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A local reproductive health facility now has a state-of-the-art facility and ranks in the upper 10 percent in the United States. Keep reading to learn more.

 

The Institute for Reproductive Health helps patients dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss.

Has your family been struggling with infertility? The Greater Cincinnati-based Institute for Reproductive Health may be able to help.

With its main office located in Norwood, and satellite locations in West Chester and Florence, Kentucky, they have several locations with a variety of experts helping patients dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss.

“Most of our patients have not been able to get pregnant or have not been able to hold on to pregnancy. Some of those patients have a child, but many of them have never had a child,” Sherif Awadalla, Medical Director of the Institute for Reproductive Health. “We get some patients that are early on in treatment, but we get patients who had extensive prior failed treatments. It’s a variety of different kinds of people that we work with.”

The passion for the project came years ago when the institute was still hospital-based. “A lot of the hospitals are focused on cardiology and orthopedics. We found that being hospital-based was full of distraction because things were geared up more towards bigger procedures,” Awadalla recalls. “We thought that the hospital model did not work out really well for them.”

The Institute for Reproductive Health went from a unified facility in a hospital, to moving into its own building, and to now being in several locations across the Tri-State. “Our goal was to bring in the doctors, nurses, lab people, etc.,” Awadalla says. “It was kind of like an A to Z infertility treatment center, so we can concentrate on one thing.”

The Institute for Reproductive Health now has a new building for its main office in Norwood, and Awadalla says they now truly have a state of the art facility for their patients. “We just wanted to build a center that could do an excellent job at treating couples with infertility,” he adds. “We really are trying to be as efficient as possible and help them to get pregnant as quickly as possible.”

The institute has been in business for about 22 years, and offers variety of services, such as: ovulation medication, Artificial Insemination, Invetro Fertilization, Frozen Embryo Transfers, Sperm Donation, and Egg Donation.

Awadalla’s favorite part of working at the Institute for Reproductive Health is helping people who have had a complicated history and never succeeded with getting pregnant. “We get people who have had very complex prior failed treatment. Those cases are really, very rewarding,” he says. “The patients have worked so hard for so long, and then finally they’re able to have a child.”

Sherif Awadalla, Medical Director of the Institute for Reproductive Health

Awadalla loves coming to work everyday because it is interesting and there’s never a dull moment. “Everyday is a new journey we take with each couple. You know, it’s not over until it’s over,” he says. At the institute, there is always something going on. “It’s challenging and it’s stressful because we know it’s a big deal for the couples and we’re in it for them too,” Awadalla says. “It ends up being a lot of pressure on yourself.”

The Institute for Reproductive Health is unique because “We’re in the upper 10 percent in the United States, and extensive experience with it,” he says. The people working at the facility have broad experience in this field. “We’re also bringing in new people, so we can train them to continue on,” Awadalla says.

To learn more about the Institute for Reproductive Health, call 513-924-5560 or visit their website. Also, if you want to keep up with what the institute is doing, check out their Facebook page.

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Learn about an upcoming event that mixes the city’s best drinks with fun fundraising activities to raise funds to support local families.

 

April 23 through 29 is National Infertility Awareness Week, and Parental Hope is celebrating in style with their biggest fundraiser, Journey to Parenthood: A Cocktail Expedition to Battle Infertility, on April 29.

As the title suggests, guests will be treated to five tastings of designer cocktails from around the world (designed by Molly Wellmann of Wellmann Brands), two drink tickets, tasty food, a souvenir cocktail glass, and the opportunity to bid on and win great raffle prizes. There will also be beer from 50 West Brewery and wine, as well as mocktails and other nonalcoholic beverages.

“The highlight of the event will be the IVF Raffle, where one couple battling infertility will win a full round of IVF plus medication that has been generously donated by the Institute for Reproductive Health,” says Jennifer Bross, cofounder and board member of Parental Hope. Only 200 tickets will be sold, for $100 per ticket; prices will be raised to $125 starting April 15.

Parental Hope is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about infertility and providing emotional and financial support to couples undergoing treatment. Parental Hope helps couples by educating the community through events, social media, and traditional media to erase the stigma around infertility, organizing support groups for couples undergoing infertility, and awarding couples one of two types of grants – the IVF Grant, which covers one full round of IVF, and the FET Grant, which covers one frozen embryo transfer.

