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Archive for the ‘infertility information’ tag

Happy Infertility Awareness Week?

By Tracey Minella

April 23rd, 2017 at 9:50 pm

 

image courtesy of Resolve


Well, there’s an oxymoron for you. Nothing should begin with the word “happy” and include the word “infertility”, if you ask me. For the infertility patient, every single minute of every draining day is Infertility Awareness Day.  So, giving us just a week in the national spotlight is kind of insulting. Don’t you think?

So, how do we mark this week? Is there a greeting card for this occasion? It certainly doesn’t seem like a celebration is in order, right? No one’s boss is sending flowers or candy. If the boss even knows.

It’s not like we can go around posting pictures of negative pregnancy tests sticks or injection site bruises on social media. Or can we?

So how do we call attention to “our week” when so many of us haven’t even told our closest friends and family that we’re suffering from infertility yet?  In fact, many patients understandably go to incredible lengths just to keep the boss and co-workers in the dark, for reasons ranging from unfounded but real embarrassment to the fear of losing their jobs…and insurance benefits (*insert sarcastic laugh)…upon discovery of their “secret”. [We’ve got a great workshop for you silent types, so check it out below.]

No one can understand the intensity and rawness of the range of emotions of an infertility patient … unless they are an infertility patient. Not your mother, your doctor, your best friend, or even your spouse. It’s something only you can feel the true depths of.  And calling attention to this week may not make you feel better. But it is necessary. Why?

Over the years, raising awareness of infertility has ever so slowly resulted in increased insurance coverage and benefits and more grant programs to defer some of the costs of treatment. In addition, raising awareness has also helped patients find blogs and support groups to help them through this journey, so please consider following Long Island IVF on social media and our blog, The Fertility Daily. Awareness is critically important in today’s political climate– there are “personhood amendment” bills popping up regularly that may threaten the very future of IVF if passed in their current forms—so it’s definitely time to stay vigilant and make our representatives “Listen UP!” And that’s the theme for this year’s NIAW. Listen UP!

Speaking of supporting our patients—and the suffering public as well—Long Island IVF has four (4) free events this week and next in our Melville office to “celebrate” NIAW and we encourage you register to come to as many as you’d like. All are welcome. Here they are:

Yoga for Fertility Night” on April 26th with Lisa Pineda! Learn and do the poses designed to help your body become more receptive to pregnancy through stress reduction, increased blood flow to the uterus, and more. Register here for free. Spots go fast. This was wildly popular last time we offered it!

Acupuncture for Fertility Symposium” on April 27th, offers a live demo of fertility acupuncture—a holistic and ancient therapy offered at Long Island IVF by our own Dr. David Kreiner, the area’s first and only known reproductive endocrinologist who is also a certified and practicing medical acupuncturist. Learn from a panel of experts how some patients may improve their chances of IVF success by using this complementary therapy—even if they tried IVF unsuccessfully in the past. Register here for free.

New Beginnings through Donor Egg Seminar” on May 2nd. Donor Egg is not usually the first step for people seeking to build a family and many people have suffered a long time, through disappointment and loss, before opening up to the possibility of building their family with donor egg. If you find yourself open to exploring a program that many women later confess they wish they considered sooner, please join us to learn more from our supportive and compassionate donor egg team of doctors and nurses. Hear from one of our many successful donor egg recipient moms and ask your questions. Register here for free.

Tired of the Secret? Workshop” on May 4th. In an effort to help those couples who want or need to come out of the infertility closet and tell their family and friends or employers—but don’t know how to do it—we are bringing back this popular workshop from Coming Out Infertile Day last November. Led by our Mind-Body Program and infertility specialist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, couples or individuals who want to “come out” are given counsel and guidance to work through the issues that are blocking them, as well as suggestions on how to navigate that important conversation so they can unburden themselves and get the support they need from their loved ones. Register here for free.

And just as National Infertility Awareness Week will come and go, so too will this journey you are on. Even if it seems never-ending at times. It will end.

