what if?

My parents made me suspicious of insurance. They weren’t necessarily optimistic people, but they just felt they could handle bad outcomes themselves and didn’t trust that insurance help with be forth coming in the event of a disaster. They were mistrustful of those who were selling something for the “what if” scenarios of life. I think they understood numbers and felt that if the chance of a house fire was 1/10,000 then it was unlikely to happen to them so don’t get fire insurance. So far, so good.


Tank safety

There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about the security and safety of the embryos, sperm and eggs we have frozen in our cryopreservation or cryo tanks. I am on vacation this week and was out for a run and our tanks were on my mind. Our lab director would say an hour doesn’t go by when he doesn’t think about our tanks.


short supply

About 11  years ago I heard Jonathan Tilly speak at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) meeting.  His research suggested in mice new eggs could be made. This raised the question "what if our understanding that women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have, is wrong?"  What if we could make new eggs for women?  Huh.  A basic premise of human reproduction is that you can't.  All evidence so far has supported the idea that women are born with about a million eggs and rapidly lose them, running out at menopause.

Polar Bodies

I am a visual learner and I think a lot of people, particularly women, would say the same thing. Tonight I have been trying to find a nice table documenting rates of egg chromosomal abnormalities to show patients. As women age, our eggs are more likely to have a chromosomal problem. That is, our eggs are more likely to have too many or too few chromosomes. If these eggs with an abnormal chromosome number fertilize, the possible outcomes are not pregnant, miscarriage, or a chromosomally abnormal child (e.g. Down Syndrome).

Some Days

Some days it feels like there is an attack on women happening globally. I used to think it was just happening in developing countries or those marred by religious zealotry. Terrible things are on the news every day: girls being prevented from going to school in Pakistan, sexual violence against women in Africa, and so on. Similarly, anti-woman events are happening on a much smaller scale in the developed world. In the USA reproductive rights are being eroded, in many European countries woman earn less for the same work as their male counterparts, and Jian Ghomeshi happened.


Fertility medicine can be pretty dry. Unlike our proctology colleagues (who get all the laughs -- aimed at them) or brain surgeons (who get all the respect), we are rarely a source of interest. I know this because if I am at a party and people ask what I do, and I say "infertility," they usually walk away or bring up the weather. Either fertility medicine is boring or it's embarassing. Not sure.