Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tired of being pregnant?

Read this. This article by Nathanael Johnson published today on MercuryNews.com discusses how women who elect to be induced before 39 weeks of gestation are, according to Dr. Bryan Oshiro, vice chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Loma Linda University, "playing Russian roulette".

Note: They're not talking about women who are induced because of risks, but rather women with healthy pregnancies who choose to be induced because they are "tired of being pregnant".


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The funniest miscarriage story ever

Miscarriage isn't funny. I totally know that. I had one when I was about 13 weeks pregnant with what would have been my fourth child.

I've written about it before, but I'll recap in brief just to give you the context. My daughter, Hadas, was conceived after 3 years of infertility with the help of IVF. I refused to let anyone call her an only child - she was my FIRST. Knowing I wanted a fairly big family, I was ready to go back to try IVF again when she was just 6 months old. But then I got chronic fatigue that included fever every single day for over a year. Finally, I lied to the clinic & told them that the fever had disappeared. I went through 2 cycles that failed and then a doomed frozen cycle that resulted, miraculously, in twins. Twins, as anyone who has them knows, are a heck of a lot of work. And my ex-husband decided, when they were about 3 months old, that he'd had enough of it & started coming home only once all three kids were sleeping (or at 11, whichever was later). Despite all that, I was missing another baby. It was such a strong feeling of someone missing that I became obsessed with having another (stupid, I know, especially with such a non-supportive, abusive husband). So finally, when the twins were 5, my ex agreed to go back and do just one IVF cycle - the one that I knew would be my *last*chance*ever* to have that baby I was missing so much. The cycle was OK, but my ex was so not into it. To make life easier for him, I dragged one of the kids with me to my appointments (out of the city, early in the morning) every time I went. Hadas (then 8) gave me some of the shots (yes, I really did let her do that). And then I found out I was pregnant, but my beta was low & then didn't double (you can see more details at that link). I had gotten somewhat hopeful that things were going to work out (despite the odds being really low according to everything I'd read), and so were the kids. They were devastated when I lost the baby and asked for details at first, but then seemed to shy away from the topic...

So Friday night, I set the table and I was talking to the kids, telling them that I too was really sad about the miscarriage and that they should feel they could ask me anything they want. Lilach (then 6) said, "I have a question." "OK..." I answered. "I want to know why you put a spoon by my plate when you know I hate apple crumble."

This still makes me laugh every time I remember :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Domestic Abuse

Apparently, at least in Israel,today is National Domestic Abuse Day - a day used to raise awareness about domestic abuse and to remember those who didn't survive it.

Abuse isn't only about getting beaten up. It's also about being so scared that you lie all the time. It's about wishing someone would never come back when they leave the house each day. It's about being repeatedly told that you're worthless, that without your partner you'd have and be nothing. It's about a relationship that's in no way equal. One calls the shots and the other does whatever s/he's told - not out of agreement, but out of fear of not complying. Abuse is those black and blue marks you have on your upper arm from where you were pinched because you said the wrong thing. It's about living in fear. It's abuse when you warn your kids not to go downstairs because you know they'll end up getting beaten no matter what they do, or pretending you're asleep until your partner leaves the house so that you wont have to interact, or getting cable tv so s/he'll leave you alone...

If you recognize any of these signs (or many others that I am sure I failed to mention) - get help and find a way out. Be clever. Abusers hate to lose their abusee. Do things quietly and carefully. Make sure you have the right support. I believe every city has an organization (at least one) to help women who are abused (if you're a man, it may be more difficult). If you are being abused, try first to admit it to yourself, then to someone you trust. And once you make the decision to get out, know you're going to have to follow through with it. And it's hard. Abusers will promise just about anything to get you to stay and if you fall for it again, you'll be falling right back into the cycle of abuse. You're going to need a lot of support. Long term.

