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HRC Fertility Pasadena

The following area consists of relevant news and events as well as informative material and stories by the staff at HRC Pasadena.

My HRC Miracle

Oh my, How wonderful is this incredible photo taken by Tera! It brought tears to our eyes, here in the office. The message below, that Tera and her husband Richard sent in, is just beautiful:

"Thank you, Dr. Nelson and HRC Pasadena! In less than four weeks I'll have the baby we all worked so hard for. My heart is so full this National Infertility Awareness Week. ❤️ I never gave up and Dr. Nelson always gave the best treatment and advice while listening to my voice as well. Nothing but love and gratitude. Check out that cute profile in the middle." ~Tera

My HRC Pasadena Miracle sm 

Dr. Nelson and the team are so honored to be part of your journey and can't wait to meet your baby boy!

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HRC Pasadena Recognized By Forbes

GREAT NEWS!! HRC Pasadena is honored to be named in a Forbes.com article as one of the busiest IVF centers in the country!! (according to the Centers for Disease Control)

We appreciate being recognized for our longevity (treating patients since 1988!), high success rates and latest advancements.

While we are kept busy helping wonderful patients realize their dreams of becoming parents, we are always available to work with new patients like you!

Click here to read why patients come to HRC from all over the world to see Doctors Kolb, Nelson and Wilcox.

 

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Second Opinion Results in Baby with HRC Pasadena and Dr. John Wilcox

Like many newlyweds, Genevieve and her husband started trying to have a baby as soon as they married in 2012. A heartbreaking miscarriage a year later prompted the couple to seek the help of an infertility specialist.

However, after three failed intrauterine inseminations (IUI) with the same doctor, Genevieve and her husband felt frustrated that their needs were not being met. Though they were in the midst of their first round of IVF, they decided to get a second opinion before proceeding. Genevieve relied on Yelp reviews and a personal recommendation to choose Dr. John Wilcox at HRC Fertility’s Pasadena office.

“I found Dr. Wilcox to be a sympathetic straight shooter, qualities that I admire,” said Genevieve. “Because I’m an engineer, I make decisions based on charts, tables and analytics. He provided me with that type of quantitative information, so I was able to feel confident in cancelling my cycle with the other clinic and moving forward with HRC.”

With her new medication protocol, Genevieve produced more follicles than in previous treatments. Dr. Wilcox retrieved 15 eggs; nine survived and six were frozen as embryos. The couple then underwent three frozen cycles. Though they were not successful during the first two attempts, Genevieve and Ben were secure in Dr. Wilcox’s ability to learn why these cycles had failed. Except for the cost of anesthesia, he even provided the third cycle for free.

Noted Genevieve, “Dr. Wilcox and his staff were very encouraging. Though we were emotionally drained, their reassurance and determination to help us get pregnant made us feel like we were in the right hands despite our failures. But sure enough, we persevered and were successful on the third cycle with the last set of embryos. Now we have our eight-week old son.”

Genevieve acknowledges that experiencing fertility treatment was one of the hardest things she had ever done physically and emotionally, and she and her husband sought counseling when infertility put a strain on their marriage.

“Having a supportive staff and doctor really made a difference,” she added. “We started to see the light with Dr. Wilcox. He has an excellent bedside manner and seemed to have an answer for my every question, especially when my cycles failed. I have already recommended a friend to his office!”

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Infertility Etiquette

The National Infertility Association (Resolve.org) recently wrote an outstanding article discussing what it is like to be going through infertility issues and how we should treat our friends and loved ones who are having trouble conceiving.  We would like to share this article below.  For more information about The National Infertility Association and to view the article on the Resolve website, please click here.

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.

People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is a method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

Don't Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day

With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again.

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Help! I’m Being Overrun with Hormones – Hers!

sad coupleHello, and happy National Infertility Awareness Week. In recent years, the hard work of many people, including those coping infertility, organizations who support those living with infertility such as Resolve.org and medical professionals who provide interventions to fight infertility, such as HRC Fertility – Pasadena/Rancho Cucamonga, have brought much needed help to those struggling to conceive. These efforts need to be applauded as so many people have received hope and resolution to their infertility as a result. Although more progress is needed in regards to supporting all those who face the disease of infertility, there is one population who remains significantly underserved in this arena and they are we guys - the men who so want to be a father, yet are not able to be due to either their own infertility issues and/or that of their partner. If this is you or the man you love, I am here to tell you that the desire to be a parent is a man’s world too! 

