Saturday, November 21, 2009


Women who get the recommended amount of fiber in their diets may have lower estrogen levels and ovulate less often than women who eat less fiber, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 250 women ages 18 to 44, those who reported eating the recommended amounts of fiber had the lowest blood levels of estrogen and other reproductive hormones.
Higher fiber intake, particularly from fruit, was also linked to a higher risk of having anovulatory menstrual cycles -- where the ovaries fail to release an egg.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, do not mean that eating fiber-rich foods is a bad thing.
High-fiber diets are associated with numerous health benefits, including lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Experts generally recommend that adults get 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day, depending on their calorie intake.
However, the current results do "call into question" whether those recommendations are best for women who are trying to become pregnant, write the researchers, led by Audrey J. Gaskins of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, Maryland.
Anovulation can have various causes, including excessive exercise, having either too little or too much body fat, thyroid gland dysfunction and polycystic ovarian syndrome -- a hormone disorder that is a common cause of infertility.
Women who are not ovulating regularly often have irregular menstrual periods or none at all. However, some women do continue to have periods.
All of the women in the current study were healthy and having regular menstrual periods. Still, those who reported the highest fiber intake -- 22 grams per day or more, in line with general recommendations -- were more likely to have at least one anovulatory cycle over two months. The researchers gauged anovulation by measuring the women's reproductive-hormone levels over two menstrual periods.
Of the total menstrual cycles in this group, 22 percent were anovulatory, compared with 7 percent among women with lower fiber intakes.
When the researchers accounted for other factors that could affect ovulation -- including body weight, race, exercise levels and calorie intake -- high fiber intake itself was linked to a roughly 10-times higher risk of anovulation.
Looking at specific sources of fiber, the researchers also found that fiber from fruit, specifically, was most clearly associated with anovulation.
The results do not prove that fiber, per se, disrupts some women's ovulation. However, it is biologically plausible, Gaskins and her colleagues point out.
High-fiber diets, they explain, decrease activity in certain intestinal enzymes, leading to less estrogen reabsorption in the colon. Fiber can also cause more estrogen to be excreted from the body in feces.
In line with that, the researchers found that women with the highest fiber intakes generally had the lowest estrogen levels over the course of their menstrual periods. They also had lower levels of other reproductive hormones, including progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.
The findings, according to Gaskins and her colleagues, raise the possibility that women who are trying to conceive should lower their fiber intake. However, they write, more studies are needed before any recommendations can be made.SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2009.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Increased sex daily can help couples get pregnant - according to new study

Most couples using fertility procedures to help them become pregnant have followed the belief that abstaining from sex prior to ovulation cycle can help increase sperm count and the chances of becoming pregnant. A new study from Australia presented to the 25th annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Amsterdam, supports that quality is better than quantity.

Dr. David Greening took 118 men with high levels of DNA sperm damage and had them sexually relieve themselves at least once daily for seven days. The results supported his hypothesis that men who increase sexual activity have decreased levels of DNA damage in their sperm. The decreased damage was in amazing 81% of the men. The belief is that the sperm has less time to get damaged in the body before being released.

The question is how this news can affect a couple’s relationship. The study suggests that couples should have sex for at least a week before the ovulation date. At first thought this sounds great. But as a person dives into the psychology of a couple dealing with fertility treatments the news may not be as jovial as one thought.

The stress a couple is already facing in this relationship can become compounded with the added layer of responsibility. The prescription to have sex seven days before ovulation date takes away the romance and connection a couple generally feels in intimacy. Frankly speaking it can become a chore and further stress the couple out. In worse case scenarios this stress can cause performance anxiety.

While there is still some work to be done in seeing how this can affect a woman getting pregnant; the study has merit and value in the fertility world. But understanding should come into play regarding the stress levels and the effects this can have on an already strained relationship.

Some suggestions to help reduce stress would be:
• Meditation is always a good way to reduce stress. You can use different meditative techniques which include yoga and tai chi.

• Keep a journal and write positive thoughts, affirmations, and what you are thankful for.

*Laughter is the best medicine; this statement rings true in regards to relieving stress. Laugh with your partner and make life easier on both of you.

• Exercise is a great stress reliever. Some people like to exercise in a gym, exercise in the great outdoors or even participate in extreme sports. Find what works for you and let your mind focus on something other than the pressures of getting pregnant.

• Communication is a great stress reliever. Many people bottle their emotions, feelings, and thoughts up inside themselves and allow these components to build on top of each other. Learning to effectively communicate with your partner can make the relationship better and also reduce stress.

The thing to focus on is that for couples struggling to get pregnant and spending thousands of dollars on fertility treatments this is really great news. This suggested treatment is fun and free. There is still more research but in my estimation fertility treatments are moving in the right direction. Back to good old nature.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Hi friends, thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks too for considering it worthwhile enough to add to your favourites lists! You’ve probably noticed some interesting titles scrolling by on the news widget but I’d like to share Pamela Madsen’s piece (Our Vaginas, Ourselves) if you haven't read it already. It’s quite interesting and I’m ‘capturing’ it for you before it disappears into archives. -Omo Franca.


