For Some, Halacha Makes Conceiving Tough

Abiding by Jewish Law Prevents Some From Getting Pregnant

Doctor’s Orders: Dr. Richard Grazi says he has scores of testimonials from Orthodox women who suffered from ‘halachic infertility.’
Shulamit Seidler-Feller
Doctor’s Orders: Dr. Richard Grazi says he has scores of testimonials from Orthodox women who suffered from ‘halachic infertility.’

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published June 18, 2012, issue of June 22, 2012.
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The sperm sample is then delivered to a fertility lab and frozen until the woman reaches peak ovulation. Then, doctors inseminate the woman with her husband’s sperm. While insemination is technically simpler, it can instigate a vexing back-and-forth among a couple, their rabbi and their doctor. For that reason, Grazi said, most women opt for hormonal treatment.

Rachel’s halachic infertility was compounded by the fact that she has fewer and poorer-quality eggs than most women her age. When she visited Grazi last November, he prescribed the estradiol patch to delay her ovulation. After three months on the patch with no results, Grazi added another medication, clomiphene, to galvanize her egg development. Still nothing.

Grazi took her off the patch and placed her on Lupron. He then added injectable synthetic hormones to stimulate her eggs.

Grazi has assured Rachel that the hormones won’t harm her, but the combination of pills, injections and the stress of infertility has taken its toll.

“I wake up in the morning feeling so, so, so terribly down,” she said. “This is not good for your system. I am faced with the question of what to do next. Do I continue this until I am 50?”

With Rachel’s body primed to get pregnant, she and her husband tried for their sixth child in early June. But again, no baby.

Grazi has advised Rachel to pause her treatments while she travels upstate for a summer vacation with her family. When the family comes back, Rachel and Grazi can re-evaluate whether she will continue trying.

“I can say to God, ‘I tried last year — I tried my heart out,’” Rachel said. “’I am continuing to try, and I did my best and it is up to You.’”

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff


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