Archive for the ‘fertile factoids’ Category

The Modern, Perfect Little Breeder

Wow….the Marie Claire blog broke my record for daily hits on the site! If you missed it, one of my last blogs discussed an article in Marie Claire that advertised itself as being about contraception, but instead hit on fertility preservation. I have noticed that my post has been discussed on other websites, and the feedback I received seemed to show that women had their own, strong responses to the post. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Fertility Preservation is something being discussed heavily in the media these days – Marie Claire was not blazing a trail or anything. “Conceive” magazine actually discusses many different options for women in their Summer 2010 publication. In addition to Ovarian Tissue Cyropreservation, women now are being introduced to some pretty groovy technologies that could allow them to preserve their baby-making ability even after bouts with cancer or other illnesses.  Ovarian Transplants and Womb Transplants are actually being researched as you read this little blurb.  It makes you think about a whole host of emotions, opinions, and (I can’t help it) medical bills.

I had discussed before my interest in women’s issues as they existed a few hundred years ago, and the article made me start thinking about it again.  There is a book I mentioned in May that will REALLY educate you on all things pregnancy, and the historical information is fascinating.  Plus it is a good read and will keep you engaged.

The book can be found on Amazon at, and if you are pregnant, want to be pregnant, are close to someone who is pregnant, or just interested in the topic, I highly recommend picking this up.

The women that came before us endured so much for us to be where we are today (at least here in the 1st world). Talk about trail-blazing: these gals endured social ostracization, barbaric birthing techniques, and a whole host of ignorance heaped upon them when it came to their bodies, their babies, and even their characters.

In the 1600’s, women who were “barren” were viewed as anything from flawed to downright evil. Of course, many of these women failed to produce a pregnancy due to the sperm count of the one attempting to impregnate them, but considering the man might be to blame was inconceivable. These women were viewed as needing to “prove their piety,” for surely their flaw of childlessness was because of their evil thoughts and ways.  Can you imagine? After this came years of weird forceps, experienced midwives being banned from birthing rooms, and the spread of fevers and illness after birth.

If you are trying to conceive, or anywhere else in the process of having a child, this book will make some of what you are going through look not-so-bad. Then, next time you are in the stirrups, you can try to feel a bit grateful instead of wanting to kick the ultrasound tech for getting a little too rogue with the wand and crushing your ovaries. (If you kick her, you could say it was a reflex. I, myself have never done this, I’m just saying.) I am going to try to apply this technique someday when I am in childbirth. Of course, I am one of the women who will 100% want the epidural. Why, you ask?  Because it exists to spare me all of the pain of squeezing another human out of my body, and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. (What does this expression mean exactly? I am going to have to Google the meaning of this saying and get back to you) It feels kind of strange for me to state this desire for an epidural with such certainty, because I am all about natural: Natural remedies, natural products, meditation and deep breathing, etc, etc. But this one thing, in my mind, requires some drugs. And if those drugs need to be injected into my spine with a very large needle, so be it.

Anyway, the book is a good alternative to the ones that talk about how to get pregnant, what to eat, what color to wear, what day of the week to part your hair on the left for better ovarian reserve, etc.  I, personally, have decided to stop reading those books because I think the anxiety they caused in me to be a perfect little breeder was scaring my eggs.  People get pregnant all the time without investigating the molecular structure of every morsel they ingest, or worrying that the computer monitor at the office is the reason why you have spent more money on pregnancy tests in the past year than you have on any other single thing that you purchase. And, you will learn cool historical information that you can impart upon others when in mixed company. You will look very intelligent and people will be impressed. Or grossed out, one of the two.

By the way, I found the background of the expression online:

The value of a horse is related it its age – i.e., a younger horse is more valuable than an older horse.

You can determine the relative age of a horse by inspecting its teeth.

Back in the day, a horse was commonly given as a gift.

If a man received a horse as a gift, and then inspected inside its mouth, he was trying to assess the value of the gift he received. So, the saying means that you should not assess the value of any gift that you receive; rather you should be thankful for the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver


In Vitro Fun

So, about a week ago I wrote a post about my medicine cap telling me to “Flip Off.” I thought people would think I was being REALLY over sensitive and ask me to drop the menopur syringe and step away from the blog. BUT, you guys got it. You also thought it was odd! And guess what? I opened another fresh box yesterday morning, and what did I see peeping back at me but a bright green vial top! No gray….and to my surprise, it does not say “Flip Off” anymore! In fact, it gives no directions at all. It just has some typical fertility drug name on it like “Life Plus” or some nonsense, but no directions. 

Do you realize what this means? It’s another small triumph! Every morning that I have to take that shot I am going to look at that green cap and it will remind me that maybe the tides are turning. It’s IVF, baby! In Vitro Fun!

A few of you have asked me what this process entails. It means a lot to me that people ask how it all happens. So I wanted to explain the basics – for those of you that care about someone going through it, and also for those of you considering doing it yourself. So, here’s how it goes in a very Cliff Notes kind of way.

