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Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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Dr. Mark Leondires Addresses Fertility Treatment Options for Lesbians

  
  
  

Fertility Treatment Options for Women

lesbian family planning1 300x200When you look at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) as a medical practice, there are other pieces, beside our RMACT website, that need to be seen to see the whole picture. Two very important other pieces include GayParentstoBe and SingleMomstoBe. We have created these websites as places specific to those communities and their individual needs and desires to make sure that they are being served and supported as is appropriate and necessary.

 

We know that PathtoFertility has a readership that includes members of many different communities, including the LGBTQ and SingleMomstoBe. So to ensure that all members of our community are being served here as well, we will be posting material from the other RMACT websites occasionally as well.

 

Where better to start than with RMACT’s Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires?  Dr. Leondires speaks eloquently, professionally and compassionately about how to become parents as a lesbian couple.

 

Enjoy~ Lisa Rosenthal

Lesbian Family Planning Options

Congratulations on making the decision to become parents as a lesbian couple! As a lesbian couple, where do you start?

 

The first question to ask is: do you want to proceed with a genetically linked child or adoption?


If you decide to move forward with a genetically linked child, there are some different family building options a lesbian couple can proceed with.

 

Option 1Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination (AI) is a process that is used to place sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract using means other than sexual intercourse. The procedure involves concentrating semen into a small volume and placing it into the uterus (intrauterine insemination, or IUI) or the cervix (intracervical insemination, or ICI).

 

In order to begin artificial insemination, you need to see your primary care physician.  Be sure to be up-to-date on all health care maintenance, including Pap smear, and mammogram if recommended.  It is important to track your cycle each month as you must also have a regular menstrual cycle to complete a natural cycle insemination with success. This cycle tracking is how insemination is timed. Some OB/GYNs will require a basic fertility evaluation, including a hysterosalpingogram and documentation of ovulation.

 

A HYSTEROSALPINGOGRAM (HSG) is a short 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.  It is possible that they may be damaged from a known/unknown infection or previous surgery.

 

Documentation of ovulation can be done by testing your blood for the presence of high levels of progesterone which is a hormone required for pregnancy and secreted by the ovary.

 

For women over 35 the completion of a basic fertility workup should be considered to evaluate their reproductive age. Here are some tests given:

 

  • When a woman is undergoing a fertility work-up, Menstrual Cycle Day 3 is the day she has blood work done to check the levels of three important substances: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)  and estradiol (E2).
  • FSH is secreted by the pituitary (a gland in the brain) throughout the menstrual cycle, but on day 3 it should be low indicating good fertility.
  • Estradiol (E2) is a complimentary hormone which is secreted by the ovary and correlates proper time of the FSH test.
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) may also be tested. This blood test is now able to tell women, more easily than ever before, about their potential to become pregnant. The AMH test 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.  This can be done at any point in the menstrual cycle.

 

To complete the process, you are required to meet with a board- certified Reproductive Endocrinologist. At this meeting with a fertility specialist, you will discuss donor insemination. A known donor can be a family member or friend, but requires careful consideration and consultation with an attorney to protect parental rights and to be sure that all adults are invested in the emotional development the child to be. An anonymous donorcan be found through a sperm bank. As the name implies, parents do not know the donor, including his name or medical history. However, recipients can choose a sperm donor based on basic characteristics such as family history, race, academic achievements, looks and other factors. This is considered by many the safest way to choose a donor as these donors have been screened for infectious diseases, genetic risk factors, and  been counseled on their release of parental rights.

 

Many sperm banks offer a known sperm donor option.  This is a sperm donor who is willing to be known to the parents and child, who has been screened by the sperm bank. Sperm is shipped to your physician frozen and is thawed the day of insemination.

