Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Lab-grown sperm

A variety of solutions exist for severe male factor infertility. Depending on its severity, it can be as simple as concentrating the good sperm cells and injecting them straight to the uterus (at the correct time in the woman's cycle) using a process known as IUI. Or... if only a small amount of normal sperm cells can be found - IVF (in vitro fertilization) is combined with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm insertion). And then, when no sperm cells are found at all, there are surgical procedures in which sperm cells are aspirated directly from the testicles (this too is combined with IVF-ICSI). But what happens when there aren't any sperm cells and all attempts to remedy the situation have failed? The couple is faced with several options - adoption, donor sperm, or deciding to stop trying to conceive.

For many years, there's been talk of growing sperm cells in a lab. Today, I came across an article that discusses successful attempts at growing mouse sperm cells from germ cells - in a lab. And, as always, I was looking for the Israeli angle - and I found it more easily than expected. A team of Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University headed by Professor Mahmoud Huleihel successfully replicated the results in their own lab. Way to go! I hope to hear more about this in the future, especially when it is able to help an infertile couple achieve their dream of having a biological child.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flunking the Fertility IQ Test

I was on the phone with a woman who's writing a new book about infertility - she's a nurse who's been involved in treating couples for many, many years - and one of the things she mentioned as a goal of her book is that she wants people to get it into their heads that although technology is moving along, biology is still biology - and waiting to try to conceive until your late 30's and early 40's isn't always the best idea...

And then I came across this article by JoNel Aleccia about the fact that women didn't consistently answer correctly even some of the most basic fertility questions.

A few years back, I did research about women's estimates of their chances of conceiving each month. Interestingly, I found that the overestimated their chance of conceiving quickly, whereas they underestimated their chance of conceiving if they had already been trying for more than a few months. I never got around to doing the statistical analysis, but when I do, I think it will be an interesting read.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Woman with double uterus delivers twins

Wow. I just read this article about Andreea Barbosa, a 24-year-old woman who just became mom to twins, each born from one of her two uteruses. 

Again. Wow.

Almost as exciting as finding out I was pregnant

Seriously. I know it doesn't make any sense, but I pressed the "Send" button to send the first draft of my seminar paper off to my advisor and I got tears in my eyes. I've got that sensation of something big and exciting that's happening... Finding out I was pregnant (all 6 times) is the only thing I can compare it to (OK, perhaps with the exception of Nomi's pregnancy that included the shock element). There's also the uncertainty - will he like it? Will I have to make a lot of changes? But no matter how many changes he asks for, I know that I'm going to finally finish the degree I started back in 1985.

1985. I was 16 years old, after graduating high school a year early (I'd skipped kindergarten too). I moved to Israel on my own and went to the preparatory program for overseas students. After that, I studied nursing for a little over a year before I dropped out. I studied graphics briefly (completed a course) and then got an associates degree in printing (finished in 1990). But I had to go back to school after that... I took my first course at the Open University in the fall of 1995, just when I found out I was pregnant with Matan and Lilach. Since then it's been on and off for (wow!) 16 years.

My seminar paper (the topic of which is ethical aspects of commercial cord blood banking) was my last requirement. I still haven't submitted the final version to the university, but I'm most of the way there - and now I have no excuse not to move ahead with so many other things that I've put on hold. YAY!

and BTW - if you're considering banking your newborn's cord blood and you don't have a specific reason to do so, send an email or leave a comment. I can direct you to the information you need to make an informed decision.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A baby after cervical cancer

Dina Sela-Bracha and her husband became parents to little baby Keren last week (see article in Hebrew).

A few years a go, Dina had heavier than normal bleeding and discovered she had cervical cancer. The first medical center she went to, recommended a complete hysterectomy, including both ovaries. She decided to get a second opinion.

She ended up with her uterus and ovaries intact, but with a 1cm long cervix - not long enough to hold a pregnancy. When she found out she was pregnant, it became clear that she would need a special type of cerclage, which required her to fly from Israel to the US for the surgery.

According to the article, she was on bed rest from 36 weeks and then had a planned c-section. This is only the third case in Israel in which a woman carries a pregnancy successfully following recovery from cervical cancer.

