The Suburban Women Problem

Roe Fertility Woes (with Dr. Lucky Sekhon and Autumn Lucy)

June 08, 2022 Red Wine & Blue Season 2 Episode 23
The Suburban Women Problem
Roe Fertility Woes (with Dr. Lucky Sekhon and Autumn Lucy)
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of the pod, Amanda Weinstein, Jasmine Clark, and Rachel Vindman talk about how the fall of Roe v Wade could have some unexpected consequences for women seeking fertility treatments. They're joined by Autumn Lucy, a woman in Michigan who took a part-time job at Starbucks just because their insurance covers IVF treatments. Autumn discusses her fertility journey, just how expensive IVF is, and why it was so important to share her story with the world. Like the hosts, Autumn also has serious concerns about what the fall of Roe v Wade might mean for women who are pursuing fertility treatments.

After that, Amanda sits down with Dr. Lucky Sekhon, an OB-GYN and fertility specialist. On Instagram and on her blog The Lucky Egg, she empowers women with evidenced-based information about their fertility. Dr. Lucky talks about why she’s passionate about helping women with their fertility and how she sees abortion and fertility care as equally important facets of helping women choose when and how to have a family. She also dishes about some of misconceptions and weird fertility advice she's heard.

And finally, Amanda, Jasmine and Rachel raise a glass to Alex’s birthday, new puppies, and seeing each other in person last weekend in this episode's “Toast to Joy.”

If you’re ready to join the Great Troublemaker Turnout, please sign up here! Talking to the people in your network is the most impactful way to influence voters, and Red Wine & Blue is committed to providing everything you need to tap into this super power: training, tools, community, and support. Suburban women are taking a stand - join us!

For a transcript of this episode, please email theswppod@redwine.blue.

The Suburban Women Problem - Season 2, Episode 23

Amanda Weinstein: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Amanda Weinstein. 

Jasmine Clark: I'm Jasmine Clark. 

Rachel Vindman: I'm Rachel Vindman. 

Amanda: And you're listening to The Suburban Women Problem. Ever since the Roe V. Wade news leaked, we've been talking about abortion rights, but there are so many ways that the fall of Roe could impact women and the decisions we make about our own bodies. Not only are some legislators talking about reimplanted ectopic pregnancies as if that was even a medical possibility. We know it's not–

Jasmine: –at all–

Amanda: But it could affect our fertility in all kinds of ways. So today that is what we're talking about: fertility! I feel like springtime is the time to talk about this too. So very… very apt. I'll get to share my interview with Dr. Lucky Sekhon, an OB GYN and fertility specialist. And before that we'll be joined by Autumn Lucy, a woman in Michigan who took a part-time job at Starbucks, just because their insurance covers IVF. 

But let's start as always with the check-in. And let's talk about what we did yesterday, ladies! 

Jasmine: Yeah, it was so good seeing y'all in person again! This time, not for a fundraiser for myself, but for Amanda's husband Casey who is just as awesome in person as he is on YouTube and on Twitter and when he joins us on the podcast.

Amanda: I know, I feel like you and Casey are like sister/brother state legislators, like how they have like sister cities, it's your like, state reps like that. Like, you're like, oh, what they're doing in Georgia, because they're trying to do in Ohio, whatever they're doing in Ohio, they're probably going to try and do in Georgia.

Rachel: Yeah. Unfortunately there are some real parallels you guys were able to discuss. That was a bit disturbing, or more than a bit disturbing. The whole thing was so fun. It's always great to see you guys and spend time with you, you know, kind of discuss the issues in person with people like we discuss here and, you know, talk about it. So that was really great. And Alex joined us and then he and Casey like paired up and had a great time.

Amanda: And they were so cute. Casey was like, “Hey, new friend, let's go around and meet everyone.”

Jasmine: Yeah! He was so excited to introduce Alex to all his friends. It was literally, it was like the cutest thing ever.

Rachel: And then Casey, he took Alex to the local county Democrat dinner. And I think Alex literally met every Democrat in Cuyahoga County.

Amanda: And beyond! Like, so he met Tim Ryan and he met Nan Whaley. Like he got to me all like pretty much all the Dems. 

Jasmine: I really enjoyed this weekend. And one of the things I really enjoyed is just how many people were like, “oh my gosh, it's so nice to meet you in person. I listen to the pod all the time.” We're really making an impact and what we're doing here on this podcast, like it matters to people. And so I, I always like those reaffirmations and you know, that validation that we're being impactful. And, you know, shout out to the people who are listening to the podcast today that we might not have been able to meet. Maybe one day we'll get to meet you in person as well. 

Amanda: Yes. And I loved hearing from the people at the fundraiser who are dealing with the same stuff people are dealing with all over the country, in that a few vocal people can really do some very bad things in our schools, in our libraries and our state house, and really thinking about how we can combat that. What can we do? Like, especially as you know, ordinary women in our suburbs. What can we actually do? And I love that we talked about that at the fundraiser, we talked about how, how can we deal with those few vocal voices that seem to get their way more than they should? 

