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Huntington Reproductive Center - Blogs

The HRC Fertility Blog is a resource for patients and those seeking infertility related issues and articles. Check back often or subscribe to this blog as it is changed weekly by the HRC staff.

Natural and Minimal Stimulation IVF Cycles

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In addition to conventional IVF cycles, HRC Fertility offers natural or minimal stimulation of IVF. Some patients may not benefit from high doses of medication used in conventional IVF cycles and so using less medication, as in a natural or minimal stimulation protocol, may be more appropriate.

Why a natural cycle might work for you

At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, several follicles containing immature eggs begin to mature in a woman's ovary. However, only the dominant follicle, the one that most efficiently responds to FSH, will release an egg during the process of ovulation. The other follicles undergo a natural process of cell death or atresia.

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Infertility, Pregnancy and Your Teeth

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What does dental care have to do with conception and pregnancy?

Taking care of your teeth is important while you are trying to conceive. This is true for both men and women. Healthy teeth and gums also are crucial for a successful pregnancy and childbirth.

A healthy mouth is considered free of cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Cavities, also called dental caries, are caused when acid, created by consuming sugary drinks and food, reacts with bacteria present in plaque and erodes tooth enamel. Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, occurs when plaque buildup causes irritation, redness, and swelling. Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is gum disease that has progressed and spread to underlying tissue and can lead to bone and tooth loss.

These three dental conditions all have something in common: bacterial inflammation. As you prepare for conception and pregnancy, it is important to understand why it may be time to step-up your dental care routine.

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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There is hope for those who have suffered a devastating loss

Do you know there is no word in the English language describing the status of a parent who has endured the unbearable loss of a child? We doubt this word exists in any other language either. The pain and sorrow experienced by these parents are indeed indescribable, as well as universal. 

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month. Parents around the globe use this occasion to honor the babies lost during miscarriage and stillbirth. On October 15, many lit a candle and released a balloon into the skies in memory of their lost dreams and babies.

 

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Breast Cancer & Fertility Preservation Advocacy

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Could California Senate Bill 1972 signal hope is on the horizon?

 

At the beginning of this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society announced some very encouraging news. It reported there were 322,800 fewer deaths from breast cancer between1989 and 2015, representing an almost 40% decrease in mortality. Experts attribute this dramatic drop to both early detections via mammography and better treatments.

According to the Young Survival Organization, 12,150 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women under age 40. These women have unique challenges not only in terms of how the disease affects them but also about the impact the cancer treatment will have on their ability to get pregnant after treatment.

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Starting Infertility Treatment with Clomid

Though HRC Fertility provides the full array of high-tech solutions for infertility, many of our patients with ovulatory problems can benefit from simpler, first-step approaches. This includes taking an oral medication, such as Clomid.

Hailed as a game-changer when it was first introduced, Clomid is one of the most popular medications in the world to help women conceive. It's also a cost effective and easy first step. Also known by its generic name, clomiphene citrate, Clomid is marketed as Serophene.

Clomid primarily helps stimulate ovulation. It works at the level of the hypothalamus where it blocks estrogen receptors, making your body think estrogen levels are lower than they are. The hypothalamus responds by producing more gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which then stimulates the pituitary to produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones, in turn, then stimulate follicular development and function.

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Infertility: The Two Week Wait

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The Waiting Game

The most nerve-wracking part of the infertility journey

Whether you are undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), an infertility treatment cycle consists of many steps. Everyone involved in the process – doctors, nurses, embryologists, and patients – does their part to ensure the cycle will be as successful as possible. Then the waiting begins, euphemistically known in the ‘trying to conceive’ world as the tortuous two-week wait.

At HRC Fertility, we try to support our patients and their partners as much as possible during this emotionally turbulent time. The emotional roller coaster does not necessarily end with the announcement of the first test results and often continues throughout the several months before we discharge patients to their obstetricians.

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PCOS Advocacy and Support

Help make PCOS awareness official

September is PCOS Awareness Month, a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common hormonal disorder impacting women. According to the PCOS Awareness Association, PCOS affects seven million women in the United States, more than the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus combined. Though millions of women have this syndrome, public awareness about it is not high and support organizations receive very little funding. As a consequence, it is estimated 50% of women are not diagnosed properly or may not learn they have it until they have problems trying to get pregnant. 

