This Is Infertility: Episode Four

Jenna’s Story – Sooner Than You’d Think

“This Is Infertility,” a podcast by Progyny, is hosted by a different voice who brings their unique point of view to the complex and ever-changing world of infertility. Our hosts are licensed clinical social workers, patient care advocates, clinical psychiatrists, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility patients and other experts in the world of fertility. We fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give listens a new perspective on what it’s really like to through the infertility journey.

Age is often the primary factor when it comes to fertility, but what happens when you encounter fertility struggles in your 20’s? We hear from Jenna Marinelli who shares her personal story of early menopause, difficult decisions, and a life without regret.

Today’s host is Taylor Burbach, a Patient Care Supervisor at Progyny. Guests include, Dr. Marcy Maguire is a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, at RMA of NJ, Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development for Progyny. She’s also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and Director of Psychological Services for RMA of NY and Jenna Marinelli.

For more information about episodes, visit

Getting To Know: Tiffany

A Patient Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Tiffany Reid, a Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Tiffany Reid

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility? (Brief background)
My background in healthcare started with my first medical job at Columbia Medical Center in the Orthopedic department. After I left Columbia, I started working at Cornell, in the fertility department for almost two years. From there on I became truly amazed with the fertility world.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
Making my members happy, especially when they’re very grateful for all that you’ve done, and when they get pregnant.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
The people I work with are great and are passionate about what they do.

What does family mean to you?
Being around the ones you love and spending time with you. Creating moments and memories. It can be friends, work – doesn’t necessarily need to be blood related.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I love to travel! Every birthday I pick a new country to travel to with my best friend, whose birthday is two days apart from mine. For this birthday we are going to Antigua.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?
This is Us.

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To continue to acquire all the necessary skills and experience to become proficient in healthcare, and eventually get a job in healthcare management. Also, to continue to help people.

Join Progyny at the New England Employee Benefits Council 2018 Annual Employee Benefits Summit & Trade Show

Learn how a fertility benefit can attract a strong workforce!

Progyny is excited to exhibit at this year’s New England Employee Benefits Council (NEEBC) 2018 Annual Employee Benefits Summit & Trade Show, taking place in Newton, Massachusetts on May 24, 2018. NEEBC focuses on ways to create an inclusive benefits strategy to draw top tier employees. As the leading fertility benefits provider, we are honored to highlight the ways in which a comprehensive fertility benefit can increase the value of a typical benefits package.

Attending? Stop by and see us at table 17!

Nutrition, Exercise, Self-Care: When Does It Matter for Your Fertility

Expert Interview Series: E4

Join Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development at Progyny, Director of Psychological Services at RMA of New York, Assistant Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Medicine at Mt. Sinai, as she explores the impact of nutrition, mindfulness, exercise, and selfcare on fertility. Witkin discusses these topics with Dr. Serena Chen, Director for the Division of Reproductive Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas, and Jeanne Pettrucci, MS, RDN, founder of Living Plate. Witkin, Chen and Pettrucci investigate some of the myths surrounding diet and fertility and how you can start preparing your mind and body for a baby before you become pregnant.

Sign up & tune into to the webinar here:

Getting To Know: Xavier

A Patient Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Xavier Figueroa, a Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Xavier Figueroa

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility? (Brief background)
I’ve had 25+ years in healthcare with more than 10 in the fertility and OB/GYN space.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
I’ve seen so many people try to conceive, and as a Patient Care Advocate I enjoy the interaction and ability to provide support and guidance through the process.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
Getting the positive pregnancy news and those baby pictures!

What does family mean to you?
Everything!! Every baby is a new addition to the world and opens a new chapter in a couple’s life.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m a practical joker – I love comedy.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To lose weight and get a nice tan this summer!

Pre-Motherhood: Struggling to Conceive

Expert Interview Series: E3

Join Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development at Progyny, Director of Psychological Services at RMA of New York, Assistant Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Medicine at Mt. Sinai as she discusses the concept of “Pre-Motherhood” with Jenna Marnelli, ovum donation recipient and mother of two. There are many ways to become a mother and Witkin defines the term of “Pre-Motherhood” as the period during which a woman is either interested in or trying to become pregnant. This episode explores stress and infertility, how to keep the joy in your relationship, the fear of miscarriage and how to work during both fertility treatments and pregnancy. This period can be hard to navigate, but Witkin and Marnelli discuss how to take care of yourself during this difficult time.

Sign up & tune into to the webinar here:

Getting To Know: LaTisha

A Patient Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce LaTisha Maxwell, a Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Latisha Maxwell

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility? (Brief background)
I have a background in Women’s Health and for the past 2 years I been in the fertility industry.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
The advocate part – I enjoy that! I love assisting my members.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
My co-workers – it’s a joy coming into work every day.

What does family mean to you?
Family means the world to me. Anyone can become family – doesn’t have to be blood.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m ambidextrous.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?
Black Panther.

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To start Graduate School.

This Is Infertility: Episode Three

SaytheFword – It’s Time to Break the Silence

“This Is Infertility,” a podcast by Progyny, is hosted by a different voice who brings their unique point of view to the complex and ever-changing world of infertility. Our hosts are licensed clinical social workers, patient care advocates, clinical psychiatrists, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility patients and other experts in the world of fertility. We fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give listens a new perspective on what it’s really like to through the infertility journey.

Fertility is not a dirty word. In January, Celmatix, the next generation women’s health company, launched the #SaytheFword campaign to shatter stigmas and empower women to talk about fertility. It’s time to break the silence and support each other.

Today’s host is Selena Campbell, a Patient Care Advocate at Progyny. Guests include, Karin Ajmani, President at Progyny, Angie Lee, Chief Product Officer at Celmatix, and millennial women in New York City.

 For more information about episodes, visit

This Is Infertility: Episode Two

Karin’s Story – Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Last week we launched “This Is Infertility,” our first podcast. Each episode in this series will be hosted by a different voice who brings their unique point of view to the complex and ever-changing world of infertility. Our hosts are licensed clinical social workers, patient care advocates, clinical psychiatrists, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility patients and other experts in the world of fertility. We fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give listens a new perspective on what it’s really like to through the infertility journey.

The second episode explores Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines RPL as the occurrence of two or more miscarriages. This condition can be both physically grueling and emotionally devastating. This episode is a conversation between Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development at Progyny and clinical psychologist and Karin Ajmani, President at Progyny and former fertility patient. Listen as they discuss the unique obstacles presented by RPL and the challenging path that Karin ultimately had to face to expand her family.

For more information about episodes, visit

Getting To Know: Mari

A Patient Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Mari Santocildes, a Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Mari Santocildes

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility? (Brief background)
I have 10 years of fertility background with a focus on Third Party Reproduction- egg donation, surrogacy, and recipient cycles.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
It makes me happy when a new member realizes how amazing their Progyny benefit is after speaking with me. I tell them that in some way, I am their (fertility) person. They know they have a point of contact who will be there for them in their journey.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
My favorite moment is seeing my team all work together for a common goal. I feel supported and management is invested in my development.

What does family mean to you?
Family is everything. You are never alone and they love you unconditionally.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m a blackbelt in Taekwondo.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?
Grace and Frankie

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To finally do my first solo travel.

Send Your Love & Support

Support those going through infertility with an e-card

Infertility is a disease of silence. Although 1 in 8 couples suffer from this disease, few people speak about it. In fact, a recent Celmatix survey reported that “75% of women who are interested in or have undergone fertility treatments have not spoken to their friends about it.”

