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Archive for the ‘ovarian torsion’ tag

Don’t Jostle Your Ovaries

By Tracey Minella

February 10th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

It takes a strong woman to go through infertility treatment. And sometimes, in our headstrong, full-speed-ahead-with-blinders-on mode, we feel we’re unstoppable. Invincible, even. But we are not.

With some areas of Long Island blanketed in over two feet of snow, there is a potential danger to infertile women in treatment… snow shoveling. You are not invincible. Do not shovel snow if you are currently in a treatment cycle, have just completed a cycle, are in the two-week waiting period for results, or are pregnant. You must be gentle to and mindful of your ovaries.

When you take injectable medications for IVF (or ovulation induction) to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple follicles… instead of the single monthly follicle you may otherwise have produced… one of the reasons the doctors monitor you so closely with blood work and sonograms is to reduce the risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, or “OHSS”.

When you stimulate the ovaries, they temporarily swell a bit in response, which is expected. OHSS in its mild form can be uncomfortable, but usually resolves on its own. Fortunately, severe OHSS cases are incredibly rare. But in the 1-2% of those cases, patients may experience symptoms including rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Pregnancy hormones can worsen OHSS. So, it is important to report any of the above symptoms to your RE as soon as possible, before or after your retrieval or transfer (or IUI). For more info on OHSS, see

Most women know not to do anything that could be harmful to a developing baby, but they don’t often realize the potential risk certain activities can pose to their stimulated, or recently retrieved, ovaries. Play it safe. Don’t jostle your ovaries.

So put the snow shovel down, ladies. And, leave the vacuum alone while you’re at it, too.

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Have you ever done anything strenuous while stimulating? Have you ever experienced OHSS?


Photo credit: Peter Griffin @


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Infertility Support Through Blogging

By Tracey Minella

January 10th, 2013 at 10:53 pm

credit: adamr/

RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, is a great source of information and resources for those suffering from infertility. One popular feature it offers is the annual “Bloggers Unite Program”. During National Infertility Awareness Week in April each year, there is a theme for infertility bloggers to blog about. In 2012, the theme was “Don’t Ignore Infertility”.

Infertility blogs are as different as their authors’ individual infertility experiences and personalities. They may be written by newbies or seasoned IVF veterans, by those who had easy success or those who suffered terrible losses. By those who adopted, who had multiples, or who chose to live child-free. By those who are frank, sarcastic, funny, reserved, or serious. In short, there is something for everyone.

These are the blogs featured in RESOLVE’s 2012 “Bloggers Unite Program”: Consider checking some out.

My blog post from April 25, 2012 on Long Island IVF’s blog, The Fertility Daily, is number 35 on page three of the list. Here is that blog, in full, below:

Don’t Ignore Infertility Support Available

There’s something wrong with me. I see infertile people.

As an infertility blogger and an IVF mom, my mission is to support the women still on their fertility journeys. To listen to them and, when the time is right, to share my own stories to give them strength to go on…or to let go.

And to remind them that their infertility journeys will come to an end. Some day. It may be the day a baby is born or adopted, or with an eventual decision to live child-free. But someday, all this stuff…the charting, injections, inseminations, blood work, retrievals, transfers, miscarriages, stillbirths, and two week waits…all the stuff that now makes up every moment of every day… will end. “Really”, I tell them. “Trust me”…

But I lied.

True, the infertility journey will end. But the infertility itself never goes away.

Most people don’t know that.

After six years… three IUIs, six fresh IVFs, a twin loss, OHSS, ovarian torsion, and countless other obstacles to happiness, then a seventh IVF, for two problematic, bed-rest, preterm labor, gestational diabetic pregnancies which each delivered 6 weeks early…I was sure I’d put infertility behind me. Shop’s closed. Time to let that little smokin’ piece of charcoal I call “my remaining ovary” rest in peace.

But infertility remains.

It’s like in those movies where people see dead people. Except I see infertile people.

It’s there in the faces of young married couples who have the careers, the houses, and the “fur babies”, but have no obvious reason not to have had children yet. The woman awkwardly avoids eye contact when someone unknowingly brings up children. Those of us who’ve been there see it. It is blindingly obvious—like infertile radar.

