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Archive for the ‘Trying to Conceive’ tag

Long Island IVF “Coming Out Infertile” Day Workshop

By Tracey Minella

November 13th, 2017 at 8:46 am

If you’re suffering in silence, you’ve got a date with us tonight.

Are you dreading the winter holiday season that’s only a week away? More silent suffering with your secret struggle of trying to start or build your own family? All those nagging questions about when are you finally going to have that baby? Being surrounded with nieces and nephews and their wish lists? Surprise pregnancy announcements at almost every gathering? Ugh.

Well, Long Island IVF can help. We’re proud to sponsor the third annual “Coming Out Infertile” Day on November 13, 2017 with a “Tired of the Secret?” special workshop for those suffering in silence from infertility. All are welcome and its free. No need to be a patient. If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time to come down.

Coming Out Infertile Day was conceived to encourage those suffering from infertility to “come out” to their families, friends, and/or employers if they feel ready to do so… and to help them with the tools they need to do so. And most importantly, to come out in a way that feels right for them.

Infertility is a devastating disease that affects 1 out of every 8 couples. In addition to the pain and fear that comes with this diagnosis, many couples feel the unwarranted stigma of shame and guilt. Consequently, they keep their infertility a secret—even from their family and closest friends.

They are often afraid…or don’t know how… to tell their families and friends (or their employers) that they are having trouble getting or staying pregnant and need treatment. So they suffer in silence. Often for many months or years.

The holiday season, with its focus on children and families, is a particularly hard time for infertile folks who are easy targets for nagging personal questions about baby-making plans. So, a week before the emotional onslaught is the perfect time to offer help “coming out”. You can come out today or plan to come out on Thanksgiving or some other time during the holiday season that feels right.

Coming Out Infertile Day…seven months after National Infertility Awareness Week in April and right before the stress of the holidays…is a timely public reminder of the pain of infertility and a chance for those suffering to come out and get support.

Long Island IVF is offering “Tired of the Secret?”—a free Coming-Out Infertile Workshop on November 13, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 pm at its offices at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York. Led by our own Mind-Body medicine expert and psychologist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, who specializes in counseling infertility patients, attendees will be given the support they need to come out infertile in a manner that’s right for them. Are you ready to tell just your parents? Or your best friend? The whole family? Need to know how to break it to your boss? We can help. The workshop is free but pre-registration is requested, so register here.

It’s time to end the stigma of infertility. It’s time to unburden yourself from the added weight of this secret and get the support you need. It’s time to #comeoutinfertile.

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What is holding you back from coming out infertile?

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Halloween is Like a Cavity for Infertiles

By Tracey Minella

October 31st, 2017 at 8:10 am

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net


There is no sugar coating the fact that Halloween is a rough one. Maybe the roughest of all. Sort of like a cavity that grows more painful as the long day drags on. And the fact that it’s not a weekend and won’t kick in until after school is no real consolation—especially since Halloween has become a week-long event of local parades, festivals, and multiple parties. As anyone who has experienced it knows, there are few things more painful than dental pain…except of course infertility.

So, if you can’t access some Novocain to numb the pain of the day, what do you do?

Halloween has always been the one universal children’s holiday…celebrated by all children. We all remember Halloween fondly, the costumes, the candy, the parties, the doorbells. The sugar-rush, shaving cream fights, and the eggs… for you rebels out there. Bolting from house to house for hours, until our feet dragged from the weight of a pillowcase that rivaled Santa’s sack. Parents watching from the curb.

Just one more house.

Halloween is literally the most “in-your-face” holiday. It’s an onslaught far worse than Christmas or Hanukah… where you only have to deal with the kids in your immediate families. Today, the little devils are everywhere. All day and night. In the streets and at your door. You can’t hide.

Childhood memories of Halloween make us want to be kids again. And simultaneously makes us want to have our own so they can experience the same wonder. We want to be the one at the curb today, the one who checks the bags for safety, the one posting 102 pictures to Facebook. We want to go to a “trunk or treat” event and safe Halloween outings at local schools or host our own kiddie party.

Waiting is like a little pirate’s plastic dagger in the heart.

Another year that the dream of dressing up a little boy or girl in the perfect costume hasn’t come true. Some of us may have already bought that tiny pea pod costume in a moment of weakness…or hope.

Novocain, where are you?

