Family-building is a universal desire no matter the religion, ethnicity or gender of the intended parents.
It’s not uncommon, however, for some communities to have a harder time building their families than others. One example are Orthodox Jewish patients, who often have trouble conceiving because of religious customs. Of course, non-Orthodox Jewish couples can also experience infertility, or seek the help of a reproductive endocrinologist to help them conceive a healthy baby free from genetic disease.
For all these types of patients, RMA is here to help.
Dr. Rybak Specializes in Fertility for Orthodox Jewish Patients
One of the RMA doctors most experienced in the issues Jewish couples face on their road to parenthood is Dr. Eli Rybak, who practices out of RMA’s Englewood and Eatontown clinics. An ordained Orthodox rabbi, Dr. Rybak specializes in helping observant Jewish couples start their families.
He was recently one of the presenters at ‘Fertility and the Jewish Couple,’ an event at RMA’s Basking Ridge office hosted by A Time, an organization devoted to assisting Jewish couples with family-building.
Barriers to Conception for Orthodox Jewish Patients
Many of the couples in attendance were Orthodox Jews, who may be struggling to conceive because they observe a practice called Mikvah. The Mikvah, a ritual bath, is both an act and an observance. Women must wait at least 12 days after the start of their period to attend this bath, and cannot engage in sexual intercourse until after the bath. For women with shorter cycles who ovulate earlier than day 13, this means they miss their ovulation window and cannot get pregnant when they try.
For these women, fertility treatments like induced ovulation, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) can help. In these cases, Dr. Rybak, who is well-versed in Orthodox purity laws, can provide guidance to women about which fertility procedures can render a woman in “Niddah” status, which would require her to begin her 12 day count again (very few fertility procedures do this). Dr. Rybak can also instruct Orthodox Jewish men on sperm collection rules for fertility purposes, and RMA frequently hosts Orthodox observers in the embryology laboratory for oversight purposes.
Common Genetic Diseases in Orthodox Jewish Patients
In addition to infertility issues posed by Mikvah timing, some Jewish couples may undergo fertility treatment to prevent genetic disease from being passed to their children. Because certain genetic diseases – such as Cystic Fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease – are more common in the Jewish community, genetic testing is often recommended to ensure a healthy birth. If both partners are found through the testing – a simple blood test – to be carriers of disease, IVF can be used to genetically test an embryo for implantation that is free of disease. This is called PGD, or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, and RMA is the international leader in developing this technology and providing unsurpassed levels of success.
Finally, Jewish couples – whether Orthodox or not – can struggle to conceive for other reasons, such as age-related infertility, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) or endometriosis in women, and low motile sperm count in men.
The good news is that Dr. Rybak and RMA have seen all these cases before, and stand ready to help Jewish couples – religious or not – achieve their dreams of parenthood.