You do not need to look any further than the animal kingdom to know that the instinct to be a father is as natural as it gets. Lions, wolves, rams and elephants (to name few) fight in order to have their bloodlines continue. If you and your partner are challenged with infertility you may not need to fight in that same way; however, it is a battle nonetheless. Rest assured that your desire to be a father is as natural as anything on the planet. 

Speaking of the “fight,” one of my main goals in providing counseling services to men and their partners who are battling infertility is to help you fight the disease and not one another. One of the common struggles that I hear men say is: “I’m being overrun by her hormones!” The following are a few strategies for coping with her hormones and the emotions they may bring. 

Do not take it personally. When in the course of your infertility journey that your wife/girlfriend/partner is prescribed infertility medications, it possible that her hormones will be impacted, leading to a heightened range, depth and irrationality in her emotions. Remember, most likely this has nothing to do with you. It is the drugs talking (along with her own heart-break and frustration in dealing with infertility.) Your job in these situations is to be comforting and supportive. Focus on how to best do so. 

Be empathetic and understanding. Remember this hard on her too. Plus she’s the one taking all those medications. Although the mediations are hopefully helping the infertility issues, they are also wreaking havoc in her body so to speak. Odds are that she likely doesn’t like being so emotional and that it is no piece of cake for her either. 

Ask how to support her. At times it may seem like everything you do in an effort to understand and be comforting is the wrong thing. This can be beyond frustrating. However, the best way to know how to support your partner is to ask and have her make it explicit. But here is a little tip: often the best time to ask is not in the heat of the moment, but rather when she (and you) is not so emotional. At that point you both will be able to think about and communicate your needs rationally. And yes, it is okay to tell her how the tense moments affect you, just be sure to use “I” statements in regards to how you feel about certain things, and not play the blame game. It is also a good idea to have a debrief session after an emotional time (once you both are calm) or after a procedure or an injection, etc. to check in with her to ensure that you both support one another in positive ways.

Take care of yourself. This should be an essential component throughout your infertility journey, but especially when your emotions are being taxed. Do whatever you like to do to recharge your batteries. Be it sports, cars, art, cooking, a hobby or whatever; make time for it. In addition, I highly recommend that you make a part of your self-care something that is health/exercise related. The stress relief, the endorphins release, the emotional decrease and the overall health benefits will make you feel better. 

In the end, remember that the two of you are in this together, even though you have different roles to play. Figuring out how to best support one another is one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other at this time. Also remember, “this too will pass.” She will not always be taking infertility medications and her doing so now, along with all the interventions you are doing, is a part of your “fight” for fatherhood. When that happens, it will all be worth it and you will feel like the king of the jungle.

About the Author:

Fred Harlan, MA, MA, MFTI is a resourceful Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (IMF 74125), who specializes in helping men cope with infertility, be it their issue or that of their partner, and with couples who seek to strengthen their relationship. Fred experienced the challenges of infertility firsthand as he and his wife struggled through eight years of infertility before becoming parents.

Fred is an expert in communication and interpersonal relationships. He is a skilled educator and speaker having taught and spoke in university, professional and community settings. He holds masters degrees in Clinical Psychology and Speech Communication, and a BA in Theatre. 

Fred works in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA. He enjoys sports, the arts, and most of all, and doing anything with his wife and son. 

 

Hello, and happy National Infertility Awareness Week. In recent years, the hard work of many people, including those coping infertility, organizations who support those living with infertility such as Resolve.org and medical professionals who provide interventions to fight infertility, such as HRC Fertility – Pasadena/Rancho Cucamonga, have brought much needed help to those struggling to conceive. These efforts need to be applauded as so many people have received hope and resolution to their infertility as a result. Although more progress is needed in regards to supporting all those who face the disease of infertility, there is one population who remains significantly underserved in this arena and they are we guys - the men who so want to be a father, yet are not able to be due to either their own infertility issues and/or that of their partner. If this is you or the man you love, I am here to tell you that the desire to be a parent is a man’s world too!