Do whatever it takes to get you through the day. Stay off social media. Maybe seeing the kids helps you somehow and if so, then drink in as much hope as they bring you for the future. But if answering the door 372 times feels like a dentist’s drill to the heart, then just lower the lights, put a bowl of treats out, and retire early… with a bag (or two) of your own favorite candy. Because sometimes, Milky Way is the only way.

A cavity, like infertility, takes time to develop… and hurts like hell. But they both eventually do get resolved. And more often than not, in a good way.

So, here’s hoping your Halloween isn’t as painful as a root canal… and that you’ll be flashing a big, bright and pain-free smile before the next one rolls around. Pea pod in tow.

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How do/did you handle Halloween when infertile?

 

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Donor Egg and LGBT Family-Building

By Tracey Minella

September 26th, 2017 at 8:25 am

Most LGBT couples may have at one point or another considered adoption as the way to build a family. That’s because adoption was the only option before the advent of assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization “IVF” and other medical advances. And truth be told, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) the best option for many LGBT couples.

There are usually obstacles, delays, and significant costs to adopting a baby—especially for homosexual couples. In the past (and in some places today), LGBT couples seeking to adopt newborns often had to consider taking children who were older, minorities, and/or had special needs or medical challenges to avoid endlessly waiting for a baby. Even foster parenting doesn’t guarantee you’ll eventually get to adopt that child you’ve grown to love.

But as noble and fulfilling as adoption can be as a family-building choice, LGBT wannabe parents have more choices today, too. The many medical options to LGBT family-building have been extensively covered in this blog.

Donor egg has revolutionized family-building for both the heterosexual and homosexual communities.

As we all know from biology class, it takes an egg and sperm to make a baby. So, what is an LGBT couple or individual to do when they are missing one half of the equation? They can borrow from their neighbor. (But wait, isn’t that math class terminology?) Actually, the phrase fits well. They need to get the missing piece from someone else who donates it.

Gay men need an egg donor to provide eggs for them to fertilize with their sperm (and they need a gestational carrier, too). Lesbians need a sperm donor for sure, but may also need an egg donor if they do not have or don’t want to use quality eggs of their own. So, egg donation is the cornerstone technology for much of LGBT family-building.

The Long Island IVF Donor Egg program and our LGBT services has been helping LGBT couples start and grow their families for decades.

There are many advantages to choosing donor egg over traditional adoption, including savings in time and money. For gay men, it enables them to have a biological connection to their children, which some men prefer over adopting. For a lesbian woman who needs it, donor egg provides healthy, young eggs so she can conceive, carry the pregnancy and be in control of her developing baby’s health, experience childbirth, and be recognized as the legal birth mother—none of which is the case in adoption.

And since egg donation generally yields multiple eggs, you may be able to repeat the process–potentially experiencing additional pregnancies over time—all from a single donor egg cycle.

Please contact Long Island IVF’s Donor Program Coordinator, Vicky Loveland RN, if you are interested in egg donation at victorial@longislandivf.com .

If you would like to know more about LGBT family- building options, please come to Long Island IVF’s free seminar “Building Families in the LGBT Community” on October 26, 2017. It’s held in conjunction with our partner, the LGBT Network, at its Bay Shore Center at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, New York. Register here to reserve your spot.

 

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Would you consider egg donation to build your family?

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Remembering 9/11 Sixteen Years Later

By Tracey Minella

September 11th, 2017 at 6:43 am

Credit: Pixabay/Ronile

 

I don’t think anything is more appropriate on this anniversary than to remember that day, so I’m sharing this classic.

 

You’ll always remember where you were that fateful day. And so will I.

 

I was working as a medical assistant for Long Island IVF. I was also a patient of Dr. Kreiner’s…and about 9 weeks pregnant with my son. Could life be any happier on a blindingly clear, crisp September morning?

 

It started out as a typical day, with the usual morning rush. Lots of busy women…many trying to get their blood and sono done so they cold hurry off to work. A few rushing to catch a train to the city. Men dropping off specimens on their way to the office. Some trying to catch a train to the city.

 

A train to the city.

 

By the time news of the second plane crash hit, most of the morning’s patients had already been seen and were gone. Disbelief was quickly followed by panic as we and the rest of the nation scrambled to figure out if our friends and family who worked in NYC were ok.  And what about our patients?

