Category: Female Fertility

What is PCOS?

September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. To close out this month we are sharing some information on PCOS.

PCOS is a common hormone disorder in women that is also the leading cause of female infertility. According to Resolve, due to the wide variety of symptoms, most women don’t get diagnosed until they begin trying to conceive and seek help getting pregnant. PCOS is one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in the world, with less than 25% of women with PCOS being diagnosed.

PCOS is characterized by three common characteristics: irregular or absent periods, excess androgens (elevated testosterone and androstenedione levels), and multiple cystic areas on the ovaries.

Other seemingly unrelated PCOS symptoms that patients might experience include:

  • Infertility.
  • Heavy periods and spotting between periods.
  • Pelvic pain during or between periods.
  • Mood changes.
  • Weight gain.
  • Fatigue, or low energy levels.
  • Excess growth on the arms, face, back, chest, abdomen or hands and feet (also known as hirsutism).
  • Hair loss or male pattern baldness on the head.
  • Acne.
  • Insomnia or poor sleep.

Please contact Vios to schedule an appointment with one of our providers if you believe you have PCOS and need help conceiving.

Study finds COVID-19 does not cause female sterility

Protecting your health, and the health of your future family is important. Choices like vitamins and body weight can impact your goal to have a family. A new choice for women is whether they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine but a recent study has found the vaccine does not cause female sterility.

The study, published in ASRM’s Fertility & Sterility F&S Reports, showed no effect on a woman’s implantation rates or sustained implantation rates. This study which used frozen embryos of women who had the virus, vaccine, and neither showed no difference in rates from the three groups.

If you decide to move forward with getting vaccinated which vaccine should you get? According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all three vaccines are reasonable choices for patients undergoing a fertility journey or are pregnant. ACOG recommends the vaccine for women who are trying to get pregnant as well as already pregnant.

Getting the vaccine is your choice. Some information to remember is unvaccinated pregnant women have an increased risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19. If you get the virus while pregnant, your chances of needing intensive care and a ventilator are increased putting your unborn child at higher risk of preterm birth.

Vios is proud to support University of California – San Francisco’s ASPIRE study that seeks to assess the safety of pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage our pregnant patients to enroll and contribute to this important research.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine contact a provider or learn more here.

NIAW 2021 Treatment Cycle Giveaway

To kick off National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) in a BIG way, we’re excited to announce a treatment cycle giveaway!

One lucky self-pay recipient will receive a free egg freezing, IUI, InVoCell, or IVF cycle, excluding medication or add on services, from any of our available clinic locations. The cycle must be completed in 2021.

To enter:
1) Schedule and complete your New Patient Consult with any Vios Fertility physician between April 19, 2021 and May 31, 2021.

2) Like Vios Fertility on Facebook.

2) Follow @viosfertility on Instagram.

And that’s it! The winner will be notified by June 4, 2021. We ask that the winner be willing to share their experience publicly on our marketing channels. The winner can remain anonymous, sharing sentiment and thoughts without images or name, if desired.

To schedule your new patient consult, call us at 866-258-8467 or complete our contact form.

Current patients: want to be included? Email [email protected] and let us know you want to be included by Friday, April 23 at 5 PM central.

(Fine print: Only “self-pay” patients are eligible to receive the prize; if you have insurance coverage for fertility treatment you will not qualify. Diagnostic testing is not included in the giveaway. Patients will be expected to cover the cost of medication and any other services not offered directly from Vios Fertility Institute for the purpose of one fertility treatment cycle including, but not limited to, cryopreservation, PGT, Zymot, Violet, or OB services. The winner may choose to utilize these services, at the recommendation of their physician, and at the patient’s own cost. Treatment cycle protocol specifications will be determined by the winning recipient’s Vios physician. Treatment must conclude by December 31, 2021. The winner is expected to share thoughts, anecdotes, and quotes for marketing purposes and may remain anonymous in doing so. This giveaway is not transferable and has no cash value. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram or Facebook.)