 

After a donor is chosen, you can then proceed into natural cycle insemination or, if recommended by your physician, superovulation and insemination. The focus of this treatment path is to properly time and deliver sperm into the female reproductive tract. Superovulation therapy uses medication to release more than one egg in a month to increase the chances for pregnancy. This can dramatically increase a woman’s per cycle chance of pregnancy. Ovulation medicine is used to induce ovulation. Then, at the appropriate time, the sperm are introduced into the vagina, cervix (intracervical insemination), or uterus (intrauterine insemination).  These procedures are very low risk, take about 5-10 minutes and are done in the office

 

Option 2 - IVF with One Person’s Egg and Uterus

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process that involves stimulating ovaries to develop multiple eggs. This is achieved with injectable medications.To move forward with IVF you should see a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist.  She/he will complete a  panel of pre-pregnancy screening tests, genetic tests, and infectious disease tests. The goal of IVF is to produce a large number of growing follicles, then to retrieve the eggs from inside the follicles through a short surgical procedure performed in the office. The eggs are then inseminated with designated donor sperm in the laboratory in order to create embryos that can then be transferred to the endometrial cavity (the uterus) of the recipient. To complete IVF using one person’s egg and uterus, the same screening listed above is required to continue with the process. A uterine assessment with a saline sonogram is also required to investigate the health of the implantation site.

 

Over 5 million children have been born from in vitro fertilization.  IVF is considered safe for women, and one of the most successful fertility treatment options available. IVF stimulation requires injectable medication, and also a procedure known as an egg retrieval under sedation.

 

Option 3- Reciprocal IVF

With reciprocal in vitro fertilization, one woman donates her eggs to her partner, and her partner carries the pregnancy.  For female couples this is a way that both can participate in the process of bringing a child into their home.  One woman donates egg and goes through superovulation with fertility medicines to produce multiple eggs and undergoes egg retrieval. After egg retrieval eggs are combined with the designated donor sperm in the IVF laboratory.  Her partner who is choosing to become pregnant, goes on medication to prepare her uterus.  Then when the timing is optimal 1-2 embryos are transferred into her uterus.

 

For the person who carries, the same screening as above is required, along with a uterine assessment with a saline sonogram to investigate the health of the implantation site. Estradiol will be taken to thicken the lining. The carrier will also be required to take progesterone to prepare the uterine lining for the embryo transfer, the process in which an embryo is placed into the uterus during a simple painless procedure under ultrasound guidance.  Progesterone is required to maintain the uterine lining in which the embryo grows and develops. The embryo transfer should occur on a set day under a controlled condition, and is a 15’ low risk, very little discomfort procedure.  Success rates with reciprocal IVF vary with the age of the women.  If successful, women are discharged to their OB-GYN in about six weeks.

 

In summary there are three routes to pregnancy for women: artificial insemination, IVF using their eggs and uterus, or IVF using their partner’s eggs and their uterus.  Success rates vary based on individual circumstances.  A very important part of the journey is to pick out a sperm donor.  There are many choices in this regard and I recommend you meet with an experienced reproductive mental health professional to help you with this decision.  This decision is a lifelong one for you and your child.  Overall, success rates for woman remain very high for women under the age of 40, but age is a significant predictor for success.  I recommend you work with a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist to assure that your pathway to pregnancy is successful, safe, and time-efficient.

 

Good luck in your family building journey, take the time to get educated, and stay hopeful.

 

CT Fertility Doctor Dr. Mark Leondires 271x300Dr. Mark P. Leondires, Medical Director and lead infertility doctor with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

 

 

 

 


Dr. Mark Leondires at Men Having Babies in Chicago, Sept 12-13

  
  
  

Men Having Babies Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo

gay dads family buildingRMACT is taking it on the road, for the LGBTQ community.

 

Dr. Mark Leondires will be at the Men Having Babies (MHB) Midwest Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo in Chicago on September 12, 2014.

 

He will be available for private consultations between 2:00-7:00 PM. Sign up for a consultation with Dr. Leondires here: http://bit.ly/1oJMT4o

 

When: September 12, 2014
2:00 PM – 7:00 PM


Where: Center on Halstead
3656 N Halstead
Chicago, IL 60613

 

Start the Conversation.


Dr. Leondires and members of the GayParentsToBe Team will be available for in-person consultations in Chicago on September 12 from 2:00 to 7:00 PM.  Discuss your family building options, including:

 

Surrogacy                             Donor Egg                     IVF    
Financial Packages              HIV+ Services         Support    

 

The number of consultations are limited. RSVP required.