Jasmine: Yeah, they're loud, but they are not the majority. They just have a bull horn. And speaking of that, one of the bills that Ohio passed… they tried to pass a variation of this in Georgia, and they ended up sneaking in like a trans kids in sports ban, like at the stroke of midnight type of bills, but Ohio it's bad. It's like Ohio had a “hold my beer moment: and just like passed something that is exponentially worse.

Amanda: I know! So we have one trans athlete in the entire state, out of like 400,000 athletes. Representative Jenna Powell, you're right at the last minute, right before midnight, just put that part in to not only ban trans athletes, but the really insidious part was how they actually do it. Right. When you read all these words in the bill, part of those words are like, how are we actually going to do this ban? And how they're going to do it is they're going to have a verification process that includes an internal and external genital inspection.

Rachel: I have to say, I thought about that because of the topic that we're talking about today, about fertility treatments and everything. Because, you know, during fertility treatments and early pregnancy, most ultrasounds are internal ultrasounds. And let's just say, I have had those in many different countries. And it is invasive, like literally and figuratively. And the idea that they're going to do this to children?!

Jasmine: I think about this as the mother of two athletes, including a daughter who is pretty much taller than everybody in her class. If someone, if we lived in Ohio and she wanted to play basketball or run track, someone could point her out and say, “I suspect that she might be trans.” And my child would be subjected to an internal exam of her genitals. Like this is disgusting. 

Rachel: I know I'm like a broken record on this thing, but we've got to keep pointing it out. Because if we don't, it gets lost in all the noise of all the ridiculousness. So I know people are like, “oh, we shouldn't talk about these things. And you know, we should just talk about the positive things.” Sorry. That's obviously it hasn't really worked super well. So we're going to have to talk about both. 

Jasmine: Yeah, we've got to figure out a way to message and just talk about it. 

Amanda: I think about this with gun policy. When we think about how do we address mass shootings? Right? There is very rarely any, really, like one– probably a bad example– like one silver bullet policy. Right? We need a lot. So we need better legislation. We do need to address mental health, right? Yeah. I'm in for that. Let's do both. I'm fine with that. Right. And so there's a lot of things that we need to talk about when we think about gun violence. 

One thing we don't need that Ohio did recently is arming teachers, which that's another bill that we recently passed, which teachers don't want. Oh. And guess who else does it. The cops. Police don't want that bill. 

Jasmine: Or parents!

Amanda: Yeah!

Jasmine: And then not to mention, come on now, we just talked about how we have had to defend our teachers' ability to develop a curriculum or their ability to choose books for their class library. You know, we just had to really defend our teachers to do the basic fundamental things of teaching. And now the same people who are like, “I don't trust that you're not grooming my kid” are like, “but I do trust you to have a gun in the classroom with my kid.” 

Amanda: And I think something that I heard on NPR recently that really stuck with me when they talked about the NRA and even like the gun manufacturers and whatever, was that their real power is not actually in the money that they give legislators. And I was like, “Ooh, say more.” They said their real power is their uncanny ability to motivate their base to get up and talk to legislators and talk to other people and talk to their neighbors and complain about wanting less gun restrictions. And that is their real power, which I thought was really interesting. We can do that. Right? We can motivate our base. We can motivate our people. We can get us talking to people, talking to our neighbors, talking to our legislators. We can do that.

Rachel: But we have to tell our elected officials because to them that matters. And many times we don't let them know where we stand. But even on a state level, it's really important. 

Amanda: And legislators will sometimes repeat the stories that they, that they hear. And you might tell them something they didn't realize. So, especially if you have a male legislator who is not thinking about how, you know, Roe V Wade can affect other decisions like fertility, might not have any clue. He or his male staffers might not have any clue that this decision is going to affect fertility decisions and how we do IVF. And I think that's something that we need to make sure our legislators know. 

So, Rachel, I know you've been open about your journey with fertility on the pod before, and we really appreciate your openness. It's such a personal subject and it can be hard to talk about. So how are you thinking, how were you thinking about your fertility journey as you heard the Roe V Wade decision or opinion being released? 

Rachel: Yeah, I mean, I guess it was one of the first things to talk about. In addition, as I said, I've had lots of miscarriages. I don't even remember at this point, and they were all very early miscarriages. And then three ectopic pregnancies. And in addition to that, you know, we did undergo fertility treatments.

So like, there are all these like weird little things that my husband says in the Army, like they’ve also peppered my vocabulary and vernacular. So, I guess it's something he would call “second and third order effects.” So the second and third order effects of these laws are going to be really restrictions on fertility treatments. In particular, I think IVF– because if in fact life is life when an egg is fertilized, then I hundred percent believe they will go after access to these procedures. If they consider the minute the sperm fertilizes the egg, that that is life, I really can't imagine that they're going to want to freeze these lives indefinitely and leave them. Because some people never go back and use their embryos and they're just frozen forever. But if they really do define that as a life, there's no way. I mean, don't you guys agree? 