You do not need to look any further than the animal kingdom to know that the instinct to be a father is as natural as it gets. Lions, wolves, rams and elephants (to name few) fight in order to have their bloodlines continue. If you and your partner are challenged with infertility you may not need to fight in that same way; however, it is a battle nonetheless. Rest assured that your desire to be a father is as natural as anything on the planet.

Speaking of the “fight,” one of my main goals in providing counseling services to men and their partners who are battling infertility is to help you fight the disease and not one another. One of the common struggles that I hear men say is: “I’m being overrun by her hormones!” The following are a few strategies for coping with her hormones and the emotions they may bring.

Do not take it personally. When in the course of your infertility journey that your wife/girlfriend/partner is prescribed infertility medications, it possible that her hormones will be impacted, leading to a heightened range, depth and irrationality in her emotions. Remember, most likely this has nothing to do with you. It is the drugs talking (along with her own heart-break and frustration in dealing with infertility.) Your job in these situations is to be comforting and supportive. Focus on how to best do so.

 

Be empathetic and understanding. Remember this hard on her too. Plus she’s the one taking all those medications. Although the mediations are hopefully helping the infertility issues, they are also wreaking havoc in her body so to speak. Odds are that she likely doesn’t like being so emotional and that it is no piece of cake for her either.

 

Ask how to support her. At times it may seem like everything you do in an effort to understand and be comforting is the wrong thing. This can be beyond frustrating. However, the best way to know how to support your partner is to ask and have her make it explicit. But here is a little tip: often the best time to ask is not in the heat of the moment, but rather when she (and you) is not so emotional. At that point you both will be able to think about and communicate your needs rationally. And yes, it is okay to tell her how the tense moments affect you, just be sure to use “I” statements in regards to how you feel about certain things, and not play the blame game. It is also a good idea to have a debrief session after an emotional time (once you both are calm) or after a procedure or an injection, etc. to check in with her to ensure that you both support one another in positive ways.

Take care of yourself. This should be an essential component throughout your infertility journey, but especially when your emotions are being taxed. Do whatever you like to do to recharge your batteries. Be it sports, cars, art, cooking, a hobby or whatever; make time for it. In addition, I highly recommend that you make a part of your self-care something that is health/exercise related. The stress relief, the endorphins release, the emotional decrease and the overall health benefits will make you feel better.

In the end, remember that the two of you are in this together, even though you have different roles to play. Figuring out how to best support one another is one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other at this time. Also remember, “this too will pass.” She will not always be taking infertility medications and her doing so now, along with all the interventions you are doing, is a part of your “fight” for fatherhood. When that happens, it will all be worth it and you will feel like the king of the jungle.

About the Author:

Fred Harlan, MA, MA, MFTI is a resourceful Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (IMF 74125), who specializes in helping men cope with infertility, be it their issue or that of their partner, and with couples who seek to strengthen their relationship. Fred experienced the challenges of infertility firsthand as he and his wife struggled through eight years of infertility before becoming parents.

Fred is an expert in communication and interpersonal relationships. He is a skilled educator and speaker having taught and spoke in university, professional and community settings. He holds masters degrees in Clinical Psychology and Speech Communication, and a BA in Theatre.

Fred works in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA. He enjoys sports, the arts, and most of all, and doing anything with his wife and son. 

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Family Building Options for Same Sex Couples

HRC Fertility of Pasadena is dedicated to helping the gay and lesbian community achieve their dreams of parenthood while offering a wide range of options for all types of families, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. Pasadena Now Magazine featured HRC Pasadena in an online article discussing the options for the gay and lesbian community including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Both services available at our Pasadena infertility clinic.

 

For the complete article about family building options for same sex couples, please follow this link to the Pasadena Now online magazine.

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What is Infertility

Pasadena Now magazine and the staff at HRC Fertility Pasadena answer the question "What is Infertility" as well as discovering why it effects both men and women.  

View the entire article on the Pasadena Now website.

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Happy Holidays From HRC Fertility Pasadena!

