Top 10 Fertility Stories of 2017

I started the Egg Whisperer Show in 2017. It’s momentous for me because my life goal is to be a fertility myth-buster .

Women still come to me and say, “why didn’t anyone teach us this stuff.” That’s why I started the show. To teach women how to track fertility levels over time, about ovarian aging and that fertility is a science and getting pregnant is in your DNA down to a cellular level and there are tests you can do to understand all these things and people need to know about them!

We had so many epic fertility stories in 2017. I talked about them during my last Egg Whisperer Show of 2017. Here are my favorite 10 that can teach us so much about what I love to talk about most: FERTILITY!

  1. George Clooney becomes a father to twins:
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You probably were living under a rock (literally) if you didn’t know that George Clooney became a father in 2017 to twins. There have been stories swirling that he had a vasectomy to prevent pregnancy and that they needed IVF because of that and he went through a sperm aspiration and IVF for his wife to get pregnant. What I found fascinating is this: he was an eternal bachelor. He always said that he never wanted kids. And bam, over the age of 50, he can achieve a twin pregnancy with his younger wife. So how do I as a fertility doctor process this?

Here’s how: there’s a huge fertility gender gap! It’s extremely unfair that women run out of eggs at 40 when sadly in today’s society they want more kids or heck even one baby and they can’t do it because we have to accept that natural biology causes us to run out. Men like George Clooney, Mick Jagger, Jay Z, most recently, Billy Joel and even our own president can have kids at ages that are so unreachable for a woman with her own eggs! It’s incredibly unfair. I’ve always said that if men ran out of sperm, there would be a cure. But women have to accept this fate that it’s simply normal and part of our aging process. Why the heck can’t we cure that?

2. Janet Jackson also becomes a mom in 2017:

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E! Online

So how did that happen? Well, the chance that a 50-year-old woman is able to have a baby with her own eggs is < 1%. No one talked about that. Instead, people talked about how she had a baby and people were calling my office saying, “If Janet Jackson can do it, then you can help me do it too.”

I’m not her doctor but I’m just saying that the only way a 50+ year old woman can be a mom with today’s technology is if she froze her eggs when she still had viable eggs (egg freezing technology wasn’t really around when Janet had viable eggs) …..and most women over 50 use a gestational carrier too because of potential health risks.

The conversations that Janet Jackson’s Motherhood news started were super fun and they made me realize that my egg freezing parties must continue! Janet Jackson’s motherhood made women everywhere think that science has somehow found a cure for ovarian aging. Oh, don’t get me wrong, one day in my lifetime, it WILL happen. All the IVF babies that I’ve helped come into this world don’t know that this Egg Whisperer whispered to them to find a cure as their life mission but until then, celebrity pregnancy news will continue to make me spread my fertility awareness message.

3. Three parent IVF:

Image Source: BBC News

When you ask people on the street what 3 parent IVF means, you’ll get some funny answers! And most of them have to do with threesomes. The reality is that 3 parent IVF has nothing to do with 3 parents. It’s basically as similar to an organ donation as you can get. It’s a mitochondrial donation or a nuclear swap (nucleus removed from the donated egg, and nucleus of the mom placed inside). I guess 3 parent IVF sounds sexier and gets more clicks but long story short, this was pretty darn amazing news. The fact that we could finally cure the rarest of diseases in families who have faced more tragedy than anyone should ever know, was one of the biggest breakthroughs and fertility stories of 2017.

So what does this mean for my patients? Right now, nothing. There’s currently nothing that a US patient can benefit from when it comes to this technology. The FDA has come down hard and said, no way can anyone benefit from this technology here. Could it help older eggs (women let’s say over 40) have healthy babies with their own DNA? YES! And that’s what gets me excited about it. Remember? Cure for normal ovarian aging? Remember, if men ran out of sperm there would be a cure?

Of course ethicists and scientists are cautioning against using a technology in humans without enough evidence. That makes perfect sense. Until then, we have to deal with the misrepresentation through click bait headlines that call it 3 parent IVF when it has nothing to do with that.

4. Oldest embryo ever comes to life:

Image Source: CNN

Now when people ask me, “how long can embryos be used for?” I can say, well the oldest one now is over 20 years old! Before that it was 19 years old and thawed here in the San Francisco Bay Area! IVF celebrated it’s 40th anniversary this year, and with millions of babies born this means countless unused embryos are sitting frozen. This story brought to life the amazing gift of embryo donation. If you aren’t ready now to donate unused embryos, who knows? Maybe in 20 years you might be!