Amanda: I mean, it could also just be banned, right? 

Rachel: Yeah.

Amanda: You could consider that to be like, if an abortion is taking this life, quote, unquote life, right out of a woman, if that life starts outside of a woman, is that considered an abortion? 

Rachel: No, absolutely.

Amanda: We know that as women, we are determined and if we want to have a baby, we are going to do everything in our power to make it happen. And we don't want the government interfering with those decisions. So our next guest is Autumn and she is a great example of that. So let's bring her on to talk about her decision to work at Starbucks, not for the pay, but because their insurance covers IVF.

Hi Autumn, thanks for joining us!

Autumn Lucy: Thank you for having me! I appreciate it. 

Amanda: We are so excited to have you on the podcast. Can you tell us about your fertility journey? 

Autumn: Yeah! I got married in 2017. We decided to not try, but also not prevent– like whatever happens happens, and we'll get pregnant when the time is right. And after three years nothing had happened. So at that point, I went to see my regular gynecologist and I explained to her, you know, where we were at. And she said that that was infertility and she immediately referred us to a fertility specialist. At this original fertility specialist appointment, she had suggested IVF for us and we knew it was going to cost us about $30,000. And we just didn't have $30,000.

And so I started looking into avenues of how we could access fertility coverage through insurance. So I was looking into the different insurance options when our plan’s time was to renew, and there are no options in Michigan to add fertility coverage to your insurance. So I stumbled across Starbucks and I found out that if you work 20 hours a week at Starbucks, you can qualify for their health benefits, and their health insurance covers IVF. So in August of last year, I started working at Starbucks part-time and in January, my benefits kicked in and I started IVF that month. And now I'm pregnant with the IVF baby! 

Jasmine: Congratulations. Wow. I feel like employers should note that–

Rachel: Yes!

Amanda: Like I know a lot of employers are struggling to get people right now and looking at things like benefits and fertility coverage, look, you should be considering that. 

Autumn: And you know, it's a big draw for high value, highly educated women who may be putting off starting a family because they wanted to pursue higher education or they wanted to pursue a higher level career. Starbucks was not in my wheelhouse of jobs I ever would have taken, you know, but I had to do what I had to do to get the coverage I needed. 

Rachel: Obviously, your story really resonates with me. I think it's amazing that Starbucks offers that. I wish we talked more about the cost of fertility treatments, and I love that you shared the story on TikTok. Can you tell us a little bit about like some of the feedback that you've gotten from people?

Autumn: So I'll tell you how TikTok kind of started. Unfortunately–I know you've been through this, Rachel–I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I went on TikTok because I was on bed rest, recovering from the surgery. And I found a woman who had done the same surgery I had like two weeks prior. So I was watching somebody in real time who was slightly more progressed in her healing than me and it really resonated with me. 

So then when I got pregnant the second time, I decided to start recording the process and I had a six week miscarriage. So then I had to make a decision, like, am I going to talk about my miscarriage online too? And I just decided to keep going. And my very first day I started, I said to myself, I was so busy and I said, “I need to record something today so that I don't miss a day. I just don't want to miss a day.” So I did a very quick, “this is my outfit of the day, working at Starbucks for fertility benefits. This is what I'm wearing. This is my apron and my name tag.” 

And I went into Starbucks. And when I came out after four hours of training, I had like 800,000 views on that video. 

Jasmine/Amanda: Wow. 

Autumn: But ever since then, I just kept going with it and I really built my platform off of answering questions to women who also felt like they could not afford IVF. And they thought it was out of reach. A lot of women take out second mortgages on their homes. They take out credit cards, they take out personal loans. At the end of the day, I got away with $5,000. That's all I had to pay out of pocket. And that's incredible. 

Rachel: It is. I mean, I feel like people just don't understand how incredible that is. 

Amanda: I had no idea. 

Rachel: I think you'll never know how many people that you have helped by sharing your journey. You know, just having the courage to talk about it and share about it. 

Autumn: My husband tells me that all the time, like you're never going to know how many kids were born because someone found a way to do IVF because you shared your story. 

Jasmine: So, today on the podcast and just in our country in general, we have been talking about the fall of Roe. And one of the things we are concerned about is how that could have an effect on fertility treatments. Are you worried about how the Roe decision could affect women who use IVF or who are seeking to use IVF? 

Autumn: Yes. Especially when you go through the IVF egg retrieval process, you don't know how many embryos you're going to end up with at the end. I only ended up with two good ones that could be transferred, that were compatible with life. So I transferred one and I have one frozen. If Roe v Wade were overturned, there's a scenario where freezing that embryo is child neglect or it's assault. If life starts at conception, you can't just freeze a person.