 

Doesn’t “So-and-So” work downtown? Isn’t “Mr. X” a trader on Wall Street? We spent the morning pouring over the employer info in the patients’ charts, making calls on jammed phone lines, and accounting for everyone’s whereabouts.  We went through the motions of the day on auto-pilot, glued to a 13” black and white TV in the nurse’s station, watching the horror unfold.

 

What kind of world was I bringing this baby into?

 

But just as there were stories of heroism, good deeds, and miracles amid the atrocity of the attacks, there was something positive that day in the Long Island IVF office.

 

A patient learned that, despite the chaos unfolding around her, it was indeed going to be her insemination day. When it’s your day, it’s your day. Not even an act of war will intervene. And 9/11 was to be her only day. One insemination. That afternoon. Amid the sadness and silence and sobs of the patient and everyone in the office.

 

And we came to learn a couple weeks later, that on the day the Twin Towers and the lives of so many innocent people were lost, we had participated in one ironically beautiful beginning. That patient got pregnant and had…twins.

 

Usually, it’s the patient who is thankful to the doctor and staff. But I will always be grateful to that patient for giving us one little happy something…well, actually two…to remember from that fateful day. And for being a sign to me that the world would go on, that we’d keep making babies, and that maybe it was going to be all right.

 

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September is Back-to-Baby-Making Time

By Tracey Minella

September 1st, 2017 at 9:34 am

 

image: designerpics.com Jeshu John


What’s better than spending the summer on Long Island?

Beaches less than a 15-minute ride in any direction. Great food, drinks, entertainment, and everyone kicking back and relaxing.

It’s no wonder many of those struggling with infertility decided to take the summer off from treatment and just relax. Not “relax, it’ll happen”. But relax as in filling your life with fun distractions that prevent you from obsessing about infertility 24/7. A mix of laid back and wild adventures. Soaking in the rays and Vitamin D. You know, just chillin’.

Basically, just doing what you’ve always loved—with those you loved to laugh with– before infertility messed it all up.

If you did this and conceived, that’s the best news ever. But if you’re still tossing negative pee sticks into the final summer bonfire, maybe it’s time to get back in the stirrups. If you don’t have a treatment plan already waiting, make that doctor’s appointment to decide the next step. If you know what the next step must be and you’re ready, then take it.

Back-to-school shopping ads can feel like a pencil through the heart when you’re infertile. But September is about more than back-to-school for kids you don’t have yet. It’s like a second New Year’s for everyone—a time to start anew. A time to make new plans or re-commit to old resolutions. A time to try again at parenthood, if that’s possible.

We’re here to help everyone–whether you are a patient of ours yet or not. To that end, we offer a steady stream of free seminars and events open to the public that give people a chance to meet our doctors and staff outside of an exam room for the first time—without the paper gown. And for those who are already patients, it’s bonus benefits and extra time with us in a more relaxed setting (again, no gown…)

Check out all the free events coming up this fall that will appeal to many different parents-in-waiting still on their journeys and come down with your partner or another friend. Or come alone. We have a donor egg seminar on Sept 12th, a series of Monday night Reiki and Guided Meditation sessions in October, and a seminar on Building families in the LGBT Community on October 26th—and we are constantly adding more so follow us on our blog or on social media.

There’s already a chill in the Long Island air. So, let’s not look back. The beauty of autumn is upon us and a fresh start is waiting. It’s back to baby-making.

Hope to see you soon.

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Did you take the summer off from treatment or power on through it?

 

 

 

 

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September is PCOS Awareness Month

By David Kreiner MD

September 1st, 2017 at 9:05 am

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

By Anne Mousse (Own work) [CC0

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or “PCOS”,  is the most common hormonal disorder of reproductive age women, occurring in over 7% of women at some point in their lifetime.  It usually develops during the teen years.  Treatment can assist women attempting to conceive, help control the symptoms and prevent long term health problems.

The most common cause of PCOS is glucose intolerance resulting in abnormally high insulin levels.  If a woman does not respond normally to insulin her blood sugar levels rise, triggering the body to produce more insulin.  The insulin stimulates your ovaries to produce male sex hormones called androgens.  Testosterone is a common androgen and is often elevated in women with PCOS.  These androgens block the development and maturation of a woman’s ovarian follicles, preventing ovulation resulting in irregular menses and infertility.  Androgens may also trigger development of acne and extra facial and body hair.  It will increase lipids in the blood.  The elevated blood sugar from insulin resistance can develop into diabetes.