At Progyny we are fighting to break through the silence and shatter the stigmas around infertility. We understand that this topic can be hard to speak about, particularly when you don’t know how to start the conversation. Luckily, our friends at Celmatix have created e-cards to help with this process. Let the ones you love, know that you support them by sending them an e-card today!


This Is Infertility: Episode One

National Infertility Awareness Week

This week we launched our first Podcast, “This Is Infertility.” Each episode in this series will be hosted by a different voice who brings their unique point of view to the complex and ever-changing world of infertility. Our hosts are licensed clinical social workers, patient care advocates, clinical psychiatrists, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility patients and other experts in the world of fertility. We fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give listens a new perspective on what it’s really like to through the infertility journey.

The first episode examines what it’s really like to be infertile in America. We discuss the ways in which people can encourage companies, policy makers and health insurance companies to cover fertility treatment. The host of this episode is Lissa Kline, Director of Member Services at Progyny.

Guests include, Barbara Collura, President & CEO at Resolve, Dr. Marcy Maguire, a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee, co-director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York and Mary Pharris, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Fairygodboss.

For more information about episodes, visit


Ringing the Closing Bell at Nasdaq

Bringing a Voice to Infertility

We were honored to ring the Nasdaq Closing Bell with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association for National Infertility Awareness Week. This disease impacts 1 in 8 women and we will continue to work tirelessly to raise awareness about infertility.

In case you missed it:

  • David Schlanger and Cindy Conway from Cadence did an interview before the ceremony on Nasdaq’s Facebook – you can watch it, here.
  • Watch the Closing Bell Ceremony on Nasdaq’s Facebook, here.
  • To view a few of the photos, posted on Nasdaq’s Facebook, see here.

Join Progyny at The Conference Board’s 14th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference

Learn strategies to promote gender parity in your workforce!

We are honored to participate in The Conference Board’s 14th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The need to combat gender bias is as clear as the benefits of a diverse employee population! This conference will highlight the ways in which “practical innovations for: recruiting and engaging diverse taken; making sure the accomplishments and potential of women leaders get attention; developing effective mentors and sponsors of women; creating a workplace environment that reward performance not presence” can benefit companies. As the leading fertility benefits provider, Progyny strongly supports gender equality in the workforce and looks forward to participating in this event.

Attending? Stop by and see our booth!

Join Progyny at the State & Local Government Benefits Association Conference

Learn how to boost your public sector benefits!

We are thrilled to exhibit at The 36th State & Local Government Benefits Association (SALGBA) National Conference! SALGBA is the nation’s foremost organization for public sector benefits professionals. This organization offers education and collaboration resources to its members. As the leading fertility benefits provider, Progyny is excited to offer our benefits to those who serve us in the public sector.

Stop by the foyer to see our booth!

Join Progyny at the Association of Reproductive Managers 2018 Conference

Learn how to position your practice to succeed!

Progyny is excited to participate in this year’s Association of Reproductive Managers (ARM) Conference and to support the art and science of fertility practice management through leadership, research and education. ARM brings together fertility program business managers and physicians from across the country to explore practice management issues; to create educational programs to promote Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) programs and improve the internal and external; to fix management problems, including the identification and correction of deficiencies; and to provide guidelines to enhance the organizations’ capabilities.

Attending? Stop by and see us there!

Getting To Know: Lissa

Director of Member Services

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Lissa Kline, Director of Member Services.

Name: Lissa Kline

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility? (Brief background)
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and worked at a fertility clinic for 7 years! I assisted new patients, was the Donor Egg Program Manager, Patient Services Manager, and then ultimately the Operations Manager. I found fertility on accident and I really love it.

What’s your role at Progyny?
I am the Director of Member Services – essentially managing all touchpoints with our members.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
I was able to help a member who had a new diagnosis of cancer. I helped her with finding a clinic and getting into a fertility preservation cycle quickly! I love that Progyny offers a benefit that is for everyone at any time for any reason.

What does family mean to you?
Family is created in all different ways and comes in all shapes and sizes. Family is love.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on the PCAs:

What’s a fun fact about you?
Copenhagen is my favorite place to visit.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?
The Crown!

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
I want to create the best member experience possible. I want all our members to say they’ve never been more looked after.

Getting To Know: Destiny

Progyny’s Patient Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Destiny Fernandez, a Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Destiny Fernandez

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility?
I’ve been doing fertility for five years and worked in a reproductive health center.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
It’s my way of saving one woman at a time and to change the way fertility is being utilized.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
The Say the F word campaign – I’m kind of a truck driver and I just thought it was brave. It gives a voice to women who may not have access to our benefit and it shows we’re breaking down the wall of fertility.

What does family mean to you?
Everything, I have two sons.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I have 22 tattoos and you can only see 2.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binged-watched?
The Handmaid’s Tale and it was only because I just finished the book.

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To finish my master’s degree in human resources director with a minor in healthcare administration.

Stop the Self Blame Game

Expert Interview Series: E2
Join Lissa Kline, LCSW, Director of Member Services at Progyny as she discusses stress and infertility with Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development at Progyny, Director of Psychological Services at RMA of New York, Assistant Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Medicine at Mt. Sinai. Witkin is an expert who explores the impact that stress has on the mind and body, particularly as it affects those going though infertility. Kline and Witkin explore the popular misconception that infertility is caused by stress and discuss several methods to help alleviate that stress.

Sign up & tune into to the webinar here:

Getting To Know: Melissa

Progyny’s Patient Care Supervisor

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Melissa Maldonado, Progyny’s Patient Care Supervisor.

Name: Melissa Maldonado

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility?
I’ve been in the healthcare industry for the last seven years and Progyny is my first position in the fertility industry. I just completed my first year at Progyny and It’s been an amazing year – I now have a special place in my heart for fertility.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care supervisor?
When it comes to the members, it’s when they understand how the benefit works – that ‘aha’ moment of knowing what services/treatments are available to them and how they can maximize their benefit to accomplish their fertility goals.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
Being able to travel for open enrollment and meet my members!

What does family mean to you?
I have a very small family, and I’m the first born so it gives me a chance to be a role model for my younger brothers.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I have a degree in criminology – the reason why is because I love learning all the theories for crime! I am addicted to Law and Order: SVU.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binge-watched?
Currently re-watching Friends!

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
To help Progyny grow its services and to travel more.

Tracking Your Cycle

“Why should I track my menstrual cycle”?

It seems like every woman uses a period tracker intermittently during their adolescent/adult life. Most commonly, people track their period to determine if they could be pregnant. However, tracking your cycle is the first step in understanding your fertility. In fact, changes in your menstrual cycle are indicators of certain medical issues that cause infertility. These concerns can be identified early when tracking different aspects of your cycle regularly and speaking with your physician. Everyone is different and understanding your cycle will give you insights into your body. And, we promise, it is really easy! All you need is a pen and paper.

Once you are ready to track your cycle, here are the most important things to note:

Your period – The first step to tracking your cycle is to make note of the days you menstruate. The day you start bleeding is going to be Day 1. It is also important to make note of the last day you bleed, which could be anywhere from day two to day eight.
Your cervical fluid – You can still learn about your body when your period ends. You can write down the changes in your vaginal discharge, which include changes in color, consistency, and odor.
Physical symptoms – Many women experience cramps during their period. You may experience other physical symptoms that are linked to your cycle as well. Write down the days you experience symptoms like cramping, back pain, breast tenderness, and headaches and the intensity of the symptom on a scale of 1-10.
Psychological symptoms – Much like physical symptoms, there may be psychological or emotional symptoms tied to your cycle. Write down your mood at least once a day, especially if your mood varies greatly from normal.