I know all this because I was there. I lived this for many years of my life and sometimes I even thought I was happy. I was lucky. I got out and I've been able to mostly get past the emotional scars that years of abuse leave you with. I'm still working on it and it might take the rest of my life.

I was talking to someone just yesterday about why women choose to stay and how I still understand the decision (not that I agree with it, but I understand it). It can be a huge step to be on your own, maybe responsible for small children, often without the resources you were used to. I was lucky in that sense too. I had both a good job and sold my half of the house to my ex.

It's been over 8 years since my divorce. At that time, I thought that even if I lived alone for the rest of my life, it would be better than living in fear. But, as most of you know, I did get remarried and my husband and I have 3 children, in addition to my 3 from my previous marriage. My husband is my best friend and a person I love, respect and trust. I feel truly lucky that he chose me and that he has chosen to be a parent to my older children as well.

If you're being abused, please believe that things can be better, that it's your responsibility to make them better. You only live once.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Celine Dion's twin boys are born

Congratulations to Celine Dion and her husband on the birth of their twin boys - born after IVF!

In other news, Dee is currently 22 weeks pregnant and all is well! They're expecting a boy :-)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Developer of IVF wins Nobel Prize

Robert G. Edwards won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this year!

One article states that approximately 4 million babies have been born with the help of IVF. Personally, I'm surprised the number is that low...

Congratulations, Mr. Edwards - better late than never!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Healthy Baby Born After Frozen Ovarian Tissue Implant

Thanks to my mom for sending me this article, which I believe was written by Ron Krumer.

"Against almost all odds, 28-year-old Arin Nasser gave birth to a healthy baby boy this week thanks to a unique procedure that involved removing, freezing and implanting slices of her ovarian tissue.

Arin was born in the Arab village Gush-Halav near Safad in the upper Galilee with Thalassemia (a potentially fatal genetic blood disease) – her only hope was a bone marrow transplant.

When she was 21, Prof. Reuven Or and Dr. Michael Shapira of Hadassah’s Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation performed the lifesaving procedure. But before the operation, before she was married, Arin was determined to make sure that some day she could have children. She turned to Hadassah for help.

About two months before the transplant, Hadassah doctors removed exceedingly thin slices of her ovarian tissue with a special instrument originally developed by Prof. Eduardo Mitrani of the Hebrew University’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Prof. Neri Laufer, Head of Hadassah’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Dr. Ariel Revel of that department collaborated with Prof. Mitrani in the development of the human applications for the instrument.

The (bone marrow -r.i.) transplant took, Arin recovered, returned to her Galilee home in Gush Chalav and married. A few years ago, she returned to Hadassah – this time with the hope of becoming pregnant. In a unique procedure, Prof. Laufer and Dr. Revel implanted pieces of the frozen tissue and reconstructed her ovaries. The microscopic thickness of the tissue their instrument produced enabled Arin’s body to accept them relatively easily and without complications. Under the supervision of Prof. Alex Simon, Director of Hadassah’s In Vitro Fertilization Center, Arin became pregnant. 3 days ago she gave birth to her first child – both of them in good condition – and both resting comfortably in the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center."


Mommy & baby :-) Congratulations!!!

Another article of interest: Babies born a year apart after ovary transplant

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thoughts about adoption

At one point, nearly 20 years ago, I considered adoption. I had two options - one was adopting from the US, from a state where abortion is illegal and many babies are put up for adoption each year and the other was adopting in Israel, which was likely to involve a six year wait in order to get a baby. When I thought about it, I knew that I wasn't ready to accept just any baby. I wanted to know that s/he was healthy, that the mother hadn't used drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy, that the baby was normal... and then I thought that if my demands were so high, I just wasn't ready to adopt. That adoption should mean a willingness to accept any child who needed a home.