Congratulations to the Sela-Bracha family!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Starting school

In less than a week, 5 of my kids will be going to school.

5, because Hadas graduated last year.

Matan and Lilach are starting high school (10th grade). Abigail is starting 1st grade, Nomi - kindergarten and Yirmi is going into pre-pre-school.

The summer has been chaotic, messy, loud, HOT, expensive and full of cool art projects. We're ending it with a going-back-to-school ice cream party (any excuse for a get-together).

I can't help thinking how ready I am for the kids to go back to school and for my life to go back to normal (normal?) - a few hours without screaming, screeching, whining and fighting each day... and, as thankful as I am to have each and every one of my precious children, I really can't wait.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rare news - frozen embryo transfer after death and donating a uterus

I've read two very interesting articles in the past two days.

In one, Keren Ayish, was battling infertility when it was discovered that she had a brain tumor. She successfully beat the cancer and then continued fertility treatments. Four years later, the cancer returned and spread. Keren had a miscarriage at 13 weeks and eventually died of cancer.

Before she died, she begged her husband to have their two frozen embryos transferred to a surrogate mother so that she could have a child after she died (article in Hebrew). After a 6-month battle with Israeli bureaucracy, finally her husband was able to get permission to take their remaining frozen embryos to be transferred to a surrogate mother in the United States. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy last week. The baby will be named with the name chosen by the parents before the mother died.

In the other news story, Eva Ottosson, a 56-year-old mother from Nottingham is donating her uterus to her daughter, Sarah, who due to a condition called Mayer Rokitanksy Kuster Hauser (MRKH), was born with no womb (watch the clip here). I wish them a lot of luck and a successful pregnancy and birth!!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

My favorite children's books

A while ago, I sent my internet friend, Bea, a list of books I enjoy reading to my kids. I've decided to share them here as well, since I am really picky and I would have loved to find recommendations like this all in one place.

The books I like have to be enjoyable both the the parent AND the child (otherwise, I kind of fall asleep)... most are funny or clever or touching or interesting - or a combination of a few of these. I left out books like "Cat in the Hat" that kind of troubles me; "The Three Little Pigs" that I just find boring; "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" that I really like, but you can't just sit and read it, you have to talk about the pictures and explain what's happening, which isn't always what I feel like doing (requires too much unavailable brain power, at times). Let me know if you like my list, think I've left out other great ones, think ones on the list aren't worth reading, etc...

Most of the books have links to the Book Depository, where you can buy them with free shipping worldwide (and good prices to begin with - almost all of the books are under $10). Until Sunday, the 5th of June, they're having a 10% off everything sale, using the coupon code MAY11.

Here goes:

My Dr. Seuss favorites
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - this one is silly and makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it.
Hop on Pop - same & good for early readers who can pick up a word or two here and there
Green Eggs and Ham - both a classic and a fun read

Eric Carle books - these are the ones I know and like best
The Grouchy Ladybug - lots of repetition and a good story
The Very Lonely Firefly - slightly happier than the previous. We have the version with built-in sound at the end, which is a nice touch.

Good books to read to little kids (even under 3)
I'm Not Feeling Well Today by Shirley Neitzel - a very simple story, but it builds up piece by piece so that the kids learn it by heart. (May be hard to find.)
The Little Engine That Could - also a classic - and my son, Yirmi, is crazy about trains (particularly Thomas the Tank Engine)
Leo and the Wallpaper Jungle - just sweet. (May be hard to find.)
My Friend is Sad - great for even really little kids - and short, clever and funny.

For slightly older kids (probably around 4-5 and up to 7 or so)
Stone Soup - we have the John Muth version. Excellent pictures and a very enjoyable story
Caps for Sale - another classic, something charming about it. Circus Caps for Sale is excellent too.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - nice. A bit long for really little ones, but I enjoy reading it.
The Empty Pot - I found this touching - and also teaches a good lesson.
Madeline - might be more a girl book, but we enjoy reading it (and our best listeners are girls)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Beautiful story.
My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza - clever. (May be hard to find.)
The Princess and the Pizza - part of the 'fractured fairy tales' series. This book is both clever and hilarious and will give both you and your kids a good laugh.