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Touched by the Stork - Fertility Information

June 2008 Blog Archive

Monday, June 30, 2008
In Vitro Fertilization Success Story
Using in vitro fertilization to get pregnant when you are having problems with fertility is not something that is uncommon. Nevertheless, it is something that can be a really emotionally trying experience so it's helpful to surround yourself with positive stories about people who have had success in overcoming infertility.

For example, take the case of Kathy and Cornel Butuceanu, a couple who made headlines four or five years back because of their unusual in vitro story. Cornel's sperm was combined with the eggs of a Russian donor and implanted into Kathy's womb when she was over the age of 50. The in vitro was successful and she had twin boys.

A recent update with the family (see link above) shows that they are happy and healthy. The parents say that they couldn't otherwise have had the beautiful experience of raising a family since Kathy wasn't able to get pregnant any other way. And yes, they say, they would do it again in a heartbeat.

Question of the Day: Does it make you feel good or bad to see other people having success with in vitro fertilization?

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Friday, June 27, 2008
Dogs Can Sniff-Test for Ovarian Cancer
Just a few days ago we discussed the fact that there may soon be much simpler testing available for the detection of ovarian cancer. This disease is linked with infertility. Earlier detection allows for treatment and cures that could prevent problems with infertility from developing. The new blood test could lead in that direction.

Today, there is a news story revealing that there may be yet another new test for ovarian cancer - and one that's quite different from what's out there today. Research has shown that ovarian cancer has a scent that differs from other types of cancer and that dogs can be trained to sniff out that scent.

The study revealed that both early-stage and late-stage ovarian cancer has the same scent which theoretically means that it would be possible for trained dogs to detect this disease in earlier stages than is often the case with modern medicine. Of course, no one is actually suggesting that patients be sniffed out by dogs as a means of cancer screening.

But it has been suggested that this information could be used in additional research which would allow for improved understanding about the nature of the disease. This could lead to medical breakthroughs which would reduce problems with ovarian cancer and could lead to higher survival rates as well as decreased infertility problems associated with the disease.

Question of the Day: Should dogs be used to sniff test for ovarian cancer?

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Thursday, June 26, 2008
Surrogacy Market Impacted by Changing Economy
The changing economy is impacting every aspect of society. We hear about it most in terms of housing prices and the rising cost of fuel. However, there are changes being made to all parts of our lives including those parts that affect only a small segment of society. For example, surrogacy for parents dealing with infertility appears to be affected by the current economic crunch.

People who seek to have children through the use of a surrogate may find that the cost is too high right now for their current budgets. Instead of giving up on the idea of surrogacy, these people are trying to find ways to reduce the cost of conceiving a child in this way.

There are two major ways that people reduce the cost of surrogacy. One is to find a volunteer to carry the baby, something which is difficult for some people but surprisingly easy for others. The other way is to donate the extra unused eggs from the procedure to a fertility clinic in order to recoup some of the money.

Parents who are interested in adopting children to deal with their infertility are also finding that the cost of adoption is too high right now. An option for these parents is to consider becoming a foster parent with plans to adopt the foster children, a route which is considerably more affordable.

Question of the Day: Will infertility medicine be heavily impacted by the changing economy?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Simpler Ovarian Cancer Screening May Be Successful
Ovarian cancer is a frightening disease for women for many different reasons. One is that it is often not detected in the early stages which leads to devastation of the body and often to death. Another is that treatment for ovarian cancer can often lead to infertility. However, it has been found that simple screening could catch the disease in its early stages and allow for cures that may prevent problems with infertility.

A new study showed that a simple blood test could be combined with a four-question questionairre to diagnose ovarian cancer in young women. This test would allow for early detection of the disease with minimal invasion for screening. The combination of the blood test and questionairre appears to be able to accurately diagnose eighty percent of early-stage ovarian cancer patients and ninety-five percent of late-stage patients.

This could allow for more patients to start getting treated for ovarian cancer in its early stages because of the fact that the test is so simple and easy to perform. Learn more about this here.

