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Can Women Really Have It All?; "Sometimes I Think I'm Going Crazy"; What Cruise Lines Could Learn From The U.S. Navy

Aired February 8, 2014 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Career or family -- it's a struggle for a lot of women. It's reassuring to hear, as many women do, that it's pretty simple, to just put your biological clock on hold. You are about to meet a woman who says that's all a big lie.


GUPTA (voice-over): Can women have it all? Well, as Tina Fey's character in "Baby Mama" explains, it's a choice.

TINA FEY, "BABY MAMA": I made a choice. Some women got pregnant, I got promotions and I still aspire to meet someone and fall in love and get married, but, that is a very high risk scenario. And I want a baby now. I'm 37.

It's too much for a first date, isn't it? Is it too much?

GUPTA: In fact, according to the CDC, the age of first time mothers increased from 21 to 25. If Hollywood is an indicator, it's higher. Halle Berry had her first child at 41, and another little boy at 47. Salma Hayek and Nicole Kidman were 41 when they gave birth for the first time. Geena Davis had twins at 48.


GUPTA: But just how accurate is all of that?

Well, Tanya Selvaratnam, she's the author of "The Big Lie." And she says not at all.

This is a provocative book -- thank you for being on the program.

TANYA SELVARATNAM, THE BIG LIE: Thank you for having me. It's so exciting.

GUPTA: Well, thank you.

You know, "The Big Lie" is a provocative title. Let me just start though. Who is being lied to? Who's doing the lying?

SELVARATNAM: Well, I explore many big lies in the book. One of which is that women can delay motherhood until they're ready to have a child. If they're not able to get pregnant naturally, then science will help them. Now, I ask, are those lies that were told or are they willing deceptions? And there isn't one clear answer. I mean, they are the lies we tell ourselves and there are lies we grow up with.

GUPTA: We are surrounded by this culture where you see women having babies much older. It's on the cover of magazines. And something that, you know, we tout as an accomplishment. You think that's part of the lie as well? That people are more willing to accept the fact it's not a problem to delay? We see it everywhere.

SELVARATNAM: Well, I think, especially in today's society, which is so based on images, we prefer the positive spin, we prefer to present the positive image. And one of the goals with the book is that people share their stories, that we can balance the optimistic scenarios with the heart-breaking ones, I mean, the point of the book is not that people won't be successful in having a pregnancy when they're in late 30s and 40s, which is that you need to be aware of the statistics, so that you're more prepared, so that you're armed with information to make better choices.

And part of it is the celebrity culture that shows us all the success stories of women having kids in their late 30s and late 40s.

GUPTA: Yes. And it's interesting because, as you said, there maybe sort of optimistic spin put on this. But yes, I want to share some of the facts because you brought this up. Fertility does decrease as a woman ages.

And, you know, as you get older, if you are trying to get pregnant over the course of the year, for example, at age 25, chances are about 78 percent. By 30 years old, it's about 63 percent. By age 40, just 36 percent. Then, at 45, it's 5 percent.

Now, again, these are the numbers, these are the facts. And this may not be a surprise to some. You say, is it that women aren't hearing that message or they are choosing to ignore it? It seems like a lot of obstetricians will counsel the patients, at least mention this, that fertility goes down as you age.

SELVARATNAM: I trusted my doctors. I have great doctors. But it was only after my third miscarriage in fall 2011 when I then went to a fertility center that the fertility expert sat me down and told me exactly what the statistics are.

I mean, I think most women, most men know that fertility decreases after age 35, steeply. We don't know exactly how steeply and I feel like if we have that information we might approach our decisions in a different way.

GUPTA: And you weren't able to have a child? You had three miscarriages you said?

SELVARATNAM: I had three miscarriages and then my story has a silver lining. Even though I didn't have a child, I was able to save my own life because it was actually through the process of pursuing fertility treatments that I was diagnosed with two different types of cancer. And they were caught early enough that they were able to get the tumors. I feel great now.

GUPTA: I'm glad. You look well. We talked about that during the break. Let me ask you because we were talking about this in my company. Everyone has a strong opinion on this. And I said candidly, I said, I can't believe -- I thought women knew this. They knew fundamentally that your fertility decreases as you age. They may not know the exact numbers. But that is something that seems like women and men, for that matter, know.

