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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
With IVF treatments, twins have basically become the new norm—46 percent of IVF births are multiples, mostly twins. But now fertility experts want to change that. The new goal: single births, even when using IVF. Why? Twins have a much higher risk of being preemies and having serious health problems that could potentially last a lifetime.
The most recent info from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 37 percent of IVF babies, who are multiples, are born premature, while only 3 percent of babies born without fertility treatments are twins, and of those about 12 percent are preterm.
Many women who’ve struggled to have kids are excited to have twins—even asking their physicians for twins—because they may not have the money for multiple IVF treatments (each round can cost up to $20k!), or they would love to have two kids at once, and never have to go through pregnancy again! But doctors fear that couples are making a rash decision without really knowing the increased medical risks for babies and moms (risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher).
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s recent guidelines state that women should be counseled on the risks of multiple births and embryo transfers and that this discussion should be noted in their medical records. According to the guidelines, “for women with reasonable medical odds of success, those under 35 should be offered single embryo transfer and no more than two at a time.” They are open to more embryos being implanted, if the woman is over 35.
According to Valley News, with stronger screening of embryos, success rates for single embryos could be nearly as good as when two or more are used, say experts. The new techniques include maturing the embryos a few days longer, improving viability and allowing cells to be sampled for chromosome screening. Embryos can be frozen to allow test results to come back and more precisely time the transfer to the womb.
Taking these steps with single embryos results in fewer miscarriages and tubal pregnancies, healthier babies with fewer genetic defects and lower hospital bills from birth complications, many fertility specialists say.
I’m really torn on this subject, because I don’t think any of us want more Octomoms running around out there, or kids with health problems. But—and it’s a big but—all of the women I’ve known who’ve had IVF (and I should note that all of them have been over 35), have had twins, and are beyond thrilled with their decision to have multiple embryos implanted. Many of them did have complicated births—including extended bed rest, spotting, C-sections, and breathing problems in the children that caused them to stay in NICU for weeks, up to months after their births.
All of that said, as far as I know every single one of them is a happy, healthy kid with no lingering medical issues (at least so far—fingers crossed!). And even though the pregnancies and births were more complicated, required more doctor visits, and now they have twice the expenses with two little ones running around at the same time, the parents’ love for their two cuties made all of that initial anxiety worth it for them, and they would never, ever want to have traded that experience in for a single birth.
TELL US: Do you think women should be discouraged from having twins? Do you have twins? Tell us your story!
Use our Ovulation Calculator to see when you’re most likely to get pregnant. Then, see the 13 tell-tale signs you’re expecting.
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Baby Names: How To Name Twins and Multiples
Bed rest, C-section, Cesarean Section, fertility, Gestational Diabetes, In Vitro Fertilization, infertility, IVF, Multiples, Preeclampsia, Preemies, pregnancy, pregnant, Spotting, Twins | Categories:
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Apparently, in our looks-obsessed society, struggling actresses and models in New York City are now the “it girls” for couples undergoing IVF. According to the New York Post, “In an industry where attractiveness is a prerequisite, and steady income is hard to come by, actresses often are an egg agent’s perfect target.” In fact, ads are even being placed on acting trade sites like BackStage.com to entice women looking for work to donate their eggs at a premium. The beautiful wannabes are being paid anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 for their egg donations—much more than your average bartending actress would make in a month.
It’s like there’s this whole underworld designed to find eggs for rich people—like a black market, only legal. “Egg agents” do a full background check that includes school transcripts and SAT scores, blood tests for diseases, and a psych exam. The higher the woman’s GPA and SAT scores, the higher her payday.
But it’s not exactly easy money. A prospective donor is put on hormones for two to nine weeks to increase her egg production, and the harvesting of eggs for IVF can be very painful. After the surgery, she is left feeling sore and bloated, and as of yet researchers do not know if there are any long-term effects associated with donating eggs. What they do know is that you lose eggs, and it increases your risks of developing cysts. Because of that, there are rules in place that only allow a woman to make six donations in her lifetime.