So...sometimes I feel like I am a little late to enter "The Conversation". But that has never stopped me before! After all, I really just discovered Daphne Merkin after reading her cover story on depression in The New York Times, "A Journey Through Darkness" a few weeks ago, Daphne is a fearless writer who has written on many controversial topics in her own voice and through her own eyes. Daphne puts it out there and invites controversy. Bravo. I love fearless.

After I read the piece in The Times online - my eyes stumbled on to several related links - other writings by Merkin. And these writings have been talked about for several years in the online commentary that I recently found. But I just have to weigh in...of course I do!First there was the piece that ran in The New Yorker on sensual spanking ("Unlikely Obsession"),
which apparently raised a few eyebrows and no doubt a few skirts - and then there was another controversial piece that ran in The New York Times, called "Our Vaginas, Ourselves,"- where Merkin talks about the new world of, shall we call it, "The Cosmetic Vagina" and female self-loathing.

Merkin talks about the world of Brazilian waxes, hymen reattachment, labia reshaping and shortening and what it says about how we view our female genitals. I celebrate the fact that she writes it all - through her eyes - and that the NY Times publishes it. But Merkin misses the mark when she says,
"Truth be told, I always considered myself lucky to have escaped coming-of-age at the height of the consciousness-raising era, when anatomical self-examination took on the aspect of a collective ritual. Those were the days when women felt obliged to convene in sisterly circles with mirrors and flashlights the better to study their bodies, themselves. Never having been one to enjoy group activities of any sort, the thought of becoming more closely acquainted with my private parts in a public setting seems potentially traumatizing rather than liberating or, God knows, celebratory".

Actually, that is the problem. The problem is that most women do not know what female genitalia past the pubic mound looks like. And if we as women don't know our bodies and have a healthy self-image, how are we supposed to have sexual pleasure and a healthy relationship with our own bodies? It is through the not seeing and the not knowing where women often self-destruct as sexual beings.

Women don't grow up like young boys, stealing glances in the locker room to see what is going on with other same-sex bodies. We have no idea of the diversity of the vagina and we can't even agree on what to call female genitalia,
a subject that gets most sexologists screaming that "the vagina is the birth canal" and not a good descriptor of a woman's sex organs.
Perhaps if women could see more of other women's inner sexual landscapes - if it was alright for women to look - we women would get it that each vulva is a unique work of art. Instead, the only pictures of female genitals that most women see are the air brushed and clipped versions in the journals of Playboy.
Women don't get to see images of real women.

For Merkin to celebrate the fact that she missed the age of the brave pioneering women who came together to explore the great unknown - mirror and flashlight in hand - is truly a disservice to those that came before her. The fact is that there are still rare opportunities, and few books outside of medical manuals that give women the opportunity to see the diversity of vulvas celebrated. If they did, Dr. David Matlock's
practice of "Vaginal Rejuvenation" wouldn't be so popular.

There is a part of me that hates myself for criticizing Merkin at all. Look, she is out there and she is at least sparking the conversation in very reputable publications about female sexuality in a way that is real and in the first person. That takes courage. And for her reward, she gets to not only take it on the chin for her bravery by "sexual conservatives," but also by well-known outspoken sex activists like
Susie Bright and Dr. Betty Dobson, for example, in this excellent and scathing commentary, "Daphne Merkin Needs to get Spanked Again."
But it is the fact that I can take her on that is so wonderful! Daphne is a big girl, and she is putting it out there. I suspect she can take care of herself. And she is doing a service to all of us by taking this conversation, whether you agree with her or not, into publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times so that there is a public discourse on issues that are never talked about.

This morning, as I was researching this blog, I came upon
"How to Have Baby Making Sex" on one of my favorite fertility blogs, "How to Make a Family" . At first I was all excited! A fertility blog other than mine was talking about sex! But in a nano second, I became incensed by the introductory language of the piece, and I quote:
"If getting pregnant hasn't been so easy for you, maybe you're not doing "it" right." Doing it right? It almost didn't matter what came next in the blog - the shadow of a past insult and shame came flooding back in an instant. It didn't matter if the off-hand remark which was made with too many beers in hand happened over 23 years ago.

It was the only time my husband ever became inflamed over our infertility experience with a family member. It was when his brother asked him if "we were doing it right." My mild- mannered husband stood up and punched his brother in the jaw. To this day, I have never seen my husband raise a hand to anyone before or since!

Why begin a conception sex tip piece with a knock to our sexual self esteem? It is insulting. And it's why many men don't want to see a reproductive specialist - because they are worried that they will be told that they are not doing it right.
Look, it's hard enough already for couples who are living through "conception sex." Do they need to have that particular myth reinforced that perhaps they are not doing it right?
And what does any of this have to do with Daphne Merkin and "My Vaginas, Ourselves"?

