Many clinics are moving towards shared risk or money back programs for IVF. This approach is being used for couples or individuals who are facing an infertility diagnosis and are told that their best or maybe only way to address their medical issues is through an IVF procedure that may or may not work. To soften the blow for those who have a better than average prognosis, they are offered deals to refund all or part of their investment or given a flat rate for a certain number of tries. To be clear, this is not discussing a few hundreds or even a few thousand dollars. This is for tens of thousands of dollars of treatment to do one of the most arguably profound human of functions – create a life.

This financial probably has good intentions and for sure has helped many people with some piece of mind. But would this feel the same if someone had eye surgery done with an agreement that it would correct their vision or they get another free chance or money back? Would you pay upfront for the surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as a package for your cancer? You may not need the chemo, in which case you still have peace of mind that it was an option.

The analogy may not hold in terms of outcomes and conditions, but hopefully you see the point – when did reproduction stop being about health care and become a gambling business model for hopes? Do we really want to reduce the support for our reproductive systems to financial benefit we don’t consider necessary to function? If you lost a limb, insurance would pay to replace it. There would be no gamble. No debate if your arm was necessary (even if it is your left one and you are right handed). Why not pay a lab to help out a uterus, ovary or a sperm in need? The answer is that American healthcare does not truly address reproductive health needs.

We need to stop looking at fertility as a business and starting looking at the healthcare needs and human rights of reproduction!

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Some of the participants from Hasidah’s Las Vegas Infertility Awareness and Support Training

Rabbi Idit Solomon facilitated a training in Las Vegas for Rabbis and other Jewish professionals who work with young adults including Jewish Family Services Agency. Participants learned about issues people face when struggling with infertility. They explored the emotional and spiritual trials that come up and how to address them as well as ways to make their community more sensitive and inclusive. Thanks to the Las Vegas Board of Rabbis and Jewish Family Services Association for your support!

  • “Hasidah brings the all-too-common hidden heartache of infertility into the daylight of informed conversation and educated support.”
  • “This training is vital for clergy and other Jewish professionals because it offers a gateway to a certain level of empathy for those who are in the process of building their Jewish family.”

Let us know if your community could benefit from sensitivity and awareness training around infertility and other family building issues. We would be happy to arrange for a program near you.

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Marijuana is not an uncommon substance among today’s women of childbearing age. Many states have legalized the drug for medical use (Illinois made medical marijuana legal in 2013), and several have legalized for recreational use, and many patients have questions about marijuana usage.
Studies have found that marijuana is one of the drugs most commonly used by pregnant women; in fact, urine samples from about 300,000 pregnant women in California showed that more than 7 percent of them had marijuana in their systems. Another study found that pregnant women with severe nausea and vomiting were almost four times more likely to use marijuana. And a recent Boston University study surveyed 4,194 women between the ages of 21 and 45 living in Canada or the United States about their marijuana use and found that 12 percent of the women were using. Their partners were also invited into the study, and 1,125 joined. The researchers found that 14 percent of the men were using.
The same Boston University study found that the probability of getting pregnant after 12 menstrual cycles was similar among those who used marijuana to those who did not; however, the researchers said it was not wise to make decisions about usage when trying to get pregnant based on just one study.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women stop using marijuana when they are trying to get pregnant.
Here’s what we do know about marijuana and fertility among women and men.
  • Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth.
  • Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can negatively impact a child’s visual-motor coordination.
  • Occasional marijuana use has been linked to delayed ovulation. Moderate to heavy use of marijuana has been linked to anovulation (absence of ovulation).
  • Marijuana use in men has been linked to impotence, and sperm show irregular patterns of activity.

While studies are not definitive about the use of pot and fertility, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If both partners are using, they risk increasing their chances of infertility as a couple.

Laurence A. Jacobs MD is a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois

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“Among the myriad programs supporting the next generation, Hasidah is the leader in actually building it.”

It would seem natural that the first commandment, be fruitful and multiple, that one of our most basic human drives, to reproduce, would be front and center in the Jewish community for support and financial aide. Yet it has not been. Hasidah is removing the shroud around infertility, bringing support and financial resources to people facing fertility challenges, and ultimately building Jewish families. One baby at a time.

Hasidah is proud to have been selected as one of the most innovative Jewish organizations in North America included in the 2018 Slingshot Guide. Below is our page. Check out the other selected organization.

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Is egg freezing a good thing? A recent article in the Forward by Amy Klein explores the personal stories of a growing number of Jewish women considering egg freezing. Egg freezing  is empowering for some, a relief for others and scary for others. For cancer patients it ought to be a given option.  For the general population, however, more questions are in order.

Egg freezing may add to the societal pressure on women’s bodies. We cannot treat women’s bodies as machines that can simply have parts temporarily preserved. As with all technologies that have the potential for good, society needs to change too. How we think about family building needs to change. The attitude of work versus family needs to change. The role of men in all of this needs to be discussed. How can we stop the I-never-thought-about-it, now-it-is-getting-late and we-can-control-it-all rat race and begin to have meaningful conversations with young people about the role of fertility and family?

To be sure this is not about blaming women for taking the opportunity to utilize this amazing technology to help them preserve their chances of motherhood. For sure, egg freezing has benefits and women absolutely deserve and have the right to control their bodies and their fertility. However, most technologies have unintended consequences as well as negative effects and it is important to consider them. Some of those are the issues about careers, fertility, family building, parenting, gender roles, and the politics of women’s bodies that are not being addressed. Let us not utilize this technology to prevent these conversations from happening.  These conversations are needed – early, openly and often – to empower women from the start. Not just to justify looking at the the freezer for a back up.

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Traditionally called the Season of Joy, Sukkot is inherently wrapped in fertility. Historically and religiously associated with agriculture, Sukkot is a harvest festival celebrating the fertility of the earth. Living in booths (Sukkot) commemorates the Israelite’s wanderings in the desert. Their temporary and unstable nature also reminds of of how fragile our lives and the world is.

The special reading done for this holiday is from Kohelet, which begins, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, a time to die…”

Fertility and the fragility are related. Those of us who have experienced fertility challenges know this all too well. But time plays a role as well. Most of it during a fertility journey seems to be spent waiting. A time to wait… and another time to wait. But Kohelet’s perspective can be helpful during fertility challenges. The verses continue that there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Indeed all things under heaven have a time and a purpose. While fertility can feel all consuming, we do have other purposes in life. And time will continue. The message of fragility at this season is also a reminder of what endures. Our choice to laugh or cry endures. Our ability to reach out to another for support when we mourn and to dance when there is joy endures.

So if this Season of Joy seems hard to reach for you, if you are intimately feeling the fragility of the fertility world, remember there is a purpose for you in this world. Feel the enduring presence of your self and your ability to laugh and cry. And if you are mourning, know too that there will be a time to dance.

Always, there will be time.

Chag Sukkot Sameach – Warm wishes for a joyous Sukkot Holiday

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