Our high pregnancy rates result from applying advanced fertility treatments in a caring and empathetic environment.

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08/11

2017

Two Women, One Dream to Create a Family

In the last several decades, lesbian would-be parents have increasingly sought reproductive assistance to have babies. It’s 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.

Testing may necessitate a change in plans
Often couples come to us with a well-conceived idea of who will carry the child and who will provide the egg. However, testing may reveal that one or both women have reproductive challenges.

If that happens, we urge flexibility in moving forward. Many lesbian couples realize they need assistance with insemination, but may not anticipate infertility issues that could arise after we perform diagnostic testing on the woman who will be the genetic mother and/or carry the pregnancy.

Many assisted reproductive options are available
Most couples, especially those with no known infertility conditions, start with intrauterine insemination (IUI), where donor sperm is specially washed, processed and concentrated. Once the sperm has been prepared, it is placed in the uterus using a procedure similar to what you experience in a pap smear.

After three unsuccessful IUIs, or the identification of an infertility diagnosis through testing, our doctors will recommend in vitro fertilization. One woman can be the genetic mother and also carry the child, or each woman can play a role through reciprocal IVF. Occasionally, neither female partner has viable eggs, and then we will recommend donor eggs or donor embryos. If both women have problems with their uterus, they may need to consider surrogacy.

Both partners can be involved in creating their baby
Reciprocal IVF, also know as co-maternity, is a way for two women to be involved in the creation and gestation of their baby. One woman participates in the egg retrieval to use her eggs. The eggs are combined with donor sperm to form embryos. The resulting embryos are transferred to her partner’s uterus.

If both women want to experience childbirth, they each can undergo IVF simultaneously, or at another time when they want to expand their family.

Outside legal counsel might be needed
Since there are LGBT legal and contractual issues regarding same sex parenting, HRC offers legal resources for its patients. This is especially important when you are using a known sperm donor to ensure that donor has no legal parental claim or obligations.

HRC Fertility is dedicated to helping lesbian women achieve their dreams of parenthood. Having a baby is the beginning of an exciting journey that starts with finding a knowledgeable, committed fertility team to guide you and your partner.

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08/04

2017

Dr. Bradford Kolb and HRC End Couple’s Cycle of Heartbreak

Mary and James had been trying to conceive for eight years before being referred by their OBGYN to HRC and Dr. Bradford Kolb. The couple had seen other infertility specialists, including one overseas, and had undergone unsuccessful IUI and IVF cycles plus a heartbreaking ectopic pregnancy.

By the time they first saw Dr. Kolb in fall 2015, they were considering surrogacy. “We thought our age was a factor, “recalled 42-year-old Mary. “But Dr. Kolb reviewed our records and ran some tests. He convinced us that everything looked good and was confident we could get pregnant with IVF.”

The couple really liked how Dr. Kolb took the time to listen and was hands on, which was a pleasant departure from their previous physicians. One doctor would only see them a few minutes before handing them off to the staff. They also liked that Dr. Kolb was receptive to Chinese acupuncture, which made them feel less stressful and more relaxed.

At HRC Fertility, Mary and James underwent two cycles of IVF and had their embryos genetically tested. The remaining viable one became their son, who was born in June. They thank their lucky stars for this gift.

Mary advises other couples to do their homework to see if prospective clinics are a good fit for their needs and personality. They also encourage others to have a game plan, as they did. Mary explained, “We felt stressed during our previous IVF cycles. During our last one at HRC, we felt comforted knowing we had a backup plan if it didn’t work. That really helped to reduce our stress levels.

Even though they weathered much disappointment with other fertility providers, Mary and James are grateful for having found Dr. Kolb, knowing he was the difference in helping them create their family.

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08/01

2017

Dr. David Tourgeman Helps Couple Achieve “Plan A”

Jill and her husband had been trying to start a family for several years when she sought help from her gynecologist because of abnormal menstrual bleeding. Her doctor suspected she had PCOS, but also diagnosed her with complex hyperplasia with atypia, which usually is found in childless women undergoing menopause. At 31, Jill learned she needed to be treated for this precancerous condition before she could start fertility treatment.

Once she was given the go ahead, Jill began treatment in 2016. Her doctor referred her to Dr. David Tourgeman along with other fertility specialists. “We really wanted to ‘click’ with our doctor,” recalled Jill. “Once I talked to Dr. Tourgeman, I knew he was the right choice for us.”

Because of her history, Dr. Tourgeman recommended the couple start IVF immediately. Unfortunately, their first two cycles were not successful, including a frozen embryo transfer that ended in miscarriage. But their third time with a fresh transfer was the charm and Jill became pregnant with twins. Zoe and Liam were born healthy and full term at 38 weeks.

Jill and her husband appreciated the support Dr. Tourgeman and his staff gave the couple both before and after they conceived. Said Jill, “I liked how he adjusted the medication protocol after each cycle. He was open to all of my suggestions, and his nurses were always very responsive. After we got pregnant, he was still supportive and interested in how we were doing. I’ve heard that not all fertility doctors are like that.”

