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April 2008 Blog Archive

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Recommended Reading: Triple Treasures
One of the most helpful types of book for a woman with fertility problems to read is the first-person memoir that another woman has written about the experience. There are many of these types of infertility books out there but there can never be too many because each one adds the voice of another important woman in the infertility struggle. One of the newest voices to hit the market is the voice of author Holland C. Kirbo.

Kirbo has written a book entitled Triple Treasures:: Our Journey from Infertility through the First Year with Triplets. This book shares her and her husband's struggle with infertility. Of equal importance is the fact that she details the first year of the life of the triplets that she conceived using fertility treatments. This allows the book to show that simply getting pregnant doesn't end the struggle but that it is possible to deal with the emotional ups and downs that continue after the baby is born.

You can learn more about the book from this recent press release.

Question of the Day: Can you recommend any other infertility memoirs that women should be reading?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Egg Donation Isn't Done for the Money
There are many young women who say that they would consider egg donation as a way to earn some money during their college years. After all, the procedure can garner you anywhere from $4000-$8000 depending on where in the nation you donate. However, the women who are in it only for the money rarely make it past the front door of the infertility treatment agencies that pair egg donors with parents seeking fertility help.

The idea of donating your eggs purely for money may seem appealing, especially as the economy goes into decline. However, the process of egg donation is a complicated one that requires a serious commitment. In order to make that commitment, women need to be motivated by more than just the money.

The average woman who is an egg donor is motivated in large part by an altruistic urge. She wants to help a family that can't have children by donating a part of herself that she's not using at the time. She may be glad to get the money but she wouldn't do it only for the money. That's something that serves to relieve the parents who want to know why a stranger would be so kind as to give them her eggs.

Question of the Day: What other reasons do you think motivate a woman to donate her eggs?

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Monday, April 28, 2008
Church Member Donates Womb To Assist Family
Surrogacy has been all over the news lately because of the fact that the surrogacy movie Baby Mama has gained attention in mainstream movie theaters. However, most people who are actually dealing with surrogacy don't experience it the way that it happens in the movies. In fact, some cases out there are even more magical than you'd expect to see in a movie.

For example, there's a case in Michigan of a woman in her late twenties who was unable to have children due to health concerns that arose after her first baby was born. She and her husband wanted to have more kids and spent a lot of time in church praying. Another woman from the church, someone in her mid-forties, said that she felt like she wanted to do more than just pray. She offered up her womb as the surroate mom for this family.

The situation worked out well through the assistance of an infertility treatment doctor who oversaw the transaction. The parents are happy to have a new baby in the family and the surrogate mom is happy that she could help.

Question of the Day: Do you think you are more likely to find a volunteer surrogate if you're involved with a local church than if you're not?

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Friday, April 25, 2008
Belgian Queen Breaks Silence on Infertility
Back in 1960 Queen Fabiola of Belgium was married to King Baudouin. As with most royal marriages, and with almost all marriages at that time in history, they were eager to start having children and extending their bloodline. However, those children never came and it's been a mystery to many ever since.

The queen has now spoken out about the issue that no one has really talked about - infertility. Queen Fabiola admits that she got pregnant on five different occasions. On each of those five occasions, she was thrilled about the prospect of having a baby. On each of those five occasions, flowers were sent from everyone who was also excited about the new baby. And on each of those five occasions, the queen miscarried and no baby was born.

While it was known to the public that she miscarried, the queen herself had never spoken about this issue before. She has now broken her silence in order to acknowledge the pain that these fertility issues caused for her. Being able to admit this openly shows the strength of her character to this day.

Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Is it surprising to you that the pain of infertility still plagues a woman who is nearly eight years of age?

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Thursday, April 24, 2008
A Second Look at Egg Count Testing
Yesterday we took a look at testing taking place in Illinois which may provide a more accurate assessment of a woman's egg count through the use of a blood test. The Wall Street Journal also covered the topic this week with a report that's also worth taking a look at.

Some of the important points that this articles highlights include:

- The blood test measures the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH).
- The test has been used successfully in Europe for some time.

- The test is NOT currently FDA approved in the U.S.; testing is taking place now in 24 cities.

- Doctors believe that it's important to use this test in conjunction with existing methods instead of as a replacement for existing methods.

This is an interesting area of fertility treatment for women to stay updated about because it could make a difference to the way that fertility among older women is approached in the years to come.