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Those donating the eggs are of course also helping to bring life into the world. But they will likely never know for sure if children were born from their donated eggs, because donors often sign waivers saying that they will not be notified of the outcome. Sperm donors have been around forever and are now becoming trendy with movies like Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man, and MTV’s show Generation Cryo—which follows a girl and her 15 half-siblings as they try to find their sperm donor dad. So it’s no surprise that egg donors are now in demand, especially considering more than 7.3 million couples in the US struggle with infertility.
Does wanting to have attractive egg donors make us as a society superficial or smart—thinking of survival of the fittest in every sense of the word?
TELL US: Are you surprised actresses’ and models’ egg donations are in demand? Would you choose a pretty donor over a less attractive one?
NEXT: If you got pregnant today, what would your due date be? Find out!
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Monday, November 25th, 2013
Food is such a hot topic when it comes to pregnancy—what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat, what’s a healthy amount of weight to gain while pregnant…the list is endless! The amount of information out there can be overwhelming! So I spoke to Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietician and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy, to give you a quick and easy rundown of what to eat and what to steer clear of. Here are her recommendations.
The five best foods for fertility and pregnancies:
• Eggland’s Best Eggs: “EB eggs contain four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs and they provide a lean source of protein,” says Ward. “In addition, they contain no trans fats and nearly all the fat in EB eggs is unsaturated. Eggs are also a source of choline. In observational studies, choline has helped reduce the risk for birth defects in the first month of life. During pregnancy a child’s brain is developing at a very rapid pace. It needs the omega-3 fats found in seafood and in Eggland’s Best Eggs, which provide twice the amount of omega-3s in ordinary eggs. Healthy women can have 2 EB eggs a day.”
• Canned light tuna and salmon: “They are excellent sources of vitamin D and lean protein. They are also relatively low-risk fish in terms of mercury. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two fish meals a week.”
• Legumes: “Chickpeas, black beans, and other beans are free of trans fat, are low-glycemic carbohdyrate sources and are full of filling fiber. Start with 1/4 cup to your daily diet, and you can eat up to a cup of beans daily.”
• Fortified whole grains: “Whole grains have fiber and are low-glycemic carbohydrate sources. Women should eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.”
• Full-fat vitamin-D fortified milk: “According to the research, full-fat dairy is associated with fertility. A total of three servings from the dairy group daily is the goal.” Also, according to some research, drinking milk while pregnant can cause your children to be taller!
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Five things to steer clear of if you want to get pregnant or are pregnant:
• Alcohol: “Alcohol is of course bad for pregnancies, but what all women don’t know is that drinking can also put a damper on fertility.”
• Caffeine: “It may also be surprising to know that there is a lot of conflicting research about caffeine. Some studies say it causes miscarriage and small babies and others say no. I err on the side of caution and go with the March of Dimes suggestion to limit caffeine during pregnancy to 200 milligrams a day or less. When you’re trying to conceive, excess coffee may be crowding out other more nutritious beverages but may not actually be limiting fertility.”
• Red meats: Lean red meat is one of the best sources of iron, “but fatty meats should be avoided.”
• Trans fats: “Things like French fries, donuts and pastries, and margarine may sabotage fertility.”
• Refined carbs: “Excessive amounts of refined carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc) and added (not naturally occuring) sugar are also problematic.”
According to Ward, “Women should take their preconception diet and lifestyle very seriously.” Weighing too much delays time to conception (being underweight can, too) and starting your pregnancy overweight may mean a bigger baby who goes on to be overweight later in life. “The number one issue for women,” says Ward, “is achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight (based on BMI) on a balanced diet to encourage fertility and to help insure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.”
Always try to start pregnancy in the best shape possible. “Manage any underlying health conditions, including body weight, high blood pressure, and anemia before conception occurs,” advises Ward. “There’s no way to figure how much of a change women will see in their fertility based on healthy eating but it is known that they will begin pregnancy in a much healthier state that will reduce complications for them and their child.”
TELL US: Did you make any dietary changes before getting pregnant or during your pregnancy?
NEXT: Your personal pregnancy calendar (It’s free!)
