Staff Advice

Home Get Started Staff Advice
At Boston IVF, we believe that knowledge is power and that easy access to educational resources can help you to make informed and confident decisions regarding your fertility care.

For that very reason, we've gathered together our fertility team to share with you some helpful tips.

As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to Ask Rhonda!
Heidi Atherton, RN
Office Nurse, Brookline

"Don’t worry too much about your long-term, past use of birth control pills. Birth control does not lead to infertility, and long-term use does not interfere at all with a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Fertility is fully restored once the pills are discontinued. It’s a concern we hear about often, so we want our patients to be as informed and confident as possible."

Ilana Seariac, RN
Office Nurse

"Many of our patients experience premenstrual spotting a few days prior to their period. Despite what you may think, premenstrual spotting is not considered Day 1 of your cycle. It is important to wait for a full-flow bleed, and count that day as the true "first day" of your menstrual cycle. Please let your medical team know when this takes place."

Kim Thornton, MD
Fertility Doctor

"Know about your family’s medical history. Inherited diseases can be passed on and subsequently affect your chance of a successful pregnancy. Genetic problems with an embryo is responsible for a high percentage of pregnancy losses before twelve weeks. Preimplantation genetic testing (PGS), in conjunction with your fertility treatments, can identify these abnormalities."

David Ryley, MD
Fertility Doctor

"For women age 38+, the most effective infertility treatment is IVF. In 2014, we conducted a large study that supports straight-to-IVF fertility treatment for women aged 38-42. The live birth rates for women who underwent IVF was almost double as compared to those who underwent IUI. The bottom line: time is of the essence when it comes to fertility, and an expedited fertility evaluation is crucial for older women."

Marianne Cristello
Embryologist

"Here’s an important fact to consider from the ‘science-side’ of treatment: it isn't necessarily the number of embryos available that is significant, but the quality of those embryos. One fully-developed, high-quality embryo has far greater odds of implanting and giving you the best chance for a successful pregnancy."

Elissa Cooper
Key Account Manager

"Don’t be afraid to talk about what you are going through. Although it’s easier said than done - I know from experience that expressing your feelings is vital to dealing with infertility. Sharing what you’re going through with a friend or co-worker will help you avoid feeling alone and isolated. I was surprised by how much a few chats with friends helped!"

Rita Sneeringer, MD
Fertility Doctor

"Monitor your thyroid levels. Low thyroid function has a negative impact on fertility and is more common than most women realize. Even a slight dysfunction can lead to infertility or a miscarriage. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with the release of an egg from your ovary (ovulation), which impairs fertility. Monitoring thyroid hormone levels and taking proper medication can improve your chances."

Emily Redfern
Marketing Coordinator

"Even a year after having my own miscarriage, I won't say the pain goes away, but the grief absolutely does become more dull. For others who may be faced with a similar situation, try to find distractions, however small they may be. Get together with friends. Have coffee with a coworker. Date nights with my husband certainly kept our minds busy, as did focusing on the positives whenever we could!"

Alan Penzias, MD
Fertility Doctor

"Whether you want to get pregnant now or wait, it's a good idea to know where your fertility levels stand. Data shows that egg quantity/egg quality begin to decrease after age thirty, but everyone is different! We see women with infertility in their 20's and women who are very fertile in their late 30's. One test that can tell you where you stand is an AMH blood test, which gives an accurate count of your remaining egg supply."

Kristin Rooney
Research Manager

"Know that at any given time, there are 10-15 research studies for our patients to take advantage of. Many of them offer discounted cycles, free meds, genetic testing, and more. People participate in research trials for many reasons; to assist with scientific advancements, receive cutting edge treatment, or to help future patients. If you have an interest in participating in a trial, go to our Trials page and send me an email!"

Carol Lesser, NP
Nurse Practitioner

"Don't be nervous about an IUI. Most women say it feels similar to a Pap smear and in most cases it takes just a few minutes. While it's never a bad idea to "take it easy" after an IUI procedure, it’s perfectly fine to go back to work, go out with friends that night, or go ahead with whatever plans you have. Resting afterwards may provide a bit of comfort for you, but does not influence success."