Question of the Day: What is the reason that Europe has been quicker to adopt this fertility assessment tool than the U.S. has been?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Illinois Begins Measuring Women's Biological Clocks
There are, of course, many different causes of infertility. The problem may be with the female or the male in the relationship (or even, in some rare cases, with both partners). The issue may be the result of genetics or it may be the effects of a disease or the treatment of a disease. But one of the leading reasons that women go to see fertility doctors is because they have waited late into life to try to have children and their bodies no longer want to cooperate naturally.

Part of the problem is the fact that our fertility is something of a guessing game for us. We figure that we have until at least the age of forty to conceive a child without problems. After that, we may have another ten years ... or we may not. Many women hedge their bets and hope that they'll still be able to have kids after taking care of some of life's others needs first. And sometimes, these women end up regretting having waited so long. "If I only knew that I wouldn't be able to have kids this late in life," they say.

That lament could end up becoming a thing of the past if a test taking place in the state of Illinois turns out to be successful. The test is a trial of a treatment called PlanAhead which uses a simple, basic blood test to determine a woman's fertility level. This information can assist her in figuring out early on whether she has a high fertility level (meaning that there's a good chance that she'll be able to have a baby later in life) or a below-average fertility level (meaning that she may want to start her family sooner rather than later).

Of course, the test isn't definitive but it can be useful in helping women to make decisions about their families. Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Would you take a blood test to help you decide whether or not to wait before starting a family?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Excitement Grows Over Growing Eggs in a Lab
Over the past few months, there have been a number of different headlines around the world which have highlighted the benefits of a new fertility treatment. The treatment allows women to preserve their eggs to be used at a later day; for example, cancer patients may use the treatment before starting cancer care in order to be able to have children despite the complications from cancer. The headlines have emphasized the value of the treatment for cancer survivors but also pointed out things like that women can now opt to wait longer to have kids with less concern about the fertility problems associated with aging.

All of these headlines - and the study that they are based on - are succintly summarized in a new article. For women interested in what these stories have all been about, this article provides the basic details that they need to understand what's been causing everyone to buzz. It describes how the study was done, what the findings were and what the implications are for fertility medicine. You can read the article here.

Question of the Day: Do you think that hyped headlines like these are good or bad for the infertility community?

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Monday, April 21, 2008
Taking Surrogacy Seriously: Fertility Doctors are Concerned about Baby Mama's Message
Hollywood just released a popular movie about surrogacy called Baby Mama that many are flocking to the theaters to watch. The movie itself is a step forward in bringing surrogacy to the spotlight; it's not been a topic discussed frequently in the arts and film before. However, it presents the topic in a way that many who work in the field of fertility says will be misleading to the people watching it.

For those who realize that it's just a movie, Baby Mama can provide a small bit of insight into the world of surrogacy. However, it should be taken with a grain of salt. The reality of becoming a surrogate mother - or of finding a surrogate mother to carry your child - is much more complex and emotionally involved than is apparently depicted in the movie.

Learn more about the concerns of fertility doctors about Baby Mama here.
Learn more about the difficulties of surrogacy here.

Question of the Day: Do you think that Baby Mama does more harm or good in bringing surrogacy information to the general public?

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Friday, April 18, 2008
Conception Diet Influences Baby's Gender
You will ask your fertility treatment doctor a million questions. All of these questions will be important to assisting you to understand the risks and realities ivolved in fertility treatment. However, once that's all cleared up and you've started treatments, you'll get to ask some of the more common questions that parents-to-be usually have. For example, after you've conceived, you'll get to ask, "is it a boy or a girl?"

If you would prefer the answer to that question to lean one way or the other, you may want to consider working with a nutritionist during the time that you're trying to get pregnant using fertility treatments. That's because a new study shows that the diet that you're eating at the time of conception can heavily influence the gender of the baby. If you want a boy, you need to increase your energy intake. Learn more here.

Of course, if you're really serious about wanting a child of one gender over the other, a better bet would probably be to talk to your fertility doctor about sex selection. This is a process through which your doctor can help you conceive a baby of your preferred gender using sperm separation methods in the lab.

