The 7 Biggest Fertility Misconceptions Out There- Dr. Angeline Beltsos- Huffington Post

According to a national study released in Fertility & Sterility, infertility among reproductive-age U.S. women is widely misunderstood. While 40 per cent were concerned about their ability to get pregnant, one-third didn’t understand the adverse effects of obesity on infertility and 40 per cent weren’t familiar with the ovulatory cycle.

To combat this nationwide lack of awareness, Fertility Centers of Illinois is sharing the biggest misconceptions they hear from patients in honour of National Infertility Awareness Week on April 20-26, and hosting events to build infertility awareness.

“The individuals and couples that we see are educated, hard-working, and focused on to having a family. However, many have planned their lives with a vast misunderstanding about their fertility,” explains Dr. Angeline Beltsos. “The more couples and individuals know earlier in their lives about the realities of fertility, the more effectively they can achieve their family dreams, often without our help.”

During patient visits, the Fertility Centers of Illinois team hears several common misconceptions from patients:

1. “He had kids in a previous marriage, his fertility is fine.”

Paternal fertility decreases with age, particularly after age 40. A study found a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia, with fathers passing on as many as four times more genetic mutations when compared to mothers. With age, there is a decrease in the concentration of healthy, mobile sperm as well as semen volume.

2. “My mom had a baby in her 40s and I have a child, I am fertile.”

Previous fertility and genetic fertility history doesn’t ensure prevention of secondary infertility, which is defined as a couple with a child being unable to conceive again after a year. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 11 percent of couples experience secondary infertility.

3. “Smoking doesn’t affect our chances of getting pregnant.”

Smoking as few as five cigarettes per day is associated with lower fertility rates in males and females. The British Medical Association found smokers may have a 10-40 per cent lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates up to 13 percent of infertility is due to smoking.

4. “We always have sex right after ovulation.”

Once ovulation is over, pregnancy is not possible. Ovulation, when an egg drops from the ovary into the fallopian tubes, occurs once a month roughly 7-10 days prior to a woman’s period. To become pregnant, a sperm must meet the egg during this 24-48 hour timeframe. Couples should have sex prior to and during ovulation as sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for 72 hours.

5. “I know my biological clock is ticking, but my eggs are fine until 40.”

Women are born with seven million eggs, which is reduced to 400,000 at puberty. In a woman’s lifetime approximately 400-500 eggs will ovulate. Ovarian reserve declines as a woman ages, with egg supply taking a rapid decline in the late 20s and again in the 30s, particularly after 35. Pregnancy rates in the early 30s are 15 per cent, then decline to 10 per cent after 35 and 5 per cent over 40.

6. “I am healthy, my age won’t affect my fertility.”

Being healthy and fit can aid in pregnancy, but the age of your eggs is unaffected by your fitness and diet regimen. Age is the most critical component of fertility potential.

7. “His weight or my weight doesn’t affect our chances or pregnancy.”

Extra weight causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, and can make pregnancy more difficult to achieve. It is estimated that 70 percent of women with infertility are also obese. Losing 5-10 percent of body weight can boost fertility in men and women.

8. “There aren’t many people who have infertility. We are alone.”

One in six couples have infertility issues, and the CDC reports that 6.7 million women ages 15-44 are diagnosed with infertility. The odds are that you and several people you know have experienced infertility challenges while trying to have a family.

9. “I just don’t know if it will be possible to have a family.”

If you want a family, there are almost always options to have a baby as long as you are comfortable personally with the technology involved. Through fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, or adoption, you can achieve your dream of parenthood.

10. “I love my coffee, and I don’t have to stop until I’m pregnant.”

Exceeding two cups of coffee when trying to conceive may be counterproductive. One study showed that “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.” Better to use decaffeinated or half-caffeinated coffee, and remember there is caffeine in tea, cola and chocolate.

11. “If we have sex every day, we will get pregnant much faster.”

