Health & Wellness



Protecting Your Fertility
By Dr. Spencer Richlin, Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, Partner and Surgical Director with RMA of Connecticut.

Based on 20 years of experience working with patients struggling to conceive, I believe reproductive aging and autonomy need to be openly discussed. With advancement in the uses of alternative reproductive technologies, considering planned-conception earlier can assist women seeking to create or expand their families.

If you think back to your high school health class, there was an emphasis on students learning about contraception and safe sex. Fertility aging was never discussed. Early education, included in high school health curricula, I believe, can help patients protect their fertility potential and help to ensure an easier family-building journey.

Women are designed biologically different from men. A fundamental biological and reproductive difference between men and women is the production of male sperm vs. female eggs, “oocytes”. Men make new sperm every 90 days. Yet, women are born with their full complement of two million eggs for their lifetime. Healthy pregnancies require 23 chromosomes from the egg and 23 chromosomes from the sperm. As women advance in age, the ovaries release eggs without 23 chromosomes. This diminished ovarian reserve increases the chance for an unhealthy pregnancy and an unhealthy baby.

Here are some relevant tips and guidelines to help both women on their
family-building journey:

Maintain (or create) a healthy lifestyle. For women, a healthy lifestyle can protect their eggs. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, such as yoga, making healthy food choices and getting enough sleep (recommended 6-8 hours a night). If a woman is trying to conceive, she should start taking a prenatal vitamin. Some of my patients even do acupuncture, reporting positive results. Engaging in safe sex practices and using condoms decrease the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Often, STDs have no visible symptoms alerting patients that there’s a problem. Undiagnosed STDs can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes making pregnancy more difficult. Lastly, limit alcohol intake and avoid smoking as it ages oocytes.

Fertility tests. For women, there are three simple fertility tests that will give information on the health of her ovaries. These tests are usually done on day three of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The first test is a transvaginal ultrasound which will enable a physician to count the follicles of a woman’s ovaries. The greater the number of follicles, the better. In addition to this ultrasound, two hormone-blood tests should be drawn. The first test is follicle stimulating-hormone (FSH) and the second is the Anti-Mullerian Hormone test (AMH). The results of these hormone tests reflect oocyte quality and reproductive potential and may influence a patient’s reproductive timeline.

You don’t have to wait for the perfect partner! You do not have to find the perfect partner to become pregnant. I work with many women who know their egg quality will decrease with advancing age. Using donor sperm can assist many single moms-to-be who are ready to become pregnant without a partner.

Freeze your eggs. Excellent news, egg freezing is no longer experimental and is considered mainstream. In fact, companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google cover egg freezing for their employees. Many patients are protecting their fertility and extending their reproductive years by doing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and freezing their “eggs.”. When I see patients who do not yet have a partner or are not ready to build their family, I often tell them, “Your eggs will never be younger than they are today.” Doing a cycle of IVF and freezing oocytes is fairly uncomplicated and often takes less than three weeks. These oocytes can be used in the future with a partner or donor sperm.

Cancer patients should seek counseling and fertility preservation. All cancer patients, before undergoing any treatment, should sit down with a reproductive endocrinologist and investigate the options of egg or embryo freezing. We have patients with cancers who are going to need chemotherapy as part of their treatment. Even while treatments like chemotherapeutic agents save lives, they can damage a women’s eggs and make her infertile. Before a patient undergoes cancer treatment, we can do IVF and freeze oocytes or embryos for future use. After a patient’s treatment is successful and she is ready for family building, these oocytes or embryos can be thawed and transferred back to the uterus. This is truly fertility preservation.

As a veteran, Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, I can say with confidence, family building truly has no barriers. When it comes to fertility, I encourage my patients to be informed and proactive. Earlier understanding of reproductive aging can provide women with greater autonomy in making informed choices towards family building

Health & Wellness


The holidays are filled with festive family, friend and work celebrations that often involve alcohol. The team at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers wants everyone to enjoy getting together, while making sure everyone gets home safely.

“Holiday parties should be a time to make wonderful memories, not create permanent personal and legal consequences for causing someone else harm,” explained Attorney Jonathan Perkins. “A combination of common sense and an understanding of Connecticut alcohol statutes can prevent tragedy, legal liability and financial loss.”


Drinking alcohol decreases brain functionality, along with impairment of thinking, reasoning and coordination that can inhibit one’s ability to drive properly. Driving under the influence (DUI) includes impairment from alcohol or any other substance such as marijuana or drugs.

“The obvious way to prevent getting charged with DUI or causing a devastating auto accident is to never, ever drink and drive,” explained Attorney Jonathan Perkins. “There is no “safe” amount to drink then get behind the wheel.”

Designating a sober driver or using one of the many smartphone applications to get a ride may cost a bit in the immediate future but could save a lot, including potentially saving someone’s life or even your own.