I did sign up for adoption in Israel and went through the entire initial process, which included many meetings... but I hoped that by the time they called, I'd be able to say that they could just call the next person... that I was no longer eligible (because I already had a baby of my own). I got a "checking-in" call when I was about 5 months pregnant with Hadas and I don't remember ever hearing from them again (perhaps at some point they contacted me and I told them to take me off the list, but I don't remember). And while I was going through the process, I had no doubt that I could love the baby as my own. That I would always feel that s/he (and I had no preference for gender) was an incredible gift that I was given to love and take care of and help become an independent individual...

Now, having my own biological children, I wonder. I wonder how I would feel about extremely violent behavior, for example. Or a child being terribly destructive. I wonder if it is easier to accept genetic predisposition to undesirable behavior when you know where it came from. Or when you know that later in life the parent was able to overcome it. What if the adopted baby grew into a person who had a really addictive personality and I had to spend years of my life struggling to keep the child on the right side of things? Would I resent that? Would I at some point question my decision to have become an adoptive parent?

I think before I had kids I believed that nurturing a child was incredibly powerful, able to overcome nature... Now I think that nature has quite a lot to say about who we are deep inside. Of course we have the power to change things, but in order to change, you have to have the willpower... and that, it seems, is also highly determined by nature...

Something else I may have missed then (back in the early 90's) was that babies grow up and become people. I know it sounds incredibly trivial, but when you're trying to conceive, your goal is a baby. A child of your own, but, when you were going through infertility (or if you are now) how old did that child ever get in your imagination? I don't think mine was ever beyond 2 or 3. And incredibly cute and lovable. I mean, you don't really picture a little (very lovable, of course) terror who's climbing on the counters and flinging the silverware out of the drawers and then finding that one pen you accidentally left somewhere and using it to write all over your fancy new white dress... (and if you did, I'm impressed. I was not that creative.)

The last thing I missed was the connection to family. Where does this new person, who probably has a background very different from my own, fit in with the whole family tree? Is it like someone who marries into a family? If my kids had an adopted cousin, would it seem just like a regular cousin, even without that genetic link? And a few generations down the line - what does this person have in common with a distant cousin? I'm not trying to say there isn't a connection, I am just wondering if it is the same as having a genetic bond, no matter how small...

I’m prepared to be flamed and to hear how wrong / na├»ve / insensitive I am. I never adopted, I really don’t know what it’s like.

All thoughts are welcome…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Really? Just 2%?

This article by Kathryn Roethel in the San Francisco Chronicle surprised me. It claims that of the 7.2 million couples with clinical infertility, less than 2% go for in vitro fertilization. My jaw dropped. Really? So what do the other 98% do? I'm guessing some are successful with clomid or IUI. Some give up. Some adopt, perhaps. But, really. That's going to leave quite a large number of couples yearning for a baby for many, many years.

But that's not actually the point of the article. The point was to introduce a new test developed by researchers from Stanford University that uses more than 50 parameters to estimate the chances of success for a couple who's had at least one IVF cycle. Its goal is to help couples know whether they should keep trying or move on to other options. The test isn't available yet, but they're expecting it to be available sometime in 2011.

Sounds promising.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So let me rephrase this...

Still on the topic of adoption... If you ever considered adoption, what were your concerns? Would you have / did you go ahead with it? If not, why not? If you did, what things surprised you most?

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Dee update: All's well. Now at about 11 weeks :-) They've even picked out a name (if it's a boy).

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Also coming soon: Medical research reveals that lycopene improves male fertility in men who have a concentration of >5 million cells/ml. I first heard about this in 2000 or 2001 and have been recommending it to people as "something worth trying". It's nice to see that the research has shown its effects to be statistically significant.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brewing some thoughts about adoption

I've been thinking about adoption a lot lately. Not because we're considering adopting (we're not) or because anyone we know is (not that we know of), but because I think that my understanding of adoption has changed over the years and I'm wondering what other people's thoughts are too.

If you've ever considered adoption, what did you imagine? If you went ahead with it, how does it relate to your expectations? If you chose not to - why?

