National Infertility Awareness Week

27261087_mApril 20-26 is National Infertility Awareness Week, and the theme for 2014 is “Resolve to Know More.”

If you are experiencing infertility, this may seem like a lonely and helpless time in your life. And you might be surprised to know that one in eight couples experience infertility at some point in their life. Recognizing that this is a medical condition means that there are potential treatment options — options that have improved fertility rates dramatically over the last decade.

One of the key factors is to seek out medical intervention as soon as you suspect this might be an issue. It may be a difficult conversation to have with your doctor, but the sooner you schedule an evaluation the sooner you’ll know the outlook. And the better your chances are of finding a treatment that works for you. Our team includes doctors, nurses, therapists, endocrinologists, among others who are specialists in the field of infertility and reproductive medicine.

So, in your resolve to know more, consider meeting with one of our fertility specialists to see how we can help you.

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Foods That Can Help Boost Fertility

According to doctors, there are many ways that men and women alike can improve their fertility: exercise, diet, timing intercourse with ovulation, etc. Many people underestimate just how important what they are eating is to their ability to conceive. Here are a few foods that might help your fertility improve:

Walnuts
In a study printed in the journal Biology of Reproduction, 117 healthy men between the ages of 21 and 35 were examined for the effect of Omega-3 fatty acids (which are good for you). Those who ate a couple handfuls of walnuts every day, a food rich in Omega-3, had improved sperm vitality, morphology and motility. Those men who hadn’t eaten the nuts had no change.

Lentils
Lentils are a rich source of protein, fiber and iron. The Harvard School of Health conducted a study examining iron intake and reproductive health. They found that women who got the majority of the iron from plants, rather than meat, reduced their risk of infertility by 40 percent.

Avocados
Not all fats are bad! Avocados, along with coconut oil and olive oil, provide quality fats that help women balance their hormones. Balanced hormones lead to a higher likelihood of conceiving a child as well as supporting a child in utero.

Spinach
Ladies, it’s time to have your men channel Popeye. Supplemental folic acid and zinc, which spinach and kale are high in, led to increased sperm counts in men who had previously struggled with reduced fertility.

As much as you can, stick to natural foods and stay away from processed goods. Talk to your doctor if you have other questions or concerns about your diet and how it might be affecting your chances of conceiving.

Posted in Blog, Improve your Fertility, Infertility Contributing Factors, Lifestyle

Sharing the Journey

5486175_mIf you are reading this blog, then no doubt you are at least familiar with infertility. You may even have a close, personal, albeit adversarial, relationship with it. And you may be conflicted by the thought of sharing your experience within your social network. This is especially true in our social media-hungry culture, where every tidbit of information about our personal lives is up for grabs on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog.

So what do you do when the details about your personal life are no longer about what you had for dinner, but whether you’re pregnant — or are able to become pregnant? Well, I say, go ahead and share; or not. The correct answer couldn’t be more subjective, so give some thought to the questions below and let the answer reveal itself.

First, consider how big your online social circle is. Are your Facebook ‘friends’ real friends and family, or do they include co-workers, neighbors, your dentist and your mother’s hairdresser?

Answer quickly. Are you a sharer, and do you share freely? Online posts can range anywhere from, ‘I can’t wait for our 20-year reunion’ to the visceral details of what your kid just threw up at the grocery store. Where does your comfort level lie?

Where are you in your journey? People in the early stages tend to be more enthusiastic and optimistic, while someone in their second or third year of treatment might have a more balanced outlook.

Do you get comfort from the replies and inquiries you read online, or does this give you anxiety?

Consider your partner’s feelings and concerns. This could be a fine line to walk. If you are a social media butterfly, but your partner or spouse likes to keep things close to the vest, talk, specifically, about what types of news he or she is comfortable sharing. Typically, women share more about infertility issues than men, so make sure you are both on the same page about what goes on the page.

If you do decide to share your journey, think about starting a blog. This is a fail-safe way to ensure you have full ownership of the content. You manage the distribution by sharing the URL with whomever you choose. This could certainly be with the general public, but the distribution list could include only your family. It might also be just you. In this case your blog is your online journal. In general, sharing your feelings, thoughts and concerns is a valuable tool that can help you navigate any emotional journey. There’s plenty of evidence that keeping a journal can relieve stress, clarify your thoughts and feelings and give you the opportunity to know yourself better. You may find the simple act of putting your thoughts ‘on paper’ gives you a more positive outlook, whether anyone else reads them or not. One way to think about it is that you are sharing your feelings with yourself. Thoughts in your head are much different than words on a ‘page’.

