How to Cope with Stress during Fertility Treatment
For those that undergo fertility treatment on their journey to parenthood, there are a number of stressors that can potentially impact your outlook. As you’ve already experienced difficultly conceiving, you have a medical condition preventing natural conception or you’re LGBT, you and your partner are already all too aware of how infertility can cause stress.
Now that you’re seeking treatment, this stress may change from “Will we ever conceive?” to “When we will conceive? Will treatment be successful? Can we afford this? Should we try another option?”
Fortunately, these questions can be answered by a trained fertility specialist. However, the stress that accompanies your journey is not as easily remedied. It’s essential that fertility patients practice coping techniques to help manage their stress levels and keep a healthy line of communication between you, your partner and your fertility doctor.
Patients should not worry that they are stressed out by fertility treatment – this is a very common experience and is frankly expected because your hopes and dreams now rely on the care and attention of a specialist. Fertility patients must shift their expectations for how they will build their families, and even as you begin treatment, it can take a long time to adjust to this line of thought. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling, and then work on expressing these feelings to your partner, physician or a support group. It’s perfectly natural to be angry, disappointed and stressed when facing an infertility diagnosis – the key is to not bury these emotions and not to push past it as you undergo treatment.
One way that a lot of patients relieve stress is to learn as much information as they can about their particular fertility issue. We do advise that you not go overboard with statistics that are presented to you but that you collect a wide range of information and discuss your findings with a fertility specialist. A specialist will be able to differentiate between fact and fiction, and you’ll feel better if you know more about your fertility and treatment plan.
Fertility Solutions also encourages patients to join a fertility support group. Regardless of your stress level, a support group is an excellent opportunity that can allow patients to choose what they reveal while learning from others who are also going through the same situation.
Fertility Solutions Celebrates its 4th Birthday
Lisa Fernandes and Dr. Moragianni celebrate our 4th birthday!
For the past four years, the physicians and staff of Fertility Solutions have dedicated themselves to providing a warm and compassionate environment for fertility treatment and care. We are a patient-centered practice, and we choose to focus on a more personal approach with our patients. On October 18, 2014 we celebrated our fourth year of helping to build families in the both the New England area and worldwide with our International Patient Program.
To help celebrate this achievement, Fertility Solutions doctors and staff members took the time to let us know their thoughts and what they are looking forward to in the future:
“As Fertility Solutions completes its 4th year of helping deliver the joy of parenthood to countless numbers of individuals, it is our opportunity to look back at our achievements and towards the future.
Fertility Solutions started as a hope that medicine and fertility care could be offered in a personalized manner. We previously practiced in an environment that every year, took us further and further away from out patients. Care in larger centers resulted in less personalized care and less physician contact. Fertility Solutions over these past 4 years has never compromised in meeting our goal to work closely with our patients who are going through fertility care. Our success over the past 4 years is second to none. I am proud of our center, proud of what we do and very grateful to all the individuals who have dedicated themselves to work alongside us.”
- Dr. Anania, Founder & Partner
“As Fertility Solutions celebrates its 4th birthday this October we are reflecting on hundreds of incredible journeys towards parenthood, and excitedly look forward to many more years of helping patients build their families! Thank you for letting us share in your special moments!”
- Dr. Moragianni
We were thrilled to receive balloons to celebrate the occasion.
“I can’t believe it’s been four years already. My thanks to everyone—nurses, embryologists, medical assistants, administrative staff, Drs. Anania, Kowalik and Moragianni, and especially our patients - for making Fertility Solutions the very best place to work. It has been a joy working with all of you.”
- Dr. Huang
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful people who are dedicated to provide the best infertility care for our patients. As we approach our 4th anniversary I am truly proud of to have been part of the Fertility Solution’s role in the family building story for so many individuals and couples.”
- Dr. Kowalik
A birthday cake!
“These past 4 years have flown by. Fertility Solutions is a true patient centered practice. I am so fortunate to have the privilege to work with so many dedicated professionals who truly care about patients and always put the needs of the patient first. I would have to say one of the most rewarding aspects is receiving letters and pictures from our patients with their beautiful results, reminding us of how lucky we are to do what we do every day.”
- Nurse Sandra Khirallah
Enjoy even more birthday celebration photos below!
Employee Recognition Series: Caroline Gerbick, Embryologist
Caroline Gerbick, an Embryologist at Fertility Solutions is October’s Employee of the Month. Caroline began her career in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in 2010 as an Andrologist.
She started working at Fertility Solutions in January of 2011. Within a year of her arrival, Caroline began training in embryology. Fertility Solutions is very fortunate to have such a dedicated and hard working employee.
Caroline recently got married and honeymooned in Jamaica. She likes to read and cook in her free time.
From Caroline: “I like working at Fertility Solutions because I am truly interested in what I do every day and because of the wonderful, caring people I get to work!”
“Caroline joined the practice in January of 2012. She had an immediate impact on the labs with her positive and precise approach to lab testing. Her background and training brought a new dimension to the labs that had a very positive effect. She applied her clinical lab approach to embryology and has suggested many changes to standardize and streamline our processes. She is an integral part of the lab staff and a dedicated employee.” - Michael A. Lee, M.S., TS, ELD (ABB), Lab Director at Fertility Solutions.
Explore the Trend: Egg Freezing
Egg freezing, also known as fertility preservation or oocyte cryopreservation, is used to help women ensure their future families. There are many reasons why a woman may choose to freeze her eggs so she can have a child when she is ready, some of which include women who:
- Want to delay having a family due to career or personal goals
- Have not yet found the right partner with whom to have a family
- Are concerned about their age affecting the health and quantity of their eggs
- Have recently been diagnosed with cancer (chemotherapy and radiation treatments can potentially harm a person’s fertility)
However, fertility preservation is not just for women – men who face the same situations (age, career or cancer issues) can also choose to freeze their sperm so they are able to have a family when they wish to do so.
How does egg freezing/fertility preservation work?
After a consultation with your fertility specialist, you will undergo routine testing in order to determine if you are a good candidate for fertility preservation. Women, in the weeks prior to the egg retrieval procedure, will take medication (injections) in order to promote egg growth so eggs will be ready for retrieval. The goal of the egg retrieval procedure is to collect and freeze about 15 eggs in order to have a successful chance of conception during IVF (when the decision to have a child is made).
During the actual freezing of the eggs, Fertility Solutions uses a process called “vitrification” (flash freezing) in order to allow for a high success rate when compared to the traditional slow-freeze method. During vitrification, your eggs are quickly frozen before ice crystals, which could ruin cell structure, are able to form.
At what age should I freeze my eggs?
The decision whether to freeze your eggs is entirely up to you. More and more women are taking control of their future fertility and having their eggs frozen in their mid- to late twenties. However, if you are facing a recent cancer diagnosis in your mid-twenties or younger, it’s important to talk to your doctor, who may recommend a consultation with a fertility specialist.
Also, patients should note that choosing to freeze eggs does not mean that you will “run out” of eggs. Egg freezing is simply the use of eggs that women would have otherwise lost as they aged.
Why is egg freezing gaining in popularity?
In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) stopped labeling egg freezing as experimental, allowing for widespread use of the process. Since this decision, women are able to make choices about their reproductive futures that were previously hindered by time and age. There is an ever increasing interest in egg freezing as the subject becomes a part of a more mainstream discussion on fertility. This is especially true since many women are brought up hearing over and over that their “biological clock is ticking” and that they need to settle down and start a family as soon as possible.
I’m interested in egg freezing – how do I start?
The first step is to schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist. Your fertility specialist will help answer any questions you may have about the egg freezing process, costs involved and the fertility services that are needed when you decide to use your frozen eggs to start your family.
Should I Join a Fertility Support Group?
Regardless of where you are on your journey to becoming a parent, a fertility support group can go a long way toward making this process easier and less stressful. A large part of the difficulty in having an infertility issue is facing everyday experiences that were once easy but are now emotionally difficult. Whether or not to respond to a friend’s baby shower invitation, casual conversation about children during parties and holidays, and even checking out social media can become emotional landmines when you’re having trouble getting pregnant and need treatment.
This stress affects both women and men and can be particularly trying on relationships. An abundance of resources is available to help you cope, but one of the best options is a fertility support group.
What is a fertility support group like?
Like other support groups, fertility support groups can consist of all-female, all-male or mixed members. Support groups can even focus on one particular fertility issue, such as those who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), recurrent miscarriage, unexplained infertility and many more. Support groups can also be in person or online. It’s up to you which kind of support group you prefer.
Is a fertility support group right for me?
Deciding whether or not a support group is right for you can come down to your individual experience with fertility. Many individuals refrain from seeking the help of a support group because they believe that they are able to fully handle the emotional ups and downs on their own or that they should at least try to do so. This is simply not true – joining a support group does not mean you are seeking professional therapy. Support groups are designed to offer a warm, welcoming environment of individuals who share a similar experience. It is entirely up to you, or you and your partner, how much of your lives are shared with the rest of your support group and what is kept private. There is no pressure to explain anything that you find too painful or personal to discuss.
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association provides those who are struggling to conceive with a checklist of questions that can help you decide if a support group is likely to be beneficial:
• Do you feel isolated? Lonely?
• Do you feel as if no one understands what you are going through?
• Do you have few people to talk to about your infertility diagnosis?
• Is your partner the only person you can talk to about infertility?
• Is your struggle to conceive affecting your normal routine (work, friendships, etc.)?
• Do you feel as if you’ve lost control of your life plan?
• Are you having trouble deciding to continue with treatment?
• Are social events like holidays and parties difficult to cope with?
If you find that you are answering “Yes” to the above questions, then a fertility support group may be an excellent resource. Please contact your fertility specialist for more information about fertility support groups or find a support group in your area.
Free Fertility Seminar Re-cap: September 10th with Dr. Pei-Li Huang
Each month, Fertility Solutions hosts free fertility seminar in order to provide an opportunity for current and prospective patients to ask any questions they may have about fertility testing, diagnosis and treatment. Our most recently fertility seminar was hosted by Dr. Huang and we’ve provided a review of some of the questions and topics that were discussed.
Topic: Same sex couples – Sperm donors and what does insurance cover?
Answer: In the state of Massachusetts, infertility diagnosis for same sex couples is the same for heterosexual couples. If the woman who would like to conceive is under 35, the state insurance mandates that the couple must be trying to get pregnant for at least one year, and for those over 35 years of age, the couple must try for six months.
In a same sex marriage, there must be documentation that the couple has introduced sperm for the period of time to obtain fertility coverage. The process for documentation comes in the form of sperm vial purchases and the medical practice performing an IUI. We at Fertility Solutions welcome the LGBT community and have many sperm donor agency, egg donor agency and gestational carrier relationships to help guide you on your journey to becoming a parent.
Topic: Fertility Preservation – I am interested in having a baby in the future. I am in my late twenties and currently focused on my career, what do you recommend?
Answer: Fertility Preservation, or egg freezing, is the process of retrieving eggs for future use via vitrification. Fertility preservation is an option for many types of patients, including those who would like to have babies in the future but are currently without a partner, those who are concerned that age may affect their ability to conceive in the future, patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, and patients who have concerns about premature ovarian cancer.
Each patient is a unique situation, and we would like to discuss your future goals together to define if fertility preservation is the best answer at this time. Tests that would be taken prior to fertility preservation would include ultrasound, ovarian reserve, etc.
Fertility Solutions would like to thank those who came out to our September 10th seminar – your questions were insightful and helped start a truly great discussion. We invite you to join us at our next free fertility seminar on Saturday, October 4th, 2014 in our Providence, RI location. Dr. Moragianni and Catlin Roache, a clinical psychologist will host the event. They will discuss the role of stress on a couple during an infertility diagnosis. Please RSVP for the seminar, we look forward to seeing you there.
Fertility Solutions Patient Satisfaction Survey Results
Fertility Solutions recently completed our bi-annual patient satisfaction survey and we are excited to share the results. We are proud to announce that our surveys scores have increased in every category since our last patient satisfaction survey back in November (2013).
The scores range from “1” as the lowest to “5” as the highest positive response.
The survey category summary is as follows:
- The patients initial impression of Fertility Solutions – 4.61
- Impression of Physicians – 4.75
- Impression of Medical Assistants – 4.82
- Impression of IVF Nursing Staff – 4.81
- OR/PACU Nursing – 4.87
- OR/PACU Experience – 4.90
- Financial Interactions – 4.30
- Reviews on our Facilities – 4.82
- Patients impression of confidentiality – 4.82
- Fertility Solutions Overall – 4.8
- The Fertility Solutions Website and Portal (combined) – 4.38
The following are some of the patient comments that were noted on the survey, they were asked what we could improve:
“Very friendly staff.”
“Everything was great – from the doctors, to nursing, to getting blood drawn, and the office staff is incredible. I could not be happier with the care I received.”
“The staff is amazing and very friendly.”
“Well run facility, top notch staff and physicians.”
“Very friendly positive outlook – make it impossible for us to lose hope! You guys are great!”
“All staff are friendly, accommodating, and prompt to explain all details of treatment and procedures thoroughly. Overall, I have had an amazing experience at Fertility Solutions and have recommended it to many friends and family.”
“Dr. Kowalik has been an exceptionnal doctor and a pleasure to work with. Thank you for everything!”
“There is not one thing to pick due to being very pleased with everything, from the staff in office to the nurses on the phone that I have never met.”
“Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and caring. I also LOVE being able to see results on the patient portal.”
“Calls and emails were responded to very promptly.”
“Wonderful at treating me as a person. Compassionate front staff, Lisa is friendly and helpful.”
“All staff was fantastic! They definitely took the time to make me feel comfortable and explain the process step by step.”
“Appreciated the detailed explanation of all of the procedures, timeliness of the appointments was superb, and the dedicate physician interaction far exceeded our expectations.”