Well, Daphne has taken it on the chin for what may be seen as taking hidden issues to the main stream, and here is How to Make a Famiy taking a stab at sexuality and conception. And instead of giving them snaps for being a fertility blog uttering the word "sex," I am stomping around my apartment.

So, we don't all agree, but at least we are starting to talk about sex in a new and open way. Right? Even the fertility blogs.
I wonder who I am provoking this morning?

Pamela Madsen is one of the nation's most outspoken and recognized fertility and sex educators.
The Fertility Advocate, Ms. Madsen's Blog has become the must-read for all members of the fertility and sexuality community, with hundreds jacking into Ms. Madsen's funny, insightful and provocative posts every day. Ms. Madsen is The founder of The America Fertility Association and works with East Coast Fertility as the Director of Public Education. Ms. Madsen is reaching out to women - and men — to integrate all aspects of the reproductive continuum from sexuality, infertility prevention, protection and treatment into the general health care of all women.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Having trouble getting pregnant? Experts now believe that following the right diet could be the single most important factor for successful conception.

A Spanish study recently found that men could boost their sperm counts by eating less red meat and fatty food, and more fruit and veg.

Meanwhile, research at Harvard University also found that women who made dietary changes reduced their risk of infertility by as much as 80%.
“The food choices you and your partner make can have a major effect on improving fertility,” agrees fertility expert Dr Zita West, whose client list includes actresses Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Davina McCall.

Here are the foods you – and your partner – need to eat...
How to do it:
The first step to better fertility is to ensure you have a balanced diet and don’t cut out any major food groups. “Make sure you both get adequate protein from lean meat and fish, essential fats from fish, nuts and seeds, wholemeal carbohydrates and lots fruit and veg,” says Zita.
Once you have the basics right you can then add the specific superfoods that researchers have found can boost egg and sperm production. But be patient: you will both need to stick to a diet plan for at least three months before you will know if it has had any effect.

Here’s what you should be eating...

For him
Oily fish.
This is the best source of essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3 and omega-6 oils – all of which are vital for sperm development. They also enhance sperm quality and mobility.* Eat: Salmon, mackerel and sardines are all types of oily fish. Men should eat between one and four portions a week.
Oysters.A great source of zinc, which is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm. Nutritionists believe just 15mg a day can help repair sperm that have been damaged by chemicals absorbed from the environment.

* Eat: If you can’t stomach or afford oysters, you’ll find plenty of zinc in beans, nuts, seeds and eggs.

Garlic.This is a great source of selenium, an antioxidant, which helps maintain strong healthy sperm.* Eat: Add chopped garlic to stir-fries, pasta sauces and curries. Garlic breath may not be very romantic but it can be easily neutralised by chewing a little parsley afterwards.

Spinach.This and other leafy greens are rich in folate, which improves sperm production. A study by the University of California found men with high intakes of this nutrient had up to 30% healthier sperm.

* Eat: Steam spinach lightly with garlic and chilli or eat it raw in a healthy salad.

Avocados.A rich source of vitamin E, which improves the quality of sperm. Avocados are also an excellent way to absorb unsaturated fats, which are crucial for healthy hormone function.

* Eat: Make your own guacamole as a dip for carrot sticks. Scoop flesh out of a couple of avocados and mash it up, adding a little garlic and lemon juice.

For her
Full-fat dairy. A fertility study by Harvard University found women who eat at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day reduce their risk of infertility by more than a quarter. It’s thought that the fat in dairy helps improve ovarian function.

* Eat: Consider changing low-fat dairy foods for full-fat while you are in the process of trying for a baby. A glass of milk a day is plenty.

Water. If you don’t drink enough water the reproductive system will lose out as the body ensures that the most vital organs receive the water that they need first.Water is needed for plump egg follicles and a strong blood supply to the womb lining. If you’re dehydrated, your cervical fluid (the stuff that helps the sperm find the egg) also becomes sluggish.

* Drink: Aim to have about eight glasses per day. Try mixing water with fruit juice or a squirt of lemon to liven it up.

Orange fruit and vegetables. Peaches, apricots, carrots and mangoes all contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A and which helps to produce the female sex hormones important for ovulation.

* Eat: Start the day with a mango and peach smoothie, and have a bag of chopped carrots to snack on at work.

Chicken.Getting enough protein is vital for egg production. Meat is the best source of protein but go for chicken rather than red meat – as it is much lower in fat.

* Eat: Women need about 45g of protein a day but don’t have more than this. As Zita West warns: “High-protein diets aren’t good in the lead-up to pregnancy, as there’s evidence that ammonia, a by-product of excessive protein, may interfere with embryo implantation.”