Question of the Day: Is simple testing the answer to widespread diagnosis, prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Egg Freezing Successfully Allows Women to Postpone Motherhood
Significant advances have been made recently in the area of infertility medicine. New research has shown that egg freezing is successful for women who wish to postpone motherhood into their later years without risking serious problems with infertility. This has been a growing area of interest for infertility research because of the fact that so many women in today's world start their careers and carry out long relationships before deciding to have children, thus postponing motherhood later and later than in the past.

The new study, said to be the largest of its kind, proved that children who are born from frozen eggs are equally as healthy as those who are born through traditional IVF and are also just as healthy as those kids who are born naturally. This was an area of concern for mothers seeking to postpone starting their families and is now one that they may not have to worry about so much.

Learn more about this important study here.

Question of the Day: Would you be more likely to postpone motherhood if you knew that you could have healthy children later in life?

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Monday, June 23, 2008
When Egg Donation is Recommended as a Way to get Cash
Read a series of blogs that discuss ways to raise extra income and you'll often find that issues related to infertility pop up on the list. It's most common for men to be targeted with the idea that they can easily sell their sperm to raise some cash. However, women may also be the target of this kind of information when blogs suggest that egg donation and even surrogacy are great ways to earn some extra money.

The people who make these recommendations typically don't have a full understanding of what these fertility treatments are all about. It's a big deal to get involved in providing these types of services. Even sperm donation requires a significant amount of time, testing and commitment. Yes, you can earn money through these methods but it's not always the most lucrative business for the amount of time and energy that you invest.

In general, people who are interested in donating eggs, sperm and wombs should consider the money to be a nice perk to the service but should not consider it the primary reason for getting involved in this transaction. Instead, a desire to assist a childless couple is a much better reason to consider these services and one that will ultimately be much more satisfying than just the cash.

Question of the Day: Should donors be interested in the money they get for their infertility treatment services?

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Friday, June 20, 2008
Researchers Study Architecture of Ovaries
Infertility research has taken us a long way towards understanding and treating problems with fertility. However, more work is needed in this area and some researchers believe that this requires approaching the topic in more innovative ways than have been done in the past.

Typically, researchers that are interested in questions related to infertility will use a process of measuring the hormones and genes in the body to get answers to their questions. A new set of research is now being explored which instead looks at the architecture and behavior of the woman's ovaries.

It is believed by these researchers that taking this new perspective on issues of infertility can provide insight into the topic that hasn't been obtained in the past. The particular goal of the study is to get a better understanding of age-related infertility in order to allow women to have children into their later years without infertility complications.

Learn more about this fascinating new approach to infertility research here.

Question of the Day: Why haven't researchers previously studied the architecture of the ovaries in order to answer questions related to infertility?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008
Surrogacy Program for HIV+ Men Stirs Up Controversy
We mentioned a short while back that there was a new program available in California which allowed HIV+ men to use surrogates to start a family. Men who have been wishing for a long time that they could raise children were excited about the news and several immediately called the agency that is providing these services.

However, not everyone is pleased with the new situation. In fact, it's stirred up a lot of controversy. Some of the controversy comes from people who don't believe that HIV+ individuals should raise kids. Some comes from people who have general concerns about gay men raising kids. And some comes from fears that the surrogate and/or the baby could be infected with HIV. All of these concerns are unfounded.

This boils down to an issue of civil rights in this country. Most people want to raise a family and it isn't up to the rest of us to decide who should be allowed that right. There are certainly people out there who shouldn't be parents but that's not dependent on their medical status or their sexual orientation. This surrogacy organization fills a niche need within the infertility community despite all of the controversy that has come up around it.

Question of the Day: Should HIV+ men be allowed to use surrogates to start families?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Difference Between PGD and PGS
One of the things that we rapidly learn when we start dealing with issues related to infertility is that there is a whole language surrounding this part of life that we must become fluent in to understand what's going on. For example, people who are trying to get pregnant through the use of in vitro fertilization may hear the phrases "preimplantation genetic diagnosis" (PGD) and "preimplantation genetic screening" (PGS).