MHB is partnering with the Center on Halsted and Howard Brown Health Center to bring surrogacy parenting programming to Chicago!

Dedicated to Family Building for Gay Men

If you are interested in becoming dads through surrogacy, or if you are already surrogacy parents, professionals in the field, allies or community organizers - we invite you to our first Midwest seminar and expo dedicated to biological parenting for gay men.

 
The program includes a “Surrogacy 101” workshop, a Gay Parenting Expo, Exhibitor introductions, a reception and networking, on-site consultations and information about the Gay Parenting Assistance Program and other local and national resources. Sponsorship proceeds will benefit the Gay Parenting Assistance Program. The seminar will be recorded on video courtesy of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists.


If you are in the Chicago area or know someone in the area who could benefit from this program or a consultation with Dr. Leondires, please let us know. Dr. Leondires has a limited amount of time and we want to put that time to best use. A free 45 minute consultation could help put you on your way to having your family. 

 

 

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LGBTQ Family Building Event

  
  
  

LGBTQ Family Building Event - April 5, 2014

GPTB TCC EVENT 2014On April 5, 2014, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., the Triangle Community Center (TCC) of Fairfield County, CT and GayParentsToBe will host “Getting Started: A Lunch & Learn on LGBTQ Family Planning.” During the event, a panel of experts will discuss family building in the LGBTQ community. The event will include a light lunch and is being held at TCC’s new location at 618 West Avenue in Norwalk.


The panel of experts is comprised of Mark Leondires, MD, Medical Director for Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) and GayParentsToBe; Lisa Tuttle, PhD, who specializes in third-party assisted reproduction at RMACT; and Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq., who is a prominent lawyer specializing in third-party assisted reproduction. The panel will take questions from the attendees and will explore many facets of surrogacy, including medical (in vitro fertilization or IVF), psychological (emotional impact of choosing an egg donor, gestational carrier) and legal (importance of using an attorney).

 

TCC LGBT Center Logo“With Connecticut laws conducive to gay parents and its renown quality of life, Fairfield County is an increasingly attractive destination for LGBTQ families,” says Anthony Crisci, Executive Director of TCC.  “As our community grows, TCC is proud to provide a support system for new and existing LGBTQ families. Events such as this Lunch & Learn signify TCC’s coming of age with a new office, new team and new programs.”


For 23 years, TCC has been offering resources and programs for a wide range of interests and ages within the LGBTQ community. GayParentsToBe.com and Dr. Leondires, who are long-time supporters of TCC, are excited to be a part of expanding the family building program.


“TCC is an ideal partner for GayParentsToBe.com because we both have a mission to provide education and help our community overcome obstacles to creating the families of their dreams,” says Dr. Leondires, who is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist. “I am proud to share my expertise and insights with the LGBTQ community as both a physician and a dad who worked with a gestational carrier for both of my sons.”


Learn more about the “Getting Started: A Lunch & Learn on LGBTQ Family Planning” and reserve your spot. Please share the info!

 

 

On April 5 from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. the Triangle Community Center (TCC) of Fairfield County, CT and GayParentsToBe will host “Getting Started: A Lunch & Learn on LGBTQ Family Planning.” During the event, a panel of experts will discuss family building in the LGBTQ community. The event will include a light lunch and is being held at TCC’s new location at 618 West Avenue in Norwalk.

The panel of experts is comprised of Mark Leondires, MD, Medical Director for Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) and GayParentsToBe; Lisa Tuttle, PhD, who specializes in third-party assisted reproduction at RMACT; and Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq., who is a prominent lawyer specializing in third-party assisted reproduction. The panel will take questions from the attendees and will explore many facets of surrogacy, including medical (in vitro fertilization or IVF), psychological (emotional impact of choosing an egg donor, gestational carrier) and legal (importance of using an attorney).

- See more at: http://gayparentstobe.com/lgbtq-family-building-event/#sthash.nRuDVEhs.dpuf

On April 5 from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. the Triangle Community Center (TCC) of Fairfield County, CT and GayParentsToBe will host “Getting Started: A Lunch & Learn on LGBTQ Family Planning.” During the event, a panel of experts will discuss family building in the LGBTQ community. The event will include a light lunch and is being held at TCC’s new location at 618 West Avenue in Norwalk.

