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Touched by the Stork - Fertility Information

August 2009 Blog Archive

Monday, August 24, 2009
FDA Reviewing New Conception Device
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A new fertility aid called the "Instead Cup" is currently under review by the FDA. The device is used to keep sperm close to the cervix and to maximize the potential for pregnancy. After sex, the cup is inserted by the woman to aid the sperm in penetrating the cervical mucus. Sperm must travel into the cervix for pregnancy to occur. The cup holds semen in place to ensure maximum penetration possible.

These cups are already being sold by distributors nationwide. Each cup is less than a dollar a piece, and can only be used once. This form of conception aid may be useful for women in the early stages of attempting pregnancy. If these natural and aided forms of fertility do not succeed, a fertility doctor may be able to help diagnose fertility issues and provide the correct treatment options.

Friday, August 21, 2009
What To Do With Leftover Embryos?
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When a couple decides to use fertility treatments, such as IVF, they are often left with a multitude of extra embryos. These embryos are normally frozen for future cycles of the treatment. The moral, ethical, and legal dilemma many couples face comes after they have conceived and no longer need the embryos. Many couples pay to store their embryos for years and have face difficulty in making a decision on what to do with them.

Frozen embryos, in theory, are all capable of creating life. Although not all embryos will survive the thaw process or be viable for implantation, the belief is that each embryo is a potential future baby. The idea of disposing of these embryos is a hard decision parents may have to make.

"When you're pouring your money, your heart, and your soul into creating an embryo and creating a life, the last thing you want to think about is how you're going to dispose of it," says one woman to MSNBC.

The other option for these couples is embryo donation. The embryos are then donated to other couples for use in their own fertility treatments. If a couple decides to donate, they must legally sign away rights to the child which contains their DNA. Each clinic has a different set of legal proceedings, and some may allow for the identity of the donors to be known. Other clinics allow parents to choose certain requirements of potential users including race, religion, or location. All of these topics need to discussed prior to donation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009
Illegal Sperm
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Two business owners in London were recently charged with illegally selling and sending frozen sperm samples to women. These "sperm brokers" used an online database where women could choose which sperm donor they would like a sample from. Samples were then shipped to the woman through a courier.

Sperm donation and the use of donated sperm is not illegal. What is illegal is the unregulated selling of sperm on the internet. These sperm brokers were not part of an accredited business and were violating the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act.

Sperm banks are regulated by the FDA in the United States. Women wanting to use donated sperm should go to a qualified center in order to ensure the quality and safety of the sperm sample. Samples are tested for a full panel of diseases and a full medical screening is conducted on the donor. Online sperm brokers most likely will not follow these guidelines and therefore may provide tainted samples.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A Dozen Lies
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We recently wrote about a woman in Tunisia who claimed to be pregnant with duodecaplets. Today, the UK's Daily Telegraph exposed the woman as making a false claim and she is not pregnant at all! Due to the large amount of media covering the twelve-fetus pregnancy claim, investigators looked further into the pregnancy.

Investigators proposed that the woman had "psychological problems and is unlikely even to be pregnant. She's claiming to be nine months pregnant with six boys and six girls, but there's absolutely nothing about her appearance which indicates this."

She is refusing a medical exam and has even gone into hiding. The pregnancy, although physically possible, carries a large risk on any woman. Multiple births can be a very risky pregnancy both for the mother and the children. The reason that this woman lied is still under investigation, but it has been hypothesized that she was under tremendous stress from failed fertility treatments and may have fabricated the whole story for attention.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
And Her Fertility Goes On!
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Celine Dion, popular singer across the world, has recently announced that she is pregnant. The 41 year old singer recently visited a Manhattan based fertility clinic to help aid in her effort for another child. Celine has one son already who is 8 years old.

As women increase in age, the chance of a natural conception greatly decreases. The use of fertility treatments can increase the chance of conception and decrease the risk of birth defects. Celine underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) for her first son, and froze additional embryos after the procedure. The press release did not mention if this pregnancy is the result of an IVF procedure with frozen embryos, or from more recent fertility procedures.

Monday, August 17, 2009
A Dozen Babies
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A woman in Tunisia has recently been reported to be pregnant with a total of twelve babies: six boys and six girls. This was not a natural conception in any way. The woman was using ovulation induction treatment to increase the number of eggs produced. If the pregnancy is carried out successfully, the duodecuplets will take the world record for a multiple live birth.