Oily fish, nuts and seeds.These are all extremely rich in essential fatty acids, which are crucial for healthy ovulation. According to Zita, eight out of 10 women are currently deficient in EFAs.

* Eat: You need to eat about 30g of nuts and seeds a day – enjoy them as a snack, sprinkle them on your cereal or mix into a healthy salad. Also try to eat about 300g – or roughly two portions – of oily fish a week.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Healthy eating can help perk up fertility

IT IS estimated that one in seven couples have trouble conceiving despite regularly having unprotected sex.

But the number of couples who are classed as infertile in the UK remains relatively low.

There are a number of conditions, which can cause infertility, although in just under a third of cases the cause is unknown.

However there are a number of factors which, while not causing infertility, can affect men and women’s chances of conceiving.
Being overweight, or obese, for example, reduces both male and female fertility. In women, it can affect ovulation.
Being underweight can also impact on fertility, particularly for women, who will not ovulate if they are severely underweight.

Smoking not only affects a person’s general and long-term health, it can also affect fertility and stress can reduce sexual desire, reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse. Severe stress may also affect female ovulation and can limit sperm production.

Nutrition – what people are eating – also has an impact on fertility. Many of us will be aware of the importance of folic acid for women trying to conceive, or that zinc is good for healthy sperm, but the role of nutrition in fertility goes beyond this.

While there are no specific foods or beverages that will definitely make anyone more fertile, a person’s overall nutrition has a subtle, but powerful effect on all of the body’s systems, including the reproductive system.

Kay Clarke, a nutritional therapist at the Natural Health and Fertility Clinic, in Cardiff, said: “Nutrition is very important for the reproductive organs not least because they are often at the bottom of the list in terms of the body’s needs.
“Nutritionally people seem to be unaware of the basics.
“The nutritional status of a person is an individual thing, which we need to assess but there are some general points, including eating five to nine portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
“They are full of vitamin C which helps in the production of eggs and sperm. The oils – omega three, six and nine – are also important because they have an anti-inflammatory reaction on the body and help to balance reproductive hormones.
“But if you are eating a lot of saturated fats, such as butter, cheese, and fatty meats these foods have an inflammatory effect in the body and therefore the action of the good oils is diminished.
“It is important that you get a balance of good oils over the bad fats. Couples who are trying to conceive should limit saturated fats to just part of one meal a day.”


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Elizabeth Adeney is 66 years old. She will celebrate her 67th birthday one month after the birth of her first child this June. The British Ms. Adeney is the oldest mom in Great Britain, and maybe in the world.

The British business woman says she wants a child to inherit her wealth. Adeney is the managing director of a plastics and textiles company in Mildenhall, Suffolk. She says she is fitter than many of the younger women who work for her…some days she feels like she is 39 and other days 56. According to friends, “she is in perfect health,” and “has had a pretty good pregnancy,” and has worked a regular work week throughout her pregnancy.

It is believed after numerous failed fertility treatments, Ms. Adeney underwent IVF treatment in the Ukraine using donor eggs and sperm. British clinics will not accept applicants for in vitro treatments over the age of 50.

An IVF expert, Dr. Severino Antinori, refused to comment on Adeney. Older mothers have an increased risk of complications and even death. Rumors are that health officials were shocked to learn of the pregnancy and Elizabeth Adeney’s advanced age. While the cutoff age for treatment is 50 in Great Britain, fertility treatment for those over 40 is not recommended.

Ms. Adeney has a supporter in her own physician, Dr. Patricia Rashbrook, who had a son through in vitro at the age of 63. Elizabeth will beat Rashbrook’s age by four years, and when her child has her 20th birthday, Adeney will be turning 87 shortly after.

This single mum is fully capable of supporting her child. She has a $910,000 (USD) home, a full-time live-in nanny and a deep desire for a child. Said to be one “feisty” woman, she was a debutante and an airline hostess. Elizabeth married Robert Adeney but the union was short lived.
The title of “oldest mom” is controversial too.

Some say Adeney will be the oldest mother in the world, not just Britain, because Rajo Devi Lohan, a woman claiming she was 70 years old in July 2008, gave birth to twins in India. Problem is, reports say, Lohan cannot produce her birth certificate. Her age is in dispute with some officials, but not with others.

Spainard Carmen Bousada gave birth to twins in December 2007, and was considered the world’s oldest mother at that time at age 66. Bousada is a pensioner and never married. She lied about her age - said she was 55 years old - to receive the IVF from an American clinic in Los Angeles. Bousada paid $60,000 for the treatments. She gave birth in Barcelona.

Less than three weeks before the twins first birthday, she told the press she had been diagnosed with a serious illness, which is thought to be cancer. In an interview, Carmen says she does not expect to die anytime soon, but
if something should happen to her, the children will be cared for by her nephew and the twin’s godfather.

Elizabeth Adeney says she knows she is in the news but she doesn’t care.

