Parenthood at a Later Age

Whether some of us have planned to have children later in life or whether nature delayed us from having children at a later age, the risks associated pre-conception, during and after birth are no longer small. Over three decades after the first IVF baby Louise Brown was born we are discovering that serious birth defects and developmental issues are affecting many children born to parents at an older age.  Trying to conceive can be difficult for those under the age of 35, but the decline in fertility after 35 makes  it extremely difficult. What we are finding is that it is a very harsh decline in fertility over the age of 35 and not solely an issue related to the female anymore. Male infertility cases are on the rise (see earlier blog post) and the news lately has been a plethora of articles regarding autism, asthma and developmental issues in children conceived through assisted reproductive treatments. It is very difficult to digest all the new information about the risks associated with ART while struggling to conceive. The New Republic had a very informational article on the variety of issues we face as older parents trying to conceive and the risks are potential children face. To read the full article: How Older Parenthood will Upend American Society. What do you know about your age and your fertility?

Infertility In The News: Week of 11/18-11/25

Male Infertility:

Advice for Men Struggling with Infertility: http://mannfordeagle.com/online_features/health_and_wellness/advice-for-men-struggling-with-infertility/article_9cb3ae54-227e-5dce-a646-14d5ae5d252c.html

Sperm Length Linked to Men’s Fertility in U.S. News: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/11/15/sperms-length-linked-to-mens-fertility

Obese Teen Boys have Less Testosterone, Risk Infertility http://medicine.buffalo.edu/news_and_events/news.host.html/content/shared/smbs/news/2012/11/obese-teens-low-testosterone-205.detail.html

Infertility Awareness:

Womens’ Knowledge on Infertility: Interview with Barbara Collura by Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch on EmpowHER.com – http://www.empowher.com/infertility-fertility/content/women-s-knowledge-infertility-interview-barbara-collura

Bill & Giuliana Discuss Infertility Issues on Katie Couric’s Show: http://www.katiecouric.com/tag/infertility/

A Variety of Factors Can Create Difficulty in Couple’s Efforts to Conceive in Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-201211211730–tms–mayoclnctnmc-a20121122-20121122,0,2244916.story

Banned PCB’s Linked to Lower Fertility by Jennifer Corbett Dooren in The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324595904578117431728021550.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

New Network for Infertile Patients in Latin America: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-latam-network-aims-infertile-couples.html

UAE:

Sperm Loans: Banking Fertility Hopes for Emirati would-be parents. Published November 25th, 2012 on SyndiGate.info http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/abu-dhabi-fertility-loans-452546

Suffering from Male Infertility: New Research Findings

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (right in our neighborhood!) published some findings this week that may mean great things for those who suffer from male fertility. The researchers used human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)from skin samples (unbelievable to think that a skin graft in the future could make a man fertile again!) to create precursor sperm cells.

You can read all about the amazing research being done here: http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(12)00225-2?switch=standard

Looking forward to hearing more about this in the future.

Want to give his sperm a boost? Break out the nutcracker and WALNUTS!

A recent study discovered that men who ate 75 grams of walnuts a day had increased sperm motility, morphology and a higher percentage of sperm vitality than those that did not. The study spanned over 12 weeks splitting the two groups of men into those that ate a Western-style diet, including walnuts and those that ate a Western-style diet without walnuts. After the 12 weeks, they conducted a semen analysis to compare against the initial semen analysis, but they also measured any change to the BMI, body weight or activity level in all of the men (where they discovered that the 75 grams a day did not have negative changes to the health of individual).  Read more about the study here: http://bit.ly/R49Ugj

The group that had a steady diet of walnuts saw an increase in their Omega-3′s and Omega-6′s, improvement to their sperm motility, morphology and an increase in sperm vitality. Are you one of the estimated 33% of couples (of all suffering from fertility issues) that has male fertility issues? There are a variety of ways to increase his intake of walnuts. Here are a couple of tips and/recipes:

- Add chopped walnuts to a morning yogurt, top off with blueberries or strawberries for a tasty treat.

-Add crushed walnuts to oatmeal.

-Sprinkle walnuts into a salad, they’ll add a yummy texture and flavor. Walnuts go great with summer salads.

-Saute walnuts with your favorite leafy greens like kale or spinach

-Crush walnuts and crust chicken with them, then bake in the oven for a delicious crunchy meal.

Not only are scientists discovering that there are benefits for male fertility from the walnut, but it has historically been linked to studies showing increased cardiovascular health and increased brain function are among some of the healthy benefits from it.

Five Millionth IVF Baby Born!

July 2012 marks the date the five millionth baby was born through IVF. That’s an amazing number of babies born to people whom may have been unable to have a child on their own naturally (five million bundles of joy).  It also is the year that the first woman to have a successful birth from IVF passed away.  Louise Brown’s mother, Leslie Brown- the first woman who birthed Louise in July 1978 after conceiving through IVF, died this past June.

InVitro Fertilization has grown by leaps and bounds since 1978. The technology advanced to include more optimal treatments like ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: injects the sperm directly into the cell wall of the egg to help optimize fertilization). IVF is one of a small number of assisted reproductive technologies available today to help couples trying to conceive that are having difficulties doing so naturally. While this year marks the birth of the 5 millionth IVF baby and over 40 years of advancing, this type of ART still has its risks: multiples, birth defects and higher risks to the mother. While many must go through IVF on their path to conception, it may not work for everyone. The success rates for any procedures decrease as we age.