The panel of experts is comprised of Mark Leondires, MD, Medical Director for Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) and GayParentsToBe; Lisa Tuttle, PhD, who specializes in third-party assisted reproduction at RMACT; and Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq., who is a prominent lawyer specializing in third-party assisted reproduction. The panel will take questions from the attendees and will explore many facets of surrogacy, including medical (in vitro fertilization or IVF), psychological (emotional impact of choosing an egg donor, gestational carrier) and legal (importance of using an attorney).

- See more at: http://gayparentstobe.com/lgbtq-family-building-event/#sthash.nRuDVEhs.dpuf
LGBTQ Family Building Event

LGBTQ Family Building EventLGBTQ Family Building Event

Talking About LGBT Family Building

  
  
  

About LGBT Family Building: A Conversation

As many of you know, our featured blogger Lisa Rosenthal contributes to our community in many ways. In addition to her posts here on PathtoFertility, she is founder and teacher of our Fertile Yoga classes and she blogs elsewhere, among other things. Her posts appear on Fertility Authority's website and the following post published recently on Gay Parenting Voices, the official blog at GayParentsToBe.com. GayParentsToBe is a partnership with RMACT, whose entire practice is dedicated to providing excellent fertility treatment and cutting edge assisted reproductive technology to same-sex couples looking to start a family.  Read below for what Lisa had to say about LGBT family building.  *****************************************

 

Lisa RosenthalWhen I was ready for a baby, getting pregnant was a much bigger ordeal than I ever could have imagined. It cost more financially and emotionally than my husband and I were in any way prepared to handle. While the financial cost was tremendously challenging, the emotional cost was far greater. Especially when it came to relationships and what one could and could not expect.

 

One thing that astounded me over and over again were the kind of comments made by family, friends, colleagues and even complete strangers. I made a list of things that I never wanted to hear again, in regards to my family building. I also made a list of things that I found were comforting and helpful to say. I made copies of these lists and handed them out liberally and literally. Those lists became lifesavers for my friends and I. Those lists helped preserve relationships. Those lists are updated periodically and are a top read on PathtoFertility.

 

I learned that people don’t always mean to say insensitive, hurtful things and that given the choice, education and information, they could learn to say things that were meaningful and soothing. Putting that time and effort into making a list helped me define the things that hurt me right to the core and things that I found silly and irrelevant. Some things I heard, over time, even made me laugh. Exploring my own reactions helped me learn that “I’m sorry” is always welcome when the alternative is to try to give advice or fix a situation that is not fixable in that moment.

 

Each of us hears things differently. I know that any comment that had to do with god was not going to go well with me. I believe in being respectful, to the best of my ability, and that includes not inflicting my version of god on you. I expect and invite that same respect back. So comments that had to do with god’s will or intentions or desires for me were particularly not well received. What I also learned was that I was not alone in hearing these types of comments. Well-meant, well-intentioned most of the time (and sometimes not), anyone on a path that strayed from the married, heterosexual couple having sex and creating a baby was subject to uncomfortable and hurtful comments.

Here’s my question to you about LGBT Family Building:

*What questions and comments have you gotten while trying to create your family?

 

*Are there some particular dis-favorites that you have heard and wish you hadn’t?

 

*Are you willing to share them so that we can offer some comfort to others going through this?

 

It’s our intention at GayParentstoBe to create a series of blogs about comments that are not helpful as well as those comments with which you felt supported and comforted.

 

Please share with us some of the comments that you’ve heard about LGBT Family Building. It can be hard to do; I know that. To dig up these comments that cut right to the core doesn’t necessarily feel good. We’re not asking you to do so for anyone’s entertainment or amusement. We’re asking you to do so to help support someone else going through this. Chances are that someone else has heard those comments as well. There’s some comfort right there, in knowing that you are not alone. And you are definitely not alone. We want everyone out there to remember that.

 

Consider, too, the person out there who would like to be supportive, loving and compassionate and simply does not know how to express that to you. Let’s help them out. Let’s tell them what hurts and what soothes. Let’s let them help us.