Amanda: There are some people I wish we could freeze right now. 

Autumn: Yes, that's a fact. Haha. So is there a scenario where myself or other women would be required to transfer all of our embryos? Is everyone going to be Octomom? 

Rachel: I have the same concerns, Autumn, and I think the best thing we can do is to talk about these things and educate our friends and our family members, even those who are, like-minded like, you know, who, who agree with us on these issues, but explain to them what's at stake. 

Amanda: That's a good point. Like your story, Autumn, is so important for other women to hear. And I know other women have connected with you who have dealt with similar issues, but it's also important for our legislators to hear and to hear what really goes on with fertility treatments and with women who face ectopic pregnancies. And so we thank you so much for sharing your story with us and our listeners. So where can our listeners find you on TikTok if they want to learn about your story? 

AutumN: I am on TikTok at AutumnWantsABaby. Very literal. Autumn wants a baby. 

Amanda: I love that. All right. Now we're going to take a quick break, and when we come back, we'll have my conversation with Dr. Lucky Sekhon.

BREAK

Amanda: Our guest today is an OB GYN and fertility specialist. On Instagram and on her blog The Lucky Egg, she empowers women with evidence-based information about their fertility. Doctor Lucky Sekhon, welcome to The Suburban Women Problem. 

Dr. Lucky Sekhon: Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here, and I like to think of myself as a suburban woman even though I live in New York City because I live in a very nice neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Amanda: We'll take it! We’re like, anyone can listen, we have sometimes questions, like, can men listen to this too? We're like, yes! All right. So you help so many women as a fertility doctor, but you wanted to help even more by creating a blog and posting on Instagram.So why did you decide to expand your reach to social media? Because you weren't busy enough I'm sure! 

Dr. Lucky: Well, actually, no one's really asked me this question formally, but it's kind of crazy because I was one of those doctors who kind of felt weird about social media, had a private account, never really put myself out there. And I honestly just felt busy enough with clinical work. And then cut to March 2020, the pandemic. I was 18 weeks pregnant and, you know, seeing patients in my practice and keeping my ear to the streets and hearing about cases popping up in the states, and I, you know, was very concerned about it. And I have really bad lungs, I have severe asthma and I was pregnant, and as an OB GYN, it's a no brainer that pregnancy is always an independent risk factor for having more severe illness with respiratory viruses. 

So it was on my radar and I pulled myself out of physical in-person clinical work, which was a really hard decision for me. And I think the isolation made all of us kind of turn to our phones and we were just endlessly scrolling watching the news or scrolling and looking for information. We were all starved for information. And then I started to see a lot of talk that year about– well, first off, not enough talk at the beginning about fertility pregnancy with regards to COVID. I myself was starved for that information. And I was, you know, talking to the head of the OB GYN department where I work and getting scraps of information about what people were seeing in the trenches, like working on the labor floor when pregnant women are coming in with COVID. And I was reading like the case reports coming out of Wuhan, and I was getting these scraps of information. 

Again, it was only because I had, you know, that, that ability to critically understand the literature and to interpret the data. But I felt really bad for anyone who's not in medicine. I mean, if I felt lost, I couldn't imagine how the average non-medical person felt, especially with vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. I remember that's when I really started utilizing my blog. I had the website, I wasn't really posting on it or motivated. But I remember December 2020, that's when vaccines were becoming available to frontline workers, and a lot of my patients are physicians and they were asking me like, “I'm pregnant or I'm about to do my embryo transfer. Should I get vaccinated?” 

And so, you know, I think that I just became like this really strong advocate because of my own experience of feeling very left in the dark of what to do. No one gave me recommendations to pull myself out of work and no one was guiding me in any way. And I just felt very strongly that there needs to be a strong voice in this.

And I also, in consuming all that social media, more than I ever had in my lifetime, I saw how much misinformation there is. And a lot of it targets women and women's health and a lot of it's predatory. It's like, “no, don't do that. And don't listen to your doctor, but buy my supplements and take my online course, even though I have no credentials.” So I think all of it was the perfect storm for me to just be like, I'm going to make a concerted effort to put my expertise out there and basically become like a myth buster. 

Amanda: That's awesome. I think it's such a needed space because you are exactly right, when you had pregnant women who weren't part of the trials and just weren't part of the discussion in the media initially or elsewhere, we just failed to talk to them. So that does leave this kind of gaping hole of someone else could talk to you, if it's not someone who has the expertise that you do and knows how to, you know, sift through all of this medical data and literature. Because it's not often written in a way that, you know, you're going to, “oh, let me thumb through this journal article before I drop my kids off at school” or something. So I think there was a big gap there that you filled. 

Dr. Lucky: And it wasn't always easy. I mean, I, I felt shocked, you know, that there were people trolling me and people were attacking me, calling where I worked…

Amanda: They called where you work??