HRC Fertility Pasadena would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Thanks to all for a fabulous year!

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2014...A Year to Remember!

 

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2016 HRC Fertility Pasadena Free Seminar Dates Announced

We are pleased to announce that the "Free Infertility Seminars" will once again be given by the doctors and staff at HRC Fertility Pasadena in 2016!

The upcoming 2016 dates are displayed below:

>> January 21, 2016
>> February 17, 2016
>> March 9, 2016
>> April 13, 2016
>> May 11, 2016
>> June 8, 2016
>> July 13, 2016
>> August 17, 2016
>> September 14, 2016
>> October 12, 2016
>> November 9, 2016

All seminars are free to attend and are from 6:30 to 8:00 pm

To sign up for one of the seminars, please click here to fill out our online sign-up form.

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Gender Selection

HRC Fertility Pasadena - Gender SelectionPasadena Now Magazine recently interviewed HRC Fertility Pasadena's own Dr. Bradford Kolb discussing gender selection and family balancing via PGD and PGS as well as their success rates. The interview can be seen below.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to choose the gender of your child with the wave of a wand? But it’s not that simple. Fads like diets, intercourse timing or astrological predications don’t work, Dr. Kolb of HRC Fertility Clinic told Pasadena Now. “I mean all these things, have at least 50% chance that child will have a specific gender. But that’s the pun of it,” he said.

Whether gender transmitted diseases such as, hemophilia, are a concern or you’re looking to balance your family, gender selection is a viable option. So what are expectant parents to do? As Dr. Kolb told Pasadena Now, gender selection is highly specialized process that has a 99.9% success rate at the HRC Clinic.

PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening) can help couples not only select the gender of their child but also can determine if an embryo contains the normal number of chromosomes. This process requires a minor surgical procedure and IVF. The eggs are fertilized in a laboratory, examined to determine gender and then implanted.

PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) can identify particular genetic diseases that a person may carry while also assisting couples who could potentially transmit a sex-linked genetic disease to their children. This method has been around since the 1980s and helps physicians pre-screen embryos for abnormalities as well as gender.

These amazing technologies help ensure that couples will have healthy children in the gender of their choosing. “We’re doing it in a very responsible way… We’re doing everything that we can to ensure healthy pregnancy [and] being smart on how we perceive a patient before we actually start treatment,” said Dr. Kolb.

For more information about gender selection, please contact the HRC Fertility Pasadena offices at (877) 577-5070 or by using the online contact form.

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The Art of Babies

Vitrification technology puts birth on your life schedule
By EDDIE RIVERA, Pasadena Now Community Editor

Egg Freezing / Vitrification - HRC Fertility PasadenaIs there anything more important or life-changing than motherhood? Can one ever put a price on a tiny pair of eyes looking up at their mother? Or watching a baby’s first smile?

But what happens when life gets in the way? What are the choices when a mother’s health is suddenly threatened by a a debilitating disease? Is that chance for motherhood, or a new life, gone as well? When a young fertile woman in her 20s or 30s has been unable to find a suitable partner, what happens then?

For decades, fertility specialists have worked at perfecting the art of freezing eggs and sperm to create a new life, when it seems like time and circumstance might not come together at the precise moment.

Pasadena Living recently interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Nelson of HRC Fertility Pasadena about Vitrification and the importance of freezing and saving fertile eggs for just the right moment in a woman’s life.

Please click here read the complete article and interview with Dr. Nelson on the Pasadena Now website.

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Hopeful Fertility Treatments in the World of Breast Cancer

PGD and Prevention of Breast CancerBy Jennifer Yates, MC, LMFT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A month of focusing on the advancements in finding a cure for this disease that has more than likely affected someone in your life, or perhaps you. If you haven’t heard, the strides in the infertility field have advanced so much that there is now a way to prevent the BRCA gene from being passed down to an embryo. If you didn’t already know, BRCA1 stands for breast cancer susceptibility gene 1. Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes known as tumor suppressors, which normally prevent cancer from developing.