On a final note, know when to take a break. If Mother’s Day is coming up and this is a day you struggle with, then by all means stay off the social networks. You can always come back in a week or so. Use the time you would normally be online to do something tactical — planting a garden is a great distraction, and May is a perfect time to be outside getting your hands dirty. Ultimately, remember that you are not walking this road alone; sharing is a good thing, even if it’s just with yourself.

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Dr. Avner Hershlag to speak on BRCA and Reproduction

Suffolk-Cty-OBGYN

The 37th Annual Clinic Day Symposium presented by the Obstetrical & Gynecological Society of Suffolk County will take place Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Dr. Hershlag will speak at 9:00 AM, stressing the importance of recognizing the urgency of fertility preservation in BRCA+ patients with and without cancer, and explain the role of PGD in BRCA+ patients.

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Ways to Improve Male Fertility

Though most of the discussions about ticking biological clocks and ways to improve fertility focus on women, men also need to be aware of the factors that can negatively impact their fertility as well as ways to boost their ability to conceive.

Stay Cool
The testes of a male are outside the body for a reason—they need to be kept cool. Cooler temperatures help the production of sperm. Do not place a laptop directly on your lap. Do not spend excessive amount of time in hot tubs or baths.

Allow for Some Space
Tight pants also negatively impact sperm production. This is partly due to poor circulation, but also due again to excess heat from being so smothered. Moderate the layers of clothing you wear and do not spend multiple hours wearing compressions shorts or bike shorts.

Have a Future Plan
It is well known that women have a shorter time in which to conceive before their fertility declines, but men’s fertility also declines with age. Not only does sperm quantity and quality go down starting in their 40s, but fathering a child at that time or later also increases the risk that the child will have mental health issues such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, along with childhood cancers, leukemia, and other congenital disorders. Even if you’re not ready now to have children, think about your future down the road and if being a parent is something you desire.

General Health
You already read articles or hear doctors talking about the need to exercise regularly, eat healthily, give up smoking, and monitor alcohol consumption. This is not advice to be ignored and is repeated often for a reason. Being aware of what you eat and exercising are two simple ways to vastly improve your quality of life by greatly boosting your health—and therefore the health of your sperm.

If you are interested in learning more about your fertility, contact a fertility doctor near you today.

Posted in Blog, Improve your Fertility, Infertility Contributing Factors, Quit smoking, Smoking

Dr. Avner Hershlag to be honored by UJA-Federation of New York

On April 30, 2014 the world’s largest local philanthropy, UJA Federation, will be honoring four healthcare professionals for their generous contributions to the Jewish community. One person can’t do everything, but together we can do almost anything. We want to thank each of these individuals for their passionate support and dedication to our community.

Thank you.

Dr. Avner Hershlag

Dr. Avner Hershlag

 

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Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor

If you have finally made the decision to talk to a fertility doctor about your fertility concerns, there are several questions that will be important to ask. Here are just a couple that you should ask before you undergo a procedure:

What does a fertility specialist do?
Yes, you know you’re visiting this doctor because he or she specializes in fertility, but what exactly does that mean? Ask your doctor what types of issues he encounters on a daily basis and how he goes about determining the state of your fertility.

How do you locate the source of infertility?
There are any number of issues which could be the source of your infertility problem. Is it the eggs, the sperm, the uterus, the fallopian tubes, or something else? Ask your doctor which tests she has her patients undergo and what the details are surrounding these tests (for example: how long does the test take, when the results should be expected, etc).

What should people take into consideration when they start seeing a fertility specialist?
Chances are you’ve gone through pain already with not knowing why you aren’t getting pregnant. How will involving a doctor in your life affect you and your partner? What are the physical, emotional and financial challenges you will face?

What financial considerations do I need to take into account?
People perceive fertility treatments as scarily expensive. But much of the cost depends on your specific situation. Talk to the financial counselor at the clinic to find out about out-of-pocket costs, what your insurance will cover, what your state’s rules are for fertility treatments, and other financial questions.

What should I be prepared for down the road?
Each treatment option is different when it comes to length of time necessary for the procedure, the cost involved, and the chance of success, among others. Ask your doctor to give you an accurate idea of what the next 12 months looks like for your fertility.

Fertility doctors have a goal of making your dream of having a child come true. Visit one today to find out how your dream can become a reality.

Posted in Blog, Infertility Contributing Factors, infertility specialist

How Endometriosis Can Affect Your Fertility

Endometriosis is a common health problem that often contributes to many women thinking they are infertile. However, with the proper attention and care, women affected by this problem have a strong possibility of one day accomplishing their dream of having a child.