And because we raise infertility awareness, the technology gets better every day, and your chances for a happy ending get better daily, too.

Well, look at that…a sentence with the words “happy” and “infertility” in it. Things are looking up.

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Are you coming to one of our NIAW events? Which one(s)?

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“New Beginnings through Donor Egg” Seminar at Long Island IVF

By Tracey Minella

April 14th, 2017 at 9:15 am

Right on the heels of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 23-29) is a seminar especially for women who think they might need an egg donor to build their family. It’s called “New Beginnings through Donor Egg”.

Have you ever met a woman who became a mom through egg donation? Wouldn’t it be helpful to hear about her experience and ask her questions in person knowing she once shared the same concerns you may have about the process?

Well, you won’t want to miss this seminar! The donor egg recipient mom who is coming can’t wait to tell you all about her experience. Like many women who turn to donor egg, she suffered through disappointment and loss before finally considering and then deciding to use an egg donor to build her family. Her story is fascinating and her heart is big.

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at 7:00 pm, Long Island IVF will host a free event “New Beginnings through Donor Egg” that could potentially change the course of your family-building journey. Our caring doctors and staff…and that happy donor recipient mom… will go over everything you could ever need to know about egg donation.

Women whose eggs have been compromised by advanced age, premature ovarian failure, failed IVF treatment, cancer, or poor egg quality should consider donor egg therapy. Long Island IVF offers many ways to build a family through the donor egg program. Gay men wanting biological children also need the help of an egg donor.

Admittedly, conceiving with donor eggs is rarely the first choice, but often is an acceptable alternative after weighing many personal, physical, emotional, psychological, and financial considerations. Decades of happy moms agree that using donor eggs was the best decision they ever made and many wish they’d come around to the idea sooner.

Maybe you’re not yet ready to act on the information you’ll receive. No problem. We’re just here to offer information and emotional support. So, why not attend the seminar and learn about Egg Donation as an opportunity to create your family? It’s right before the often-dreaded Mother’s Day and a perfect time to get educated and empowered about this powerful family-building option.

Victoria Loveland, RN & Donor Egg Nursing Coordinator, Aviva Zigelman, LCSW & Donor Egg Program Director, and Long Island IVF partner and reproductive endocrinologist Steven Brenner, MD will all be there to answer your questions. You can even speak to them privately if you’re more comfortable.

Long Island IVF offers several different egg donation options, including:

  • Sole Recipient Fresh Egg Donation,
  • Shared Recipient Fresh Egg Donation, and
  • Frozen Egg Donation.

Each option offers its own unique benefits, costs, and other considerations. We have young, healthy, pre-screened, anonymous egg donors representing multiple ethnicities ready to help build your family. Or you can use a known donor if you prefer.

Register here for “New Beginnings through Donor Egg”. Walk-ins are always welcome, too. Bring a friend or partner. Take that first step, even if you’re hesitant. We look forward to seeing you and answering your questions about the exciting option of egg donation. This seminar is generally intimate, low-key and not overly-crowded.

Location: Long Island IVF 8 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 101, Melville, NY

Date: Tuesday May 2, 2017

Time: 7:00 pm- 9:30 pm

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Will you be there? If you’d like to attend but can’t, please call anyway and ask for Vicky Loveland, so we can make other arrangements to help you.

 

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Infertility and the Wrong Path Taken

By David Kreiner MD

September 22nd, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Image credit: wpclipart.com


A day of atonement is when people reflect on the choices they’ve made and the goals they’ve set and ponder things like what mistakes or wrong decisions they may have made that have led them down a path they did not intend to take. Sometimes, mistakes may have landed patients on the path of infertility.

Dr. Kreiner examines a common situation he encounters where poor decisions…or indecision…on behalf of patients and their GYNs leads them down a path they certainly did not intend…

A friend of mine was complaining to me about the trouble he got into with his homeowner’s association because he did not hide his empty garbage cans in his garage but left them behind his cars in front of his house.  It was 20 feet from the curb, he claimed, still distraught that he should have been scolded for breaking the rule.  “I didn’t know”.  That phrase, “I didn’t know” clicked in my brain as a recurrent declaration from the frustrated patients who I see every day.