However, a multiple birth such as this can be very dangerous. There is a high risk of complications during the pregnancy for the mother and the fetuses. The likelihood that all twelve babies will survive to full term is slim.

"When you get to a pregnancy with that many multiples, often some of them spontaneously die. Anything more than five babies becomes a very high-risk pregnancy" reported the health editor of FOX News.

The parents are ecstatic about the news and are looking forward to the pregnancy. The mother will not be able to deliver the babies naturally and will be under constant supervision through the entirety of the pregnancy.

Friday, August 14, 2009
Life After Cancer Treatments
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Cancer patients are often treated with harsh chemotherapy and radiation which may lead to sterility. Doctors often suggest sperm or embryo freezing prior to treatment to ensure possible biological reproduction later in life. One young boy of 16 was given this option when faced with leukemia.

As a teenager, the idea of freezing sperm for future children may seem a bit daunting. The boy had a sperm sample frozen, based on a physician suggestion, and underwent two more years of radiation therapy. After beating cancer and getting married, the man decided that his decision to freeze his sperm years ago was a wise one. His wife conceived through in vitro fertilization and his recently un-frozen sperm.

This successful pregnancy ties the world record for longest frozen sperm used create a baby with IVF. His sperm was frozen for 21 years prior to the fertility procedure. Male cancer patients should seriously consider freezing their sperm, regardless of their age at the time of therapy (assuming they can produce proper sperm count). For female patients, the process of egg freezing is still in an experimental stage but is available.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Using Leftover Embryos
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Once a couple decides to undergo IVF or other ART procedures, there are often extra remaining embryos from the procedure. These embryos are frozen to be used in later cycles if their current procedure is not a success. Unneeded embryos are then destroyed if the biological donors do not want to store them. The Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area (RSC) has created an embryo donor program to give patients at their clinic an opportunity to utilize these unwanted embryos.

"RSC's new program enables its patients to use embryos donated by other RSC patients, providing highest quality assurance and the comfort of a trusted fertility clinic" reports one RSC doctor.

The cost of using egg donation has increased due to FDA regulations and donor agency fees. By using an in-house donation program, the RSC is giving patients a less expensive and less time consuming option. Donated embryos may be used by women who cannot use their own eggs for the procedure. This includes women who product too few or no eggs, or women of older ages whose eggs may not be viable. The only drawback to using donor embryos is that they will not be biologically linked to either potential parent.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Too much IVF?
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Women dealing with infertility are often sent to a specialist in order to undergo in vitro fertilization procedures. However, some doctors believe that IVF is being performed on too many women who may not need the procedure. Doctors may be overlooking male infertility issues which are repairable.

"First off, 40 percent of infertility is male factor infertility. If there is a sperm problem, the doctor should not be pumping the woman up with fertility drugs to make multiple eggs, but rather sending the husband off to see a specialist. You need to reach the root cause of their infertility, not just bypass it" says Dr. Sami David to CBS News.

Doctors who believe IVF is being used too frequently believe that impatience is the key. Patients want a quick answer to their infertility problems and may not want to spend the lengthy amount of time to investigate all causes of their fertility issues. Dr. David believes that IVF is now a first choice for patients with infertility issues, instead of a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Laughter Therapy
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Laugher is said to be the cure for many things, including fertility. Studies have shown that those with lower stress levels had a higher rate of success in fertility. Laughter is an easy way to relieve stress and remove the mind from the difficulties involved with infertility. One clinic in Dallas even offers Laughter Yoga to their patients.

Laughter yoga relaxes the individual and their body. The sessions last about an hour long. Yoga exercises utilize the face and body muscles involved with smiling and laughing. The sessions were created to help couples and individuals escape their stress during the day through laugher therapy.

Monday, August 10, 2009
Test Your Fertility Early
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As women wait until their 30s and 40s to have children, the risk of infertility issues rises. Some believe that women should test their own fertility early to detect if there may be infertility issues later in life. This may identify problems in a woman that may be able to be fixed prior to their attempts at pregnancy. Professor Bill Ledger has created the Plan Ahead testing kit to measure the number of eggs available in a woman's ovaries presently, and the estimated number in 2 years.

