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Finding Hope For Childless Couples: Understanding Options For Fertility Treatment

Finding Hope For Childless Couples: Understanding Options For Fertility Treatment

Babies and children are everywhere. And while it is, of course, a massively happy event when friends or family members happily announce they are about to start or grow their family, the painful truth is that pregnancy is not as easily achievable for every couple who wants a family. And many couples can find themselves in a difficult and upsetting situation where they may have to find that having a family will not be possible for them at all.

Today however, the situation is not as bleak as it was some years ago. Now couples facing a struggle to start a family either medically or biologically have options available to them. Remaining childless or having an incomplete family does not always have to be the only option anymore.

This article will take away the mystery and confusion about fertility treatment and help you have the family you’ve always dreamed of having. Each option is different and a clinician will ultimately be the best person to help you select the right path to take. However, it may help you to understand a little more about the options beforehand and what is involved with each.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

IVF is a process proven by considerable amount of time. It has been almost forty years since the birth of the first baby, Louise Brown in 1978, in a process created by Nobel Prize winner Robert G. Edwards. Often known as “test tube babies”, there are well over five million children born by this process.

The IVF process involves eggs being extracted from the donor and fertilized in the lab with the partner’s sperm before being implanted in the uterus.

Before the process, your doctor will monitor your ovaries and the timing of the egg release, ensuring that your ovaries are producing eggs, and that your hormone levels are normal. It is normal to take fertility drugs during IVF. These are used to stimulate the ovaries into producing eggs, which is crucial to the process because having more than one egg available will increase the chances of becoming pregnant. In the case that the woman cannot produce eggs, it is possible to use a donor to supply eggs to make IVF possible.

The process may cause some discomfort, but generally no pain is felt and the process can be completed quickly. Typically, it will take between four to six weeks to complete a single IVF cycle and it may take two or three attempts before pregnancy occurs. However, after this, it is a normal pregnancy.

Fertility treatment - IVF

    Pros and Cons of IVF

    As with any fertility treatment, there is not a 100% guarantee of success. The success rate is dependent upon age with younger women being more likely to have a successful pregnancy via IVF. The chart below displays the success rate of IVF procedures in women by age.

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    Fertility Treatment - IVF Success Rates
      IVF Success Rates

      As you can see from the graph, the success rate drops off at higher ages. However, IVF can still be an option for older women to become pregnant.

      One of the potential advantages of IVF is it allows screening of donors not only for genetic conditions, but also for the selection of characteristics, including ethnicity and physical attributes.

      The average cost of IVF is $12,000 to $30,000 per cycle and in most cases, up to three cycles are required for a successful pregnancy.

      Fertility drugs

      Women with infertility issues may be suitable to use fertility drugs, which work by causing your body to release reproductive hormones that control the ovulation process. Fertility drugs can be effective with a success rate of about 40–50% in women who ovulate, helping them get pregnant typically within three cycles. They are often used as a first option for women who have fertility issues.

      Fertility Treatment - Drugs

        Fertility drugs should be avoided if the recipient has damaged Fallopian tubes or endometriosis.

        A course of treatment can cost between $10 – $100 per month for pills, or up to $6,000 per month for a course of injections. Generally, it will take between three to six months before either conception occurs or another treatment should be considered.

        Fertility drugs can cause more than one egg to develop in a process called multiple gestation. This can affect 1 in 3 women who are taking the treatment.

        Surgery

        Surgery may be used in cases when there are blocked Fallopian tubes, to remove endometriosis tissue, to treat PCOS, or for other anatomical abnormalities. It can also increase the chances of becoming pregnant using natural conception.

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        The success of any surgical procedure depends on the damage to the Fallopian tubes. There is an estimate that between 21–59% of women who undergo Fallopian tube surgery and 40% who undergo laparoscopic surgery do conceive. In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery, there is a small risk of an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside of the womb.

        The cost for surgical procedures varies depending on the surgery required and can be between $2,000 and $10,000.

        Fertility Treatment - Surgery

          Artificial Insemination

          This is a process where sperm is deposited directly into the uterus using a thin catheter in a process called intrauterine insemination (IUI). Artificial insemination is especially used when the couple are unable to have vaginal sex, perhaps due to disability or for same-sex couples.