Women found to have mutations in the genes have a very high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Risks can change depending on the woman's personal situation, looking at factors such as age and family history. The genetic mutations are not common, about one in 500 to one in 1,000 individuals will carry a mutation or a gene change in one or another of these genes. You can be tested to assess whether or not you carry this gene.

So the next question is for both those already diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer or to those who carry the gene – what are your options when it comes to fertility treatments? A Reproductive Endocrinologist will talk to you about your specific treatment since everyone has individual needs.

Specialists in reproductive medicine are able to help women with the BRCA gene take control over their reproductive life — securing fertility is now possible, whether or not cancer has emerged. If you have been diagnosed with a BRCA gene mutation but don't yet have a partner with whom you would like to have children, or if you are in the midst of pursuing a career and want to defer having children, new medical techniques can help you achieve these goals.

For women without a partner, physicians offer egg freezing. Eggs can be frozen for years, and thawed out when the patient is ready to have a child, fertilized with her partner's sperm. New technologies have allowed for excellent survival of eggs coming out of the "deep freeze," with good fertilization and pregnancy rates.

For those individuals with a BRCA gene mutation who have a partner, they can undergo a similar procedure, but their eggs can be fertilized immediately and frozen as embryos. Women can therefore secure their fertility before they choose to have their ovaries removed: Pregnancy can be achieved with frozen eggs or embryos after the ovaries are removed.

But what about passing along the BRCA gene mutation to children? If a parent has the BRCA mutation, children — whether boys or girls — have a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene.

Through genetic diagnosis of the embryos — Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD — doctors are now able to determine which embryos carry the BRCA gene. Doctors only transfer BRCA-free embryos to a mother’s womb, practically ensuring that a parent will not transmit this gene to her children.

Ultimately, as more patients with the BRCA gene mutation choose PGD before the implantation stage of in vitro fertilization, fewer women and men will have that gene in generations to come. And please, remember to schedule your mammograms. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100% .There’s nothing more hopeful than that!

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We Are Family: Options for the LGBT Community

Jennifer Yates, MC, LMFT

LGBT Family smFor members of the LGBT community, starting a family may have its own challenges. Luckily, the technology and expertise of HRC Fertility-Pasadena exists to assist LGBT patients in their quest of building a family. There are multiple options for LGBT family planning.

For lesbian women, the easiest and most frequently utilized method of conceiving is through Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) using donor sperm. Sperm can be obtained from a known donor, typically a friend or family member, or it can be purchased from one of the many sperm banks around the country. When sperm is purchased through a sperm bank, rigorous tests have already been performed and the sperm is released for use. Known donor sperm is frozen and quarantined after testing for 6 months. At the end of the quarantine period, the tests are rerun and the sperm is released to the couple for use if the test results are all negative.

The IUI process is straightforward and usually painless. At the time of ovulation the patient comes in for the procedure. The sperm is thawed and then inserted into the uterus using a small, flexible catheter. Rest for 5 – 10 minutes then off you can go. Sometimes back-to-back IUIs are performed such that sperm is inseminated on the day preceding ovulation and the day of ovulation. Though this does add cost to the process, pregnancy rates are slightly improved.

For males, the process of LGBT family planning is slightly more complicated unless adoption is the chosen method. Otherwise, the couple will have to select an egg donor as well as a Gestational Carrier (GC). The egg donor and/or gestational carrier can be someone known to the couple or an anonymous egg donor screened by a fertility center. Just as with donor sperm, the egg donor must be screened for all infectious diseases as well as genetic conditions. Once all the above testing is completed, she undergoes ovarian stimulation as part of an IVF cycle. Her eggs are retrieved, at which time they become the property of the gay couple. Alternatively, the couple may purchase frozen donor eggs from an egg bank. Regardless, once the eggs are obtained, one or both of the men's sperm can be used for the fertilization process. Once the embryos are created, they need a place to grow which is where the GC comes into play.

A GC is a woman who is willing to carry a pregnancy for someone else. Typically, she is someone who has already been successful in carrying a baby such that she has a "proven uterus". There is a great deal of testing for this to make sure conditions are right. Once the embryo is ready, it is transferred to the GC's uterus via a catheter placed through the cervix. If she conceives, she will carry the pregnancy and then turn over the baby at the time of delivery to the intended parents. To make sure there are no legal complications, detailed legal contracts are drawn up to protect the intended parents and their offspring.
Families come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and cultures. The tie that binds all of us together is the desire for a family, and the well of love ready to be bestowed upon a baby…or 2 or 3!