Symptoms may vary but the most common are acne, weight gain, extra hair on the face and body, thinning of hair on the scalp, irregular periods and infertility.

Ovaries develop numerous small follicles that look like cysts hence the name polycystic ovary syndrome.  These cysts themselves are not harmful but in response to fertility treatment can result in a condition known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS.

Hyperstimulation syndrome involves ovarian swelling, fluid accumulating in the belly and occasionally around the lungs.  A woman with Hyperstimulation syndrome may become dehydrated increasing her risk of developing blood clots.  Becoming pregnant adds to the stimulation and exacerbates the condition leading many specialists to cancel cycles in which a woman is at high risk of developing Hyperstimulation.  They may also prescribe aspirin to prevent clot formation.

These cysts may lead to many eggs maturing in response to fertility treatment also placing patients at a high risk of developing a high order multiple pregnancy.  Due to this unique risk, it may be advantageous to avoid aggressive stimulation of the ovaries unless the eggs are removed as part of an in vitro fertilization procedure.

A diagnosis of PCOS may be made by history and physical examination including an ultrasound of the ovaries.  A glucose tolerance test is most useful to determine the presence of glucose intolerance and diabetes.  Hormone assays will also be helpful in making a differential diagnosis.

Treatment starts with regular exercise and a diet including healthy foods with a controlled carbohydrate intake.  This can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes.  It can also help you lose weight if you need to.

Quitting smoking will help reduce androgen levels and reduce the risk for heart disease.  Birth control pills help regulate periods and reduce excess facial hair and acne.  Laser hair removal has also been used successfully to reduce excess hair.

A diabetes medicine called metformin can help control insulin and blood sugar levels.  This can help lower androgen levels, regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility.  Fertility medications, in particular clomiphene are often needed in addition to metformin to get a woman to ovulate and will assist many women to conceive.

The use of gonadotropin hormone injections without egg removal as performed as part of an IVF procedure may result in Hyperstimulation syndrome and/or multiple pregnancies and therefore one must be extremely cautious in its use.  In vitro fertilization has been very successful and offers a means for a woman with PCOS to conceive without a significant risk for developing a multiple pregnancy especially when associated with a single embryo transfer.   Since IVF is much more successful than insemination or intercourse with gonadotropin stimulation, IVF will reduce the number of potential exposures a patient must have to Hyperstimulation syndrome before conceiving.

It can be hard to deal with having PCOS.  If you are feeling sad or depressed, it may help to talk to a counselor or to others who have the condition.  Ask your doctor about support groups and for treatment that can help you with your symptoms.  Remember, PCOS can be annoying, aggravating even depressing but it is fortunately a very treatable disorder.

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Do you suffer from PCOS? Do you have any advice to share for other “cysters”?

 

Photo credit:

By Anne Mousse (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEchographie_pelvienne%2C_aplio_toshiba_ssa_700_5_2004_03_detail.jpg

 

 

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4 Reasons Why Infertiles Are Conflicted About the Solar Eclipse

By Tracey Minella

August 21st, 2017 at 11:19 am

credit: pixabay by hypnoart

There is an uncomfortableness– a conflict– in the hearts of the infertile community when it comes to the solar eclipse. Anything from a nagging fear to a raging paranoia. Why? What is driving these emotions? What is it about the solar eclipse that makes us uneasy?

1.      FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

If anyone knows FOMO, it’s infertile people. Actually, it’s really the “Missing Out” part that we’re experts in. Regardless, FOMO is driving countless Americans to potentially risk permanent eye damage to view the eclipse.

We are used to missing out, but we don’t like it. So, the conflict over being part of the fun or feeling like an outsider and feeling deprived (yet again) is unsettling.

2.      “Just Relax”

What could go wrong? When we say we’re considering skipping the eclipse-viewing fun, many are met with “the look”. The one that says we’re over-reacting. Oh, it’s safe. Oh, those reports of counterfeit, defective, scratched glasses aren’t true.

Just relax…

Just as we hate to hear those two words with respect to our fertility, we don’t need that lame advice about our eyesight.

