Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Infertility and the Holidays

Dr. Carolyn Kubik, Medical Director

I made it through Thanksgiving and I'm getting ready for the end of the year holidays. This is usually a happy time full of excitement and preparation, but also lots of stress, especially for the couples that I see in the RHS office. Everybody knows that holidays are especially stressful for couples who are experiencing infertility - overly helpful relatives, exposure to friends and relatives with children or babies on the way, the list goes on. I wish I had a solution with how to deal with the extra added stress that infertile couples experience at the holidays, but as with most things, there is no effective remedy that works for everybody. So, instead, I would like to offer some words of encouragement.

The pictures of the babies and children that we post on our walls at this time of year come from couples that were in your situation not that long ago. Not all the babies are the result of IVF - happily, some of them come along all on their own - Mother Nature's way of reminding us of who is in control. Others have been adopted by loving parents - parents for whom medical science hasn't found an effective remedy to overcome the barrier to conception. The other babies are the result of a variety of treatments that are provided in our offices. We at RHS know that, unfortunately, our treatments will not work for everyone, but we are thrilled that so many of our patients will be successful. I hope that rather than only feeling sad at being reminded of the difficulty that you are having by seeing the pictures, you might also feel a little bit encouraged that everybody at RHS will do everything we can do to make your dream of having a baby come true.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RHS Offers IVF Giveaway!

Robin Musiak, Executive Director

This week marks National Infertility Awareness Week. As you can imagine, this is an exciting week for those of us who work in the field of infertility. We are pleased to be recognizing NIAW by offering a free cycle of IVF to a qualifying individual. For complete information about the giveaway, please visit the RHS website @ http://www.ivfpittsburgh.com/ and click on the link from the homepage. Entries will be accepted until 12/31/08 and the drawing will be held in January 2009.

For additional information and events in recongition of NIAW, you can also visit the Resolve website @ http://www.resolve.org/.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From IVF Patient to Employee

Amanda Wray, RHS Clinical Administrative Assistant

I first came to RHS with infertility back in 2001. I was a patient on and off for the last seven years and have been an RHS employee for two and a half years. I started in the Assay and Andrology lab and now work in the Donor Egg Program.

Dr. Albert saw me through some major hurdles during my fertility journey, and finally this past May, my husband I were blessed with boy/girl twins through IVF. I continued working up until 3 days before delivery, and received tremendous support from my RHS “family.” They enjoyed watching me grow bigger and bigger every month, wondering how long I would keep working and nagging me to tell them the names I picked out.

RHS provides a warm, caring environment during a stressful and emotional time. You will not find better one-on-one attention from a physician anywhere else. Dr. Albert and Dr. Kubik are fantastic! I recommend RHS to any of my friends who are struggling with infertility.

Long ago, my husband asked his mom what she did at work, and she said, “I make money,” so he thought she really MADE money, in a printing factory or something. Actually, she was a private nurse for terminal cancer patients, so the real answer was that she helped people.

So I don’t think of going to work to make money. That’s only part of the reward. The real reward is that I go to work to create and bolster hope for people wanting a family. Speaking from experience, hope is what we need to hang on to in order to make it through this struggle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Important Insurance Reminder

Brett and Dawn, RHS Finance Office

A reminder to everyone about the importance of knowing your insurance benefits as you proceed with infertility treatment. Every insurance policy is different, even among the same insurer. Prior to your initial visit with RHS, contact your insurance customer service number on the back of your insurance card in order to obtain your benefit information. We will be more than happy to review your benefits with you once you have the information.

No one needs additional stress as they begin treatment - being well informed and prepared when it comes to understanding your insurance benefits can help you to take control of one aspect of your treatment!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Eat Well to Live Well

Robin Musiak, Executive Director

We had our last Nutrition and Wellness lecture on September 4th. Lauri did a cooking demonstration of "Beans and Greens" that was delicious! We were all a little sad to see the series end. Lauri provided everyone with so much useful information. Many of the staff as well as patients have committed to making changes. I think we all have a better understanding of why it is so important to eat well to live well and how good nutrition can impact our well-being. We are hoping to have Lauri back to provide us with some reinforcement to the changes that we have made. Keep checking the blog and our website for information. Should anyone be interested in more information about nutrition or Lauri Lang, R.D, LDN you can visit her website at http://www.laurilang.com/.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, RHS!