'I’m a private person and while I appreciate there may be some publicity I will just ignore it. This has been a very personal decision.'

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yoga reduces stress for women receiving fertility treatment

Marsha Mezger and her husband, Doug, have been trying to have a baby since July 2006.First, Mezger took three rounds of Clomid, a fertility drug, with no success. Then they moved on to in vitro treatments at Mid-Iowa Fertility in Clive. The first two tries resulted in miscarriages; the third time, Mezger didn't get pregnant.Now the West Des Moines couple is trying another round of in vitro. But this time, Mezger - a big believer in integrating Western and Eastern medicine - also took a new class offered at The Family Tree in Des Moines called "Yoga for Fertility."

"I thought, 'Why not? It's not going to hurt,'" said Mezger, 29. "If anything, yoga is going to help me relax."Sandi Hoover, co-owner and instructor at The Family Tree, said she believes this is the first class of its kind in Iowa.The class is open to all women trying to conceive, said Hoover, a registered nurse who has been a yoga instructor since 2001. Some of her students have had medical diagnoses of polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis, both of which can cause infertility.

"For me, personally, yoga has been a source of stress reduction and balance," she said. "And for a lot of people struggling to conceive, there's that underlying stress. The focus (of the class) is clearly going to be inviting that reproductive energy in through a combination of breath, meditation and movement."When you're under constant stress, Hoover said, your body puts out stress hormones that deal more with survival functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. Those hormones also shut down reproduction.

Hoover said new research shows that yoga and other alternative health techniques can serve as antidotes to the harmful effects of stress on the reproductive system.Extreme stress can interfere with a woman's ovulation and reduce the number of eggs, agreed Dr. Don Young, medical director at Mid-Iowa Fertility. For men, stress can negatively affect sexual performance.Young said he has recommended yoga to his patients to relieve stress."As far as any yoga moves improving fertility, there's no evidence to support that at all," he said. "There's no yoga poses that will, say, open up fallopian tubes or improve ovulation."

Young said studies have shown that acupunture may help increase the number of eggs, embryo quality and pregnancy rate for patients undergoing in vitro treatments.Hoover's class includes specific yoga poses that help increase overall health, which will increase the overall likelihood of getting pregnant, she said. They also help improve the total alignment of the body and increase energy and stamina. The moves support the muscles in the reproductive area.

The class also serves as a support group. Topics vary weekly, ranging from letting go of obsessive thoughts to finding holistic help, through group discussion and sharing, Hoover said.Mezger said being surrounded by pregnant co-workers, pregnant women at the mall and new moms pushing strollers made her feel like she was the only one going through this."I left (the class) calm and centered," she said, "and it was certainly a way for me to be proactive in this journey and be productive. It was certainly a release - and more than once. I released buckets of tears right there in the middle of (class)."

The class helped Mezger to be more patient, she said, and to focus on the future."Our time is going to come. Having a baby has not come yet, but it doesn't mean it's never going to come," she said.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Single career woman has twins using stored eggs

A HIGH-flying woman in her 40s has controversially given birth to healthy twins after having her eggs frozen in case she was unable to form a relationship.

As insurance against "social infertility", the career woman, who rose to the senior ranks of a publicly listed company, paid thousands of dollars to have her eggs frozen at age 37 after being unable to develop a long-term relationship.

After turning 40, she had the eggs fertilised with donor sperm, and recently gave birth to twins.Egg freezing allowed the woman to give birth to her own genetic children rather than use donated eggs.
Queensland Fertility Group clinical director David Molloy described the practice as a medical advance as profound as the contraceptive pill.

"The contraceptive pill enables women to delay their reproduction and not get pregnant on their honeymoon," he said. "It changed the way women were able to approach their careers, their lives, their sexuality, the whole thing."Social egg freezing is going to allow women who've got the resources to look at when they reproduce and how they structure their lives and their careers and still have a good chance of having children."Dr Molloy, who reported the woman's case in the latest
Medical Journal of Australia, said he did not believe the practice was unethical."Here you've got someone who's financially very sound, who's now got the time to look after a child ... who's actually given up her job to say: 'I've reached the top, I've made enough money, now I can look after a child responsibly'," Dr Molloy said."Are we socially less responsible creating a pregnancy in that woman compared to the fact you've got 17-year-olds getting pregnant every day of the week because we don't have enough family planning teaching in our schools?
''This is a woman who's made it.
''She's not going to be a welfare burden on the community."However the practice is expected to be seen as controversial, given it will increase the numbers of single parent families.It does not attract
Medicare funding and is expensive, costing up to $10,000 per cycle to extract eggs and another $300 a year to store them.Dr Molloy said the ideal age for women to consider egg freezing was between 31 and 35.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Too old to be a mom?