While PCOS Awareness Month has been observed for many years among medical professionals and PCOS advocates, this year one of the leading PCOS advocacy organizations, PCOS Challenge, is taking awareness a step further. PCOS Challenge wants Congress to pass legislation (H. Res. 495) to officially designate September as PCOS Awareness Month. This law recognizes the seriousness of PCOS and the need for further research and treatment options and, potentially, a cure. This is a historic, bipartisan effort.

According to Sasha Ottey, executive director of PCOS Challenge, one of the goals of passing this bill would be to make PCOS a public health priority. Because it affects so many American women during their reproductive years and can have a long-term effect on their overall health, Ottey felt it was time for the discussion of PCOS to be elevated. 

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Egg Freezing: Dr. Diana Chavkin Answers the Crucial Questions

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By Dr. Diana Chavkin

Why is egg freezing so popular now? Why didn't my mom or older sister freeze their eggs?

Egg freezing has become more accepted over the past few years as a method of fertility preservation for a number of reasons. Before 2013, anyone who froze their eggs had to do so under an experimental protocol. But after studying egg freezing in depth, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine issued a statement that there is enough scientific evidence showing that egg freezing works and that it should longer be considered experimental.

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Dr. Alison Peck: The Benefits of a Healthy PCOS Lifestyle

PCOS is one of the most common hormonal disorders affecting women. Approximately five to 10 percent of childbearing age females have this condition, which can impact their fertility. At HRC Fertility, patients with PCOS comprise a significant part of our practice.

We confirm a PCOS diagnosis if a female patient has two of the following three symptoms: absence of ovulation, symptoms of blood levels of high androgens (male sex hormones, such as testosterone) and/or multiple ovarian cysts on pelvic ultrasound.

Insulin resistance is a major culprit in creating PCOS symptoms, and it affects 50-70 percent of women with PCOS. Insulin resistance results in a build up of insulin that cannot be used to break down glucose (sugars). Insulin resistance not only makes it harder to lose weight but also increases the risk for diabetes. Additionally, high insulin levels cause the ovaries to produce male hormones that can cause acne and hair growth.

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Dr. Diana Chavkin Explains Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

By Dr. Diana Chavkin

A woman in her 20’s or early 30’s who may have trouble getting pregnant or a woman who is concerned about irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness may present to a physician and learn that she has primary ovarian insufficiency. This can be one of the hardest diagnoses for a woman to face.

 

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Making the Leap to Donor Eggs

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Beginning a new dream

When is the right time to consider using donated eggs? We often are asked this question by patients who are at a crossroads in their treatment. Deciding to use the genetic material of another woman to have a baby is typically made with a lot of thought, deliberation, and soul-searching.

Resolving to use donated eggs is often described as a ‘leap’ or transition. Most couples go through a deliberate process before taking this step. If you are at that turning point, here are some questions to consider as you move forward on your family building journey.

Do you have a pre-existing condition?

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Two Women, One Dream to Create A Family

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In the last several decades, lesbian would-be parents have increasingly sought reproductive assistance to have babies. It is estimated that approximately one-third of lesbian households have children, having achieved motherhood either through non-assisted insemination, fertility treatment, adoption or through prior heterosexual relationships.

While two women trying to make a family together equals double the set of reproductive organs, they still may encounter obstacles on their way to getting pregnant and having a baby.

If you are part of a same sex female couple, here are some important issues you should consider as you embark on your family building journey.

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Dr. Diana Chavkin Talks about Secondary Infertility

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By Dr. Diana Chavkin

A few months ago, Claire*, a woman in her late 30s, walked into my office. Tall and confident, with a strong handshake and a wry smile, she was the owner of a small textile firm, married for five years, mother to a beautiful three-year-old child.

She was also sitting in the office of an infertility specialist facing something she had spent more than a year pretending was not happening. As she told me her story, her composure began to fray at the edges.

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Dr. Diana Chavkin Discusses Yoga and Fertility

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By Dr. Diana Chavkin

Unfortunately, stress and infertility seem to go hand in hand. Both the inability to conceive and infertility treatments can be stressful.