Dr. Lucky: Yeah. I mean, people really came for anyone that was kind of trying to speak the truth and it's not their version of the truth. And therefore you're the enemy. Right? So it is really a risk and you are putting yourself out there, but I think it sits well with me and I'm okay with it, but it was, you know, it wasn't a clear path. 

Amanda: Yeah. So more and more women are choosing to postpone motherhood until later in life. How does your work give women more freedom to pursue their careers, travel, or other life choices prior to having children?

Dr. Lucky: So I think it's no secret that fertility can be age-related. And if you look at the statistics, the average age of first childbearing, or when you have your first kid, you know, that's continually been increasing over the years. And it's because of all the different societal shifts, which are for the good, right, like women pursuing higher education and careers and being on a level playing field as men. But our biology hasn't caught up. 

And so we have, we're at this conundrum where it's like, you know, your biology is fighting what your goals are and your personal endeavors and all the things that now society has allowed us to do. And, you know, it's, it's not fair. And so I feel so passionate about my role as a fertility specialist to educate women and empower them to understand how their bodies work, whether it comes down to the simplest thing… you know, what does it mean to ovulate and how do you even know if you're ovulating? Like a lot of people don't know that, and this is happening in your body every month for, for a lot of people. And I just feel like that's so wrong. 

So as a women's health specialist, one of the things I really advocate for is health literacy and really explaining to people how their body works and how the medications they're taking or the treatments they're undergoing work. Being able to explore fertility preservation, being able to freeze eggs or create embryos and freeze them and defer building your family to when you're ready. I think that is such a powerful tool that really does help level the playing field. 

Amanda: So you have been vocal about your support for abortion rights. Could you tell us more about how your work as a fertility doctor affects your perspective on abortion and the right to choose? 

Dr. Lucky: I've trained and I've performed abortions for a variety of indications, whether it's a woman not being ready, sometimes it's because of the fetus having life-threatening anomalies, and sometimes it's because the pregnancy threatens the woman's life themselves. And I'm passionate about being able to provide this service to patients. I don't actively do it now in my practice because I'm sub-specializing as an infertility doctor, but in general, even as a fertility specialist, I'm passionate about the right for anyone to have agency over their own body, whether that's their right to build their family now, whether it's deferring children for now and preserving their fertility, or whether it's choosing to discontinue a pregnancy that's unplanned or that could have devastating consequences for one's health or their personal situation or life plan. I think fertility medicine, being able to provide abortions, the common thread is about empowerment and choice. 

Amanda: Oh, such a great point. And it allows women to have other choices that they couldn’t have had, whether that's college or degree or whatever they want to do that. I can definitely see that connection. So as more anti-choice laws come about, it's clear that a lot of people, mostly men, who are making these laws know very little about women's bodies. So you were just talking about how, you know, even women might not know about, you know, certain ovulation things… and men, even less than women. And yet they're making the laws. So what are some of the strangest misconceptions you’ve heard?

Dr. Lucky: Oh my gosh. I mean, so many. I think the worst one that I just, at that point, I was like, okay, like, we've definitely lost the plot here, and I thought it was a joke at first, was lawmakers–I think it was in Missouri– who actually threw out this idea that ectopic pregnancy… and maybe people listening don't know what an ectopic pregnancy is, so I’ll define it. An ectopic pregnancy is an implantation that doesn't happen in the uterus. The embryo gets stuck along the way, maybe in the fallopian tubes, sometimes it implants on the ovary. It's not good. And if it implants and continues to grow, which some of them may, it is not in the place it's supposed to be, and it can cause internal bleeding. It can become a life-threatening surgical emergency. 

So they were talking about how an ectopic pregnancy should not be terminated. Because obviously part of the treatment is, you know, removing it surgically or giving a medication to stop it from growing. And they were calling that a termination and saying, instead, you know, there really should be an effort made towards re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy or implantation and putting it into the uterus and giving it a chance to live. And it's like such a clear example of the fact that people who are responsible for legislation, like the people that are voted in to represent us, oftentimes are speaking about things that they have no idea about. And they're not obviously consulting OB GYN or experts in our fields. And it would be very easy to do so. I mean, we would all, I speak for my entire field in saying that we would all be happy to educate and to make sure that everyone's on the same page, because it just makes people look so stupid when they say things like that. The general public loses faith in, in, you know, in those individuals, because it's just such a ludicrous thing.

I had so many women, I had made like a post, a reel on Instagram about it. And I had so many people that were outraged because, you know, ectopic pregnancy isn't that rare. There's a lot of people that have had them. And, you know, to go through that and then hear someone speaking about it so flippantly and not really understanding the core issue and how it could be potentially life-threatening and really scary… it's insulting. 

Amanda: Yeah. So do you think that overturning Roe V Wade will impact IVF treatments? How will fertility care be affected if Roe V. Wade goes down?

Dr. Lucky: Yeah. I mean, I think that each of the subspecialties of OB GYN are all kind of on the same continuum, whether you're talking obstetrics, taking care of pregnancy, what I do, which is helping people get pregnant a lot of the time or preserve their fertility, and then abortion. So it's of course going to affect every aspect. Like people don't think about how abortion rights can impact obstetrics. Like I said, you can diagnose someone who has a very desired pregnancy with a major fetal anomaly, and by limiting their ability to terminate, like you're forcing them to carry a pregnancy that's going to result in a neonate or a newborn that's not going to survive. 

So the same goes for, you know, fertility care. It's going to be affected as well. You know, there are the, the states with trigger laws where automatically, if it's overturned, abortion will be banned. That's like a known thing. And there are also personhood bills in a lot of these states where people want to regard a fertilized egg as a person. And that is majorly problematic because a lot of people who aren't familiar with human reproduction and how inefficient it is, and just fertility medicine in general, they don't realize it takes a lot of eggs to... I was going to say “make an omelet.” Haha. It takes a lot of eggs to make a healthy embryo that actually implants and results in a live birth. It takes a lot. There's a lot of attrition. And so the whole reason why IVF is a thing and it's regarded as one of the most effective, efficient treatment options out there is that it allows us to, instead of just working with one egg, to go in and grab a whole lot of eggs and fertilize all of them. Because you know, a lot of them are not going to end up going anywhere. But if you have many to start with, you're improving the odds that at least one of them will end up being a normal, healthy embryo.

And maybe you'll have more than one. And if you do, you can freeze the extra ones and use them in future pregnancies. And even if you get a normal, healthy embryo that’s got everything it needs DNA-wise, it's not guaranteed that it's going to implant. Even those only have like a two thirds chance of implanting and resulting in a live birth. So by saying that a fertilized egg is a person, it's just so problematic and incorrect. It has potential, but a lot of them go nowhere. And if you try to limit how many eggs one can fertilize, because you think you're creating like a whole army of people that are gonna end up getting, you know, wasted or not utilized, and that's a form of abortion… like that's how people are thinking… you're going to severely limit people's ability to pursue IVF successfully.

It may be a problem for people that have embryos that they're trying to freeze for future use, that they end up completing their family and deciding that they want to discard their embryos. Maybe that will be prohibited because that's considered a person. So it's really hard to know exactly how this will play out, but I can tell you that some of these conversations are already happening in states like Nebraska. And I have colleagues in other states that are worried about their practice and what's going to happen.

Amanda: That’s such a good point. I mean, when, when we start defining, you know, what's a person, then like, the thing in, you know… I know it's not a Petri dish, whatever it is… it snowballs into so many things. And then you talked about how inefficient it is. Like how many eggs actually have to kind of go through some kind of process before we get to one that's actually viable and that works.

But that also means a lot of women miscarry. You probably have the stat better than I do, but I think something like one in six naturally miscarry. So now if you think about all of those miscarriages… when abortion becomes a crime, miscarriage could be a potential crime that needs to be investigated. Right. And that just opens up a huge can of worms related to fertility. Like, do we start investigating women who have had miscarriages? And then you're like getting women at their lowest points and investigating them for something. It just seems crazy. Like it just snowballs into so much, so many different things. 

Dr. Lucky: Well, the stat, the stat is actually one in four. It's super common.

Amanda: Yes. Wow. So what do you wish more women knew about their fertility? 

Dr. Lucky: A lot of people don't realize what egg quality means. They think they can do a test for their egg quality. What's really being tested most likely by their OB GYN or their regular doctor is usually an AMH level, which is a blood test that can tell you about your egg count or an ultrasound where they're counting your eggs. It's all quantitative. There is no test for egg quality, everything we know about egg quality stems from the data that comes from IVF, where we test embryos. And it's all about your age, predicting how likely it is to ovulate an unhealthy versus a healthy egg. That's it. And when it comes to your egg count, your count really doesn't matter unless you're going through egg freezing or IVF. It doesn't matter because you're only ovulating one egg naturally on your own every cycle or every month. So that's one thing that I think is really important for people to know, because they'll always say things to me, like, “my doctor checked and they said I have the eggs of a 20 year old.” But you're 40. So you have the eggs of a 40 year old. You just have a lot of eggs is what they meant to tell you. 

I think it's also important, you know, on the flip side, to not be an alarmist about age. Fertility doesn't flip like a switch when you turn 35, it's on a continuum. So, you know, I have patients that are like, “I need to freeze my eggs like last week cause I'm turning 35 next week.” And I'm like, “but that's not a magic number.” It's like, nothing is magical about the number 35. And I think that that's a source of relief to people and reassurance when I tell them that. 

You can't cause a miscarriage. It's never your fault. It's super common. And most of them are from embryos that are just abnormal and didn't have a chance in the first place. And that's just a human problem. It's part of the inefficiency of human reproduction. 

Your uterus doesn't age. The amount of time that eggs or embryos are frozen have no bearing on the reproductive potential. So that's why fertility preservation is just such an amazing thing. Nothing's ever perfect, right? Like people will always come out and say, well, I know someone who froze their eggs and it didn't end up working for them. Of course, it's all about having enough eggs frozen, knowing what it means the age you were when you froze your eggs, but at the end of the day, it's a fantastic reproductive hack. I did it myself in my mid thirties, and I'm so grateful that I did because it just took a lot of the pressure off and I think it does help to level the playing field. And I think those are kind of some of the main key facts that always blow people away. A lot of people don't know some of those things, but they're really important pieces of information. 

Amanda: Oh, yeah, I remember. So my second child was born when I was 35. So that was considered like a “geriatric pregnancy.” And I remember like, you get that label. And I was very concerned and my OB-GYN was like, “no, it's not like a magical number. It's not like it’s your birthday and suddenly like– she's like, it's a scale and it's totally fine.” And I was like, “oh.” She had the best way of explaining it to me and I was like, “Thank you. That makes me feel better.”

Dr. Lucky: You know, in New York City, they've never, I've never seen that term being used. I don't know if it's like a cultural thing. I think there's so many women over 35 having kids here, like I think there might've been a revolt! Because we say “advanced maternal age,” which probably isn't that much better, but it's definitely better than “geriatric.” 

Amanda: I was like, I think I read it a book! But she was like, “no, it's fine. You're good.” I was like, oh, okay. So, thank you. This has all been so interesting, but before I let you go, we always like to ask our guests a few rapid fire questions. Are you ready? 

Dr. Lucky: Yes. Yes, I'm so ready. 

Amanda: So what's the last thing that made you laugh out loud? 

Dr. Lucky: So, if you asked me yesterday, I would have said when this weekend we were upstate New York and it was so quiet, and we haven't been out of the city or in a quiet place like that in a long time. And my husband has terrible allergies and we were out on a balcony overlooking the mountains, it was so quiet, and he just had the loudest sneeze ever. And I swear like all the animals in the forest, like evacuated! It was really funny. 

But then today I randomly got a Google alert and saw that like, this ridiculous reel that I put out about Courtney Kardashian drinking Travis Barker's semen. I don't know if you read about it or heard about it–

Amanda: What?? No!

Dr. Lucky: But it's like a fertility tip she got, that she should drink his semen four times a week. And I made this stupid reel, like of me pretending to vomit into a garbage. It's been picked up by so many media outlets and I just got like so many Google alerts about it. And that made me laugh really hard too. Cause they like took still shots of me doing the dumbest faces. And I was just like, I didn't even know that that was a thing! Like this qualifies as journalistic research now? People can just take your Instagram content and like spin a story? 

Amanda: Oh my gosh. Wow. See, this is why we need experts. So we know the latest fertility fad is just… yeah, just crazy. All right. So what advice would you give your younger self? 

Dr. Lucky: I'm going to have to quote Taylor Swift on this. I've never answered a question like that, but she did an NYU commencement speech recently and it was all about… be cringy. Like learn to embrace cringe. And I really, that resonated with me cause I feel like I'm at a place where I don't take myself too seriously and I've become more confident and I feel less, you know, self-conscious about just being myself and making fun of myself. And what I've learned, and I wish I knew this like 20 years ago, is that it helps to disarm other people. And I think I learned this through being in practice, my patients being so nervous when they walk in the door. And I think that, you know, being humorous and casual, making fun of yourself, being approachable…. that's where everyone can be really comfortable and, and be at ease. And I wish I was confident enough when I was younger to make that first move and be like the cringy person, if that makes sense.


Amanda: Oh, totally. I see that. I think, especially with my students, like… So one thing that I do all the time is I burn rice. Like I just burn rice. I can't cook it. I'm not good at it, but I still try all the time and I burn it. That's like, you know, a little joke like that. Like, “oh, this person who's about to, you know, give me an A or an F, she burns rice all the time and I can do that. And she can't.” So I know I do feel like that helps with my students. It helps. They'll be like, “look, yeah, there are things I can't do. Let me tell you what they are.”

Dr. Lucky: Totally. 

Amanda: All right. So who was your first celebrity crush? 

Dr. Lucky: Well growing up, I don't know why now, looking back, but I used to tell everyone in my family I was going to marry Woody Woodpecker. I just, like, loved him. I thought he had the best personality. I think I just really have a thing for guys with a distinct laugh. I don't know what to tell you. 

Amanda: Haha. It makes you want to laugh along with it. All right. What's your favorite thing about being a mom? 

Dr. Lucky: Honestly, I really love cuddling them. Like, they're like my emotional support creatures. I also love just watching my two girls form a bond. Like now they've started ganging up on me and like defending, defending each other if I'm like disciplining one of them. And I find that really funny and cute. And I also obviously love getting them gussied up in matching outfits and I'm sure they're going to hate me for that one day.