Donna Broderick-Reich and her husband, J.R. Reich, are excited about the baby she will deliver in a few weeks. She is 56 years old and conceived by having an egg from her daughter that was fertilized with her husband's sperm implanted. She has six other children who are mostly adults. Donna and her husband play in a rock band and are shown at local bar called Sharky's near Ocala.

Donna Broderick-Reich lay on an exam table tilted at a 50-degree angle, and looked up at her feet for 45 minutes.

As uncomfortable as it was, and as much as she needed to use the restroom, she toughed it out. And she had a good reason.

At age 56, and after having gone through menopause, Reich lay prone in a Los Angeles fertility clinic hoping to give her husband, J.R. Reich, their first child.
She remained motionless as two tiny fertilized eggs donated from her 31-year-old daughter and fertilized by J.R.'s sperm in a Petri dish found their way to a snug corner of her uterus.

One of the two did, and the couple, who live in Oxford near The Villages, are now expecting a baby boy.
Donna gets a wide range of reactions to her pregnancy, now in its 32nd week.
Her 32-year-old husband is anxious and can't believe he's going to be a father. Most of her six grown children are happy for her, although they worry about her health. Donna no longer speaks to her mother. Some strangers raise their eyebrows and shake their heads.

And in the larger scheme of things, bioethicists wonder if older women should have children, since in many cases they won't be around long enough to care for them.

Scientists say there have not been enough studies to show that older wombs are fit to carry babies, even if the donor eggs are from young women; and in the meantime, there are are no hard and fast regulations on the assisted reproductive technologies industry, which includes IVF.

The fertilization specialists who perform the procedures say they put their clients through a battery of tests and make sure they're in good health and have a solid support network. Some don't perform the procedure on older women who are single, even if they're in good health.

But to Donna the issue is deeper than the science and ethics of it all.
"For all those people who look at me strange, come up and ask me why I'm having this baby, cause I'm not out there to populate this world," she says.
When Donna met J.R., she had already divorced three husbands and had raised six children. She was 40. He was 18. The two got married two years later and got pregnant when Donna was 45. But the baby's heartbeat stopped when Donna was four and a half months pregnant. At that point the two put the idea of having children to rest.

So they focused on their new family and their music careers. They eventually formed a band called SSnakeyez and still perform on Friday and Saturday nights in local bars.

It wasn't until early last year that Donna began thinking of having a child again. Donna's daughter, Madina, and her three small children had moved in with her temporarily, and Donna found herself baby-sitting and talking about babies.
There was a part of her that worried about J.R. She knew he would outlive her, "and I was afraid that he was going to be alone," she said. "I'm his best friend and I'm still here with him and I wanted to raise his child. I wanted to leave a part of me behind"

So she did some Internet research and learned that she could get pregnant through in vitro fertilization and by using a donor egg. She found a willing doctor at Pacific Fertility Center of Los Angeles. Then there was the matter of money for the procedure, which she could raise by refinancing her home in Oxford in Sumter County.

It was at that point she approached J.R. with the idea.
There is no mandatory cutoff age for IVF, but most centers stop at 50, which is an average age for menopause. In almost 90 percent of the cases, the eggs are donated from younger women because the older the eggs, the higher the risk of complications and miscarriage.

Although the uterus of an older woman can be revived by hormones and will produce hormones on its own a few weeks after pregnancy, the body of an older woman might not be fit to go through the process. Older women who get pregnant are at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems, gestational diabetes and hypertension.

"Every program sets their own limits," said Dr. R. Stan Williams, chairman of tje Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Florida. "The central questions are: What is the health of the woman? Is she capable of going through the pregnancy safely? And as the child is growing up, how likely is it for the mother to be around?"

Dr. Vicken Sahakian, medical director and owner of Pacific Fertility Center of Los Angeles, is well-known for performing IVF in women as old as 67.
"It's not rocket science. I don't have a magic potion. I am a women's advocate. I do think a 54-year-old woman has as much right to have a child as a 54-year-old man," he said in a recent interview. "The argument that a woman is not meant to have kids at 54 can go for cancer. If the technology is there, why not use it?"
Some bioethicists raise other issues.

"There are just differences between older and younger people when it comes to reproduction in terms of risks, safety and ability to raise children," said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. "When older dads have babies, historically, the woman is young enough to carry the baby."

He added that with donor-egg IVF, "All you're achieving is pregnancy. It's not your own child. Then why go through these risks, when all you're going to achieve is a pregnancy? So if you're going to use a donor egg, why not hire a surrogate mother?"

Donna's daughter said she didn't want to carry the pregnancy.
"I was afraid I would be too close to the baby," she said.
And Donna said she wanted the baby inside of her.
To the family, indeed, this baby - which will be a boy - is Donna's and J.R.'s and they will raise it together as mom and dad.
Donna laughs about all the jokes around the house.
"I'll be getting a senior citizen discount when he gets a happy meal," she quipped. "And I'll be on my Hoveround when he's on his bike."
Then she gets serious.
"I believe that [the doctor] instrumented the baby, but it had to be God to say that, 'I'm going to allow you to go through the pregnancy despite all adversities.' "


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

N.H. PETA billboard shows veggies as 'food of love'

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A new billboard in New Hampshire from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is showing some creative use of vegetables.