Debbie Rossi, RN, BSN – IVF Coordinator

Congratulations RHS!!!
Congratulations to Drs. Kubik and Albert and the entire RHS team for our eight successful years of making patients' dreams comes true. RHS will mark our eight-year anniversary on July 1st, 2008. Over the past 8 years, RHS has been a part of over 650 births through the IVF (in-vitro fertilization) program.

I have been working with Drs. Kubik and Albert for the past 6 ½ years and truly enjoy working closely with the physicians and being part of such a successful team. We look forward to many more years of success and making our patients dreams come true!

Monday, June 30, 2008

RHS Nutrition and Wellness Series

Robin Musiak, Executive Director

I wanted to announce an exciting new 6-week series at RHS about nutrition and wellness. The series is part of RHS's "Balance Within" program. The presentor for the series will be Lauri Lang, RD, LDN. Lauri is a registered dietician, licensed dietician nutritionist, and health educator. Lauri Lang specializes in holistic nutrition, chronic disease prevention, and health promotion. Lauri is also recognized publicly for collaborating with Chris Fennimore on healthful cooking demonstrations on WQED-TV and at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.

The following is a schedule of the dates and topics for the series.

July 24th @ 12:00pm: Kick off! catered lunch, food demonstration. Focus on the impact of healthier lifestyle habits: good nutrition, exercise, stress management/positive thoughts...on all of our functions, emphasizing that nutritious, whole foods and healthy body weight play a huge role. Discussion of the 10% concept, and how to achieve....

August 7th @ 3:00pm: Discuss framework of Harvard pyramid, portion sizes, time patterns of eating and the effect on our metabolism. Introduce hunger scale concept, and encourage open discussion of obstacles, roadblocks, and what would help to facilitate change.

August 14th @ 3:00pm: Label reading. Be a nutrition detective. What nutrients do we want and what do we want to reduce or eliminate? This is tied to last week's discussion of portion sizes. General guidelines for protein, carbohydrate and fat intake. Segue to next week's topic. Open discussion of observations, positives and negatives, to be shared.

August 21st @ 3:00pm: Understanding your numbers: cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and the impact of specific foods: positive and negative, on chronic disease prevention, including fiber recommendations. We'll also discuss proper hydration and the effects on our health.

August 28th @ 3:00pm: Heart healthy choices. Understand the alphabet soup of MUFA, PUFA, SFA, TFA, omega-3 fatty acids and the impacts on our health, so you know what you want to look for and what to avoid. Open discussion with question and answer.

September 4th @ 12:00pm: catered lunch and food demonstration. Prizes to be awarded. Open Q&A ....discussion of anti-inflammatory foods, organics (dirty dozen, etc..) immune boosting foods. How to maintain positive changes made....Stages of Change discussion....

This is in addition to multiple scheduled mini-consults on these presentation days. Please call our office at 412-731-8000 for more information and to register for the series.

There will be a chance to register for prizes with attendance to each class. Prizes will be awarded at the last session on September 4th. We look forward to seeing you there!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Blog Post for the Men

Jen Hamilton, Lab Manager

Oftentimes the coordinators at RHS get the infamous question: “Why do I have to collect my semen sample in the office and not at home?”

Since we, at RHS, deal with this issue on a daily basis we sometimes tend to forget the embarrassment or awkwardness that our male patients may feel about coming into the office for such an appointment. But there are several reasons that we ask that our male patients collect in the office and one of those reasons is not to torture you!

The only way to check a male for infertility is to collect semen for evaluation. Your semen sample provides valuable other information rather than just a sperm count. Multiple characteristics are studied such as ejaculate volumes, motility, and the ability of the sperm to swim forward. We also have the ability to do additional testing on the semen sample to further complete the diagnosis.

Since sperm motility is highly sensitive to alterations of time and temperature we ask that this semen sample be collected in our collection rooms near the laboratory. This is the main reason that we ask that you collect your semen sample in the office. As a rule, the semen sample is analyzed within one hour of collection. The interval between sample collection and analysis should be as short as possible since motility declines with time. This is especially crucial if the specimen has a low motility to begin with. Also, if further tests of sperm function are to be performed it is critical that the spermatozoa be separated from the seminal plasma within one hour of ejaculation. We also prefer that you collect in the office for identification purposes. We must photo ID you at the time we check you into the collection rooms. We have a big responsibility to ensure that we have the right semen specimen from the right patient at all times. This is another reason that we ask that you collect your specimen in the office.

