Be Empowered: Raise Awareness with National Infertility Awareness Week
RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week (April 19-25, 2015) is dedicated to celebrating those who have struggled or are currently struggling with infertility by raising awareness state by state.
This year’s theme, “You Are Not Alone,” works to spread the message that infertility is not something you should face without help and support. With one in eight couples in the U.S. struggling to conceive, the condition is certainly not rare. Many couples and individuals facing an infertility diagnosis struggle with their diagnosis as well as with the experience of being infertile in a society that can fail to embrace conversations about the condition.
This is unfortunate, but organizations such as RESOLVE and fertility practices such as Fertility Solutions are working hard to help spread education and awareness about infertility. We can work together to change the perception of infertility – here are some simple ways you can do your part to empower those who need help on the journey to parenthood.
Using social media to help spread awareness about infertility is an excellent way to support the community and educate your friends and family. Here are a few ways you can help using social media:
- If you are comfortable sharing your experience with infertility, share it! Not everyone will want to share their story, and that’s perfectly okay. For those who are comfortable sharing their fertility journey, letting others know what you’ve been through, how it made you feel, and what you’ve learned can go a long way toward offering a unique perspective on fertility your followers would never have heard without you.
- If you know someone struggling with infertility, now is a particularly special time to let them know that you support them 100% and are willing to help out in any way you can as they undergo treatment or make decisions – send your friend or family member a message and let them know you have their back no matter how things turn out.
- Post facts and information about infertility on your Facebook or Twitter profile, and feel free to share or retweet the posts Fertility Solutions makes on our Facebook and Twitter
Email or write a letter to your local representative.
Your opinion matters to those who represent you in government – and this includes your experience and support of the fertility community. Insurance coverage for fertility treatment varies widely state by state. In Massachusetts, for instance, our own Dr. Huang has worked hard to secure a mandate for infertility insurance coverage. Even with Dr. Huang’s efforts, there is still a long way to go in securing coverage for infertility, so we encourage you to write and email your local and state representatives asking for their support and advocacy.
When Should I Start to Be Concerned about Fertility?
At what age should a woman start to be concerned about her fertility? Is it in her 20’s? Her 30’s?
A woman should certainly begin to have concerns and plan for her fertility no later than her 30’s, but fertility awareness should begin earlier. This is not to say that women necessarily need to take action in their 20’s to preserve their fertility, however egg freezing may be on option. Fertility awareness begins in your 20’s and ideally includes all-around lifestyle habits, including your sexual health.
Fertility is affected by more than your age, which may come as a surprise to many. For many years, birth control is often utilized to prevent pregnancy – assuming conception will not be an issue. However, infertility does affect many individuals and couples.
In the U.S., about one in eight couples struggle to conceive. There are a variety of reasons for infertility – female factor fertility, male factor fertility or unexplained infertility. For
both men and women, infertility can result from an underlying health condition. An example of female factor infertility is endometriosis. Some medical conditions require the assistance of a fertility specialist. In cases of infertility due to lifestyle factors, we recommend the following advice to women in their 20’s and early 30’s:
Watch out for those bad habits.
Those in their 20’s and 30’s often practice certain habits consistent with a youthful lifestyle. Tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption and obesity are all factors that can contribute to difficult conception. These habits can affect your ability to have a child and are also indicative of poor overall health. Most doctors, including fertility specialists, will recommend that in order to prepare your body for the best possible chance for conception, each partner should practice a lifestyle that actively encourages good health. Quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, and maintaining a fitness routine and healthy BMI are all excellent areas to start.
Don’t forget about sexual health.
Certain STDs can affect a person’s fertility, especially when left untreated. Many STDs do not exhibit symptoms, so it’s essential that men and women undergo regular STD testing and treatment, along with practicing proper use of contraceptives.
It’s time to start tracking your menstrual cycle.
If you’re on birth control, the type of contraception you use will determine your menstrual cycle. For those not using birth control such as the pill or an IUD, tracking your menstrual cycle is a good way to determine your fertility future. It’s okay to skip a period every so often or have a cycle that doesn’t match up from one month to another. However, if you believe your period is irregular, too heavy or severe, then we recommend contacting your gynecologist first to discuss your symptoms before reaching out to a fertility specialist. Your gynecologist can advise if a fertility issue may be present or if need treatment prior to trying for a baby.
Dr. Huang of Fertility Solutions Received the “Reproductive Health Champion” Award from Fertility within Reach
The following is a transcript from a presentation given by Davina Fankhauser, President of Fertility within Reach to honor Dr. Pei-Li Huang of Fertility Solutions. The presentation took place on March 16, 2015 and was held in our Dedham, MA location. We invite you to read the presentation and view more photos from the event below.
“Fertility Within Reach (FWR) aligns with patients and providers to protect and further access to family building benefits. Together we act as champions for reproductive health parity.
In 2012 Fertility Within Reach honored Senator Edward Markey with our inaugural Reproductive Health Champion Award for his long history of supporting women’s health issues and working with FWR as we strive to establish a Congressional Caucus on Infertility. This award is meant for those whose commitment to protect reproductive health is exceptional, despite challenges, demonstrating their inspiring actions.
We are honored to present Dr. Pei-Li Huang with the Fertility Within Reach Reproductive Health Champion Award for her work to gain support of infertility health benefits from the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Davina Fankhauser, President of Fertility Within Reach notes, “Many do not realize that some medical professionals give less respect and interest toward infertility as they do other medical conditions. Pei-Li was a star who convinced the sun, she not only mattered, but the sun was better off from recognizing her brilliance.”
In addition to Dr. Huang serving as a patient centered doctor, she took on the role of advocate to a champion reproductive health, specifically infertility treatment. She utilized resources, gained support from other groups and presented effective testimony. Her actions added security to the Massachusetts Definition of Infertility (otherwise know as the Massachusetts Infertility Mandate).
Dr. Huang was one voice that hoped to make a difference, and she did. We are grateful for her efforts. We are proud to celebrate her as a champion for reproductive health. She is exceptional and an inspiration for patients and medical professionals.”
Raising Awareness of Secondary Infertility
“Why can’t I get pregnant again?” is a question many women who’ve already had a child ask themselves. Of the 1 in 8 couples who face infertility, 30% of those cases are due to secondary infertility.
Less well known, secondary infertility can be just as heartbreaking and require the same treatments as a standard infertility diagnosis, but it is rarely met with the same amount of empathy and support. Secondary fertility often comes as a surprise, with couples confused as to why a fertility issue has appeared after a previous successful pregnancy.
At Fertility Solutions, we strive to provide education and awareness for all aspects of the fertility spectrum, especially those that are less understood, such as secondary infertility.
What is secondary infertility?
Couples who face secondary infertility were able to conceive, maintain a pregnancy, and give birth previously, but experience difficulty attempting to have another child. This can be surprising, and couples often struggle to understand why a fertility issue is “suddenly” present. It’s important that those who have trouble conceiving their second or third child understand that they may need to undergo testing in order to determine if a fertility issue is present and if it is female factor, male factor, or unexplained. It is also important that couples remember that there are treatment options available.
When should I see a fertility specialist?
If you are 35 years or older, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a fertility specialist if you have been unable to conceive naturally without success for six months. If you are younger than 35 and have been unable to conceive successfully for over one year, then we advise scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you have additional questions on this topic, we invite you to read our blog post on When should I see a fertility specialist?
Why do I have secondary infertility?
In certain cases the cause of secondary infertility may never be totally clear, even after testing. However, doctors have been able to determine several factors that can potentially contribute to a new fertility issue, these include:
- Complications from a prior pregnancy and/or delivery
- Fallopian tube damage
- Certain uterine conditions
- Sperm production (male)
Where can I find support?
Couples who struggle with secondary infertility can also have a difficult time finding the right support from family and friends. Many couples are met with the attitude that they should just be happy that they were even able to have one baby—that because they already have one child, it couldn’t possibly be as emotionally painful to be unable to conceive another one when compared with couples who are unable to have any children. Unfortunately, this lack of sensitivity is common, but there are a variety of resources couples can and should use while undergoing testing and treatment, such as local or online support groups. These support groups are filled with others who are going through or who have gone through secondary infertility themselves.
For more information on secondary infertility, please contact Fertility Solutions and ask to speak with one of our board-certified fertility specialists.
Employee Recognition Series: Tanesha Walker, Medical Assistant
Tanesha moved to Massachusetts three years ago from Chicago, IL. During her early career in Chicago, Tanesha worked as a Nursing Assistant in elderly care – “I loved interacting with the elderly and taking care of them. I particularly loved to hear past histories from the patients,” says Tanesha.
After moving to Massachusetts, Tanesha decided to further her education and went back to school to earn her Medical Assistant degree. After graduation, Tanesha decided to direct her career toward the “Family Building” area of medicine.
As a medical assistant with Fertility Solutions, Tanesha “… enjoys the everyday, all-day interaction with patients, and working with each individual or couple to achieve their goals of having a family. I have learned a tremendous amount about fertility, and this knowledge has enabled me to grow personally as well as in my career.”
Outside of work Tanesha is an avid shopper and loves to spend time with her family.