As you continue to track these factors, you will start to see patterns related to your reproductive health. You can take this information to your primary care physician or OB/GYN to discuss your menstrual health in more detail. If you notice any of the following irregularities, be sure to speak with your physician:

• Your period lasts less than two or more than eight days
• You have change your tampon or pad every hour
• There is less than 21 or more than 35 days between day one of each period
• You notice physical or psychological symptoms that interfere with your daily activities
• Spotting (bleeding between periods)

Using a period tracking app can make tracking your reproductive health even easier. Most apps help you visualize patterns, have preset symptoms to choose, and can remind you to log your information daily. Look for apps that provide additional information like an emailed summary of your last cycle when a new one starts. This will make communicating with your doctor even easier. Whether you write in a journal or use an app on your phone, tracking your menstrual cycle consistently will help you understand your health and your body better.

Nutrition and Pregnancy

What to Eat While Trying to Conceive

The process of Trying to Conceive (TTC) can be overwhelming for anyone. There is so much conflicting advice on the internet and it can be difficult to determine fact from fiction. In fact, one of the most frequent questions we get asked about is nutrition.

Unfortunately, there is no magic food that has been proven to lead to pregnancy. However, there are positive choices that women should make in terms of their diets when TTC. Watch what Dara Godfrey, registered dietitian, MS, RD RMA of New York, has to say about nutrition and pregnancy in these two videos.

Getting To Know: Kendra

Progyny’s Clinical Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, we’re happy to introduce Kendra Ricks, Progyny’s Patient Care Advocate.

Name: Kendra Ricks

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility?
This is my first position in fertility, but I’ve been in healthcare for 10 years, the last 3 years were at Mount Sinai Hospital.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate?
That I can personally relate to the members. I too have experienced infertility issues that I’m currently working on. When I hear other people’s stories and situations, I’m always encouraging them along but I’m also being encouraged by them.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
When I get to meet the other PCAs and how we can be better at what we do.

What does family mean to you?
Family means support, unity, love, and fun.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
Once got to meet a well-known music producer.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m a singer – R&B and gospel, but I love all types of music.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binged-watched?
Stranger Things: season 1 &2

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
Conceiving is one and purchasing my first home.

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Fertility

Expert Interview Series: E1

Join Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Care Services at Progyny, as she talks with Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee, a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, Associate Director of Reproductive Endocrinology at Mt. Sinai and Co-Director at RMA of New York, in the first episode of Progyny’s Expert Interview Series. The experts break down the best ways to have a productive conversation with your doctor about your fertility in this episode.

Hear tips to ensure you get the information you need from the doctors themselves.

Sign up & tune into to the webinar here:

Getting To Know Gabby

Progyny’s Clinical Care Advocate

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This week, Progyny is happy to introduce Gabby Ho, Progyny’s Clinical Care Advocate.

Name: Gabby Ho

What’s your background in healthcare/fertility?
I’ve been a nurse since 2015. Nursing is actually my second degree and I’ve been in the fertility industry for the last 2 years.

What do you enjoy the most about being a patient care advocate/ clinical educator?
Speaking to the members who are really excited to use our benefit, especially for those who’ve been struggling with infertility. They recognize how generous our benefit is, and I enjoy giving options and information to same sex couples.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?
Hearing the great news that my members are pregnant and/or have more than one pregnant surrogate!

What does family mean to you?
Having a support system that shares the same values and life milestones.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a member’s life:

What’s a fun fact about you?
Once got to meet a well-known music producer.

What’s the last TV series or movie you binged-watched?
The Mindy Project

Do you have any personal goals for this year?
Start working out, eating better and taking care of my own health and fitness

Endometriosis 101

Learn the basics with Dr. Chen
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and although this disease has been in the news recently, many people don’t know exactly what it is! This disease occurs when the cells from the lining of the uterus, or the endometrium, grow outside of the uterus causing inflammation. The symptoms can be severe and range from pain to infertility. Although we don’t know what causes it, we do know that it is prevalent and impacts up to 15% of women. Watch Dr. Serena H. Chen, MD, Reproductive Endocrinologist IRMS Reproductive Medicine of Saint Barnabas explain the basic facts surrounding this common disease.

Join Progyny at the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society’s 66th Annual Conference

Learn how the latest fertility innovations can help build families

Progyny is honored to exhibit at Pacific Coast Reproductive Society’s Fertility Innovations: 21st Century Technologies to Build Healthy Families Conference. The PCRS Annual Meeting is an exclusive gathering where practitioners exchange information to advance ideologies of the profession while building long-term professional and personal relationships. As the leading fertility benefits provider, Progyny brings together service, science, technology, and data to deliver unmatched outcomes!

Join Progyny at The Conference Board’s Employee Health Care Conference

Learn how to strengthen your workforce with a fertility benefit!

Progyny is excited to announce our participation at The Conference Board’s 18th Annual Employee Health Care Conference, taking place in New York on March 8th and 9th and in San Diego on March 27th and 28th. The conference brings together top employers and industry leaders to share case studies, best practices and practical next steps to drive the health care industry forward. As the leading fertility benefits provider, we are honored to have our clients discuss the value they realize from our comprehensive fertility solution.

Attending? Be sure to stop by our sessions and booth!

New York: March 8-9, 2018

San Diego: March 27-28, 2018

Speaking Session: Why Fertility and Family Building Benefits Matter and How to Effectively Provide Them

New York: March 9, 10:15-11:45 am ET
• Karin Ajmani, President, Healthcare Services, Progyny
• Cindy Pulido, Director, US Health Benefits, Facebook

San Diego: March 28, 10:15-11:45 am PT
• Julie Stadlbauer, VP, Sales, Progyny
• Barbara Thompson, Global Benefits & Wellness Manager, eBay Inc.

During this session, we will cover the impact of the growing infertility crisis and how the downstream costs are being borne by employers. You will learn what Facebook and eBay Inc. are doing to help its employees build the family of their dreams while reducing its health care costs and increasing its workforce productivity, retention and morale.

Have questions? Want to learn how Progyny can help your company attract and retain top talent?

Come discuss fertility with us!

Out of the Darkness

Celebrities Shine a Light on Infertility

Nicole Kidman once said “[a]nyone that’s been in the place of wanting another child or wanting a child knows the disappointment, the pain and the loss that you go through trying and struggling with fertility.” The agony of infertility is frequently compounded by the fact that many suffer in silence. However, recent campaigns and articles, such as the #SaytheFword campaign and the recent Vogue article about Lena Dunham’s decision to remove her uterus are bringing this issue to light. There is power in speaking and we can learn from one another’s experiences.

A recent article from People, “10 Celebrities on Dealing with Infertility” by Julie Mazziotta, highlights the plight of some of America’s most famous women. One of the most striking aspects of this article is the variety of complications which exist within the term “infertility” and how this issue isn’t a “one size fits all” type of disease. For example, Tia Mowry-Hardrict had trouble conceiving and Courteney Cox said “I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them.”

