New Jen's Horde

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh, uh uh, you did NOT just say that!

Psychotherapy helps infertile 'superwomen'

Berga's team looked at 16 women who were of normal weight who had not menstruated for more than six months.

Some were perfectionist types whose lifestyle, either at home or at work, placed them under a lot of stress, while others felt overwhelmed by the demands their lives made on them.

The 16 had functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA), a type of infertility caused by a prolonged reduction in a hormone that initiates a molecular cascade that leads to ovulation.

The telltale, though, was analysis of the women's spinal fluid, which showed high levels of cortisol, a hormone that is a marker of stress and is often linked to depression, osteoporosis and other health problems.

The women were randomly divided into two groups. Half received cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for 20 weeks -- psychological counselling designed to help them put their problems in perspective. The other half were simply observed.

"A staggering 80 percent of the women who received CBT started to ovulate again, as opposed to only 25 percent of those randomized to observation," Berga told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Prague.

In the CBT group, six regained full fertility and one showed some signs of restored ovarian function. Two of the six became pregnant within two months.

In the non-CBT group, only one recovered her fertility, and one showed some signs of ovarian function.
OK, I'm all for new treatments, and it's FABULOUS that these women were able to restore their ovulation so quickly and easily.

But, at the same time, this study involved 16 women. SIXTEEN! That's merely a blip as far as hard statistical analysis is concerned. And, now there are headlines everywhere proclaiming that infertile women just need to un-uptight themselves and they'll be fine.

It smacks of "blaming the victim." Infertile? You must be messed up in the head.

I think this hits so close to home because I have PCOS and required months and months of expensive, invasive procedures to get pregnant with my first three (Tiernan was a bonus, but that's another post.) I was hopped up on hormones, shot with more hormones, and had catheters inserted here there and everywhere to get the job done. Most infertility patients are like me, there's a medical issue causing difficulty in conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy.

This article also bothered me in the use of the term "Superwomen." For forty years now, American women have been told that they can have it all, that they should have it all, and that settling for anything less is not only failing themselves, but failing the Sisterhood by holding us all back. Or something like that. I stopped listening a long time ago. Anyway, now that they're talking about women who are busy, they're referring to them as "Superwomen." They have jobs, for goodness' sake, that's not unusual. Women pretty much always work, in the home, outside the home, or both, and it's been that way since there've been women. By putting a label on these women, it's just pushing them into a box. "Oh, they're crazy, uppity Superwomen, you know how they are!" Working women (ie every woman who isn't a woman of leisure, do you know any of those? I don't.) everywhere should get their back up a little when they start using the term Superwomen to describe why you're crazy, sick or deficient in some way. It's not that far removed from calling us all "the weaker sex" and not letting us wear shoes, in that I mean it's still a double standard applied because of our gender.

My concern is that "studies" like this allow everyone to play pop psychologist, and while 6, count 'em 6, women have responded so far to this treatment, this will feed the community delusion that somehow infertile women all have it coming to them. They're too busy, which makes them too crazy to get pregnant.

I don't doubt that this really is the situation with some of the infertile women out there. There are many different kinds of infertility, and I believe in using whatever works to get your body working the way it should. I've done traditional medicine, alternative medicine, therapy, and extensive prayer to deal with my medical issues, and I don't begrudge anyone else any methods they find that work for them. Just please don't group all infertile women, or all women in general, under one umbrella.

Amen! 16 does not a study make and only 6 out of the 16 with sucess??? gimme a break...this is not a medical break through... this is just luck.

I'm happy it worked for the 6...but keep on looking for the real answer.
I thought all women were superwomen....
That was my point, that's why it irks me when people turn it into a label and use it to try to push women into a box.
Ummm, every woman I know is a 'superwoman'. I know of no lady who just lets others do work without pitching in herself. So, I think the study is (excuse my french) crap!
Damn weirdo Europeans.
What a bunch of bogusness!! My SIL was having trouble getting pregnant and the doctor said there's nothing wrong you. She switched jobs and stopped worrying about it so much.

Next thing she knew she was pregnant. However I have a couple of friends that have endemetriosis and they have a awful time getting pregnant and it they do even worse staying pregnant. They're all superwomen, so whatever. Take your study and shove it you know where!!
I agree. This is pop-science being pushed by a statistically insignificant study. Hmmmm, sort of like humans are the cause of global warming.
I can't decide which rant to have on this one, even though I am glad for the women who were able to get pregnant and get their bodies back in a better balance.

I picked one, women are not superwomen in a vacuum. It is a nice idea to tell them all to relax but last I hear the DR does not call their MIL's or neighbors and tell them to back off or husbands to help out. It is still all about how women can alone now fix their superwoman tendancies but no one says if anyone else cooks dinner.

Sorry for the personal vent here,...
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