It’s there in our faces, too. It’s in the little nagging worries about whether the countless vials of injectable medications are going to come back to bite you some day, some way. Or in the resentment we feel about having children later…possibly a decade later…than fertile folks did– and the fear of having less energy to parent them the way they deserve, or of living long enough to see them settled.

I’ve seen division in the infertility world. Among the childless, you have the rookies and the veterans defined by the number of failed IVF cycles they’ve endured. Then you have the secondary infertility patients, often claiming to be resented by the childless for being “greedy” enough to come back for another child. Finally, you have the newly pregnant or newborn success stories– the envy of all. Harsh, but often true. The world can be ugly, and the infertile world is no exception.

When a patient passes into the success story group, something wonderful happens to them. But something sad happens, too. They get the boot. Like some kind of graduation rite, the new moms get ejected from the ranks of the infertile. Their infertile former friends think they’re different now. They think they’re just like all the other fertile folks.

You have a baby now. You no longer understand us.

Are you reading this and saying “So what? Bring it on. Just let me get pregnant and kick me out! I can’t wait until infertility is over!”

It’s not so easy to be a woman without a country. You don’t fit in with your old infertile friends who are still trying to conceive, but you also don’t fit in with the fertile people who, by their words and actions, often take the ease with which they conceived for granted.

Enter one of the best kept secrets of the infertility world… the survivor’s guilt.

Infertility will always be part of you. Even as you push your child on a park swing, you’ll be acutely aware of the sad, detached woman on the bench. You’ll always remember the date of your long-awaited positive pregnancy test and will often think of the waiting room and the people still waiting there. You may find you are far too overprotective of the child you worked so hard to have. That infertile radar is always on.  And your heart hurts for those still struggling…even if they’ve forgotten you.

I blog about infertility for the doctors who didn’t give up on me when I wasn’t an easy case, or an easy patient, or truth be told, much help to their success stats. I blog for the doctors who built my family. For today’s patients and the patients yet to come. Some of the drug names have changed, but the stories are all relevant and the support is heartfelt.  It didn’t feel right to just go on with my life after my journey ended.

Sadly, many IF bloggers gravitate only to blogs by women currently on their journeys. Of course, they are wonderful sources of support. But to overlook the value of informative commercial blogs or blogs by those whose journeys have ended is to overlook another source of support.

So, don’t ignore the infertility support that is available from those who’ve walked a mile in your stirrups. Don’t shun us because you think we don’t understand you anymore. Don’t lump us in with the fertile people just because our journey has ended. Take advantage of the fact that we want to focus only on you.

We are here to help and support you. We will never forget. Don’t ignore us.

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Do you read other infertility blogs? If so, which ones?



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Journey On: My Journey, My Advice

By Tracey Minella

January 3rd, 2013 at 2:38 pm

credit: tung photo/

I want to share my story today because I want to inspire you to go on when you think you can’t possibly do so any longer. I hope you will listen even though I personally know… and will always remember…how much it hurts to hear of someone else’s IVF success.

Fifteen years ago today,  my infertility journey took a turn down a new path. My daughter was born. Allow me to follow that with a big fat “Finally!”

She arrived six weeks early amid chaos in a delivery room crowded with NICU team members. I’d spent a week before Christmas in the hospital trying to stave off early labor and to get the hang of insulin injections for gestational diabetes. But there was no putting her off any longer. I won’t lie to you: my life truly began that day.

Nothing on the road to motherhood was easy for me, including the pregnancy itself. Some people are lucky to have IVF success right off the bat, but not me. But here’s one of the life lessons I learned from what felt like the world’s longest infertility journey ever: The longer the wait, the happier the ending.

The happiest “happy endings” come after struggle and loss. They come from a place of profound gratitude. From a place where hope barely hangs on. They often come after the heart-wrenching ups and downs of “No you can’t have it”…“Wait for it”… “It’s possible”…“It’s negative, again”…“Ok, we can do this”…” “See the heartbeats?”… “No, I’m so sorry”… “Let’s try this”… “Good news”… “You’re being admitted”…“There’s been a complication”…

But they do come:

“Congratulations. It’s a girl.”

If you’ve suffered long, may you find some consolation in the idea that you may be building a happier ending.

