Four times per year the Gift of Parenthood organization and its partners provide fertility grants to carefully selected hopeful parents across the US. The chosen applicants then receive financial assistance towards their fertility treatments of choice. As a non-profit organization, our grant cycles would not be possible without our valued partners, many of whom are fertility clinics. These sponsors go above and beyond to help us in our mission to educate, inspire, and provide financial assistance to those that struggle with infertility. To show our appreciation for our newest partner clinic, The Fertility Centers of Illinois*, we would like to highlight them below and share information about their treatments.
The Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) provide compassionate and comprehensive fertility care with multiple locations throughout Illinois in Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Glenview, and Highland Park. The FCI team works collaboratively with patients to create customized treatment plans using the most advanced techniques available performed by internationally recognized physicians. They offer a wide range of fertility services, including IUI, IVF, INVOCELL® (Mini IVF), genetic testing, fertility preservation, and mental health counseling. One of FCI’s leading physicians, Dr. Rapisarda (pictured here) has won many accolades over the years including “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly, U.S. News & World Report, and Chicago Magazine.
Optimize Your Fertility At The Fertility Centers of Illinois
More and more couples and individuals are putting off having children until later in life. Between wanting to launch their careers, mounting student loan debt, and a global pandemic, delaying having children makes sense for a lot of Millenials. As of 2020, the average age of first-time mothers in America is up from 21 to 26, and fathers from 27 to 31. Although fertility declines with age, Dr. Rapisarda says there are steps that individuals can take to retain their ability to become pregnant later in life. Freezing eggs (oocyte vitrification) or embryos is a great option for women who are unsure if and when they want to have children. Freezing eggs or embryos when you are young ensures that the quality of your eggs remains high and provides the opportunity to have children when it might otherwise be impossible due to age.
Although aging is inevitable, we can optimize fertility over our lifetime by leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to environmental toxins that may damage our fertility, and nixing tobacco. Specifically, minimizing exposure to pesticides in fruits and vegetables will help keep eggs and sperm as healthy as possible. Plastics that contain bisphenols and BPAs may also harm fertility and should be avoided when storing or heating your food. Cigarette smoking is also detrimental with infertility rates in both male and female smokers at about twice that of nonsmokers.
Advanced Maternal Age
Dr. Rapisarda from The Fertility Centers of Illinois encourages younger individuals to optimize and preserve their fertility with egg/embryo freezing and healthy lifestyle choices. Even still, is it ever too late to get pregnant? There are many reasons people wait to have children until later in life, and all of them are valid. Maybe they didn’t meet the right partner, had financial hardships, experienced health challenges, or simply didn’t want kids in their twenties and thirties. Perhaps, they tried and were unable to get pregnant. Whatever the reason, becoming pregnant after 40 IS possible if you are ovulating. Though the chances of natural pregnancy are just 5% per cycle for a healthy woman over 40, miracles happen, and assisted reproductive technology like IVF can boost the odds further.
For most healthy individuals, it is safe to have a baby after 40 but there are additional risks. As women age, egg quality declines, and the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, birth defects such as Down syndrome, miscarriage, and low birth weight increases. Fortunately, with regular prenatal care, many of the risks and complications can be identified and treated to achieve a healthy outcome for both mother and baby.
FCI’s Approach To Mental Wellness
Infertility can cause immense emotional distress including depression, anxiety, and marital stress among other mental health issues. As patients undergo fertility treatment, they often need additional emotional support to navigate the ups and downs of the experience. As an organization FCI physicians, clinical, and support staff make a point to address the emotional impact of treatment from the outset. They offer behavioral health services to all FCI patients at any stage in their treatment journey, with the first consultation being complimentary. In addition to one-on-one counseling, they also offer three support group offerings, free of charge, for anyone regardless of their status as an FCI patient or not. Their behavioral health professionals are specially trained to understand and support patients who may be overwhelmed by treatment in any capacity.
FCI’s professional staff is trained to support patients emotionally from their very first consultation and beyond. Via FCI’s patient education programs, the behavioral health specialists produce podcasts and blog posts on the emotional impact of treatment and provide coping strategies for both patients and their loved ones. Finally, FCI has close ties with other behavioral health organizations to help patients cope with the physical and emotional toll of treatment.
Unfortunately, many US couples struggle to conceive and though they may seek medical help in the form of fertility treatments, IUI, IVF, egg and sperm donation, egg freezing, and surrogacy, these treatments are costly and come with no guarantee of a successful pregnancy.
At The Gift of Parenthood organization, we look forward to a future of more affordable and successful fertility treatment options for those struggling. In the meantime, we aim to help couples and individuals struggling with infertility achieve their dreams of becoming parents through fertility assistance grants ranging from $1,000 to $16,000, available four times a year. We are honored to partner with The Fertility Centers of Illinois to make parenthood possible for those struggling.
Will you be our next grant recipient? Apply today.
*Please note that success rates vary from clinic to clinic based on patient medical conditions, treatment methods, and data collection. Additionally, though the following clinics are our sponsors, we work with many clinics across the country, and grant recipients may receive treatment from any medical facility or laboratory operated by a licensed physician. This includes any fertility clinic that is a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).