reproductive endocrinologist

When a Roll in the Hay, Becomes a Hayride

Infertility: When a roll in the hay becomes a hayride. I hope you're not nearly as sick of my autumn analogies yet as I am. But I can't seem to stop myself. I'll admit I get carried away for some reason at this time of year. I get sucked into every delicious piece of snacky crap on the shelf just because it´s added "pumpkin spice" or "spooky" to its normal name. When most people are overcome by addiction, they see red. I see orange. I'm hoping I'll be able to squelch my latest urge: To trick-or-treat this year dressed as Dorothy. Nobody wants to see a woman my age in gingham unless she's swinging her partner round and round in a barn. Speaking of hay... and infertility...

You decide you want to have a baby. You figure it's just going to take a few simple rolls in the hay and then you'll get pregnant. After all, you've heard the song your whole life: "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes you driving an embarrassingly sensible minivan." So then week after week, month after month, you two roll in that hay and all you have to show for it is a lot of sweaty hay lodged in various parts of your person. So you get yourself up, dust yourself off... and climb aboard the infertility hayride.

"Move all the way to the front and scooch together."

You guys aren't alone anymore. The hayride is crowded. Dozens, hundreds, thousands are on the ride with you. Some wear scrubs or white lab coats - an odd fashion choice for a bumpy jaunt through the woods. But most look like they shopped where you did: At the overwhelmed and disheveled mess boutique at Neiman Marcus.

There will be no rolls in this hay. Oh no, we can't have that. All of this hay is neatly packaged. The lab coats will tell you where to sit, when to sit-- when to touch the hay-- when not to touch the hay.

"And while you're sitting there enjoying the ride, we'll go into the hen house and collect some eggs and... no no, shoo rooster shoo... we're not quite ready for you yet. Just hold your horses... and your plastic cup."

The ride will go up hills, into ditches, scrape bottom on a rock or two, smell like manure, and pass your car that's been patiently waiting for you in the parking lot, several times. You'll get rocked from side to side, you'll lean on each other so you don't fall overboard backwards, then you´ll catch the woman next to you so she doesn't fall overboard backwards ... and all the while a bunch of the lab coats will be steady on their feet, calmly walking up and down the ride. Unlike the polite folks at the food court, they will be taking samples... from every naked female arm crease they can get their little latex hands on.

And most of all, they'll try to keep you focused on the needles that go into your tummy and your tush so you'll stop believing that you're only hope is to get down on your hands and knees and find one in the haystack.


I'm exhausted. This is what happens when a city girl tries to speak "farm"... If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense (without a single fall reference), please sign on to my not-overly-frequent newsletter and check out my eBook which will also be available in paperback this month-- On all Amazons, Nook, & Kobo. (En Español: La Risa ES Concebible) (sign up at top for newsletter)


Spring Training for Infertility Virgins

Let me be the first to apologize for the title. (Although I can't imagine who else would.) I'm a huge baseball fan and rarely pass up a good sports metaphor. As for: "infertility virgin"-- that oxymoronic or just moronic part of the title-- well the need for that apology is self-explanatory. If you're new, or semi-new to this infertility biz, we vets welcome you with open arms to this wild, wacky, unjust world.

I even hate to say "welcome". I really want to say "sorry". But you aren't anywhere near alone... and please do find some comfort in that. There are scores (would I have said: "dozens" if baseball season wasn't upon us?) There are many many of us who are there and doing that or have been there and have done that. In fact, most of us have done that, that, AND that. (links to find more of your supporters at the end.)

And a lot of it is confusing---especially if you're new to the fertility treatment game... There are some things I think we can clear up right here:


Show of hands: Who knows what a Reproductive Endocrinologist is or does? Excellent! Lots of women ask if they should stick with their gynecologist or go to an RE. Go to an RE dammit... An RE is a gynecologist who then specializes in infertility issues of every type. I know, if you have a great GYN whom you love and trust, it's like finding a great dentist, tax preparer or mechanic: It's hard to move on from them, but you really aren't. Some people try fertility drugs with their regular doctor first. That's fine. But just like if you have an internist who happens not to also be a surgeon. She might know your tonsils need to come out but she'll refer you to someone specializing in tonsil yanking to actually take them out. So by all means, keep your gynecologist to deal with your annual probe, itchy things, and questions like: "My left boob was always bigger. When did my right one catch up?" Any anyway, if your GYN is actually an OB/GYN, maybe you'll be back in her office sooner than you think.

