Fewer Women are Seeking Help for Infertility- Huffington Post

Fewer Women Are Seeking Medical Help For Infertility, Study Finds
Posted: 01/22/2014 10:47 am EST | Updated: 01/22/2014 11:59 am EST
By: By Bahar Gholipour, Staff Writer
Published: 01/22/2014 07:29 AM EST on LiveScience

Among women who are having trouble becoming pregnant, a smaller percentage are now getting medical help for infertility compared with three decades ago, according to a new government report.

The finding may surprise some. Studies have found that the use of assisted reproduction techniques, such as in vitro fertilization, has increased dramatically over the last decade, giving the impression that infertility services in general are on the rise, said study researcher Anjani Chandra, a demographer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But infertility services, as defined in the study, also includes less costly and complex options, such as asking a doctor about the best days to have intercourse, and using drugs to stimulate ovulation.

“Our data come from surveys asking women about their experience with infertility services, and it tells us a somewhat different story,” Chandra told LiveScience.

In fact, the use of complex procedures such as in vitro fertilization accounts for only a very small percentage of the services women get, and despite their increase, the overall use of infertility services has decreased, according to the study.

Researchers found that 38 percent of women who had no children yet and were having problems getting pregnant used infertility services between 2006 and 2010, a significant drop from the 56 percent of such women who used infertility services in 1982, according to the report.

The study included interviews with more than 20,000 men and women in the U.S., ages 25 to 44.

This decrease may stem in part from the increase in delayed childbearing, such as more women attempting to have their first child beyond age 44 (and out of the scope of the study), the researchers said.

The finding may also reflect a growing group of women responding to childlessness in ways other than seeking medical help to get pregnant, such as adopting, or deciding against having children, the researchers wrote in their report.

[5 Myths of Fertility Treatments]

Between 2006 and 2010, more than 5 million women ages 25 to 44 (13 percent) had used some medical help to get pregnant, according to the study published today (Jan. 22) by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The most commonly used services among women during the 2006-2010 period were those at the lower end of the range in terms of their cost and complexity, including asking a doctor’s advice and undergoing infertility testing.

In line with previous studies, the new results showed disparities in women’s access to infertility services, the researchers said.

Infertility rates are the same across people of different races, and people with different social and economic status, Chandra said. “But women with higher levels of education, women who are white, and those with higher income tend to use infertility services more than other women with fertility problems.”

However, racial, social, and economical differences, as well as insurance coverage, are not the only factors explaining why all women don’t seek medical help for infertility. “Sociodemographic differences we see are not the whole story. People may make other choices, they may pursue adoption, or they might decide to forgo childbearing altogether,” Chandra said.

The study also included men, and the researchers found 9.4 percent of men reported using infertility services between 2006 and 2010.

Spermbots- Exciting New Scientific Discovery in the Works

Scientists are getting closer to finalising a design for “spermbots” to propel sperm towards eggs, and help infertile couples conceive.
Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University have created microscopic synthetic “swimmers” that are shaped like sperm and designed to mimic it by propelling through the body.

It’s still early days, but the researchers hope they can elaborate on the design to create a microscopic model that will help battle infertility, as well as be used to transport drugs directly to cancer cells.

This comes after New Scientist released a video last year of microscopic capsules created by German researchers that could shepherd individual “lost” sperm towards egg cells.

Until now, scientists have struggled to control the direction of individual cells, but this technique appears to work with bull sperm.

The 50-micron-long microtubes were made from iron and titanium nanoparticles with a narrow tip. This meant that when sperm swam into the tubes, their heads got stuck, leaving their flagella, or “tail”, sticking out to propel them.
The team from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences in Dresden were able to use magnetic fields to control the direction of the sperm. They believe it could be a new frontier in nanotechnology.

“This type of hybrid approach could lead the way in making efficient robotic micro-systems,” Eric Diller from the University of Toronto, Canada, told New Scientist.

Fertile Faith- Aish HaTorah

Growing up, Julie was certain of two things – she wanted to be a doctor and a mother. People tried to convince her that they were incompatible, but with her quiet determination she forged ahead, confident that she would be able to balance the two.

Julie met Adam* in high school and there was an instant connection. In November 2006, when Julie was in her second last year of medicine, they got married. They both loved children and couldn’t wait to be parents.

After two years of marriage, Julie completed her first year of medical internship. Her one goal almost within reach, she could not wait to start trying for a family. But God had other plans. A month later, Julie felt an unbearable pain in her right side. An ultrasound was done to confirm a suspected kidney stone, but instead they found a massive teratoma1 on her left ovary.

.Julie begged her OB GYN to leave the tumor in place until she had her first child, but the doctor was adamant that the risk was too great. The tumor was removed, and was thankfully found to be benign. During the surgery, a piece of her left ovary had to be removed, and they were given the all clear to carry on trying to conceive.

Five months later, Julie was visiting Adam’s grandmother in ICU and collapsed to the floor. An excruciating pain throbbed through the right side of her abdomen. Scans showed that her entire abdomen and pelvis were full of blood, but the source of bleeding was unknown. She was rushed into emergency surgery.

They discovered a cyst on her right ovary which had ruptured and would not stop bleeding. She had inexplicably lost over half a gallon of blood and the only way to stop the bleeding was to remove her right ovary. Recovery was slow, but as soon as she recuperated, she was determined to carry on trying to conceive. Due to her complex medical history, her OB-GYN referred them to a fertility clinic.

All the routine tests were done, and nothing amiss was picked up with either Julie or Adam. After five months of standard ovulation treatment, Julie was found to have a severe form of Von Willebrands disease, a bleeding disorder which explained her previously massive blood loss. Her doctor was concerned about a cyst potentially rupturing on her remaining ovary and stopped fertility treatment.