These two phrases sound the same but they're quite different in their application for parents seeking to become pregnant through IVF. PGD is a commonly used method that allows parents to select the embroys that are least likely to have genetic problems (such as birth defects). In contrast, PGS is a process of screening all of the embryos to make sure that they have the right number of chromosomes in order to place only healthy embryos into the womb.

The difference sounds slight but it can actually be significant. PGS is currently controversial in some parts of the world because of the fact that it has been reported, perhaps falsely, to increase a woman's likelihood of successful pregnancy. Some researchers now believe that this method of testing doesn't actually improve a woman's chances of conceiving and delivering a child. In contrast, PGD is known to be successful for rooting out specific genetic diseases in the embryos.

Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Do you understand the difference between PGD and PGS?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Telling Kids They Came From Donor Sperm
It is never easy to figure out how to tell your children about the issues surrounding their conception and birth. Even for parents who don't deal with infertility problems, the whole "where did I come from?" question is a tough one. For parents who use alternative methods of conception, the issue gets even more complicated. But a new study shows that some parents may want to think about dealing with the issue sooner rather than later.

The study reveals that those people who are brought into this world through the use of donor sperm are highly likely to feel angry about the situation if they are not told about it until early adulthood. They feel betrayed by the fact that a father who wasn't a birth father raised them without ever revealing this information.

Parents who conceal this information often have the best of intentions. After struggling with infertility, they may be so overjoyed to have their family in place that they don't want to do anything to throw the situation off balance. However, experts believe that it's important to reveal the truth behind the birth at an early age (as would be the case with adoption).

Learn more about this touchy subject here.

Question of the Day: At what age would it be appropriate for a child to learn that he or she was conceived through the assistance of donor sperm?

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Monday, June 16, 2008
Celebrity Infertility: DeMarcus Ware
Celebrities who come out in public to discuss their problems with infertility are rather rare since this is a highly personal issue that many public figures like to keep under wraps. Male celebrities who are willing to speak about this personal issue are even less common due in part to the fact that their struggle differs from that of females as well as to the fact that it remains more acceptable for women to talk about heatrbreaking emotional issues like this than it does for men to do so.

But every now and then, a male star will speak up about the difficulties of going through problems with infertility. Recently, Dallas Cowboys football player DeMarcus Ware spoke about the struggles that he and his wife experienced as they dealt with ongoing issues of fertility. He discussed the stress of two miscarriages and the horrible experience of the birth of their stillborn baby. But not all is sad for this couple; they've opted to adopt to resolve the child-raising issues in their family.

Learn the story here.

Question of the Day: Why don't more male celebrities speak up about issues of infertility in their personal lives?

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Friday, June 13, 2008
Be Sensitive To Your Husband on Father's Day
If you are dealing with issues of infertility, you're fully aware of the fact that this health problem creates emotional ups and downs like almost no other health problem can do. What you may not realize is that your husband is going through the same emotional issues.

Often, men in these situations play tough because they know their wives need their support but inside they still feel emotionally raw. This is especially true if the infertility issues are caused by problems related to their own fertility but will be true no matter what the cause of the fertility problems may be.

For the most part, couples manage to deal with these feelings due in part to the fact that men will play the "strong shoulder" role while women ride the emotional rollercoaster. However, there are going to be times when men need to release the emotions that have been building up inside.

Be aware of the fact that one of those times might be this weekend. Just like Mother's Day triggers strong emotions for women dealing with fertility issues, Father's Day can cause emotional lows for men that are in this situation. Be empathetic and kind if this is the case for your family.

Question of the Day: What can you do to enjoy Father's Day with your husband despite the problems you're dealing with regarding fertility?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008
Birth Control Being Tested in UK as Womb Cancer Treatment
Birth control is typically used for the purpose of preventing women from having children. However, there is a type of birth control called "the coil" which may actually help to make it possible for women to have children when they're ready to do so. At least, that is the hope for the doctors who are testing out the use of "the coil" as a possible treatment for womb cancer in high risk patients. If it is successful, this could mean that fertility problems would be preventable in the patients who use this product for this purpose.