          For a woman to undergo successful artificial insemination, her Fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the womb, must be open and healthy because this is where the sperm will fertilize the egg and how the embryo moves down into the womb. The Fallopian tubes can be checked using a laparoscopy where a fiber optic camera is inserted through a small cut in the stomach. Alternatively, an X-ray or an ultrasound may be used.

          The success rate for artificial insemination depends on age. There is usually a 10% to 20% chance of conception per cycle. However, this increases to 60-70% with six cycles of treatment. The average cost is $865 per cycle.

          Doctors may recommend fertility drugs in addition to the procedure to ensure a safe pregnancy. As with other fertility treatments, artificial insemination can increase the chance of multiple births.

          Intrafallopian Transfers

          There are two main types of intrafallopian transfers:

          • Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): the egg and sperm are placed in the Fallopian tubes to allow fertilization to occur naturally.
          • Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): multiple eggs are collected from the ovaries and mixed with sperm. During ZIFT, fertilization occurs in a lab and the zygotes (fertilized eggs) are inserted in the Fallopian tubes rather than the uterus, which is the main difference between ZIFT and IVF.

          Intrafallopian transfers can be used in cases when the woman’s Fallopian tubes aren’t blocked or damaged and the man has a low sperm count, or there are problems with the sperm in general. It is also used where there the couple object to IVF, for example, for religious reasons or where previous attempts at IVF have failed to result in pregnancy.

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          It will typically take 4 to 6 weeks to complete one cycle at a cost of between $15,000 and $25,000 per cycle. Again the success rate varies with age, but generally it is around 22%. The process is considered more invasive than IVF as it does require use of a laparoscope inserted through a small cut in the stomach.

          Surrogacy

          Surrogacy is when another woman carries and gives birth to a baby for a couple who otherwise could not have a child. The surrogate becomes pregnant either via IVF using the intended parents’ embryo, or through artificial insemination using either the father’s sperm or a donor’s sperm.

          Surrogacy has one of the highest success rates when there is a healthy egg, sperm, and surrogate. However, it can take about one and a half years to complete the process of matching, IVF, and pregnancy. The cost of the process varies between $130,000 and $200,000.

          The surrogacy process allows for extensive screening where you can select a surrogate that will provide the best match and be the best surrogate to carry your baby.

          In addition to surrogacy being suitable for couples who are unable to safely carry a pregnancy to full term, it can also allow gay couples to have children. In the US, there are specific LGBT surrogacy agencies who can provide advice and assistance through the process.

          How to approach fertility treatment as a couple

          Of course, fertility treatment is more than just a surgical procedure or arrangement for surrogacy. It is vital that the emotions involved with any form of treatment be considered and that the emotional stress not be overlooked for couples involved.

          Amanda and her husband had been trying to conceive for over a year before they were referred for treatment. They found her husband had a low sperm count and so IVF was suggested as a way to have the family they so desired.

          “Finding out was awful and came close to breaking us apart. I could not envision going through the ordeal of treatments and Tony just felt like a failure.” However, Amanda found the medical staff were able to provide the support they needed. “The medical people were very good at telling me all the stages and everything involved. I also found online communities to find out more details.”

          After the initial trepidation, they went ahead with the procedure and she found that approaching it together helped and built a stronger relationship between them. “We got through it and thankfully, we were lucky by having our daughter with our first treatment. We became a great team.”

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          Of course, not everyone can be as lucky as Amanda and Tony were with being successful in the first cycle. It was a truth she learned herself as they tried for a sibling and had two failed cycles. “We hit the rocks again as we both felt like failures. It was pretty tough,” she recalled. Thankfully, their next cycle was a success and they have two beautiful children to show for it.

          Amanda has the following advice for couples facing fertility treatment: “Get as much advice as possible. You need to remember to never play the blame game. It’s no one’s fault you’re going through treatment. It’s no one’s fault if your treatment does not work first time. Remaining positive is the only way to get through it.”