Jessica Bailey
Embryologist

"By waiting for embryos to develop to Blastocyst level on Day 5, we are able to better select high-quality embryos and improve the overall success rate for pregnancy. Although we remove the lesser-developing embryos on Day 5, it’s important to know that Day 3 embryos are still quite viable."

Ariel Mullen, PA-C
Physician Assistant

"If your OB/GYN has diagnosed you with even just a mild case of endometriosis and you are trying to conceive, we still suggest that you speak with a fertility specialist to review your specific case and chances. If you’ve had surgery to remedy endometriosis, we advise that you try to conceive as quickly as possible. Endometriosis tends to grow and reappear, so timing is certainly important."

Heather Todd, RN
Office Nurse

"As a fertility nurse and a former IVF patient myself, I understand how stressful this process is. We all find comfort in situations we are able to manage, but the path to becoming a parent is something we cannot always control. Because of that, it’s very important to find ways to de-stress. Meditating, spending time with friends, taking walks, or whatever you find calming and nurturing will help you."

Elizabeth Ward
Psychologist

"Logging on to Facebook can be difficult when dealing with infertility. Pregnancy announcements, due dates, ultrasounds, and the happiness that revolves around growing families are impossible to avoid. But there are some ways to negate the feelings they cause. ‘Hiding’ the Facebook posts of a friend allows you to visit their page on your terms and helps you to take a bit more control over what you see and how it makes you feel."

Susan Gordon-Pinnell, RN
Director of Clinical Operations

"Our Third Party Reproduction Team is an amazing resource for gay men who wish to build a family through donor egg and gestational carrier. This team will help you navigate the process, show you how to select both a donor and gestational carrier, and answer any questions you may have. They are just a great group of people who are so understanding and knowledgeable."

Ben Lannon, MD
Fertility Doctor

"For those without infertility insurance benefits, the expense of IVF can be a burden. For patients who are not covered in Maine, Rhode Island, and for some in Massachusetts, we strive to create new opportunities to save money. One is our Medications Program, which offers patients a substantial savings (up to 50%) on the medications they require during IVF. This is a significant savings and well worth knowing about."

Kim Thornton, MD
Fertility Doctor

"For lesbian couples, we offer a treatment option that enables both partners to be physically involved in the conception of their baby. Through Partner Assisted IVF/Reciprocal IVF - the eggs from one partner are inseminated with donor sperm. A resulting embryo is then transferred into the uterus of the other partner - who will carry the pregnancy and give birth."

Hillary Wright, RD
Nutrition Director

"For 75% of women with PCOS, insulin resistance is a major factor to their hormonal problems. Because insulin resistance causes diabetes, a diet that is moderate in carbohydrates, encourages unprocessed foods, and limits sugar can encourage weight loss, enhance fertility, and reduce diabetes risk. Exercise is also essential for anyone with insulin resistance, as it’s the most natural way to normalize insulin & hormone levels."

Brent Barrett, PHD
Lab Director

"Having an experienced IVF lab is important. Our lab has over a dozen embryologists with an average of 15 years of IVF experience. To have that knowledge in ‘one room’ is invaluable to patients. So is the advancements we're seeing with our pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) test - which has revolutionized the IVF world and helps women who've experienced a failed cycle or miscarriage."

Alice Domar, PhD
Psychologist

"Thinking about making an appointment to see a fertility doctor can feel overwhelming and stressful. If you've been trying to get pregnant with no success, however, the odds tell us you may not be able to conceive on your own. Seeking care from an expert will alleviate some of your stress by giving you a real sense of ‘progress.’ And you may learn that you're able to conceive with less treatment than you expected."

Steven Bayer, MD
Fertility Doctor

"I recommend fertility acupuncture to many of my patients, especially before and just after IUI and IVF. We find that acupuncture can reduce stress, increase blood flow to the uterus, and regulate hormone levels. It also helps with the cramping that is sometimes associated with post-IVF and IUI procedures. It's a really great service that I feel is valuable to patients, and we offer it at our center in Waltham."