Endometriosis is caused when the lining of your uterus, or the endometrium, grows outside your uterus on other areas or organs of your body. Every month, hormones in a woman’s body causing tissue and blood to build up in the uterus, which form the endometrium. If a woman does not get pregnant, this is shed during her period through the vagina. If this buildup occurs outside the uterus but is not able to be shed, it pools in the body and can cause infection, scar tissue, and pain. It can grow to block the ovaries and fallopian tubes, resulting in an inability to get pregnant.

There are several symptoms of endometriosis. If you have menstrual periods that last more than seven days and are extremely painful mostly in your lower pelvis or back, or have a short time in between periods, you may have endometriosis. During your period, you may experience painful bowel movements and urination, as well as diarrhea, constipation, or nausea. You may experience pain during sex or have intestinal pain.

Over 176 million women worldwide deal with endometriosis. If you have family members who have endometriosis, it is more likely you may have it at some point in your life. It is not known specifically what causes endometriosis, nor is there a complete cure. There are, however, several ways to lessen the symptoms.

It is important you talk to your doctor if you are concerned you might have endometriosis. Your doctor will probably perform a pelvic exam, use an ultrasound to examine your uterus, or even do a laparoscopy, which involves a small incision into your abdomen and using a tiny light to examine your internal organs. In some cases, all that is needed is pain medication. Hormone treatment, most commonly in the form of birth control, as well as several kinds of surgery can also alleviate the symptoms.

Talk to your doctor or other women who have endometriosis to get the support you need and figure out what path to healthiness is best for you.

Posted in Blog, Infertility Contributing Factors

Fertility 101: What is Intrauterine Insemination?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a way of achieving conception when trying the natural way has proven unsuccessful. Here are answers to questions you might have about IUI:

What is IUI?
IUI is a procedure that involves “washing” the sperm and placing it directly into the uterus. The goal is to increase the number of good sperm that reach the fallopian tubes, thereby increasing the likelihood of becoming pregnant.

How does IUI work?
First, talk to your fertility doctor about if IUI is right for you. If you do proceed, IUI can be timed to coincide with your normal menstrual cycle or can be used in conjunction with fertility medication. The procedure is performed once or twice during your cycle; each visit lasts only an hour. The semen necessary for the procedure may be produced at home prior to the treatment—but must be used within an hour of being produced and must be kept at body temperature—or at the fertility center. The semen is examined and “washed” of all chemicals that may inhibit the sperm. At this time, the semen is placed in a catheter which is inserted directly into the uterus. This does not require any anesthesia and you may leave immediately afterward. In the weeks following, monitor your body for signs of pregnancy.

Who should consider IUI?
IUI is something to consider for many reasons. If you have encountered cervical factor infertility or a mild male infertility, IUI could be helpful for you. It’s also a beneficial procedure if there is an allergy to semen, or if there is any other type of unexplained infertility.

If you have any questions or would like further information about intrauterine insemination, talk to your fertility doctor today. Do not let the unknown stop you from achieving your dream of becoming a parent.

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Eating Certain Foods Will Help You Get Pregnant, Study Says

When it comes to pregnancy, not all foods are created equal.

New research reveals that for pregnant women, eating healthy foods is more important than eliminating unhealthy foods.

The Norweigian study that examined pregnant women from 2002 to 2008 found that those who ate a nutritional diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains and water were less likely to have a premature delivery, while those who ate more snacks, white bread, sweets, and processed meats were not affected. So it seems that the mothers-to-be should focus more on upping their nutritional count than worrying about eating a scoop of ice cream.

But what about those of us who aren’t pregnant yet?

Not surprisingly, many of the foods that benefit pregnant women are recommended to those trying to conceive.  In the book The Fertility Diet, Harvard researchers reveal some diet rules that have been shown to increase fertility, based on a Nurse’s Health Study of more than 18,000 women over an eight-year period.  An overview of the book’s recommendations are as follows:

-          Each iron-rich foods, like spinach, beans and beets

-          Choose fiber-rich carbs, like whole grains, vegetables and fruits

-          Drink whole milk or eat a dish of ice cream everyday

-          Stay hydrated

So while the journey towards motherhood may seem frustrating and chaotic, our eating habits are one thing we can and should take control of. Eating fruits and veggies has been reinforced in us since we were kids, and the study shows that the results really do pay off.  So like your parents always said, it’s good to you eat your greens and carrots – but now, you don’t have to be afraid to have that ice cream too.

Posted in Improve your Fertility, Infertility, Study