I usually share my story for new readers in January and June, on the anniversaries of the day I became a mother and the day I started working at Long Island IVF.

Oddly enough, I started working as a medical assistant at Long Island IVF on the day of my first pregnancy test after my 6th fresh IVF cycle. What the heck were we all thinking? It was a big gamble for the doctors… hiring not only a patient, but a very challenging one nearly ready to crawl out on the ledge. But it was a life-changing day for me on many levels.

I made it my purpose then to help others on their journeys. There is something to be said about “misery loves company.” As I drew their blood and they’d talk of quitting, I’d share my stories of perseverance in the face of my early 1990’s IVF challenges like hyperstimulation, poor fertilization, repeated failed implantation, ovarian torsion and its removal, high order multiple pregnancy, and pregnancy loss. I’d never push them to go on, but many chose to.

I help today’s patients through blogging. I pass along the latest information about advances in the field (like the PGS/PGD study we are currently recruiting patients for), share some stories, educate and entertain, and provide a laugh or a virtual shoulder to cry on. Some of the drug names have changed…and some of the needles have gotten smaller…but the emotions and most of the experiences are the same. Happily, the success rates are much higher.

As this New Year begins with possible thoughts of stopping your own infertility journey, please remember this when you’re weighing your options: Just because it doesn’t work out for you the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth time, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t meant to be. We all may need financial and emotional breaks and we each take different roads along the way. Just realize that not succeeding quickly doesn’t necessarily mean you never will. I proved many people wrong.

I hope you all find your way over the worst bumps and turns in your own infertility road, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can vent here. Real life and online friendships have started here. Join us this year.

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Where are you along your infertility journey? Where do you find support?



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Happily Ever After…After Infertility

By Tracey Minella

March 14th, 2011 at 1:40 am

Once upon a time, there was a couple who were trying to conceive. They were finished with school, content in their careers, happily married for several years, and settled into their home. The next thing on their check list for a happy life was a baby.

TTC was fun for a couple of months, ‘til the nagging fear crept in. Spontaneous, carefree love-making turned into routinely-scheduled sex dictated by charts and thermometers. “Give it to me!” gave way to “Oh, just get on!” 

Months turned into years. Still no baby. There was sadness in the kingdom. 

Prayers were said. Candles were lit. Folk remedies were tried. Amulets were worn. Psychics were seen. Doctors were consulted. Tests were taken. More doctors were seen. Tests were repeated. Surgeries were performed. Careers were changed. Mortgages were taken. Parents died. An ovary twisted and was removed. Odds were reduced. Twins miscarried. Depression set in.

Pretty bleak picture, right? Well, like every Disney princess, my story got pretty ugly before the happy ending came.

Infertility and assisted reproductive technology was totally fascinating to me. I read all I could and became the best patient I could be. I asked intelligent questions. I went to work with Dr. Kreiner as a medical assistant and got pregnant with my daughter on the 6th IVF cycle. I often told my “war stories” to inspire other patients not to give up. I remember going into my first IVF cycle assuming it’d work. I never dreamed I’d have needed six fresh IVF cycles to first become a mom.

Today, my baby boy turns 9. His birth marked the end of my exceptionally long infertility journey.

Success rates today are astonishingly high in comparison to when I started my journey. And happily, most of you will not need 7 stimulated IVF cycles to complete your families. But we all have our heartache along the way, and when you don’t see the light yet at the end of your tunnel, the road seems never-ending.

I always said I wished I had a crystal ball that would tell me that I’d eventually have a baby. It wouldn’t have mattered if it told me I had to do 10 IVF cycles before I’d get pregnant. I just needed to know that it would work…at some point. It would have made those failed IVFs so much more bearable. It was the not knowing if it’d ever work that drove me crazy.

I want to hold your hand and tell you that you must believe it’s going to happen for you. I know it’s taking longer than you planned. And the setbacks and roadblocks seem insurmountable. But stay on the path, educate yourself and be open to all the options available to you, get yourself as healthy as possible, and believe in your chances as long as you’re realistic. Envision it working. Believe in your happy ending, because this all-consuming, stressful ordeal really will be behind you one day.

And you, too, can live happily ever after.

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