Marie Baldwin
Embryologist

"It's important to discuss your goals with your MD. If you want a single pregnancy, the approach to your cycle may be different than if you’re planning on a large family requiring several embryo transfers. The latter may indicate a cycle that creates a larger number of embryos available for freezing and use in future cycles, while the former may require lighter stimulation, reducing the number after the cycle is complete."

Kayla Methot, RN
Office Nurse

"We receive many, many questions from women about tubal reversal surgery versus IVF treatment and what we recommend they should choose. We feel that IVF is not only just as successful as a tubal reversal, but more convenient, safer, and less expensive. Plus, if the damage to a patient’s tubes is moderate or severe, and the tubal reversal surgery is unsuccessful, the patient will incur additional costs with an IVF cycle."

Susan Barry, MA
Medical Assistant

"Know you are not alone. One in six couples have trouble getting pregnant and need the help of a fertility specialist. There are so many great resources and support groups now for women and for couples, where they can talk and share experiences. Many of my patients rave about how helpful they are and how satisfying it is to be with others going through the same situations."

Debi Estabrook
Front Desk Admin

"Never underestimate the power of a smile. As a front desk administrator, my mission is always to greet each patient who walks through our door with a warm smile. That smile may help them feel supported, hopeful and a tad bit more at ease. If I could, I'd love to give every single person a big hug and let them know that we are all rooting for them and their success!"

Michael Alper, MD
Fertility Doctor

"Don’t automatically assume infertility is just a female issue. In 35% of all infertile, heterosexual couples - the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause of infertility. In fact, infertility affects men and women equally. If a couple has trouble becoming pregnant, I strongly recommend that both partners be tested to ensure a comprehensive, faster diagnosis."

Kristin MacCutcheon, RN
Nurse Manager

"Never look back. Always look forward! As a fertility nurse, I have seen countless patients who had all but given up on treatment, but kept going and finally became pregnant. Of course, whichever decision you make will ultimately be the right one, so trust your gut. And always-always-always ask us anything. No question is unimportant!"

Pam Jarmuz
Embryologist

"An embryology lab can offer so many opportunities to patients! Your clinical team can assess your history to determine which of our fertility technologies will offer the best chance for success without requiring the use of a ‘full menu.” Your cycle is customized to your needs, and it's exciting to see the innovation taking place on the lab side of treatment. It should give patients more confidence than ever before."

Heidi Atherton, RN
Office Nurse, Brookline

"If you are needle-phobic or just hate blood tests, ask your doctor about our needle-free saliva test that replaces the daily blood work needed to monitor your treatment. Our scientists have discovered that hormone levels found in saliva (spit) correlates with the hormone levels in the blood. It’s pretty incredible! We are the only fertility center in the world to offer this type of testing to our patients."

Rhonda Gannon
Patient Liaison

"It can be a cringe-worthy moment if someone asks, 'So..when are you going to have kids?' Although it may seem like harmless banter, in reality it can be an insensitive question that causes pain, stress, and frustration. Whether you take the high road, come up with a witty response, or embrace the awkwardness with brutal honesty, deliver a reply that fully supports your emotional well-being."

Karen Marans, PhD
Psychologist

"In effort to support fertility patients who experience an unsuccessful IVF cycle or miscarriage, the psychologists at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health offer a complementary session, where your insurance company will not be charged. During this free 30 minute visit, you can share your feelings over the cycle outcome and learn coping tools and strategies to develop a plan to empower you to continue treatment."

Ariel Mullen, PA-C
Physician Assistant

"If you are concerned with the chance of multiple births (twins, etc.), a single embryo transfer (eSET) is a technique that limits the number of embryos transferred during IVF. We encourage patients to consider it if they have high quality embryos. Remaining embryos can be frozen for later use. Frozen embryo transfers are now as successful as fresh transfers. Some research shows even higher success rates."

Steven Lazarou, MD
Urologist

"Male fertility is a complex process that requires both the mind & body to work together. Whether you’re just starting out or have been trying for a while, making lifestyle changes to increase your fertility is essential. To optimize male fertility and improve sperm count, movement, and structure- be sure to eat a healthy diet, stay fit, lose weight, drink alcohol in moderation, stop smoking, and get enough sleep!"