My infertility practice is filled with patients who spent years of their lives all the time assuming that their fertility would be there when they were ready.  Some even mentioned their failed attempts at conceiving to their gynecologist who may have reassured them or if it were a more aggressive clinician, he may have put them on Clomid for 3 to 6 months.  Meanwhile these women got older, many over 40 not realizing that time was chipping away at their fertility.  “They didn’t know”.

A fertility screen is a good way to assess annually what is happening to your fertility independent of your age.  This is accomplished by getting day 2 or 3 FSH and estradiol levels as well as an ultrasonographic antral follicle count.  An AntiMullerian Hormone level can be checked at any point in the cycle and likewise reflect the relative number of eggs left giving some reassurance about a person’s remaining fertility.

What do I as a reproductive endocrinologist who sees the damage done by this benign neglect on a daily basis do to wake people up to the fact that fertility is a temporary state that needs to be taken advantage of when the time is right?  Today, doctors can take ovarian tissue/eggs from a child or adult to preserve her fertility prior to fertility-robbing cancer treatments.  In fact, egg freezing technology is now here for the healthy women who want to preserve their fertility. It’s become acceptable therapy with ever increasing success and lack of problems being noted. Ask your Long Island IVF doctor about egg freezing.

Patients who are not in a position to execute their reproductive rights while they are still fertile should consider egg freezing when they do not have a partner to share in conception.  With a willing and available partner, freezing embryos is another viable option.

But without question, couples who are ready to start a family, should seek assistance from a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in helping those such as yourselves build your families.  Even when not covered by insurance, there are affordable options such as minimal stimulation IVF, grants, and studies that make the process within reach of most people in need.   So do not become another victim to “I didn’t know”.  Take action, see a reproductive endocrinologist and get on the right path to building that family of your dreams.

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Have you considered egg freezing? Do you wish you had?

 

Photo credit: http://www.wpclipart.com/travel/more_road_signs/road_signs_2/crossroads_sign.jpg

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Long Island IVF Supports PFLAG

By Tracey Minella

September 4th, 2015 at 6:15 pm

 

Dr. David Kreiner, reproductive endocrinologist and co-founder of Long Island IVF…the infertility practice responsible for bringing Long Island its first IVF baby… is excited and honored to be the guest speaker at the upcoming Long Island PFLAG chapter’s September 20th meeting in Commack. His presentation will be on “Fertility Options for Same Sex Couples”.

 

Since its inception in 1988, Long Island IVF has been committed to the belief that all people have the right to have a family. We have a proud history of supporting LGBT family-building in a way that is sensitive to the unique needs of the community. We go beyond LGBT-friendly…several of our staff members are part of the community. And our experienced psychologist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, is also the caring and sensitive mother of an adult transgender child. So, we’ve got you covered.

 

If you are a member of the LGBT community…or a parent or loved one of a member…please come down and meet Dr. Kreiner. He will address all of your questions regarding the many fertility preservation and family-building options for the LGBT community.

 

Date: Sunday, September 20, 2015

Time: 2:00 pm

Place: Suffolk Y JCC

74 Hauppauge Rd. Commack, New York

For more information, call PFLAG at 631-462-9800

 

If you can’t wait until then to meet Dr. Kreiner, you can also attend Long Island IVF’s upcoming event, “An Evening of Holistic Approaches to Fertility”, on September 15th at our Melville office. Details are available on our website here: http://www.longislandivf.com/view_event.cfm?id=191

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Do you have any questions for Dr. Kreiner in advance of the PFLAG presentation?

 

 

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Long Island IVF Hosts Holistic Approaches to Fertility Event

By Tracey Minella

July 31st, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Ever since we brought Long Island its first IVF baby over 27 years ago, we’ve always been pioneers in the field of infertility treatment. And we continue to innovate today.