Parental Hope was founded by Bross and her husband David after they reflected on the trials and triumphs of their struggle to conceive, which took upward turns when they found out that their health insurance covered infertility treatments and later when they discovered that they were expecting twins. “We could not help but feel fortunate and blessed that we were not only pregnant, but also that we did not have to bear the financial burden of infertility due to my employer providing health insurance the covered the entire cost our IVF and other infertility treatments,” Bross says. “During that conversation, we decided we wanted to give back… by volunteering with an existing nonprofit that helps those battling infertility.” They realized that there was a limited number of such groups, and none fulfilled the Brosses’ needs, so in January 2016, Parental Hope was born.

According to the most recent National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, one in eight couples struggles with some form of infertility, approximately 6.1% of all women under the age of 44 and 13.5% of all married and childless women under the age of 44 are infertile, and approximately 6.9 million (or 11.9%) of all women receive some form of infertility treatment in their lifetime. Despite this, only eight states require an employer to cover the cost of infertility treatment in their health insurance plans. As a result, for the vast majority of all infertility sufferers, this adds a heavy financial burden to the emotional toll. Parental Hope is here to help.

“We want those currently battling infertility to know they are not alone and that there is a community of people who have either overcome infertility or are battling the same issue they are facing,” Bross says. “However, in order to meet our mission, we have to fundraise and Journey to Parenthood is our biggest fundraiser.  All proceeds from the event will be used to support our mission of raising infertility awareness and providing emotional and financial support to couples batting infertility.”

The event will take place from 7 to 11 pm at the Centennial Barn in Cincinnati. General admission tickets cost $50, but will increase to $60 after April 15. Tickets may be purchased at www.parentalhope.org.

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See how a local card designer is showcasing a topic rarely talked about amongst friends and family - infertility - to make a difference through super cute designs.

Andi Ploehs is the founder of A.P. Loves Design and recently launched a line of fertility cards.
Andi Ploehs is the founder of A.P. Loves Design and recently launched a line of fertility cards.

In the digitally-driven world we live in today, handwritten notes come far and few between. But who doesn’t enjoy getting a card from someone they love? Especially if it makes a difference.

That’s why Andi Ploehs launched her business A.P. Loves Design, a feel-good hand-lettered greeting card and paper goods company. Ploehs is the owner and creative director behind her business and a self-proclaimed girlboss.

She found inspiration to start her business and launch lines of greeting cards and paper goods by the world around her. “We’re inspired by the beautiful city we live in, nature, families, cultures, food, laughter, strong women, and being true to yourself,” she says.

Andi Ploehs, Founder of A.P. Loves Design
Andi Ploehs, Founder of A.P. Loves Design

Ploehs recently created a new line of cards that touch on a subject that is all too often something that isn’t talked about – fertility. “Our new line of cards are focused on fertility, but you can find a couple that you can use to cheer up a girlfriend or just let someone know how awesome they are,” she says.

The cards are all hand-lettered, just like her other products, and are made with recycled materials. However, the creation of the cards were easy to come up with, as Ploehs say she’s experienced every single card. “I think they’re honest, but created with love,” she adds.

Ploehs has suffered from two losses just this year alone, and as a result has struggled with trying to understand why she and her husband were chosen to go on such a journey.

“There’s such a negative connotation surrounding infertility,” she says. “It saddens me that women are ashamed to talk about it, because they assume no one else knows what they’re going through.”

However, Ploehs found that one she began sharing the experience from her own personal journey, she realized just how many people she was close to that have gone down a similar path. “Fertility sucks, simple as that,” she says. “But I believe a part of why I’m on this journey is to help end the negativity associated with infertility through cards.”

Ploehs designs and creates her own lines of greeting cards.
Ploehs designs and creates her own lines of greeting cards.

The fertility cards have become a way for Ploehs to not only have a creative outlet, but to bring up something that she believe should be discussed more.

Through the card line, Ploehs says that she hopes to be able to open communication and dialogue between families and friends.

As one would expect, Ploehs says that she has a few cards from her fertility line as well as her regular line that happen to be her favorites. From the fertility line, Ploehs says that she likes “Your rainbow is coming” and “Your bravery is inspiring.”

And from the regular line, Ploehs says that her favorites (and the store’s most popular) are “Aged to Perfection” and “Bam! You’re Engaged.”

Ploehs says that she recently released her holiday cards a few weeks ago, and totally ahead of schedule. To see Ploehs and her collection in person, you can check her out at the Crafty Supermarket Holiday Show on November 19, where she’ll be debuting her new product – gift wrap.

You can learn more about Ploehs, A.P. Loves Design, and shop the line of fertility cards at aplovesdesign.com. You can also follow along on Instagram where you can see sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes photos. Ploehs says that she also started the hashtag #interfilitywontsilenceme on Instagram in honor of National Miscarriage and Infant Loss Month. “Please help end the silence,” she says of the hashtag.