SELVARATNAM: Well, there's also this euphoria of encouraging women to pursue their goals. It's not that for instance, there's a chapter of feminism in my book. It's not that feminism told us not to be mothers, it's that it told us all these things that we could do aside from being mothers.

GUPTA: It's a fascinating idea and fascinating book. Congratulations. I know it's gotten a lot of publicity. As I said, we couldn't stop talking about it within in our (INAUDIBLE)

SELVARATNAM: Well, I hope it helps people.

GUPTA: I really appreciate you being here. Thank you.

And, you know, there's obviously a lot of anxiety around this topic. It can be provoke this way. But knowledge is power. And if you are concerned about fertility, there's a pretty simple test that can tell you where you stand.


GUPTA (voice-over): Amy and Tim Hoffman's relationship was right out of the storybooks.

AMY HOFFMAN, FERTILITY PATIENT: We met right after college in our hometown. Actually grew up in the same hometown. We got married in the year 2000. We've been dating for about three years.

GUPTA: After the wedding, dreams of someday starting a family. But it didn't go according to plan. After four years of trying off and on, the Hoffman's realized something was wrong.

Amy went in for a battery of tests including one called an AMH. It's a blood test that can determine roughly how many eggs a woman has left.

For Amy, the result was shocking.

HOFFMAN: The number came back incredibly low, which reflected that I had a really low egg count.

DR. DOROTHY MITCHELL-LEEF, FERTILITY SPECIALIST: We are finding that many of these ladies actually have lower ovarian reserve and number of eggs left than anticipated. We are not sure why. We are trying to get more of the young women to get the test done so they would know where they stand as far as being able to have children in the future. GUPTA: Despite her low test results, Amy was able to harvest her own eggs and go through the process of in vitro fertilization. She is thrilled to be the mom of twins.

HOFFMAN: It's amazing.

GUPTA: She said the simple test could spare many women a lot of agony.

HOFFMAN: We just think that we are invincible and that we can all have children into our 40s. And for some people, that's possible. But for most people, it's not.


GUPTA: Now, that test only costs about $40. You can do it anytime. You don't have to go off birth control to do it either. If fertility is a concern, though, when you're watching this, your annual visit is a good time to talk to your doctor about it.

Now, coming up, those big hits in the Super Bowl. You probably saw them. An electrifying player offers up his perspective on all this and I have to say I was stunned by what he was going to tell me.


GUPTA: The Seattle Seahawks returned home to a heroes welcome on Wednesday following that big win at Super Bowl just last weekend. Joe Namath, he also made some big news, not just for the fur coat that he's sporting, but for saying that he's currently suffering from health problems that he believes are the result of being smashed in the head during his playing days.

In fact, here's what he told CBS' Rita Braver on "Sunday Morning".


JOE NAMATH, NFL HALL OF FAMER: I have been through some things medically. I have seen some things on my brain that I have had treatment and I have improved. None of the body was designed to play football.


GUPTA: Wow. I mean, it is just amazing to hear that, again, from a guy at that level of Joe Namath.

Yes, I recently got a chance to speak with another former player about the serious side effects caused by big hits. We have done a lot of reporting on this. But I'll tell you, I was still shocked by what he told me.


GUPTA (voice-over): This moment, this hit, is painful to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look how awkwardly his head is caught under him.

GUPTA (on camera): You were knocked unconscious.

RONNEY JENKINS, FORMER NFL RUNNINGBACK: For a minute, yes. The following week, when I played, I had players on the other team telling me they didn't think I was going to play. They were not understanding why I was even playing in that game.

GUPTA: The next week you are out there playing again?


GUPTA: I mean, that doesn't sound right.

JENKINS: It doesn't sound right today.

GUPTA (voice-over): More than a decade after that hit, Jenkins says he's a different man. One who has never revealed to family and to friends how deeply that big hit and a series of smaller ones that followed changed him.

JENKINS: I have done very well of putting that face on. This former athlete has issues. He's thought about killing himself. They didn't know that before.

GUPTA (on camera): Is it a hard thing to admit, to talk about?

JENKINS: Yes. But then there's bad times where I just think that it's better if I just am not here, you know what I'm saying? So, it's pretty dark. I cry a lot. Nobody sees it, but I'm home alone, I cry a lot.