Jill also took advantage of a fertility acupuncturist and other HRC services, including a medication administration service, that helped her have an easier, more relaxed experience.

“Infertility is not a fun journey, but it’s worth everything in the end. At first, you feel ashamed and wonder why you can’t get pregnant. Once you start being open about your infertility, however, you are amazed at how many people are having the exact same struggles as you, and you don’t feel so alone. We always felt our path was to try plan A, but if it didn’t work, we would move on to Plan B.”

As the parents of newborn twins, Jill and her husband are basking in the delights of their Plan A.

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07/14

2017

The Quest for Eggs and the Risk of OHSS

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.”

Who is most at risk?
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and those who are underweight are more prone to OHSS. Other indicators are being under 30, having a large number of follicles, an increasing level of estrdiol before an HCG shot and a history of OHSS episodes. Some research has indicated anti-mullerian hormone and antral follicle count levels may be predictive of OHSS, but more studies are needed.

When does OHSS start?
OHSS starts approximately seven to 10 days after your egg retrieval. So be on the alert because it can start with mild symptoms that progress to more serious, and even life-threatening ones.

What is OHSS?
Fertility drugs used for stimulation cause the ovaries to enlarge. In some cases, the ovaries are so sensitive to these medications that they enlarge four to five times their normal size, producing very high levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen.

Having hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your system, which is given in a “trigger” shot to release eggs from mature follicles, also plays a role in OHSS. OHSS may worsen if you become pregnant and create your own hCG.

Occasionally, additional substances may be produced in excess and fluid can collect in the abdomen, which causes swelling and discomfort.

What are the symptoms of OHSS?
It is important to recognize when your symptoms are not normal. Many women will experience a mild amount of bloating or abdominal pain, but when combined with other symptoms or a rapid worsening, it is best to err on the site of caution and let your health care provider know you are feeling discomfort.

Mild to moderate symptoms
Mild to moderate abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, ovarian tenderness and a sudden weight increase of two more pounds on any two consecutive days

Severe symptoms
Symptoms can quickly escalate into the severe form and can include excessive bloating; unusual abdominal tenderness or pain; sudden, rapid weight gain as high as 40 to 40 pounds in five to 10 days; noticeable increase in urination; nausea and the inability to eat routine meals or to take fluids; and shortness of breath.

What should you do if you suspect OHSS?
Immediately call your doctor or nurse coordinator. We would rather you be safe than sorry.

Can we prevent OHSS?
Researchers are looking for ways to better predict which patients may be most at risk as well as fine tune medication protocols.

Our physicians closely monitor patients with serial ultrasounds, laboratory testing and by educating you about signs and symptoms of OHSS. Severe OHSS is rare, with one to two percent of women experiencing it, but our goal is to prevent any of our patients from experiencing it. Education, monitoring and communication are key to prevention.

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07/12

2017

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.
My doctor told me what I had told so many women: getting pregnant at age 39 can be tricky. And even though I already knew that as a fact, coming from my doctor, it still made me feel better.

Sometimes women who come to see me are shocked to learn how difficult it can sometimes be to get pregnant in their late and sometimes mid-thirties. This is in part because the media too often highlights celebrities who get pregnant in their 40’s and50’s which lets us draw the incorrect conclusion that this is the norm. What is not advertised though is that women conceiving in their late 40’s and 50’s usually conceive with the eggs of younger women rather than their own.

There are many reasons to see a fertility specialist.

Some women want to conceive faster than they are able to do so on their own. Some women have their potential pregnancies can be tested before conception in order to increase the chance that they will give birth to a healthy baby.

Some women want to use donor sperm to conceive either because they are in a same-sex relationship, because their husbands are unable to donate, or because they want to be single moms.

A young and healthy woman who wants kids “one day” may consider visiting a fertility specialist to check on the status of her eggs now. If you have a good and healthy egg supply then you may feel comfortable waiting and seeing.

On the other hand, if you are running out of eggs faster than would be predicted based on your age, you may want to make a decision earlier. A fertility specialist can help figure this out using blood tests and ultrasound.

Technology today also gives you choices your mother and grandmother never had. For instance, you may want to freeze your eggs. This would allow you to use those eggs one day in the future if you happened to have trouble conceiving down the road.

For me, deciding after a very emotionally difficult period of time to take some of my own medicine was the best thing I ever did. I saw a specialist and was treated for infertility. After a few bumps in the road, I gave birth a year ago to a little baby girl who has brought more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined was possible. I often thank her for coming into this world and making me a mommy.

So, should women eat healthily and stay fit and decrease their stress?? Absolutely! That will only increase the chance that a woman’s body will be able to house a happy, healthy and growing baby one day. But sometimes we just need some expert, outside help.

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