Denny Sakkas, PHD
Scientific Director

"It’s amazing to think that the first IVF baby was born 35+ years ago. IVF treatments have always been founded on the basis of strong research, and for us that philosophy still holds true. We are seeing incredible innovations within our lab, and it all comes from a commitment to research. We are examining new technologies and ideas that will ultimately provide our patients with ever higher chances of success."

Elissa Cooper
Key Account Manager

"When going through an IVF cycle, your anxiety levels can go through the roof. Try as best you can to keep an even keel. But try not to analyze every blood draw or ultrasound. It will drive you crazy! It's easier said than done, I know! But if your medication levels aren’t where they need to be, your team will change them as needed. Trust your doctors and nurses. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, too. That can help to alleviate stress!"

Laura Cintolo, MA
Medical Assistant

"Hang in there on this difficult journey. Infertility can be tough and take an emotional toll on you. As hard as it may be, try as much as you can to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Know that your nurses understand what you’re feeling and will fight for you. They are on your side and want to see you experience success!"

Rhonda Gannon
Patient Liaison

"When you are in doubt about your fertility, it’s important to address your situation as soon as possible. Age is such a crucial factor in regard to fertility success rates. I speak with many women on a daily basis who regret not visiting with a specialist even just a bit sooner. Deciding to speak with a doctor and talking more about your options is a vitally important first step."

Brian Berger, MD
Fertility Doctor

"For women who know they aren’t ready to start a family and are interested in egg freezing - the earlier you freeze your eggs, the better your chances. Regardless of when you decide to use the eggs, you’re locking in your chance of a successful future pregnancy at the age your eggs are harvested. We recommend doing so before age 37-38, when ovarian reserve is, in most cases, still good."

Susan Gordon-Pinnell, RN
Director of Clinical Operations

"Make time for yourself. Going though fertility treatments can put a great deal of stress on the people involved. Having a baby seems like it should be an easy thing to accomplish, but on so many levels, it is not. It can feel isolating and be difficult to discuss with a partner, who may be handling their feelings very differently. Learn the best ways to support each other and remember that this is all about LOVE."

Dawn Mosca
Donor Coordinator

"You may begin to wonder why every one of your friends are getting pregnant so easily. You may become even more nervous if your OB/GYN refers you to an infertility specialist after you've been trying on your own for months. It can be hard to come to grips with the fact that you will need help getting pregnant. But please know you are not alone. Helping patients is our mission. To guide them and be there for them."

Merle Berger, MD
Fertility Doctor

"I strongly recommend that patients consider speaking with one of our counselors if they’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or strains within a relationship. Data suggests that women who meet with one of our counselors or are involved in the Mind/Body Program at the Domar Center see their chances of conceiving improve. Above all, don't feel guilty if emotions overwhelm you during this time. It's completely normal."

Christina Noonan
Acupuncturist

"I’m a firm believer in the importance of incorporating calming influences during the fertility treatment process. Studies show that the more stressed a woman is prior to treatment, the less likely she is to get pregnant. One excellent source of relaxation is acupuncture. Data from a recent study shows that pregnancy rates increased by 17% for women who receive acupuncture (compared to those who did not)."

Andrea Foti, RN
Office Nurse

"When you receive your fertility treatment medications - to avoid feeling overwhelmed - my suggestion is to handle one medication at a time. Breaking large medication orders into smaller batches is far less stressful, and something you will become very good at. I promise! Also know that you'll be speaking with an experienced fertility nurse each day, who will review every detail and make things manageable."

Dawn Nugent, RN
Office Nurse, Worcester

"Be patient. It's crucial to complete required testing so that your doctor has a clear picture and can recommend the best treatment options for your particular case. More information translates to better success. Occasionally, testing can last as long as one to three months. We understand the frustration this may cause, but our ultimate goal is that you experience a healthy pregnancy as soon as possible."

Ariel Mullen, PA-C
Physician Assistant

"If you require donor sperm, we have a unique partnership with a national sperm bank that allows us to offer patients an inventory of high-quality donors at very low costs. Patients can use search tools to browse online donors, narrow your list, and dive deeper into donor profiles to help you make a final decision. It’s a really convenient, cost-effective way to find the right donor for you.”