You should also know that, even though things like IVF make the news, many women are prescribed medications alone (to induce ovulation) to try to get pregnant and don't ever get anywhere near IVF. Some don't even venture into ART at all.

So what is ART? Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Any method of conceiving that involves a third party. (Let's all try to focus. This is not a porno blog or even the Maury show.)  All the things you've heard about: IUI, IVF,egg donors, sperm donors... all fall under the ART category.

So ART has nothing to do with painting or sculpture and everything to do with a doctor who's a control freak. You're trying to get pregnant by making nice-nice with the person you love most in the world and here's this doctor wedging herself between the two of you and saying: "Excuse me. Better let ME do that."

Some people who go through in vitro  (IVF) need intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI). This is done because once the eggs are removed from the woman and brought into the lab and the sperm is swimming around in circles like a nervous nut going: "What now? Which way do I go?" If they can't find their way into the egg themselves, the lab folks give them a little help by injecting the sperm right into the egg. This doesn't involve you at all. Like I said, this is all done in the lab. They take your eggs out of you in a fairly short and simple procedure and you're home watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while your potentially future family is being made. ICSI as it is called, is your pushy cousin. You go to a party, you see someone you might be interested in but you're too shy to go over and introduce yourself. So your cousin schleps you over there, starts talking to this stranger, injects you into the conversation and walks away. That's ICSI.

IUI (intrauterine insemination) is not In Vitro. It is basically sex on Speed. As was explained to me when I went through it: There's not much more going on than what happens in the boudoir except the hormones you've been taking make your body riper and readier for conception... and your partner's/husband's body is replaced by a hand with a glove...and "Chopped" isn't on the TV in the background... and the nurse probably won't have to apologize for lying on your hair... and the doctor won't push you out of the way to get to the shower first.

If you'd like to get more laughs during this "adventure", please consider my fast, fun eBook: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. 66 reviews/ 4.5 stars- Available on Amazon, Nook and Kobo.

For a formal infertility website: Support groups in your area, infertility advocacy etc visit:

For love, friendship and support, one of the most active, positive groups is: "The IVF Journey" on Facebook. Monica Bivas does an amazing job of running this group including getting guest speakers. There's always something happening and lots of love and hugs to share. (Venting allowed.)


If I KNEW I Would be Pregnant Tomorrow...

I mean if you absolutely KNEW with 100% certainty that you were going to be pregnant tomorrow and you were going to have a beautiful, glorious, carefree nine months, and a pain-free joyful delivery, you were going to give one little push and out would float a laughing baby on a bed of bubbles and all of your infertility woes would be over forever, what would you do? (It's my hybrid version of: "What would you do if you knew you only had a week to live?" and: "What would you do for a Klondike bar?")

I know a lot of women would probably thank GD first and then their doctors.

When I was in the midst of my infertility struggles, I would have done the same. I would have certainly thanked my doctors. And then maybe said one or two other things to them...that had been on my mind... and under my skin... just simmering,  just beneath the surface... smoldering you might say... festering if you like... month after month after month... Just waiting for that day... when I could dial that phone... okay... press #4 on speed dial:

"Hi Doctor Helmsley. This is Lori Shandle-Fox. So, listen, tomorrow I'll be pregnant and all is going to be perfect from now on. Never mind how I know.  So anyway, I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me over these past three years and just mention a couple of things: Did you know you have the coldest hands ever? I'm not kidding. Do you intentionally not wear gloves in the winter so you could warm your palms on my uterine lining? Is it like a cozy blankie in there or what? Do you have any idea how hard I had to concentrate every time I'd get on the table, assume the position, and see you coming at me with those stone cold fingers? I'd be mumbling to myself: 'Don't kick him in the eye. Don't kick him in the eye.'

