Month: December 2019

Am I Fertile?

Fertility and Ovulation

fertileFertility is defined by the ability of a woman to conceive and bear children through normal sexual activity. Ovulation, on the other hand, refers to the actual day in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible and occurs when hormone changes trigger an ovary to release an egg. A woman’s fertile window varies but is generally the day an egg is released from the ovary (ovulation) and the five days beforehand.

So, how do you know if you are fertile? The odds are with you because only about 12% of women have trouble getting or staying pregnant, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. However, it can be hard to know your fertility until you try to conceive. Here are some things that can give insight into your fertility health:

  • Your age – a woman’s fertility declines with age. Fertility is at it’s peak when we’re young adults with average fertility declines starting in the mid-30s and ending with menopause.
  • Regular menstrual cycles – show hormones are in sync and you are ovulating.
  • Healthy teeth and gums – research show those with gum disease take longer to conceive and good dental health reduces risk of miscarriage.
  • Pelvic pain – long heavy, painful periods or pelvic pain could be a sign of fibroids or endometriosis which can affect your ability to conceive. Pelvic trauma or past surgeries can also affect fertility.
  • Unchecked STDs – pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a byproduct of certain STDs, can damage your reproductive organs and increase your risk of infertility. Practice safe sex, and if you think you have an STD, see your doctor right away for treatment.
  • Healthy lifestyle – eat a healthy diet, get good exercise, lower stress, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol intake to help improve your fertility.
  • Healthy weight – a body mass index (BMI) that is too low can cause ovulation to stop as the body tries to conserve energy. A BMI that is too high can disrupt hormone levels. Insulin resistance can inhibit ovulation and affect egg quality as well as embryo/fetus development. A healthy BMI range is from 20-24.

Also, knowing about ovulation and the changes in a woman’s body will give clues about the best time to conceive. Here’s how you can recognize the signs that can indicate when you’re ovulating:

  • Cervical mucus – More estrogen causes cervical mucus to become stretchy and clear, like egg whites. This helps sperm survive and swim. After ovulation, cervical mucus becomes stickier and thicker.
  • Abdominal pain – A mild ache or pain in the lower abdomen that comes on suddenly, usually on the side of the ovary releasing the egg, called Mittelschmerz. This can occur just before ovulation when follicle growth stretches the ovary or when the follicle ruptures and the egg is ovulated.
  • Breast soreness/tenderness – This usually begins around ovulation and is caused by the rush of hormones.
  • Light spotting or discharge.
  • Increased sex drive

Some women find it helpful to use a fertility calendar to track their fertile days and ovulation. We recommend Glow, Fertility Friend, or Clue, apps for fertility and more. Other tracking tools are over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits like those made by Clearblue. These kits are designed to detect increased hormone levels in urine and signal when you’re most fertile.

Let’s Talk About Infertility

What is infertility? Infertility affects about 10% of women aged 15 to 44 and is defined as the inability of a sexually active couple who are not using birth control to get pregnant after one year of trying, according to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

For women who are younger than 35 and aren’t pregnant in a year or for women who are 35 or older and aren’t pregnant in 6 months, plan to see a fertility specialist. Around 85% of couples who are trying will be pregnant within a year, so if you can’t get pregnant now, it could be a sign that something medical is preventing you from conceiving and you may need extra help to achieve your goals of a family.

Of all cases, infertility can be due to the woman (33%), the man (33%), by both sexes, and due to unknown problems (33%), approximately.

The best way to know if your fertile is to get a fertility checkup to check your hormone levels and egg health.

At Vios, Conception is Our Life

Just as each individual is unique, the same is true of their fertility.  During your consultation, we will discuss your goals for family building, your medical history, and review needed fertility testing to determine the best treatment path for you.

To understand your specific options concerning fertility diagnosis and treatment paths, schedule a consultation today.

How Does Age Affect A Woman’s Ability to have a Baby?

Age and Fertility

age and fertilityWhen you are trying to conceive, it can be daunting to look at the charts that indicate your chances of getting pregnant in your 20s, 30s, and so on. But how do age and fertility go together to really affect a woman’s ability to have a baby?