The maximum blood-alcohol content (BAC) for Connecticut is .08 percent. For any percentage over this amount a driver is considered ‘per se intoxicated,’ meaning that alone is sufficient evidence to convict a driver of DUI. Those tested with a BAC at .16 percent receive more stringent punishment, which can include suspension of the driver’s license for up to one year.

Due to ‘zero tolerance laws,’ drivers under the age of 21 with a .02 percent blood-alcohol level or above are subject to DUI penalties. That’s the equivalent of one beer, one shot of liquor or one small glass of wine.


With the first DUI offense, the Department of Motor Vehicles imposes mandatory license suspension for one year; for the second offense, three years; for the third offense, the driver’s license is revoked.

An ignition interlock device can be installed at the driver’s expense upon the second DUI conviction. Mandatory alcohol education is a possible punishment. Drivers who have their licenses suspended by the DMV will be required to install an ignition interlock device to get their licenses back. The device requires an operator to blow a breath sample into a tube. The vehicle won’t start if the test comes back with a blood alcohol content of .025 or above. It will also require giving random samples while operating a motor vehicle.

DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.

“When you get a driver’s license, you agree to ‘implied consent laws,’ which include showing a driver’s license and proof of insurance upon request and submitting to breath, blood, or urine testing to prove intoxication,” said Attorney Perkins. “Drivers who refuse to cooperate may face suspension of their driver’s license for up to one year.”


Perkins notes that legal woes can result not just from consuming alcohol, but serving it as well.

Social host liability laws in Connecticut hold hosts liable for injuries caused by individuals after the host served them alcohol. Liability often extends to not only others who are injured by the individual’s actions, but to the individual as well should he or she be injured.

A negligence charge may supply another route for a personal injury victim to recover if a host negligently served alcohol, especially if the person who caused the accident was a minor.

“Bottom line, if you are hosting a holiday party, make sure all guests have a designated driver,” said Attorney Perkins. “Put alternate transportation plans in place beforehand as a backup in case anyone’s plans fall through.”


The Liquor Control Act in Connecticut prohibits an alcoholic liquor permittee or their employees from providing alcohol to intoxicated persons. Violations are punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year imprisonment, or both, for each offense. A permittee, such as a restaurant or bar, is liable if the permittee or his or her employee sells alcohol to an already-intoxicated person who injures a person or damages property. The actual amount of liability in a particular case is decided in court. The act limits the damages a permittee must pay to injured people to $250,000.

“It’s important for bartenders or servers to know that if they provide alcohol to someone who causes an injury or death due to intoxication, they may also be personally liable under certain circumstances,” stated Attorney Perkins.


Financial compensation is often the last thing on someone’s mind after escaping a serious car accident, especially a drunk driving accident. However, people may be entitled to compensation for both injuries and other damages that come from such an event, including emotional distress and for pain and suffering. Attorney Perkins cautions that damages become much more difficult to recover after time has passed, which makes it important to find the right personal injury lawyer early in the process.

The first part of the process is discerning who is liable for the damages and can be held accountable. Examples of such persons include:

  • The driver of the other vehicle in the crash
  • Governing entities if there was a defect in the roadway that led to or worsened the conditions for the accident
  • Third parties that intervened in some way, causing a negative effect
  • The owner of the other vehicle
  • The insurance company of the owner of the vehicle the victim was driving if the at-fault driver was not insured
  • The establishment that served the driver in excess prior to a drunk driving accident
  • Your own insurance company
  • The insurance company of a relative that lives in the same household if you do not have insurance in order to get underinsured motorist benefits

Figuring out the best party to pursue legally can be difficult. Through their years of experience, the Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers’ team has the knowledge needed to get the most favorable outcome in a drunk driving accident in Connecticut.




Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers

Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers is committed to fighting for clients who have suffered personal injuries. Se habla Español. For more information or to schedule a FREE consultation, visit  or call 1-800-PERKINS.


Body, Mind, & Soul, Health & Wellness



Depression, stress and anxiety are on the rise across the U.S. just as anti-depressants are coming under scrutiny. With many seeking natural remedies instead of meds, licensed acupuncturist Matt Maneggia has definitely seen an increase in people turning to the ancient medicine.

In the last couple of years, stress-related disorders have become the 2nd most common condition that bring people to our office, with pain still the number one reason,” said Maneggia, owner of Connecticut Family Acupuncture in West Hartford.  “Unquestionably, the number of kids and teenagers we treat is growing quickly.”

In fact, a new national report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State shows colleges are overwhelmed with students reaching out for counseling services to deal with mental health issues. Unfortunately many prescription medications are not recommended for young adults due to potentially harmful side effects.

“I think parents are becoming more and more wary of anxiety medications, and actually, kids usually really enjoy acupuncture,” explained Maneggia. “Very often they respond to it much more quickly than adults. Plus they love getting pictures of themselves getting a treatment to share on social media!”

