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Long Island IVF Celebrates National Infertility Awareness Week 2018 with Several Exciting Events!

By Tracey Minella

April 4th, 2018 at 11:29 pm

image: Resolve @ www.infertilityawareness. org

 

Each year, Long Island IVF celebrates National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) with a series of fun and educational events. This year, NIAW runs from April 22-28. The theme for this year is “Flip the Script”!

NIAW is devoted to raising awareness of infertility and advocating for change and better accessibility to and affordability of infertility treatment. This year through the theme “#FlipTheScript—RESOLVE wants to change the conversation around infertility so the public, media, insurers, healthcare professionals and lawmakers” understand the scope of the problem of infertility, the barriers to treatment, and its far-reaching impact. Learn more here.

So be sure to mark your calendars with these upcoming events—all of which are free and open to the public. No need to be a Long Island IVF patient to attend.

You’ll find a nice mix of offerings—some traditional favorites and some new things in the mix! Register now by clicking each link below. Here is the thrilling line up:

Tuesday April 24thNutrition for Fertility Workshop with Renee Barbis, Holistic Health Coach

Wednesday April 25thYoga for Fertility Session with Lisa Pineda of Lisa Pineda Yoga

Thursday April 26thAcupuncture for Fertility Seminar with Dr. David Kreiner and guests

Thursday May 3rd (NOT NIAW)—Losing the Stigma Workshop with Bina Benisch, MS, RN

 

If you’ve been trying to conceive without success and could use a fun night out with other women in the same boat, this invitation is for you.

All events will take place after business hours at the Long Island IVF office in Melville. Don’t delay, register today!

Will we see YOU at any or all of these great events???

 

image courtesy of Resolve, the National Infertility Association at www.infertilityawareness.org

 

 

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

By Tracey Minella

April 4th, 2018 at 9:37 am

 

Eggs with symbol of transgender, female and male gender symbols

At Long Island IVF, we take pride in our history of building families for the LGBT community. While gays and lesbians have historically made up the majority of LGBT cases, recent years have brought transgender people and their family-building options into the spotlight.

For the third and final part in this series on “Who Will Carry the Baby in LGBT Family-building?”, we’re going to examine the options that transgender couples and individuals have for starting their families.

In many ways, building a transgender family is very similar to building other families in that many of the same assisted reproductive technologies are utilized, such as in vitro fertilization, egg-freezing, donor sperm and more, depending on the needs of the transgender individual or couple. Yet, in some ways, the transitioning factor of the transgender lifestyle can bring some unique challenges to transgender family-building.

Before diving in to the several different scenarios that transgender individuals and couples who want to build families may face, a basic understanding of some of the methodologies that may be used is necessary.

As we all know, biology requires an egg, a sperm, and a uterus to make a baby. When gay men want a family, they generally have the sperm requirement covered between the two of them, but they need to find an egg donor to donate the egg and a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy in her uterus for the intended parent(s). When lesbians want a baby, they often have the egg and uterus requirements covered between the two of them but need donor sperm (which is relatively inexpensive to procure).

But when a transgender person wants a child that is genetically-connected to them, things can become a bit more complicated—especially depending on where they are in the transitioning process.

So, it’s imperative that anyone even remotely considering have a baby that’s genetically-tied to them at some point in the future see a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as possible and prior to proceeding with any transitional hormonal treatments. Failure to do so may negatively impact your ability to have a biological child.

When assisted reproductive technology is needed to help people conceive, it often involves either intrauterine insemination (“IUI”) or in vitro fertilization (“IVF”). So, let’s summarize what IUI, IVF, Egg-freezing, and egg donation entail.

For an IUI, at the time of ovulation, sperm is deposited via catheter into the uterus of a woman (who generally took oral or injectable hormonal medications to encourage ovulation of a couple of mature eggs) in the hope that fertilization will occur naturally and a pregnancy will result.

