Roohi Jeelani MD. is passionately helping women become mothers.
This post idea was born (pun intended) during Infertility Awareness week, where I attended an event that really opened my eyes to the struggles so many people face when dealing with infertility. There is a lot of shame, secrecy, and false information floating out there – and I thought it would be great to debunk some of those myths today with the help of Dr. Roohi Jeelani MD. Scroll down to watch our instagram live video where we discuss some of these myths and take viewer questions and answers.
But first, let’s get to know Dr. Jeelani a little bit better.
I’ve never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to her work. She is living proof that you can and should love what you do. A complete powerhouse: doctor, wife, mom of two, and former beauty queen – you’d hate her for being so darn perfect but you also can’t help but love her because she is so genuine, kind, and all around cool.
We sat down to talk about her background and I was surprised to learn life hasn’t always been easy for her. A self-described ‘tomboy’, she grew up in a small town in Kansas that was predominantly White, where she was very active in extracurricular activities like swimming, gymnastics, and band. When she moved to Chicago as a teen she learned that her lifestyle wasn’t the norm for most girls in the local South Asian community. As a result she didn’t really fit in, as she describes ‘too White for the Brown kids and too Brown for the White kids’.
To combat those feelings of not belonging, since she had always loved school, she decided to put all of her focus and energy there. She also competed in beauty pageants and won Miss India Midwest and Miss India international, but had to quit after a stalking incident. While in Medical school specializing in fertility, she had no idea that later on she would be diagnosing and treating herself to aid in her own first pregnancy. Her second pregnancy then happened shortly after, without any treatments. That direct experience with infertility adds to her passion and empathy for patients who are desperate to become parents.
According to Dr. Jeelani, there are many ways to become a mother – so if you really want to, you must believe you can. The process may not be traditional, you may not become pregnant or carry the child yourself, but you can still realize your dream of being a parent.
Dr. Jeelani busts some common myths about fertility.
Knowledge is power, and right now there is tons of misinformation out there. Let’s set the record straight.
Myth #1 – Foods Affect Fertility
Often people believe that consuming more soy or food made from soy or yams improves fertility because of its phytoestrogens. There is little evidence that eating specific foods will have any effect one way or another.
Myth #2- Age and Fertility
People give themselves a deadline to get pregnant by and often times it is in the mid to late 30’s. When asked why, they state that it’s because fertility starts to decline after 35! False! Peak fertility is actually at age 23, after that there is a decline. After age 35, there is an increased risk of chromosomal problems.
Myth #3- Birth Control and Fertility
Women often think they should get off of birth control a couple of months prior to getting pregnant because the body will take a while to get back to ‘normal’. This is FALSE. The most fertile month is actually the month RIGHT AFTER you stop birth control. Another misconception women think that they have been on birth control for multiple years and that is what has caused their infertility. Not true. Your body goes through the normal recruitment of eggs and getting rid of them as it should every month, this part is not driven by changes in your hormones. The only thing birth control stops is ovulation, and that is why you don’t get pregnant.
Myth #4- Men can have babies forever.
False, false, false. Men are blessed that they have the ability to regenerate sperm and can essentially improve sperm quality with lifestyle modification, diet, and vitamins. However at the age of 50, sperm and testosterone levels decrease, and after 55 there is an increase in DNA fragmentation, which means even if they do achieve a pregnancy with their partner, it has less of a chance of becoming a healthy pregnancy, an a higher chance resulting in a baby with chromosomal abnormalities.
Myth #5 – It’s easy to have a baby in your 40’s and 50’s – celebrities do it!
Movie stars, singers like Janet Jackson announce their first pregnancies at 48 or 50. But what most celebrities don’t make public is that there is a very high likelihood that they used techniques like in vitro fertilization or an egg donor, or a gestational carrier like Kim Kardashian did, to achieve these pregnancies.
Watch our instagram live session for more!
Some important takeaways:
- Freezing eggs can give women a lot of power over their fertility. You can check your egg reserves at ANY age to plan for your reproductive future.
- Many insurance carriers now cover infertility treatments and even egg freezing.
- Have an egg freezing party with your friends at VIOS Fertility– and yes – that’s a thing!
- PCOS is the most common infertility diagnosis and is treatable – there is a spectrum for success depending on the individual. Ethnicity does play a role as South Asians often have more difficulty with PCOS due to other factors.
- Keep trying. If you need a second opinion from another doctor, do it. Don’t give up.
- Build your support system of people who get your struggle. Join support groups like Shine Fertility in Chicago.
- Check out the blog @pregnantish for relevant stories and resources.
For more information on Infertility, you can contact Dr. Jeelani at VIOS Fertility.