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Fertility Preservation: What Freezing Your Eggs is Really Like

Egg freezing has grown rapidly in popularity.

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“Should I have kids now or later” is a question many women face and with advances in modern medicine, there are more options than ever before. 

One of those options is Egg Freezing, which is a fertility preservation technique where eggs are extracted from a woman’s ovaries and frozen so they can be used for an assisted reproductive technology procedure like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the future. 

This procedure isn’t a new phenomenon. It was initially developed in the 1980’s to allow cancer patients to preserve their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy. In 2012 the procedure was no longer deemed experimental and gave women the opportunity to take charge of their reproductive lives. 

Egg freezing has since grown rapidly in popularity. In 2009, 475 women froze their eggs according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. By 2018, that number rose to over 13,000 women, an increase of over 2000%. The spike continued through the Coronavirus pandemic.  

I spoke with best-selling author Rochelle Gapere and educator Fawziah Qadir, who both went through the procedure recently, to get their thoughts on the experience firsthand.  

“When I was in my early 30s, I didn’t think much about it.” Qadir said. “Then as I started to get older, I was realizing, okay, yes, I do have a biological clock. I wasn’t in a relationship. And it was something that I considered. So, I asked my doctor about it. She told me, once you get to 35, then we can start talking about it. Which, in retrospect, I learned probably wasn’t the best advice.” 

Gapere’s experience was also interesting. She was first told to consider the egg freezing procedure not by her OBGYN, but by her dermatologist who recently gave birth through IVF. 

“I told my dermatologist, I’m 38 years old and I’m single. She said you need freeze your eggs. At minimum if you don’t freeze your eggs you need to have an AMH test. The interesting thing is, I go to my OBGYN every single year. I was just so intrigued that my OBGYN had never offered this test to me before.” 

An Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) test is a blood test used to analyze a women’s ovarian reserve. Reports suggest the test can give some insight on the remaining quantity of eggs and duration of fertility. 

Shortly after Qadir and Gapere decide to go forward with the egg freezing procedure, they were tasked with finding the right doctor and the right price. 

 “I went through and did my research on each of the recommended facilities,” Qadir said. “I was looking at their fertility rates and their experiences. Not so much the cost because one of the things is upfront, they don’t tell you the cost, which is an issue. They give you a general idea and tell you that it’ll be anywhere from $9,000 to $15,000.” 

Gapere decided to have her procedure in Barbados, stemming from a friend’s experience and recommendation. 

“My friends fertility doctor was available to talk with me on the phone. When I spoke to her, her energy was incredible. She said, you’re 38 years old, your ovarian reserve levels are high, I don’t doubt that you’ll be able to have a baby well into your early 40s on your own. However, if you want your child to have siblings, I suggest you freeze your eggs. And I’d never thought of it that way.”  

Gapere also got the procedure at an almost half the price of what was quoted in the states. 

“The cost was great! I paid $5,500 for the procedure in Barbados and my medication was $1653.” The total for her was about $7,000. 

After researching doctors and paying for the procedure it was time for medications and hormone injections. Qadir described the experience as exhausting. She self-administered two hormone injection shots into her lower abdomen every night for two weeks and took an oral pill. The mix of medicines in her system made her feel exhausted and extremely fatigued, “I was like is this what pregnancy feels like?” she said. 

Gapere, on the other hand, described her hormone injection experience as somewhat leisurely, 

“I wasn’t scared. I’m not afraid of needles and I had no side effects. I’ll be honest, I was in Barbados, laying at the beach, living my best life. But I am very sensitive about how I talk about this because I know every woman is very unique and I don’t want anybody to hear my story and start beating themselves up if it didn’t happen the same way for them.” 

As far as when these ladies plan on unthawing their eggs, Qadir says she feels a little pressure. “I felt this immediate pressure almost to find someone. I think that is something we contend with. The higher educated you are, the more you have to deal with being unfortunately less desirable when it comes to relationships. I hope I meet someone who is worthy of going through IVF for.” 

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Health

“Suffocate Yourself with Goodness”

What a young man with a rare disease learned about fighting adversity.

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Is there a way to measure the success factors of optimism? Anyone facing adversity has most likely been told it’s all about outlook. Many may question whether or not optimism is as effective as society has led us to believe. Thankfully, Elijah Stacy is here to prove the power of optimism.

At a young age, Elijah Stacy was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy called Duchenne. Duchenne is a a muscle wasting disease effecting under 200,00 Americans every year. Historically, nearly all young men hosting the disease did not survive into their 20s.