IVF 101

  • At this point you have probably tried everything from Clomid (spawn of the devil) to IUIs. An IUI is when you are inseminated at the doctor’s office with your partner’s sperm. It’s not too comfortable and there is no lollipop afterwards. That’s about all I am going to say about that. It’s just not as fun as the old fashioned way of making a baby.
  • Assuming nothing else worked it is time for IVF. Now they need to get your ovaries to be quiet. After spending all these months, or even years, trying to get them to just contribute and ovulate, you need them to become submissive. This is called Down Regulation, and it is done with a combination of birth control pills, a daily shot of something called Lupron, and high doses of Xanax in the event that you are totally not cool with taking birth control pills while desperately trying to procreate.
  • Once your ovaries are knocked out, it is time for Stimulation. Again, not as fun as the original meaning of the word. This  is where all the shots come into play. You will take two to three shots a day for anywhere from 8 to 12 days. During this time you will get to personally know many of the nurses at your clinic, because you will be there so often you wonder why you leave at all. This is when they will take your blood to measure your estrogen, and they will also monitor the eggs development through ultrasounds. (Not the sweet kind that they rub over your belly, either)
  • If you get a good bunch of eggs, then it will be time for the retrieval. Surprise, surprise – this involves another shot!  This one is called Ovidrel and it makes your eggs get plump and healthy. But you have to be careful to have the retrieval done before the 36 hour mark, or else this shot will make you ovulate all these eggs and there will be nothing left to show after all of your blood, sweat, and tears. (Literally, you will give all of these things.)
  • For the retrieval, they give you this killer “twilight sleep.” Yes, it is as fun as it sounds. …for about 2 minutes and then you pass out. Now you are intoxicated and on a table with your flimsy gown pushed up around your knees. Just how you always pictured this special moment of conception would be. The doctor uses a thin needle and an ultrasound wand to find the follicles and extract the eggs.
  • Once the eggs have been taken, they are placed in a petri dish with your partner’s sperm. If they do not get along swimmingly on their own (HeeHee), the sperm may actually have to be injected into the egg.  Hopefully, at least half of the eggs will fertilize.
  • Three to five days later, one to three embryos are typically placed back into the uterus while you are on some Valium. The number of embryos put back into the body will depend on their quality. Remaining embryos of high quality can be cryopreserved for future use.

There are many steps in-between, and I am not even going to go into the finances, but that is the basics. During this time you may find you are told not to exercise, eat chocolate, have orgasms, drink coffee, or BECOME ANXIOUS! What a riot! Give up those things for awhile and let me know how you feel. I’m curious. Really. For these reasons, it is advisable that you do not tell someone in an IVF program that they should relax.  Just help them to laugh. To me, it’s the best way to roll with the process.

Have a happy Monday,


You, too?

Wow – Since posting this yesterday I have had a good number of people contact me and let me know that they are somewhere in this maze, as well. I had doubted whether I should create a blog about something so personal (and something that requires regular use of the noun Va-Jay-Jay) but now I am so happy that I did. Thanks for sharing.

OK – well, on to today’s fun. I have been reading a lot lately about the 1500 – 1700’s in Europe. It makes me think – throughout history, women have gone through some serious shenanigans over this birthing business. The factoids about how we understood fertility are crazy. The ancient Egyptians created a gender-prediction test that involved peeing on barley – and it was more than 70% accurate! Yet centuries later King Henry VIII beheaded a wife that could not produce a boy. He obviously did not know HIS swimmers determined the sex. But people actually wondered if this was a woman’s downfall, producing girls. So, here are some little baby-making factoids for you.

  • In the seventeenth century, many doctors believed sperm heads contained miniature, fully formed people called homunculi, who would develop into a baby when deposited in the womb.

 Wow. Don’t let your mind linger to long on that one, it becomes disturbing.

  • The first successful artificial insemination via donor sperm occurred in 1884 – without the woman’s knowledge. While performing a “routine exam,” a doctor inseminated his patient with a handsome med student’s sperm. (The book said he was handsome, but there really is no way of knowing now, is there?) He never saw fit to tell the woman, but did eventually inform her infertile husband. Sneaky little bugger.
  • A 1969 Harris poll found more than half of Americans believed that emerging reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood would “encourage promiscuity” and signify “the end of babies being born through love.”
  • Some nineteenth-century physicians believed that infertility was caused by a woman’s “excessive or luxurious living” or by strenuous mental activity such as schooling! “The results are monstrous brains and puny bodies,” a Harvard physician wrote. “The brain cannot take more that it’s share without injury to other organs.”
  • In medieval Europe, tradition held that a man who dreamed of having a son would place a battle-axe under a pillow; at climax, he’d retrieve it and exclaim to his wife: “You must have a boy!” (The wife would then exclaim, “You must have a Xanax!”) If he wanted a daughter, he’d place a hat on his wife’s head and whisper tender words to her.
  • In a 1909 medical journal article about artificial insemination, a doctor maintained that children are formed entirely by the mother’s genetic contribution. He considered it a “scientific fact” that the sperm donor “is of no more importance than the personality of the finger which pulls the trigger of a gun.”
  • In a fertility treatment practiced by ancient Egyptians, a woman would squat over a hot mixture of frankincense, oil, dates, and beer and allow the vapors to enter her. One pregnancy test involved mixing melon puree with the milk of a woman who delivered a boy. If the concoction made the woman sick, she was thought to be pregnant.

What if it didn’t make her sick? Did that ever happen, even once?

Have a good and “productive” weekend! 🙂

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