PETA has coupled the findings of a Harvard University study suggesting that vegetarian foods may increase fertility with the face that New Hampshire has one of the lowest birth rates in the country.

The billboard shows various vegetables arranged to mimic certain parts of the male and female anatomies next to tagline "Veggies: The Food of Love. Going vegetarian may make you more fertile."

In their book, "The Fertility Diet," Harvard researchers urge people to consume more vegetable protein and less animal protein if they hope to have children.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Common Chemicals Linked to Infertility

Could your cookware and cleaning supplies make it harder for you to have a baby?

In the current issue of Human Reproduction, researchers suggest that chemicals called perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs for short, might be linked to delays in getting pregnant. But study authors and experts in the field caution that the findings are preliminary and mainly highlight an area that needs more research.

"The finding is interesting," says one of the study's authors, Joseph K. McLaughlin, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. "We need to know more about these chemicals because they are long lasting and have had effects in animals."
And until more is known, the researchers say, changes in health policy are unlikely.

"This is the first study in the world that has looked at this particular association," says lead study author Dr. Jorn Olsen, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. "Normally we don't base our conclusions on public health information on one study. We need to wait for other studies to make policy recommendations."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Soy protein renders womb unsuitable for pregnancy.

A soy protein, genistein, long known to affect fertility can change how pregnancies start and progress in female mice treated with it as newborns. The changes make it harder for fertilized eggs to implant and grow, possibly contributing to infertility. The effects were observed at levels comparable to those experienced by human infants feeding on soy formula.

The researchers then retrieved either unfertilized eggs or fertilized embryos from the female mice to assess egg health and reproductive organ development .They set up a series of experiments to ask several questions:

First, could unfertilized eggs grow to early development?
Second, could naturally fertilized embryos grow properly in a normal, untreated mouse?

Third, could fertilized embryos taken from untreated mice grow normally in the treated female mice?

What did they find?
Genistein impaired the implantation process in the female mice that were treated as newborns and mated after sexual maturity. After mating, the number of embryos retrieved from genistein-treated mice was about half the number of those collected from control mice.

Fewer implantation sites were present in the uterus of genistein-treated mice compared to control.

Together, these findings suggest that the reproductive tract environment in the genistein-treated mice is likely not optimal for embryonic development.
Tested in vitro, treated and control eggs were equally capable of being fertilized. However, embryos from genistein-treated females developed more slowly than controls. Over time this difference disappeared.

What does it mean?
Genistein affects the uterus and the reproductive tract -- not the egg quality -- of the adult female mice that were treated with the soy phytoestrogen while in the womb. Fertilized embryos developing in the treated females did not attach and thrive as well as embryos in the control animals, even though eggs from genistein-treated females were as healthy as those from their unexposed counterparts.

The genistein-treated mice also lost more embryos early in their development. Embryo death means fewer births and higher rates of infertility.

Together, the results suggest that the uterus may be an important factor in genistein-induced infertility.

These findings pinpoint one actual cause of the observed infertility of early life exposure to genistein. They also highlight the need for a much better understanding of how soy infant formulas and other products fed to newborns and infants may influence a developing baby's reproductive life.

Egg quality was not affected by newborn genistein treatment. The immature eggs from genistein-treated mice developed normally and produced fertile female mice just like in the controls.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence that implies that newborns that eat soy-based products may be predisposed to lower reproductive success as adults.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Hormonal disorder leading cause of infertility

Most women have never heard of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), yet it is the leading cause of infertility in women and affects about one in 10 women in the United States.

PCOS is a widespread hormonal disorder found in premenopausal women. It can be treated, so it is important for women experiencing the symptoms of PCOS to see their health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Tracie Traver, who is on the active medical staff of Blount Memorial Hospital, says that common symptoms of PCOS include irregular or missed menstrual periods, infertility, increased hair growth, obesity and ovarian cysts. "PCOS is caused by an excess production of a hormone class called androgens. Androgens are male hormones that all women produce, but that women with PCOS produce in excess.

There is nothing that can be done to prevent PCOS or lower the risk, although weight control may have a positive effect on it."Women with signs of androgen excess who are not ovulating are considered to have PCOS. "Sometimes lab tests are ordered to be sure there is nothing else causing these symptoms," Traver adds. "An ultrasound may be done to look for small cysts on the ovaries, however, there are some patients who have the classic presentation for PCOS, yet the ultrasound doesn't show these cysts."Traver explains that treatment of PCOS helps control symptoms and can help prevent endometrial cancer, diabetes and heart disease. "Daily exercise of at least 30 minutes can help women with PCOS by improving insulin function as well as relieving other symptoms. Also, weight loss may lower insulin levels, which will help with restoring ovulation, and may slow new hair growth."

