Center’s Fellowship Program Receives Recognition

We are pleased to report The Center recently received our annual evaluation of the Fellowship Program from the UConn Graduate Medical Education Office [GME]. This evaluation looks at all aspects of our Program. In addition to having recently received American College of Graduate Medical Education [ACGME] accreditation, The Center’s Fellowship Program was recognized as being “Outstanding Overall”.

One area in which we received very high marks was scholarly activity. The Center is committed to the part of its mission that focuses on academics and research. As one of less than 40 IVF programs in the country with an REI/IVF fellowship, we have the privilege of participating in the development of the next generation of physicians and thought leaders in our field.

Have you heard of intermittent fasting?

From Ami Chokshi, the Center’s certified Health Coach.
The New Year is here, and the resolutions to eat well and lose weight have begun. While we can find success stories in each of the many diets out there, most of us eventually get derailed by life. One approach, something that has literally been around forever, incorporates periods of fasting with periods of feasting. It’s called Intermittent Fasting or IF.
Intermittent Fasting works to reduce the amount of time in a day that our body is secreting insulin, the main driver of weight gain.* IF gives your system time to rest, digest and begin to use your body fat for fuel.
IF doesn’t restrict what you eat, it simply shifts when you eat. You can still eat the foods you enjoy and not restrict calories. While you should ideally focus on reducing your sugar intake and processed foods, intermittent fasting doesn’t limit you from eating your favorite foods.
There are many ways people are practicing IF, from having a daily eating window, to mixing days of eating with not eating. Here’s one example of how intermittent fasting may look:
· Choose your daily fasting window based on your lifestyle. Many people start with 16 hours of fasting; for example, 8 pm – 12 noon.
· Upon awakening, fast until your window opens at noon. Drink only water, black coffee, and black/green tea during the morning. All of these should include no add-ins, like sweetener, natural flavors, sugar, or creamer – basically anything that may have a sweet taste that can trigger an insulin response (including gum and mints).
· Open your eating window and enjoy your food.
· Close your eating window at 8pm.
· Start your fast.
· Sleep.
· Repeat.
The benefits are amazing. They include fat loss and muscle gain, decreased inflammation, decreased insulin resistance, mental clarity, and anti aging. You save time in the morning, you save money on food, and you can get so much done during your fasted state with the extra energy and mental focus that you gain.
While most people can intermittent fast, it’s always important to consult with your doctor first. This is not intended for women who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding or anyone who is under weight (BMI<18.5).
If getting healthy and losing weight is a goal for 2018, why not consider something new this year?
*The Obesity Code by Dr Jason Fung

When is PGD an Option?

By Claudio A. Benadiva, MD, HCLD, Clinical Professor of Ob/Gyn, Director, IVF Laboratory

Of the 150,000 babies born with a birth defect each year, chromosomal and/or genetic anomalies are either solely or partially to blame, according to the March of Dimes. Preimplanatation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a procedure that screens embryos for genetic abnormalities before they are transferred into the uterus.

PGD can be used for couples of normal fertility that have been identified as high-risk for passing on a genetic disease, as well as for couples experiencing fertility problems.

The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at UConn was the first program in Connecticut to offer PGD as an alternative to prenatal testing for those at risk of transmitting a genetic disorder.

PGD is most commonly performed in three different situations, depending on the couple’s or individual’s needs:

  1. Genetic disorders. PGD testing can be performed to help couples aware of genetic disorders through family history or based on carrier testing. In genetic disorders where the genetic mutation is known, such as Cystic Fibrosis or Tay-Sachs, the actual genes of the embryo are examined for presence of the condition and only the normal embryos are transferred back to the mother.
  2. Advanced maternal age. Chromosonal abnormalities due to advancing maternal age are more likely to occur in women over the age of 35. These abnormalities can lead to problems such as Down Syndrome or early miscarriage. PGD testing can determine the number of chromosomes and determine which embryos are the most likely to result in a healthy pregnancy.
  3. Recurrent miscarriages. Balanced translocations or rearrangement of chromosomes can lead to recurrent miscarriages. PGD testing can determine which embryos are the most likely to result in a healthy pregnancy.