Image of woman drinking milk courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013
What if there was a test you could take—at home without having to go into an infertility clinic—that could tell you your chances of IVF success? What if instead of spending up to $20k per cycle of IVF, you’d know how likely you’d get pregnant before going through IVF for only $49.50? I know it sounds a little too good to be true (and it could be—this is in no way an endorsement of the product because I haven’t tried it), but after meeting with Dr. Mylene W. M. Yao, a Harvard-trained reproductive endocrinologist, it sounds like the technology might already be available.
She and her team have created what they claim to be a cost-effective IVF success predictor for those who haven’t tried IVF yet (Univfy PreIVF), and for those who already have unsuccessfully (Univfy PredictIVF, a more complicated analysis for $175), and want to know whether their odds of eventual success are high enough for them to put in the added expense of another round of costly IVF.
Univfy’s products—which are three years in the making—take into account multiple factors beyond just age. Dr. Yao explains, “It looks at BMI, reproductive history (whether you’ve had pregnancies or miscarriages in the past), ovarian function, semen function, smoking history, etc and analyzes them together against data from tens of thousands of IVF cycles to provide them with a personalized prognosis that’s 1,000 times (on a likelihood scale) more accurate than age-based estimates alone.”
While recent studies now say, your chances of getting pregnant after 35 aren’t actually abysmal, like we’ve been told for years, Dr.Yao says age is still a factor in fertility. “There’s no question, as each woman ages, her ovaries’ functions are going to decline,” says Dr. Yao, who has more than 15 years of experience in reproductive medicine and embryo and uterine biology research, has been published in reputable scientific journals, and is a former faculty member at Stanford University. ”But for each woman, that decline is happening at a different rate. Someone at 38’s ovaries could be functioning really well, and another 38 year old’s ovaries may not be.”
Univfy’s prediction models actually show more than 60 percent of the women who use them have a higher probability of IVF success than their age-based estimates alone suggest. That in itself can cause some relief in women trying to get pregnant in their 30s and 40s. I’m Ms. Prepared, so I like the idea of being realistic about what your chances of getting pregnant might be, because IVF always seems to be the great unknown.
As Dr. Yao points out, “People think IVF is a roll of the dice,” she says. “You just go try it, and wonder, ‘Why does it work for some people and not for others?’ But there is rhyme and reason to it all. We can’t remove all the uncertainty—it’s not like a crystal ball—but giving women more information about their chances of getting pregnant empowers them to be able to take charge of their reproductive decisions, and make ones that make the most sense for them financially as well, since IVF is such an expensive process and many clinics offer package deals.”
That’s right, fertility clinics do bargain bundles—just like cable companies and fast food joints. A package might be three rounds of cycles, or five. So if a program can narrow down the likelihood of getting pregnant from IVF, you can make a more informed decision on how many cycles you might need, which would save you money in the end. Now the question is: Would you want to know your chances of having IVF work before actually trying it? Or would you rather go in blindly with all of the hope in the world? Only you can decide.
The 13 tell-tale signs you’re expecting, decorate your child’s nursery from our shop, and track your most fertile days.
TELL US: Do you think a computer program can predict IVF success? If so, would you want to know your chances of IVF success before you went for IVF treatment?
Image of woman with pregnancy test courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Most women expect to get pregnant within six months of trying, but a new survey of 2,000 British women by the women’s health brand Balance Activ showed that the average time it took the women surveyed to conceive was actually one to two years!
“Deciding to try for a baby can be an intense time for couples,” said Corrin Farr, senior marketing manager at Balance Activ. “The fact that women are choosing to have children later on in life, combined with an expectation that conception will happen within weeks can also add stress and anxiety to the mix, which in turn can lead to its own [fertility] problems.”
Technically, you’re classified as “infertile” after 12 months of having unprotected sex without conceiving (or after six months for those 35 and up). Ten to 15 percent of couples in the US are diagnosed as being infertile.
So while this was an informal survey—not an elaborate study—what it tells me is that there is hope for those who don’t think getting pregnant is in the cards for them!
Plan a personalized shower for mom-to-be with our amazing Baby Shower Planner. Then, check out these 10 sneaky ways to boost your fertility.
Image of woman with a pregnancy test courtesy of Shutterstock.
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