Mary Jean Wall

Women's Health & Wellness

In-Vitro Fertilization on the Rise in the US

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According to a study by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, more American women are having babies with the assistance of in-vitro fertilization. In 2012 alone, over 61,000 babies were born as a result of in-vitro fertilization, and over 165,000 separate procedures were performed. That is a distinct hike over 2,000 more infants than previously seen in 2011. Interestingly enough, in the last seven years, the overall U.S. birth rate has continued to decline steadily. There are a variety of reasons for the hike in in-vitro fertilization usage and the decrease in overall births. Read on for a look at why in-vitro fertilization is on the rise in the U.S.

preganant womanWomen are Having Babies Later in Life

The average age of a woman at her first marriage is 26 years old. With that being said, more and more women are having babies later in life, rather than during their twenties. Whether it be a lifestyle choice, from career obligations to opting to travel before you have children, women are choosing to have children later in life. That is a decision that they should feel free to make, however, it is not without a potential caveat. As women age, their reproductive health can decline and this can make it harder to naturally conceive a baby. That, in part, is why in-vitro fertilization is on the rise in the United States.

Benefits of IVF

There are many benefits to In-Vitro fertilization other than helping couples conceive a baby, when they had found difficulty doing so on their own. Another huge benefit is that IVF can reduce the risk of birth defects. With so much study going into IVF research, scientists are hoping to be able to learn how to reduce birth defects through IVF. In addition, by using IVF, if you are at a high risk of passing on an illness or congenital defect to your fetus, IVF helps to lessen this risk.

The Bottom Line

With more and more women have children later in life when reproduction health begins to decline, it is natural to see the spike in In Vitro Fertilization. It is important that couples don’t jump to conclusions before opting for In-Vitro Fertilization, though. It is important to try to conceive naturally before asking for medical or scientific intervention. While the numbers have gone up in recent years, it is important to remember that In-Vitro Fertilization is still quite costly.

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Family Time and Logic Games for Children

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The field of logic is a fascinating study area for many students that serves them well past their educational period and into their professional life. Logic is its own area and is strongly related to many careers including law, philosophy, social sciences and beyond. And developing strong logical skills in your children is one of the best tools you can give them, and can also be quite fun and intellectually, as well as creatively, stimulating.

You don’t have to wait until your children are in college or taking advanced classes to give them a boost in logical deduction, thinking and analysis. It’s easy to structure some dinner discussions, family games and/or activities around logic. There are plenty of great logic puzzles that will stimulate their thought processes, logical perspectives and mentality. These games and puzzles can focus on pets, topics like dinosaurs, names, states, etc. and most of them can be personalized for your child or children and their specific interests.

For instance, if you have a cat, dog and a bird in the family home and three children, you can secretly assign a pet to each child. Create a graph that lists the children’s names on the down column and pets names across the top. Then let your children fill in the boxes according to specific statements you provide. For example, you can say, Bob’s (insert name of child) pet doesn’t bark. That will eliminate the dog from Bob’s possibilities. Continue with comments that serve as clues to which pet belongs to whom, such as Sue’s pet can’t fly and Mary’s and Bob’s pet doesn’t purr. The children should ex out each box that eliminates a specific pet from their name. This goes on until one of the children figures out which pet belongs to whom.

This is an example of a fun and easy, as well as easily guided and created, logic puzzle for children. There are plenty of study guides, resource tools and other online options for creating others. And as your children’s skills develop further you can increase the complexity and difficulty level accordingly. This also contributes to family dynamics and connections and can be fun and even enriching for parents. One of the great bonuses of raising children is the opportunity to expand your own knowledge. It’s also one of the best ways to build strong family bonds. And providing your children with solid skills at an early age is one of the best advantages you can give them in preparing for adulthood.

Kerri Pierce is a writer and blogger who studied childhood development. She writes about parenting and education for a sites like as well as dozens of blogs.

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Tribes Facing Loss of Health Care & Other Services in Attack on Online Lending

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Tribal lenders provide necessary revenue to Native Americans across the country.  Actions taken by New York banking officials are threatening to cut off that revenue stream, putting health care clinics, child care, and schools at risk.

Benjamin Lawsky, the banking czar for the state of New York, recently demanded that that internet lenders cease making personal loans to residents of the state.  His statement characterized the lenders as offering “illegal payday loans” despite the fact that many of said lenders are tribal entities which are licensed financial institutions that comply with all federal laws.

At the root of the problem is the issue of tribal sovereignty.  Native American tribes that are recognized as sovereign by Congress have long been protectedclassroom from state interference for over two centuries. These laws are generally attempts by local governments to erode the rights of tribes to operate as sovereign entities.

