What Beyonce’s Fertility Can Teach You About Your Own

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Jay Palumbo, Member Engagement

 

Beyoncé’s recent pregnancy announcement is causing the internet to rejoice, but while thanking Queen B for giving us something in the news that’s positive, this is also a great opportunity to discuss fertility and age. Why? Because Beyoncé’s news should be urging women to think about family planning and what exactly that means.

 

In 2009, I began down the path of infertility treatments to build my family and through my research I was able to find a strong community of people just like me. Over the years, we’ve cheered each other on, supported one another and shared a deep appreciation for whenever a celebrity has “come out” to discuss their own fertility journey. Mostly because it helps bring awareness to our community.

 

Now you may be asking, “How does this relate to me?”

 

If we take a look back, Beyoncé’s first baby was born at 31 and now at 35, she’s pregnant with twins. Regardless if she went through fertility treatments or not, this should be a good reminder of our biological clock. When you’re over the age of 32 years old (which in the real world isn’t old but in fertility years, it’s beginning to get up there), your egg quality starts to decline.

 

According to Dr. Maria Bucur, clinical nurse educator at Progyny, a woman’s ability to conceive naturally each month declines as she gets older. At age 30, the ability to naturally conceive is 20% each month and at age 40 it drops to 5% each month.”

 

An additional factor to consider as you get older, there’s an increase a woman will suffer a miscarriage. Even Beyoncé was open about her miscarriage, which I know those who have endured similar losses really respected.

 

Another celebrity who caused some speculation was Janet Jackson when she announced she was pregnant at 50 years old. Those in our community wondered if she used her own eggs, donor eggs or again, given the statistics, if she was just one of the luckiest, most fertile 50 year old ever.

 

Whether they didn’t do treatment or had any assistance, it’s ultimately nobody’s business. People are genuinely happy for them able to have a family. The real point is when we see a celebrity who is “older” (again, I use that term loosely) who is expecting, my concern as an advocate is it sends out false hope that you can delay having children and have no problem conceiving.

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’m not saying everyone should have children in their early twenties nor am I saying that everyone will absolutely have to go through fertility treatment if they wait. It’s simply smart to gauge your fertility not by what you read in the news or what someone tells you in the gym locker room (i.e. “I had a sister who got pregnant when she was 40!”) but more by being proactive and getting the necessary tests.

 

If you’re a woman, this would entail a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist where you’ll review your medical history, get a sonogram (to check your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes to see if there are any polyps, fibroids, cysts or blockage) and a blood test to check your hormones, specifically your Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH). This will give the doctor an overall idea of roughly the amount and quality of your eggs as well as your fertility health. If you’re a man, you would go to an urologist and get a semen analysis to check the health and viability of the sperm produced.

 

So while we are all excited about the two new members of the BeyHive, I hope those interested in having children will use this moment to consider their own fertility health. I know it’s not quite as exciting as watching Lemonade but it's equally empowering!

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PATIENT CARE ADVOCATE: ARIEL

 

What do you enjoy the most about being a Patient Care Advocate?

I love the connection with my patients. I have fostered extremely meaningful relationships with many of the individuals and couples I work with, and nothing is more gratifying than seeing them achieve their family planning/building goals.

 

What’s your favorite/best moment so far at Progyny?

Receiving my first baby photo! I worked closely with this couple throughout their fertility journey and receiving the photo of their newborn was the absolute best feeling imaginable.

 

What does family mean to you?

Family means more to me than just about anything. I believe that your family not only includes your blood relatives, but also the people who you meet along the way and grow to love just as deeply. I consider my family to consist of my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., but also my god parents, best friends and mentors. Of all my accomplishments to date, I am most proud of the people I’ve surrounded myself with and who have become part of my family.

 

Give one word to describe the impact you’ve made on a patient’s life: Comfort

 

What’s your favorite baby name? Paloma

 

Who’s your favorite celebrity baby? Luna Legend! (John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s baby)

 

What was the last gift you gave?

I commissioned an artist and women’s rights activist to draw a portrait of my mom, my sister and me for my mom’s birthday. We don’t have many photos of the three of us, so it was a particularly meaningful gift.

 

Where was the last place you traveled? Yosemite

 

What is your favorite movie? Raising Victor Vargas

 

Last TV series you binge watched? Parenthood (my third time around!)

REPLACING HORMONE SHOTS WITH CUPID'S BOW

 

Jay Palumbo, Member Engagement

 

Valentine’s Day is upon us! If you’ve been trying to conceive or actively going through fertility treatment, there’s no doubt that the months upon months of contrived and controlled sex would affect your love life. When you first met your significant other, all you needed were two things: passion and privacy. It didn’t matter what day of the month it was, what position your cervix was in and lying down for an hour afterwards was by choice and not required. Although it may be easier said than done, it’s important to put fertility aside if only for one night and have some fun again. Here are some suggestions that might help!