IVF is more involved and expensive than IUI but has a higher statistical success rate per cycle. It involves a woman taking hormonal injections for a couple of weeks to encourage the production of multiple eggs (rather than the one that would normally be produced each month) and being monitored closely through blood work and ultrasounds. Then when the time is right and just prior to them being ovulated, the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries through a fine needle aspiration under light sedation. The eggs are then mixed with sperm in a petri dish and incubate in the lab in the hope fertilization will take place, or in cases where sperm quality is an issue, sperm may be injected into the eggs in a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (“ICSI”) to assist in fertilization. A few days later, 1-2 resulting embryos are generally transferred vaginally via catheter into the uterus in the hope of implantation and a resulting healthy pregnancy. The unused embryos are often frozen, or cryopreserved, for future use. Sometimes, no embryos are transferred back in the fresh cycle and all are frozen for use in a future cycle.

When women undergo egg-freezing, the procedure is identical to IVF described above except that after the retrieval, mature eggs are frozen prior to being fertilized and no transfer takes place in that cycle. At some future date, the eggs can be thawed as needed and fertilized in the lab, then resulting embryos can be transferred to the woman’s uterus (or another woman’s uterus, if need be) in the hope a pregnancy will occur.

When a woman is an egg donor, she, too undergoes the procedure identical to IVF described above except that after the retrieval, her participation is over and all of the eggs are turned over to the parties who are the intended recipients for freezing and/or fertilization in accordance with their agreement.

Now that the procedures have been explained, let’s examine how transgender individuals and couples can take advantage of the available technologies. Again, we stress the need to see a reproductive endocrinologist before transitioning and beginning hormonal treatment.

We’ve broken the options down by the gender the person was biologically born into and the gender they are attracted to, so readers can skip ahead to which of the four sections best applies to them.

  1. Born female but identifies as male–Attracted to females:

If you were born female but identify as male and are attracted to females and you want to have a genetically-linked baby someday, you will need to use the eggs you were born with to make that connection. You may or may not want to also use the uterus you were born with, but the genetic connection comes from the eggs, not the uterus. Usually, those females who identify as male are not interested in carrying a pregnancy before transitioning.

Here are your options:

  • Have an IUI using donor sperm (provided you have no egg, uterine, or tubal issues) and carry the baby yourself before transitioning;
  • Have IVF using donor sperm (provided you have no egg or uterine issues) and carry the baby yourself before transitioning;
  • Have IVF using donor sperm before transitioning (provided you have no egg issues) and freeze all the embryos for future use. They can be transferred to your uterus or a partner’s uterus before transitioning or to a partner’s uterus after transitioning.
  • Have your eggs frozen for future use (provided you have no egg issues). They can be thawed and fertilized with donor sperm as needed and transferred to your uterus or a partner’s uterus before transitioning or to a partner’s uterus after transitioning.

Many of these transgender couples find that using the eggs of the partner born female who identifies as male and having them transferred to the uterus of the partner who was born female and identifies as such allows both partners to be invested in the pregnancy—one provides the egg and the other carries the pregnancy and is the birth mother. In fact, many lesbians elect to do something similar and have one partner carry the pregnancy using the eggs of the other partner for the same reason.

 

  1. Born female but identifies as male–Attracted to males:

If you were born female but identify as male and are attracted to males and you want to have a biological child someday, you will also need to use the eggs you were born with to make that connection. You may or may not want to also use the uterus you were born with, but the genetic connection comes from the eggs, not the uterus. Again, many females who identify as males are not often interested in carrying a pregnancy prior to transitioning.

If your goal is transitioning to male and partnering with a male, your family-building options would be very similar to those of a gay couple. However, you have a potentially-huge advantage in being able to use your own eggs and possibly your own uterus if desired.

Here are your options:

  • Have an IUI using donor or a partner’s sperm (provided you have no egg, uterine, or tubal issues) and carry the baby yourself before transitioning;
  • Have IVF using donor or a partner’s sperm (provided you have no egg or uterine issues) and carry the baby yourself before transitioning;
  • Have IVF using donor or partner’s sperm before transitioning (provided you have no egg issues) and freeze all the embryos for future use. They can be transferred to your uterus or a gestational carrier’s uterus before transitioning or to a gestational carrier’s uterus before or after transitioning;
  • Have your eggs frozen for future use (provided you have no egg issues). They can be thawed and fertilized with donor or a partner’s sperm as needed and transferred to your uterus or a gestational carrier’s uterus before transitioning or to a gestational carrier’s uterus after transitioning.