          Preparing for fertility treatment

          Your doctor or specialist can help you find the best fertility treatment for you. However, there are things you can do before you attend your first meeting to ensure they have the clearest information to help you.

          • Keep a detailed chart noting when your periods start and finish. You can use a spreadsheet or one of the many apps to help you record information.
          • Record if/when you are ovulating.
          • If you experience any pain or PMT.
          • Note how often you are having sex with your partner and when this takes place in your cycle. This will give your gynecologist vital clues to your whole cycle, which will help in the choice of the fertility treatment that will be best suited for you.

          Other things you can do to help your fertility include reviewing your diet to give you the best chance of conceiving. Look closely at your alcohol intake and give up smoking, strive to eat healthily with lots of fruit and vegetables, and, if either of you are overweight, see if you can lose a little. Even a 10% weight loss can greatly improve chances of successful conception. Think about possibly going to the gym together. It is a great way to spend time together and it will build up your stamina for when you do have children!

          Children for LGBT couples

          Only in recent years has the option been available for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to raise their own biological children. Scientific research conducted by organizations like the American, Australian and Canadian Psychological Associations consistently show that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents to raise children and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as those reared by heterosexual parents.

          There is the option of adoption and fostering, as well as surrogacy and IVF for couples.

          The United States supports commercial surrogacy for same-sex couples and in the states where it is supported, there is support for surrogacy contracts and automatically naming the couple as the legal parents of the unborn child.

          In conclusion

          Just because you are struggling to conceive does not mean that you will never have a family of your own one day. As you can see, there are numerous tried and tested options available. Take the time to speak to your specialist.

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          Published on September 28, 2018

          The Top 21 Kids Websites to Teach Responsibility and Life Skills

          The Top 21 Kids Websites to Teach Responsibility and Life Skills

          Letting your children navigate the internet on their own is like throwing them into the Wild West for them to fend for themselves. The internet can be a dangerous place for children if they are on the wrong websites.

          We all want to protect our children, so knowing the websites that are safe for our kids is of utmost importance. What we also want as parents are websites that teach our children life skills and responsibility.

          There are great websites, geared for children, that will engage your child and have them learning at the same time. Below are the top 21 websites for teaching children life skills and responsibility. All of the sites have been vetted and approved by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”

          Always monitor children when they are using the internet. Parental guidance for age appropriateness is recommended when your child uses any of the websites listed below. What is appropriate for an eight year old is not always appropriate or suited for a four year old.

          These 21 websites can have your kids engaged, entertained, learning, and developing new skills.  Most of them are intended to engage children of various ages, so look for the content on each site that is appropriate for your child’s age and ability level.

          1. PBS Kids

            This website is loaded with games, educational activities and videos that will please both child and parent.

            This site engages children in activities and videos that teach them about citizenship, different cultures, geography, global awareness, hypothesis testing, investigating, self-reflection, personal growth, empathy, respect for others, labeling feelings and more.

            For example, the Webonauts Internet Academy teaches kids how to be safe online and Wild Kratts teaches kids about different habitats around the world.

            There is a great deal of content on this website. Head to their site today to discover what your child could be missing out on!

            2. Curious World

              This site is geared for kids ages 2-7. The main character guiding kids on an educational journey is Curious George. If your child is a fan of the books or cartoon, then you should check out this website.

              There are eight key areas of learning covered on this website including math, reading, and science. This website makes learning fun with games and child appropriate online activities. It also includes hands on activities for parents to do with their child.

              Activities such as crafting, cooking, and art projects with detailed instructions are provided, so that parents can interact with their children to build important life skills.

              3. News-O-Matic

                This is a news website geared for kids. The content helps them learn about the world and its happenings, in a website that is made for kids.

                There are daily editions of which include new articles every day on a variety of subjects and topics. The articles are written to grab the attention of a child reader. You will find that even reluctant readers find this site entertaining.

                If you have a passion for the news and keeping up with the changing world, then you can ignite this passion in your children by getting them started on the News-O-Matic website.

                Some of the skills that kids can learn while utilizing this site include reading comprehension, increased vocabulary, geography recognition, critical thinking, perspective taking, reasoning, and cultural awareness.

