GIVF Fertility eNews
September 2009

Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence



Genetics & IVF Institute 


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Navigating the Land of IF

Melissa Ford Interview by Trina Leonard

Written as a "travel guide" to the Land of IF (the online abbreviation for infertility), Melissa Ford's new book, Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options, offers a refreshingly candid perspective on the emotional and social aspects of infertility, as well as practical information about testing, treatment, handling invitations to child-centered events, talking with friends and family and more. Ms. Ford is well known for her widely-read blog on infertility,, and as a contributing editor for BlogHer. In a recent conversation with GIVF, Ms. Ford discussed her blog, her experiences as an infertility patient and her tips for current travelers in the "Land of IF."


When she began her own journey by trying to get pregnant naturally, Ms. Ford says she was shocked when conception failed to occur. "Before that, I had trekked through life pretty successfully, in school and in work," she says. "For the first time, when I began trying to get pregnant, I put in the 'work' and wasn't seeing results." Thanks to IVF, she eventually became the mother of twins, but her infertility experience changed her, including her attitudes about treatment. At first," she says, "I had lots of 'won'ts' and 'can'ts' in my vocabulary. Now, I would eliminate those and leave myself open to the possibilities."


She says that patients should do their best to maximize their visits to the doctor so that "you don't leave with questions unanswered because you forgot to ask them." To use both the patient's and the doctor's time well, she says: 1) Always be honest and upfront. Better to over-report than miss telling your medical team something important. 2) Write questions down before the appointment. Know what you need to ask. 3) Use a journal to record your questions, the answers and other information about medications or the process. "I kept a spiral notebook in my purse and wrote everything in one book," she says.


Traveling in the Land of IF is an emotional as well as a physical journey. Ms. Ford says, "It is very important not to ignore your emotional needs. Having the emotional side addressed makes getting through the physical side easier." She launched her "Stirrup Queen" blog in 2002 after participating in an online patient organization, but not finding the kind of information and support that she really wanted online. Now, more than 2,000 people visit her blog each day, reading her thoughts and sharing their own experiences - both physical and emotional. Online support is a valuable adjunct to "face to face" support for infertility patients. Ms. Ford says,"In online support, you constantly have new people you can connect with. There is always someone who will listen to you and who may have had a similar experience."


Although most blogs and books about infertility focus on women, Ms. Ford zeroes in on men's needs, too. "Men's emotional needs are sometimes overlooked, because they process their emotions differently. My husband is very male and can compartmentalize. When he was at work and I'd call or email him about some aspect of our treatment, sometimes I didn't think he cared as much as I did, but eventually I learned that just because he wasn't talking about it didn't mean he wasn't affected."

Melissa Ford offers the following tips for offsetting the emotional aspects of infertility:
Engage in a physical activity that isn't related to fertility.
Go out, perhaps with friends or a partner.
Join a support group.
Find a therapist who specializes in infertility.
"Although I didn't choose infertility, I would never wish that I hadn't had it," she says. "I've learned a lot. I've also become a more patient, more sensitive listener. Before I started to blog, I didn't know that there were so many people with so many different stories about infertility. I learned to set aside what I thought I knew and listen to what people were really telling me. Everybody has a story."
For a review of Melissa Ford's book, visit

What's New at GIVF

SPECIAL LOWER PRICE OFFER ON PGD In celebration of its 25th anniversary GIVF is reducing the price of any PGD tests on procedures performed on or before December 31, 2009. During this limited time the cost of PGD will be $3,750 instead of the standard price of $5,000. This special offer applies whether PGD is performed for genetic disease purposes or for family balancing. For more information contact GIVF at (703) 698-7355.

GIVF STRENGTHENS BIOTECHNOLOGY STAFF The additional microbiologists, Jiming Zhou and Veronica Novik, recently joined GIVF's scientific staff.  Dr. Zhou received his PhD from Sichuan University and did postdoctoral work at the University of Iowa before working in various positions at commercial biotechnology companies.  Dr. Novik received her PhD from Yale University and previously worked in research at the Harvard Medical School.  
BEST VALUE ON DONOR EGG With over 200 fully-screened and available donors GIVF offers the fastest match to patients seeking to build their families through donor egg, whether they are seeking to do a sole cycle or to share the eggs with another patient through a split cycle for a reduced price. GIVF's split cycle program requires only two patients, not three, improving the chances for getting a good quantity of eggs. 
GIVF OFFERS INTEREST FREE FINANCING TO QUALIFIED PATIENTS. This special rate is offered in recognition of GIVF's 25th Anniversary and patients must qualify for financing.  To learn more, contact one of our financial counselors at or at 800-552-4363 (toll-free) or 703-698-7355.

FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS FOR INFERTILITY One often overlooked option to help pay for IVF treatment is your flexible spending account.  Flexible spending accounts, an employee benefit offered by many companies, allow you to set aside part of your pre-tax income for certain medical expenses not covered by insurance.  Any balance left in your account at the end of the year is lost, so if you are considering IVF and will have extra funds in your account at the end of the year, now is the perfect time to contact us to schedule a consultation. Certain limitations may apply, talk to your employer to learn more.
Ask a Question  

Doctor, Tell Me About Clomid
Stephen R. Lincoln, MD, FACOG 
Reproductive Endocrinologist

Clomiphene Citrate
How does it work?
Clomiphene Citrate is an oral medication that stimulates the release of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) from the pituitary gland. In turn, FSH stimulates the production and release of follicles from the ovaries. Clomiphene may be given to patients who do not ovulate regularly, who have an ovulation dysfunction, patients with unexplained infertility, or patients undergoing intrauterine insemination.
How is Clomiphene Taken?
Clomiphene is administered orally with starting doses of 50-100 mg/day for five days (cycle days 3-7, 4-8 or 5-9). The dose of Clomiphene may be increased by 50 mg increments in order to achieve desired clinical results. Ovulation is expected to occur 4-8 days after the last tablet of Clomiphene is taken. The time and dose may be different depending on your medical history.
How do we determine that Clomiphene is working?
If you have not been ovulating regularly, the presence of menstrual flow at the end of the treatment cycle is the most obvious sign of appropriate response to Clomiphene. Other methods of monitoring ovulation include basal body temperature charts, serial ultrasounds, urinary ovulation predictor kits and blood measurements of progesterone. Pregnancy is the ultimate confirmation that Clomiphene is working.
What side effects can be expected?
Temporary hot flashes are the most common side effects of Clomiphene citrate. Temporary ovarian enlargement may cause abdominal discomfort. Less frequent symptoms include breast tenderness, headache, nervousness, moodiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and visual disturbances. About 10% of women experience side effects, usually mild, from Clomiphene citrate. Approximately 90% of pregnancies resulting from Clomid are singleton births. Twins occur in approximately 9-10% of pregnancies and <1% result in triplet pregnancies. The incidence of congenital malformations (birth defects) in children conceived while using Clomiphene is the same as in the general population. Additional information on Clomiphene is available on the pharmaceutical manufacturer's package insert, or directly from the manufacturer.
Does Clomiphene Citrate cause cancer?
Clomiphene Citrate has been on the market for over 30 years. Some studies have suggested a small increase in the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer for patients who have taken the medicine for over 12 cycles. There is no evidence of any increased risks for patients who take Clomiphene for less than 12 cycles. We generally recommend a 3 - 6 month course of treatment and then moving on if no pregnancy has occurred.

Copyright 2009 Genetics & IVF Institute