Many of these transgender couples find that using the eggs of the partner born female who identifies as male and having them fertilized with the sperm of the partner who was born male and identifies as such and then transferring them to the uterus of a gestational carrier not only saves them the expense of an egg donor but allows them both to have a biological connection to the baby. Before hormonal treatment/transitioning occurs, it is possible the partner with the uterus may even be able to carry the pregnancy, though most don’t pursue that option. One of the biggest obstacles to gay family-building is the cost of an egg donor and a gestational carrier. These transgender couples may be able to build their families without incurring one or both of those costs.

  1. Born male but identifies as female–Attracted to females:

If you were born male but identify as female and are attracted to females and you want to have a biological child someday, you will need to use your sperm to make that connection. As much as transition surgery can do for one who identifies as a female, it unfortunately cannot create a functional uterus in which a baby can be carried (at this time, anyway). But the genetic connection to your baby comes from the use of your sperm.

If your goal is transitioning to female and partnering with a female, your family-building options would be very similar to those of a lesbian couple. However, you have the wonderful possible advantage of being able to use your own sperm to create a baby.

Here are your options:

  • Have your sperm frozen for future use in IUI and/or IVF procedures before transitioning or beginning hormonal treatment! Multiple times. Samples can be thawed and used to fertilize your partner’s eggs via IUI or IVF as indicated (or an egg donor’s eggs via IVF, if needed) and transferred to your partner’s uterus (or a gestational carrier’s uterus if needed). You may need to undergo IVF with your partner if you have a sperm issue which ICSI (described above) may overcome.
  • Have your partner do an IUI using your sperm (provided she has no egg, uterine, or tubal issues and your sperm is of acceptable quality);
  • Have your partner do IVF using your sperm (provided she has no egg or uterine issues and use ICSI if sperm quality is an issue);
  • Have your partner do IVF using your sperm (provided she has no egg issues) and freeze all the embryos for future use. They can be transferred to a gestational carrier’s uterus if your partner has uterine issues;
  • Have IVF with donor egg using your sperm if your partner has egg issues and freeze the embryos for future use. They can be transferred into your partner’s uterus (if no uterine issues) or a gestational carrier’s uterus.

Many of these transgender couples find that using the sperm of the partner born male who identifies as female to fertilize the eggs of the partner who was born female and identifies as such either through IUI or IVF allows them both to have a biological connection to the baby. As long as the one partner’s eggs and uterus are fine, and the other partner’s sperm is fine, IUI or IVF could be the pathway to parenthood without the need for sperm or egg donors or a gestational carrier.

 

  1. Born male but identifies as female–Attracted to males:

If you were born male but identify as female and are attracted to males and you want to have a biological child someday, you only have your sperm to use to make that genetic connection. At least until science makes a uterine transplant possible in a transgender individual. But the genetic connection to your baby comes from the use of your sperm.

If your goal is transitioning to female and partnering with a male, your family-building options would be very similar to those of a gay couple. You have presumably got the sperm issue covered between the two of you but need both an egg donor and a gestational carrier in order to have a baby.

Here are your options:

  • Freeze your sperm before beginning hormonal treatment or transitioning! Multiple times. Multiple vials. It’s relatively inexpensive, especially in comparison to egg-freezing. There is virtually no reason not to do this for security– you can’t change your mind later. If an analysis determines your sperm has some issues (i.e. factors like its volume, shape, speed), ask your doctor if you should freeze even more. As discussed earlier, if you have a sperm issue ICSI (see above) during IVF may overcome it.
  • Have IVF using your sperm from before transitioning and using an egg donor and a gestational carrier. Your egg donor can be anonymous or known to you. She will undergo IVF (as previously explained above) but at the point of the egg retrieval, she turns the eggs over to you and she’s done. The eggs are then mixed with your sperm and/or your partner’s sperm for fertilization. After fertilization, the resulting embryos are frozen, to be implanted in the uterus of a gestational carrier. A gestational carrier is a woman (one different than the egg donor) who agrees to carry the baby for you, the intended parent(s). At the birth, the baby is turned over to you pursuant to your contract.