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that having sex every day only slightly increases pregnancy versus having sex every other day. In men who have a normal sperm count, sex every day will not decrease the sperm concentration. Couples should have sex on their schedule when the mood strikes, without concern of reducing conception odds.

12. “Stress is bad, but it doesn’t affect my fertility.”

Stress can have a large impact on your ability to conceive. In a Harvard Medical School study with women who had fertility problems, 55 per cent of women who completed a 10-week course of relaxation training and stress reduction were pregnant within a year, compared to 20 percent of the group that did not take the course. Be kind to yourself and do whatever you need to relax, whether that is a massage, yoga, sleep or quiet time.

11 Things to Know Before Walking into a Fertility Centre- Huffington Post

If you’ve been trying to have a baby without success, you aren’t alone.

Approximately one in eight couples has difficulty conceiving. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always because of the woman. In fact, men and women are both equally diagnosed with infertility.

Infertility is defined as being unable to achieve a pregnancy after one year if a woman is under 35 years of age, or for six months if a woman is over 35 years of age.

So if you think you might have a problem with infertility, where do you start? It can all be very overwhelming. There is a wealth of information available, but distinguishing fact from positive rhetoric can be confusing.

If you’re thinking about making an appointment with a fertility doctor, here is some information that can give you a leg up before you walk in the door.

These 11 items can help you understand the “big picture” of infertility and make navigating the process easier.

1. Find a doctor with whom you connect.

As you consider getting started, remember that you need a good partner in crime and someone that gets you. This is an important chapter in your life that connects you to your dream of a family. This doctor and health care team will lead you to achieving that goal, so it is critical that you have a bond of trust and caring.

2. Success rates are confusing.

Success rates are measured by your friends who sing the praises of their own success. They are also measured by your OB doctor’s recommendations; the U.S. government, which reports fertility clinics success in IVF; and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which provides detailed information on each center. Some centers have high success rates, which may reflect that they only take easier cases. Other centers may have lower success rates but deal with harder diagnoses. Every patient and medical problem is unique, so ask questions that pertain to you. Inquire about your doctor’s experience with your particular problem, as well as their success rates with women of your age. This is a big project and may require that you invest considerable finances, so don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.

3. We can work with your biology, but we cannot change it.

We can change many things, but we cannot change how old we are. We doctors have years of training and experience which allows us to be professional problem solvers and troubleshooters for complex medical issues, but we can’t change basic biology. Biology dictates that ovarian reserve declines with age, as does fertility potential in both men and women. Conditions like endometriosis and PCOS can be tempered, but not eliminated. While these biological facts of life cannot be changed, with a great team behind you there is a better chance of success.

4. Ouch! That is more than I expected.

The average cost of an IVF cycle is $12,000 plus $3,000-5,000 for medication. Across the country, that number will vary. The good news is that there are several avenues to curb the cost of treatment. Centers typically have multiple financial plans to consider. Some options provide a full refund if you do not deliver a baby, while others allow you to finance your treatment. Some centers offer a self-pay discount. Participating in studies may offer free or discounted treatment, while non-profits like the CADE Foundation and BabyQuest Foundation offer grants to those with infertility. Some couples are even crowdfunding their treatment on sites such as GoFundMe.com.

5. There’s no place like home.

Depending on where you live, state law, insurance mandates and even treatment availability can help or hinder your efforts. States with insurance mandates are by law required to provide coverage for fertility treatments. If you’re not sure where your state stands, take a look at the Fertility Scorecard by RESOLVE, The National Infertility Organization. State law concerning third party reproduction such as surrogacy or donor egg can vary greatly — in Illinois surrogacy is legal, while in New York it is illegal to compensate a woman for being a gestational carrier. It is critical to do your legal research prior to treatment to avoid legal battles now or after the baby is born. Lastly, fertility centers are not equally distributed in location. In California there are 142 fertility specialists, while in Wyoming there are zero.

6. “Twins would be awesome!”