So, even though you may have anxiety or embarrassment of collecting your semen sample in the office we can assure you that you are not alone. Many of our male patients feel this way! Please remember that you are always welcome to bring any materials from home which may help you during the collection process.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fertility Awareness Month

Robin Musiak, Executive Director

June has been designated World Fertility Awareness Month by WorldFAM, an international organization that works to raise awareness about infertility. WorldFAM was founded to reduce the stigma that accompanies infertility, providing guidance for men and women who suffer its effects as well as a vehicle for education and information. Approximately one in ten couples have difficulty conceiving, and infertility affects about 6.1 million women and their partners in the U.S. alone. The message of World Fertility Awareness Month is clear: you are not alone. Infertility is a global issue, and it is being addressed on a global scale.
RHS will be wearing flowers this month to honor World Fertility Awareness Month. Our choice was to wear our representative flower, the Gerbera Daisy. The flowers are meant to bring awareness by prompting patients to ask about the flowers, which provide an opportunity for staff to inform and educate patients about the worldwide impact of infertility. RHS is committed to helping every patient to have a baby through treatment and education.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Success Story from Annette

Annette Machulsky, MA, OI Coordinator

Someone once asked me, “What is an OI coordinator?” After thinking it over I realized that a lot of people may not know what OI stands for. That part is easy, OI stands for ovulation induction. We coordinate ovulation induction cycles, help the physicians educate patients on how their cycles work and help the patients better understand the series of events that need to take place for achieving conception.

There are two OI coordinators currently in our office, myself and Dee Bish. I have been working with Drs. Kubik and Albert for 13 years. I love being able to work closely with the physicians and help patients through the stress and anxiety of undergoing fertility treatments.

Our other OI coordinator, Delinda Bish, LPN has been in the medical field for 14 years and has a lot of experience in women’s healthcare. She recently joined the practice because of her interest in helping women achieve their goal of conception. Dee loves working with our team because she enjoys being involved in the success of making patient’s dreams coming true.

There are many reasons that Dee and I like working with fertility patients. I once had a patient who had a history of pregnancy loss. After coordinating 10 cycles with her, she had 3 chemical pregnancies and another loss. Finally, on her 12th cycle she conceived and successfully had a baby boy! She brought her son in to meet me, and told me that she would never forget hearing my voice the day I told her she had a positive pregnancy test. That is always a truly amazing feeling!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why We're Here

Dr. Carolyn Kubik, Medical Director

Thanks for checking back for the first installment of Seedlings! Dr. Albert and I started RHS back in July 2000 with the dream of providing individualized, personal fertility care. We hope that this blog will give you the opportunity to understand a little more about the types of conditions that we treat and the holistic approach to fertility that we’re so passionate about. Along the way, we’ll be asking other members of the RHS team to write about what they do and what happens in their departments to give you a glimpse into how the whole team works together towards a single purpose – helping every patient to have a baby.

So a little bit of history about RHS: Dr. Albert and I both completed residencies at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. I completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Magee and Dr. Albert completed her fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. After fellowship, we both worked in the academic departments of our training institutions. I opened a private fertility practice in a suburb of Pittsburgh in 1991 and Dr. Albert joined me in 1992. We have been working together since that time. In 1995, we were asked to join the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, but decided to try private practice again and RHS was born on July 1, 2000.

One of the most exciting aspects for me about infertility treatment has been the opportunity to be involved with IVF since close to the very beginning. The first IVF baby was born in 1978, the year I started my residency at Magee. At that time, the human IVF pregnancy rate was only 1.2%. Since that time, pregnancy rates have improved dramatically so that now the chance of pregnancy with IVF is as high as 50% per treatment cycle! IVF has also lead to an improvement in our understanding of human conception – resulting in new and better treatments that are not as involved as IVF.

I rejoice with the successes of our patients and I try to provide consolation to those couples whom I am not able to help. I really enjoy what I do and I feel privileged to work in such a rewarding field of medicine.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A New Journey

Welcome to IVF Pittsburgh, a new blog by the doctors and staff at Reproductive Health Specialists! At RHS, we take a unique, holistic approach to infertility. Check out our blog whenever you get a chance to get updates on what's going on at RHS and the latest news in fertility. Feel free to post your comments and let us know what you think, too!