Question of the Day: Would you prefer a dietary or medical approach to sex selection?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008
Controversial MN Surrogacy Bill Moves Forward in Senate
Last week we reported on a controversial bill related to surrogacy that was being debated in Minnesota. The bill would allow surrogate mothers and hopeful parents to enter into legally binding contracts with one another regarding the fertility agreement between them. This has historically not been allowed; surrogates have had to wait to give over rights to the baby after it was already born which has caused significant emotional problems for both surrogates and parents-to-be throughout the years. This bill would negate that problem (to some degree, there will always be strong emotions where fertility issues are concerned) but it's received a lot of opposition by people who call the contracts a form of "baby-selling".

Despite this opposition, the Minnesota State Senate has given preliminary approval for the surrogacy bill to pass. The bill passed by a large percentage. It will now move on to the Minnesota House for additional review. So, it hasn't passed into legislation yet but it's one step closer as a result of the Senate's approval.

Question of the Day: What are your reasons for or against the passage of this type of surrogacy contract legislation?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Becoming a Surrogate Isn't Easy
People these days are taking an interest in surrogacy as an option for treating infertility. And it's not just the people who are suffering from fertility problems that are increasingly interested in this route. It's also women who want to help a couple have a baby.

However, potential surrogate moms should know that there are a lot of requirements that you have to meet in order to qualify to be a surrogate. You can't just go in and say, "sure I'll carry a baby" and be done with it. You need to pass rigorous health and mental health screenings in order to prove that you are physically and emotionally capable of coping with the responsibility of bringing a life into this world for someone else to raise.

That's good news for infertile couples who want to consider surrogacy but have been wary about just who would apply for the job. There are stable, intelligent, healthy women out there who are happy to serve as surrogates and a good screening process can help find them.

Learn more about this issue here.

Question of the Day: What regulations do you think should be in place to make sure that surrogate mothers are fit for the job?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Infertility: When the Man is the Problem
When we talk about dealing with infertility, we are often talking about the fertility problems faced by women. Hormonal problems related to aging, disease and genetics can wreak havoc on a woman's body and make it difficult for her to conceive. However, it's not always the woman in the equation that's the problem. Men can suffer from fertility problems as well and the situation can be just as tough for them as it is for the women we discuss so frequently.

Take the case of Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton. After dealing with testicular cancer and a non-malignant brain tumor, his body just didn't have the testosterone it needed to get his wife pregnant. They looked in to in vitro fertilization but ended up trying a hormone treatment for men designed to stimulate testosterone. The procedure was expensive and time-consuming, just like fertility treatments for women. In the end, they were successful; the couple now has a three-month-old son.

It's important to remember that either men or women can be victims of infertility. And both can use fertility treatments to become survivors of the problem.

Question of the Day: Do you believe that infertility is as difficult for men to cope with as it is for women?

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Monday, April 14, 2008
Infertility Demands Center Stage
There is an interesting review of printed in this week's Canyon News. The review is about the play itself because it has such an interesting approach to its creative format. Called "In the Wings", it essentially looks at what happens backstage at a play (so it's a play-within-a-play format). But what's intriguing about it is that despite the fact that it reveals the story of what's going on in the background of another play, it manages to focus quite a bit on the play it's describing.

Perhaps that's because the subject of the play-inside-the-play is infertility. That's such an emotional, intense and complex subject that it would be difficult to include it as the theme of the play without making it the focus a good chunk of the time. The reviewer of the play makes a great obesrvation:

"Infertility is a timely topic, as it's becoming an increasingly common challenge that couples face. It would be interesting to see Sroka reverse the plays, to have the bit actors in the wings be the struggling couple exposing their trials to get pregnant, and have the rehearsal play be about backstage antics."

Timely is a good way of putting it. More and more people are willing to talk about the struggles that they've undergone when it comes to infertility. As a result, more and more artists are taking a chance on making this topic a focus of the work. From the new movie Baby Mama to this play here, creative people are expressing what women and their partners have kept silent on for far too long.

Question of the Day: What do you think are the pros and cons to the infertility medical community of having the topic out in the creative open?

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Friday, April 11, 2008
Two Sides of the International Surrogacy Story
There is a subject making headlines around the world which has caused a significant amount of debate amongst people interested in infertility. That subject is the increasingly common practice of American women to seek out surrogate mothers in foreign countries who will carry their babies at a much lower cost than would be found here in the United States.

India and China have been two countries where this has occurred with increasing regularity. However, it's something that is taking place all around the world. And there are two very oppositional sides debating about whether or not it's a good thing.