5. Gene editing technology used in an embryo:

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Image Source: Nature

This was most certainly one of the top 10 stories of the year, of the century! For the first time ever, scientists in the US reported that they could fix a disease in a human embryo. Did you hear what I just said? FIX A DISEASE IN AN EMBRYO. Well, it seems like no one heard. This is as extraordinary as a man landing on a moon (in my world) but for whatever reason the world wasn’t paying attention.

This has such incredible implications for mankind and for future pregnancies as well. You can imagine that if you’re a parent who has had a child die from a genetic disease that you would do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to fix that. To possibly still have their child but remove their suffering. That my friends, is the power of this technology.

If this technology becomes available, you could theoretically have an embryo affected by let’s say a disease called Cystic Fibrosis and you could use science so the embryo wouldn’t develop into a child with cystic fibrosis. The scientific community is working at lightning speed to do more about how to decrease human suffering.

6. Lena Dunham continues to be real, and a badass in my book:

Image Source: Rolling Stone

This woman has had not one, not two but FIVE surgeries for endometriosis and she has shared her story for years. The reason why I think her story makes my top 10 list this year because she of how radically honest she has been. She talked about what I’ve been trying to teach people about for years: if you have painful periods, early diagnosis and treatment is essential to slow the progression of endometriosis.

This Vanity Fair article says it all. Lena’s tweets are raw, truthful and frankly a biology lesson! Our eggs are the healthiest when we are under age 25. Yes, this is true people. If anyone knows about egg freezing, you can imagine it’s Lena. If anyone is sick of talking about egg freezing, yup! You can imagine it’s Lena. I want to be her fertility body guard to protect her from the annoying intrusive questions! I imagine she can probably handle herself without me.

The truth is that she has taught us so much through her personal endometriosis struggle:

  • Losing weight and being as lean as possible (this decreases estrogen levels in your body) can improve endometriosis symptoms. When she lost weight to improve her symptoms it was frankly ridiculous that she was body shamed by people who called her a sellout.
  • Endometriosis is a disease that requires accurate diagnosis, medical treatment and in some cases like hers, multiple surgeries
  • Fertility declines as we get older and that’s freaking normal. Thank you Lena!

7. Gabrielle Union Opens Up About her Fertility Struggles:

Image Source: People

Gabrielle Union, one of the most beautiful women in the world, bravely talked about her fertility struggles this year. She shared with us about her countless (over 5) miscarriages and even wrote a book about it. It’s almost like she’s on the same fertility awareness education mission as me: to get women to talk to their doctors early if worried about their fertility and to teach women about the option of egg freezing at a younger age if they’re not sure if they even want kids (like Gabrielle). She also made the topic of egg donation less taboo.

8. Perez Hilton has a third baby:

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Image Source: Daily Mail

Don’t know who he is? Well in one sentence, he is an openly gay gossip blogger that everyone loves. The reason why he’s on my top 10 list? Well, it’s 2017, and it’s just incredibly exciting for me to see how we as a community are more accepting as ever of men having babies. He is now a father of 3! I’ve watched him share his joy from fatherhood with his fans through his various social media pages with such delight over the years and I’m glad he’s having more.

I want anyone who wants to become a parent to reach this goal. I’m going to be here to do all I can to help you. You will make this world a better place for all of us because of the love lessons you will be teaching your children.

9. Fifteen biological siblings join their sperm donor on an Epic Family Vacation!

Image Source: RightThisMinute

Then there’s this story that not enough people know about. This year seemed to be the year of everyone finding out they’re related to one another through DNA test kits. I’m kidding of course. But in all seriousness, one donor, who I happened to know from when I attended UC Berkeley, made my top 10 list and here’s why:

This story taught us about the reality of being an egg and sperm donor with today’s advances in DNA technology. Once you donate your DNA, you’re no longer anonymous. Technology is changing at such a fast pace, such that the days of not telling your children where they came from is a thing of the past. Eventually, all kids born from egg or sperm donation could find out. Some of them in this video knew from an early age and others didn’t find out until they were adults. They are now connected in the universe in a really special way and you can see from this video how talented they all are and how much they care about each other. It’s a special type of extended donor family.

To read more about how you can be an egg donor with half your eggs frozen for you while knowing where your eggs are going, go to my website.

10. First baby born in US from a Uterine Transplant

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Image Source: Time Magazine

This story really closed out the year with a bang. Hoping 2018 will be the first birth from a male uterine transplant! Kidding aside, this story was inspiring. Inspiring especially because of this special quote from the uterus donor:

People asked, how much are they paying you? I am not getting paid anything.Why do I have to get paid to help somebody? It’s not about that. It’s about providing something to someone else. You’re being a good human. We need more good humans in this world.

Catch more of me, and topics like this through The Egg Whisperer Show. Episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter Wednesdays at 5PM PST. Subscribe here.

Fertility Doctor, Reproductive Endocrinologist, Egg Whisperer:

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