Don’t miss our free event, “An Evening of Holistic Approaches to Fertility” in our Melville office on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm.

Keep reading for details!

You won’t find another practice on Long Island that integrates the best of Western medicine’s cutting edge assisted reproductive technology with the holistic principles of Eastern medicine and the power of a Mind-Body Program. No one else offers all this support.

Long Island IVF’s Mind-Body Program… led by our own caring psychologist, Bina Benisch M.S., R.N… is packed with an arsenal of tools to help manage the stress and frustration of infertility. Tools like breath work, meditation, and Reiki. Plus Bina offers wildly popular individual, group, and couples’ counseling specifically geared for infertility-related issues.

And you have to meet Jim. We promote fertility acupuncture to, among other things, increase blood flow to the uterus in the hope of maximizing the chances for conception. Don’t miss the live demonstration and presentation by Jim Vitale from Suffolk County Acupuncture.

We also encourage many holistic principles like massage, fertility yoga, and optimizing fertility through a healthy diet.

Are you doing everything you can to maximize your fertility?

Why not come down to this free, fun, and informative event to find out if any of these practices may complement your own fertility treatment plan. Here’s the exciting lineup:

Bina Benisch, MS, RN— Relaxation techniques, Reiki live demo!

 

Dr. Kreiner— Welcome and Western Medicine vs Eastern Medicine!

 

Jim Vitale from Suffolk County Acupuncture– Acupuncture live demo!

 

LI IVF billing team–Offering financial counseling and info and applications re: Jade grant, DOH grant, etc

 

Watch Jim do acupuncture. See Reiki with Bina. Apply for a free IVF grant. Nibble on Dr. Kreiner’s famous fertility trail mix as he explains the fascinating way holistic and Eastern medicine can complement traditional Western medicine when treating infertility. It’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had on a Tuesday night!

Please RSVP to Lindsay at lmontello@liivf.com and bring a friend or partner. All are welcome, you don’t have to be a LIIVF patient and there is no cost to attend.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there. And hey, we’ve got that trail mix…

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Is there anything you’re particularly interested in learning about at the seminar? Let us know!

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest.

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 27 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help.

 

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Long Island IVF Hosts Seminar: “Family-Building the LGBT Way”

By Tracey Minella

June 15th, 2015 at 11:42 am

If you’d like information on family-building from a practice that’s been helping the LGBT community become parents for decades, we’ve got the event for you!

We’ve partnered up with the LGBT Network to bring you a very special seminar on June 25, 2015 from 7-9 pm at the LGBT Network Community Center in Woodbury, NY. http://lgbtnetwork.org/the-center

Long Island IVF’s “Family-Building the LGBT Way” seminar will answer everything you ever wanted to know about today’s LGBT Family-Building options. Two of our reproductive endocrinologists, Dr. Steven Brenner, and Dr. Satu Kuokkanen, along with other key LIIVF team members will introduce you to the fascinating world of assisted reproductive technology and how it’s used to help the LGBT community become parents. In addition, Vicky Loveland, our Donor Egg Coordinator and Melissa Brisman, Esq. owner and founder of Reproductive Possibilities http://www.reproductivepossibilities.com/ will be there. Ms. Brisman is a nationally known reproductive attorney.

LGBT family-building is different in many ways from so-called “traditional” family-building. As a practice made up of both LGBT and non-LGBT employees, we truly understand the nuances that make your family-building adventure unique to you.

Whether you met us briefly at LI Pridefest 2015 and you’d like to learn more about our LGBT Family Building program at Long Island IVF, or this is the first time you’ll be meeting us, we hope you’ll join us at the LGBT Network Community Center to learn about the many ways we can help you achieve your dream of parenthood.

Please pre-register for this free event by emailing lmontello@liivf.com. Light refreshments will be served.

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Will you be attending the “Family-Building the LGBT Way” seminar? Do you have any specific questions or particular topics you want to see covered?

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest.

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 27 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help.

 

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Happy National Infertility Awareness Week #NIAW

By Tracey Minella

April 20th, 2015 at 10:55 am

 

 

Well, it’s the biggest week of the year in the infertile world… National Infertility Awareness Week. NIAW, for short.

I confess I hate saying “Happy” before “National Infertility Awareness Week”. Those suffering know there’s nothing “happy” about it. Not a club anyone wants to belong to. No reason to buy balloons or a cake.

But celebrate we will. We must. Because we are celebrating you.

We celebrate you for your strength and resolve in the face of what may be the greatest challenge of your life so far. In overcoming great emotional, physical, and financial stress. We recognize that no matter what pain and losses you’ve faced to date, you find the strength to get out of bed each day and continue to fight for your dream of a family.

This week, Long Island IVF has both educational and fun events to celebrate you, distract you,  and to help spread infertility awareness. All events are from 7:00pm-9:00pm at the Melville office and will offer light refreshments.

 

Here is the lineup of FREE events:

 

Donor Egg Recipient Seminar (Tuesday):

Learn everything you need to know about the Donor Egg process. Learn why some women can benefit from donor eggs, how egg donors are thoroughly screened, how the process works, the competitive success rates of our program, and so much more. Meet the Donor Egg Team and hear a testimonial from one of our many successful and happy moms. Light refreshments.

 

Fertile Yoga Night (Wednesday):

Yoga with a Baby Goal! Created for both newbies and yoga devotes, this is your chance to participate in a yoga session specifically geared to potentially enhance your fertility. Bring your mat or a towel (and yoga pants or gym wear) and experience mediation, breathing and stretching designed to reduce stress, lessen muscle tension and increase blood flow to the pelvis. You’ll be guided by Lisa Pineda, an instructor experienced in yoga for fertility who will leave you relaxed and wanting more. Light refreshments.

 

Alternative Medicine and Holistic Approaches to Enhancing Fertility Night (Thursday):

This interactive evening will highlight Mind-Body and holistic medicine practices including meditation techniques, breath work, Reiki, massage therapy and a live demonstration of fertility-focused acupuncture. LIIVF’s own Dr. David Kreiner will discuss acupuncture and Bina Benisch, MS RN and other affiliated local practitioners will lead the other discussions/demos. Additionally, Rachel Liberatore, LMT, from Nu Touch Therapy will be providing free chair massages. Jim Vitale of Suffolk County Acupuncture will give a live demo of fertility-focused acupuncture, too. Don’t miss this chance to learn how to help yourself reduce stress and improve your own fertility. Light refreshments, including Dr. Kreiner’s special secret fertility friendly trail mix!!!

 

 

Again, all events are FREE, but pre-registration is required. If you’ve been trying to conceive without success, please RSVP immediately to reserve your spot by contacting our Patient Services Coordinator, Lindsay Montello at 631-386-5509 or lmontello@liivf.com. You do not have to be a Long Island IVF patient to attend. Feel free to bring your partner or a friend.

Please come out to one or all of these events. Please help us raise awareness of infertility this week by sharing this post. Someone you know is suffering. You can help.

Did I mention the secret trail mix?

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Will we see you at one of these events? Can you guess what’s in the secret trail mix?

 

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Is There a Relationship Between Infertility Treatment and Autism?

By admin

April 3rd, 2015 at 7:11 pm

 

image courtesy njaj/free digitalphotos.net


April is Autism Awareness Month. As it ends, much of the discussion regarding the potential causes of autism have centered on the debate over a possible vaccine connection.

Understandably, the world is searching for the cause of what some call the epidemic of autism in the United States. Current stats show that one out of 68 children is diagnosed with the disorder which typically manifests itself in various ways, impacting or causing developmental delays, communication and behavioral challenges. Because the symptoms and degree of severity vary so wildly from case to case, autism is a spectrum disorder.

And, although practically eclipsed by the vaccine headlines, every year another question is raised:

Does IVF… or fertility medications… cause autism?

A recent study*sparked some pretty sensational headlines that boldly claimed that IVF doubles the risk of having autism. Reading further into the articles…or even reading the small print caption right below the accompanying photo… you could find facts and quotes that explained and/or contradicted the claim of the headline. But not everyone reads the article beyond the headline. Certainly not someone who is now hysterical with fear. In my opinion, misleading headlines in journalism dealt a sucker punch to IVF.

Consider this article**, entitled “Children conceived via IVF have double the autism rates of others: study”, wherein the caption right below the headline and photo states:

“While researchers didn’t find a direct link between reproductive treatments like IVF and autism, they said higher rates among children born that way might be due to multiple births or complications during pregnancy that can follow such treatments.” (emphasis added)

Notably, if you read further, the risk disappears completely for those who elect IVF with a Single Embryo Transfer, or for those who do not have multiple pregnancies! The article continues:

For moms giving birth to just one baby, there’s no increased risk of the neurodevelopmental disorder, researchers said.”(emphasis added)

This clarification may relieve the fears of many IVF patients… especially in light of the growing popularity and competitive success rates of Single Embryo Transfer programs like the one at Long Island IVF. Even for those who do not elect SET, advances in reproductive technology have led to a significant decrease in the number of embryos most clinics will routinely transfer, and that has also contributed to a dramatic reduction in the incidence of high order multiple pregnancies as well.

Obviously, more research is necessary. And careful dissemination of information and findings as it unfolds is, as well.

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Do you think publications have a duty to use headlines that don’t mislead? Does the study in question impact your family-building decision and if so, in what way?

* http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302383

**http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/kids-conceived-ivf-double-autism-rates-study-article-1.2163153

photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Toys_and_games_g80-Blue_Puzzle_p104185.html

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Long Island “Brew For the Family” Event- June 4, 2015

Would winning a FREE IVF Cycle door prize help you or a loved one build a family?

Join us on Thursday, June 4th, 2015 from 7:30-10PM at the Long Island Brew for the Family event hosted in partnership with the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation.

We have come together to spread the message that infertility can be overcome! Enjoy a night out and forget the stress of infertility as we sample craft beers at one of Long Island’s premier microbreweries, The Great South Bay Brewery. The evening will include a sampling of 6 beers, guided brewery tours with a master brewer, great food, music, and a silent auction.

Each admission ticket will include one entry into the drawing for a FREE IVF CYCLE* door prize. Be sure to invite your family and friends for even more chances to win, as the prize is transferrable.

To purchase tickets and learn more about this event please visit: www.librewforthefamily.eventbrite.com.

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest.

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 27 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help.

 

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The Fertility Awareness Opportunities Angelina Jolie Missed

By Tracey Minella

March 27th, 2015 at 11:57 am

 

 

credit: Paul Sherman/ wpclipart


Actress, director, humanitarian, ambassador, mom of twins, adoptive mom, wife of Brad Pitt. And she’s gorgeous.

What’s not to hate?

Oh, I’m just sort of  kidding. No, really. But despite all the good she does, there will always be haters. People who want her money, her talent, her babies, or her man. Jealousy can do that.

I don’t necessarily admire many celebrities… and that’s fine, because their only job is to entertain me, not impress me. But I am impressed with Angelina Jolie. She’s charitable with her time and money and seems pretty grounded for a megastar. And she uses her celebrity for good.

It’s been only two years since Jolie made headlines for undergoing a preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation… a mutation that significantly increases the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. At that time, she was open about her decision and used her celebrity to increase breast cancer awareness.

Now Angelina revealed that she took those preventative measures to the next level. This time, she had both of her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in the hope of avoiding ovarian cancer…another deadly cancer linked to the same gene mutation. Jolie lost her mom to ovarian cancer and said in a recent New York Times Op Ed piece that she doesn’t want her children to experience the same loss. Her openness is raising awareness of ovarian cancer.