Friday, July 16, 2010

One is a beautiful number

Dee saw one little beating heart yesterday.

Everything looks perfect.

An awesome present for her 40th birthday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The big day

Today's Dee's ultrasound. Not the one where they hope to see the first heartbeat, it's still too early, but where they hope to see a sac, in the uterus... or maybe two?

I'll know later today and will keep you posted.

In other news, super-mega-awesome congrats to Bea, one of my very favorite bloggers, who went through IVF for her first baby and has now had a fantastic surprise!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Second beta 2500

Three days later. It's looking good :-)

Dee's ultrasound is scheduled for Thursday - they're hoping to see that everything is OK... and kind of hoping for twins.

In other news, I've recently heard about IMSI - Intracytoplasmic Morphologically-Selected Sperm Injection and I'm wondering what the big difference between that and ICSI is - I mean, is it that with ICSI the tech just looks at the sperm cells and decides which ones look best and with IMSI that they check under a microscope? If anyone has any information or insight to share, please do :-)

Monday, July 05, 2010

First beta - 500

At 14dpt. Taking bets as to whether it's twins or not...

After the first transfer, Dee and Jon (the future father)* took a vacation together and Dee's made sure to keep Jon in the loop. In fact, today, when they got the results, he came to pick her up from work to celebrate.

The parents & grandmom-to-be are ecstatic!

*For anyone who hasn't been following, Dee is single and decided that she wanted to have a child who would have a father in its life, so she got together with a homosexual couple (who's since separated) and they plan to co-parent. They've even bought apartments in the same building to make things easier.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Faint pink line...

Dee's 1st FET (frozen embryo transfer) was about 12 days ago - and she got her first faint pink line EVER on Thursday morning. Her mom is cautiously optimistic. Tomorrow's the blood test. Believe it or not, she didn't test today (I would never have been able to resist).

I just hope that a few years from now they don't regret having used the frozen embryos*. Dee turns 40 this month.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and will let you know as soon as I do.

*If this is unclear, pls ask & I'll explain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two week wait visualization

I love this - it describes so well what it's like when you're trying to conceive...



I had to go back and make another...



I created these using Wordle... What do you think?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Patient attitudes towards twin pregnancies and SET

SET = single embryo transfer.

This article (actually a letter to the editor of Human Reproduction - March 11, 2008) by M. Garel et.al. about the attitude of patients undergoing IVF toward twins is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in the topic and likes reading articles in academic journals.

To me, the bottom line seems to be that asking patients about their attitude in a questionnaire doesn't give real information - does saying one doesn't want twins seem ungrateful? Is the reason for wanting twins the fear that one will only be able to achieve one successful pregnancy?

---

I'm still looking for a topic for my seminar paper in Survey Methodology. Ideally, it would have to do with surveys used with patients undergoing infertility treatments... but I need a specific angle that other people have researched (since I don't want to have to do statistical evaluations on my own questionnaire). Any ideas are welcome...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baby news from India



They hope this will encourage more childless couples to go for treatment? Sorry, triplets at 66 is a bit much. I'm 41 and find it plenty chaotic to be home with my little ones who are 5, 4 & 2...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

1st IVF a flop

Dee started spotting on the 12th day after her (1st) transfer. The bleeding got worse and it became evident that the first IVF was unsuccessful. They did, however, get 6 embryos that were good enough to freeze. Sometimes, even when everything's perfect, it just. doesn't. work. She's taking it in stride and will try again as soon as they'll let her (not sure if a fresh or frozen cycle, although if I were the one making the decision - and turning 40 next month - I'd opt for another fresh cycle & save the frozen ones for later).