Furthermore, the paths available to create a family are seemingly more complex than the problems which lead to infertility. While Chrissy Teigen was able to conceive using IVF, Kim Kardashian turned to surrogacy, and Emma Thompson ultimately adopted a child. Thompson stated, “I couldn’t have more children, and that was hard; but perhaps if I had [more biological children], I’d have missed out on this extra act of mothering that I’ve had with Tindy,” who Thompson adopted in 2003.

One of the lasting questions that this article presents is how do we speak to one another about fertility? Gabrielle Union, who endured eight or nine miscarriages, states that the hardest part of infertility are the questions. “For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?’” she says. “A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.” She indicates that the subject must be broached with caution. Well-meaning questions can often cause more harm than good and ultimately silence women who are already struggling to find their voices.

Ultimately, we must be sensitive when speaking to one another about infertility. Although 1 in 8 couples struggle with this disease, we can all play a role in creating an environment that facilitates open communication. If we want individuals to speak, we must learn how to listen.

By: Jennifer Brandt

Break the Silence on Fertility

At Progyny, we are proud to take the pledge to #SaytheFword because talking about your reproductive health is taking control of your future.

They say there is power in numbers and it’s therapeutic to talk to your loved ones, but for some reason we don’t remember this when it comes to our reproductive health. Fertility is the topic most women and men don’t discuss until there’s an issue. In fact, according to Celmatix’s recent study, 39 percent of women don’t talk to their partners about it and 75 percent of women who are interested in fertility treatments or have gone through them, haven’t spoken to their friends about it.

This year, we are partnering with Celmatix to break the silence and stigma around fertility. It’s a topic we should speak openly about because no one should have to suffer in silence or alone. The more knowledge we can pass around, the more individuals can be proactive about their fertility, understand their options and know there’s support if it’s needed.

Here are a few reasons why we’re taking the pledge:

Join the movement and visit

Finding Romance on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, the day for love and joy but for those struggling with infertility or going through fertility treatments, this day can be easily overlooked. But why not take a break from worrying about the big things in life (like your fertility treatment, your family, finances, job etc!) and instead celebrate what Valentine’s Day has to offer.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, the secret to Valentine’s Day is to remember the little things in your life –  the things that make you feel happy and loved, like sweet memories, favorite moments, fragrant flowers and delicious candy!

For the couples:

If you are a couple going through the stress of fertility treatment, Valentine’s Day can be the one day you take a break from worrying, watching and waiting for pregnancy results.  Instead, focus on the little things that you both enjoy.  Play a game you used to play just the two of you, like backgammon or Rock Band. Play your favorite song from when you and your partner started dating. If the music is faster than your heartbeat, it is energizing, so get up and dance! If its slower than your heartbeat, it is relaxing, so share a massage or bath. If you start with the little expressions of affection, the big finish, sex, often follows naturally!

Another way to treasure the little things is to pull out old photos from your early days and reminisce your nights together. Or take a drive to visit close friends or go to your favorite ice-cream shop.

Fill Valentine’s Day with the fun that helps you forget about the stress of fertility treatment.

For the singles:

If you’re single, don’t give away the power to feel happy and loved on Valentine’s Day, or any day! You have decided you don’t need someone else in order to have a baby, well you don’t need someone else in order to enjoy Valentine’s Day, either.

Since the most important relationship in your life is the relationship with yourself, show yourself that love on Valentine’s Day! This is the day to celebrate yourself and do what makes you happy – is it cookies in bed? Is it watching your favorite movie? Whatever it is, do it!

And if you are going through fertility treatment, it’s also a good day to give yourself a break from the, “should’ve, could’ve and would’ve” because going through treatment is stressful enough. If you have not been kind and loving to yourself for the past 365 days, start doing it on Valentine’s Day and then continue throughout your treatment and your life.

In the end, the best gift you can give yourself is a break from all the big things in life and really cherish the small things. Those small things can give you the love and joy you deserve every day, especially on this holiday.

By: Dr. Georgia Witkin, Head of Patient Services Development at Progyny

Getting To Know Your Patient Care Advocate: Taylor

Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) are an integral part of a member’s fertility journey with Progyny, and we would like you to get to know them better. This month, Progyny is happy to introduce Taylor Burbach, a Progyny PCA originally from Alabama, now based in New York City. Below you’ll learn about the drive behind her passion for fertility care, her experiences with Progyny, and personal tidbits that make her unique.

What is your background in healthcare/fertility?

My interest in healthcare started in college. I focused on medical anthropology as an undergraduate and after I graduated, I worked as a medical scribe in emergency rooms for about a year.

However, my interest in fertility goes a little further back. I’ve been passionate about access to reproductive healthcare for young women since I was a teenager. It was so difficult to learn about my own reproductive health when it really shouldn’t be. Because of this, I started to learn about menstrual health and access to birth control, and, to me, fertility health is a natural extension of that.

What do you enjoy the most about being a PCA?

My favorite part about being a PCA is helping my members understand their benefit. It sounds boring, I know, but it is beyond rewarding when I speak with a member about their questions and I can hear the concepts click with them.

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?

I had a member who had a hard time at home and opened up to me about everything going on in her life at the time. It was a difficult conversation but when it was over she thanked me for listening and supporting her. Fertility treatment is already a difficult journey and life doesn’t pause just because you start IVF. The fact that she trusts me and that I can help support her at one of the most stressful times in her life is meaningful in a way I can’t really describe.

What does family mean to you?

Family is very important to me. I am very close with my mother, grandmother, and sister. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is move away from the city where I grew up.

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a patient’s life:


What’s your favorite baby name?

There is a naming tradition among the women in my family. The first-born daughter of the first-born daughter is named Ruth. I know it’s kind of old fashioned, but if my first child is a girl I would like to name her Ruth as well so that she can have that connection to our family.

Who’s your favorite celebrity baby?

Who doesn’t love Beyoncé’s babies? Blue is just precious! And I am obsessed with Sir and Rumi – without shame.

What was the last gift you gave?

My fiancé is a bit of a chef and he asked for an immersion blender for his birthday. It takes a lot to get him to ask for anything, so I’m glad I could get him something he will use and enjoy.

Where was the last place you traveled?

I’m from Alabama, and I travelled there recently for a wedding. I miss how green and open it is (but not the humidity).

What is your favorite movie?

This is such a big question… I can’t pick just one. The last movie I enjoyed and saw in theaters was Dunkirk.

Last TV series you binge watched?

30 Rock

Intrauterine insemination versus in vitro fertilization:  What is the role of IUI in modern fertility practices?

As fertility practices mature and in vitro fertilization (IVF) becomes more efficient, safer, and successful, the hot topic of conversation centers on the benefits of intrauterine insemination (IUI) as a first line treatment. In the past, IVF was not significantly more successful than IUI, especially in patients with diminished ovarian reserve. Now with improved technologies such as freezing embryos and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), we are beginning to see a wider and more significant gap in success rates between IVF and IUI cycles.

A study published in May 2017 showed that over a five-year period, 35 percent of women of all studied age groups gave birth with IUI treatment versus 53 percent of women with ART treatments over the same time period. Although 53 percent is a much larger number, 35 percent still were able to achieve live birth without undergoing IVF. This still gives relevancy to IUI as a treatment, especially in a properly chosen patient population.

Choosing the Right Treatment

In general, IUI can be performed with and without ovarian stimulation, and can be achieved with oral agents and injectable hormones. The goal of IUI is the ovulation of one or more follicles to increase the per cycle pregnancy rates to match normal controls. On the other hand, IVF is almost exclusively done with high-dose injectable medications, requires anesthesia, and places significant physical/financial burden on the patient given the complexity of laboratory procedures. Although there are clear differences between the two treatment processes, there are associated complications with both procedures that make both of them risky to the patient.