But there is another untold story here, too…a fertility awareness story…and it needs to be heard.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know Jolie has six children. She adopted three children internationally and gave birth to a singleton and a pair of twins. Practically eliminating her risk of getting ovarian cancer is not the only result of her surgery.

The media is reporting that she can no longer have biological children. And Jolie acknowledged how hard her decision would be for a woman who has not completed her family-building. Perhaps because of the size of her family, this point seemed lost on the general public. But it’s not lost on you, is it? This surgery is a big deal. And before others who may not be done with their family-building journeys emulate Jolie and follow her path, some crucial missing information needs to be shared.

In fact, there are three opportunities here to increase fertility awareness and educate the public about advances in the field of reproductive technologies, namely PGD, Egg donation, and Egg-freezing.

First, there’s pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (“PGD”). PGD enables couples who are concerned about passing a life-threatening genetic disease on to their children to have their embryos pre-screened for gene mutations. This screening can only be done in conjunction with an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, where eggs are retrieved and fertilized in a lab and the resulting embryos can be tested. Then, only those embryos that did not test positive for the mutated gene would be transferred into the uterus…virtually eliminating the chance of passing on that hereditary disease. BRCA is one of the many genes that can be screened through PGD. Long Island IVF offers PGD.

Second, there’s egg donation. If a woman has her ovaries and tubes removed, she cannot thereafter have a biological child…one created using her own eggs… however she may still experience childbirth. If she still has a healthy uterus, it may be possible for her, through IVF, to use eggs from an egg donor and the sperm of her partner or a donor, and have the resulting embryos transferred into her uterus where a pregnancy can implant and grow to term. Long Island IVF’s Donor Egg Program brought Long Island its First donor egg baby decades ago.

Finally, there’s the latest breakthrough in women’s fertility preservation technology: egg freezing. Egg-freezing offers an exception to the egg donor statement above. If… prior to removing her ovaries… a woman undergoes IVF for the purpose of either freezing her retrieved eggs (or freezing the embryos resulting from the fertilization of her retrieved eggs), then instead of needing donor eggs, she would be able to later have her own frozen eggs (or embryos) thawed and transferred into her uterus in the hope of becoming pregnant with her own biological child. Or if her uterus was unsuitable or absent, she could still have a biological child by having someone else carry a pregnancy for her. (Note: Surrogacy and gestational carrier laws vary from state to state.) Long Island IVF has an Egg Freezing Program.

These three fertility awareness opportunities, when coupled with Jolie’s breast cancer and ovarian cancer awareness, will further empower women everywhere to make better medical choices and take charge of their fertility and general health.

Shame on the haters. It’s wonderful that Jolie is open about her health in a way that raises awareness for others. She is a just a mom. A selfless mom who just wants to be there to see her children and future grandchildren grow up.

Is there something wrong with being proactive after tests show you carry a gene that could one day take your life, like it took your mother’s? Are the haters just jealous of her? Is she a hero?

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What do you think? What would you do?

 

 

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

By David Kreiner MD

March 24th, 2015 at 10:34 pm

 

photo: OhMega1982/ freesigitalphotos.net


I don’t have to tell you that endometriosis can be a very painful illness and that it can cause infertility. It is often a reproductive lifelong struggle in which tissue that normally lines the uterus migrates or implants into other parts of the body, most often in the pelvic lining and ovaries. This leads to pain and swelling and often times difficulty conceiving.

If you have endometriosis, you are not alone. Five to ten percent of all women have it. Though many of these women are not infertile, among patients who have infertility, about 30 percent have endometriosis.

Endometriosis can grow like a weed in a garden, irritating the local lining of the pelvic cavity and attaching itself to the ovaries and bowels. Scar tissue often forms where it grows, which can exacerbate the pain and increase the likelihood of infertility. The only way to be sure a woman has endometriosis is to perform a surgical procedure called laparoscopy which allows your physician to look inside the abdominal cavity with a narrow tubular scope. He may be suspicious that you have endometriosis based on your history of very painful menstrual cycles, painful intercourse, etc., or based on your physical examination or ultrasound findings. On an ultrasound, a cyst of endometriosis has a characteristic homogenous appearance showing echoes in the cyst that distinguish it from a normal ovarian follicle. Unlike the corpus luteum (ovulated follicle), its edges are round as opposed to collapsed and irregular in the corpus luteum and the cyst persists after a menses where corpora lutea will resolve each month.