Now at the age of 20, Stacy has become an advocate for combating the disease and has published a book about his story, A Small If: The Inspiring Story of a 17-Year-Old with a Fatal Disease—and a Mission to Cure It.

Stacy did not write the book only for those fighting rare diseases.

He wrote the book for anyone facing adversity, from teenagers struggling through adolescence to those being bullied for being different to anyone interested in medicine, motivation and hope.

At the center of A Small If are 13 lessons Stacy believes are imperative for anyone looking for a new sense of empowerment.

Some of the lessons are relatively straightforward— “adapt” and “stay ambitious.”

Others are more complex, such as “connect the dots later” and the “dichotomy of control.”

Stacy points to lesson 13—“prioritize your character”—as one of the more difficult to learn.

“The only way to really build your character is to go through challenges. That’s how you exercise your virtue. What I argue is that character is the sum total of all your virtues. That’s hard to learn.”

Stacy’s life has been filled to the brim with challenges.

Stacy was diagnosed with Duchenne around the age of five. A decade later, he faced the difficult decision either to undergo spinal surgery or attempt to correct his resulting scoliosis through physical therapy. When asked if physical therapy could solve his spinal issues, his doctor gave him “a small if.” That moment is where his book’s title comes from.

Since his wise decision to pursue physical therapy rather than surgery, optimism has played a vital role in Stacy’s journey.

 “Suffocate yourself with goodness,” he advises.

It’s a phrase that leaves me nodding my head, impressed with the young man’s dedication to pursuing the fullest life possible.

It would have been easy for Stacy to give up at multiple points in his journey. Both of his brothers also carry the disease, one of whom recently passed away. Like most forms of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne takes a tremendous toll on one’s body and has resulted in years of physical trauma for the author, who moves through life in a wheelchair. He is unafraid to discuss the disabilities caused by his disease but is quick to remind that he is never defined by it.

Most importantly, he believes a cure is imminent and that one day he will be free of Duchenne. Until then, A Small If and his daily life are proof of optimism’s power.

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Current Events

France is Banning Plastic Packaging for Fruits and Vegtables

This law could help eliminate over one billion single-use plastic items per year.

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France will ban the use of plastic packaging for numerous fruits and vegetables starting January of 2022.

The French Ministry of Environment says this new law is an effort to reduce the country’s plastic waste.

The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food reports that 37 percent of the country’s fruits and vegetables are currently sold with plastic packaging and this law could help get rid of around one billion single-use plastic packaging items per year.

This new law is one part of the government’s multi-year program to phase out plastics. The plan also includes efforts to reduce the use of plastic straws, cups, cutlery, Styrofoam to-go boxes, and even plastic toys children receive from fast food restaurants.

The phaseout is expected to be completed by 2026.

See my TikTok video here

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Business

Delta 8 THC- What’s Behind the Suddenly Very Available but Questionable Products?

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis”

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AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File

The hemp boom is over, and now we’re seeing the results of an industry chasing profit margins.

“The industry is rolling into a green rush derivative,” explains pharmacologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Greg Gerdeman. He wants to educate the public on cannabis, especially when it comes to the latest fads. For instance, products containing Delta-8 THC have become popular, especially in states where cannabis is still prohibited. Delta-8′ s legality is a bit murky because its a synthetic compound, something Dr. Gerdeman says is a misdirection from the promises of both cannabis flower and industrial hemp.

In our recent conversation on the Erupt app, Gerdeman talked about Delta-8, reminding us that “D-8” is not a specific strain.

“Delta-8 flower is hemp flower that’s been sprayed with synthetic D-8, that’s what D-8 flower is.”

“D-8 occurs in very low concentrations in cannabis plants, as far as has been discovered to date,” says Gerdeman. None of it is being extracted directly, it’s being converted from something else in a synthetic process, and there’s no D-8 producing strains. Any flower you get that’s sold as D-8 flower is hemp that was sprayed with D-8 that was made in somebody’s lab.”

Gerdeman compared the current D-8 craze to the CBD boom of the past few years. There was a massive amount of CBD produced in 2019 after the farming of hemp became legal.

A farm field near Sisters, Oregon is readied for another hemp crop (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

“Farmers were promised the moon as though they were gonna make tens of thousands of dollars per acre growing CBD, and it was a false premise,” Gerdeman says.

Due to a skyrocketing hemp supply, with little infrastructure to turn the newly-legal crop around, the industry took a nose-dive, and experts say it could take years for the hemp market to mature.

In the meantime, all the extra hemp that was produced without a market to buy it, is being cooked and boiled into CBD products.

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis,” said Dr. Gerdeman.

You can watch our full conversation below and on the Erupt app.

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