Many of these transgender couples find that using the sperm of both the partner that was born male who identifies as female and also the sperm of the partner born male who identifies as such to fertilize the eggs of the egg donor allows them both to potentially have a biological connection to their babies, though not currently both being connected to a single baby at the same time. For example, embryos fertilized by one partner’s sperm might be transferred into a gestational carrier first and then in a later pregnancy attempt, embryos fertilized with the other partner’s sperm are transferred. If successful, this gives each dad a biological connection to the child fathered with their sperm.

* * * * * * * * * *** * * * * * *

Fortunately, there are donor programs at Long Island IVF to help transgender, homosexual and heterosexual folks with any donor egg, donor sperm, or egg donor needs.

Whether you are a gay man, lesbian, or transgender—single or married—if you are interested in 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. In addition, follow us on social media for info on our many free upcoming events.

We are proud to partner with the LGBT Network to provide the community with information, education, support, and access to the most advanced traditional and holistic assisted reproductive technologies. We also understand, respect, and are sensitive to the unique needs of the LGBT community when it comes to building its families.

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.

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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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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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Who Will Carry the Baby in LGBT Family-Building? (Part One): For Gay Men

By Tracey Minella

January 26th, 2018 at 3:58 pm

In family-building for heterosexual couples, this is not generally a question. But in LGBT family-building, single gay men or gay couples who want a baby that shares a genetic connection with them, the first question to answer is: Who will carry the baby?

Except in cases where a single gay man or both partners in a gay couple have male factor infertility, sperm is usually readily available for baby-making purposes. But the need for a woman’s egg– as well as a uterus in which the baby will grow– is obvious. Fortunately, there are donor programs at Long Island IVF.

In general, and depending on where they live, gay men can choose either a surrogate OR an egg donor and gestational carrier to carry the baby. Both of these options involve another woman carrying the pregnancy for the single gay man or gay couple as intended parent(s), so it helps to understand the difference, even though surrogacy is not legal in New York State.

In a surrogacy arrangement, the woman surrogate uses her own egg to become pregnant with the gay intended parent father’s sperm. Just to be clear –and to the relief of all involved –the pair does not have sexual relations to establish the pregnancy. Instead, a semen specimen is collected from the gay man who intends to be the biological father, and it’s processed and frozen in advance. The surrogate will be monitored for ovulation (when the egg is released from the ovary and the limited window for conception begins). At that time, in a fast and simple office visit, the father’s specimen is thawed and deposited into her uterus via a thin catheter– through a procedure called an intrauterine insemination, or (“IUI”).

If the IUI is successful, the surrogate carries the pregnancy to term, and gives the newborn to the gay father(s) upon birth, thereafter relinquishing her parental rights (in the manner dictated by that particular state’s laws). The newborn is genetically-linked to both the surrogate birth mother and the gay father. Again, this is not an option in New York.

Those of a certain age may remember the infamous New Jersey “Baby M” case of the mid-80s, which thrust the validity of surrogacy agreements into the national limelight. The birth mother, who was genetically-connected to the baby, changed her mind and wanted to keep the baby instead of turning her over to the biological father and his wife, who were the intended parents pursuant to a surrogacy contract.

A long legal battle ensued, and in a nutshell, the court ruled that the paid surrogacy agreement was invalid and against public policy, and that the birth mother and the biological father were the baby’s legal parents. Further, the case was remanded to Family Court for a judge to decide which parent would be awarded legal custody of the baby, using the “best interests of the child” standard that’s used in regular child custody cases. Custody was given to the father, but the mother was awarded visitation rights. *

Times have changed.

While surrogacy in some form is legal in some states, the advancements in reproductive medicine that followed in the decades since Baby M have now made the use of gestational carriers and donor eggs not only medically possible and popular, but also often the only legal way to have someone carry a baby for you.

Gestational carrier with donor egg is the alternative option to surrogacy for a gay man or gay couple to have a genetically-linked baby and it’s the only legal option in New York State. It involves finding two different women to help you– an egg donor and a gestational carrier. That’s how it’s different from surrogacy.

First, the egg donor only provides the eggs, not the uterus. She could be someone you know (like a sister or friend) or could be an anonymous donor who you select after reviewing an extensive profile of donor egg candidates. At Long Island IVF, we have pre-screened donor egg candidates ready to help you build your family.