Native America tribes are guaranteed the right to operate their businesses according to federal laws and are immune to state interference.  Lawsky’s order is just the latest attempt by states to interfere with tribal sovereignty and is unlikely to succeed.

Just recently Colorado spent seven years attempting to win a case very similar to the New York order. The court ruled that states have no authority to interfere in the economic activities of tribes, even if the tribes contract “non-Indian operators.” This decision was only the most recent in numerous Supreme Court and state decisions that upheld tribal sovereignty and is grounded in the US Constitution.

At stake is more than just the success of individual tribal lenders.  Tribal businesses are a key factor in the health and stability of individual tribes. Revenue streams from these lenders support essential services, including education, child care, housing, and health care.  Given the recent cuts in federal funding to tribes, a figure topping $552 million, the loss of additional funds could prove devastating to tribes in New York — and tribes across the country if this attack on sovereignty is somehow allowed to stand.

The official response from the Native American Financial Services Association came on August 14th in a letter to the banks involved in the Automated Clearing House for internet loans.  It declared Lawsky’s actions illegal and a “direct threat to tribal sovereignty and our efforts to develop economic self-sufficiency.”

New York taxpayers could also be at risk if Lawsky continues to pursue action against tribal online lenders.  The Colorado case that was decided in favor of tribal sovereignty cost those taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees.

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Everyone is a Filmmaker Now

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movieIf you’re over a certain age you’ll remember that home movies used to be taken on large cameras and then shown on projectors setup in the living room. The image and sound quality were usually subpar, but the films were still treasured records of family events and history. Film was replaced by video tape in the 1980s, though the early video cameras were quite bulky and the quality of the resulting home movies were still clearly amateurish.

Fast forward to 2010 and it’s now possible to make high quality home movies with something as small as a cell phone. Today’s average Hd camera also comes with video editing software so that home movies can be edited to look like professional films — sometimes without having to upload the clips to a computer first. There are other great features available on modern cameras. These include the ability to easily upload filmed clips to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube or to share them through email.

Smaller cameras are very affordable. This is giving not only lovers of home movies the opportunity to capture everyday events, but budding filmmakers now have a leg up over filmmakers of the past. Amateur directors can easily shoot and edit high def short films and even feature-length films at a fraction of the cost of twenty or even ten years ago. In addition, the new generation of cameras is designed to be easy to use, so the learning curve for recording and editing is much smaller. People can literally buy a camera one day and have a finished short film ready to share online the next day.

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Transvaginal Mesh Dangers

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Transvaginal mesh (TVM) implants are medical devices that have been used to help women suffering from medical conditions such as stress urinary incontinence (SUI) & pelvic organ prolapse (POP).  The mesh is surgically implanted and used to strengthen the natural body tissue.  It can be made of either synthetic or natural material.  This treatment can help patients with the symptoms caused by POP and SUI.

Transvaginal Mesh LawsuitsPelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a fairly common condition and happens when the muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place become stretched. This causes the pelvic organs such as the bladder, bowel or uterus to bulge down into the vagina area.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) causes urine to leak out of the bladder at unexpected times such as when exercising or laughing.

Unfortunately the transvaginal mesh  surgery has been associated with medical complications such as incontinence or erosion around the mesh causing it to move and interfere with bodily parts such as the bladder and vagina.  This has caused pain and bleeding in some patients.  During 2008 the FDA put forth a public warning stating the facts on these complications.

There are also class action lawsuits associated with transvaginal TMV complications.

Jean Howell is a frequent guest blogger on legal and financial sites like She follows class action lawsuits, tax laws, and the financial impact of medicine on the average family.

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What Women Care About

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ladyIt sounds like a variation of the old lament by men that they can’t figure out what women want. It is, however, a much more serious concern.  Figuring out what issues and activities matter to the contemporary woman is important to politicians, yes, but it also matters to government agencies, universities and other educational institutions, non-profit organizations and it should even matter to corporations and churches as they attempt to connect with women employees, customers, and congregationalists.

In 2013 there are any number of issues that matter to American women.  According to NOW (the National Organization for Women) there are six priority issues:

  • Abortion Rights/Reproductive Issues
  • Violence Against Women
  • Constitutional Equality
  • Promoting Diversity/Ending Racism
  • Lesbian Rights
  • Economic Justice

Some of these issues are obviously divisive.  While many women believe in a woman’s right to choose, still others believe that abortion is wrong.  However, reproductive issues are more than just abortion. They include access to birth control and fertility treatments, and even parental rights over fertilized eggs that haven’t been implanted. In the future reproductive rights might include ownership of genomes and rights to cloned body parts.

