Overcoming Infertility + Fighting Stereotypes of Girlhood

Jennifer Hanin, author of What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant.
Options for couples facing fertility issues.
Issues: Advances in natural products for women; new supplements, medications, and treatment protocols; the latest in egg freezing, vitrification, gender selection, and genetic testing.

Melissa Atkins Wardy, author of Redefining Girly.
Topic: How parents can fight the stereotyping and sexualizing of girlhood
Issues: How to redefine girly in your home; getting friends and family on board; navigating kids’ play; how to avoid stereotyping girls and boys; saying no to sexed-up toys and too-sexy-too-soon parties.

Surrogacy Simplified

As more and more couples put off having children until they feel settled in their careers, artificial reproductive technologies (ART) are becoming increasingly common. Artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) increase the chances of multiple births. But even with all the technology, there are still some couples who can’t conceive. In these cases, a surrogate may be the best alternative. In this guest post, Hanna Griesbach explains the details.

Surrogacy is the means by which a woman carries a pregnancy and delivers a baby for another person. A surrogate mother can be the genetic mother or the gestational surrogate.

The first acknowledged case of surrogacy was documented in 1976. Over the course of time, surrogacy has dramatically increased in popularity. Statistics show that between 1987 and 1992, there have been an estimated 5,000 surrogate births recorded in the U.S.

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Hey, Dad, You’re More Normal Than You Think

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is expecting our first child. Initially, I was really excited, but lately I’ve been having these strange thoughts that the baby isn’t actually mine. I trust my wife completely and don’t want to mention this to her, but am I nuts?

A: In a word, No. At some point after the initial excitement passes, a surprising number of men find themselves experiencing exactly what you are: an irrational fear that the child their partner is carrying is not theirs. In his research with expectant dads, psychologist Jerrold Lee Shapiro found that 60 percent “acknowledged fleeting thoughts, fantasies, or nagging doubts that they might not really be the biological father of the child.” Like you, most of these men don’t actually believe their partners are having affairs. Instead, according to Shapiro, the feelings are symptoms of a common type of insecurity: the fear many men have that “they simply aren’t capable of doing anything as incredible as creating life, and that someone more potent must have done the job.” Fortunately, most guys get over these feelings pretty quickly.
Interestingly, irrational thoughts aren’t confined to biological dads. Men whose partners got pregnant using donor sperm—who actually didn’t do the biological creating—often have them too. A lot of guys worry that the sperm samples were switched and that they’ll end up with a child of a different race. Actually, it’s not so much race as physical similarity. Most couples who conceive artificially opt not to make the details of the pregnancy public. And, like any other dads, these guys hope their children will look like them—at least enough so that they won’t have to deal with the inevitable “Gee, the baby doesn’t look anything like you” comments.

Give Yourself a Hand

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have been trying to conceive for nine months and our fertility doctor is suggesting that we consider IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Step one is for me to bring in a sperm sample for analysis. What are they analyzing? Frankly, I find the idea of producing a sample on demand rather embarrassing. And the way a friend described the process—dingy bathroom with a few sticky porn magazines—was really of off-putting. Isn’t there some other way to get semen out of me than the usual?

A: Let’s start with your second question. The one-word answer is, Yes. There are other ways. But they’re extremely expensive and not nearly as fun. The two most common techniques are called “testicular sperm extraction” (TESE) and “microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration” (MESA). Both involve making incisions in the scrotum and testicles, and either manually removing sperm cells or actually cutting away a small piece of testicular tissue. (I’ll bet just reading that last sentence probably made most male readers involuntarily grab their crotch.)
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