GUPTA (voice-over): Hearing about the suffering of other NFL players before they committed suicide, Duerson, Easterling, Seau, Jenkins hears echoes of his own life. He is convinced that he will be diagnosed with the same disease they have, chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

(on camera): Do you believe you have it?

JENKINS: I think so.

GUPTA: It's a few different symptoms. Typically, problems with memory, problems with temper or rage and depression. Is that what you are experiencing?


GUPTA: All three of those things?

JENKINS: All three.

The benefit that I applied for was the neurocognitive benefit.

GUPTA: Jenkins has reached out to the NFL for help. And despite his mental health issues, he's been ruled ineligible for the league's neurocognitive benefit.

JENKINS: I might be having a migraine.

GUPTA: Jenkins also tried turning to the NFL Players Association for help. He says they won't even return his calls.

The NFLPA says that when players need help, they support and respond quickly in every case. Both the NFL and the players association in response to CNN calls have pledged to help Jenkins.


GUPTA: I'll tell you, we certainly wish Ronney all the best. We're also going to continue to follow his story right here on SGMD.

Up next, two outbreaks in two weeks. What you can learn from those who got sick at sea. No one wants to spend their vacation in the bathroom.


GUPTA: You know, over the last few weeks we have seen two cruise ships that have been plagued by outbreaks. That got us thinking, who else goes out to sea in mass? Well, it's the U.S. Navy. And the question is, how come this sort of thing never seems to happen to them.

Well, we asked CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr to find out.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Navy prides itself on being ready to fight. Whether it's a fire on the flight deck, like this drill on this USS Iwo Jima, or in this ship's bowls where they battle an unseen enemy -- germs.

CAPTAIN JIM MCGOVERN, USS IWO JIMA: Serious outbreaks of 10 or 20 individuals being sick are taken seriously and we attack those outbreaks.

CROWD: I, United States sailor --

STARR: With the 3,000 sailors and marines on board the Iwo Jima, you might think outbreaks of illness would be common.

Norovirus sickened nearly 700 people on a cruise ship last month. But the Navy never lets it get to that point. When illnesses like norovirus break out, sailors are quickly isolated.

VICE ADMIRAL MATTHEW NATHAN, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE U.S. NAVY: We restrict them to medical. We restrict them to their quarters. We would not allow them to traverse to the food stations, to the galleys, to the library, to the gym.

STARR: And ships are cleaned around the clock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyday at 0730, we basically do a cleaning station of the ship.

STARR: From stem to stern, every sailor sweeps, scrubs and swabs.

DANA GORDON, USS IWO JIMA: All of our sailors are cleaning from overheads, the decks, the (INAUDIBLE), all the way down to the decks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to keep this area clean because cross contamination is a big factor of food born illness.

STARR: Outbreak or not, the galley is inspected by the ship's medical staff constantly looking for everything from dirt to expired food.

AARON FERGUSON, USS IWO JIMA: We go through every day, two to three times a day, during meal periods, after meal periods, while they are cleaning, so that way we know that their practices are safe for the crew.

STARR: It's military discipline that makes the difference, the Navy surgeon general says.

NATHAN: If you have a ship whose main center of gravity is social gatherings, food places, dancing areas and swimming pools, all those thing that is sailors wish they had but don't have on our Navy ships, then I think it's much more challenging environment to control the spread of a highly contagious virus.

STARR: Iwo Jima Captain Jim McGovern had an infectious disease breakout early in his career.

MCGOVERN: It was a very small ship with a crew of about 30 sailors. And we have about half about the sailors get sick. Somebody didn't have clean hands, didn't wash their hands properly, stuck their hand in an ice dispenser and anybody who got ice from that dispenser ended up getting sick.

STARR: It's something Iwo Jima works hard to make sure never happens here.


GUPTA: And my colleague Barbara Starr joins us from the Pentagon.

You know, it's a fascinating idea, this idea we can learn these things from the Navy and apply it to civilians. But I do wonder, will civilians go for this? It's a much different way of life aboard a navy ship.

STARR: Well, you know, it is, Sanjay. I have talked to a lot of navy people who think no, civilians won't. You know, people save up a lot of money, go on the cruise of a lifetime for that dream vacation.

GUPTA: Right.

