As the World Turns, My Head Spins
If you have been keeping up with the Kardashians lately, you will have noticed that they have received almost as much attention about their ovaries as they have for other, more …. um …. publicized parts of their anatomy.
In celebrity magazines and on the Internet, there is an abundance of stories elaborating the latest details of their fertility struggles. In fact, there seem to be more rumors and stories and updates than there are paparazzi.
Khloe, 28, and Lamar have publicly acknowledged that she does not ovulate. She has been reportedly distressed to learn that her chance of success each month is only 20 percent. She reportedly has low FSH. She reportedly has high FSH. She is reportedly putting her career ahead of motherhood by hosting the X Factor next year. Lamar is reportedly frustrated and wants a divorce. Then there are stories that refute half of what I just wrote.
At 32, Kim reportedly has already frozen some of her eggs in order to preserve her fertility. Some stories say Kim will have a surrogate, so her career won’t be interrupted or so she won’t ruin her famous curves. Some stories say she wants to get pregnant herself. Other stories say she is going to spend $200,000 in order to get twins.
$200,000 for fertility treatment? Kim Kardashian, come to Chattanooga. We’ll throw in a Maserati, a VW Passat (made in Chattanooga) and maybe, just maybe, a Moonpie.
Let me be perfectly clear: I want nothing but happiness and success for these young ladies. They may marvel as much as I do about the number of stories, some true, some false, some just confusing.
Perhaps it is the just the hyper-pressurized nature of the reality TV bubble in which they live, but these stories are usually delivered with all the drama and suspense of a Navy Seal rescue.
While it is a public service that celebrities share their struggles with infertility and raise awareness for the general public, the drama of these stories and the “facts” reported may do a disservice to many people who are struggling with infertility and are considering fertility therapy.
Now I have not met or treated either of these young ladies. I have not seen the results of any of their testing, so I can confidently say that I am not 100 percent sure of the best way for them to proceed with their fertility therapies. But I may be able to help prevent some misconceptions that these stories generate and reveal some actual truths for the average person to consider.
Let’s look at some rumors
Rumor: Kim is going to spend $200,000 to get twins.
What is this? If this story is correct, someone is being taken for a ride, either the reader, the writer, or Kim herself.
Basis in fact? Almost all fertility treatments have an increased risk of twins. Studies show that a majority of infertility patients want twins. But since there is NO fertility treatment on the planet that has a 100 percent success rate, there is no fertility treatment that can guarantee twins.
Would this be wise? If doctors and patients are aggressive, we can increase the likelihood of twins. But if you shoot for twins, you might get triplets or more. Besides, twins are a high-risk pregnancy, with an increased risk of nearly every bad pregnancy outcome including malformations. The goal of every fertility treatment should be a single baby. If you have a doctor who is trying to give you twins…. run….. run…. run away…. don’t walk.
$200,000: Any therapy that costs $200,000 better come with a Maserati. Make sure you get to pick the color.
Rumor: Kim froze her eggs at age 31.
What is this? Egg freezing is the process of giving a patient injections of the hormones that make eggs grow. When the eggs grow to a mature size, a needle is inserted into the ovary and the eggs are extracted, then frozen (cryopreserved) to be used at a later time.
Why is it done? Over time, a woman’s egg quality decreases and as the woman ages it becomes more and more difficult to get pregnant. Freezing eggs at a young age gives a woman the chance to preserve her fertility. If she uses the eggs when she turns 40, her chances of pregnancy are theoretically as good as they were at the time she froze them.
Should women do this? The vast majority of young women like Kim Kardashian do NOT need to freeze their eggs. While her fertility is in gradual decline, she should still have years of good fertility ahead of her. Women whose fertility is in peril, such as those facing certain cancer therapies or surgery to remove the ovaries remain the best candidates. To date, there is no good evidence that the average woman who has not yet met their life partner needs to freeze eggs.
For more on this topic, see this article from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Rumor: Khloe does not ovulate.
What is this? Failure to ovulate, or produce an egg, is the single most common female cause of infertility in the United States. A woman should produce an egg every 24-35 days. If she is not having regular predictable periods, it is probable that she is not ovulating on a regular basis.
What prevents ovulation? This can be caused by any number of issues: being overweight, being underweight, having a hormone imbalance, stress or poor nutrition.
How is it treated? Most cases are easily treated by correcting a hormone imbalance, if one exists, or by taking pills that promote ovulation. Some women do not respond to pills and require injections.
The chances of pregnancy depend on a woman’s age, her husband’s sperm counts and her anatomy. Women Khloe’s age with no other fertility problems should have a 15-20 percent chance of pregnancy with each round of medicine. Women in their later 30s would expect their pregnancy rate to be around 5-10 percent. Women with menopause or very high FSH levels are not good candidates….. so I suspect Khloe’s FSH is either normal or low.
The cost of treatment: depending on the treatment, the cost can be as low as five dollars per month, and up to several thousand, depending on the drugs required. For most women, treatment is inexpensive. Learn more about ovulation induction here.
My bottom line regarding the stories on the Kardashians’ experiences with fertility is this: I’m glad they are making others aware that this is an important part of life and that not everyone has an easy time with it. It is nothing to be ashamed of and usually there is help.
My problem with many of these stories is that they make treatments sound scary and overwhelmingly expensive. If you read these stories, remember, you’re reading about the Kardashians. Their shows and the tabloid press thrive on controversy and drama. And these young ladies don’t seem to do anything inexpensively….. even when they could.
$200,000 for fertility treatment? Kim, come to Chattanooga. I’ll throw in a Maserati, a VW Passat (made in Chattanooga) and maybe, just maybe, a Moonpie.