National Infertility Awareness Week Events

Vios Fertility Institute is so excited for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week (April 19 – 23)!

This week, sponsored by Resolve, unites millions of Americans who want to remove the stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families. Resolve’s mission – and one we share – is to support those who struggle with infertility, have open conversations, and give people a community so no one feels alone during this journey.

This year, Vios is aligning with the theme of #WhatIWantYouToKnow. This inclusive statement is meant to help share what we want the world to know about fertility and infertility.

This week’s events:

  • If you are a Vios patient visiting one of our clinics this week, share something YOU want your fellow patients to know about infertility on our #WhatIWantYouToKnow wall. You’ll find post it notes and words of advice and hope displayed.
  • Spirit Week is back by popular demand! We’d love for you to join our staff by dressing up or representing each of these themes:
    • April 19: Pineapples
    • April 20: Hero Day
    • April 21: #WearOrange
    • April 22: Sperm & Eggs & Other Classic Combinations
    • April 23: #ViosStrong (wear Vios swag or Vios blue!)
  • We are hosting three educational and fun events:
    • 4/20: You & Your Fertility: The Facts to Know Click here to register.
    • Join Dr. Julie RheeDr. Ellen Hayes, and Dr. Erica Louden as they discuss all things fertility. Have a friend who is struggling to conceive? Invite her to join to get a jumpstart on all the education she needs to feel empowered to take the next step.
    • 4/21: Fertility Treatment Financing 101 with our financing partner, Future Family Click here to register.
    • Join our Lead Financial Navigator, Courtney Bilyeu, and Future Family for a webinar to learn more about financing options for fertility care & treatment.
    • 4/22: Patient Appreciation Event: A Night of Humor and Hope (featuring patient testimonials & comedy from Jay Palumbo) Click here to register.
    • Join some of your favorite Vios nurses and fellow patients for some words of hope, patient testimonials, giveaways, and a lot of laughs with our special guest: comedian, Wonder Woman Writer, and fertility advocate, Jay Palumbo! We’ll wrap up in time for you to join United for RESOLVE, a virtual, national, celebration of infertility stories and family building advocacy.
  • Each day we’ll feature a “Doctor Spotlight” with information about an important fertility topic and Q&A on our social media channels
  • We are doing a Treatment Cycle Giveaway! Learn about the details here!

If you aren’t already, please follow us on Instagram and Facebook to share, like, and comment. Please use #WhatIWantYouToKnow, #NIAW2021, and #ViosFertility.

We look forward to celebrating NIAW 2021 with you!

What is Endometriosis?

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and this condition affects up to 10% of reproductive-aged women. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), endometriosis is a condition where tissue from the uterus is found outside the uterus. These endometrial tissues grow and bleed just as the uterine lining does each month but this tissue outside the uterus has nowhere to go—it does not just shed from your body like your uterine lining does. This can cause scar tissue, irritation, and pain.

Many women who suffer struggle with being diagnosed so they can receive treatment.

If you suffer from endometriosis, it may be more challenging for you to become pregnant. Up to 50% of women with endometriosis may experience infertility. Endometriosis can effect fertility in several ways: diminished ovarian reserve, scarred fallopian tubes, inflammation of the pelvic structures, altered egg quality, and more. This doesn’t mean pregnancy isn’t possible though. Egg freezing and IVF are great options for women suffering.

Symptoms

Symptoms can vary from person to person; however, many women have reported experiencing:

  • Pelvic/back/leg pain between and during periods
  • Painful sex
  • Irregular periods
  • Bladder frequency and/or pain when urinating
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Digestive problems including IBS
  • Infertility
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Immune related disorders such as allergies

Diagnosis

Endometriosis can’t be confirmed through symptoms or simple tests, so it is frequently misdiagnosed. The most effective way to diagnose the endometriosis is through a laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is a procedure where incisions are made in the lower abdomen area, which is then inflated with gas so a small camera can be in inserted.

