news item: Glow: An iPhone App That Aims To Get you Pregnant

Nothing gets my geeky economic-major heart beating faster than reading about “aggregate data analysis.” And when all that aggregate data is being collected in regards to fertility to help women achieve pregnancy? SWOON!

The new Glow app aims to help couples achieve pregnancy by collecting personal data such as cycle lengths, number of days for menstruation, basal-body temperatures, etc. The Glow app collects this data, like many other ‘fertility trackers’, BUT then it does something other programs don’t. It sends your data, along with all the other users data, and AGGREGATES it!

Aggregate data, not a simple average, but a collection and analysis as a whole of disparate sets of information. It also ‘learns’ about your personal information, and based on that and other analyses adapts and offers recommendations.

Why is this so cool? First because this is the potential for a large collection of infertility data to be analysed and looked at for patterns as a whole. Regression Analyses can be done to look for insights to infertility. What types of answers could all this data get us? One potential insight into infertility is why for some people does IUI work, and relatively easily, but for others they have to do IVF? Yes, there are many factors to this answer. But what if a regression analysis is run on all the data and it shows women with cycles that average between 36-40 days have an overwhelming success rate with IUI, but women who average 41-50 day cycles have a much worse outcome with IUI? Could this help us refine what sort of treatments we seek out?

Second, this app also has a buy-in option:

Glow users can choose to contribute $50 a month for up to 10 months to the fund. If they get pregnant during that time, they don’t get their money back. If they don’t, they get a share of the pooled money to use for fertility treatments. Huang says that the company hopes that Glow First will be able to cover the entire cost for such procedures, which can run from $20,000 to $40,000.

As the article mentions, there is another company out there that also collects and aggregates data. But the buy-in option really sets Glow apart. It is an interesting idea, with very few insurance companies offering any, or paltry, infertility coverage, this might be a real option for some people.

Now the downside of this is that this requires full participation by a large number of people over a long period of time. It also requires you to be okay with your personal health information being shared, (anonymously), with other people. It also requires you to be honest as it ask such personal questions as sexual position and the ever popular, cervical mucus description.

Check out the full article here: Glow Iphone App.

Slate magazine also does an excellent write-up of this new app, however it does have a negative slant, check it out here: Glow App, and let us know your take on it.

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Do you find this new App and company hopeful or another gimmick?
Would you consider doing the buy-in option?
What do you think about a private company collecting (anonymously) fertility data?

*****

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She never has a tidy house and she is in constant need of coffee.

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featured post: you blissed-out moms are ruining futures

I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.

And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:

  • Babies will ruin your life
  • Babies may appear cute, but they are not
  • Babies will ruin your life

After this particular rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.

And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.

I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.

And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:

“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”

This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:

Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?

Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.

I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.

What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.

This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.

Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).

Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:

You Blissed-Out Moms Are Ruining Futures

Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.

*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

news item: DNA repair gene BRCA1 helps keep egg cells young

New research is showing a link between the BRCA1 gene (the “breast cancer” gene) and infertility. An article published by http://www.medicaldaily.com reports researchers from a NIH funded institute found that the BRCA1 gene, in its functional form, aided in the repair of female egg cells, keeping them from self-destruction.

As female eggs age, DNA damage occurs. The body has mechanisms to help repair these eggs, but eventually those mechanisms wear out as we age, and our eggs are no longer able to be repaired and they self-destruct. Enter menopause. However, for some women menopause occurs much earlier than anticipated and/or they are told they have relatively low egg reserve at a very young age. What causes this to occur?

Researchers looked at the role the BRCA1 gene plays in DNA repair for eggs of lab mice. In this study researchers turned off the genes, including the BRCA1 gene, associated with repairing damaged egg cells:

The research confirmed that a fully functional BRCA1 gene is extremely important to women’s health. Mice with non-functional BRCA1 genes were less fertile, had fewer oocytes, and had more double-stranded DNA breaks.