On another topic, I've met a few people who are surprised that IVF dates as far back as it does. When I say my daughter (who'll be 17 in October) is an IVF baby, I sometimes get surprised responses... Having gone through it then and having recently followed the process - it has barely changed. The process itself, the day of transfer, the post-transfer treatment and even the success rates (I'm sure they must be somewhat higher, but even then they were in the 20-25% range). The biggest change is probably how often ICSI is used and the fact that clinics are transferring fewer embryos. 4 embryos was the standard in Israel then. Now, I think it's 2.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Using PGD to select gender

A few years ago, a law was passed in Israel, allowing couples to apply for permission to use PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a method in which genetic testing is done on an embryo prior to transferring it to the uterus) in order to select a specific gender. The criteria included having 4 or more children of the same gender and that having an additional child of the same gender would put significant stress either on the parents or on the child who was born. A panel that includes doctors, a psychologist, a person representing religious aspects, etc. meet with the couple to hear their story and make the decision.

I just read this article (using the translate function works OK, not great)... and found this part fascinating (adapted from the Google translation): In some cases, the committee has approved ultra-Orthodox religious families' choice to have a daughter. This is in cases in which the family is either Cohen or Levi and the couple requires sperm donation in order to have a child. In this case, the parents are concerned that once the child reaches the age of bar mitzvah, they will not be able to let him have an aliyah* as a Cohen or Levi & will have to disclose the fact that he was born as a result of sperm donation to the community. These couples would rather have no children than risk the birth of a son... There's still one issue that it doesn't solve - that of a Pidyon HaBen - because a daughter of a Cohen wouldn't have to have one for her son... (so a girl born as a result of sperm donation would be required to have a Pidyon HaBen for her son, but wouldn't know that she should.) I wonder how they solve that problem - especially since that too is a public ceremony. Perhaps they spend the first 20 years of her life praying that her firstborn is a girl**...

*Aliyah - the honor of being called up to participate in the reading of the Torah in the synagogue
**By age 20, many ultra-Orthodox girls are married and become mothers

Dee updated: Dee's RE called today to say that in addition to the 2 embryos they transferred, they've got an amazing blastocyst that they just have to transfer too. (I've never heard of two transfers during the same cycle - must be something more recent than my experience.) I don't know what her choice will be... (I think I would have gone for it :-))

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dee Update

Dee had her first IVF last week. They retrieved 16 eggs, ALL of which fertilized. 1 stopped developing & the 'best' 2 were transferred. The two week wait has begun...

Something unrelated... someone was diagnosing our passion fruit plant. "It's barren," she said. Another asked, "How can you tell if it's barren?". Her response, "You see if there's any fruit on it, and if there are only flowers and no fruit, it's barren."

So glad she didn't become a doctor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sperm motility improved by light waves

In the past, I received a boatload of spam comments indicating that due to the light that embryos are exposed to during the process of IVF, they are significantly harmed. I must say that I didn't read these thoroughly (and assume most were from the same person or organization, since they seemed to originate from India) and wasn't really worried about it since my three IVF children appear to be perfectly normal... What brought back this memory was an article I read in this morning's Haaretz about the ability of visible light waves to significantly improve sperm motility. Researchers from Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba and Bar Ilan University examined sperm motility using a CASA (computer aided semen analysis) device. They exposed the semen to lightwave radiation for three minutes and found that at specific wavelengths (400-700 nanometers) sperm motility improved.

Prof. Adrian Shulman said that if these findings are confirmed in additional studies, it has the ability to improve the results of couples with male factor infertility. The article implies that in fact, in borderline cases, it may eliminate the need to perform ICSI, a more expensive and delicate procedure (which does have very high success rates). They mention current success rates at around 90% - and my guess is that some of the non-successful treatments involve azoospermia (no sperm found), so it would be interesting to hear for exactly what cases this holds promise...

The full article appears here. (The 2nd half of the article looks like random information about IVF in Israel and male factor infertility in general, and is not part of the results they're presenting.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Moving on to IVF

Not me. I'm done :-) I'm referring to the woman who I've been telling you about - I'll call her Dee. Quick recap: Dee's turning 40 in the next few months and has decided to go ahead and have a baby with a homosexual couple. They've had 4 failed IUIs so far and are on their first IVF cycle.