Rhonda Gannon
Patient Liaison

"While some women are a bit nervous by what they read online about painful HSG's, it is our experience that the majority of patients are surprised by the relative ease of the test. It takes approximately five minutes to complete in our office. Although some patients may experience some mild cramping for a very short time, the discomfort is nothing to be overly concerned about."

Carol Lesser, NP
Nurse Practitioner

"Utilize your nursing team! Ask us as many questions as you can. We want you to be as educated and as confident as possible and to know that we are there for you. With so many myths online about the ‘dos and donts’ of the treatment process, utilizing your nursing team will save you unnecessary stress and keep you grounded throughout your fertility treatments."

Cindy Miccile, RN
Patient Advocate

"Medications for an IVF treatment cycle come with three refills. If you are running low, be sure to call your prescribing pharmacy for a refill. Also, be sure to ask your insurance company if they require you to use a specific pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, Caremark, etc.) for your medications. Lastly, be sure to let your team know, as they may require a prior authorization."

Meg Kennedy, RN
Office Nurse

"As nurses, we are here to guide you through the process of trying to conceive and build a family. We understand that everyone's situation is unique, and we are here to support you, encourage you, and provide both clinical and emotional guidance from start to finish."

Elizabeth Davolos
Financial Supervisor

"Ask us about our Military Discount for fertility treatments. It offers 25% off IVF, Donor Egg, egg freezing, and more to Active Duty members, reserves, veterans and retirees, including spouses of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard."

Barbara Del Signore, RN
Office Nurse, Maine

"We understand the struggles you face dealing with infertility and the emotional roller-coaster that goes along with it. Circumstances may be both challenging and frustrating, but try not to let it consume you too much. We will be here to guide, support and encourage you every step of the way. Have faith, be patient, and persevere. Remember, you are not alone!"

Caron Campbell
Medical Technologist

"If a patient has had a negative experience with blood collection in the past, keep in mind the importance of ‘hydration.’ Proper hydration increases volume and plumps up the veins. It is most helpful when the patient hydrates during the day and evening before blood collection rather than just the morning of. Patients can also request that the phlebotomist place a small heat pack on the arm for a few minutes before!"

Karen Marans, PhD
Psychologist

"If you have experienced a failed treatment, a miscarriage, it’s absolutely OK to grieve. Allow yourself time to heal, even if it involves temporarily removing yourself from social situations that might be painful. If a friend or co-worker is hosting a birthday party for their child and you know there will be many kids around, it’s completely normal for you to not want to and not have to attend. Respect yourself and your emotions."

Rita Sneeringer, MD
Fertility Specialist

"Understanding when you're ovulating — and having sex regularly during those times can improve the odds of conceiving. Pregnancy rates are at their highest about two days prior to ovulation. So it’s very important to have sex on these days, as well as the next few days when trying to get pregnant. Time is of the essence and a very important step."

Julia Rzakhanov, RN
Donor Nurse Manager

"The donor egg or gestational carrier process can certainly be complicated, but don’t give up! You'll have the best team of doctors, nurses and staff working alongside you to accomplish your dream of having a baby. Our goal is to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible for our donor egg recipients and intended parents.”

Michael Alper, MD
Fertility Specialist

"As a co-founder of Boston IVF, I always want patients to feel confident in the care they receive. It's so important, and it's something we deliver on. We really stand out from the rest by our ability to accurately diagnose both routine and rare cases. By using more than 30 years of important treatment cycle data, we can identify unique trends that help us to make an accurate diagnosis."

Rhonda Gannon
Patient Liaison

"If you are considering gender transition, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for guidance. More and more, we are seeing tremendous fertility developments for the trans community. We offer egg and sperm freezing – and some insurance companies are now covering treatment costs! It’s so great to see!"

ASK RHONDA
Have questions about your fertility? Need info on available treatments or just general advice on where to begin? Don't hesitate to call or email Rhonda! For 30 years, she has been a phone call (888-300-2483) or email away and the perfect resource if you need answers.

YOUR REQUEST HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED

We look forward to speaking with you, and will be in touch as soon as possible!