Lady #2 is the gestational carrier. She only provides the uterus, not the eggs. She can be someone you know, or someone you don’t yet know but who you select through an agency. In most cases, you will get to know and develop a relationship with the gestational carrier.

With the gestational carrier and donor eggs option, the woman chosen to be the egg donor undergoes what is essentially an in vitro fertilization or (“IVF”) procedure up to the point of the egg retrieval. That means she will receive hormonal injections, bloodwork, and ultrasound monitoring of her ovaries (and the developing follicles/eggs inside them) over a period of a few weeks. The purpose of the treatment is for her to produce multiple egg-containing follicles rather than the one egg she would normally produce that month.

When the time is right, the eggs are retrieved prior to ovulation by a reproductive endocrinologist using a transvaginal needle aspiration procedure and injected with the sperm from the gay man (or men) intended parent(s) in the hope that fertilization occurs.

placed in a petri dish with sperm from the gay man (or men) intended parent(s) in the hope that fertilization occurs.

The resulting fertilized eggs, now known as embryos, will be frozen (a/k/a cryopreserved) until such time as they are ready to be thawed and transferred into the waiting uterus of the chosen gestational carrier. [Note that if pre-genetic screening (“PGS”) is elected, it is done prior to the freezing of the embryos.]

The thawed embryos—generally one or two– are placed into the gestational carrier’s uterus through a thin catheter in a fast and simple procedure performed by the reproductive endocrinologist, aptly called “the transfer”. The intention is for an embryo to implant in the uterine wall and a healthy pregnancy to result. If the gestational carrier gets pregnant, she turns the baby –who unlike in surrogacy has no genetic connection to her – –over to the gay man (or men) who is the intended parent(s).

In accordance with applicable state laws, these women are generally well-compensated for their time and effort. Because of the need for gay men to involve two different women in the process, costs are higher than what lesbians and straight couples using assisted reproductive technology typically incur. However, the good news is that a single egg donor cycle may produce enough eggs that gay male intended parents may be able to build their families through more than one pregnancy using just the eggs retrieved from that initial cycle. So, future pregnancy attempts would require the compensating the gestational carrier, but not the egg donor.

Here is how that could work: They might transfer 1-2 embryos into the gestational carrier on the first try (leaving the rest frozen), and if successful, they have a baby (or two). Then maybe a year or more later, they transfer another 1-2 embryos into the same (or another) gestational carrier, and if successful, they have another baby (or two). And so on, until all the embryos are used or they no longer want to use the embryos for additional children.

While there would be the expense of the gestational carrier for each birth (as well as for the medical treatment expenses for the gestational carrier to undergo a frozen cycle), there would be no additional egg donor costs– until you exhausted your supply of embryos from the first egg donor. As exciting and promising as this process is, each case is different and no program can guarantee a baby in the end for any couple. That said, we do have patients who have successfully used embryos retrieved from a single IVF cycle to build their multi-children families—a child at a time—in separate births spaced a few years apart.  So, there is reason to consider this wonderful family-building option that wasn’t available—especially to gay men—all that long ago.

[The second part on this topic on who will carry the baby—for lesbian singles and couples—will be posted next month.]

If you are a gay man or lesbian—single or married– interested in 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. In addition, follow us on social media for info on our many free upcoming events.

We are proud to partner with the LGBT Network to provide the community with information, education, support, and access to the most advanced traditional and holistic assisted reproductive technologies. We also understand, respect, and are sensitive to the unique needs of the LGBT community when it comes to building its families.

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.

 

*Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_M

 

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Infertility, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the First Quarter Blues

By Tracey Minella

January 4th, 2018 at 11:56 pm

depressed woman

image credit: nenetus at freedigitalphotos.net

Infertility and depression go hand-in-hand. Just ask any woman who’s not able to conceive or maintain a pregnancy without medical intervention. You’d be down, too. But some couples–yes, men have feelings, too–are seriously depressed. Maybe even clinically depressed.

Any number of factors could impact a couple’s ability to cope with their infertility struggle. There’s often misplaced guilt or blame over whose “fault” the problem is– or alternatively the complete frustration of facing an “unexplained infertility” diagnosis. Some couples may be completely overwhelmed upon the initial diagnosis while others spiral downward as more time passes without a baby. And the stress of the financial burden of infertility treatment on a couple’s budget doesn’t help matters.