“Your biological clock is ticking” is an unwelcome statement most women have heard at some point during their life. Unfortunately, your ticking clock is based on clear data and time will run out. However, just how much one’s chances fall as one ages can be unexpected. The undeniable truth is that age is the most significant factor that affects a woman’s fertility and chance to have a healthy baby, and it affects men too!

Best Years

A woman’s best, physical reproductive years are in her 20s. During this time, she has a 25-30% chance of getting pregnant each month. Even though the 20s are prime time for a woman’s body, that isn’t always the case when it comes to being ready to have a child. In fact, an increasing number of women are choosing to wait to have children.

In fact, when the Centers for Disease Control studied birth rates in 2016, they found that “rates for older women continued to rise, resulting in a higher birth rate for women aged 30–34 than for women aged 25–29 for the first time since 1940 when the data became available.”

Even though, most women reach peak fertility between the ages of 23 and 31, your chances of conceiving in your early 30s are only slightly lower than in your late 20s.

So, while a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, that decline doesn’t start impacting most women until it begins to speed up after age 35. That means there is a big difference in try to conceive in your early 30s compared to your late 30s.

The Dreaded Decline

It’s a pretty well-known fact that age 35 is a significant milestone for women when it comes to fertility and starting or growing your family. By age 40, the chance of getting pregnant every month drops from 25-30% in your 20s down to just 5% every month, with about 25% of women over 35 experiencing difficulties becoming pregnant.

What Aging Does to The Body’s Reproductive System

For women, the number of eggs you’re born with are all the eggs you get. That set number of eggs age with you throughout your lifetime and decrease in quality and total amount over time. A newborn baby girl is born with 1 to 2 million eggs and by puberty, that number goes down to about 250,000-500,000 eggs. By early to mid-30s, a woman has around 25,000 eggs left. Just as leading a healthy lifestyle can slow the decline of egg quality, bad habits can age eggs faster. Unfortunately, you can’t reverse the damage once it’s been done.

As men get older, it is a decline in testosterone that affects fertility. Male fertility generally starts to decline around age 40 to 45 years of age. The volume, quickness (motility), and overall quality of the sperm declines as men age. While the decline of male fertility is subtler, it still presents increased risks for the health of the child.

Chance of Conception Decreases While Risks Increase

It’s important to understand the increased complications of advanced maternal age and be as proactive in addressing and mitigating these risks the best way possible. We know aging reduces the overall chances of pregnancy and increases time to pregnancy (how many cycles it takes to conceive), but aging on both the man and woman’s parts can negatively affect your pregnancy and the baby’s health.

Genetic abnormalities increase as the age of the parents rises, leading to a higher chance of miscarriage as well as pregnancy-related complications like an increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy. The rates of gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, c-sections also increase for those over 35 compared with mothers in their 20s. Additionally, complications for the baby, including preterm birth, poor fetal growth, low birth weight, and neonatal mortality increase with advanced maternal age. Most significantly for aging men, fathers aged 40 or over are at increased risk of having children with mental health and developmental disorders.

Understanding YOUR SPECIFIC Risks

While this all may sound scary, it is important to note every couple is different. Try to keep in mind that most healthy women over the age of 35 have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. A consultation with a board-certified OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist (REI) will help you understand your specific risk factors based on a comprehensive overview of your medical history and overall health as a couple. Your physician can also review additional steps (like lifestyle changes) or tests (like genetic testing) that can be done to increase your overall chances for a successful outcome.

Ready or Not, You Have Choices

As with all things pregnancy-related, fertility is different for each individual woman, but experts say that women age 35 and older need to get serious if they want to have children and especially if they want more than just one child.

If you aren’t ready for children as you approach that 35-year milestone, you do have options if you still want children one day. Some women choose to freeze their eggs. This option literally freezes the eggs at the age the woman is at retrieval. With egg freezing you can pursue other goals without giving up your dreams of parenthood! While there are more options available the younger a woman is, women over 35 still have choices about building a family. A consultation with a fertility expert can give you more information on options that might be the right fit.