Those who are opposed to international surrogacy tend to cite their reasons as being primarily because it exploits women in third world countries who must rent out their wombs to survive. They also say that it's a bad health care choice for women who could use surrogates in the U.S. where their own doctors are located.

Those who say that international surrogacy is a good thing argue that the women who get paid to carry babies in other countries benefit immensely so that it's a win-win situation. They make a lot more money through this method than would be possible in their areas otherwise and often use it to support their own families.

Learn more about both sides of the issue from this great summary by Ellen Goodman.

Question of the Day: Are you supportive or opposed to international surrogacy?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008
NIH Funds Improvements in Infertility Research
The National Institutes of Health has committed funding to improve infertility research in the years to come. The funding is part of a loan repayment program designed to encourage more medical professionals to consider entering this field of medical research. Called Strength in Numbers, the program relies on the idea that an increase in the number of qualified doctors will lead directly to advances in this area of medicine.

The program "will fund up to $35,000 annually for loan repayments of qualified educational debt of health professionals" for medical professionals entering certain fields. There are five different fields that qualify for the program. One of those is the combined field of infertility research and contraception. This speaks to the fact that the NIH takes women's pregnancy medicine seriously and wants to see additional advances in patient care for this population.

Question of the Day: Do you support the NIH's loan repayment program for infertility research doctors?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008
MN Surrogacy Bill Gets Attacked as "Baby-Selling"
The state of Minnesota is currently in the process of trying to clarify some of the terms of its residents' surrogacy agreements. The result has been an uproar with opposition to the new legislation likening surrogacy to things like "baby-selling" and "prostitution".

The bill that Minnesota is considering isn't that shocking when you look at its details. It basically says that a woman who wants to be a surrogate mother must be at least twenty one years of age and must have her own legal counsel in order to make sure she understands what she's getting herself into. She must have previously already had one child (an interesting requirement). Ultimately, the goal is to clarify that the surrogate mother is carrying the child but that the parental rights go to the woman or couple that is planning to raise the baby.

Ideally, this would be considered a safeguard for all involved. The surrogate mom has a better chance of understanding the implications of the agreement. The new parents are assured some legal rights for the amount of time and money they put in to have this baby. And the baby isn't hanging in limbo between one set of parents and another. As things currently stand, women can't give up their babies prior to their births and therefore the surrogate can change her mind at any time.

Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Do you believe that there should be legislation governing the details of surrogacy?

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Author Confirms Intention to Write Children's Book About Surrogacy
At the beginning of this year we wrote about an interesting new children's book that had come out on the market. It is a book about adoption told from the adopted child's point of view. It is intended to serve as a tool for teaching adopted children about the process by which they came to be in their new families. Unique from the other material that is out there for adopted kids, it gained a lot of attention from the adoptive community.

At the time that the information about this book came out, it was reported that the book might be the first in a whole series of books of a similar nature. This could be a great tool for moms who used infertility treatments to explain to their kids about the whole process behind how they came to be.

The author of the book, Tamra Martin, has indeed confirmed that more books are going to follow. The next one that is planned is a book about surrogacy. Children who were brought into a family through the use of a surrogate mother may be able to better understand the complex situation that they're a part of once this book is released.

Learn more about this here.

Question of the Day: How do you think kids should learn about the infertility issues that surrounded their birth?

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Monday, April 07, 2008
Military Couple Seeks Surrogate Willing to Work for Free

One of the options available to couples facing infertility is that they can hire a surrogate to carry their child. There are different types of surrogacy but one of the most common methods is gestational surrogacy in which the surrogate mother carries a baby that is made from the combined egg and sperm of the couple planning to parent the child.

Surrogacy is a great infertility treatment option for women who can't carry their own children. However, it can be very expensive. In addition to medical fees, the couple must pay the woman for her time and labor (no pun intended). After all, the woman is giving up nine months of her life - and a lot of emotional energy - to bring this baby into the world.

However, there are some cases out there of women who have been surrogates free of charge. Oftentimes a female family member or best friend will volunteer to carry the baby for a loved one who can't have children of her own. She does it out of the kindness of her heart. A military couple currently stationed in Germany is hoping that there is an American woman in Germany right now who has some of that kindness to share.

The couple has one child together but is unable to conceive again as a result of complications from the first birth. They want to have more children that share their DNA so they're seeking out a surrogate. Low on funds, they can't afford to work through an agency and so have been placing ads for a surrogate in the local base paper. If they are successful, they'll have to travel to England to do the procedure because in vitro isn't legal in Germany. It's an interesting story which you can read in full here.