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Turning their infertility struggles into stepping stones for others, one area couple founded one of the only fertility financial support organizations in the country. Read on for more.

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Infertility is difficult. Paying for fertility treatments just adds insult to injury.

It’s a struggle that many face, and it’s one that’s all too familiar for David and Jennifer Bross. That’s why they founded Parental Hope, Inc., a 501 c3 non profit dedicated to providing financial support to people battling infertility by providing grants for treatment at the Institute for Reproductive Health, in Cincinnati.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) estimates the average price of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the U.S. to be $12,400. They also report that 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. However, these fertility treatments are rarely covered by insurance.

Parental Hope is one of the only fertility financial support organizations in the country. As a couple that struggled with infertility, David and Jennifer supported each other through three rounds of IVF. Their twins were born January of 2015.

David and Jennifer Bross, Founders of Parental Hope.
David and Jennifer Bross, Founders of Parental Hope.
“We want to give back to others who aren’t as fortunate as us to have our IVF covered,” says David. 85 percent of all fertility patients are self-pay and only eight states mandate that medical insurance cover fertility treatments.

Parental Hope seeks to spread awareness of infertility, help be an emotional support to families, in addition to being a financial support through their Parental Hope Family Grant. The grant will help to cover the cost of one round of IVF treatment for a selected family. “We want to be an organization who really impacts a family’s life,” says David.

The application deadline is Sep. 1. The Board of Directors will consider an applicant’s (and co-applicant’s) financial situation, their infertility medical diagnosis, their essay and interview. The amount of grants available is based upon the financial strength of Parental Hope year-to-year.

Parental Hope has an exclusive partnership with the Institute for Reproductive Health, to support their mission to help alleviate the financial stress of IVF by awarding selected families the Parental Hope Family Grant.

“Never give up hope,” Jennifer says. “Have the hope that one day you will have a family.” She advises couples to lean on each other, and if you’re comfortable enough, tell others what you’re going through, because you are not alone. David says that if others know what you’re struggling with, they may not be so insensitive. 

Each Applicant must meet the following requirements for the grant:

● Applicant must have a diagnosis that meets the definition of infertility according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
● Applicant (and co-applicant) must be citizens of the United States.
● Applicants must be uninsured for fertility treatments, including, but not limited to, IVF.
● All Applicants must agree to receive treatment at the Institute of Reproductive Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.
● Grant award shall be contingent on a satisfactory criminal background check and credit check.
● Grant finalists will be expected to participate in an interview with representatives of Parental Hope.
● Applicant must submit a $50 non-refundable application fee. Payment shall be in the form of personal check or money order and made payable to Parental Hope, Inc. Application fee is NON-REFUNDABLE and shall be considered a donation.

In addition to founding Parental Hope Inc., David and Jennifer also donated two embryos to a couple in need. The couple will be welcoming their new child later this summer. 

Parental Hope Inc. will continue to do small fundraisers year-round to help support the grant and hopefully create more in the future. For more information on the grant process, to volunteer or to donate, visit http://www.ParentalHope.org.

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Our editor in chic shares a letter to her daughter about sharing -- the good and bad -- with others.

dd4a2e338fae8a6ad5fe0753c248ac52A parent teaching their child about sharing. Not a novel concept, I know, but I want to teach you something different about sharing.

A little over a year ago, I published one of the most personal things — actually THE most personal thing — I’ve ever shared in my entire life. I wrote this article called “Love Lessons” about our battle with infertility and your daddy’s RA.

I originally wrote it as a personal journal entry, never to see the light of day by anyone other than myself. But my mom happened to call me when I was finishing it (moms just know these things). So, she asked to read it when I was done.

After reading it, she called me sobbing and said I needed — no, HAD — to share with others.

With shaky hands, filled with self-doubt, I did. Almost immediately, I wanted to take it down. I felt so naked, so defective, so alone. But I’m glad I didn’t take it down.

By the end of the day, I was inundated with messages from friends and strangers who were fighting the same battle. All the sudden I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded with love and empathy from people secretly struggling, too.

I’m proud to say that a year later, I still get messages from people thanking me for sharing. I’ve even made new friends and am helping them navigate their way through fertility treatments. One of them just posted about it being National Infertility Awareness Week, which is why I decided to write about this topic today.

So I encourage you, as tough as it may be, remember to share. Because shared joy is a double joy and shared sorrow is half a sorrow. And that, my dear, is a winning equation.

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