 

We can do this better. All of us. I’m all in.

 

What about you?

 

Please join the conversation about negative comments heard regarding LGBT Family Building. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below or with this post on our Facebook page. We are encouraging as many people as possible to participate. Stay tuned for a blog post chronicling actual responses and how to respond to negativity.

 

Lisa Rosenthal's Google+

 

 

Supreme Court Hears Cases About What Family Means

  
  
  

Supreme Court Debates the Meaning of Family

It's all about family this week. 

 

All the way to the Supreme Court, it's about families.

 

There are very few places you can go without seeing red equal signs. Maybe you have seen them on Facebook. Maybe you're not on Facebook and haven't seen them.

 

They're everywhere.

 

What do the red equal signs mean? What do they stand for? 

 

The Human Right's Campaign, dedicated to advocating and supporting LGBT rights and marriage for all, started the buzz and it has taken off like a wild fire.  

Prop 8 and DOMA In the Supreme Court

Yesterday, the Supreme Court was deliberating about California’s Proposition 8, which bans the right for same-sex couples to marry. Today, arguments will be heard regarding the national Defense of Marriage Act, which has legally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman since 1996.

 

The LGBT community supports being able to be married. To create their own families, legally and with the rights of heterosexual couples. Many have the same desire that heterosexual couples do, to have children. To have those children, often times using fertility treatment, protected legally as any other child is.  

Equal Rights. Equal Marriage

 

I read over and over yesterday about how simple this is. Because my Facebook page, it was covered in red equal signs and the conversation was that this should be a slam dunk, done, right thing to do.

 

Maybe it should be that simple. But it isn't. I get that one side of this is that this is the morally correct thing to do for our country. 

 

The other side of the issue is that it is not the morally correct thing to do. 

 

Regardless of what side you are on, the point of even having sides means that it's not simple. Simple would mean not caring about bringing people together in peaceful agreement. Simple would mean getting what I want and not caring about what the other side wants. Simple would mean no more discussion on how to find ways to talk to each other when we disagree.

 

This isn't a simple issue, not if we want to find peace with one another.

 

Let's care about the issue enough to continue the conversations, respectfully, with regard to the other point of view. Let's not be dismissive.

 

Because if we are dismissive, then we create further divisions between us.

 

Families are about love. That does seem like a simple enough place to start and continue a conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

Same-Sex Couples Raising Children Doubles | LGBT Family Building

  
  
  

loving parents

Same-Sex Couples Raising Children

The CBS Evening News reported in June 2012 that data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates the number of same-sex couples raising children is on the rise. In fact, it's more than doubled in the last decade. As a child, I had two loving parents, both of whom I am tremendously grateful to--what loving human beings they were and are. I had two sets of grandparents who were a part of the fabric of my growing up. And then there was Seth. My mother's younger brother. Very bright--very, very bright. Socially conscious. Loved the theatre, opera, arts, musicals, literature. So bright. Drove a motorcycle. Had an apartment in the East Village in New York City. Traveled all the normal places and then all the places that some of us only dream about. Doted on my sisters and me. And we all adored him: my gay uncle.

LGBT Family Building Options

Families are born every day. And children are loved and supported and need more than just their parents. Would Seth have made the decision to become a father if he was young today? LGBT family building options are increasingly selected by gay men and lesbians who want to become solo parents or to create two dad or two mom families. I'm certainly grateful for my uncle's role in my life. He has been an amazing support and influence.  

My Memories and Gratitude

I'm not aware that my uncle ever wanted children. We are very close and I think I would know. Or maybe he was just content with the children that he had: my sisters and I. He was hugely influential in my growing up. He was a great champion of me when the typical and normal divisions existed between my parents and myself. He understood things that I was willing to tell him because he was not my parent--or my friend, or my grandparent, or my teacher. He understood all the things I wasn't willing to tell him. He just knew. He was Seth. And he understood everything, including much of what I never had to say out loud. 

 

Seth never had children of his own but we were his children. If he had wanted to become a father, like so many gay men who are building families today, he would have been an incredible one. How honored I have been to be his neice and how lucky I have been to have had him in my life. Thank you Seth . . . and Scot.

 

 

 

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