The next stage was in-vitro fertilization (IVF). They were overjoyed when Julie became pregnant and excitedly told close family. But the very first ultra-sound revealed something wrong. As she lay on the examination table, Julie looked up at the monitor. The scan room closed in on her, and she felt surrounded by darkness. As a doctor, she knew exactly what she should be seeing – but there was nothing to see. She burst into tears, and the doctor confirmed Julie was carrying an ectopic pregnancy.

They carried on with treatment. IVF number two and three failed. For IVF number four and five, they used frozen embryos and these also failed. The scan room became her most dreaded place – after weeks of hoping and praying, she would look up and see no heartbeat, and her heart would break.

With each failed treatment, she became more reclusive, throwing herself into her work. She worked overtime and weekends, and the hospital became her refuge. By this time, all her friends were having babies of their own. Under the guise of being on call she could stay away from birthday parties, weddings and functions which had become too painful to bear. Only God knew the depth of her suffering, as she prayed and prayed.

She struggled to make sense of what was happening. According to fertility experts, there was no medical reason why the treatments weren’t successful. She desperately wanted answers – she repeatedly begged God to tell her if she had done something wrong, and how she could make amends.

After extensive testing, Julie discovered that apart from Von Willebrands disease, she also had a genetic clotting disorder. Her IVF treatment plan was altered and they impatiently prepared for IVF number six. They grasped onto this scientific cure, and believed that this would finally be the one.

When this treatment failed, Julie and Adam entered a bleak and painful time. They couldn’t imagine going back for further treatment. Emotionally and physically drained by all the efforts, they took a long break from any treatment. A friend gave them two tickets to Israel, and they had a rejuvenating holiday in the Holy Land.

Julie had tried every avenue. Physically, she had done everything from acupuncture to reflexology and meditation. She participated in a variety of Jewish customs which focus on fertility which she felt brought her closer to God in a tangible way. There were times when she was angry at God; but she turned to him as He was the only one who fully understood what she was going through.

Three years later, they were ready to try again. The Johannesburg doctors could not explain why the IVF wasn’t working. They were only 100% sure of one thing – due to her rare clotting and bleeding disorders and ovary issues – she would never conceive naturally.

They suggested a change of scenery, so Julie contacted a fertility expert in Cape Town. As a result of the treatment she had put on 40 pounds; and Dr Davies would not consider treatment until she had achieved significant weight loss. After years of reflexology, acupuncture and any possible remedies, dieting was easy. She began exercising and taking better care of her body. She lost 25 pounds, and took a month off work to spend in Cape Town for her seventh treatment. They spent the three-day Jewish holiday of Shavuot in a remote town with nothing else besides the clinic in it.

They were convinced this one was going to work. And again, the scan showed no sign of life. They were losing hope. After two more failed IVF treatments, they decided they could not carry on like this. The treatments had taken a toll on her body as well as their marriage. After every failed IVF, she would cry in her bed for hours. They seriously investigated alternative routes such as adoption and surrogacy. She quit her demanding job, and found employment as a medical consultant.

On Rosh Hashanah, she sat in shul with an empty feeling. She had been begging God for a child for four years, and was at a loss. She did not know what else God wanted her to do. They decided they would take one last chance – a tenth round of IVF, and then commit to adoption.

As Sukkot approached, they were in a dilemma. On Simchat Torah there is auspicious custom for fertility known as Kol HaNearim when all the children stand under a tallit (ritual prayer shawl) and recite the blessings together with an adult male.

For the past two years, Julie and Adam had received the Kol HaNearim honor at their synagogue. As Simchat Torah approached again, they couldn’t bear being the object of people’s public pity for a third time. But when a distinguished rabbi offered them the honor at a sunrise prayer service, they could not refuse. There was no one there who knew their situation, and as Adam was called up to the Torah scroll, Julie sobbed. She wondered whether they would ever have a child of their own standing under the tallit.

In November, Julie’s very regular cycle was late. After all the months of disappointment, every month still gave her a spark of hope. Leaving work on the sixth day, she barely had the strength to walk up the stairs to the parking garage. She collapsed on her bed and half-heartedly did a home pregnancy test. When it was positive, she didn’t believe it. She did four more, and then sat on the floor in shock.

Even after blood tests confirmed the pregnancy, she was terrified. The doctors were worried it was ectopic, and watched her like a hawk. For 13 weeks, she had weekly scans. The dreaded scan room slowly became a place of light as they saw their baby’s heart beating week after week. But they didn’t tell anyone. So much could go wrong. After the routine 20-week ultrasound, Julie’s heart finally started to flutter with excitement. Perhaps she would finally hold her own child in her arms.

As improbable as reaching this point was, her pregnancy was typical, but due to a calcifying placenta, a caesarean was scheduled for her 37th week. As little Benjamin Natanel was placed in her arms, tears of joy streamed down her cheeks.
As the African sun peeked through the horizon on Simchat Torah the following year, Julie pushed two-month old Benjy to shul. Watching Adam cradle him under the tallit with all the other children, she was overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s kindness.

Until now Julie had always observed Jewish law, but it was an intellectual and distanced relationship. She did not believe that she was worthy enough of God’s love for Him to get involved in her life directly. With Benjy’s birth she now sees God’s involvements in every aspect of her life. She does not know why she had to go through so much pain, but is a witness to the fact that it is only God who runs the world, and that each life is created is a miracle.

*The names used in this article have been changed to protect the couple’s privacy.