What’s infertility got to do with a terrorist attack?

I have been surprised at how many people have commented on my apparent levelheadedness during the terrorist attack in Brussels airport.  Although the absolute fear and terror was running through my mind, my actions seemed logical.  I’m surprised, because I just did what I did – and even I am somewhat surprised at my own response.  However, I think that it is all mostly about an element of luck.  Some people have told me, they believe in some kind of divine intervention (I personally do not believe that, whether god exists or not).  The luck was the third suitcase bomb didn’t explode.  The luck was that I wasn’t closer.  The luck was that the terrorists were ill prepared to carry out a more sophisticated attack.  (Apparently, they had been planning more, but for some reason failed to implement it).  The luck was that I was in the right place and it simply wasn’t my time to die.

A friend of mine made a really interesting comment about the difference between a man and woman’s propensity to take risk.  A woman’s appetite to take risk varies with her menstrual period, where as a man’s appetite for risk remains relatively stable.  When a woman is in her ovulatory stage, she is less likely to take risks.  Therefore, hormones surely have a role to play in risk taking.  So what does that mean for a woman who is going through infertility treatment and jacked up with lots of hormones?  Does this mean that a woman’s propensity for risk is heightened or lowered depending on the stage of their treatment, how different would it be compared to if they were in their normal menstrual cycle?

During the attack, I was on Day 12 of the down regulation part of my IVF cycle, preparing for my upcoming stimulation phase.  I had already been experiencing some of the side effects from these drugs (I wrote about them in my previous diary entry here).  The question I have is – had I not been on these drugs would I have reacted differently to the situation?  We will never know the answer, because we will never know what could have been.  But it is an interesting question never-the-less!

I can tell you that the feelings and emotions I have been experiencing after getting caught up in the attack are not dissimilar to how I felt after being told our pregnancy was not viable.  I’ve experienced random crying over what could have been.  Sadness, frustration, anger and numbness – all feelings that have washed over me in the immediate days past these traumatic events.  I never thought I could ever liken an impending pregnancy loss to surviving a terrorist attack.  But I am, and that is simply how I have been feeling over the past couple of days.  I’ve also experienced the overwhelming feeling of love and kindness from friends and family after these events.  And I mean overwhelming to the point where I have been dumbstruck.

I anticipate that I might attend some kind of therapy after experiencing what I did this week.  The question I have is, why haven’t I been so accepting of undertaking therapy for infertility after our loss and constant failure? If these feelings I am experiencing are so similar, perhaps I should have gone to therapy over our infertility sooner? I don’t know, but perhaps I just didn’t realise the intense emotions and trauma infertility slowly piles up upon us.  Or maybe, the reason is because I feel like I have absolutely no control over a terrorist attack, and maybe I *believe* I have some control over my infertility.  I think my perspective might have changed over the past week; I know some of you wonderful ladies have tried therapy for infertility and swear by it.  Going to therapy doesn’t mean I am weak, it means that I am strong, strong enough to recognise that help is there for the taking.


 

For those inclined…a couple of journal articles on risk taking and a woman’s hormonal cycle:

Variations in risk taking behaviour over the menstrual cycle:  http://people.uncw.edu/bruce/hon%20210/pdfs/risk%20taking.pdf

The influence of menstrual cycle and impulsivity and risk taking behaviour:  http://www.ledonline.it/NeuropsychologicalTrends/allegati/NeuropsychologicalTrends_17_Iannello.pdf

 

Advertisements

Around ovulation time women prefer men without bodily hair

I’m back on to researching the weird science of ovulation again.  I discovered research* showing that ovulating women prefer men with smoother, hair free skin.  Our preferences change throughout our menstrual cycle, and indeed after the menopause.

The study examined the effect of male torso hairiness on women’s attractiveness ratings by presenting pictures of men before and after the removal of body hair.  Findings showed that when the women’s fertility was at its highest, they preferred males with less body hair.  In addition the study found that post-menopausal women demonstrated stronger preferences relating to male body hair than pre-menopausal women.  This is interesting considering the belief that women are more likely seek out more ‘manly’ features in their male choice around peak fertility as hairiness can be seen as a symbol of high testosterone levels and masculinity.  Personally, I’m not fussed about bodily hair.  Well at least I’m led to believe I’m not fussed, I wonder if I could conduct my own experiment with Chris…..hmmmmm…….

Weird science of ovulation – you confuse me so!

*  Rantala, M. J., Pölkki, M., & Rantala, L. M. (2010). Preference for human male body hair changes across the menstrual cycle and menopause. Behavioral Ecology21, 419-423

Do I spend more $$ when I am my most “fertile”?

Do I spend more money when I am my most “fertile’? Probably seems a bit of a strange question coming from someone who has been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’.  But never the less, assuming my most fertile period is when I ovulate (give or take a few days either side), do I spend more on ‘discretionary’ items?

Yesterday I heard on the radio that a Texas university discovered that ladies buy more things when they are in their fertile period of their cycle.  Well this caught my attention considering not long ago I wrote a post on the weird science of ovulation.  So yesterday I started to look at my own spending habits, and of course I have my credit card data, and my ovulation data from the 15 months, what do they look like together overlayed?  Is there any possible correlation?  I plotted ‘discretionary’ spending, which is basically any type of spending where I had a choice (I excluded groceries, bills, fuel and work expenses), against ‘peak ovulation’ days.  Ovulation day is the highest orange peak, with 2 days either side of ovulation day.  Here’s what my chart looked like….

SpendvOv

Nope…doesn’t look like much of a correlation!  But it was interesting to see my ‘waves’ of spending habits!  This analysis is really rudimentary.  What was the radio show really talking about?  There must be some particular way I need to look at spending v ovulation or perhaps I don’t fit the profile because I am actually infertile?? Haha. OK, I’m being mean to myself here.

So this evening I hunted down the source of the research…Asst. Professor Kristina Durante from University of Texas.  Here is her webpage, it has a link to all her research papers on it.  She has done a lot of interesting social science research on ovulation and social effects.  She has even given a TED Talk – Fertile, Flirty & Feisty (I love TED  Talks by the way!) her approach is all related to evolutionary theory.

It turns out her research is in fact far more in depth than the radio makes it out to be…Chinese Whispers etc.  Indeed, the paper merely discussed that ovulation affects women’s preferences, which might contribute to spending on positional goods such as cars and jewellery.  Well the majority of my ‘discretionary’ spending included decaf skinny vanilla lattes and cookies so I think we can safely say my chart is null and void.  But it was interesting anyway whilst it lasted 😎  One way to keep me busy in the 2 week wait and distract from horrible cramps and leaky vaginas – geek out!


Abstract from: Money, Status and the Ovulatory Cycle*

Each month, millions of women experience an ovulatory cycle that regulates fertility. Previous consumer research has found that this cycle influences women’s clothing and food preferences. The authors propose that the ovulatory cycle actually has a much broader effect on women’s economic behavior. Drawing on theory in evolutionary psychology, the authors hypothesize that the week-long period near ovulation should boost women’s desire for relative status, which should alter their economic decisions. Findings from three studies show that women near ovulation seek positional goods to improve their social standing.  Additional findings reveal that ovulation leads women to pursue positional goods when doing so improves relative standing compared with other women but not compared with men. When playing the dictator game, for example, ovulating women gave smaller offers to a female partner but not to a male partner. Overall, women’s monthly hormonal fluctuations seem to have a substantial effect on consumer behavior by systematically altering their positional concerns, a finding that has important implications for marketers, consumers, and researchers.

* Durante, K.M, Griskevicius, V., Cantu, S.M. & Simpson, J.A. Journal for Marketing Research, 2014