Yes, twins would be wonderful, but one baby at a time is safest. How many embryos are transferred during IVF is determined by the doctor and the patient. As doctors we share our recommendations, but the final decision is usually decided by both the patient and the doctor. Our goal as physicians is to deliver one healthy baby. For some patients, transferring more than one embryo may be optimal when taking into account age, diagnosis and finances, but for others, a single embryo may be best. Single embryos can also split and become identical twins. If you are averse to the possibility of twins or triplets, opt for a single embryo transfer.

7. Stop trying to be Superwoman and get support.

Ask anyone who has been through it — infertility treatment is no cake walk. Yet many women and couples avoid talking to a counselor, don’t join a support group and keep their journey private. There are no awards given for suffering alone. Being strong is knowing when you need to take care of yourself. Talk to a fertility counselor who specializes in helping couples and individuals thrive through the unique challenge of infertility. Or find someone to confide in to share some of the emotional parts of this process, which can be priceless. Many fertility centers have their own programs to support patients in treatment.

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9. Give me a break! Actually, taking a break from treatment can be a good thing.

Feeling exhausted and at the end of your rope? Yes, fertility treatment can do that. Taking a break to re-energize can really help. Stress does not cause infertility, but it does affect your fertility potential. A scientific study found that women whose enzyme alpha-amylase levels, a stress-related substance, were in the highest third had more than double the risk of infertility. If you need a break — even if it is only for a month or two — take it.

10. That is why they call it the “the practice” of medicine. It is ever-evolving.

In the world, there are always advancements and changes presenting new medical options. The practice of medicine could not have advanced to what we have today without trials, studies, and research. Around the globe, there are people hard at work trying to uncover data that can make pregnancy and parenthood a reality, no matter what the infertility issue. As a physician, it is critical to stay up-to-date on new medication and techniques to help patients conceive. When you are talking to a fertility doctor, ask them about the new techniques that the practice has adopted recently.

11. Fertility centers are not all alike, so look around.

Each fertility center is different, and it is important to consider those differences during your research. Practices may have multiple physicians, each with their own specialties and interests. Facilities will also vary greatly. Does the center have an IVF lab in their office or is this outsourced? Do they offer genetic testing/PGD? Do they have a research department? Take into account history, experience, services and staff when selecting a fertility center. It shows breadth and depth of an organization.

Don’t forget to be your own advocate. Ask yourself. Ask Dr. Google. Ask your physician.

You will find your way. Just don’t give up.

Molecule Discovered that Protects Womens Eggs- Medical News Today

A new study led by Professor Kui Liu at the University of Gothenburg has identified the key molecule ‘Greatwall kinase’ which protects women’s eggs against problems that can arise during the maturation process.

In order to be able to have a child, a woman needs eggs that can grow and mature. One of these eggs is then fertilised by a sperm, forming an embryo. During the maturation process, the egg needs to go through a number of stages of reductional division, called meiosis. If problems occur during any of these stages, the woman can become infertile. Around 10-15% of all women experience fertility problems, caused by factors such as genetics, environment and age.

Human studies are the next stage

Using genetically modified mouse models, Professor Liu’s team has now discovered that the molecule Greatwall kinase is of great importance in order for the eggs of the female mouse to be able to complete the first phase and move on to the second meiotic division during the maturation of the egg. When Greatwall kinase is removed from the egg, not all the stages can be completed. Instead, the egg enters an interphase with an abnormal DNA structure and problematic cell cycles. These problems make the females infertile.

Professor Liu believes it is highly likely that Greatwall kinase is important in the human egg maturation process. His group aims to carry out studies on human eggs as the next stage. The Greatwall kinase molecule is important in the regulation of the cell cycle.

“If we discover that there are women whose eggs do not mature due to levels of Greatwall kinase being too low, we can inject the molecule into the egg,” says Professor Liu. “Hopefully, the maturation process will thereby be corrected, and eventually the woman may be able to have children.”