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Does a Reduced hCG Trigger Dose Compromise Outcomes in a Large Prospective Trial of Vaginal Progesterone for Luteal Phase Support?

Dr. Bradford Kolb of HRC Fertility located in Pasadena, California assisted in the following infertility trial. Click here or on the image below to view the trial in a larger format in .pdf format.

Reduced hGC Trial

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Kim and Tony's Journey to Parenthood

HRC Fertility Pasadena is proud to share the story of Kim and Tony and their journey to become parents. The video is a pictorial showing Tony and Kim through marriage, through IVF procedures at HRC, and finally...an incredible success story.

Congratulations to Kim and Tony...your "never give up" attitude has blessed you with a successful pregnancy!

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Keeping Your Marriage Strong Through Infertility

Marriage and InfertilityAs a Marriage and Family Therapist you can correctly assume that Marriage (or any committed relationship) is a big focus of the therapy that I do.  Since many of my clients are going through fertility treatments, the tenets of a couple’s relationship become a central theme.  Emotional turmoil, arguing, blaming and communication difficulties often arise as a couple finds out they are challenged in their fertility.  Undergoing treatment may only add to these conflicts.  So what makes a healthy relationship?

Love.  Two people who have come together in the union of love, intimacy, joy and passion want to expand their family and create a life together.

Commitment.  “In sickness and in health”, 2 people promise to stay together and weather both the sunny and the dark days.

Trust. Two people that put their trust first and foremost in each other to believe in the strength of their relationship.

Respect.  You respect one another’s ideas, values, and feelings in order to feel mutually appreciated and valued.

Communication. Without healthy expression of each other’s feelings, the former 4 principles can get trampled on.  Herein lies most of the difficulties we see with those couples undergoing fertility treatments.  Most people (often it’s men and women but can be within same sex couples of course) have different communication styles.  These can “bump” into each other and leave each person feeling riled up, shut down, ignored, blamed, not heard, or on the positive side, loved, validated, acknowledged, respected and trusted (basically all of the important characteristics mentioned above).

We know infertility is a word no couple wants to hear. However with today’s technology – IUI, IVF, egg donors, embryo donation, surrogacy…you have science on your side.  You may go through the many ups and downs of treatments, testing, waiting and hoping, and it may feel like you're putting all your energy into this one thing that may never pan out for you. In the years of one young woman’s struggle with infertility, she says “I found that leaning on one another, and taking a proactive approach to trying to conceive was the only way to get through it. You need to find a solution to the problem, instead of feeling angry, bitter, or resentful. You need to find what areas you can control like diet, sleep and treatments as a means to combatting the problem and finding balance and a solution.  You need to TALK to one another.”

These are some practical tools that can help any couple going through this journey.  Communication is KEY. This experience is compounded by hormones – that’s no joke.  Hormone injections cause mood swings – fact.  Setting up communication expectations BEFORE you start treatment is a very proactive and positive thing to do.  Try using “I statements”…which sounds better?   “Jeez – you make me so angry!  Why can’t you look up at me for one second when I am trying to talk to you?!?!”  OR: “I feel frustrated when you spend so much time on the computer instead of talking to me.  I need you to please check in with me every day because when you don’t, it makes me get angry inside and then I tend to snap at you.”   Or, “I feel saddened that I can’t do more when it comes to what you’re going through.  I feel like it is my fault and that makes me want to shut down and not talk about things.”  Conversely, the partner not going through the treatment may avoid talking about things, become avoidant or distant.

The blame game may happen – whether outwardly or covert.  This can put an incredible strain on a relationship.  Recognize that it is your shared difficulty and not one partner’s fault. Stay focused on your love and dedication and view infertility as a problem you must face together in order to build your family.