What are the odds your safety glasses are unsafe? Hmm. Seeing as we are the 1 in 8 suffering from infertility, do we feel particularly lucky? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

3.      Conflicting opinions are stressing us out.

Do we view it or not? What’s the best or safest way? The so-called safety eclipse glasses from Amazon or the homemade cereal box viewer from You Tube? Or the completely safe but totally boring TV viewing option? We infertiles have enough stressful decisions to filter through about our safety and health, so this eclipse thing doesn’t help.

It’s like us deciding on what’s the right infertility protocol. Clomid, IUI, or IVF? If IVF, what do we add to it? Donor egg? Gestational carrier? Add complementary holistic therapies like acupuncture? Then we have to decide which doctor to use. The wrong decision could have life-altering consequences. No wonder the magnitude of the eclipse-viewing decision makes us uncomfortable.

4.      Bonus stress for IVF parents:

You’re making decisions about your eyes and theirs.

It took so much to have that kid. You dreamed for years of doing cool stuff like this with them. And now it’s here. But you’re worried. Should you be out there with a cereal box viewer with the rest of the neighborhood or outside taking selfie’s donning so-called safety glasses? Or do you cave to your overprotective side and institute a full-blown lock down in the basement playroom for the duration?

The solar eclipse presents tough personal decisions. But regardless of whether you are a concerned parent or still on your infertility journey, or whether you choose to view it or not, here’s a tip to solar eclipse day –make it an outta sight party with moon pies and Sun chips.

How are you spending it?

 

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Happy Birthday to the World’s First Test Tube Baby!

By Tracey Minella

July 25th, 2017 at 9:04 am

 

image: wpclipart.com

 

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Louise Brown. Happy Birthday to you. Are ya one, are ya two, are ya three…?

 

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the birth of the World’s first “test tube” baby? Probably not. But I do.

 

I was just learning about reproduction as a young teen, reading the newspaper in my parents’ brown, gold, orange and white classic 70’s kitchen, when I learned the sensational, seemingly sci-fi news. I remember thinking it was cool. Dad was intrigued. Mom was mortified.

 

Little did I know then how important that day in history would be in my own life. And how that very technology would be the answer to my own dream of becoming a mother some twenty plus years later.

 

Let’s celebrate Louise Brown’s birthday with a Q&A to honor the woman whose birth led us to our life’s work… and for some of us… to our own children.

 

So here are the questions:

  1. In what country was the World’s first IVF Baby, Louise Brown, born?
  2. Give the last names of Louise Brown’s mother’s two IVF doctors?
  3. In what year was Louise born?
  4. Was she an only child?
  5. Was Louise’s first child conceived naturally or through IVF?
  6. Louise is not the first IVF baby to have her own baby, but Louise is related to the first IVF baby to have her own baby. What is the woman’s name and what is their relationship?
  7. Who was America’s first IVF baby?

 

So…any smarty pants IVF historians out there? Let’s see what you’ve got!

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The Egg Donor and LGBT Family-Building

By Tracey Minella

July 20th, 2017 at 12:07 pm


Despite making decades of progress, obstacles, frustrations, and inequities are still part of daily life for the LGBT community. And for same-sex couples who want to build a family, having to seek medical attention to do so is an unwelcome but necessary reality. It’s particularly frustrating when simple biological necessity–rather than an infertility diagnosis–lands the couple in the fertility doctor’s office.

Depending on the particular couple’s situation, the “missing piece” they seek could be anything from the relatively inexpensive and easy intrauterine insemination (“IUI”) with donor sperm to the more involved and costly in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) using an egg donor and sometimes a gestational carrier. Very often, egg donation is needed in LGBT family-building.

What is egg donation?

In egg donation, a healthy young woman (the egg donor) agrees to undergo what is essentially an IVF procedure that ends at the egg retrieval stage when her eggs are turned over to a person/couple (the egg recipient/s) who uses them to create their family. The egg donor undergoes hormonal injection treatments over a couple of weeks designed to make her ovaries produce multiple mature eggs, rather than the single egg generally produced each monthly cycle.

As in IVF, the egg donor’s mature eggs will be retrieved, but instead of keeping the eggs for her own use, she donates them to another person/couple. Her role is done upon retrieval of the eggs. The donated eggs are then fertilized with the sperm of a male partner or a sperm donor and the resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of the female partner or gestational carrier.

When is an egg donor needed?