"They think, 'It won't happen to me, I'm 37, I go to the gym twice a week, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I'm fit – everything about me is young'. Well it is, except your ovaries" says the creator of the Plan Ahead testing kit to the Telegraph UK.

With a blood test and a full medical examination, women at age 30 can assess their current level of fertility. A couple may change their decision on holding off pregnancy if they were to know about possible future complications. On the other hand, some believe that these tests may give some women false hope that they have time to wait. There is no guarantee that these tests will predict the future chance of your fertility years ahead of time.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Eat Right for Better Sperm
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According to the ASRM, about one third of all infertility cases are attributed to men. Low sperm count and motility are key factors in a male's inability to reproduce. A new study by the University of Murciahas has shown that a balanced diet can help increase the quality of a man's sperm.

"A healthy, well-balanced diet is not just important for preventing diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension, but it may be useful for preserving or improving your reproductive health too" said the study leader to Reuters Health.

The men in the study who had normal semen ate more carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, lycopene, and folate in comparison to men with poor sperm quality. The study also found that men who ate foods with less protein and fat had a higher quality sperm. Men should be aware of their dietary habits and the potential effect that their lifestyle may have on their ability to reproduce.

Thursday, August 06, 2009
How Many Is Too Many?
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Publicity from the octamom scandal has still raised many questions in regards to the number of embryos that can be implanted into a woman during IVF procedures. The standard rate for embryo transfer according to the ASRM is between 1 to 5 dependent on a factors including age. If too many embryos are implanted, there is a high risk of complications that can occur.

"Well over 90 or 95 percent of these situations will result in a catastrophic event, namely the loss of many, if not all, the fetuses, and a high risk to the mom. It's a scenario that really should never happen" said the director of artificial reproduction from UCLA Medical School to the Vancouver Sun.

There are specific guidelines for physicians to follow in regards to embryo transfer. However, there will always be doctors who will disregard these guidelines. Patients should be aware of their own health risks and discuss all options with their physicians prior to committing to any procedures. This will protect their health and the health of their potential fetuses.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Grandparents Funding Procedures
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Fertility procedures can be very expensive for couples dealing with infertility, especially if many rounds of treatment are needed. Grandparents, who desperately want grandkids of their own, have been found by a UK magazine to be a key contributor to paying for such procedures.

"One in eight couples undergoing fertility have their bill subsidized to the tune of thousands of pounds by would-be-grandparents. The figure is higher for older women, who are more likely to have to go private, with a quarter of over-40s having their IVF attempts funded by their parents" reported the Daily Mail.

Grandparents offer their children an answer to their financial needs. Even if they fund only part of the procedures, this money can relieve a great deal of stress off of couples.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The Aging Issue of Fertility
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A survey by Red Magazine has found that one in three women experience some type of infertility problem during the course of their life. The survey totaled over 2,600 women with the average age of 37. The results also showed that as women get older, they worry more about their ability to conceive.

"We can't change the fact that the best time to have babies is in your early 20s, even though that doesn't fit in with society" said the secretary of the British Fertility Society to the Daily Mail Reporter.

The success rates of IVF decrease as women increase in age. Many women wait until they are older and more established to attempt pregnancy. As a result, more and more women are dealing with fertility issues. In years past, the fertility statistics were much lower since the majority of women attempted pregnancy in their 20s. Today, more women are dealing with the issue of infertility in their 30s and 40s. Although these may not be the biologically ideal years to conceive, fertility treatment technology is advancing rapidly in response to the demand.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Herbal Remedies
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Herbal medicine is used to cure a variety of medical conditions including infertility. These herbs can help the reproductive organs and regulate hormone levels. There are fewer side effects than conventional medicine, due to the decreased levels of chemicals.

There are 5 main herbal plants which the Examiner specified to be the most popular for infertility. Red clover relaxes the body and helps balance hormones. Black Cohosh has been prescribed to help prevent miscarriage. Dong Quai helps regulate menstrual cycles. False Unicorn Root encourages ovulation and Raspberry Leaf is used to nourish the uterus.

As with any medication, caution is needed prior to use. These medications are not FDA regulated. Your doctor may prescribe these herbal remedies in conjunction with other medications or infertility treatments.

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