Knowing your triggers is important too.  Often it’s the “little things” that seem to be annoying but they are usually indicative of a communication breakdown. If you are well versed in what gets you angry or feeling hurt, you can check yourself before making a snippy or loaded statement to your loved one.  Couples counseling or a support group is certainly recommended as you embark on your road to creating a family.  Laugh together. Keep having fun.  Keep living your life – have dates, go to parties, be romantic. And remember you are in this together!

Jennifer Yates, MC, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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Dr. Jeffrey Nelson successfully assists family using embryo adoption

Cathy and JV Kennedy wondered if they would ever have the big family they had always dreamed of.  For years they dealt with severe fertility problems and suffered multiple miscarriages. It was devastating for them.  However, thanks to Snowflakes Embryo Adoption and Donation program and HRC Pasadena's Dr. Jeffrey Nelson, they have six beautiful children now including a 13-month-old foster child. 

They share their story with Juli Auclair Lipof, via Skype, in this video interview.

 

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Is Infertility Making You Depressed?

By Jennifer Yates, MC, LMFT

Depressed and troubled over infertilityYou are on your second cycle of IVF and eagerly awaiting your pregnancy blood test. You’re gripping your partner’s hand, knowing that you could walk out of here completely elated or absolutely devastated. Emotions are swelling within you as you hope for the best but anticipate the worst, since you’ve already been through it. As soon as you see your RE’s face you know that it’s not happening, and that you’ve failed again. Failed. “Third time’s a charm?” you say through a feigned smile. The roller coaster ride of emotions you’ve had are hitting you at an all time high and all you want to do is go home and cry yourself to sleep. Your partner looks at you in such a way that conveys so much feeling, and there are no more words that you can muster. “We’ll try again next month, love”. You nod. Your glass has gone from half full to completely empty.


In this community of infertility, it is not surprising that depression is highly common. Unfortunately not everyone has the same level of awareness about depressive symptoms and it goes untreated or dismissed as part of the process. Given the stress and anxiety that go with IVF or IUI or any procedure related to infertility, it is not surprising that there will be a level of sadness that goes with it, even if you are successful (can someone say hormones??). So, it is important to know the symptoms of depression so that you may get the help and support you need. Of course some of these symptoms could indeed be related to the hormonal changes you are experiencing. However, if these thoughts and feelings are impeding your daily functioning on any level, then it could be time to seek treatment.

Depressive symptoms include:

  • Sleeping too much or too little, waking frequently or having trouble falling asleep

  • Eating too much or loss in appetite

  • Difficulty focusing or becoming more forgetful

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

  • Lack of motivation or loss of pleasure in once enjoyable activities

  • Easily angered and/or often tearful (mood swings)

  • Persistent aches and pains or physical ailments that do not get better with treatment

  • Wanting to harm oneself in any way 

Everyone has a few of these at one time or another, but in order for you to be clinically depressed, you’ll have at least 3 or 4 of these over an extended period of time. It can vary from person to person, so if this sounds like you, it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

What you can do right now is tap into your strength and try some coping skills that can help you to start feeling better today.

Seek support – if it’s not professional support it’s important to lean on your partner, your family and your friends. Talk about how you are feeling. Expressing your emotions vs. holding them inside is key to getting “out of your head”. Also, finding others in the fertility community that are going through the same trials and tribulations would be a great way to connect to those who will get what you are experiencing.

Exercise – “yeah right!”? Actually exercise is now being scientifically proven to be as effective as anti-depressant medication. Do what you like - i.e. don’t force yourself to go to the gym if you hate the gym. Take a walk outside or get into a game of volleyball if that’s your thing. Yoga is especially awesome because it also has a meditative component.

Deep breathing – inhale, exhale, right? Wrong. Oftentimes we breathe from our chest instead of from our stomach, which actually can ADD to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Put your hand on your stomach and inhale deeply for 4 seconds, making sure your stomach expands on the inhale and it’s not your chest that is heaving upwards. Hold the breath for 3 seconds, then gently exhale for 4 seconds. Try this at least 4 or 5 times and you will feel more calm.

There are many more coping skills out there – journaling, meditating, listening to music – do what works for you. Please do seek professional help if you ever have feelings of wanting to harm yourself in any way. And keep that glass half full.

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2014 HRC Fertility Pasadena Holiday Card

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