Looking at the top issues, even violence against women is a nuanced debate.  While everyone agrees that violence is bad, not everyone agrees on how to end that violence or what sort of punishments fit the crime. Domestic violence, sexual assault, and even sexual slavery are involved in this issue.

Ending racism and economic justice may seem old hat, after all the country is in a post-racist era and women can get jobs in nearly every field.  The reality is that many stereotypes still exist about women of color which limits their options in contemporary society. And in terms of economic equality, women still make a fraction of the salary of men, even in fields where more women are graduating and succeeding than men. Worst still, over the past few decades the amount of money women make compared to men has actually fallen a few cents compared to their male counterparts.

The list of issues important to contemporary women extends beyond abortion, violence, and employment and income equality.  Some of the other issues identified by NOW as important include disability rights, health, immigration, marriage equality, family law, social security, equal rights for mothers and caregivers, education, welfare, women in the military and Title IX which gives women equality in sports. And that’s not all the issues, just a few random choices.

Whichever side of the divide any women picks, these issues is critical to the way women see themselves and other women and how men and society as a whole view women.

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photo by: Sukanto Debnath

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Alternative Remedies for Arthritis Pain

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kneeAs you age, it is natural for your activity level to decrease and for aches and pains to develop. Some pain is normal, but stiffness and pain felt around one or more joints can be a sign that inflammation has settled in and symptoms of arthritis have begun. If you are one of the estimated 50 million Americans with arthritis, try one of these alternative remedies for pain before taking a prescription medicine.


  • Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acid, which reduces inflammation and morning stiffness. These acids are found in fish such as mackerel and salmon.
  • Glucosamine relieves pain, increases joint mobility and reduces deterioration of cartilage. A study by the National Institute of Health showed glucosamine relieved pain more effectively when combined with chondroitin.
  • Chondroitin strengthens joints by helping cartilage absorb water to keep joints lubricated and reduce pain.

Herbs and Spices

  • Turmeric is a spice used in many Asian dishes to give the food color and flavor. Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric help relieve pain.
  • Ginger relieves soreness in joints and reduces inflammation. It is available in capsules, extracts or you can add dried ginger to your food.
  • Olive leaf extract is popular in the Mediterranean to ease pain and inflammation from arthritis.
  • Willow bark tea reduces pain and inflammation but it may take a few days of use to show results.


  • Juices, such as pineapple, pomegranate and cherry are used to relieve symptoms of swelling, pain and inflammation. Combinations of beets and berry wine, cranberry and blackstrap molasses or apple cider vinegar and honey have also been helpful in reducing pain and inflammation for some people.
  • Studies recommend lowering the amount of fat in your diet and limiting dairy products, caffeine and sugar.
  • Fresh vegetables, fruits with low acid content, fish, soybeans and avocados are helpful for treating symptoms of arthritis. In addition, you can eat cherries and pineapple frequently to ease inflammation.


  • Some natural oils will sooth the pain of arthritis. Massage hot castor oil, arthcare oil, emu oil or camphor mixed with coconut oil on affected joints. You can also soak in a hot Epsom salt bath or massage hot vinegar on the sore joints for relief.

One or more of these natural remedies may be the right one for you and can help you to stop your arthritis pain without the need for potentially dangerous medications.

Provided by Alyxx Trace, a health and sports blogger who covers auto racing and herbal medicine, Deepak Chopra and Scott Tucker.

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photo by: mikebaird


Betty Boop, Sadie Hawkins and Cinderella

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Of the three women, Sadie Hawkins, Betty Boop or Cinderella, which would be more likely to know how to fix her own rims and tires ? How to change the oil in her car, or even just simply check the oil? Which one would know when it is time to switch the windshield wiper blades or when to have her car tuned up? Myths and stories that children grow up with can have a lasting effect on the way girls feel about themselves and the women they grow up to be. Not only this, but they have an effect on how they may be perceived throughout their life.

carThe Sadie Hawkins story began with a comic strip. Two female characters came onto the animation scene in the 1930′s. One was created by Max Fleischer and Grim Natwick. This character is Betty Boop, who quickly became a symbol for female strength and personified the world of feminism. The other was created by Al Capp and also has become a feminist role model, and she is Sadie Hawkins . In Capp’s story, Sadie was 35 years old. The story revolves around a race, wherein the spinster chases eligible bachelors throughout the day, and the one she drags across the finish line by sundown, was required by law to marry her.

Over the years, this somewhat sad story has evolved into women standing up for what they want, and reversing the gender roles. It is a bit telling of a society, when a ‘holiday’ must be created in order for a woman to have the ‘chance’ at doing so, however…much in the same way Betty Boop put power back into the hands of women so too did Sadie Hawkins. The difference between the stories of Sadie and Betty, is that Betty was no wall flower. She did not need a day to make a man dance with her. In fact, Betty may have wanted men, but she certainly did not need men. If she were outfitting her car with new Goodyear tires , she would not need a man to come along for support. Betty would know which kind of tire would give her the best traction during a snow storm or which ones were rated safest and most durable.

