There was an interesting op-ed in the NYT yesterday. It’s about the commercialization of infertility treatment, but I think it makes points that can be understood more broadly. And, somewhat like the adoption story I blogged about yesterday, it makes me think about the importance of trying to put a bigger frame around the problem.
The authors–Miram Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos–are women who pursued/endured “increasingly invasive and often experimental interventions, many of whose long-term health risks are still largely unknown.” The treatments were unsuccessful and eventually Zoll and Tsigndinos decided to stop. This is a decision the women are (now) happy with:
Ending our treatments was one of the bravest decisions we ever made, Continue reading
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about stigma recently, for a while variety of reasons. You can see some of this on the blog. It’s always interesting how once you start thinking about something you begin to see it as relevant in lots of different places. Anyway, once again I found an interesting post on Beyond Blood, the new blog by Abbie Goldberg I mentioned recently and it brings me back to this topic.
Goldberg’s post is about increasing public openess around infertility. The taking off point is the number of celebrities who have gone public about their struggles with infertility. The idea here is that the increasingly publicness of infertility makes it less shameful to be infertile. I think you could say that this diminishes the stigma associated with infertility. (It’s hard not to see the parallels to coming out as lesbian or gay in this process of publicly acknowledging infertility issues, but that’s another story.) Continue reading
Today’s media features another story on the effects of fatherhood on men that is tied back to the earlier report about fatherhood and low testosterone levels. But both stories also make me think about the role of science and science reporting in what we know (or think we know) about parenting. That’s something of a perennial theme here. I want to take the time to talk about the science (and the reporting) in a little detail.
This new story is about the relationship between fatherhood and life expectancy, and if you poke around the web, you will frequently find it reported this way: “Fatherhood Helps You Live Longer.” I’m sure that attracts readers.
Now that seems a particularly bad headline because if you actually read the reports of the study, it isn’t what it says at all. Continue reading
Thinking about ART and third-party gametes and all leads me to think about infertility. It’s actually surprising to me to look back on this blog and realize how infrequent entries on infertility have been. It’s curious, because generally speaking the people who use ART, including third-party gametes, are facing some sort of fertility issue.
Of course, “some sort of fertility issue” can cover a lot of ground. There are heterosexual couples where a specific fertility issue can be identified for one member of the couple. There are heterosexual couples who have engaged in unprotected intercourse for a specified period of time (a year?) without conceiving even though no specific problem can be identified. Continue reading
The Guardian (UK) has a science podcast I’m quite fond of. I was listening to it this morning and the topic for discussion was last weeks Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. (I wrote about the award, that went to Dr. Robert G. Edwards, the surviving developer of IVF, last week.) The person being interviewed, who had worked with Dr. Edwards as a graduate student in the 1960s or early 1970s, observed that when Dr. Edwards started his work, infertility didn’t really exist. (I may be misquoting him here, but this is what got me thinking.)
Before people get all agitated here, let me expand on this. Sadly there have always been people who wanted to have children and could not. That’s as old as human history. (I’m thinking of Sarah and Abraham in Genesis, for example.) But how was that inability to have children understood? Continue reading
I’ve been following some legislation in Georgia recently. It’s gone through a number of revisions. You can read about them in the earlier posts. Interestingly, you can trace the origins of this legislation back to the furor over the octuplets. The unease about the octuplets seems to have provided a vehicle for groups more generally concerned about ART.
The new version of the bill, one passed by the Georgia state senate, is described here. Provision limiting sale of sperm and eggs are gone, as are restrictions on the number of embryos that can be implanted transferred and who can utilized ART. The bill now provides that embryos can only be created for the treatment of human infertility. The question of what qualifies as “infertility”–an important question when you consider people who wish to parent singly as well as same-sex couples, is left rather fuzzy.
Apparently there is also a separate bill, passed out of the Georgia House of Representatives, that promotes embryo adoption. This is the first I’ve heard of this second bill, but you can find some discussion of embryo adoption here.