One of the main concerns in modern fertility practices is the birth of multiples. IUI does not seem to be associated with increased rates of multiple births as compared to standard IVF cycles. However, most of this data is old and with the introduction and acceptance of genetic screening of preimplantation embryos, we are seeing higher and higher rates of elective single embryo transfer cycles – leading to significantly decreased rates of multiple gestations in IVF treatments. The modern practice of IVF as compared to 5-10 years ago most likely has a significantly decreased rate of multiple gestations and new randomized clinical trials prove this benefit of single embryo transfer.

Another consideration in the choosing of an optimal treatment pathway involves a cost analysis. The FORT-T trial, an important randomized, controlled fertility trial, showed the benefit of foregoing an IUI cycle and moving directly to IVF. The study argued that success rates are significantly lower in IUI cycles than IVF in patients ages 38 to 42. In fact, many of these patients required IVF after multiple failed IUI cycles. In the first arm of IVF, there were 36 percent less treatment cycles than the arm where IUI was attempted first. Given that the cost of multiple IUI cycles approaches the cost of a single IVF cycle, the conclusion can be made that in certain patient populations (specifically older and diminished ovarian reserve patients) there may be benefit to moving directly to IVF based on costs.

Reducing the Burden of Fertility Treatment Cycles

Finally, infertility is a disease and has been recognized as one by the World Health Organization since 2009 and the American Medical Association as of June 2017. Beyond this fact, infertility is an emotionally charged diagnosis and the treatment itself can be physically and emotionally draining. Drop-out rate is a real phenomenon in fertility treatment and the negative effect is that couples that could have been helped never had the opportunity to benefit from successful treatment. The FORT-T trial showed improved pregnancy rates with fewer cycles, demonstrating that one of the most important arguments for moving straight to IVF is this decrease in treatment time and, consequently, a decrease in drop-out rates. IUI is, without question, a useful treatment modality in a properly selected patient. Ultimately, proper counseling and realistic expectations must be discussed with the patients prior to the selection of any fertility treatment.


Progyny’s Patient Care Advocates Receive Exemplary Net Promoter Score

Progyny is proud to announce that its Patient Care Advocates recently received a net promoter score of 81.53 on its patient satisfaction survey. A net promoter score is an index, ranging from -100 to 100, that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s services to others. The average net promoter score for health insurance organizations is 18, placing Progyny far ahead in patient care as opposed to traditional insurers.

Since January 2016, 355 Progyny patients completed the survey. What is most striking is that Progyny received no return scores of 0. “Progyny’s Patient Care Advocates truly go above and beyond for their members.” said Maggie Cacciotti, Director of Patient Care. “The level of care and support the PCAs provide is admirable, and I’m thrilled to see that our net promoter score reflects the depth of satisfaction that our members have with Progyny benefits and staff.”

Patients received these surveys following their initial consultation with the facility of their choice from our extensive list of supported clinics.

For more information on our patient care advocates, stay tuned for our ongoing series, “Getting to Know your Patient Care Advocate,” here on the Progyny blog. Click here for the first post in this series featuring Lisette.

Listen Up to Your Family Building Options

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and we at Progyny are excited to remind those who have been diagnosed with infertility issues that there are many ways to become a parent.

This year’s NIAW theme is “Listen Up!” and given that infertility issues affect 7.4 million women, this is a terrific week to raise your own awareness and listen up to all of the options you have available to you. They are:

Artificial Insemination: A doctor inserts sperm directly into a woman’s cervix, fallopian tubes, or uterus. The most common method is called “intrauterine insemination (IUI),” when a doctor places the sperm in the uterus.

In Vitro fertilization (IVF): In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by retrieving eggs, attaining a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus.

IVF plus Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): The IVF process and PGD involves removing a cell from an IVF embryo to test it for a specific genetic condition (cystic fibrosis, for example) before transferring the embryo to the uterus.

IVF plus Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS): The IVF process and PGS tests for the overall chromosomal normalcy in embryos. PGS is not looking for a specific disease diagnosis – it is screening the embryo for normal chromosome copy number.

Donor eggs: Egg donation are eggs (oocytes) provided from a woman who has healthy eggs to make pregnancy possible for women who might not otherwise be able to get pregnant using their own eggs.

Donor sperm: Donor sperm can be used when the husband/partner has no sperm, a very poor semen analysis, or when there may be a genetic concern which could be inherited from the male. Single women or lesbian couples can also use donor sperm as an option.

Reciprocal IVF: This is an option for lesbian partners in which one partner provides the eggs and the other partner carries the pregnancy.

Freeze All Cycles: In a traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, eggs are fertilized the day of the egg retrieval and the fertilized eggs (embryos) grow in the laboratory until the best quality embryos are transferred three or five days after the egg retrieval.  This is referred to as a “fresh” transfer. A “freeze all” is when the good quality embryos that are produced are frozen using vitrification and stored until they are transferred at a later time.

Frozen Embryo Transfer: The thawing and transfer of a previously frozen embryo.

Adoption: There are three different kinds of adoption: international, domestic and foster.

Surrogacy: Surrogacy is when another woman carries and gives birth to a baby for the couple who want to have a child. Usually this is done with one woman being the gestational carrier and a separate woman providing the egg.

Egg Freezing: This is when a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen using vitrification, and stored. In the future, the eggs can be thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos.

Of course, it’s up to you, your partner, and/or your doctor to decide what is the best course of action and what you feel comfortable with. It can also be a challenge to pursue any of these pathways if you can’t afford them and/or if you do not have coverage through your employer.

Since this is National Infertility Awareness Week, if you found this blog helpful and informative, help us spread awareness and share with your friends, family, and coworkers!

Listen Up: Know How Fertility Benefits Can Help You

Every year, a week is set aside in the month of April to raise awareness about infertility. This year, National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is April 23-April 29. It’s an opportunity to inform the public about the medical and emotional issues faced by the millions of Americans with infertility, as well as highlight available family building options.

Infertility is more common than you think — one in eight women between the ages of 15-44 suffer from infertility, 9 million LGBTQ individuals in the United States are without infertility coverage, and 58 percent of individuals forgo fertility treatments due to lack of coverage. Fertility issues do not discriminate based on race, religion, sexuality, or economic status. This means that you or several people you know are struggling to conceive, and may not have the coverage or access needed to build a family.

While some may only think about infertility once a year, this is a topic we discuss every day at Progyny. We are a company founded by those who have experienced infertility firsthand and know the impact — both emotionally and financially — it can have.

When we consider this year’s NIAW theme, what comes to mind is for those interested in their fertility options is to “listen up” to the increase of fertility benefits large employers are now offering.

Since 2015, companies have discovered that their employees want more than the traditional health and dental insurance plans, and have been looking for additional opportunities to support their employees with paid parental leave, adoption support, and fertility benefits. Regardless of what vertical the company is in, fertility benefits, including IVF and egg freezing, seem to be a larger part of the conversation than ever before.