There are other types of ART available as “first steps” before IVF: Artificial Inseminations: ICI (intracervical insemination) and IUI (Intrauterine insemination). Different treatments can help with different types of infertility issues such as IVF with ICSI for male infertility factors. For those with unexplained fertility issues (approximately 1/3 of those trying to conceive are not diagnosed with male or female issues) many will start the process with ICI or IUI both a fraction of the cost of IVF. Speaking with your doctor or Reproductive Endocrinologist early on when you feel there may be problems with trying to conceive can help set you on perhaps the right path to parenthood.

Here is to many more births with assisted reproductive technologies and many more years of advancements that may help ALL trying to conceive.

CNN: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/02/5-million-babies-born-so-far-thanks-to-ivf/

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18649582

 

 

 

Paying for Fertility Treatments

There was a good informational article in Time’s Healthland today about paying for the cost of fertility treatments. The figure quoted in the article for the average cost of IVF was a little over $8,000 and didn’t even include the cost of medications., in many cases this can end up being between $12K-$15K. I don’t know about you, but that’s a sizeable amount to save, not to mention that many couples end up having to do IVF more than once to have a successful cycle. (Let’s leave out the part of the emotional cost and those horrid bruises from all the injections).

Currently, only 15 states have mandated infertility coverage. Even the coverage in these states has very explicit details about what they will cover, timeframe, diagnosis and then there are caps to the coverage, although it is still some financial relief to those trying to conceive. If you do not happen to live in one of these 15 states there may be other options available to you listed in the article here, http://ti.me/MF4o0C.

While options are still limited today (?Why?) , there are some alternatives to loans, although everyone should decide what will work best for them based on their financial position. The RESOLVE organization has some helpful information on different types of insurance companies and what basic coverage does/does not cover in general. http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/health-insurance-101.html. Make sure to check out their pages on how to get involved!

In the News: WHO warning and Endometriosis Treatment Study

WHO WARNING: Press coming from the World Health Organization yesterday warned of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea or the “clap”. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that causes infertility, complications with pregnancies, babies being born with eye-infections that cause blindness, as well as it makes it easier to contract HIV.  The article went on to explain that over the next few years it is predicted that this disease will become a super-bug, resistant to all forms of treatment. The WHO has called for extra surveillance from those administering the drug and increasing education on safe-sex to all. Please practice safe sex!

ENDOMETRIOSIS TREATMENT STUDY: Abbott Laboratories released press that they will begin phase 3 of their clinical studies on Elagolix, a potential new treatment for the many women suffering from endometriosis. Endometriosis causes uterine cells to grow in other areas of the body (outside of the uterus) leading to excruciating pain, inflammation, abnormal bleeding and infertility. This is exciting news, here is to hoping a treatment becomes available to those suffering. While it will be years before anything is completed, it is one step closer to finding a treatment for women with endometriosis.

Pink Timeline Campaign from First Response

The company that brought you First Response pregnancy tests has launched a new campaign in the UK called The Pink Timeline. The campaign includes a really great, interactive site for those trying to conceive. The pages are easy to navigate and highlight information that is important for those trying to get pregnant. The Countdown page shows you what exactly is happening in those first weeks if conception did indeed take place, they also highlight some symptoms of early pregnancy. Other pages include information on a woman’s general wellbeing (includes healthy tips), your cycle & sex, frequently asked questions and information regarding their product.

What I found really fantastic about the site is the Forum or support integration, as well as the fundraising section (Especially since recently in the news crowdfunding sites for fertility have been a hot topic). There are even videos from the UK’s #1 Fertility Expert, Zita West. Great Job First Response, the site looks great!

TTC? How Our Circadian Rhythm May Be Affecting Our Fertility

A recent study out of Northwestern University studied the effects of disruption to the circadian rhythm of mice and how this affects their fertility.

The female mice were mated with the males, then their circadian clock was disrupted. Some of the female group was given extra hours of daylight, while others had hours taken away. The group given extra hours of daylight, only about half produced litters. The group that had hours taken away, only approximately 20% produced litters. These were in comparison to the control group who had a steady 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night= 90% of this group produced litters. You can read all about the study here: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/05/24/daily-rhythm-disruptions-linked-to-fertility-problems/

This was quite interesting, because let’s be honest, most of us are running around for more than 12+ hours a day (I’m thinking more likely 18). While the study findings may not directly be able to link to human’s fertility, it is something to think about. More research today is showing sleep deprivation or poor sleep may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes (among others).

Read more about your circadian rhythm here: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm

Crowdfunding For Fertility Treatments

I read a very interesting article this morning (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/hold-crowdfunding-fertility/) on couples who had used crowdsource funding to finance fertility treatments and/or adoption. I have posted before about crowdsource funding for other creative projects related to fertility, but this was the first time I had heard about the website www.giveforward.com and user’s developing pages to raise funding for fertility treatments.

While all the crowdsource funding sites are such an effective, creative way to raise the funds for projects, this one blows me away. The site lets a user set up a page, provides them with the resources to “spread the word” socially and once the fundraiser hits its end date- the funds are transferred how the user set it up. Many couples have used the website to help in raising money for fertility treatments, surrogacy and even help towards the cost of adoption. The article above discussed the ability to post the page created on the user’s social network accounts to help raise money. I am sure many of us have seen similar set-ups like this before in our news feeds for fundraisers or links to pages where social network friends new and old can offer to help if they’d like. Many of the pages that were created for fertility were shared between family and friend networks that the user was able to reach easier through their social media. The article discussed one couple who saw such generous donations from acquaintances they had not seen/spoken to in years!

Browsing through the site, I noticed currently only a small percentage of fundraiser pages for fertility treatments.  We use our social media accounts to update people on our lives, find support, stay connected and bring awareness to issues we may be passionate about, would you use it to help raise money for the dream of having a child?   Have any of you used crowdsource funding to help with fertility treatments? or even just a fundraiser set up through family or friends?