Maneggia notes even for adults, research shows that around 50% of patients treated with medication for anxiety have an “inadequate response,” meaning that their symptoms are not relieved to a clinically significant level or that the patient experiences adverse side effects.

Acupuncture on the other hand, naturally inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, (the fight-or-flight aspect of the nervous system), and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, increasing the body’s ability to rest and relax. When the body is under stress, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus releases a bunch of neurochemicals. Acupuncture can calm this response. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase the release of endorphins, the body’s own “feel-good” chemicals.

And since acupuncture is not a medication, people can have acupuncture while they’re still taking medications. There are no interactions or contraindications between the two. And while Maneggia doesn’t advise his patients to go off any prescriptions, many of his patients work with their doctor to wean off anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications using acupuncture to bridge the gap.

Maneggia notes that while any acupuncture treatment helps with stress relief, there are some specific points that have a more direct effect on stress. Some of these are on the ear, and CT Family Acupuncture often uses ear seeds as a way for people to manage stress in between treatments. Maneggia explains that ear seeds are actual tiny black Vaccaria seeds adhered to the outside of the ear with tan or clear tape. Patients can apply them at home by themselves and gently pressing on the seed stimulates the central nervous system to relieve stress and pain. This allows the patient to activate the relief points when needed during a stressful situation.

“There are also two points on the bottom corners of the fingernail of the pinky that are quite responsive to acupressure to relieve stress – you can just press on these with another fingernail when needed,” added Maneggia. “I have an eBook coming out very soon that discusses some do-it-yourself techniques for a variety of issues, including stress and anxiety – so keep an eye out on our webpage.”

Chinese herbal formulations are also used in conjunction with acupuncture as they can be highly effective and sometimes provide fairly immediate relief. Like the ear seeds, herb formulas can be a great way to maintain the beneficial effects of acupuncture between treatments.

Everybody responds to acupuncture in their own unique way, with some people noticing improvement quicker than others. However, Maneggia generally believes it’s best to get a handful of treatments closer together when starting acupuncture since the treatments have a cumulative effect.

“That may be two treatments a week for a couple of weeks, then once a week for a few weeks, then every other week, etc. I use the analogy of starting a lawn mower for the first time after a long winter – you need to give the cord a few good pulls in close succession before the engine engages and takes over on its own,” he said. “Usually, once somebody is out of the acute situation, people schedule appointments once every 4-6 weeks for maintenance.”


Since 2007, Connecticut Family Acupuncture has utilized acupuncture, TCM work, and cupping to help thousands of people realize their optimum health naturally, without the use of pharmaceutical or surgical interventions. All practitioners exceed state and national requirements for licensure in acupuncture combined with an extensive knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Nationally certified by the NCCAOM and licensed by the CT Department of Public Health. Two locations: West Hartford Acupuncture at 173 Oakwood Avenue in West Hartford and 1212 Boston Turnpike in Bolton. To schedule a FREE 20 minute consultation, call 860.809.1125 or visit

Health & Wellness

Saint Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts Now Offers Non-surgical Mitral Valve Replacement for Patients with a Failing Tissue Mitral Valve

The Saint Vincent Hospital’s Structural and Valvular Heart Disease Program now offers Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement (TMVR). This is a non-surgical approach for patients with significant mitral stenosis and/or regurgitation involving a prior surgical implant of a bioprosthetic mitral valve who are high risk for a reoperation.

Saint Vincent Hospital is utilizing the Edwards SAPIEN 3 valve for the TMVR procedure. The TMVR provides a new treatment option for patients with a deteriorating mitral valve who are at high risk for subsequent open heart surgery to replace their bioprosthetic valve. The SAPIEN 3 valve is the only transcatheter valve approved for valve-in-valve procedures.

“I am very proud to be part of the team bringing this exciting technology to Saint Vincent Hospital,” said Dr. Joseph Hannan, Co-Director of the Structural and Valvular Heart Disease program and Director of Interventional Cardiology at Saint Vincent Hospital. “Our cardiac program continues to make major advances in providing innovative cardiac care to the people of Central Massachusetts.”

“I believe the Edwards SAPIEN 3 transcatheter heart valve for mitral valve replacement inside a failed surgical valve replacement is a great technological breakthrough in the modern medical era,” added Dr. Robert Bojar, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Saint Vincent Hospital. “I am thrilled that we are now able to offer this service to our patients.”

“Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States, killing more people every year than all forms of cancer combined,” said Jeffrey M .Welch, chief executive officer at Saint Vincent Hospital. “Our goal is to bring new medical advances to our community, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement and transcatheter mitral valve repair and replacement, which could offer better outcomes for some of our most high-risk patients.”