But could there be more to “being down” at this time of year?

Many people actually suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder* (“SAD”) –a form of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Generally, the onset of symptoms begins in the fall, continues or escalates through the winter and eases a bit as spring arrives. This actual syndrome causes those affected to become more depressed in the cold, dark, dreary winter season than they tend to be during the sunny, warm, longer and somewhat more carefree days of summer. Therapy may help ease the symptoms.

So, is it harder to be infertile during the winter months? Does it feel that way to you?

It’s certainly understandable to be down after the holiday season is over and to be exhausted by endless weeks of wearing a fake smile and dodging nagging personal questions –all while surrounded by the babies and pregnant bellies of others. The bitter cold weather on Long Island lately would make anyone want to pull the covers over their head and hibernate. Unless you have an upcoming vacation to look forward to, the first quarter of the new year could seem pretty bleak.

However, if you’re feeling particularly depressed and your depression is interfering with your ability to get through the demands of your day, it may be more than just the winter blues. And it might be time to seek counseling from a caring therapist who specializes in helping infertile couples cope with the stress of infertility.

Among the many offerings of the Long Island IVF Mind-Body Program are individual and group counseling sessions with Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. In addition, we offer special workshops hosted by Bina for individuals and couples covering topics like how to “come out” to friends and family about your infertility struggle or how to keep passion in your relationship during your infertility treatment.

Whether you are interested in individual or group counseling with Bina or you want to register here for her upcoming, pre-Valentine’s Day workshop on “Rekindling Romance in the Face of Infertility”, help is here for you. And you don’t have to be a Long Island IVF patient to participate. In fact, many couples’ first experiences with our practice began with Bina’s counseling, or by taking advantage of our free workshops and seminars during the year. Becoming patients—and hopefully parents—often follows that initial contact.

Long Island IVF is celebrating a milestone this year: 2018 marks our 30th anniversary! The same team of doctors who founded the practice responsible for bringing Long Island its first IVF baby, its first baby from a cryopreserved embryo, and its first donor egg baby is still together three decades later and continues to pioneer breakthroughs in the field of assisted reproductive technology. We love what we do and the birth of every baby we’re responsible for is just as exciting as that very first one. Let us help you celebrate a milestone this year, too. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

 

*Source: The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/nenetus

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A New Year’s Plan Beats a Resolution When Infertile

By Tracey Minella

January 2nd, 2018 at 8:41 am

breaking resolutions

image credit: Ryan McGuire-Gratisography

We’ve barely cracked into the New Year and I’m already tired of hearing about people’s resolutions. Including yours, I bet. And here’s why…

We all make them. We all break them. The thing that frustrates me about other people’s resolutions is that they are generally related to things that are within the maker’s control to make happen. Something the person can do themselves… or can stop doing. Something that doesn’t require the assistance of somebody else. Something that could be guaranteed to be successful if the person merely put in the required effort.

That’s what’s so hard about infertility and the fertility-based resolutions that come from its sufferers.

How many of you struggling to have a child made the same New Year’s resolution yet again…To have a baby this year?

It’s a wish. It’s a dream. And, yes, it’s everything… but it’s not a resolution. At least not to infertile people. Because it is not something within your power to control. At the very least it requires a third-party – – a reproductive endocrinologist– to make it happen. Plus, it requires money which could be an obstacle for some people.

So, the outcome of your so-called “baby resolution” is not in your sole control. And as important a role as your doctor plays, and as great as IVF success rates have become at a quality practice, success is not guaranteed on the first try– or even at all in some cases. The sad reality is that only the fertile folks can make baby resolutions.

Making a resolution to have a baby is setting yourself up to fail, like the dieters who have already cheated and the smokers already back outside puffing away in the bitter cold. And don’t we already heap enough feelings of failure on ourselves?

So, make a New Year’s plan not a resolution.

It may sound like semantics, but the mere word “resolution” in general is tied so often to failure that you need to leave it behind when it comes to your fertility. Choose to plan.

When you plan, you take action. When you plan, you take control. Rather than weakly resolving that you’re going to have a baby this year, get proactive and plan for it. Take control of what is within your control.