According to a survey by Mercer Health and Benefits and commissioned by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, 65 percent of employers offering fertility treatment cited they were responding to employee requests for covering fertility benefits. If you are someone who has received an infertility diagnosis or are simply interested in learning more about fertility health, our advice is to listen up to what these benefits entail and understanding the arguments for introducing these benefits within your company. Listen up to facts you can share with your human resources department about how providing fertility coverage will not only save the company money but spare their employees the heartbreak of not having options when it comes to treatment. Your company could also actually see a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in attracting top talent with the addition of these benefits.  Listen up, listen carefully, present what you’ve learned, and make it necessary for your company to listen up to you!

National Infertility Awareness Week overall is an opportunity to listen up, learn more, and educate others on this life-impacting issue. If you’d like guidance on what to present to your HR Team, please click here.

April is Stress Awareness Month

In April 1992, the Health Resource Network (HRN), a non-profit health education organization, launched an annual “Stress Awareness Month” to make the public aware of the dangers of stress as well as options to explore for successful coping strategies. Every April since, health care professionals across the country come together to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

Even though Stress Awareness Month is in April, we can all agree that stress occurs year round. Especially when you’re having fertility issues and are going through treatment, it can be an incredibly stressful and upsetting time.

Involuntary childlessness is often described as a life crisis and is even likened to Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. It can impact relationships, finances and self-esteem. Add to that the stress of going through either insemination or an IVF cycle; taking hormones, an increase in doctor appointments, not being able to predict the outcome, etc. and it’s very easy to understand why fertility treatment can create anxiety.

While it’s not clear how stress can directly impact fertility, finding ways to minimize stress while pursuing treatment, if nothing else, can provide moments of calm and reminders to breathe. Below are some suggestions of well-known stress reliving techniques:

·       Acupuncture
·       Meditation
·       Yoga
·       Journaling
·       Mind-Body Groups
·       Listening to music
·       Massage Therapy
·       Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
·       Walking
·       Guided imagery

While stress reduction doesn’t completely eliminate stress, by finding a technique or approach that best serves your needs, you can at least help reduce it.

How To Ask For A Fertility Benefit At Your Company

Written by Progyny’s Director of Human Resources and Recruiting, Cassandra Pratt, and posted on

If you are an employee interested in advocating on your own behalf for fertility benefits at your company, there are many ways to start the conversation. In fact, according to a survey by Mercer Health and Benefits and commissioned by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, 65 percent of employers that offer fertility treatment said that they began doing so in response to employee requests.

If you’re comfortable sharing your concerns, a great place to start is with your HR department. It’s also smart to enlist the help of other colleagues to show there is a real desire to have this type of benefit within your company. You also might try speaking to your manager and other senior level employees who might be able to assist in moving the request forward. Think of it like developing a grassroots campaign – open as many channels as possible!

When presenting your case to HR and/or the benefits team, talk in terms of where your current plan falls short. You can explain how adding a fertility benefit would improve your health and your work environment and how you feel it would fit with your company’s values.

A nice touch is to offer help with the next steps. This might include finding out who else may be interested, what you think it would accomplish for the organization (i.e. employee retention, stress reduction, or attracting a new / diverse talent pool).  If you can identify current pain points for you, your team and the overall company, it will go a long way in moving the initiative forward.

Adding any benefit to a company can take time. The process is dependent on the size of the organization, whether it’s replacing a different kind of coverage, and what the process entails internally to make the decision. Depending on the company, you may need approval from the CEO, CFO or even the board.

It’s important to be patient, respectful and persistent. If this is something that affects you, odds are it will affect others within your organization. If you’re open to representing the cause, be persistent — and remember that you’ll likely be helping not only yourself, but also your colleagues and future employees who can relate to your experience.

Tax Season Tips For Fertility Expenses

Tax Season is upon us! Brent Atkins, Progyny’s Vice President of Business Development, presents some helpful information about deductions on medical expenses on your tax return:

Why Companies Should Offer Fertility Benefits

Written by Progyny President of Healthcare Services,  Karin Ajmani, and posted on

While more and more companies are adding benefits to support families by extending their maternity leave (and overall parental leave) policies and implementing programs that help employees return to the workforce after taking care of a child or loved one, only a handful of companies offer a benefit that addresses fertility-related issues.

In fact, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ 2016 employee benefits survey, only a quarter of employers (with 500 or more employees) offer fertility services as part of their health care benefits. 19% cover in vitro treatment (IVF), 12% cover fertility medication and 9% cover non-IVF fertility treatments. However, even employers who do cover often don’t see the value since employees will exhaust their benefit before achieving a successful pregnancy.

The reality is that infertility has always been a complex issue, and some of the biggest challenges associated with it have been the high cost (the average cost for IVF treatment, for example, is $12,500) and the stigma surrounding it.

The good news is that more and more people are being vocal about their struggles, and we are becoming more aware of the problem. The bad news is that there is still a lot of red tape around receiving quality care. While the World Health Organization recognized infertility as a disease in 2009, only 15 states have a mandate on insurance coverage. With over 7 million people dealing with infertility and the small percentage of companies that offer a solution, the numbers just don’t add up.

When an employee is battling infertility, the employer will ultimately lose. The employer will be hit with soft dollars (the employee’s moral and presence in the workplace) and hard dollars (typically the hidden costs in treatment and possibility of high-risk maternity, multiples and NICU.)

The financial burden is not just on the employee. Due to the lack of coverage or restrictions from a limited benefit, an employee will pay out-of-pocket for treatment. This leads to choosing a treatment that is less expensive, less effective and has a higher chance of producing twins or multiples. Often, fertility medications are combined with artificial insemination. If that doesn’t work, IVF is often utilized and multiple embryos are transferred to increase the chance of pregnancy. While this sounds like a decent option, twins and multiples are incredibly risky, and 20% of twin babies will go into NICU (this goes up to 80% for triplets).

And who gets stuck with the bill? The employer. They’re responsible for the costs related to the high-risk maternity care that will likely include a C-section, pre-term birth and NICU expenses.

Next is the emotional distress that can leave an employee drained. When people go through infertility, they can suffer depression, absenteeism in the workplace and have higher rates of divorce. One employee’s morale can impact his or her team, which ultimately impacts the company overall.

Lastly, as more employers wonder what type of benefit will attract and retain employees, a survey has shown 90% of people with infertility issues are willing to change to an employer that provides fertility coverage.

The benefits of providing a comprehensive fertility benefits plan outweigh the downstream costs from maternity care — and they help a group of people who aren’t typically recognized.

It’s time to support your employees who are enduring this stressful and expensive journey — it will help both parties in the long run.

It’s Possible To Have It All: A Life, Career & Endometriosis

Sherika Wynter, Voices Of Endo

Being a woman in corporate America is far from easy. Endometriosis does not help. Generally, I’ve chosen to be rather quiet about my endometriosis at the workplace. It’s not because I am ashamed but I do not need or want any other strikes against me. As I become more comfortable at a workplace, I may decide to share some of my experiences with other female coworkers if the opportunity arises. Women always seem to bond over “Aunt Flow”. If you choose this route, be ready for a positive and negative reaction. In my experience, I’ve had women be very sympathetic and show interest in learning more for their own benefit as well as their loved ones. I’ve also experienced the opposite and I’m told, “You are just looking for attention. It can’t be THAT bad.” In either situations, do not ingest those emotions. You have enough to deal with. Unless individuals show a vested interest in your condition, I would advise you not to look for a support system in the workplace.