Carol Anania, owner and physician at Fertility Solutions states, “I walk in everyday to a great big smile. Tanesha’s excitement to work with our patients and staff is infectious. She has been a great addition to our team!”
3 Ways to Talk to Someone Struggling With Infertility
Even though one in eight couples struggles to conceive, if you are not familiar with the fertility community it can be difficult to understand and empathize with those who need assistance to build their family. You can strive to be supportive, gentle and open, but knowing what to do and say if your friend or family member faces an infertility diagnosis can be a real challenge. Even those with the best intentions can inadvertently upset or offend someone they were trying to comfort. If you know someone who is having trouble conceiving, we recommend the following approach to encourage an environment where he or she is comfortable.
We all lead busy lives with schedules packed with activities and appointments, so it’s understandable that you may be caught up in your own routine and don’t realize your friend is in need of an outlet. Let your friend or family member know you care, that you are available, interested, and open to supporting them in whatever way they need. Offering to help out with household duties or other chores while they attend appointments, or attend appointments with them to show that you care about their experience. If you find that they seem overwhelmed or are unwilling to discuss fertility, encourage him or her to join a support group.
Remember that special events may be difficult.
Holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can all be challenging when you are trying to start a family but are unable, or if you are currently undergoing fertility treatment.
It’s easy for your own excitement for special days to trump your friend or family member’s emotional state, but simple reminders that you care, that you are thinking of them, and that you are there for them will make all the difference. Many infertile couples dread special occasions, especially when they are asked personal questions about when they will have a baby, or if they have tried this or that tactic for getting pregnant—having friends and family who understand that these questions are invasive and potentially hurtful will make any event easier and more enjoyable.
Don’t make assumptions, and be careful with your words.
Not every infertility diagnosis is due to the female partner—one-third of infertility is because of the female partner, one-third is because of the male, and the other one-third is simply unexplained. If you make the assumption that infertility is due to the female partner, you put a couple in the uncomfortable position of having to explain their personal fertility situation.
Additionally, a lot of people have instinctual reactions to tell those facing infertility to “calm down and relax,” and they’ll get pregnant, or that they should enjoy being childless because it means they’ll have a large savings and more sleep. These conversations can be very painful for someone who desperately wants a child but requires treatment to conceive.
At the end of the day, you know that your intentions to be a supportive figure are genuine, but sometimes conveying these intentions in a compassionate way can be easier said than done. The more you learn about the infertility community, the more helpful you will be.
Get to Know Your Fertility Specialist: Dr. Carol Anania
Dr. Carol Anania, Partner and Founder of Fertility Solutions, was kind enough to offer her time to answer a few questions about how her interest in the field of fertility first developed, her work with colleagues at Fertility Solutions, and how she spends her time outside of the center. Get to know Dr. Anania by reading her responses below.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a fertility doctor?
I knew from my first rotation in Labor and Delivery as a medical student that OB/GYN was the field of medicine that I wanted to specialize in. As part of my OB/GYN residency, I worked in an IVF lab and after seeing my first amazing “egg” under the microscope and watching the progression to the point of a pregnancy, there was no doubt what I wanted to do.
What about working in the fertility specialty appeals to you most?
I enjoy meeting people from all cultural backgrounds and life experiences. I think it is important to get to know those individuals and couples that I work with to better be able to guide them through a process that at times can be stressful, but ultimately very rewarding.
What’s your favorite part about your daily work?
Working with colleagues and staff members at our center. It is with everyone’s combined effort, working as a team, that enables me to be able to make the special calls at the end of treatments that will impact and change people’s lives forever.
And lastly, how do you spend your free time?
I love the outdoors and all that comes with it. I have been skiing for most of my life, and with my family, I began rock climbing and wake surfing a number of years ago. I love to travel, photograph and explore the different activities and people that countries around the world have to offer. With all that being said, another favorite pastime, is simply being at home with my family, a favorite book/or show and our dog, Dylan.
Free Fertility Seminar Re-cap: January 19th with Dr. Moragianni & Kristen Darcy
Kristen Darcy & Dr. Moragianni
Each month, Fertility Solutions offers a free fertility seminar. During our January seminar we had the pleasure of hosting guest speaker, Kristen Darcy, author of Love and Fertility. Kristen added a new dynamic to our group’s discussion on of the impact of what it means to receive a fertility diagnosis. Some questions that seminar attendees asked include:
How can I not get depressed in the process?
What can we do to make sure the process is smooth?
Kristen emphasized communication between partners and keeping an open understanding toward how each person handles life’s challenges. An important idea that was made during the seminar suggested that everyone should create a daily “What I am happy for…” list to remind us of all that has been accomplished in our lives and what we are grateful for – even during tough times.
From Fertility Solutions point of view, we suggest that patient education is the key to understanding your diagnosis, and we will work with you to create a smooth journey for every individual or couple. Our Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologists have created a clinic’s whose focus is “all about the patient”. This philosophy is apparent from your very first call to Fertility Solutions which will be received by a person, not a machine. We are always available to our patients.
Maryanne Gaffney, Dr. Moragianni & Laura Palmatier
Other questions discussed during the seminar include:
What is the timeline from start to finish?
The process begins with a consultation with one of our four female physicians. During this consult, a plan will be established for your journey to parenthood. Since each individual and couple is unique, the steps through fertility testing and treatment will be different for each situation. Though, on average, after the consult, the IVF process can be completed in 10 – 12 weeks.
Is Fertility Solutions LGBTQ friendly?
Yes, we at Fertility Solutions believe that every person has the right to “build a family” and we are highly supportive of the LGBTQ community.
Why is Fertility Solutions different from the competition?
Our goal at Fertility Solutions is to provide a personal experience for each person who is on the path to creating a family. We are very proud of our personalized attention to each patient and, of course, our success rates. However, one aspect of Fertility Clinics that is often overlooked is our in-house IVF laboratory – our IVF Lab Director, Mike Lee, created our nationally renowned ART laboratory with a focus on success for our patients. One distinctive addition to our lab is the micro incubator. The micro incubator creates a singular environment for the growing embryos.
Additionally, during our free patient seminar, we offered a tour of the Dedham, MA facility where our IVF laboratory resides.
We love hosting patient seminars and we hope others will take advantage of our monthly offer in the future.
When Should I See a Fertility Specialist?
Couples who are having trouble conceiving may be unsure as to when they should seek care from a fertility specialist, often wondering if they’ve tried conceiving naturally for a long enough period of time or if an unknown fertility issue may be accountable.
It’s important that couples stay calm. Added stress will not help fertility concerns and has been known to exacerbate difficulty conceiving. At Fertility Solutions, we advise that couples seek the advice of a fertility specialist if:
- The female partner is over the age of 35 and you have been trying to conceive without success for 6 months.
- The female partner is under the age of 35 and you have been trying to conceive without success for 1 year. If you are under 35 and are unable to conceive after trying for 1 year, we suggest a visit to your Ob-Gyn as a first step in determining if an issue is present.
- Any of the following medical conditions are present: recurrent miscarriage, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, irregular menstrual cycle and low sperm count (oligospermia).
A fertility specialist will be able to address your concerns through testing, diagnosis and treatment.
Not every couple with a fertility issue will seek the assistance of a fertility specialist. Some couples will visit a fertility specialist prior to attempting to conceive because they need genetic testing. Genetic testing, also referred to as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), is used in cases where there is a concern over passing a genetic or chromosomal issue on to children. PGD is commonly used to detect conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia and more.
Should you require the help of a fertility specialist for any of the situations listed above, your first consultation with Fertility Solutions will include a personalized plan for your individual fertility goals. We realize every patient is different, and each dream of building a family deserves our personal time, effort and attention. Please contact Fertility Solutions to schedule a consultation today.
Get to Know Your Fertility Specialist: Dr. Vasiliki Moragianni
Dr. Vasiliki Moragianni was kind enough to offer 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. Moragianni by reading her responses below.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a fertility doctor?
My love for the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) began during one of my rotations in medical school. I worked with two amazing physician-mentors, who introduced me to the intricacies of the female reproductive system and its pathophysiology. I have enjoyed every minute of it ever since!
How did you find yourself working in the fertility field?
After completing my Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at Abington Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia, I was accepted at the prestigious three-year REI fellowship program at Harvard Medical School & Boston IVF. The clinical and academic skills that I acquired there have laid the foundation of my career in this field.
What about working in the fertility specialty appeals to you most?
Working with individuals and couples as they navigate through the very challenging, but often rewarding journey of fertility is what I enjoy most. Building long-term relationships with these patients and becoming their strongest ally and supporter is invaluable to me.
What’s your favorite part about your daily work?
Interacting with my colleagues and patients. The work environment at Fertility Solutions is very enjoyable and highly collegial, which in turn translates into us, as a team, providing outstanding care to our patients.
What new technology or advances excites you the most?
Constant technological advances in the area of diagnosing optimal embryos for transfer is what helps us improve our success rates and keep offering more and more patients the realistic hope of parenthood.
And lastly, how do you spend your free time?
I have been Greek folk dancing since I was a little girl and feel really fortunate that I have the opportunity to continue doing this in Boston with my group of dear friends. Furthermore, my husband and I love watching movies, taking day trips when the weather permits, and spending time with each other and our friends.