The simple answer is: Anytime a single person or couple–heterosexual or homosexual–needs an egg to create a baby. That’s either because the woman trying to become pregnant can’t or doesn’t want to use her own eggs or because the single person or couple seeking parenthood is male. Gay men, lesbians with egg-related challenges, and some transgender people will need an egg donor.

How does it work for LGBT family-building?

A gay man or couple could have all the love in the world to give a child, but still needs an egg from a woman in order to make a baby. And a uterus, too. The embryo created from the egg donor’s egg and the sperm of the gay man/men or sperm donor needs to be transferred into the uterus of yet another woman –a gestational carrier – – who will carry the pregnancy to term. The gestational carrier, who has no biological tie to the baby, turns it over to the proud daddy or daddies at the time of birth.

Lesbian couples (or single women) using a sperm donor may be able to conceive with an IUI or through IVF using their own eggs. But sometimes, they may need an egg donor if there is an issue with egg-quality, genetic, or other concerns. (If there are uterine issues, a gestational carrier may also be needed to carry the baby.)

In certain situations, transgender people will need an egg donor. It is important to note that transgender people who transition from female-to-male can have their own eggs retrieved and frozen for future use (and male-to-female transgender people can their freeze sperm for future use) — if done prior to taking any medical or surgical steps on the transgender transition or sexual reassignment journey. Be sure to see a reproductive endocrinologist to discuss these options before it’s too late.

If you would like more information on LGBT parenting options  or would like to schedule an initial consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist, the doctors and staff at Long Island IVF have been helping build LGBT families for decades and would be happy to help you. With several offices throughout Long Island and one in Brooklyn, we’re conveniently located near you.

As a partner of the LGBT Network on Long Island, Long Island IVF is committed to continuing to build families for the LGBT community through cutting-edge medical technology, complementary holistic therapies, and sensitivity to all patients’ individual needs.

Long Island IVF, along with the LGBT Network, offers free LGBT family building seminars every June and periodically throughout the year.

Register here for our next free “Building Families in the LGBT Community” event, which will be held on October 26, 2017 at the LGBT Network at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, NY. Follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for more information.

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Important Infertility Insurance Coverage Issues for the LGBT Community in New York

By Tracey Minella

June 22nd, 2017 at 8:31 am

From Stonewall to date, the LGBT community has always had to fight for rights equal to those of the heterosexual community, often in an atmosphere of “us against them”. Persistence has always paid off…eventually. As we’ve seen from winning battles on openly serving in the military with the repeal of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell” and the legalization of same-sex marriage (#LoveWins), we can move mountains as a community united.

 

The latest major gay rights fight involves insurance coverage for infertility treatment in New York.

 

The subject of mandated infertility insurance coverage in New York State has been in the news lately, but before addressing an important pending bill that could positively impact the infertility insurance rights of all New Yorkers– heterosexual and non-heterosexual– we must examine and understand the existing obstacles to LGBT infertility treatment coverage.

 

Currently, New York State has a mandate which requires coverage for infertility treatments. It’s one of only 15 states to do so, which sounds promising, but it’s not. With so many existing definitions, restrictions, qualifications, and loopholes, the mandate in its current form does very little to benefit New York’s infertile heterosexual couples– and does even less for non-heterosexual couples or single women who need advanced reproductive technologies in order to start their families.

 

Some of the major problems with the current New York State infertility coverage mandate include:

 

  • It does not cover in vitro fertilization (“IVF”), but only applies to intrauterine inseminations (“IUIs) and other low-level/less successful infertility treatments, which are also riskier in terms of causing a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.);
  • Small group employers can opt out of having to provide this coverage;
  • Insurance carriers may impose certain restrictions and rules that impact the employees’ ability to access the benefits.

 

Some insurance carriers that do offer IVF require both heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples to undergo 6-12 unsuccessful IUI cycles before moving on to IVF treatment (6 IUIs if the woman is over 35, or 12 IUIs if under 35, though some require less).

 

In addition to the above multiple-failed-IUIs prerequisite for IVF coverage, the employee must satisfy the insurance carrier’s definition of “infertility”. “Insurance companies define ‘infertility’ as the inability to conceive after one year of frequent, unprotected heterosexual intercourse, or six months if patient is over the age of 35″.

 

Applying this definition to heterosexual couples merely costs them 6-12 months of time before moving onto IVF treatment—provided they can somehow prove they’re doing it often enough and without protection. And while up to a year of time wasted really is a big deal to all infertile folks, the impact on non-heterosexuals and single women is far worse.