Dee's mom describes her and the baby's father as 'best friends' or even soulmates... They spend a lot of time together, hang out together and are even going on a trip together sometime this summer.

I wonder what will happen if she isn't successful. Will they stay in touch? Will he look for someone else to be the mother of his baby? And what happens if she is - do babies necessarily bring conflict with them? Or is there a certain age a baby reaches that increases the conflict (when you have to make important decisions)? Or perhaps if two people really respect each other they can work things out... I wonder if it is easier or more difficult than being married to each other...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Using Donated Sperm and Egg vs. Adoption

I received the following letter as a comment to a post - and I think the topic definitely warrants a discussion. Please share any thoughts you may have.

Dear all, I have azoospermia and my wife has ovarian failure. I am considering using a sperm bank + egg donor and my wife would carry the baby for 9 months. We plan to tell the child, since an early age, that he/she is adopted - the details would be gradually revealed. I plan to pick a sperm donor with adult photos available, as well as ID OPTION (OPEN) - when offspring reaches 18 yo the identification details might be released upon request (of the child). Egg donors info (including adult photos) are pretty much available at the agencies, very different from sperm banks... there are even albuns with many high resolution pics...! My wife thinks it would be easier to go for adoption but the thing is that it usually takes so long for an adoption process to be complete (up to many years). Please, I would appreciate comments and/or insights on this situation. Tks a lot.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Introducing sleeQo

I see that I posted my last post without any sort of introduction or explanation... So here goes. This blog & its companion site - FertilityStories were one of my "babies" that came along a little over 5 years ago, shortly after I lost my job as a user interface consultant. Looking for something to do to pass the time, I set up an Israeli infertility site (http://www.poriut.com) and then moved on to try to get a bigger audience by starting a site in English too. I've worked on FertilityStories continually since then, making it (by far) the largest online collection of stories about infertility, which is read by tens of thousands of people monthly.

In 2005, our daughter, Abigail was born. In 2006, we welcomed Nomi & in 2008, little Yirmi came along. Each of them was home with me until the age of 18 months (which meant a 5-1/2 month overlap for Abigail & Nomi).

Job offers for consulting work started to come in & for the past few years, I've also gone back to user interface consulting (something I'm told I'm fairly good at and I enjoy too). And there's the degree I never finished, so I took a few university courses here and there... and, with that and my three older kids and my three younger kids, I've had a lot of trouble keeping this blog going (in case you haven't noticed). But I want to keep it alive for several reasons, most importantly, I want to be able to report on newsworthy information (e.g., new research) quickly - and then link to it from FertilityStories as soon as I get a chance... and to keep it alive, I've got to keep adding content on a regular basis.

I think it was right around the time that Yirmi was born that I approached my brothers Ben & Sam with the idea of creating a service for bloggers that would provide a weekly trigger for creating new content for their blogs. I did the design & Ben started to develop it, but then some changes in his life (i.e., getting a real job) came up and things got put on the back burner. More recently, Ben's found the time to complete the development. We named the service "sleeQo" (pronounced sleeko) & I want to welcome everyone to try it out. You can use sleeQo without registering, but you can only get a subscription once you register (it's free, of course).

sleeQo won't only help you if you don't have an idea of what to blog about, it can also just help you quickly get up some real, personal content without investing a lot of time or effort.

Feedback is welcome :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book meme

Books

Rules: Answer the questions below & tag some of your friends.
  • Last book you read
    I honestly don't remember

  • Book you read the most times
    I usually read things only once (except for books that I read to the kids)

  • Author whose books you read the most of
    I read a lot of William Goldman

  • Book you would never give away or lend
    I don't think I have any such books

  • A book you remember getting as a gift & from who
    My aunt Vicki bought a lot of books (and Dover coloring books) for me. I still have all of them.

