Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One in a million

3 million IVF babies have been born. Wow. Pretty amazing if you think of it. If you multiply that by the average number of cycles it took before viable pregnancies and then multiply that by the average number of shots each woman got... well... I don't even want to think of those numbers.

As I read the article I thought - one out of each million IVF babies born so far in the world is mine :-)

Today my oldest daughter (IVF, conceived after 3 years of infertility) had the Bat Mitzvah party for her friends. We rented a screening room at the new movie theater in town and the kids got popcorn & drinks & watched a movie. The mess stayed there - good thing too - I would have run out of bags for my vacuum cleaner...

Anyway, earlier in the day I had taken her to a mall about 30 minutes from here (to buy something to wear), in a place where I had lived for a few months in 1997. The only thing that made my time living there bearable was my friend P. who had IVF-ICSI twins (they're 11 now). When I drove there today, I remembered how funny P. was when people used to ask her if they were 'natural' - she pretended not to understand and said things like, "they have candy once in a while"... I thought about her again today when I came across an article about a study done on children born by ICSI. It says that they've studied kids who are 8-years-old and that they're doing well. 8? I think ICSI's been around for about 15 years, so why are the oldest kids who are being studied only 8?

As opposed to IVF where the sperm fertilizes the egg naturally (albeit in a lab), with ICSI, a single sperm is injected into the ova. It's pretty easy to understand why this might be a riskier process... From the data presented, it looks like children born as a result of ICSI are pretty much the same as children conceived naturally - they mention that the higher incidence of malformations found among ICSI children is probably a result of the genetics of the parents who end up going for ICSI & not the process itself.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pre-ICSI treatment for men

In last week's European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting, A. Farrag from the Grimaldi Medical Group, IVF/ICSI Unit, Rome, Italy presented a study done in the Grimaldi Medical Center. The study wanted to show the effect of treating patients going through ICSI due to idiopathic male infertility (male infertility, the cause of which is not known) and oligospermia (very low sperm count) with recombinant human FSH (gonal-F) before the IVF-ICSI cycle.

The men who were treated received Gonal-F shots 3 times a week for 3 months.
The results were good. Compared to the control group, the clinical pregnancy and implantation rates were higher and the early pregnancy loss rate was lower.

I wasn't able to find where the research was published, but if you're going through ICSI for one of the above reasons, it seems worth looking into.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sparing men from infertility after chemotherapy

At the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Prague, last week, Alon Carmely from Bar-Ilan University (Israel) said that his work (select Tuesday from the top and then click the 2nd to last link. Finally, look for A. Carmely - there's a summary of his presentation) showed for the first time that the injection of AS101, a drug that enhances the immune system, could protect the testis from the effects of paclitaxel (Taxol), a widely used chemotherapy drug.

Alon Carmely and his team knew that AS101 had been shown to have chemoprotective effects in both animal and human studies, and they decided to investigate whether it could help avoid testicular damage in mice treated with Taxol. The results showed only minimal testicular damage in the group that had been injected with AS101. Mature sperm was also found, as opposed to the control group, in which the testicles showed severe atrophy and empty seminiferous tubules (where the sperm-producing cells are) .

This provides hope even for those men who did not freeze sperm prior to beginning chemotherapy - some for lack of time, some because they were simply unable to think that far ahead while dealing with the uncertainty of cancer.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Transplanting a uterus?

A story I just couldn't miss... Successful uterus transplant in ewe - Scientists have successfully transplanted a uterus in a sheep. The hope is that such a transplant will be available for women in about 5 years. There are some major problems - the transplant would have to be from a relative (mother, sister) and could only be in place for a maximum of one birth or two years (whichever comes first).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Infertility News

I try to keep posting, but sometimes life and trying to make a living get in the way. I've had so many ideas run through my head about what this post should be about, but very little time to actually blog it.

My mom, who reads several (or more) infertility blogs religiously, keeps me posted when I get behind and has also sent me a few interesting articles recently. So, I'd like to thank my mom for sending me material for this post!

First. Robber Barren over at Ovaries on Strike saw two heartbeats on her ultrasound this week! I wish her an easy pregnancy and healthy babies! (My daughter saw me reading the post and insisted on knowing why I was crying...)

Next. My war against stress has met a glitch... It seems that stress-induced-infertility does exist. Some of the headlines read "Cutting stress may boost fertility", "Stress could make women infertile" and "Learning how to beat stress could be the best infertility treatment". All of these headlines are somewhat misleading - it sounds like they are referring to all kinds of infertility. The headline that was most accurate was Behavioral Therapy May Help In Stress-Related Infertility. The study discusses women who stopped menstruating and ovulating - due to stress - and the effect of cognitive behavior therapy on their fertility. There's also a brief mention of the effect of stress on male fertility, but no specific data. The study performed by scientists at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia only studied women whose infertility was caused by stress-induced amenorrhea.

Unbelievable. Another set of double-twins! I read and re-read this story trying to figure out why Tasha Riddle would opt for surrogacy after having 11 miscarriages. I guess they couldn't find anything wrong with the embryos and concluded that for some reason she could not carry a pregnancy. Anyway - Tasha's best friend, Raquel Mitola, offered to act as her surrogate. Both were implanted with embryos from Tasha's IVF cycle and both got pregnant - with twins! The two sets were born 8 days apart.

Twins are indeed a double blessing. Quads? I bet Tasha's going to stop deleting that Valium spam from her inbox any day now...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Few Donated Dollars

Believe me, my PayPal balance was nothing to write home about. I make a few bucks here and there by selling fertility tests on my Israeli (Hebrew) site ( I go through a complicated monthly process of changing the money into Shekels so that I can report it to my business and pay taxes... I always transfer an even amount, so that I sometimes end up with a few leftover bucks in the account.

While reading an infertility blog, I came across a site with a donation link that I found irresistible, so I clicked the button and set my PayPal account back to an even zero.

It would be great if there were funding for everyone who needs fertility treatments, but since there isn't, I hope I that those who can help will. I hope I find more opportunities like this in the future and that sometime I'll be able to make a donation that will actually make a difference. Until then, this felt good :-)

If you can, try it!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Keep Fighting the Stress Myth

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. No woman going through infertility wants to hear the words, "just relax".

There are a lot of myths about infertility - this page of fertility myths on Ovusoft is one I love - it discusses the most common ones. As part of my quest for the truth, I've searched high & low for research on the effect of stress on infertility and have yet to find an article that claims to have found a direct connection between the two.

An article recently published here (ic Wales) discusses stress and infertility. The first few paragraphs seem to imply that stress is linked to infertility. It's only once you grit your teeth and get past that, that the article mentions that "it may not be the stress directly...". Another researcher who didn't actually find a link...

I've got one question (OK, two) - If stress were really an important factor in fertility, like something that changed your body's chemistry so that an embryo couldn't implant, how would so many IVF babies be born? What could be more stressful than that?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Infertility Bloggers - Persephone Did It!

Wow! Persephone's long-awaited babies (nicknamed Aleph & Bet) have arrived:-)

It's amazing how happy you can be for someone you don't even know...

Here are a few other blogs I've come across. I'm putting up a list of soon - if you've got one, send it to me or add it in your comment.

A Little Pregnant
Project Genesis
In A Holding Pattern

Wishing Persephone & Lance a big Mazal Tov & hoping for a lot of happy stories :-)