I’ve never wanted endometriosis to have an impact on my daily activities. In the past, I would always try to push through the pain. But now, I’m now starting to accept I am not superwoman, even though I want to be. I’ll never forget, about 7 years ago, I went to work knowing that I was not feeling well. I wanted to push through because I was tired of being and being treated like I was sick. I was able to get through the first few hours and then things quickly went south. All of a sudden it felt like I urinated on myself. I looked down and blood was leaking out of my pants. I was newly diagnosed so I didn’t have an “exit strategy” in place. All I could do was grab my things and head home.

Since then, I haven’t pushed my body to its limit. My comfort level at that job was never the same. It just felt like everyone looked at me differently. That being said, when I feel pain higher than a 7 (on a 1-10 scale), I will immediately attempt to remove myself from my workplace. I do this because I’m not sure of the level of intensity that’s coming and the excruciating pain can be an extremely emotional experience. It’s also important to remember, you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.

If you are aware of a procedure on the horizon, please notify human resources (HR). This way, if you need more time off and/or need to work from home, they will be able to discuss it internally with management. For example, when I went through egg freezing, HR made provisions during my treatment. I didn’t go straight to my management team, instead I spoke with HR to advise me on next steps. By law, they are your advocate. Use them. Also, establish your “exit strategy”. For me, I carry anti-inflammatory medications, menstrual pads and panty liners at all times. When I feel an onset of pain, I immediately go to the restroom and triage the situation. If after an hour, I’m unable to control the pain, I begin to clear my schedule so I can make it home safely. I may return to work later in the day, but I can never make any promises. If there is an immediate leave of absence, the next day I’ll inform HR about it. It’s hard enough to go through an episode, so it’s easier and safer for me to tell my job about it afterwards.

At the end of the day, it is possible to work, have endometriosis and be successful. It all revolves around proactivity, accepting your condition and listening to your body when it says, “I’ve had enough”.

Battling Endometriosis; A Decade Later

Sherika Wynter, Voices Of Endo

I have a very different outlook on life in my 30s after battling endometriosis for the last 10 years. I often find myself reminiscing on some of the promises I made in my early 20s: upper management by 30, married with child by 30, own a house by 30… All things society placed on me as necessities.

But here is my reality, I had my 4th laparoscopy a month after my 30th birthday. It was my longest, most draining and complicated surgery to date. It was also where they discovered my left ovary appeared to be non-operational. I was devastated and cried from the depths of my soul. I was left wondering..What did I do wrong? Where do I go from here? Is this the beginning of infertility?

All my questions no one had answers to. But as my reproductive endocrinologist said, “We don’t give up. We fight this. You will be fine.” For the last 8 years, he’s never been wrong, so there  was no need to start doubting him now. I knew I needed to take my faith to the next level, believing, “What is for me, is for me.”

Putting Myself First

As I rounded the corner of 30, I began to place my personal life first because, at work, I am dispensable. In life, however, I only have one shot. I have to make it count. With that I mind, I started to prioritize my visits to my  reproductive endocrinologist . During these visits, we would check my AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) levels, my ovaries and ensure my uterus is fluid free. Yes, I’ve frozen my eggs but I wanted to ensure that my body is still in a position to carry when the time is right. (Notice I said “when” not “if” — I believe my time is coming.) I’m also more cognizant of my food intake. As my dad would say, “You are no longer a spring chicken, Sherika!” I’m preparing my body for the long run as I’m ready to put up one hell of a fight.

Key Benefits for Work

Many don’t realize the impact endometriosis has on your career and it took time to learn what I needed from a company to balance both sides. Company benefits are more important now that I am diagnosed. When I interview for jobs, I make sure they have an option to work remotely. This way, if I’m not feeling well on a particular day, I can take the time I need to heal. I can go to my doctor appointments without feeling guilty or needing to take the entire day off just for an hour appointment. I also ensure their insurance is accepted by my physicians. It sounds extreme but it is very difficult to switch doctors with endometriosis. Our condition is complicated and coverage may be denied. For example, I’m currently paying for my last surgery because it wasn’t a covered procedure. I was able to negotiate a $52K procedure to an affordable amount but I was taught a valuable lesson. You have a right to inquire about these details in order to be proactive about your health.

2 for 1 Deal

Lastly, I’ve finally accepted that my endometriosis is a 2 for 1 deal, you get me, you get it. We are a perfect package for the right life partner and the right set of friends. For years, I’ve wondered if it was a hindrance, the reason why past relationships failed and the source of my singleness. I would beat myself up about it. Now, I realized it’s just another piece of the puzzle that makes me unique. Granted, every so often I find myself going down that self-guilt road but I remind myself, “There isn’t a more beautiful picture of you available. Shine with what you have.”

International Women’s Day

Whether its women who want to have children or women who want to help others have children, we aim to create access for all who may need to utilize family building options. This is why on International Women’s Day, we want to remind everyone to #BeBoldForChange when it comes to reproductive health.

One of Progyny’s regular messages is to be proactive when it comes to fertility. This entails seeing your doctor, getting the necessary blood work, an ultrasound (if needed) and speaking with a reproductive endocrinologist about your family history. It’s also about providing support and a shoulder to lean on when it’s needed.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, as women gain more social, economic, cultural and political equality, we also need to be mindful that global support is needed to accelerate gender parity. The more you educate yourself about your health, the more you can become an advocate and lend your voice when it comes to the reproductive rights of those both near and far.

There’s No Such Thing As “Normal” When Facing Endometriosis

Sherika Wynter, Voices Of Endo

October 14, 2008.
You never forget your diagnosis date. It’s one of the most bittersweet days of your life. You finally get to let go a sigh of relief but you struggle with your next breath at the same time. You’re faced with difficult decisions and very little guidance. What you thought was the end of a long journey is just the beginning of an even longer and lonely expedition. You are never ready, but you have to fight.

My cycle started off as “normal” – 5-7 days with little to no pain and 28 days to the calendar. I was 13. About a year or so into my womanhood journey, things went south. Every month, my pain increased, my flow decreased and my lack of knowledge… it stayed the same. You see, no one tells you what to expect from your menstrual cycle. Your “normal” is based on the women you’re surrounded by, their knowledge and experience. It’s a part of parenting that no one speaks to. It’s the blind leading the blind.

The downward spiral
My ability to cope ceased around the age of 22, approximately 6 weeks prior to my emergency procedure. For first 8 years of my menstrual cycle, I knew I was out of commission for the first 24-48 hours of my cycle. Everyone in my family knew the routine. We had a system. Suddenly, that changed. I was experiencing daily pain, with no explanation. I visited the ER twice, within the first 2 weeks but was told I had everything from colitis to gas. Of course, I was unable to replicate the pain once at the hospital, making my story even more unbelievable. My parents believed me but that wasn’t enough. For the next 4 weeks, I kept a pain journal, marking my body with a sharpie for every place that hurt. I was determined to figure out the source of my ailment while others thought I was going insane. My logic was: if I cannot reproduce the pain, I can at least track it.

Hail Mary
The morning of my diagnosis, I went to my OB-GYN. It was my Hail Mary. She was on call at the hospital and her colleague saw me. Her colleague did an ultrasound, concluded I had ovarian torsion and told me to meet my OB-GYN at the hospital immediately. Upon arrival, I was examined again and was told it was a misdiagnosis, that all my symptoms and problems were caused by endometriosis. I pleaded with her to look a little further as I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted from all the pain. But she was certain and I had to figure out what all this meant.

