SuperSperm - A New Phrase Coined at Ladies Night In
A new phrase coined last night at Ladies Night In. Said with a sense of humor. With a sense of irony. With a definite sense of affection.
It’s said by the men in some of our lives when they find out their sperm count is just fine. Better than fine. Super even. I wonder if any semen analysis count has ever really said that. Super sperm.
How come these normally rather sensitive men, who really love us don’t get it?
How come they don’t get when they proudly announce they are in possession of SuperSperm, that we then feel the finger pointing right at us about whose fault it is that we are not conceiving? We know they aren’t necessarily saying that. But if they have SuperSperm, then whose fault is it?
It’s not that we’re not happy for them or that we wished that the results were different. It’s just that if they’re ok, then even if a fertility doctor can’t find the problem with us, we still know it’s us. Because it’s not them. They are in possession of SuperSperm.
I kind of like it. SuperSperm.
Shouldn’t we have an equivalent for our eggs? A few ideas:
- Wonder eggs
- Eggs Supreme
- Excellent Egg
I don’t really think any of them have the same ring that SuperSperm has, maybe that’s why many men have come up with that phrase independently of one another. They are rightly relieved and even proud to know that their fertility is intact. We’re happy for them. Really, we are.
Unexplained Infertility and Relief from Guilt
We just still don’t want it to be us. And especially with unexplained infertility, we really don’t know what tiny, little piece of ours doesn’t quite fit with some tiny, little, indecipherable piece of theirs. We don’t know who it is exactly when all the testing comes back that everything is fine. SuperSperm and Excellent Egg still sometimes don’t create a pregnancy or a baby that emerges nine months later.
Very frustrating. Yes, maybe it seems like there should be relief in knowing that nothing major is wrong. And there is. We don’t want anything to be wrong, yet with no answers as to what’s wrong, there’s a feeling that there’s less that can be done because there’s nothing to fix.
Is it comforting that with an IVF cycle so many potential small problems are bypassed? That problems that can’t be detected won’t matter because the cycle is being handled, one step at a time?
I don’t know. Maybe all this is comforting in some moments and not in others. Maybe we can be happy when SuperSperm is elated that there’s no detectable problem with him without immediately blaming ourselves.
It’s great when there’s one less problem to worry about. No doubt about it.
I just wish it didn’t immediately make us point the finger at ourselves.
The compassion we would show our partners if SuperSperm turned out to be SubFertileSperm could be the same compassion we could show ourselves if the problem does lie with us.
If we were half as kind and considerate to ourselves as we are to our partners, friends, colleagues and family members, we would be far better off.
Don’t you deserve that? Don’t we all deserve that?
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Infertility Treatment - My Mantra
There is not one way to do things. There is not one way to do things. There is not one way to do things.
It’s my new mantra when I want things done exactly the way that I want them done, in exactly the time that I want them done in, for exactly as long as I want them done for.
I believe I know the best way to do things. Sometimes I’m right. And sometimes I’m not.
I wanted to micromanage everything about my fertility treatment. I wanted to know every measurement of every endometrial lining or follicle, every level of every blood draw for every hormone level.
Anything that the doctor knew, I wanted to know.
What to Consider While Trying to Conceive?
Big problem there was that I didn’t have the training to put what I was told into an understandable context. Often it seemed that I knew just enough to get myself into big trouble. Trouble emotionally because everything felt so much larger, scarier and more dire. I knew enough to understand when things weren’t quite right but not enough to know how much it could or would affect my fertility treatment or my possibility of conceiving.
It was like reading the package on the medications.
Oh, yes, I read them. Every single line. Despite only understanding, truly understanding, about a tenth of what I was reading.
What? Did you think you were the only one? Not a chance.
I read about the side effects, the contraindications, every study or trial where it was mentioned.
It was a wonder that I had time for anything else.
In the end, did it raise or lower my anxiety? Did I learn something that I needed to know?
What I read created a list of questions for my doctors and it gave me an opportunity to find out what had significance and what did not. It gave me a chance to let my doctors know what my concerns, worries and hopes were. It gave me a chance to hear answers that were either soothing or alarming and investigate further to make sure that I was making decisions that I was comfortable with and could live with.
Still, I come back to my mantra.
There is not one way to do things.
Making Individual Choices During Fertility Treatment
We all get to make our individual choices. We all have to live with ourselves. We make decisions and it’s ok if it’s vastly different than someone else’s. It doesn’t make them right and you wrong and it doesn’t make you right and them wrong.