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                4. National Geographic Kids

                  The National Geographic Kids website teaches kids about animals, space, the natural world, dinosaurs, insects and more. They use games, videos, and online activities to connect children with learning about our natural world.

                  There are valuable skills reinforced in the online activities including the use of logic, memory, applying information, investigation, problem solving, and imagination.

                  There is a great deal of free content on this website that can be utilized without being a paid subscriber.

                  5. ABC Mouse

                    This website is geared for children ages 2-7. This is a learning website that covers the subjects of reading, math, social studies, science, health, writing, art, and music.

                    Some of the skills that are taught on this site through the website activities include following directions, letter recognition, word recognition, phonics, reading comprehension, speaking, memorization, solving puzzles, measurement, goal achievement, rhythm, and more.

                    This website boats that it contains a comprehensive curriculum with more than 8,500 learning activities. It is a great tool for preschoolers preparing for kindergarten.

                    There are also lessons and activities that are more advanced beyond kindergarten.

                    This is a subscription based program. It has won many awards because of its comprehensive nature and successful curriculum.

                    6. FunBrain

                      This educational website has a great deal of free content, so your child can access hundreds of activities without a subscription.

                      There are games and activities for kids to play while they learn at the same time. Kids will use the following skills while playing on this website: problem solving, puzzle solving, reading, vocabulary, math, and reasoning.

                      What makes this site unique is that there are online versions of popular kid’s books including the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

                      7. Nourish Interactive

                        This website is geared toward nutrition for children. It is a free website.

                        There are games, printable activities, recipes and tools on this site that teach children about nutrition.

                        The goal of the site is to help children learn to make healthy eating choices at a young age, so they can have this skill for life. The site also teaches about cooking, with many healthy recipes available free.

                        8. Arthur Family Health

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                          Arthur is a favorite cartoon character on PBS. The Arthur Family Health website is for kids to learn about resilience, fitness, peanut allergies, asthma, and more.

                          Health is not an easy topic to address with children, but this website does a great job by utilizing games, videos, and activities that are age appropriate and fun.

                          9. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

                            This website uses the popular PBS cartoon character Daniel Tiger. This website has games, activities, and videos geared toward younger children.

                            The skills that are taught on this site include expressing emotions appropriately, eating healthy, making friends, brushing teeth, dealing with disappointment and toilet training.

                            There are stories with a narrator for kids to listen to, simple games to play, videos to watch, and songs to engage younger children.

                            It is an entertaining site for younger kids and the topics teach great life skills for little ones! This is a free website.

                            10. BrainPop

                              This website is geared for children in the fourth grade and older. It is a paid subscription site. However, there are some games and videos that are available free on this site.

                              This website helps kids academically. There are also life skills and lessons addressed on the site. They address even the most sensitive and tough topics such as war, terrorism, sexual development, and alcoholism.

                              Reviewers of the site say that this website is useful for kids all the way through high school.

                              11. Arcademic Skill Builder

                                This website is geared toward helping young students acquire math, language arts, English and critical-thinking skills. This site is filled with games and activities to keep kids entertained while learning.

                                This website has a strong emphasis on math skills including addition, subtraction, counting, division, fractions, money, multiplication, ratios, and shapes.

                                If your child is struggling with their math skills, then this site can be of great help. Many of the games and activities are free.

                                12. Cyberchase

                                  This website is based on the PBS show Cyberchase. It is geared toward children who can read or are learning to read. It helps kids acquire critical thinking and reading skills.

                                  The site is filled with free games, videos and activities that keep kids entertained, engaged, and learning. Some of the games get kids to think about real life situations to utilize their problem solving skills. Brainstorming is a another skill that is utilized on this site. It is a free website.

                                  13. Fact Monster

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                                    This website was created in partnership with educational professional. It is a site that is a great help for children completing homework. They can find facts on dozens of subjects on this site along with dictionary and atlas.

                                    The content is more than browsing and providing information. There are games and activities to entertain kids on the site while they learn. Interesting to note, the site contains more than 30,000 short biographies!

