At least once a month I have a woman in my office crying because her IVF cycle didn’t work and she believes in her heart that she is to blame. Typically she will say she “did too much after the transfer.” Women are so hard on themselves.
We all have genes in the DNA of our cells. Genes determine our hair colour, eye colour, height, and about 20,000 other things about us including which diseases we will develop. Over the past decade scientists have figured out the "spelling," or sequence of nucleotides, of every gene in humans. This project was called the Human Genome Project. Since this project of sequencing of all human genes was completed, the focus shifted to figuring out which gene mistakes, or mutations (or misspellings), cause which diseases.
Every job has good days and bad days. Today was 90% good and 10% bad.
A couple brought their 6-month-old daughter from IVF by to meet us, a woman who has been trying to conceive for a few years brought us a gift to say "thanks for trying so hard" for her, a couple who has twins on the way sent a "thank you" note, and a box of chocolates came from another successful couple.
Is there a diet you should follow to promote fertility? The Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study is trying to answer this question. Since 2006, women at a Boston IVF program are being studied with questionnaires on diet, lifestyle, and other environmental factors that might impact fertility. Some results from this work are starting to be released.
Today the Vancouver Sun ran a story about a lawsuit against a fertility clinic and a sperm bank. The lawsuit alleges that the sperm bank improperly screened a sperm donor. Two families in BC and more in Ontario used donor sperm purchased from the USA sperm bank, Xytex.
Friday night I was watching Dax Shepard, the actor, on the Jimmy Kimmel show. He and his wife, Kristen Bell, have two young children. He was describing how quickly and unexpectedly they conceived their second child after their first. He said that just a few days after learning Kristen was pregnant with their second child, he had a vasectomy, not wanting more than two children. I gasped. What if something had happened in the pregnancy and the baby hadn't survived? What if they had changed their minds later and wanted a third child? What if...?
May 12-20th is Canada's Infertility Awareness Week. Why? Well, if we keep infertilty a secret, no one will advocate for infertile people (out of sight, out of mind) and no one will consider public funding for fertility care. If people don't make people think about infertility, there will be less empathy for those who struggle to conceive.
Let’s talk about donor eggs. When a woman’s eggs are too low in number or quality to produce a healthy child, using donated eggs is an option. You can obtain donated eggs from a woman you know or from an anonymous woman through an egg bank. The use of egg banks has exploded over the past few years as the techniques of freezing and thawing eggs have improved dramatically. As a result, eggs can be donated, frozen, and then used weeks, months, or even years later. These frozen donated eggs can be shipped anywhere.
IVF works most of the time in couples where the female age is under 40. When it doesn't work, we ask: is it the embryo or is it the woman? With more widespread use of chromosome screening of embryos -- called Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS) or Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) -- the embryo is less likely to be the culprit.
Infertility doctors rarely take care of women after the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is because it's hard to master the science of infertility and also master pregnancy care. So, like that jerk who got your friend-of-a-friend pregnant in high school, we get women pregnant and then leave them after the first month or so of pregnancy. Haha. Ok, that sounds calous but it's a tiny bit true.