Is that why you started wearing sunglasses to the exams? To fend off kickers? Or because of the fluorescent lights? I've always wondered about that. I mean, I'm assuming I have nothing 'glarey' where you're focusing your attentions. Or do you have trouble going from light to dark and back out to light again? So, anyway, all I know is, I hate those glasses. I looked up one day mid-exam and saw what I look like bottomless, in your glasses. I couldn't sleep for weeks. And another thing I really objected to during our time together:

Once a nurse came in with someone else's chart during my exam and the two of you stood there and chatted over my crotch for ten minutes. I'm sorry, maybe it's an ego thing, but when I'm lying naked from the waist down, I really feel I should be the center of attention. And of course this phone conversation that you and I are having right now is totally made up. Not because I wouldn't really say these things to you but because in three years I've never once called to talk to you and actually got you on the phone. I mean, how come every time I was in the office, there you were at the front desk looking for something or gabbing with someone not two feet away from where the phones were ringing and yet somehow whenever I called, you were never available to talk and had to call me back? I mean I know you're a busy guy. And I know all you've done for me. My insurance company has been good enough to itemize all you've done for me on a monthly statement. But I really tried to keep my calls to you at a minimum...A minimum of twice a day.

I would have mentioned these few little minor grievances earlier, like during those three years while I was coming to your office twice a week. It's just that it's always been my policy to be extra nice to anyone who, you know, uses my uterus as their hand warmer.

(Happy New Year and thanks so much for stopping by. I hope any time you need a lift from life in general and infertility in particular you'll think of Laughing IS Conceivable and realize how alone you're not. - Also, please consider taking a look at my eBook: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's been downloaded by 1000s of infertility sufferers and professionals and has a 4.5 star rating/63 reviews if anyone cares about stars and reviews. /or click book cover above.)


Those Who Assist Us With Our Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Thurs)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. I think, as the week progresses and I get more and more exhausted, it's fascinating to witness my mental unraveling first hand. Come. Watch me deteriorate.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. What each medical professional's role is at the fertility clinic. I like anesthesiologists myself. Just by their title you know immediately what they do there.

My anesthesiologist was a lovely Italian gentleman. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if that might have been my under-anesthesia hallucination fantasy. Maybe things got distorted in my head during the countdown. Somewhere between 98, and 97.

Maybe my anesthesiologist wasn't a lovely gentleman from Italy at all. Maybe she was just a woman wearing boots.) 

Anyway, so this handsome Italian Stallion anesthesiologist dude was at my egg retrieval. This is an ideal job for a shy person: Someone of few words. "You're going to count back from 100. 100, 99, 98............................................................"

He may as well have said: "You're going to count back from "1"...

You've got to respect a guy who can lull you into unconsciousness. Of course he has the benefit of having drugs and a needle to help the process along. I had a college professor who did it with nothing but the monotone of his voice. Now that's magic.   

Reproductive Endocrinologists interest me a lot also. I mean, they're the head honchos of these joints, aren't they? I think we patients look at them as the ones who really orchestrate our entire conception course of action and, rightly so or not, are somewhat responsible for our successes and failures.

So what are their qualifications? For me, I have a few vital criteria when choosing an RE:  

1) Have warm hands 2) Don't mention either my abdominal roll nor the odd-looking mole on my leg.

I've always lived in dread of getting that one doctor who feels compelled to say:

"You have to have that mole removed before I can treat you. No, the mole won't hurt your chances of getting pregnant. It's just really ugly and I refuse to go near it."  And then, he or she wouldn't stop there.

"It makes me so mad when patients assume we're immune to gross things just because we're specialists. You people just think 'we've seen it all', don't you? Well, I've never seen anything like that mole before and I refuse to have anything to do with it! So get rid of it, young lady, or find yourself a different doctor!"

Of course I would focus on the fact that he or she referred to me as "young lady" and know this was the doctor for me. 

So according to, this is the background an RE has:

"Reproductive endocrinologists are highly qualified professionals. They have all completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. In addition to this, reproductive endocrinogists have completed two to three years of training in reproductive endocrinology.

In order to become a qualified reproductive endocrinologist, an oral and written exam must also be completed."

I feel much better knowing all that don't you? I've always had this deep-seated fear that I was going to find out my Reproductive Endocrinologist graduated from Apex Tech.

He figured: "I think I'll be one of those Repro doctors. I mean, I'm good with my hands and my certificate is in 'plumbing'." Then one day he'd quit it all when he found out he could make more money fixing toilets.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to fast starting tomorrow night, and I don't want to wait until the last minute to stuff myself  silly. I'll talk with ya again tomorrow. Don't forget to check out Embryologist Carole Wegner's article "Quality Assurance in the Fertility Lab" on The Health Experts page: