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Eggs, Embryos, and Ethics

Updated on December 29, 2014

Do you think women freezing eggs when they're young is a good idea? Why or why not?
What do you think is the best solution to the number of unused embryos frozen in fertility clinics?

I personally agree with the idea of women freezing eggs when they're young. In the article titled The Ethics of Egg Freezing Ronald Bailey writes “egg freezing may be reasonably interpreted as another form of family planning” (Bailey, 2012). I completely agree that egg freezing could be seen as a type of family planning; it allows women to put their careers first without worrying about how their older age could affect conception and the development of their child. However I feel women should only do this after extensive research into egg freezing so that they know and understand that only about 1 in 3 cycles results in a live birth (Bailey, 2012). I can also understand why women who decide to have eggs frozen at a younger age would want to have a good number of eggs frozen so as to have the highest chance of conceiving a healthy child from the eggs.

The need to have numerous eggs frozen to provide a high chance of conceiving a child from the eggs often leads to extra eggs which remain frozen in cold storage in fertility clinics (Parker, 2011). I personally see two different solutions to the number of unused embryos frozen in fertility clinics. For one the unused embryos could be donated to fertility clinics to offer to people looking to become parents who are not biologically able to do so with their own eggs. Another idea would be to use the unused embryos frozen in fertility clinics for embryotic stem cell research and eventually stem cell treatments. To me the best plan would be to have half of the unused embryos to fertility clinics to disperse as needed and the other half to labs and universities for stem cell research.

References

Bailey, R. (2012, May 22). The Ethics of Egg Freezing. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://reason.com/archives/2012/05/22/the-ethics-of-freezing-eggs

Tercero-Parker, Y. (2011, March 14). Embryo Ethics: Finding a Home for Canada's Orphans. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.bioethicsinternational.org/blog/2011/03/14/embryo-ethics-finding-a-home-for-canada’s-frozen-‘orphans’/

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Fertility and Lifestyle Choices

The reproductive system is the only body system that creates and develops another human being. It does so by perpetuating our genes via our offspring. Unfortunately, both men and women can suffer from conditions that ultimately prevent them from creating a child. Thankfully, there are lifestyle changes we can make to improve the likelihood of fertility.
Most men at some point or another have experienced erectile dysfunction (ED), which is an inability to achieve or sustain an erection that is sufficient for intercourse. There are many causes, some of which can be addressed without the use of medicine.
Science has established that a Mediterranean diet is good for the heart. Scientists have also found that men with type 2 diabetes who adhere to this diet experience a lower incidence of ED than diabetics who don’t. What makes a Mediterranean diet? Consuming more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is critical, as is decreasing the amount of red meat and eating more fish and poultry. Replacing salt with herbs and spices, and using olive and canola oil instead of butter are also important.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower levels of stress, which is particularly important for the reproductive systems of both men and women. Stress can cause and aggravate ED in men, and it can inhibit ovulation in women. Exercise has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are associated with ED.
At the same time, women who are trying to become pregnant may be overdoing it. Athletes who work out almost every day and/or do not quit until they are exhausted have a more difficult time getting pregnant. That does not mean that exercise is a bad thing, but rather that extreme workouts should be scaled down to a more modest intensity. Women should also pay attention to their body weight. Being either overweight or underweight can interfere with the production of estrogen and interfere with ovulation.
Men over the age of 50 have a greater likelihood of suffering from ED, but many young men experience it as well. Alcohol and drug abuse can be to blame because these activities can decrease sensation and even injure the blood vessels that lead to the penis. Women who would like to become pregnant should also stay away from alcohol because it can interfere with ovulation.
Researchers have found a correlation between cigarette smoking and ED. In fact, 25% of smokers with ED who quit for one year enjoyed an improvement in their symptoms. Women who are trying to conceive should join the men in their quest to quit smoking. Heavy smoking causes the ovaries to age, and it decreases their number of eggs. Quitting smoking is certainly not easy, but this is one more reason to do so. Since coffee drinking typically goes hand in hand with smoking, quitting the smoking habit might reduce the amount of caffeine consumed, which would be an added perk. Excessive amounts of caffeine can damage the fallopian tubes or cause endometriosis, thereby reducing a woman’s fertility. In men, it can also cause ED.

References

Giugliano, F., Maiorino, M. I., Bellastella, G., Autorino, R., De Sio, M., Giugliano, D., et al. (2010, May). Adherence to Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction in men with type 2 diabetes. The Journal of Sexual Medicine 7(5):1911-7. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20214716
Green, R. (n.d.). Erectile dysfunction. Retrieved from http://www.urologyinstitute.com/html/erectile_dysfunction.html
Marieb, E. N. (2012). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology (10th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011). Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/female-fertility/MY01095
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011). Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011
Michelle, J. (2011, July 2). What causes erectile dysfunction in young men? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/29179-causes-erectile-dysfunction-young-men/
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU-Trondheim). (n.d.). Hard workouts—reduced fertility. Retrieved from http://www.ntnu.edu/news/hard-workouts-reduced-fertility
Pourmand, G., Alidaee, M. R., Rasuli, S., Maleki, A., & Mehrsai, A. (2004, December 9). Do cigarette smokers with erectile dysfunction benefit from stopping?: A prospective study. British Journal of Urology International, 94(9):1310-3. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15610111

At the end of the course, reflect and evaluate whether you feel that you have, professionally and personally, achieved the objectives laid out in the course. If not, what is your plan to do so?

Looking Back

Looking back on the work I have done for this course I believe I have professionally and personally achieved the objectives laid out in the course. While the final grade has not been added I am pleased with what my grade is now and I believe that I will end this week and the course with a high grade. I did not have many personal goals going into this course. For me this course was a requirement as a part of my bachelors of psychology degree that I am working on. My only personal goal was to complete this course with a good grade. However while I did not have any set ideas about what I wanted to learn in this class I did learn a good deal about the human body.

Professionally I gained information about the way that the human body functions which I believe will assist me in my future career as a psychologist. I found the information on the human brain both helpful and interesting. I found that many of the discussions throughout the course had a psychological element to them. For instance during week three and four we discussed overuse injuries and the dangers of coaches not following the guidelines for concussions. I found that I was able to use my knowledge of psychology during these discussions. This course taught me that there is a biological element involved in psychology that I had not thought about previously.

While I feel I have met all of the objectives laid out in the course, I also feel there is still room for me to learn more. Next semester I am taking a course in forensic psychology in which I believe may be able to incorporate some of my new found knowledge of human biology in the discussion forums. While I do not believe I will take any additional biology courses I am glad that I took this one and I believe the knowledge I gained from this course will serve me well in my continued studies and during my future career.

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