"The coil" is an intrauterine system which is designed to release hormones into the body for the purpose of preventing unwanted pregnancy. Those hormones are believed to be helpful in reducing the risk of womb cancer by reducing the thickness of the womb's walls. It is believed that this could be a key method of preventing the disease and saving the womb. Testing is currently taking place so more information will be revealed once the studies are complete.

Learn more about this here.

Question of the Day: Isn't it interesting that a method of birth control could be used to assist women in avoiding infertility?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Stem Cell Discovery May Reduce Ectopic Pregnancies
Researchers have made headway in studying the development of the placenta during pregnancy. This information could potentially lead to changes in fertility treatment which could significantly reduce the likelihood of losing a baby to ectopic pregnancy. This problem is a big issue for people dealing with infertility so resolving it has the potential to reduce a lot of the heartache that surrounds fertility treatment.

"By manipulating a specific gene in a mouse blastocyst -- the structure that develops from a fertilized egg but is not yet an actual embryo -- scientists with the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute caused cells destined to build an embryo to instead change direction and build the cell mass that leads to the placenta." (source)


This discovery allows for more complete understanding of the relationship between the development of the embryo and that of the placenta. This provides insight into the complete development of the baby and gives researchers a starting place for further studies related to reducing ectopic pregnancy.

Question of the Day: Is it likely that we will see ectopic pregnancy reduced in the near future as a result of this new study?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Hysteroscopy Instead of Hysterectomy To Prevent Infertility
Women who are found to have precancerous lesions of the endometrium have traditionally had to undergo a hysterectomy to prevent destruction of the body by the disease. For many women, this has felt like a type of destruction in and of itself because of the harm it does to the woman's ability to have children. An alternative to the hysterectomy, called the hysteroscopy, is successful in ridding the body of early signs of cancer while still preserving the body's fertility.

A five-year study confirmed the effectiveness of this procedure. It is noted that this procedure requires more extensive follow-up care than the hysterectomy. However, none of the patients in the study developed cancer and they were all able to maintain their fertility. This is considered to be an ideal solution for women who are planning to have children in the future but who are found to have precancerous lesions at a young age.

Question of the Day: Will it become common to use the hysteroscopy instead of the hysterectomy in order to preserve fertility?

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Monday, June 09, 2008
Movie Depicts Fertility Options of Gay Couples
There is a documentary being released this week at Outfest, the gay and lesbian film festival that takes place each June in New York, which depicts the different fertility options that are available to gay couples. The film, entitled Fatherhood Dreams, is designed to discuss the challenges of parenting that are faced by gay couples. However it also serves to shed light on the different ways that couples in this position deal with the issue of fertility.

One of the most interesting cases presented in the documentary is the case of a man who is expecting twin children after using a surrogate to bring the children to life. This option allows the gay male to have children that are biologically his. For many gay couples, this option is preferred to options like adoption which don't create that biological bond that some parents consider to be of utmost importance.

Question of the Day: What fertility options make the most sense for gay couples today?

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Friday, June 06, 2008
Why Sex Selection Isn't a Common Procedure
Being able to select the gender of your baby is a choice that you have available to you when you get fertility treatments but it's not an option that many couples go ahead and take. There are several reasons for this which you might want to think about as you determine whether or not this is something that you would like to do.

Reasons that people avoid sex selection:

- Religious beliefs. Some people believe that it goes against their religion to do the "will of God" by choosing the sex of the baby at the time of fertility treatments.

- Controversy. Even those people who don't cite religious reasons sometimes say that they think it's wrong for some reason to choose to do this.

- Cost. The most common reason may be because it adds a significant amount of money to the total cost of the procedure and most people don't have a burning desire to choose one sex or the other to the point where they're willing to pay the money.

Despite the reasons against this procedure, some couples do find that this is something that they want to do. There may be controversy but it's perfectly within the law - and is one of your available options - if it's something that you'd be interested in.

Ask a doctor more about it to learn the details.

Question of the Day: Do you have an interest in PGD and Sex Selection?