What does this mean for infertility? Will testing for BRCA1 defects become part of a standard infertility workup? Will women with a history of breast cancer in their families be encouraged to have some infertility testing done sooner rather than later, say checking egg reserve in their mid twenties?

We hope you will read “DNA Repair Gene BRCA1 Helps Keep Egg Cells Young” and let us know what you think.

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Have you been tested for BRCA1 defects? 

Should women with low ovarian reserve be tested for the BRCA1 defects?

Conversely, should women with history of breast cancer be encouraged at a young age to undergo infertility testing along with BRCA1 testing?

*****

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PAIL headshotChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

news item: savory and sweet a taste for infertility

The headline and brief blurb of the article are what pulled me in to read it: “taste cells found in testicles” and I knew I had to click the link and read more. What does that say about my reading interests? Well, never-you-mind.

What kept me reading was that this article was talking about the worldwide decline in male fertility and some new research that found a link between,

Some of the same genes that allow us to sense sweet and umami flavors are also active in a man’s testes and sperm. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Tuesday, suppressing these genes may affect not only his ability to taste but also his ability to reproduce.

Scientists engineered the specific human genes  that control taste receptors and the proteins that relay those tastes to our brain into mice. They then deactivated them to see what would happen. Surprise of all surprises, the male mice became completely, 100%, sterile.

This is another link in figuring out the puzzle that is the decline of male fertility. Recently, at a gathering of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the topic of a potential “sperm crisis[1]” was the subject of an entire day of this annual meeting.

Geneticist Bedrich Monsinger, who lead the team in this research, says “there is a worldwide decline in male fertility…We speculate that there is something in the environment causing this.”

Monsinger references specifically prescription drugs that have known side effects of blocking the gene controlling our taste receptors and also some commonly used herbicides.

This article, and the one referenced in the footnote below, are interesting to me as they bring to the forefront an often forgotten or ignored aspect of the fertility equation, and that is male infertility,  male subfertility, and the impact of ‘environmental factors’ on all aspects of fertility.

Check out Savory and Sweet: A Taste For Infertility, and also the Wall Street Journal article referenced in the footnote. Tell us what you think, what you found interesting, or any related news or blog this reminds you of. Below are some suggested prompts, but please don’t restrain your comments to just these questions.

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At the end of the news article, the author spins the story away from issues of male fertility and talks about the research’s possible application to rodent birth control. Does this diminish the story for you? Does it do a disservice to those trying to remove the stigma of male infertility from our culture?

Research has shown clinical proof of environmental factors affecting sperm counts and function. Has this changed your lifestyle in any way? 

Were you offered a semen analysis as part of your initial fertility workup?

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

PAIL headshotChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.


[1]“The Decline in Male Fertility”, by Shirley S. Wang, The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323394504578607641775723354.html

PAIL book club, vol. 5!

There’s still time to join us in reading No Regrets Parenting ! It’s a fast read (I finished it in two nap times during my vacation) and you might find it to be awesome (or just a helpful book). Here are the relevant dates if you’re interested.

If you’d like to participate in the book club, this is how it will work:

1. Fill out the form below to sign up.

2. Pick up a copy of “No Regrets Parenting” Don’t forget to see if your local library has it!

3. On July 10th we’ll send around an email to all of the participants asking you to send in a question or discussion topic, anything at all you’d like to talk about with the rest of the book club. You don’t have to send a question, but the more people who do, the more jumping-off points we’ll have to facilitate a discussion.

4. The question and topic list will be posted on July 11th.  Then, write a post about No Regrets Parenting on your blog – your thoughts, issues you had with the book, new ideas you got, things that surprised you, anything at all. Your post is due at midnight, July 17th.

5. July 18th we’ll post the list and we’ll have some discussion and share our thoughts!

Important dates:

  • ASAP – buy the book and sign up for book club
  • July 10th– submit your questions and/or discussion points
  • July 11th – complete list of questions will posted
  • July 17th – post due to be submitted for the listing
  • July 18th– complete list of participating blogs will be posted on PAIL’s main page
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