Testing: Accuracy and Process

The accuracy of PGD depends upon the disease being tested for, but overall it is able to diagnose genetic defects with a very high accuracy. The advantage of PGD is that it reveals these genetic defects before pregnancy, as opposed to amniocentesis and CVS which show these defects during pregnancy.

The PGD process begins with the same steps taken during preparation for a normal IVF cycle. Once the embryos have developed, one or more cells are taken from each embryo for analysis. At The Center, we work with dedicated embryologists trained specifically in the most recent biopsy techniques to help insure the highest quality of results.

Several fact sheets are available through our website at our PGD page. These fact sheets include PGD Detected Diseases and PGD Q’s and A’s. You can also view Dr. Benadiva speaking on PGD on our youtube channel.


Complicated Decisions

A patient’s perspective …

Many people have asked me why I haven’t written a blog about my fertility journey lately? I went through the IVF 6 years ago, so I’m not living it day to day anymore. But believe me it doesn’t leave you. Little things spark the emotions, and memories and it all comes back to you like a giant wave. What inspired me to write this is a bill. A bill to store our embryos.

Being a parent is hard. It will be one of the hardest things you will ever decide to do. I think the best analogy I have ever heard about parenting is that it is like climbing a mountain. It’s hard work but every once in a while you are able to stop, take a breath and look around and see the beautiful views. But I’m not sure at what point of parenting do you reach the top of a mountain? Is it when you send your child off to college? Or is it when your child has it’s own child? Or maybe being a parent is actually made up of multiple mountains you have to climb.

Whatever it is, I feel parents need to unite and help each other climb their own mountains and leave judgment at the bottom. There is simply no room for judgment as we all go our own pace with our own mountains, no matter how easy or how hard we think the journey may be.

I try not to judge because I’m not a perfect parent. I had a c-section and loved every minute of it. I used formula. I carried my screaming children out of Target. And on any given night, you’ll find one or both of my boys sleeping in my bed.

When I tell people both my boys are IVF babies, I never felt any judgment, just a lot of questions. But telling people we still have frozen embryos is a very different story. I remember telling someone and they said, “How could you think about getting rid of them. They’re your children.” And my ob/gyn (a man I love), said “Just donate them to another couple.” Like they’re a pair of old jeans. I’m always surprised how many people have opinions on what to do with our embryos.

My husband and I have had embryos frozen for seven years. And I don’t think we’re any closer to making a decision than we were seven years ago. We both know we don’t want any more children. We feel complete with the two we have. But we still can’t make a decision on what to do with our embryos. I think about them often. I think about them because they’re from the same batch of embryos my two healthy, happy, crazy boys came from. And I often think about the amount of greatness they could bring into this world.

But for us, we want to make the decision like any other parental decision we have to make. We want to make it with love, and compassion. The thing is that we don’t want or need judgment from other people. What is best for your family may not be best for our family. See getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and parenting are all messy and personal. It would be so much easier if we all banded together and supported each other on our parental decisions.

There is one thing I think we all can agree on one thing, though. That the journey of parenthood is hard but oh so worth it.

Jen is mom to two amazing boys, thanks to the help of the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. She’s also a middle school teacher and a peer support leader for Resolve. She credits her incredible husband for his support through their journey together.

We’re on Instagram

Pictures are incredibly powerful. You probably know that familiar expression, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures can also tell a story. If you’re an Instagram user, tag us at #uconnfertility. We’d love to share your stories. #ivf #infertilityjourney

Fertility Preservation Legislation Official

Today, Public Act No. 17-55 goes into effect. This legislation states that insurance companies must cover fertility preservation for those diagnosed with cancer subject to certain limitations. Thank you to all those who fought for passage of this bill.

A Night of Hope

Celebrating at last night’s 20th Annual Night of Hope, the official awards gala for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The event was created to celebrate our collective dedication to improving the lives of women and men living with infertility and honor Hope Award recipients.