Employee Recognition Series: Megan McGinn, Front Desk Coordinator
Megan McGinn is our most recent addition to Fertility Solutions. Megan is the Front Desk Coordinator for our practice’s Dedham location.
Megan joins us after eight years in the medical field at a large ophthalmology practice on the South Shore of Massachusetts. “I was very excited to begin the next phase of my career in an industry (fertility) that is evolving quickly and offers patients the opportunity to have the dream of building a family become a reality. I love greeting each patient that comes through our door and hope to be able to help in anyway possible,” says Megan.
Megan has stated that she loves working at Fertility Solutions because of her deep respect for the practice’s patient philosophy – “The individual, personalized treatment of each patient is second to none”.
In her free time, Megan enjoys dancing.
“We are very lucky to have found such a bright and cheery person who jumped right into the front desk coordinator position with vigor. Megan has shown a great affection towards the patients and always greets each patient by name. Her desire and willingness fuel our mutual efforts and lead us to success” – Dr. Carol Anania
Fertility Solutions’ Latest Patient Testimonial
We’re thrilled to share our latest patient testimonial which is a note sent from a patient to Dr. Anania:
“We had a wonderful experience with Fertility Solutions. We had our 2-month-old daughter through the help of this amazing facility which has made our dream come true. I got pregnant from a single IVF treatment and had no complications whatsoever with pregnancy or delivery. Our little girl was a full-term healthy baby, she was 7 pounds 9 ounces at birth and she’s growing beautifully. I find it hard to believe that she was only 7 cells the day we had the embryo transfer.
Dr. Anania is one the best doctors we have ever met. She would patiently explain every procedure and make us feel so comfortable talking to her. Ashley, the nurse receptionist at the Woburn office is very nice and efficient. She would do all the blood work in the morning. This office runs like a clock. The wait-time is literally less than 2 minutes. I would go there early mornings before going to work, have my blood drained (in and out in 5 minutes) and was never late to work.
All the nurses are very friendly, professional, and supportive. I had lot of questions when I was going through the IVF treatment. I would leave a message and they would reply within an hour.
They even sent us a cute little feeding spoon as a gift for our baby. They made us feel so special and as highly regarded patients. We would definitely consider seeing Dr. Anania again in case we decide to have a second child.
Infertility is stressful for most couples and going through fertility treatments can be even more frustrating, painful, and demanding. Choosing a facility like Fertility Solutions can help ease the difficult and long journey of infertility. They give you hope that treatment is possible, be with you all along, and help you relax – which is a big part of the treatment believe it or not! Wishing the best of luck to all couples in need of a little miracle in their lives.” – G.K.
We invite you to read more Fertility Solutions patient testimonials.
Get To Know Your Fertility Specialist: Dr. Pei-Li Huang
Dr. Pei-Li Huang was kind enough to offer some of her time to answer a few questions about how her path led to working in the field of fertility, her work at Fertility Solutions, and how she spends her time outside of the center. Get to know Dr. Huang by reading her responses below:
Did you always know that you wanted to be a fertility doctor?
Yes, my first clinical rotation as a medical student was in obstetrics and gynecology at Boston City Hospital. Even though it was quite overwhelming to start off at such a busy place, I received such positive feedback from patients who were grateful to have a female provider. It really encouraged my thoughts toward-specializing in women’s health.
How did you find yourself working in the fertility field?
I have been extremely lucky to be inspired by some wonderful physician teachers and mentors who are passionate about clinical research. During my 4th year of medical school I went to Bethesda, Maryland to do a rotation at the National Institutes of Health in Endocrinology, which is the study of hormones. I was fascinated by all the rare disorders which were studied by researchers at the NIH that were conducting clinical trials. Later, during residency training at the Beth Israel Hospital one of my professors encouraged me to do a research project involving exercise- induced menstrual disorders.
Finally, I realized my own life story may have contributed to the desire to help women conceive. My mother had endometriosis and after giving birth to me, her only child, she had secondary infertility. At that time treatment options were limited. Now we have so much more to offer.
What about working in the fertility specialty appeals to you most?
This specialty allows me to practice all aspects of medicine: surgery, psychology, clinical medicine and research.
What’s your favorite part about your daily work?
I enjoy interacting with patients during the ultrasound monitoring that we do at the various offices. I like being able to meet almost every patient in the practice.
What new technology or advances excites you the most?
New cryopreservation techniques have increased the survival rate of frozen eggs and embryos, preserving a women’s options to extend her reproductive window.
And lastly, how do you spend your free time?
Whenever I can I either read fiction or play the piano. I also take lessons and perform as an amateur chamber musician and solo pianist.