So many factors that could positively impact your fertility (as well as your general health) are within your control, so:

 

  • get adequate sleep,
  • drink lots of water to stay hydrated,
  • eat healthy and/or organic foods,
  • take vitamins and exercise with your doctor’s approval,
  • lose excess weight with your doctor’s approval,
  • stop bad habits like smoking or drinking excessively,
  • consider complementary holistic mind-body therapies and fertility acupuncture,
  • research financial options for infertility treatment.

 

Long Island IVF’s payment options, including grants, may help finance your infertility treatment. While it’s never easy to change jobs (or add an extra job) especially in economically-challenging times, more companies are offering insurance coverage for infertility treatment these days, including positions that don’t require special skills or advanced education, such as at Starbucks.

Listen to the voice in your head if it’s telling you something may be wrong and stop delaying having a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist about the state of your fertility.

In fact, even if you are not currently trying to get pregnant, you may benefit from a fertility screening to see if there are any noticeable “red flags” about your reproductive health that might impact your future fertility plans. While it might be scary, knowing is always better than not knowing because it can let you take proactive steps before it’s too late, such as freezing your eggs while you are younger as “insurance” for use later if needed. Or just bumping up your baby plans if there are signs that that would be advisable, like a diminished ovarian reserve.

If you would like a fertility screening, or if you have been unable to become (or remain) pregnant and would like an initial consultation for fertility treatment, please contact us at any of our Long Island or Brooklyn offices.

2018 is a milestone year for Long Island IVF as we are celebrating our 30-year anniversary this summer. We are proud to have pioneered IVF here and to have brought Long Island its first IVF baby… and we treasure every baby we’ve helped bring into this world ever since.

Let us help you make 2018 a milestone year as well. Contact us today.

 

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Coming Out for the Holidays

By Tracey Minella

December 29th, 2017 at 4:24 pm

image credit: jeshoots.com

“Coming out” has a special meaning in the LGBT community. And all members who are “out” remember the way it ultimately happened—and the stress, fear, worry, and hesitation that surrounded that revelation. And the liberating feeling that followed… regardless of the initial response.

Heterosexual couples “come out”, too. But their “coming out” is in reference to breaking their silence about suffering from infertility. Similar feelings–stress, fear, worry, and hesitation. Now, mix that with a bit of unwarranted, social stigma-based shame over not being able to conceive naturally. Come out, and you get the same liberating feeling.

But sometimes, LGBT couples have to “come out” twice.

Consider this: You’ve met someone special and are ready to start a family.

Obviously, biology is a problem. Everyone knows that. It’s why LGBT members—even those who might never have had any problems conceiving if they were heterosexual– need the services of an infertility specialist. In virtually all situations, LGBT unions will require a “missing piece”—either a donated egg, sperm, or embryo—from someone outside the partnership in order to have a baby that’s connected biologically to at least one member of the couple. At a minimum, lesbians need donor sperm. Gay men will need two pieces—a donated egg and a gestational carrier’s uterus to carry the baby to term.

But sometimes, it’s more than basic biology or just getting the “missing piece”. Sometimes, there are issues with the “non-missing piece”. For example, a gay man may have a sperm issue, too. Or a lesbian may have poor egg quality, uterus issues, or other female infertility-related problems.

For these community members, it’s time to come out …again. This time as infertile.

Cue those hard feelings again. And now add in the worries or doubts that—despite great IVF success rates– you could possibly not be able to have children. Because when you are infertile, you just worry. It’s what we do when something so important is outside of our control.

So as the holiday season is in full swing and some family interaction is likely, consider dropping the truth bomb before the ball drops. Free yourself from the burden of the secret and come out about your struggle to conceive. You never know who may step-up and help in some way.

If you need help coming out to your family and friends, Long Island IVF’s caring counselor and Mind-Body expert, Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N., specializes in helping heterosexual and LGBT couples trying to conceive with the many challenges this journey brings.

Coming out may not get you the emotional support you need—but then again, it may. Either way, it’s liberating.

