Belated 2 year “Blogaversery”

Like a forgetful spouse, I missed my two year  “blogaversary” last week on May 3rd, 2012. In the last two years, I have tried to answer as many questions as I can from patients both through my blog and as many of you know, through my contact email. In the two years, the most popular posts have been these five:

  1. Embryo stages, progression and pregnancy outcomes | Fertility Lab Insider
  2. Sperm Morphology: Kruger’s Strict vs. WHO criteria, what’s the difference? | Fertility Lab Insider
  3. Understanding the Gardner blastocyst grading scale | Fertility Lab Insider
  4. Egg Count Mathematics: Why the numbers change between retrieval and transfer. | Fertility Lab Insider
  5. IVF Disasters: No Fertilization | Fertility Lab Insider

All five are focused on technical issues related to navigating ART treatment, so their popularity is not surprising. I hope I have answered some of the questions that come up in the car on the way home from the clinic or after you hang up the phone with your clinic doctor, nurse or embryologist. I hope that you have felt empowered through this blog to ask more questions of your doctor, your nurse and your embryologist. If they care about you as a patient, believe me they want you to ask questions that help clarify your understanding of your treatment plan. If they don’t, you should feel empowered to seek treatment elsewhere.

Ironically, the post that got the most page views and links back had nothing to do with technical expertise, but rather with the emotional challenges of infertility. Sometimes it takes hours for me to write a single post to get all the relevant informational links in and detangle my sometimes circuitous thoughts and grammar. This Winnie the Pooh inspired post was written in a blink of an eye from my heart..and received a record number of daily page views…

Stronger, braver, smarter….

My personal favorite posts are those that take up ethical, legal and  political issues related to ART- where I get my “activist on”. I have been especially concerned about embryo personhood laws that could potentially make ART illegal.

Colorado Amendment 62 pits embryo against mother    or Personhood Bills Threaten IVF  or  Embryo Personhood Laws

Two years ago, when insurance reform actually seemed possible, I wrote several posts on the need for and hope that infertility insurance coverage would become more widespread. With the Affordable Care Act under attack this election season, derisively known as ObamaCare by it’s opponents, progression on insurance for infertility treatments is waaaay on the back burner. Some past insurance posts include:

Could insurance be part of the basic insurance plan?

Understanding and negotiating your insurance benefit

New study on IVF insurance in the US

Somewhere around the middle of the two year stretch, I wrote the book Fertility Lab Insider , an IVF primer for patients navigating treatment. You can buy the e-book for less than a cup of coffee. Sales from the book pay the hosting expenses for the blog, so if you have gained $2.99 worth of information from the blog, consider buying the book to support the blog. I would appreciate it.

I recently started a “Q from U”  post series which answers some of the most common or most interesting questions I get from patients.

Still after two years, it’s not enough. Because no matter what I do to help inform patients, that’s only one part of the puzzle we need to put together to achieve the goal of high quality affordable health care for all patients who need ART for one reason or another.

The ART field, while mainstream, is still underdeveloped as a clinical practice. Embryologists need to consider what being a professional embryologist means. Does an embryologist need to have a deeper understanding of the life of the embryo or is cook book knowledge of technical skills enough? For the future of our professional field, I hope for the former. Can examination of best practices in the most successful programs inform us as to which technical procedures are most effective for which patients? Can we agree on terminology, grading systems for embryos and the most effective vitrification protocols? I am getting more actively involved in my embryologist community to try to see if we can answer some of these questions and because I am increasingly frustrated with the commercialism of ART. Is it really all about the money? I hope not.

Now I have a question for you: What issues are most significant to you?And perhaps most importantly, once you are through the intense fertility treatment phase, what can you do as a citizen or an ex-patient to improve the quality and accessibility of ART  to others that will follow in your foot steps? We all have a piece of this puzzle.

© 2012, Carole. All rights reserved.

©2012 Fertility Lab Insider. All Rights Reserved.

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