Help If You Need It – Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Our mission, at Vios Fertility Institute, is to help our patients find their way to fertility health and treatment with the highest chance of success by providing them with innovative, scientific, cutting-edge treatment options along with an unparalleled patient experience.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment,  and we can discuss options for achieving your ideal family!

Stress and Trying to Conceive

stress and trying to conceiveStress and infertility don’t go hand in hand, but stress can make it more difficult to conceive and even affects men too! So, what is it about stress and trying to conceive?

Having a hard time getting pregnant can be a real stress itself. While staying calm and letting nature take its course is much easier said than done, there’s certainly some truth to it.

Stress Triggers Hormone Production

While the exact link between fertility and stress remain a bit of a mystery, many doctors believe hormones like cortisol or epinephrine that flood the body during stress could play an important role.

What we do know is that stress can affect a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates your hormones, including the hormones required to release your eggs. Not just you either – it regulates your partner’s testosterone levels, too. So, the real issue is that stress can delay your ovulation AND if your partner is experiencing stress too, it can weaken his sperm.

Doctors may not know the exact links between stress and trying to conceive, but growing research shows that a connection is hard to ignore.

Some studies have found that when stress-reduction techniques were used, some women were able to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before. Other studies point to the idea that stress (and sometimes “trying too hard”) may play a role in up to 30% of all infertility problems. Additionally, some studies indicate that it’s possible that reducing stress may help enhance proteins within the uterine lining that are involved in implantation and may also increase blood flow to the uterus, which also affects conception.

Signs You May Be Stressed

If you’re trying to conceive and you’re under stress, your cervical mucus may indicate that something’s not right. As you approach ovulation, you would typically have an increase in cervical fluid wetness. However, during times of stress, you may find that typical wetness is disrupted by days of dryness interspersed throughout – almost as if your body is trying to ovulate but is getting thrown off by the stress that is delaying ovulation.

Different Kinds of Stress

It can be important to note that there is a considerable difference between constant and sudden stress. Your body can adapt to high, but consistent, stress levels. Once your body acclimates to consistent stresses, you will likely still ovulate each cycle. Sudden stress on the other hand, like a car wreck or an unexpected death in the family, is much more likely to interfere with your cycle and delay ovulation.

Everyone is Different

Of course, every woman’s experience with stress and fertility is unique. Some women find that the stress of going on a week-long vacation is enough to delay ovulation. Others have found that a severely traumatic incident like a close death didn’t impact their cycle at all. Some women found that positive stress, like that from planning a wedding, was enough to throw off their cycle. You’ve heard it all before, but everyone is different, and the reasons behind how or why stress impacts fertility may also be very individual.

Work Out What Is Stressing You and Make Positive Changes

Try making changes in your life so that you feel more relaxed and pick up healthy habits that help to reduce stress. Start by making little changes, like meditating or doing yoga for 5 minutes on Monday and work your way up to 30 minutes by the weekend. Give acupuncture a try. Eating healthy is always a given, as is exercising (even a short walk counts). Start keeping a journal. Even take a break if you need to.

Check out apps like Expectful Meditation that offer guided meditation for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey.

The Good News

The good news is that stress should not prevent you from getting pregnant, it just complicates things and makes it more difficult for some women. If you’re having sex every two to three days throughout your cycle, stress-induced delays to ovulation should not stop you from conceiving. A delayed ovulation simply lengthens your entire cycle.

You can confirm whether you have ovulated by tracking your basal body temperature. You should see a sustained rise about a day after ovulation, indicating the onset of your luteal phase, which lasts until the start of your next menstrual period.

Help If You Need It – Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Everyone’s fertility journey is different. At Vios, our team approach focuses on helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality. If stress-reduction techniques don’t appear to be helping you conceive, it may be time to seek help.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. With Vios on your side, we can help you find out if there are other reasons you may not be ovulating and recommend treatment options.