Long Island IVF has been helping the LGBT community become parents for decades. With a staff that includes both heterosexual and LGBT employees, we pride ourselves on understanding and satisfying each couple’s unique family-building needs. We are proud to partner with the LGBT Network in bringing cutting-edge reproductive medicine education and family-building technologies to Long Island’s LGBT community. If you are ready to learn more about your parenthood options, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation with one of our physicians in one of our conveniently-located offices throughout Long Island and in Brooklyn.

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Could You Use $13,570 to Build Your Family?

By Tracey Minella

November 16th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

 

shutterstock


You wouldn’t want to lose $13,570, would you? Well, if you are even remotely considering adopting a child someday, you need to read on.

Both LGBT and heterosexual couples often turn to adoption to create their families. Some may go straight to adoption. Others may first try Assisted Reproductive Technologies (“ART”) like in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) and then pursue adoption if those attempts fail. And some try both adoption and ART simultaneously, ready to accept whichever brings them a child first.

For ages, adoption was the primary route many LGBT couples took to become parents. Gay men (having no eggs or uterus to work with) had little choice before the advent of donor egg and gestational carriers. Unfortunately, private newborn adoptions historically favored placement with heterosexual couples, often leaving LGBT wannabe parents to seek adoption through the foster care system. Sometimes, to reduce the wait time for placement, they’d be encouraged to consider older or special needs children.

While more open-minded than in the past, some of today’s birth parents still cling to those old prejudices when choosing adoptive parents, holding out for the so-called “traditional” parental unit–a married heterosexual couple– rather than an LGBT couple or single parent.

At Long Island IVF, rapidly-advancing assisted reproductive medical technology has opened many avenues to family-building for LGBT couples who want to have a biological child. Depending on the particular circumstances, these options may include using donor egg, donor sperm, gestational carriers, or reciprocal IVF. These advancements, coupled with hard-fought legal victories for LGBT marital and parental rights, did—and continue to– change the parenting options landscape for members of the LGBT community.

In spite of these the medical and legal developments, adoption is still the choice of many couples. The idea of giving a stable home to a foster child that is waiting for love is preferable to many couples, even those who could pursue or had success with medical options.

But whether you choose adoption or ART to build a family, there are financial concerns and the costs of either option can pose a barrier to many couples. Every financial family-building resource, benefit, insurance, or credit that exists must remain accessible to all who need it. For those who choose to adopt, that means preserving the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

There’s a lot going on in the political and infertile world—some front-burner and other back-burner movements. One of the hottest items in the news right now is the fate of the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit is available to American families to help off-set the costs of adoption. It applies to all adoptions– private domestic, international, and through foster care.

In a nutshell, it’s a federal tax credit currently capped at $13,570 for qualified adoption expenses, though it is affected by the family’s income and tax liability. According to Resolve, the National Infertility Organization’s website:

  • Families earning over $203,540 may only claim a partial credit
  • Families earning over $243,540 are not entitled to any credit
  • Families adopting a special needs foster child may claim the maximum credit
  • The credit may be used for up to five additional years if there is not enough tax liability to apply the full amount of the credit in the first year, and it’s non-refundable.
  • The government saves an estimated $65,000-$127,000 per child that’s adopted out of long-term foster care.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit made headlines after appearing to be on the chopping block as part of the current administration’s upcoming Tax Reform proposal. This caused adoption and infertility rights advocates and religious organizations to leap into action to save the tax credit. Without it, countless children will remain in foster care because those who want to adopt them will not be able to afford to do so. Further, those pursuing private domestic or international adoptions may not be able to afford to those options without the credit.

Fortunately, the most recent reports from last week indicate that the political tide is turning in favor of saving the Adoption Tax Credit, but all those who believe it should be saved need to step up and support it. Do it for yourself or someone you love. Or just do it for the good of orphans and kind-hearted strangers. If you were adopting a child today, wouldn’t you want that tax credit?

If you’d like to lend your voice to the effort, you can contact your local representatives or join the efforts of RESOLVE–the group that fights tirelessly for the rights of all members of the infertile community. You can check out the political initiative here.

1/1/18 UPDATE: The Federal Adoption Tax Credit has been saved in the Final Tax Reform Bill! https://adoptiontaxcredit.org/

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Are you or would you consider adopting a child? Would losing the Adoption Tax Credit impact your ability or choice to adopt?

 

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