying, feverish baby to keep me up all night!”?

Frankly, there’s been enough alone time—maybe years of it. It’s time for a bunch of kids to ruin all that. Hello, universe? We’re still waiting!

Then there’s your friends. The ones with kids (which is basically ALL of them, right?) who complain how they don’t want to stay home with their little ones and can’t wait until the sitter arrives tonight so they can toast each other over a peaceful candlelight meal. That’s rough–especially when you’d give anything to have a baby hanging on your neck as you pay the Dominos delivery guy.

You can’t win. You don’t have the kids– yet. And the emotional and financial stresses of infertility take the romance out of your time alone.

So, what do you do if you don’t want to do the traditional Valentine’s Day stuff?

Why not take VD to the extreme and get all silly about it? Over-do it. Do the candy, the flowers, the candles, the rose petals, the satin sheets…the whole, cheesy cliché of it. And then laugh at yourselves. You know the laugh I’m talking about. “Your” laugh. It’s that special thing between you where one can just look at the other and you laugh uncontrollably. You could both use it.

Or do the opposite. Anti-Valentine’s Day. Defy it. No card or gift. No succumbing to the pressure of Hallmark’s holiday. Save a rose garden somewhere by rejecting flowers.

Need inspiration on how to practice extreme defiance of all things traditionally Valentine-y?

  • Skip the primp and be the low-key version of yourself.
  • Run 80 errands for the benefit of people other than yourself.
  • Have that annual GYN exam that’s overdue. It’s the easiest day to get an appointment. Who needs a card when you can have a prescription for a mammogram and a sonogram?
  • Hit the golden arches for lunch. Because nothing says Valentine’s like a Big Mac meal. Go on, supersize it.
  • The Finale: Invite your mother-in-law for dinner.

Bet your day’s looking better already. No need to thank me.

Seriously, just make it whatever you and your partner need it to be today. Don’t succumb to society’s pressures about how you should look, act, or behave. Play it up– or down. But do take a moment to be thankful for each other to lean on during these hard days. Don’t ever downplay that.

And have faith.

Because maybe next year, you’ll be greeting that Dominos guy with a baby hanging on your neck. (How’s that for extra cheese?)

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So, what are YOUR Valentine’s Day plans?

 

 

 

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Groundhog’s Day–The Infertility Movie

By Tracey Minella

February 2nd, 2018 at 2:04 pm

image: wpclipart.com

Groundhog’s Day for infertility patients is about more than just pulling a sleeping rodent out of a hole to find out the forecast. Infertility patients relate more to Groundhog’s Day, the Movie. Remember how Bill Murray’s character was trapped reliving Groundhog’s Day all over again? Every. Single. Day? And how he desperately tried to tweak things each day in order change the outcome and finally get the thing he wanted that was always just out of his reach?

Well, that’s essentially the life of the infertility patient on their journey—especially if the baby quest is dragging out like a long, dreary winter with no hope of spring in sight. Day after day of blood work, ultrasounds, injections that blend into each other. And a frustrating hell of repetitive negative pee sticks month after disappointing month.

So, if you need extra support, Long Island IVF offers it. Our innovative Mind-Body Program, which includes group and individual counseling, may help you cope.

Or register here and come down for our free “Rekindling the Romance in the Face of Infertility” workshop on February 8th. All are welcome—no need to be a patient.

Here on Long Island for the second straight year, two local groundhogs can’t seem to agree on whether we’re going to have to suffer through more ugliness or be blessed with an early spring.

So, what do we do?

We have faith that the outcome we wish for is going to be the one we actually get. And we look forward to the morning when we will wake up from this difficult repetitiveness to a new day where the shadow of infertility is no longer in sight.

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Rekindling the Romance in the Face of Infertility Workshop

By Tracey Minella

February 2nd, 2018 at 10:42 am

Rekindling the Romance

When baby-making get serious– and infertility treatment dictates when you can and cannot have sex– romance goes right out the window. If only there was a fun and supportive workshop where you could learn how to rekindle your romance while struggling with infertility…

Well, actually, there is! Find out how to recapture the passion at Long Island IVF’s free workshop “Rekindling Romance in the Face of Infertility”— open to all infertile couples.

Over the past few years, Long Island IVF has been offering this special workshop for infertile couples, timed right before Valentine’s Day. Led by our popular counselor and infertility specialist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, the workshop explores ways couples can navigate the challenges of feeling sexual and loving – – and keeping their passion alive – – while battling infertility. Ask anyone who’s attended one of Bina’s past workshops and you will hear how easy she is to open up to and how much she understands what infertile couples go through.

If your interest has been piqued– but your “awkwardness alarm” is ringing– then you are in good company. For those blushing at the thought of what’s going to happen here, rest assured no one has to reveal anything personal or even speak at all. This workshop is generally attended by a small group of couples just like you. Wouldn’t it be nice to be around other couples who “get it” for a change—people who understand what you’re going through in a way fertile friends and family just don’t–because they are feeling the same way, too?

Some past attendees tell us they were hesitant and nervous coming in, but were so happy that they did. Just being in the presence of others who are in your shoes makes the isolation of infertility feel less overwhelming. We’ve even had some real friendships begin at this workshop each year as strangers are converted to friends who want to keep in touch beyond the workshop.

The free workshop will be held on Thursday night, February 8, 2018 at 7-9pm the Long Island IVF office at 8 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, New York.

All are welcome to attend—no need to be a patient of our practice. Can’t get your partner to come with you? Bring a friend or come alone. Pre-registration is required so secure your spot and sign up here now.

Let us help you dig out of the depression of scheduled sex, negativity, self-criticism, and fear and rekindle the romance and spontaneity that’s buried under that pile of negative pee sticks.

You love your partner and you are in this together. Let us help you reconnect…because reducing stress and rekindling romance can only help in the end.

We hope to see you there! Register today.

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