After years of engaging with parenthood from a distance, it’s time for a psychiatrist specializing in women’s mental health to take her own advice.
The travails of pandemic parenting have been well documented. But how has this time shaped decision-making (and baby-making) going forward?
The test leads people undergoing in vitro fertilization to discard thousands of embryos each year. The new research found implanting some “abnormal” embryos resulted in healthy live births.
Vaccine debates, pandemic parenting and general burnout have converged to create yet another shortage in the United States: of women willing to carry other people’s babies to term.
Some surrogate mothers are trapped by the fighting as their due dates near. And newborns face uncertain fates, with many biological parents now unable to travel to Ukraine.
Starting in the 1960s, three physicians in Rochester, N.Y., began secretly using their own sperm to help women become pregnant.
I.V.F. patients are faced with a growing list of costly “add-ons.” For one such test, some say more robust research is needed to support its effectiveness.
‘It is 100 percent normal to feel conflicted even if you went to hell and back to become a parent.’
And why there’s still a staggering lack of data for doctors to reference.
Hormone-disrupting phthalates can be found in everything from plastics and household goods to personal care products. Studies have shown they may be harmful to women’s reproductive systems.
Startups devoted to reproductive and women’s health are on the rise. However, most of them deal with women’s fertility: birth control, ovulation and the inability to conceive. The broader field of women’s health remains neglected.
Historically, most of our understanding of ailments comes from the perspective of men and is overwhelmingly based on studies using male patients. Until the early 1990s, women of childbearing age were kept out of drug trial studies, and the resulting bias has been an ongoing issue in healthcare. Other issues include underrepresentation of women in health studies, trivialization of women’s physical complaints (which is relevant to the misdiagnosis of endometriosis, among other conditions), and gender bias in the funding of research, especially in research grants.
For example, several studies have shown that when we look at National Institutes of Health funding, a disproportionate share of its resources goes to diseases that primarily affect men — at the expense of those that primarily affect women. In 2019, studies of NIH funding based on disease burden (as estimated by the number of years lost due to an illness) showed that male-favored diseases were funded at twice the rate of female-favored diseases.
Let’s take endometriosis as an example. Endometriosis is a disease where endometrial-like tissue (‘‘lesions’’) can be found outside the uterus. Endometriosis is a condition that only occurs in individuals with uteruses and has been less funded and less studied than many other conditions. It can cause chronic pain, fatigue, painful intercourse and infertility. Although the disease may affect one out of 10 women, diagnosis is still very slow, and the disease is confirmed only by surgery.
There is no non-invasive test available. In many cases, a woman is diagnosed only due to her infertility, and the diagnosis can take up to 10 years. Even after diagnosis, the understanding of disease biology and progression is poor, as well as the understanding of the relationships to other lesion diseases, such as adenomyosis. Current treatments include surgical removal of lesions and drugs that suppress ovarian hormone (mainly estrogen) production.
However, there are changes in the works. The NIH created the women’s health research category in 1994 for annual budgeting purposes and, in 2019, it was updated to include research that is relevant to women only. In acknowledging the widespread male bias in both human and animal studies, the NIH mandated in 2016 that grant applicants would be required to recruit male and female participants in their protocols. These changes are slow, and if we look at endometriosis, it received just $7 million in NIH funding in the fiscal year 2018, putting it near the very bottom of NIH’s 285 disease/research areas.
It is interesting to note that critical changes are coming from other sources, and not so much from the funding agencies or the pharmaceutical industry. The push is coming from patients and physicians themselves that meet the diseases regularly. We see pharmaceutical companies (such as Eli Lilly and AbbVie) in the women’s healthcare space following the lead of their patients and slowly expanding their R&D base and doubling efforts to expand beyond reproductive health into other key women’s health areas.
New technological innovations targeting endometriosis are being funded via private sources. In 2020, women’s health finally emerged as one of the most promising areas of investment. These include (not an exhaustive list by any means) diagnostics companies such as NextGen Jane, which raised a $9 million Series A in April 2021 for its “smart tampon,” and DotLab, a non-invasive endometriosis testing startup, which raised $10 million from investors last July. Other notable advances include the research-study app Phendo that tracks endometriosis, and Gynica, a company focused on cannabis-based treatments for gynecological issues.