Question of the Day: Do you think that you could find someone to be a surrogate for you free of charge?

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Friday, April 04, 2008
Fertility Clinic Founder Named ASRM President
David Adamson is the founder of a private fertility-focused medical center in California called the Fertility Physicians of Northern California (FPNC). However, he's moving on to bigger and better things after recently being awarded the honor of being named the new president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

"In his term as president, Dr. Adamson will be Chairman of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, and lead the world's largest organization of reproductive professionals in all aspects of its educational, scientific and advocacy missions."

Through this position, the leading doctor will have the opportunity to engage in the ASRM's three different areas of focus. The organization is committed to creating education and awareness for fertility medicine. It is committed to encouraging fertility research in order to achieve more for people who are suffering from infertility. And it is dedicated to the improvement of all infertility patient care.

It's always great to see leading people in the fertility medicine industry move forward in their careers. It speaks not only to their own personal advances but also to advances in the field of infertility treatment.

Question of the Day: What would you say is the single biggest trait that a doctor needs to do well in a position as president of a leading fertility treatment organization?

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Thursday, April 03, 2008
The ZIFT and GIFT of Infertility Treatments
If you are just starting to learn about treatment options for infertility, you're going to rapidly discover that you have to learn a whole new language to understand your options in this strange new world. There are multiple methods of conception available to women who are struggling with fertility problems today. That's good news since different women are in different situations but it means that you're going to have to take some time to learn what each of these choices is (and which is right for you).

SheKnows.com recently created a concise guide that breaks down the basics for you. It tells you the difference between fertilizations options such as Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) and Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). It explains what the pros and cons are of each treatment type for different women. And at the end, it breaks down the cost of these options so that you can get a realistic look at what the infertility treatment process is going to be like for you.

Of course, your own medical situation will be unique to your own set of circumstances. You'll want to speak with a qualified fertility doctor to make decisions about your own fertility. However, this guide provides a good starting point if you're looking to get a general understanding of the different treatments options that are available.

Question of the Day: What is the most important question you have about the basics of infertility treatments?

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Infertility on Top 12 List of Things Not To Talk About At Work
Last year we took a look at the question of whether or not you should tell your boss about your struggles with infertility. (See post here.) It was determined (by looking at a study on the topic) that women's stress levels weren't affected by telling or not telling their boss so the decision to do so was ultimately up to the woman dealing with the problem. However, a new news report says that you just shouldn't talk about these things at work.

On a top twelve list of things that you really don't need to be telling your co-workers, medical issues made it to number two. Listed along with operations and general aches and pains, infertility was specifically highlighted as something that the people you work with really don't need to know about. It falls into that category of things that is actually really personal and doesn't need to be fodder for office gossip.

It should be pointed out that this news report comes out of Sri Lanka where the atmosphere of professional offices may differ from those here in the United States. Let's face it; we tend to get pretty personal with the people that we work with here sometimes. But the truth is that you might not want to be sharing all of your intimate details with everyone at work.

The problem really has to do with your ability to separate work and family life.Infertility issues cause a lot of emotional ups and downs for women. If you let it, work can be a respite where you can do live a professional life and not have to think about those ups and downs for a few hours out of each day. This can provide you with stability and a sense of purpose in life despite the fertility treatments that are sending your emotions into a whirl. That's something that's much harder to do if you've got co-workers asking how those treatments are going!

Question of the Day: Should you tell your co-workers about your infertility struggles?

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Absence of Hunger Hormone Decreases Fertility
An interesting new study completed at the Yale School of Medicine reveals that there is a link between a hormone in the body that controls appetite and decreased fertility rates. The hormone is named grhelin but is better known by many as the "hunger hormone" because its main function is to curb food cravings in the body. The higher the amount of grhelin you have, the thinner that you will likely be because your appetite is naturally curbed.

The study showed that lower levels of grhelin in the body also correlated with decreased fertility. In simpler terms - if you're obese and that obesity is caused by a lack of grhelin then you might be at risk of infertility issues as a direct result.

It should be noted, however, that this was a preliminary study on the issue completed on non-human test subjects (rats). It will take significantly more research and a review of human subjects before it can be conclusively determined that lower levels of the "hunger hormone" are a cause of decreased fertility.

Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Why do you think there would be any sort of correlation between an appetite-suppressant hormone and infertility?

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