  • A book you enjoy reading out loud
    My friend is sad, The little engine that could, many others...

  • A book you remember from your childhood
    It happened one day (I recently swiped it from my parents' house so I could read it to my kids)

  • A book you used to like & now think is outdated
    Curious George, Stuart Little

  • How often do you read a book?
    Not nearly often enough.

  • Do you finish most of the books you start?
    Yes. Most. Some I just can't get through.

Everyone tagged

fill in this meme

Sleeqo

Monday, March 08, 2010

This blog has moved


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Thursday, March 04, 2010

A quickie. Right after IVF?

So, like every other obsessed webmaster/blogger, I go through my stats often and many times daily I get searches like "orgasm after IVF", "sex after IVF", "do orgasms after IVF prevent implantation", etc. So, a quick trip to Google scholar (this whole post has to be quick b/c I've got to run to get Matan from Taekwondo) gave me some information that's more scientific than my own personal experience (which I'm wise enough not to share here).

The theory was actually that intercourse may help implantation, despite the problems like uterine contractions & possibility of infection (due to the fact that the "cervical mucus barrier that prevents ascending infection is disrupted by passage of the embryo transfer catheter". - Aflatoonian et. al., 2009 - see the full article here). They found no significant difference between those who had intercourse within 12 hours of embryo transfer and those who did not (although the clinical pregnancy rate was higher in the study group than in the control group - 14.2% vs. 11.7%, it was not statistically significant).

A previous study by Tremellen et. al. (2000), cited by 50, showed a higher percentage of viable pregnancies in the intercourse group than in the control group. They reached the conclusion that "...Exposure to semen around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development." (See the abstract here.)

Based on this, I think it's pretty safe to say that it's OK to have sex - and even orgasms - after embryo transfer. It's not going to harm your chances of success. It might even help.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Egg donation in Israel

It's currently practically impossible to receive an egg donation in Israel. The only women who are allowed to donate are those who are undergoing infertility treatment - exactly the women who need those eggs most. Having been one of those women whose doctor approached her with a form to sign while I was still half under anesthesia, I can tell you how desperate they are for donations (enough to completely con people, seriously). Like in the example of Prof. Zion Ben-Raphael who was convicted of overstimulating women's ovaries in order to produce excess eggs and then steal them from him. (See Jpost article, which also includes details of the new bill)

So this is a real breakthrough for Israel - one that would allow women to donate eggs whether or not they were going through fertility treatments AND to receive some kind of compensation for it.

I hope that this will allow more women who need egg donations to get them and will reduce the pressure on women who don't want to give theirs up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The arrangement

So, a few posts back I wrote about someone I know of* (I don't actually know her, I'm in close touch with a member of her family) who has chosen to try to conceive using the sperm of one partner of a homosexual couple. They've now tried a natural (unmedicated) IUI cycle and a medicated IUI which were both unsuccessful. Currently the third cycle is underway (also medicated).

It is interesting to hear about the relationship developing between the two families, in preparation for the future child... some members of the extended families have met and the future mother and fathers(?) have actually decided to buy apartments in the same building, so that they will be close to each other. In many ways, their commitment to each other seems even more solid than a marriage - and she never has to worry about him leaving his smelly socks on the floor, while he never has to worry about her spending too much money on make-up... And, perhaps as a single mom, it's really very responsible to think of what will happen to the child should something ever happen to her.

I guess the next step is to actually get pregnant. I'll keep you posted.

*She knows (and doesn't mind that) I am writing about her.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Inheriting infertility via ICSI

I read this article in Times Online today. It states that there is now evidence that fathers of test-tube babies may be passing their infertility on to their sons. Anyone who was trying to conceive back in the mid-90's heard speculation then that ICSI can help couples conceive, but it can't guarantee that if there's a genetic defect causing the man's infertility that it won't be passed on to the child. And why wouldn't it?