Cinderella is a story of a different sort. Over the years, politically correct versions of the story have been written. These modern stories give Cinderella more of the characteristics and strengths that are possessed by Hawkins and Boop. Cinderella is pretty and nice, but helpless to change her situation. Her stepmother and step sisters are ugly and mean. Chances are that the stepmother and sisters would know how to change a car tire, but they would make Cinderella do it. She would get it done of course, but in order to do so she would most likely be standing on the side of the road with her pretty little foot showing…attracting not a man with the glass slipper, but a man with a tire jack and strong forearms. Or, perhaps ol’ Sadie and Betty may pull over…and teach Cinderella how to fix it all herself.

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photo by: stevoarnold

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5 Of the Best Fun Finger Foods for Road Trip Snacks

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Road trips can be a fun, family-bonding experience, but they can also feel hectic. If you need to get to your destination in a hurry, or want to avoid the unhealthy snacks lurking off of every highway exit, it may be best to pack some fun snacks from your own kitchen.

1. Peanut Butter “Quesadilla”
The first snack is a peanut butter “quesadilla.” Spread a generous amount of peanut butter on one side of a tortilla. This snack is especially fun, and convenient, since you use whatever you might happen to have in the kitchen. Some good topping ideas would be raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, M&M’s and finely chopped apple pieces. Once you’ve added your toppings apply a thinner layer of peanut butter to the second tortilla and place it on top of the first. Use a pizza cutter to slice into triangles.

2. Turkey and Cheese Rolls
Turkey and cheese rolls are a good choice for a more filling snack. Take some whole wheat pitas or tortillas; add cheese, turkey, lettuce, and a bit of mayonnaise. For a more compact, travel-friendly sandwich, roll it up instead of keeping it flat. To make pita easier to wrap, stick it in the microwave for about fifteen second.

3. Trail Mix
Another option is a fresh version of trail-mix. To start, gather some zip-lock bags or plastic containers. Chop apples, and pears and put them in the container. Next, add some hard cheese that has been cut into small cubed pieces. Next, add other small treats like assorted nuts, chocolate chips, raisins and sunflower seeds. A treat like this has variety, and will keep kids occupied on the road.

4. Ants on a Log
The standard ants on a log is another good food to travel with. Simply spread peanut butter on cut celery and add raisins if desired. For a new twist, spread low-fat cream cheese on celery instead of peanut butter. A few imitation-bacon bits can be added on top to spice things up.

5. Cupcake Macaroni and Cheese
If you have time to cook before leaving, try baking macaroni and cheese in cupcake holders. After being baked, the mac and cheese has a crispier texture which can be enjoyed hot or cold. The compact shape given by the cupcake holders, make this snack ideal for travel.

While it may seem daunting to get yourself packed and get the kids sitting happily in the car, hungry bellies don’t need to be a challenge on the road! Now the number of “Are-we-there-yet”s is an entirely different story!


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Women and Stress

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womens fitnessOne of the worst things about this modern and fast paced world is that many people now are feeling the effects of being just too stressed out. This is not only an uncomfortable experience but long term stress will cause a myriad of health problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety, belly fat and problems with sleeping .  There are ways though, that many people are gaining a handle on this through relaxation techniques.  These techniques are essential in one’s quest for overall optimal health is increasing the quality of life for many people.

Even when your stress is under control, finding ways to relax should still be a practice in everyday life.  Some of the health benefits will include a lowering of blood pressure, the reduction of chronic pain, concentration will increase as well as self confidence and overall happiness.  When one practices this, they will find that the things that used to get to them throughout the day, not longer affect them, the stress is prevented before it even happens.  Hottubs are a great way to relax – even if you are wearing makeup!!  The size and the shape of spas will affect the impact of one’s experience, however the size will affect this more than the shape.  Shape will determine how many people will fit in the tub, and the variety of benches and positions that one can sit in.

The shape will also enhance the entire design of one’s backyard.  But the size will greatly affect the satisfaction one has with their tub and the performance of that tub.  While larger hot tubs and spas will create the space for more people, they are more expensive than smaller tubs, but they will usually have many more jets and a variety of angles, so it may be worth the price for maximum performance, maximum stress relief and improved women’s fitness levels.  It is amazing the effects that take place with just ten minutes spent in a hot tub.  Immediately one will feel the weight of the world just slip away.  Sleep will come quickly, and one will wake up rested, stress free and ready to take on what the day may bring.

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photo by: Ed Yourdon

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