Medications used to treat PCOS include some medicines typically used by diabetics to help with insulin function. Birth control pills also may be used to control irregular cycles and lower endometrial cancer risk. Other medications are used to cause ovulation for women with fertility issues.

There also are medications available to control the hair growth.Traver recommends that women who are experiencing PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant and excess hair growth schedule an appointment with an obstetrician/gynecologist for diagnosis and treatment. "In severe cases, PCOS can lead to balding, lowering of the voice and bigger muscles," she adds. "Some women have a problem with their insulin levels or function, which leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. They also have an increased risk of endometrial cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease."If you would like to schedule an appointment with an obstetrician/gynecologist, call the Blount Memorial HEALTHLINE at 981-3983 for a free physician referral.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Woman has triplets against infertility odds

A woman who was told she could never have children has given birth to triplets. Sam Paciuszko, 31, gave birth 14 weeks early to two girls and a boy, each weighing just 2lb.

Mrs Paciuszko was told there was only a 30 per cent chance of all three surviving but they are now gaining weight and "doing well" as they are treated in three different hospitals for specialist treatment.
This has meant the couple making 400-mile round trips to see each one in turn.

The babies, Martha, Evie and Harry, are still in incubators in intensive care and are not expected to return home until March, the month they were originally due.

Mrs Paciuszko had been told she would never conceive because her body was not producing eggs but she began fertility treatment when she married her husband Andrew, a postman.

After three years of failure, Mrs Paciuszko had virtually abandoned hope until she fell pregnant last year. She gave birth by caesarean section on Dec 6.
Mrs Paciuszko, from Truro, Cornwall, an administration manager for Marks & Spencer, said doctors had performed "miracles".

She said: "It was a very lonely Christmas for Andrew and I because we spent it apart in different hospitals and eating microwave meals.
"We have not seen each other for three weeks. Nobody can give us a guarantee that they (the babies) will be OK but it is looking very good.
"The fact our babies are here at all is a miracle because we were told we could never have children. We just want to keep them safe."

During the pregnancy, the couple were given the option to terminate one foetus to ensure they had at least two healthy babies, but they declined.
Mrs Paciuszko gave birth at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, Devon. A 20-strong specialist medical team delivered 1lb 13oz Harry at 10.12am, 2lb 2oz Martha at 10.14am and 1lb 12oz Evie at 10.16am.

Harry remained at Derriford while Martha was transferred to Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, Bristol, for an operation on a perforated gut. Evie was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, to be near her home.
Harry and Evie are now both in incubators in Truro and Martha was expected to join them soon.

Hospital managers said the triplets had been moved to different units because they needed specialist care.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Assisted reproduction leads to 27 live births for every 100 IVF cycles: report

TORONTO — A new report says fertility clinics in Canada achieved a success rate of 27 live births for every 100 IVF cycles in 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available.

And the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society says the pregnancy rate for in vitro fertilization was 35 per cent in 2007, up nine percentage points since 1999, when the group first started collecting these statistics.
It was too soon to say what the rate of live births was for 2007, though it is generally expected that some of those pregnancies would have ended in miscarriage.

The report says about 15 per cent of pregnancies initiated using assisted reproduction through the society's 26 member clinics ended in miscarriage in 2006.
The live birth rates varied substantially by age, with 34 per cent of women under age 35 and 26 per cent of women aged 35 to 39 having a baby using IVF.

The rate dropped sharply, though, in women over age 40, with only 11 per cent of IVF cycles leading to a live birth.
How do the Canadian rates compare to those of fertility clinics in similar countries?
"Very well. They are very comparable," says Dr. Roger Pierson, chair of the communications committee of the society and director of the University of Saskatchewan's reproductive biology research unit.

The figures are the aggregate results of the country's 26 fertility clinics, which the clinics voluntarily provide. Pierson says that while some clinics will post their own rates on their websites, the society is not a regulatory body and does not release clinic-specific data.

He says the sector expects that when the Federal Assisted Human Reproduction Agency completes the task of drawing up its regulations, it will collect and publish clinic-specific results.

The 2006 data show that 70 per cent of babies born with the help of IVF were singletons and of the multiple births, 95 per cent were twins.
Over the years assisted reproduction has led to an explosion of multiple births. Experts have called for limits on the number of fertilized embryos implanted in each cycle with the aim of reducing the chances an IVF pregnancy will lead to multiple births.

The report says the proportion of babies born with congenital abnormalities was not elevated among IVF-assisted births.
Canadian women went through 8,278 cycles of IVF in 2006 in 25 fertility clinics across the country. In 2007 there were 9,019 treatment cycles performed through 26 clinics. The service costs between $6,000 and $15,000 a cycle, depending on the individual clinic and the type of procedure needed.