So this study goes on to linking ICSI to shorter fingers in boys - a trait they say is known to be associated with infertility. The study compared 211 six-year-olds conceived through ICSI with 195 naturally conceived children of the same age. The boys in the ICSI group had shorter fingers. OK, now let's think about it. ICSI was most frequently used to overcome male infertility. There are other reasons for using ICSI, but that is the reason it was developed and, at least in the past, was its main use - if there were plenty of swimmers, it wasn't really necessary... Then there's this lovely quote from John Manning (and a nearly identical one by Allan Pacey), "This is telling us that we sould only use ICSI when it is absolutely necessary." Um. Maybe what it's really telling us is what we knew all along - genetics are inherited... It isn't the ICSI that's causing the infertility in the next generation, it's the genes the child inherited...

A question to anyone who would contemplate using ICSI on this basis - why, if ICSI can produce a healthy (yet, possibly infertile) child today would you think that in another 25 years or so, when this child wants to become a father, that medical science would not have improved this process and made it even easier to become a father?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do you love someone who is infertile?

If you do, Shari DeGraff Stewart and Julia Fichtner Krahm from the Stewart Institute have written an informative & helpful magazine-style book by that name, which provides insight into what infertility is really like for people who are experiencing it. When Julia first wrote me, I surfed on over to their site and thought, “I can’t wait to read this”. It’s a resource for which there is a real need – parents, friends, siblings & even husbands don’t always know what to do when they know someone who is going through infertility. Aware of this need, I asked my mom to cooperate with me and we co-wrote a page for parents on FertilityStories.

Do you Love someone who is Infertile ($12.95, currently available only in the US) presents real experiences, alongside practical advice for husbands, parents, siblings and friends. In addition, the design is fabulous – using photos, typography, layout, and graphical elements to make the book incredibly appealing. I picked up the book and my first thought was, “I love this!” – and reading it made me happy to see that people were writing the things that I’d felt, from both sides. You can see sample pages of the book here – and you can order the guidebook here.

Want a chance to get my review copy? Leave a comment on this blog post. Want another chance? Tweet about it & let me know. Want a third chance? Write a blog post or even just send people to this one. Good luck!

Drawing will be on Feb 11, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yes, I really do wonder

I do. I wonder why I have a blog if I don't have time to update it.

There were two things I wanted to share from recent news in Israel.

Today, it was announced that from now on it will be illegal to fire any person undergoing fertility treatments both during the treatment and within 150 days of the time they began. I couldn't find the article in English, but the google translation does an almost tolerable job...

The other was that Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital announced that they are now able to provide fertility treatments to HIV positive men, removing the virus from the sperm and using ICSI to create healthy embryos. Apparently this treatment is already available in the US.

I'm busy doing a huge user interface project and completing a course in survey methodology - and going to sleep way too late every night (and waking up way too early every morning).

Monday, January 04, 2010

Single-joint motherhood by choice

Someone I know of is currently in her 2 week wait. She's very near 40 and has spent the past many years building her career, but hasn't found Mr. Right. So about two years ago, she decided she was going to have a baby whether she got married or not (with it being fairly obvious that she wouldn't)... and after contemplating her options, she decided that she would like to find a homosexual couple who wanted to have a baby, so that her baby wouldn't grow up without knowing his/her biological father. After asking her friends and talking to a lot of people, someone suggested a couple. They hit it off & spent the next many months working out all of the details with a lawyer. I know very few of the details, but do know that she will have full custody for the first two years - and that after that, they will share custody.

I can't stop thinking how complicated this is - maybe even more than a divorce, in which (in Israel, at least) usually one parent has custody and can therefore move away. With joint custody, they've got to stay where they are. And they've got to agree on all sorts of things that are really hard to agree on... on the other hand, they'll each have a few free days a week. And every other weekend. And two sides to pay the expenses... I also wonder what happens if she does find a partner. How will that fit into the picture?

What are your thoughts?