                                    This website is a game changer for home work time. Some of the skills that kids apply on this site include problem solving, thinking, reasoning, and self-direction.

                                    14. Maggie’s Earth Adventures

                                      This website gets kids thinking and learning about the world and its vast ecosystems. It is a free site that teaches kids about the earth.

                                      Real life situations are presented in short videos. Then kids play games that touch on the subjects of animals, earth, recycling, and injustice.

                                      Some of the skills that they can acquire on this site include cultural understanding, global awareness, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, investigation, prediction, and thinking critically.

                                      15. PBS Lab

                                        PBS Lab is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant requires them to research the games and their effectiveness in helping kids learn real skills. The result is a website where kids actually learn while they have fun.

                                        This site teaches kids the skills they need to be successful in school. The website is useful for kids ages three and up. Some of the skills that kids learn on this site include math, reading, spelling, word recognition, measuring, and pattern recognition. This site is free!

                                        16. Sesame Street

                                          This website is based on the TV program. Kids are entertained by their favorite Muppets in games, songs, podcasts, videos, and activities.

                                          This site can be used by children ages two and up, so it is one of the best options for very young children.

                                          Some of the skills taught on this site include empathy, labeling emotions, brushing teeth, hygiene, addition, subtraction, counting, measuring, recognizing shapes, understanding cultural differences, following directions, letter recognition, word recognition, spelling, respecting others, asking questions, problem solving, use of imagination, and making new creations.

                                          This site has a great deal of value for parents who want their children to be learning practical life skills while they are on the internet being entertained. This website is completely free!

                                          17. Star Fall

                                            This educational website is geared for children ages four and up. Although this is a subscription website, there is content that users can try out before purchasing.

                                            The website is run through a non profit organization and the price for subscription to the site is low because they want to make the content available widespread to benefit many children.

                                            Some of the skills that kids can learn on this website are addition, subtraction, counting, division, equations, fractions, geometry, grouping, measuring, multiplication, number recognition, shape recognition, reading, letter recognition, and word recognition.

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                                            There are games, lots of songs, and activities to engage young children. The primary focus on this site is math and literacy.

                                            18. How Stuff Works

                                              This website is geared toward older children. It is a site filled with articles, podcasts, games, quizzes, and polls. There is a wealth of information on this site, which makes it useful for homework projects.

                                              The articles are attention grabbing, which help to snag the reader and get them interested in everything from the history of specific holidays to learning how super-volcanos work.

                                              This site touches on eleven primary categories of learning: animals, health, science, tech, automobiles, culture, home & garden, finances, lifestyle, entertainment, and adventure.

                                              Some of the skills that kids can learn through using this site include: building, gardening, self-direction, creativity, researching, empathy, understanding different cultures, and developing novel solutions.

                                              19. Nick Jr

                                                This website is based on the tv shows from the Nick Jr network. Young kids can learn while they interact with their favorite characters on this website. Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol, Sunny, and dozens of other characters can be found on this site.

                                                There are games, video, stories, and printable activities found on this website. The site is entertaining for kids and they learn a variety of skills including math and reading.

                                                The content is geared toward preschool learning, and it is free.

                                                20. Space Racers

                                                  This website is based on the show. The site is designed to get preschoolers excited about space and science.

                                                  The learning on this site is based on STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It comes through games, coloring pages, videos, music segments, lesson plans, and printouts from the lessons.

                                                  There are a total of 17 lesson plans that use STEM concepts. The skills that kids learn from using this site include observation, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, mathematics, decision making, hypothesis testing, and goal setting.

                                                  The science subjects taught on this site through the entertaining and engaging content include astronomy, rocket science, geology, and physics. This website is free!

                                                  21. Crayola

                                                    This website comes from the Crayola company. It is a free website.

                                                    When kids click on the “play zone” they can find educational games and activities. The site has many free printable and coloring activities.

                                                    The following skills can be learned by kids who use this site: following directions, drawing, painting, making digital creations, use of imagination, innovation, and making new creations.

                                                    There are a great deal of DIY craft projects with detailed instructions found on this website.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Ben Mullins via unsplash.com

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