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Thursday, June 05, 2008
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer Increases Infertility Problems
There aren't a whole lot of options open to you for treatment of breast cancer but that doesn't mean that you should be unaware of the risks of those options that exist. The most common method of treating breast cancer is, of course, chemotherapy. However, it should be noted that chemotherapy can cause fertility problems for women who didn't previously have such problems.

It has been shown that in women who have had chemotherapy for breast cancer are more likely to have a depleted ovarian reserve. This will make it more difficult to get pregnant and is something which should be discussed with your doctor prior to cancer treatment.

Women who are concerned about this problem may opt to use a less-common treatment for breast cancer. Alternatively, they may opt to postpone treatment until they have gone through fertility treatments to freeze their eggs. Another option is to get the chemotherapy after reviewing IVF and other treatment options that will be available if fertility problems arise.

Question of the Day: Is infertility an issue that takes precedence over breast cancer?

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Importance of Thyroid Health In Regards to Infertility
A recent article on the problems that can be caused by a thyroid that doesn't work correctly emphasizes the fact that a lage percentage of women dealing with issues of infertility may find that their problems are related to the problems in their thyroid. A significant number of women with infertility problems appear to have low-grade hypothyroidism which may not show up on blood tests. This could be something to bring up with your doctor or fertility specialist as you begin to work on dealing with issues related to infertility.

"If you have an infertility issue, before you spend a fortune and before going through a tremendous amount of hardship, insist on being evaluated for Hashimoto's thyroiditis and have an endocrinologist perform a thorough evaluation of your thyroid. It sometimes only takes a small deficit of thyroid hormone for the ovulation to be affected." (source)


The report cites a statistic that one in four cases of infertility could be related to this problem. However, the source of that statistic is not cited. Nevertheless, exact numbers aside, it does suggest that there is an important relationship between the health of the thyroid and the health of the reproductive system so it might be a good area to pay attention to.

Question of the Day: Would you be interested in getting checked for thyroid problems that could be linked with infertility?

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
California Supreme Court Hears Case of Lesbian Refused IVF
Last month we pointed to a case in which a woman in California was heading to the state supreme court after being denied the right to get in vitro fertilization simply because she is a lesbian. Arguments in that case were heard last week and a decision by the supreme court is still pending.

The patient was refused IVF by a doctor who believed that helping to impregnate a lesbian was so against her own moral and religious beliefs that she couldn't do it. The patient's lawyer summed up the issue succintly:

Jennifer Pizer said, "Doctors have the freedom, and rightly so, to pick their field and offer whatever procedures and protocols are appropriate for them," adding, "They do not have the freedom to discriminate against patients." >

The California Supreme Court is not actually there to decide whether or not a doctor today is allowed to refuse IVF to a patient based on sexual orientation. Today, the law in the state is that businesses of all kinds can't refuse IVF to patients because of either marriage status or sexual orientation. However, that was not the case when the issue first happened for this woman so what the court will be reviewing is whether or not that doctor had the right to do that under the laws at the time that the case first occurred.

Question of the Day: Given that the laws are now changed, is this case a landmark case for IVF history and gay rights in California?

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Monday, June 02, 2008
Surrogacy in the Movies Isn't Factual
Surrogacy is a topic which was under the table for a long time. That has changed with the recent release of the movie Baby Mama which hit the mainstream movie-going market and got people talking (and laughing) about what surrogacy is all about. Most people already know that what happens in the movies isn't what happens in real life. But there are questions coming up for people about surrogacy as a result of the movie.

The problem is probably that most people are uninformed about the basics of surrogacy. Because it's something that we haven't talked about openly an extensively in the past, people just don't know the facts. This makes it easy to misinterpret the information in a movie and to make false assumptions as a result of it. That wouldn't happen if surrogacy was something we all understood and could easily point out mistakes about when we see it on film.

The release of the movie marks an important milestone for surrogacy because it's getting people talking about the issue. However, it requires follow-up from education about surrogacy that provies facts pointing out the ways in which the movie differs from real life. Learn more here.

Question of the Day: Is a comedic movie about a topic like surrogacy a good way to introduce it to a general public?

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