 

When applying this definition to a same-sex couple or a single woman, they not only lose valuable time, but they also lose money that a heterosexual couple would not. Because for same-sex couples or single women to meet the current definition of “infertility”, they would have to undergo six or 12 months of IUI with donor sperm treatments — in many cases, at their own expense –just to prove their infertility so that they could qualify for covered infertility treatments.

 

This issue was thrust into public view when two lesbian couples in New Jersey filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the language of the New Jersey insurance mandate “discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation”.

 

There is also disparity among insurance companies with respect to requiring authorizations for IUIs, requiring IUIs with donor sperm prior to approving infertility treatment, and coverage for the cost of donor sperm or thawing the sperm. In addition, companies offer different levels of coverage, which may be dependent upon copayments, deductibles and other restrictions on certain services like embryo cryopreservation, embryo storage, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis or Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (“PGD” or “PGS”) of embryos, and more. To further complicate matters, even within the same insurance company, there are different individual plans that are chosen by the employer which provide different benefits coverage and different qualifications or benefits structure.

 

That’s why Long Island IVF assigns each patient a personal financial counselor to help guide them through the complicated insurance process to maximize any benefits to which they may be entitled.

 

Despite the obstacles that currently exist, there is good news to report and even more promising change on the horizon.

 

As a result of New York Governor Cuomo’s mandate to New York State insurance companies, they may no longer exclude same-sex prospective parents or single prospective parents from infertility coverage. While this is a victory, the sticking point for true reform and open access to appropriate infertility coverage for both heterosexual and non-heterosexual patients requires a redefinition of “infertility” and direct access to IVF.

 

There have already been noticeable changes in policies and the provision of coverage for IUIs with donor sperm in same-sex couples, presumably collectively-driven by Gov. Cuomo’s mandate, along with the New Jersey lawsuit, and forward-thinking, large-scale employers like Facebook and Google now offering high-end infertility insurance coverage for egg-freezing services. But the bottom line is that until a patient meets the “infertility” definition, they still have to self-pay.

 

That’s why we need the definition of ‘infertility’ to change. And we need access to IVF, which is the more successful treatment in terms of a singleton birth outcome.

 

And it is within our grasp right now.

 

As this article is being written, a bill that would revolutionize the infertility insurance law in New York for the benefit of heterosexuals, same-sex couples, and single women is awaiting consideration by the Senate after having passed in the Assembly this week.

 

The Senate Bill S.3148A known as the “Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act”, or (“FAFTA”), if enacted, would not only mandate coverage for IVF treatment, but it would change the application of the definition of “infertility” to:

 

“a disease or condition characterized by the incapacity to impregnate another person or to conceive, as diagnosed or determined (I) by a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state, or (II) by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse in the case of a female 35 years of age or older.”

 

According to Long Island IVF co-founder and reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg, who has been advocating for the passage of the FAFTA bill, “the current mandate’s specific exclusion of coverage for IVF has resulted in much emotional and financial cost spent on inferior or inappropriate treatments which ARE covered by the mandate when, for over 50% of infertile couples, IVF was the best or only treatment.” He further notes that “IVF is far safer in terms of reducing multiple pregnancy risk than less successful and often inferior treatments like ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI). There has been waste and needless sacrifice for insured couples denied IVF.”

 

It is time for both the heterosexual and the LGBT communities to get active and push our respective representatives to pass this legislation. You can find your local senator here or can access their phone number here. Armed with Senate Bill number S. 3148A, a simple phone call expressing your support of the bill may make all the difference. It takes less than one minute to help support this latest gay rights fight for fair access to appropriate infertility treatment and insurance coverage. Do it now.

 

There has never been a better time for non-heterosexuals to fulfill their dream of parenthood. If you would like more information on the many available LGBT family-building options, we encourage you to join Long Island IVF and our partner, The LGBT Network, on June 29, 2017 for a special free seminar entitled “Building Families in the LGBT Community”. Pre-register here.

 

This progressive legislation not only opens the door to IVF access for all, but it changes the definition of infertility to one that encompasses everyone, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. Instead of “us against them” it’s “one for all”. Its passage would put everybody suffering from the disease of infertility one giant step closer to our common dream of parenthood– and maybe, just maybe, a step closer to us all being one united community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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