The Edwards SAPIEN 3 valve was approved by the FDA in 2015 for severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis patients at high risk for open-heart surgery, and, in 2016, received approval for the treatment of patients with aortic stenosis who are at intermediate risk for open-heart surgery. In 2017, the FDA approved treatment of a deteriorating bioprosthetic valve in the mitral position with the SAPIEN 3 valve. The SAPIEN 3 valve builds on Edwards’ decades of experience in the development of tissue heart valves. For more information about the all cardiac services offered at Saint Vincent Hospital, visit


Health & Wellness

Immunizations Are Important

Immunizations Are Important

Dr. Vincent Meoli, Regional Medical Director

for Doctor’s Express – Contributing Writers


September  is the perfect time to make sure vaccines are up-to-date. Vaccines can help prevent the spread of contagious disease to the most vulnerable of community members, including pregnant women, babies and people with compromised immune systems.

School-age children are not the only people who need vaccinations.

Pregnant Women. Immunizations and vaccines are a critical part of a healthy pregnancy. Women who are planning to become pregnant may need to receive vaccines before even carrying a child.

Preteens and Teens. Teens and young adults need a series of vaccines to protect against dangerous diseases.

Adults. All adults should get the flu vaccines each year and additionally every adult should have one dose of the Tdap vaccine to guard against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Babies and Young Children. Babies require a strict immunization schedule and should receive vaccinations that help protect against 14 diseases by age two. When children are not vaccinated they are at an increased risk for disease and can actually spread diseases to other children.

Take the time to develop an immunization schedule for children and family members to guard against unwanted diseases and illnesses. Additionally, some vacation destinations also require certain vaccinations, research travel prior to leaving.

Book Review, Health & Wellness

Women and False Choice: The Truth about Sexism

Women and False ChoiceFor millennia, women have been told who they are: loving, empathic, caring mothers and wives, who exist always in relation to others need for care, be it a child, a husband, an elderly parent or community. Men, on the other hand, have been told that they are the ones who make things happen in the outside world, and they are the ones who bring home the bacon, so to speak.

These cultural ideas of who women and men are and how they are situated in society still, unconsciously, rule our life today. So much so that even when women work, they still see themselves are the primary carers in the family, and even when men do take on some care responsibilities, they still see themselves as the breadwinners. Muna Jawhary’s book prompts us to abandon these concepts of women and men and invites us to look deeper within ourselves to connect with who we truly are as human beings.

Our unconscious beliefs that see women and men as fundamentally different human beings manifest in reality as sex-differentiated behavior, be it in cognitive abilities, psychological traits, or even dispositions. Jawhary brings in the relatively new science of epigenetics to show that there is no separation between mind and environment: perceptions of our environment, filtered through our cultural beliefs, translate themselves into a corresponding behaviour in our bodies to maintain harmony between mind, body and environment.

As women make life-career choices, they are constrained by cultural ideas, images and symbols that create the ‘nurturance imperative’ in their psyche. Women mistake this learned nurturing behaviour, of putting others’ interests before theirs, for natural instinct and make choices that are not in line with their authentic self. Women in other words unknowingly make false choices.

About the author: Having had a successful career as an economist, Muna channeled her energies into uncovering why women do not advance in life as much as men, especially when they have children. Her findings are documented in this book, which she hopes will offer new ideas for how to eradicate sexism from our contemporary societies. Muna blogs on sex equality on her website,, and coaches individuals on how to live their lives authentically. Contact Muna at Her book is available on

Health & Wellness

What You Need to Know About Zika Virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to pregnant women visiting areas where the virus has spread. For now, the CDC recommends that men having sex after traveling to these areas use condoms and pregnant women avoid contact with semen from men exposed to the virus. Massachusetts has one confirmed case of the Zika virus and additional cases are possible.

Dr. Andrew Healy, a perinatologist in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Baystate Medical Center answers important questions about Zika.

Q. What is the Zika virus and how is it transmitted?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness like yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses, spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito. There is no vaccine or medication, but researchers are working on both.

Q. Should people be concerned about traveling to Zika-affected areas?
While everyone is at risk, in general, people should not be concerned. If you are pregnant, contact your doctor before traveling.

Q. What should a woman do if she was pregnant while visiting an infected area, or became pregnant shortly after?
Pregnant women should contact their obstetric provider if they recently traveled to at-risk areas. CDC issued interim evaluation and treatment guidelines for infants born to mothers who traveled in these areas during pregnancy.

Q. How can you prevent being infected with the Zika virus?
Use insect repellents – especially those containing DEET – avoid freestanding water and wear protective clothing treated with permethrin prior to travel.

Q. What countries are included in the current CDC advisory?
As of this writing, there are over 25 regions outside the U.S. For the latest CDC travel advisories visit:

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit

Keith O’Connor
Contributing Writer