Archive | September 2012

Too Young to be Infertile? What You Need to Know

*Link to original post here

Pressing snooze on your biological clock could not only cost you financially, but emotionally as well.

More than half of university-aged young adults believe that fertility begins to decline at a later age than it really does, according to a recent U.K study.

The Globe and Mail reported results from the journal, Human Reproduction, citing  that 67 per cent of women and 81 per cent of men think that female fertility greatly declines after age 40; when in reality there is a marked decrease from age 35.

A 2010 Canadian study showed that women on the other side of the pond believed the same thing.

Many from the U.K study believed that the drop zone is later still, with 31 per cent of women and 52 per cent of men thinking that the chances of natural conception don’t decrease until after age 44.

The study also reveals that success rates for assisted-reproductive technologies are being vastly overestimated – with reproductive specialists being expected to perform miracles.

While researchers can’t put their finger on the reason for this misinformation, experts speculate that it’s because doctors aren’t being proactive by discussing their patient’s fertility until it becomes a concern.

In addition, it is believed that celebrity stories, such as that of Kelly Preston, who gave birth to her son when she was 48, are skewing the perception that healthy fertility is the norm at any age.

I was only in my 20s when I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. After many rounds of Clomid (medication used to induce ovulation) and a miscarriage, two years later I was finally pregnant. And although I am happy to have a healthy second child, I don’t forget everything my family went through in the process. Had I been prepared for this possibility, I might have handled it a lot better.

Similarly, those without accurate information about their fertility face the possibility of a long, expensive and emotional journey on the road to having children – that is if they even want them.

It’s not fair to assume every woman wishes to bear offspring. And some still may wish to invest in their independence and focus on their career before focusing on having children. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Let’s address a woman’s right to choose. After all, part of what the feminist movement was about was taking control of our fertility. Thank you birth control pill!

But to truly take control we must have full knowledge of our body’s capabilities and limitations. Information about the realities of female fertility needs to be readily, and widely, available. It should be discussed in sex-education classes and brought up by family physicians in young adulthood. The question needs to be raised early. “Might you ever want to have children?” If the answer is yes, then “Here are the things you need to know.”

However, should the fear that an aging woman’s ovaries might shrivel up, leaving her barren, pressure her to start considering having children she may never want?

It’s the archaic notion that a woman isn’t living up to her God-given purpose if she isn’t procreating that causes so much stress. Should she have to compromise her current desires in order to live up to society’s expectations further down the road?

These are the things a woman must deal with simply because she was born with a uterus. Pressure is coming in from all sides – “Have a baby in your twenties or risk not having them at all,” and “You better hold off on having a baby until you establish a career because old women in the workplace aren’t desirable.” Then you have the pressure to remain childless because you might use too many sick days thanks to your little snot-nosed, germ factories. You risk demotion, and possibly termination, leaving you with the financial hardship you were trying to avoid to begin with. It’s so often about the money, but that isn’t the only cost.

Putting the price of fertility treatments aside, (for example, just one round of IVF can cost as much as $15,000) the true price a woman pays comes in the form of emotional turmoil. While family doctors have some psychological training, it doesn’t replace a good old fashioned therapist. Yes, women should be offered a fertility consultation by their doctors to discuss their biology once they reach the prime age of fertility.  But the most important service they should be offered is a referral to a therapist who specializes in working with women who are considering when, and if, to have children.


Study: Social Skills, Not Good Grades, Linked with Lifelong Happiness

*Link to original post  here (Yahoo Shine)

Don’t fret if your kids didn’t make the honour roll – their future well-being doesn’t depend on it.

According to the Journal of Happiness Studiesacademic achievement has less impact on adult well-being than we might think. The study followed just more than 800 children over a 32-year period, exploring the role of academic achievement and social development on future adult well-being. For the purpose of this study, well-being is defined as a combination of a sense of coherence, positive coping strategies, social engagement and self-perceived strengths.

The results showed a strong link between social connectedness and overall adult happiness. The findings suggest that parents should focus their attention on helping their children develop social skills. Parent can do this by encouraging their children to participate in social activities such as youth groups and sporting clubs.

But isn’t it important that our children do well in school? Apparently, academic achievement has little effect on adult well-being, according to the authors of the study, associate professor Craig Olsson from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, and his colleagues.

I admittedly was never overly stressed about my kids getting straight A’s. Of course I expected them to do their best, but I also encouraged them to forge strong bonds with classmates. As a shy kid myself, I had a hard time making friends. I did have a few, but I never really “fit in” so I didn’t want my children to go through that same painful experience.

When we held our little bundles of joy in our arms for the first time we made a multitude of wishes on their behalf:  We wished for their health and future success, but most of all we wished for their happiness. We promised to do our part to help them succeed in life. We would attend all their ball games and sit through all their school performances; we’d read to them, limit their screen time and help them with their homework.

I started out with good intentions when my girls were wee ones. They were signed up for every activity imaginable (with great aspirations of becoming Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters). They went to singing lessons and piano lessons; the list goes on. But life got in the way, as it sometimes does, and sacrifices needed to be made to preserve my sanity family harmony. And most of all, they missed their friends.

So we spent less time driving to practices, and a little more time just hanging out together. They did remain in organized activities, but not as many, and not so much that it took time away from their friends. They’d have them over to “study” but most times they’d just be chatting, as they often did during class –as evidenced by their average marks– and that was OK with me. As long as they were happy (and not failing), I was happy for them.

For now, my 11-year-old’s organized activities are limited to soccer and karate, and she has no ambitions to be a star goalie, or ninja, quite yet. I hazard a guess that it’s okay at this age to not have her life mapped out. And my 17-year-old, who has double aspirations of being a starving special effects artist and musician, spends equal time talking to friends and honing her craft (AKA jamming with friends and creating videos to share on YouTube).

While my kids aren’t the highest performing students in their class, (not for their lack of ability) they do have a healthy set of social skills. And this may be more important to their future happiness than being scholars.