Amanda: It's okay. It's cute. All right. That is the end of our rapid fire questions. Where can people go to find out more about you and your work? 

Dr. Lucky: Well, I'm based in New York City, I work at a practice called Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, RMA of New York. And I do have my own website, as you mentioned, www.theluckyegg.com. And it's just my personal website where I put my musings and answers to frequently asked questions. And then obviously you can find me on Instagram, LuckySekhon. And I am on TikTok, but I'm just starting to learn how to use it in post. So don't judge me. 

Amanda: I love the Lucky Egg name by the way. Especially after our conversation and hearing like, look, not all the eggs are gonna make it here. So now I get the lucky egg. That's super cute. I love that.

Dr. Lucky: Thank you!

BREAK

Rachel: Welcome back everyone. Well, Amanda, I really wish that I had had a fertility doctor whose name was Dr. Lucky. I think I would have, it's very auspicious and I certainly would have chosen her if I had lived anywhere near her practice. But I love that she is passionate about advocating for health literacy and helping women understand how their bodies work. Cause that's like a really complicated thing. And a lot of people don't understand that and even fewer men understand that. 

Jasmine: And I, I really also enjoyed, Amanda, just the part about how access to reproductive care… because fertility care as well as abortion are both forms of reproductive healthcare... how both of those are important and it's about empowerment and choice.

Amanda: Yeah. I think that's a great point and women, like, we like our choices, right? So I think about even like a cereal aisle, right? There's a reason why we have a hundred different choices for cereal. We like choices. Right? If there's one thing I know about women, we like choices. So leave our choices alone. 

All right before we go, we like to share a little joy with each other and with our listeners. So, Jasmine, do you want to start us off with your Toast to Joy? 

Jasmine: Yes. So I think we all could say that this weekend was definitely joyful. But my Toast to Joy's actually going to be a little different. So I have adopted a new puppy, her name is Stormy. And she's not actually a puppy, she's an older dog that was abandoned and she's a little beagle–

Amanda: Stormy is super cute. 

Jasmine: Yeah. So adorable and she's getting along with Stella, my other dog who was also a rescue, very well and just really adjusting to being in my home. So she's only been with me for… I don’t think it’s even been a week yet, but she's already like making herself at home and getting into a little mischief as well. Which honestly is a good sign because I know when I got Stella, she was really depressed. For the first week, she literally did nothing, like she just sat in a corner and only they came out of that corner to eat and drink water. But Stormy is kind of like, “oh, I guess you guys are my new family. Now let me show you all the things that I can do, like knock over this trashcan or, you know, bite on this thing that I should not be biting on.”

Rachel: Awww.

Jasmine: We're really enjoying Stormy being a part of our family, so my Toast to Joy is my family growing a little bit and, and, and me taking on another little puppy as a part of my family. So, Rachel, what is your test to joy this week? My Toast to Joy is, as I mentioned it's my husband's birthday today. 

Amanda: Happy birthday, Alex!

Rachel: And I, I'm just so thankful for him and his partnership and for, for our relationship, I guess. But, you know, as we discuss this episode and just, you know, personal, our infertility journey, it's so much of what I think made us who we are as a couple. And we went through some really tough times, the very beginning of our relationship. We were married just a few months when I had my first miscarriage on Mother's Day. And, and what followed was, you know, many, many years of a lot of heartbreak and frustration. I think when we went through other things that were hard, we'd already been through hard times. 

But, you know, I always will use this as the time to say no matter what you've been through, you can still go on to do great things. Even if you have sadness in your heart, even if you wish things were a little bit different–like we always wanted four children, we have one surviving child. Life isn't always the way you want, but it doesn't mean it can't be beautiful and wonderful. And I think being with you guys yesterday, being with you guys this weekend, I mean, come on. This never would have happened if he would've stayed in the Army. I never would have had a voice like this. I never would have had this opportunity. So lots of good things can come, even when things don't turn out exactly like you wanted. 

So anyway, what about you, Amanda? What's your Toast to Joy? 

Amanda: All right. So my Toast to Joy is going to be of course, having you three in Ohio! And it was a typical Ohio day, a little overcast day. But it was super fun to have you three out and just to get to spend time like having dinner and talking. And it did make me think a lot about the podcast that like having dinner with you ladies is a lot like just being here on the podcast. 

Rachel: Alex was like, “why didn't you guys like record that for a podcast?”

Amanda: We should just sent a camera around with Casey and Alex to their like Bill and Ted's excellent adventure. 

Jasmine: That would have been so cute. 

Amanda: It's like Casey and Alex’s Excellent Democratic Adventure right now. All right, thanks so much to everyone for joining us today. And we'll see you again next week on another episode of The Suburban Women Problem.