Though the scientific research is not conclusive about the exact nature of the stress and infertility connection, infertility providers realize that reducing stress is essential for the holistic patient care and a more satisfying patient experience. Giving patients tools to reduce stress can have tangible physical effects while also being emotionally empowering. We often recommend yoga prior to beginning fertility treatment as an excellent stress buster.

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IVF Has Come a Long Way, Baby

First Test Tube Baby - Louise turns 39.

Happy Birthday, Louise Brown!

July 25 marks the 39th anniversary of the premier success of one of the modern era's greatest medical advances, in vitro fertilization. It's also the birthday of Louise J. Brown, the world's first IVF baby. Since her birth, it's estimated that nearly six million IVF babies worldwide have been born, with at least a million from the United States.

IVF is an evolving technology

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Love Letter to My Future Surrogate

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Dr. Robert Boostanfar patient Kelli Auerbach recently wrote a moving essay entitled “Love Letter to My Future Surrogate” which was published in The New York Times.

The article can be seen here on the New York Times website.  

Thank you, Kelli, for sharing this incredible story with HRC!

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The Quest for Eggs and the Risk of OHSS

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During IVF, infertility doctors prescribe injectable medications called gonadotropins to help women produce as many robust looking eggs as possible for their upcoming IVF cycle. This is called controlled ovulation induction.

We are on a quest for the optimal number of eggs to combine with sperm to create as many viable embryos as possible. All of these efforts increase our patients’ chances to have a successful IVF cycle now and in the future with frozen cycles.

But there can be side effects from taking these medications. One of the most serious is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). At HRC Fertility, we are committed to educating our patients to recognize the symptoms of OHSS as well as knowing what to do if they start experiencing any of them. Our first duty to you is to ‘do no harm.’

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A Fertility Doctor’s Struggle With (Her Own) Infertility

I am a 41-year-old woman with a one-year-old child. She is my first child. Her birth was not my first time in a delivery room, though. I’m an Ob-Gyn who had been in hundreds of delivery rooms before I was checked in under my own name. I'm also a fertility specialist who helped hundreds of other women get pregnant before I admitted that I was a specialist who needed a specialist.

Even fertility doctors can have a hard time conceiving. No matter how much help we give other people, like all human beings, sometimes we have to ask for help too.

Consider also that I was doing everything "right." Sure I was in my late thirties when my partner and I started trying to have a baby. But I also felt young, and I am a healthy woman who exercises, eats well and takes care of myself. It should have been easy, right? Not so much. After many months of trying, we realized that it wasn't happening.It became harder to be around happy moms with their beautiful kids. That was something my clients often expressed when they first visited me, and here I was, having similar thoughts. If they could do it, why not me? So I gave myself the advice I've given countless friends in similar situations: go see a specialist.

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Medical Evaluation of the Surrogate Mother


Surrogacy is a unique and wonderful family building option that often is described as third party reproduction. Individuals turn to surrogacy for a variety of medical and social reasons: infertility; multiple pregnancy losses; being part of a same sex male couple or being a single male.

Surrogate mothers, also known as gestational carriers, are caring, compassionate women who love being pregnant and want to give the gift of family to those who yearn to become parents.

One of the major concerns intended parents might have as they embark on surrogacy is whether the woman they are matched with is a good candidate from health, obstetrical and mental health perspectives. They want to be reassured she will be able to get pregnant, have a successful pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby to term, and not harm herself in the process.

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Dr. David Tourgeman Shares Sperm Facts

Sperm and semen are not the same

Sperm are too tiny to see with the naked eye, while semen is the white fluid that is ejaculated after a man achieves orgasm. Even though sperm are microscopically small, they show up in abundant numbers. The 10 to 500 million sperm found in a single semen contribution would stretch for six miles if they were lined up end to end.

Each ejaculate of semen is about a half-teaspoon of fluid. In addition to sperm, semen contains proteins, fructose and other organic fluids that allow sperm to survive and fertilize the egg. With the help of clear secretions produced by the bulbourethral glands, sperm move into the vagina and cervix with the goal of meeting and penetrating an egg.

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