The complexity of endometriosis is such that any single biotech startup may find it challenging to go it alone. One approach to tackle this is through collaborations. Two companies, Polaris Quantum Biotech and Auransa, have teamed up to tackle the endometriosis challenge and other women’s specific diseases.
Using data, algorithms and quantum computing, this collaboration between two female-led AI companies integrates the understanding of disease biology with chemistry. Moreover, they are not stopping at in silico; rather, this collaboration aims to bring therapeutics to patients.
New partnerships can majorly impact how fast a field like women’s health can advance. Without such concerted efforts, women-centric diseases such as endometriosis, triple-negative breast cancer and ovarian cancer, to name a few, may remain neglected and result in much-needed therapeutics not moving into clinics promptly.
Using state-of-the-art technologies on complex women’s diseases will allow the field to advance much faster and can put drug candidates into clinics in a few short years, especially with the help of patient advocacy groups, research organizations, physicians and out-of-the-box funding approaches such as crowdfunding from the patients themselves.
We believe that going after the women’s health market is a win-win for the patients as well as from the business perspective, as the global market for endometriosis drugs alone is expected to reach $2.2 billion in the next six years.
Why Aziz Ansari based a plot in ‘Master of None’ on my journey to become a single mother.
Reports of a decline in male fertility rely on flawed assumptions, a new study contends.
The F.D.A.’s authorization of Pfizer’s Covid shot for 12- to 15-year-olds is a milestone in battling the coronavirus, but actually getting them vaccinated involves new challenges.
Can it affect mammograms or the timing of fertility treatments? What side effects should you look out for? Experts weigh in.
“It was like rolling the dice, except for someone you’ve never met.”
Amid the pandemic, I.V.F. rates are on the rise, and so are disputes about what to do with remaining frozen embryos when couples split up. For some, it has gotten messy.
In “Count Down,” Shanna Swan tells a story of declining sperm count, rising infertility and the possible extinction of the human species.
Scientists are concerned by falling sperm counts and declining egg quality. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be the problem.
New York State will now allow gestational surrogates to carry babies for other parents. Here’s why they do it.
One man, hundreds of children and a burning question: Why?
Tammy and Jordan Myers will have to adopt their twins after two Michigan judges denied them parental rights because the children had been carried by a surrogate.
Instead of lolling around in a lush pool of liquid, our baby was balled tight. Was there a connection to the eggs I had donated 10 years earlier?
As the pandemic raged, I made dozens of visits to a fertility clinic. Did I catch Covid on one of those visits? I’ll never know, but the guilt is still there.
I spent months agonizing over my lack of a partner or high-powered career. But it was my depression that almost upended my dream of motherhood.
Members of Congress and the D.H.S. are investigating claims by a nurse and lawyers that immigrant detainees in Georgia were complaining of unwanted procedures and rough treatment.
Often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, PCOS can play havoc with your fertility. Here’s how to recognize the symptoms and take action to protect your reproductive health.
More than 100,000 Americans give birth in their 40s each year, but what does that mean for the health of their pregnancies and their babies?
For service members like me, Tricare health insurance and the limited number of military medical facilities offering fertility treatments add more stress to an already emotional process.
A photojournalist captured the lives of four women who chose to become mothers on their own.
It was not clear whether the scientists had found infectious virus or inert fragments, so sexual transmission of the virus still seems very unlikely.
Many providers have continued seeing patients through the pandemic, forcing them to choose between clients and staff safety.
Many insurance companies don’t cover I.V.F. But there are ways to ease the financial burden.
Infertility is largely thought of as a woman’s issue, but male infertility can affect at least one-third of couples who are struggling to conceive.
Ectopic pregnancies are relatively rare, but because they can be deadly, it’s important to know the warning signs.
The key to conception is to ‘relax,’ some say, but the evidence isn’t quite so tidy.
No, lying flat after sex won’t increase your chances of conception.
Even when it ends with a healthy baby, a long struggle to conceive may exact a brutal toll.