STARR: They're certainly not expecting military discipline standards, are they? But, you know, the Navy's point is, look, there are ways to keep things clean, try and stop the spread of germs. And when you do have an outbreak, move very quickly to contain it and contain the personnel.

So, the navy knows it can be done. Are people really going to go on a vacation and expect that kind of discipline? Probably not.

GUPTA: Now, when you looked into the story, are you more or less likely to take a cruise?

STARR: Oh, you're putting on the spot, aren't you? You know, I've got to tell you, I have been on a lot of Navy warships around the world.

And the thing that's still -- I'm going to avoid your question -- the thing that impresses me is, in fact, how clean they are. That mop, that pail, that broom, that comes out 24/7 for the least speck of dirt. These ships are spotless because they have to be so the crews can stay healthy and do their jobs in the military. It's a real effort by the U.S. Navy around the clock to keep their troops healthy.

GUPTA: Yes, there's no question. I have seen some of those ships, and you are absolutely right. It's remarkable what they can do and keep the people healthy. And you did a wonderful job of answering that question as well, Barbara Starr.

Thank you. Thank you very much for doing this. Thank you for bringing that.

STARR: Sure.

GUPTA: You know, another part of staying healthy is exercise. But we had a question. Could your gym workout be doing more harm than good? Mine was. I'll tell you all about it.


GUPTA: One of the best parts of my job is being part of the fit nation triathlon challenge. I love this because I get to help viewers do something they have never thought of, train for and race in a triathlon. I didn't think I can do it. But now, I'm a triathlete. And it's what we want from some you as well.

I want you to take a look at our new team, coming together for the first time, climbing to the top of Stone Mountain just outside of Atlanta. What you're looking at is a huge step for some of these people in the group. They know they have a lot of training ahead of them. You are going to learn a lot from them watching their transformation. I hope you do so.

I want to give you another lesson right now, though. Five things you should never do when it comes to your workout.


GUPTA: I come to meet B.J. Gaddour.

B.J. GADDOUR, TRAINER: Nice to meet you.

GUPTA: You are going to teach me to do it right?

GADOR: Yes, sir.

GUPTA: The elliptical, I mean, you're a fan or not a fan?

GADDOUR: You know, it's a good move, you jump on, get nice and little warm and get sweaty. The thing with elliptical is, it's not going to train your body multiple motion (ph). It won't make you more athletic and there's a lot of repetitive hyperextension of the knee.

GUPTA: So, this is a popular machine, the crunch machine to do abs.

GADDOUR: You bet.

So, people want to hit the abs and you want to feel the abs. So, you did on this machine, you flex and you crunch. And you will get a good like local, muscular burning in the abdominals. The thing is, you're actually loading yourself in this spinal flexion. This movement is what's going to cause issues of the discs, lower back, herniated discs, bulging disks.

GUPTA: All right. So, this is common machine as well, B.J., just a leg extension working the quads.

GADDOUR: You bet. So, again, mirror muscles, right, the stuff you see when you're in the mirror are the ones people want to target the most. So, the quad is the biggest most impressive muscle in the front of the body, jump in the leg extension machine.

If you look at what's happening here, a lot of load at the ankle. There's a torque on your knee. So, we're talking about wearying down the cartilage in the joint (INAUDIBLE) issue, you definitely don't want to look at this. And even if you don't have any issue, you probably want to look at a better movement to just prevent wearing down those joints, because they're well aware, if you want to slow that wearing process as much as possible for longevity.

GUPTA: So, you say a good rule of thumb, if it looks kid of ridiculous, it probably is.

GADDOUR: Exactly.

GUPTA: The hip abduction machine sort of fits that bill.

GADDOUR: I mean, you know, the only thing worse than doing this is making direct eye contact with someone else while you're doing this.

GUPTA: This machine has always scared me, I'll be honest with you. I take care of a lot of back injury and stuff and this is one of the ones that I worry about.

GADDOUR: So, what you got here is all this load in this excessive flexion of the back coming with it, loaded flexion of the spine is the best way to blow out your back fast.


GUPTA: It is hard to look good while getting filmed while exercising. I'll tell you.

But a special thanks to "Men's Health" as well as Crunch Gym for a great workout.

That's going to wrap things up for "SGMD" today. Do stay connected with me on Twitter @DrSanjayGupta.

Time now, though, to get you back in the CNN NEWSROOM with Don Lemon.