 

TTC Free Night

No talking about sperm counts, ovulation prediction kits or anything perfunctory related to conceiving. It may also help to write down other topics you like to discuss that are in no way related to your uterus. It can be a hobby, a recent book you’ve read or a recent accomplishment at work. You are more than your reproductive organs so feel free to talk about the thousands of other topics that matter to you!

 

Netflix and Chill

If there’s any form of entertainment that helps get you in the mood, whether it be a romantic comedy, a romance novel, vampires, car repair (just throwing that out there), then make sure you have it on hand. Get lost in binge watching a show you both enjoy or a movie that transports you to another place and time.

 

Schedule Your Own “Sex Summit”

Plan a dinner where you sit down and tell each other what you like, don’t like, what you want to do more of and suggest at least one new thing to try. The summit alone can get you back in a fun, sexy mood.

 

Go Old School

First, borrow your parent’s car. Then, get a six pack, drive to a make out spot, hop in the back seat and get frisky. Who knows? You may get lucky in more ways than one.

 

Remember the Romance

Light some candles, get the music going, prepare a bubble bath and put on that sexy nightgown. Set the scene and enjoy all of it! How can one resist chocolates, rose petals and silk sheets? You’ve been stressed and serious enough so why not pull out all of the stops.

 

Book a Hotel Stay

Sometimes, when you’re out of your usual surroundings, you’re less distracted from household chores. No dishes to wash, garbage to take out or bed to make. So why not book a night away and treat yourself to the luxury of being removed from the house.

 

Forget the Rules

Every TTC couple has read a million anecdotes on what the best way to conceive. Sure enough those anecdotes have made their way into both our brains and bedroom. Let’s all give ourselves permission to just have sex for sanity’s sake! So before you have another “Baby Dance” while suspended from the ceiling in gravity boots listening to Barry Manilow's ‘Mandy’ because your best friend's cousin's hairdresser told you that she got pregnant once doing just that -- remember that sex is supposed to be fun!

 

The best gift you can give yourselves on Valentine’s Day is a night off from obsessing about conceiving and simply enjoy each other’s company. Whether you have children yet or not, you have each other and that’s something worth celebrating!

DON’T LET THIS STUDY FREEZE YOUR DECISION

 

Trish McMorrow, MSN, Clinical Educator at Progyny

 

Researchers in Australia sought out to answer the question, “What are the reproductive experiences of women who cryopreserve oocytes for non-medical reasons?” They surveyed nearly 100 women who underwent egg freezing at Melbourne IVF between 1999-2014. Of the 96 respondents to the survey nearly half said they had frozen their eggs in the past 2 years. While the study found that only 6% of the women had used their frozen eggs and only 3% had given birth using their frozen eggs, there are many limitations to this data.

 

A major limitation is, most of these women have recently frozen their eggs. Egg freezing has only recently gained traction and it doesn’t surprise me that of the 96 respondents from 1999 to 2014 nearly half had frozen in the past two years. I suspect that some of these women will plan to use these eggs in their future. This study can be used as an extra piece of information that a woman can use to help inform her decision, but I would take it with a grain of salt considering the limitations.

 

More Research Is Needed
More research is needed as the number of healthy women who freeze their eggs are proactively electing this procedure in order to avoid age-related infertility. If this study was conducted in a year or two, it would’ve had the potential to help women make more informed decisions. In the meantime, I always recommend for women to go for an initial consultation. Family planning can and should be a very informed process, whether in preventing pregnancy or planning for it.

 

The reality is that egg freezing is essentially an insurance policy. It is not meant to be a guarantee that you will need or want to use them. It gives a woman or couple the option shall you need or want to in the future, to use these eggs from their younger years when egg quality is potentially better.

 

Get the Facts
I always encourage women to get all the facts, consult with your OB/GYN and even make an appointment with a fertility specialist. You’ll be armed with the information you need to make the best decision for your future. Have an initial consultation, a fact-finding mission. More information is never a bad thing. Some may find out that they already have a decreased ovarian reserve and you can save yourself from the heartache in the future. Maybe your fertility specialist tells you they see no benefit in going through egg freezing. You never know until you get all the facts. Egg freezing is not a “one size fits all” family planning method but it can be seen as an insurance policy on your future family. Family planning is very personal and unique to each individual or couple.

 

What’s Next?
It’s time to really consider your 5 to 10-year plan. There are a number of questions to ask yourself and your partner such as, where do you see yourself? What are you doing in life? Where do you want to be in your career and family? Do children fit into that equation? How important is it to have biological children? 

Once you’ve had your consultation, considered the facts, and your desires for the future then you can decide if egg freezing is the right option or not. Till then, don’t let this study intimidate you from egg freezing.