Women with any stage of endometriosis (mild, moderate, or severe) can have severe lower abdominal and pelvic pain – or they might have no pain or symptoms whatsoever. Patients with mild endometriosis will not have a cyst and will have no physical findings on exam or ultrasound. It is thought that infertility caused by mild disease may be chemical in nature perhaps affecting sperm motility, fertilization, embryo development or even implantation perhaps mediated through an autoimmune response.

Moderate and severe endometriosis are, on the other hand, associated with ovarian cysts of endometriosis which contain old blood which turns brown and has the appearance of chocolate. These endometriomata (so called “chocolate cysts”) cause pelvic scarring and distortion of pelvic anatomy. The tubes can become damaged or blocked and the ovaries may become adherent to the uterus, bowel or pelvic side wall. Any of these anatomic distortions can result in infertility. In some cases the tissue including the eggs in the ovaries can be damaged, resulting in diminished ovarian reserve and reduced egg quantity and quality.

The treatment for endometriosis associated with infertility needs to be individualized for each woman. Surgery often provides temporary relief and can improve fertility but rarely is successful in permanently eliminating the endometriosis which typically returns one to two years after resection.

There are no easy answers, and treatment decisions depend on factors such as the severity of the disease and its location in the pelvis, the woman’s age, length of infertility, and the presence of pain or other symptoms.

Treatment for Mild Endometriosis

Medical (drug) treatment can suppress endometriosis and relieve the associated pain in many women. Surgical removal of lesions by laparoscopy might also reduce the pain temporarily.
However, several well-controlled studies have shown that neither medical nor surgical treatment for mild endometriosis will improve pregnancy rates for infertile women as compared to expectant management (no treatment). For treatment of infertility associated with mild to moderate endometriosis, ovulation induction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) has a reasonable chance to result in pregnancy if no other infertility factors are present. If this is not effective after about three – six cycles (maximum), then I would recommend proceeding with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Treatment for Severe Endometriosis

Several studies have shown that medical treatment for severe endometriosis does not improve pregnancy rates for infertile women. Some studies have shown that surgical treatment of severe endometriosis does improve the chances for pregnancy as compared to no treatment. However, the pregnancy rates remain low after surgery, perhaps no better than two percent per month.

Some physicians advocate medical suppression with a GnRH-agonist such as Lupron for up to six months after surgery for severe endometriosis before attempting conception. Although at least one published study found this to improve pregnancy rates as compared to surgery alone, other studies have shown it to be of no benefit. The older a patient is, the more problematic post surgical treatment with Lupron will be as it delays a woman’s attempt to conceive until she is even older and less fertile due to aging.

Unfortunately, the infertility in women with severe endometriosis is often resistant to treatment with ovarian stimulation plus IUI as the pelvic anatomy is very distorted. These women will often require IVF in order to conceive.

Recommendations

As endometriosis is a progressive destructive disorder that will lead to diminished ovarian reserve if left unchecked, it is vital to undergo a regular fertility screen annually and to consider moving up your plans to start a family before your ovaries become too egg depleted. When ready to conceive, I recommend that you proceed aggressively to the most effective and efficient therapy possible.

Women with endometriosis and infertility are unfortunately in a race to get pregnant before the endometriosis destroys too much ovarian tissue and achieving a pregnancy with their own eggs becomes impossible. However, if you are proactive and do not significantly delay in aggressively proceeding with your family building, then I have every expectation that you will be successful in your efforts to become a mom.

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Do you suffer from endometriosis? How has it impacted your fertility journey? Do you have any advice for others who are suffering?

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