The winner of this battle

From that day forward, I learned everything I could about endometriosis. I learned my trigger foods. I tried different medications. Some worked, others were an epic fail. I specifically focused on the havoc it could wreak on my reproductive system. I wanted to be an expert and an advocate for myself. I knew that if I didn’t speak up for me, this disease would kill me. Not literally, but my spirit, my drive, my mental stability. My mother and I searched the internet for a reproductive endocrinologist who valued both: wellness and fertility. Finally, we struck gold.

Upon finding my physician, we discussed my future and how we could ensure I would get my heart’s desire: a child. After finally getting my cycles under control, he urged me to freeze my eggs. Insert shock factor here. At 24, who wants to speak about the possibility of infertility? Is this real life? I didn’t want to think about it. But if I was going to be proactive, I needed to adhere to counsel. I finally agreed. For my 27th birthday, I froze my eggs. It was the best decision I’ve made thus far along my endometriosis journey. I finally felt like I won a battle in this war.

Be vocal
There’s no right or wrong way to cope with endometriosis. It really boils down to personal preference and priority. Over the last 8.5 years, I’ve had 4 laparoscopic surgeries and 1 cycle of egg freezing. For some, that’s plenty; for others, it’s a dream. One thing is sure: we all wish we knew sooner. For me, I wish OB-GYNs and parents were more proactive. I believe every girl who is menstrual should have basic knowledge on all reproductive issues. My mom had no idea what was right or wrong and for most OB-GYNs, “bad periods” are considered normal. They are not. There is nothing normal about it. The more the idea of “normal” is engrained, the harder it is to diagnose. I was told it was “in my head” by medical professionals and most of the women I’ve encountered that had similar experiences.

I also wish there were more prominent support avenues. It was hard for me to find the right group of women to support me through my acceptance phase. It takes years to accept an endometriosis diagnosis. Why? Because it’s constantly changing.. As a woman grows, her priorities change, her needs change, her body changes. The support I needed at 22 is very different than the support I need approaching 31. You often feel lost, resetting your support system each step along the way.

However, I urge you to start listening to your body and start asking questions. If you feel that something is wrong or isn’t “normal”, there’s a really good chance you’re right. It’s not “in your head” because you know your body best. Don’t be scared of speaking up, be scared of not knowing what could happen if you knew.  

What Beyonce’s Fertility Can Teach You About Your Own

Jay Palumbo, Member Engagement

Beyoncé’s recent pregnancy announcement is causing the internet to rejoice, but while thanking Queen B for giving us something in the news that’s positive, this is also a great opportunity to discuss fertility and age. Why? Because Beyoncé’s news should be urging women to think about family planning and what exactly that means.

In 2009, I began down the path of infertility treatments to build my family and through my research I was able to find a strong community of people just like me. Over the years, we’ve cheered each other on, supported one another and shared a deep appreciation for whenever a celebrity has “come out” to discuss their own fertility journey. Mostly because it helps bring awareness to our community.

Now you may be asking, “How does this relate to me?”

If we take a look back, Beyoncé’s first baby was born at 31 and now at 35, she’s pregnant with twins. Regardless if she went through fertility treatments or not, this should be a good reminder of our biological clock. When you’re over the age of 32 years old (which in the real world isn’t old but in fertility years, it’s beginning to get up there), your egg quality starts to decline.

According to Dr. Maria Bucur, clinical nurse educator at Progyny, a woman’s ability to conceive naturally each month declines as she gets older. At age 30, the ability to naturally conceive is 20% each month and at age 40 it drops to 5% each month.”

An additional factor to consider as you get older, there’s an increase a woman will suffer a miscarriage. Even Beyoncé was open about her miscarriage, which I know those who have endured similar losses really respected.

Another celebrity who caused some speculation was Janet Jackson when she announced she was pregnant at 50 years old. Those in our community wondered if she used her own eggs, donor eggs or again, given the statistics, if she was just one of the luckiest, most fertile 50 year old ever.

Whether they didn’t do treatment or had any assistance, it’s ultimately nobody’s business. People are genuinely happy for them able to have a family. The real point is when we see a celebrity who is “older” (again, I use that term loosely) who is expecting, my concern as an advocate is it sends out false hope that you can delay having children and have no problem conceiving.

I’m not saying everyone should have children in their early twenties nor am I saying that everyone will absolutely have to go through fertility treatment if they wait. It’s simply smart to gauge your fertility not by what you read in the news or what someone tells you in the gym locker room (i.e. “I had a sister who got pregnant when she was 40!”) but more by being proactive and getting the necessary tests.

If you’re a woman, this would entail a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist where you’ll review your medical history, get a sonogram (to check your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes to see if there are any polyps, fibroids, cysts or blockage) and a blood test to check your hormones, specifically your Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH). This will give the doctor an overall idea of roughly the amount and quality of your eggs as well as your fertility health. If you’re a man, you would go to an urologist and get a semen analysis to check the health and viability of the sperm produced.

So while we are all excited about the two new members of the BeyHive, I hope those interested in having children will use this moment to consider their own fertility health. I know it’s not quite as exciting as watching Lemonade but it’s equally empowering!

Don’t Let This Study Freeze Your Decision

Trish McMorrow, MSN, Clinical Educator at Progyny

Researchers in Australia sought out to answer the question, “What are the reproductive experiences of women who cryopreserve oocytes for non-medical reasons?” They surveyed nearly 100 women who underwent egg freezing at Melbourne IVF between 1999-2014. Of the 96 respondents to the survey nearly half said they had frozen their eggs in the past 2 years. While the study found that only 6% of the women had used their frozen eggs and only 3% had given birth using their frozen eggs, there are many limitations to this data.

A major limitation is, most of these women have recently frozen their eggs. Egg freezing has only recently gained traction and it doesn’t surprise me that of the 96 respondents from 1999 to 2014 nearly half had frozen in the past two years. I suspect that some of these women will plan to use these eggs in their future. This study can be used as an extra piece of information that a woman can use to help inform her decision, but I would take it with a grain of salt considering the limitations.

More Research Is Needed
More research is needed as the number of healthy women who freeze their eggs are proactively electing this procedure in order to avoid age-related infertility. If this study was conducted in a year or two, it would’ve had the potential to help women make more informed decisions. In the meantime, I always recommend for women to go for an initial consultation. Family planning can and should be a very informed process, whether in preventing pregnancy or planning for it.

The reality is that egg freezing is essentially an insurance policy. It is not meant to be a guarantee that you will need or want to use them. It gives a woman or couple the option shall you need or want to in the future, to use these eggs from their younger years when egg quality is potentially better.

Get the Facts
I always encourage women to get all the facts, consult with your OB/GYN and even make an appointment with a fertility specialist. You’ll be armed with the information you need to make the best decision for your future. Have an initial consultation, a fact-finding mission. More information is never a bad thing. Some may find out that they already have a decreased ovarian reserve and you can save yourself from the heartache in the future. Maybe your fertility specialist tells you they see no benefit in going through egg freezing. You never know until you get all the facts. Egg freezing is not a “one size fits all” family planning method but it can be seen as an insurance policy on your future family. Family planning is very personal and unique to each individual or couple.

What’s Next?
It’s time to really consider your 5 to 10-year plan. There are a number of questions to ask yourself and your partner such as, where do you see yourself? What are you doing in life? Where do you want to be in your career and family? Do children fit into that equation? How important is it to have biological children?

Once you’ve had your consultation, considered the facts, and your desires for the future then you can decide if egg freezing is the right option or not. Till then, don’t let this study intimidate you from egg freezing.