With infertility and fertility treatment, you have to live in your own skin and respect your own timeframe. Someone else may skip IUI’s and go straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization). They have their reasons. Reasons that they may not choose to share or even understand well enough to verbalize. Reasons that would not apply to you in your life circumstances.
There is not one way to do things.
Even with fertility treatment.
Or maybe, if you are honoring yourself as a whole person, maybe especially with infertility treatment.
With any decision that you make, count on us to be here for you.
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Fertility Nutritionist Carolyn Gundell
Fertility Nutritionist Carolyn Gundell
on the RMACT team may be the single most responsible person for creating lifestyle changes in our patients. In a non-judgmental, non-restrictive way, Carolyn gently guides men and women with healthy food plans, discussions about body composition, and blood work results. She has helped our patients and non-patients as well in avoiding stages of diabetes and has successfully guided them to weight loss, thus making the attempt to become pregnant safer with a greater chance for success.
She is a tireless advocate of fertility patients.
And just to prove my point about her understanding that men and women in the midst of fertility treatment want to continue to eat delicious food, voila. Here are two recipes that are "Carolyn" approved. In fact she was kind enough to share these recipes with the entire RMACT team.
With no guilt, Bon Appetite!
Delicious Recipes for Fertility Friendly Foods
Greek Yogurt Pancakes
These are amazing and quick to make. The texture is somewhat like a crepe.
6 oz of your favorite greek yogurt
½ cup flour (I use whole grain white flour- also called white whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1. Stir yogurt until well blended. Place 6 oz in bowl. Crack egg over yogurt and stir to combine. No problem if there is a few lumps.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
3. Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with flour and baking soda. Stir to combine. The batter will be extremely thick.
4. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan. NOT TOO HOT!. Flip the pancake once they start to bubble a bit on the surface.
Makes about 8 small pancakes.
Serve with fresh strawberries and or more yogurt.
1. For lower calorie and lower cholesterol/fat – use nonfat yogurt and / or 2 egg whites instead of 1 whole egg.
2. Batch ahead and toast on another day
Pumpkin, Carrot, Greek yogurt Muffins
Source: Adapted from the The Looneyspoons Collection
◦ 1-1/4 cups whole grain white flour
◦ 1/4 cup wheat germ
◦ ¼ cup whole wheat flour
◦ 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (*see note at bottom if you don’t have this)
◦ 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
◦ 1 tsp baking soda
◦ 1/2 tsp salt
◦ 1 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
◦ 1/2 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
◦ 1/3 - 1/2 cup honey
◦ 1/4 cup canola oil
◦ 1 egg
◦ 1 tsp vanilla
◦ 1 cup grated carrots
◦ Optional - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or sunflower seeds
*how to make pumpkin pie spice: 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each ground ginger and nutmeg
◦ Preheat oven to 375 F. prep 12-cup muffin pan muffin liners
◦ In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
◦ In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, honey, oil, egg and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir using a wooden spoon just until moistened. Fold in seeds and / or nuts. Batter will be thick.
◦ Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
With over 20 years of nutrition experience, Carolyn has a special interest in helping women with conditions that affect fertility, including insulin resistance, diabetes Type1/Type 2, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), lipid disorders, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, underweight and overweight concerns. Carolyn earned her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies in Biology/Nutrition at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is trained as a Research Associate in Clinical Skills Training, and is certified in HIPAA, CPR, First Aid and Food Safety & Sanitation. Previously, Carolyn worked at Pediatric Endocrine & Diabetes Specialists, The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, both in Norwalk and at Yale University Medical Center’s Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS Clinic and The Yale Fertility Center.
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Fertility Specialists' Glossary Available
The RMACT (Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut) website has features that you may not be aware of, including a glossary of terms that can help you decipher what you may need to know about your fertility treatment or diagnosis.
Our glossary of terms has been written primarily by our fertility specialists (board certified reproductive endocrinologists), and occasionally by other members of our clinical team here at RMACT.
If there is a term that you are unfamiliar with in regards to your fertility or your infertility treatment cycles or protocol, I’m certain that you can find it here. If not, please do let me know and I will ask one of the RMACT physicians to write a definition for you. It's certainly a lot easier to go through fertility treatment when you understand the language.
Good reading ~ Lisa Rosenthal
Infertility Definition: Terms Made Simple
Corpus Luteum: A special gland that forms from the ovulated follicle in the ovary. It produces progesterone during the second half of the menstrual cycle which is necessary to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. It also supports early pregnancies by secreting the necessary hormones until the placenta becomes fully functional between 8-10 weeks of gestation.
Cyst: A fluid filled structure. Cysts may be found anywhere in the body, but in reproductive medicine we primarily refer to them in the ovaries. Ovarian cysts may be normal or abnormal depending on the circumstances. Often they are just follicles that have not been fully reabsorbed from previous menstrual or treatment cycles. They are very common in both natural and stimulated cycles.
Fibroids: Overgrowth of the muscular tissue of the uterus. Fibroids are typically knotty masses of benign muscle tissue that can distort the shape and function of the uterus. They are typically classified in to three categories: sub-mucosal, intramural and serosal. Sub-mucosal fibroids are found in the uterine cavity and impair implantation. They need to be removed in order to conceive. Intramural fibroids are problematic when they become severely enlarged or impinge on the uterine cavity. Sub-serosal fibroids generally are left alone during fertility treatments.
Follicle: A fluid-filled pocket in the ovary that houses the microscopic egg. Each ovary has many follicles within it. Follicles start out extremely small and then grow larger under the influence of hormones (and the medications that mimic these hormones). Follicles are lined with granulosa cells which produce estrogen and nourish the oocyte (egg). Each Follicle contains a single oocyte.
Polyp: An overgrowth of the glandular surface of the endometrium. Polyps are often removed by hysteroscopic surgery to remove any impediments to implantation.
See more infertility definitions in RMACT's glossary of terms.
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Infertility Exhaustion Explained by Ladies Night In
Infertility can be exhausting.
Not the physical treatments. No, fatigue is not really a side effect of any of the fertility medications or procedures.
Here’s a short list on what our women from last night’s “Ladies Night In” report on being exhausting:
1. Tracking your period
2. Receiving a rather large box of IVF medications and figuring out when to use what and how (even with a teach class that explains it and even with a step by step video on the patient portal)
3. Determining how much coffee is safe to drink
4. Determining how and when it’s ok to have a glass of wine . . .
- A cookie
- A very rigorous workout
- A long, hot bath
- A plane trip
- Cleaning the cat’s litter box
- A diet soda
5. Making sure that any information that you are reading on the internet is reliable and not hysterical or biased based on the author’s very specific agenda
6. Determining what supplements are safe and effective to take, which aren’t
7. Does XXX (insert almost any activity) compromise a fertility treatment cycle?
8. Having to focus on all these things, plus doctor’s appointments and phone calls, medications to take and to stop taking, AND not focusing on conceiving almost every single moment of your life.
Focus on Infertility (No, Wait, Don't)
Yes, exhausting is the word, isn’t it? Our women last night especially had a good laugh over the last one. Make sure that you track every bite of food that you put in your mouth because it can make a difference, but depending on your infertility diagnosis, not THAT big a difference. Change your entire life; what you eat, how much you exercise and how, when and where and if you take vacations, with whom you share your confidences and more.
Yes, definitely then also, please, don’t focus on your infertility.
After a respectable amount of time.
Are you kidding me? (Insert anything that fits well for you before the word “kidding”).
Right. Change your entire life so that you maximize your chances to become pregnant but don’t focus on your fertility.
That’s the most exhausting part, really.
In case it is at all helpful, I’d like to make a suggestion.
How to Take a Break: A Shortlist
Give yourself a rest. A break. A nap. A run. A yoga class. A movie. A trashy book.
Just give yourself a break.
Even if no one else is and you are in the middle of treatment.
Take a five minute or five hour break.
Stick your head deeply into the sand and know that it actually will be ok.
Suggestions out there about how to effectively take a break that will not make you fold in half with guilt?
My short list continues with a funny movie, a pedicure, a good book, a podcast of “wait, wait, don’t tell me” (laugh until you cry), a craft.
I would love to hear your ideas on what to do when I am ready for a break.
After all, it is Friday.
Tonight Fertile Yoga in Bethel, CT at the beautiful Yogaspace. From 6-7:15 p.m. Open to the public, as always.
Maybe that’s your break, right there.
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A Look at the Earth's Fertility through Summer Visions
The earth expanding all around. Colors, fragrances.
So much life.
Breathing into the hues and shades.
Drawing them in our mind's eye to preserve their shapes.
Feeling our way around to touch the very core of the summer's heartbeat.
The pulse is vivid.
Wide awake and alert.
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Robin Williams' Depression and the Sad News
Sad, so very sad, beyond sad, to know that Robin Williams has died. To know that he no longer exists in our world. To know that the depths of his depression brought him to a place where he felt he had no other choice. I’ve read, as you’ve probably read, that suicide didn’t kill Robin Williams, depression did.
Robin Williams’ suicide will bring attention to depression and mental health symptoms and disease, of that I have no doubt. I hope so. I have some doubt. I hope that the attention to his death is more than momentary and that the focus is depression.
Depression is the last thing to take lightly. To try to talk yourself out of or to talk someone else out of depression or feelings of suicide is too big a job for most of us. Especially those of us who are not mental health professionals. For us laypeople, these are scary feelings to experience and just as scary to see someone else experience them.
And of course, you do not have to do it alone. In fact, the point is you can’t.
Infertility and Depression
Infertility can cause depression. I know that’s a bold statement and based entirely on my own empirical evidence. Maybe it’s even a wrong statement. It’s just that I’ve met so many patients over the last two and a half decades that talk about changes that they’ve seen in themselves that I believe it. Men and women who talk about major, seismic shifts in how they see, feel and think about their lives. They speak poignantly about not recognizing themselves in the mirror when they look. I remember that feeling while I was in the midst of the chaos of infertility. I experienced it. I’ve seen it. I believe it. Infertility can cause depression or at the very least it can exacerbate symptoms and make you feel so much worse. It can attack your sense of self and it can make you feel that your dreams and hopes are impossible and too far away to touch.
Basically infertility can kick your a##. If you have been trying to conceive without success, you understand what I’m talking about. You don’t have to be depressed to get your a## kicked. Depression is a huge diagnosis and can be scary to think about, I get that.
You know what. It doesn’t really matter whether I’m right or wrong. I’m not a psychiatrist or a therapist or any other type of mental health professional. I’ve just been privileged enough to have spoken to men and women for almost twenty-five years.
Whether I’m right or wrong about infertility causing or worsening symptoms of depression doesn’t matter.
What does matter is if you feel awful, if you feel differently than you normally do, if you feel hopeless, if you are struggling more than usual, you deserve help. You don’t need to be clinically depressed to get help. You just need to need help.
And if you are trying the stoic, strong routine, drop it. Most of us need help on a regular basis, whether it is changing the oil in our car, or replacing windows in our house. I’m not trivializing this, I’m certainly not meaning too. My point is that we do not have to be the experts in everything nor do we have to have every single skill set. We can accept that there are experts who can help us with our cars, our windows and yes, even ourselves.
You already accept most of this if you see doctors. If you are undergoing fertility treatment, you get and accept that you need help. Hopefully you are seeing a fertility expert (board certified reproductive endocrinologist), please consider seeing another expert.
Infertility Help - Managing Fertility Treatment
Our licesnsed clinical social workers, Lisa Schuman, LCSW and Melissa Kelleher, LCSW, are two experts when it comes to how you’re feeling about yourself, your life, your hopes and dreams. They can provide the help that you need to feel relief from what you may be experiencing while managing fertility treatment. They are both incredible resources for finding relief from the emotional aspects that infertility throws at you, which you don’t quite expect.
Please understand that I am not diagnosing you. I’m not even suggesting that you are depressed. I am suggesting that you take seriously changes in how you are feeling and that you can get help and support if you are feeling differently than you have previously. Lisa and Melissa are two excellent choices of people who can help you.
Don’t wait. Because you have a life and you deserve to feel ok and know that you are ok.
Make an appointment. Be proactive. If you are feeling differently than you usually do, call them.
My favorite advice still stands.
You don’t have to do this alone.
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CT Fertility Support - Summer Event Reminders
In addition to the free fertility testing for teachers that Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) is offering this August, we have many fertility events to offer support, build community and share information. Please browse through the highlights below and check our full calendar of events for more options, including Feritle Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. Here are just a few summer reminders for our upcoming CT fertility support events:
Ladies Night In - Norwalk & Trumbull
General Peer Support Group with Lisa & Carrie
Come and meet a terrific group of women that gather monthly to share their stories, feelings, questions and laughs.
Experience the relief of talking with other women who understand what you are going through. Build friendships with women who will be by your side throughout your family-building journey.
Norwalk (7:00-8:30) 20 Glover Ave, RMACT Norwalk Finance
Thursday July 17th
Thursday August 14th
Trumbull (7:00-8:30) 115 Technology Drive
Wednesday July 24th
Thursday August 20th
This group is free of charge and a light dinner is provided.
To RSVP or for inquires please email Carrie at email@example.com
Drop-In Weekly Support Group for Patients
Please feel free to join this free, drop-in support group in Norwalk, Mondays 8:00 am-9:00am.
Lisa Schuman, LCSW will be available and will be leading this group in the Learning Center at RMACT’s Norwalk office during morning monitoring:
From 8:00 am-9:00 am; For RMACT patients only.
Any questions please contact Justine Sekelsky 203-750-7484
Third Party Reproduction: A Drop-In Support Group
This new group started at the beginning of August and is now offered the first Tuesday of each month from 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Norwalk Location: 10 Glover Avenue
Facilitated by Lisa Schuman, LCSW
This group is free of charge and welcomes patients in all stages of the process – from thinking about moving forward using an egg and/or sperm donor to choosing a donor to beginning your cycle and finally, to parenting.
For more information or if you have a question contact Justine at 203-750-7407
This group is open to the public.
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Infertility Testing - What is a HSG?
Medical Monday. A look at infertility testing. What do you need to know if you are scheduled for a HSG?
First of all, what is a HSG?
HSG stands for Hysterosalpingogram. It’s a procedure that is used in almost every board certified reproductive endocrinologists’ program. A HSG or hysterosalpingogram establishes the viability of your fallopian tubes. Without knowing whether your fallopian tube or tubes can carry an egg from the ovary to the uterus, you would be doing fertility treatment without any real knowledge that it could work.
Kind of like wandering around in the dark. There’s a lot you can miss. The HSG is a basic test to make sure that any fertility treatment you undergo will be effective.
No need to wander around in the dark when there’s a light switch right next to your hand.
No need to undergo fertility treatment without knowing whether it can work either.
Below is the information that Reproductive Medicne Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) shares on our website. It explains HSG simply, yet comprehensively.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be glad to help you find the answers.
Hysterosalpingography (HSG) Explained
Hysterosalpingography, or HSG for short, is an X-ray procedure used to evaluate the status of a woman’s fallopian tubes, the two structures that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. It is also used to make sure that the uterine cavity has a normal shape and size and to identify uterine malformations, adhesions, polyps or fibroids. These types of problems may cause painful menstrual periods or repeated miscarriages.
The HSG procedure, which lasts five to ten minutes, is performed in a radiology facility separate from the clinic. It is scheduled during Days 7 to 10 of a woman’s menstrual cycle (Day 1 is the first day of bleeding), in the window of time between the end of the period and ovulation. Because some menstrual-like cramping is to be expected from an HSG, patients are advised to take 600 mg of Advil an hour prior to the test to help relax the uterus.
At the time of your HSG, your cervix will be cleaned and a thin, soft catheter will be threaded through the vagina and into the uterine cavity. Contrast dye will be connected to the catheter. Using a machine placed over your abdomen, a radiologist will inject a dye into your uterine cavity and through your fallopian tubes.
The HSG is a very accurate test to document tubal patency. Occasionally the dye used during the procedure pushes through and opens a blocked tube. In other patients, dye does not spill through the fallopian tubes at all. If your tubes are blocked, or if you have a uterine polyp or fibroid, your RMACT physician will review your hysterosalpingogram findings and future treatment with you.
If you experience pain or fever after your HSG, please notify your nurse or physician. Contact us for more information about Hysterosalpingography (HSG).
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Free CT Fertility Testing for Teachers in August
As I've said on this blog before, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) appreciates the teachers in our community. Instead of just words, we're putting our money, time and effort into helping support them. If you are a teacher and would like to know more about your fertility and your family building potential, come on in and have this simple blood test done. Please share this information with your friends and professional colleagues. All teachers are welcome. For free. Our treat. And pleasure. ~Lisa Rosenthal
Giving Back to Those Who Teach Our Families
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) is pleased to offer free AMH testing for teachers this August.
The free test is offered at our four convenient CT fertility center locations: Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, and Trumbull.
What is an AMH Test?
A blood test is now able to tell women, more easily than ever before, about their potential to become pregnant. This blood test, known as Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), is used to measure ovarian reserve, the quality and quantity of your eggs. This result helps doctors determine your chances of becoming pregnant now and in the future.
When Can I Get Tested?
You can take the test while on the birth control pill or at any time during your menstrual cycle.
Just fill out the registration form and come to any one of our Connecticut locations Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM or 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM to have your blood drawn.
You will be asked to complete a lab requisition form and consent once you arrive in our office. One of RMACT’s nurses will call you with your results in 10-14 business days.
Get the information you need to plan for your future family. Must present valid teacher ID to receive the free fertility test.
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