Medical Treatment

Endometriosis is still relatively misunderstood and under researched. Unfortunately, there is no current cure – the most common treatment is surgery and hormonal medication. If endometriosis is found during a laparoscopy, doctors will remove or destroy the affected areas.

Hormone treatment can be used to stop menstruation and as a result slow down the growth of endometriosis.

Other treatment includes pain killers and anti-inflammatories.

To learn more about endometriosis and your fertility, contact us today!

Understanding the Potential of Your Frozen Eggs

Egg freezing (vitrification) is an advanced reproductive technology that can offer women more flexibility with their future family planning. Egg freezing gives women the freedom and control to pause their “biological clock” until they are ready to start a family. Over the years, there has been a huge boost in the popularity of elective egg freezing and the demand for this service has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The quantity and quality of eggs begins to decrease when a woman is in her early 20s. Over time, this reduction of the number of eggs could eventually lead to infertility and other problems conceiving.

Egg freezing, also known as vitrification, offers an opportunity to intervene with this decline. As a part of the retrieval cycle, eggs are extracted, frozen, and stored until the woman is ready to use them at a later point in life. Although many refer to this process as a fertility “insurance policy,” it is important to note that no medical intervention can guarantee that. Success rates are highly dependent on the individual, her age, and her overall reproductive health. Egg freezing can be seen as a way to optimize future fertility potential. It can also help provide real autonomy for women who are looking to focus on other aspects of their career and life.

What Do We Know About the Egg, Exactly?

There is currently no standard assessment tool for the oocyte (egg) that helps answer the question of whether an egg is of high enough quality to become a viable embryo in the future. Highly trained embryologists are unable to determine the potential of the eggs by looking at them. Now, there is new, cutting-edge technology available to provide a clearer idea of a patient’s personalized chances of conceiving in the future.

A New Solution Is Available.

Future FertilityViolet egg grading report available at Vios Fertility Institute has developed an innovative technology called Violet™, an AI-enabled software solution now available at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago for women undergoing elective egg freezing. Future Fertility’s new tool, Violet™, provides patients who are seeking fertility treatment with more insight into the quality of their eggs, allowing them to work with their clinician toward a personalized, informed treatment plan. This non-invasive technology can predict the quality of the oocyte using an AI database that was developed using tens of thousands of images.

The result is a customized report – a physical document – that offers a comprehensive breakdown and image of each of the eggs retrieved from a patient. There is no comparable tool that offers transparency and scientific grading about the quality of an oocyte.

The report will assist physicians in personalizing future treatment protocols and providing a better scientific basis in patient counselling. Two recent validation studies showed a significant and robust advantage of the AI solution over all embryologists. Violet™ can predict the chances of an egg successfully fertilizing to the blastocyst stage with more accuracy than trained professionals.

Why Is Artificial Intelligence the Answer?

As mentioned, there is no standardized egg scoring system. Although embryologists can identify unique features of the egg, it is unclear about their significance. Essentially, the human eye is limited by what it can process in terms of resolution, shades of grey and pixel pattern recognition. When AI software is applied to the images of the eggs, new and important information is detected and recognized. AI is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the egg quality assessment. After the eggs are assessed, patients are provided with the Violet™ report, which includes both a summary of the viability of the cohort of frozen eggs and actual images of the eggs (a relatively rare opportunity). This is something a patient can physically keep and even share if she desires.

It is physically, emotionally, and financially demanding to preserve fertility for a later time. That is why Future Fertility has worked hard to improve the quality and transparency of fertility treatment by providing more personalized answers. Artificial intelligence allows for a more comfortable and accurate approach to fertility treatment.

At Vios, we are passionate about providing patient education and using innovative technology to help our patients achieve the fertility success they desire. Schedule a consultation with us today and ask how to add Violet™ to your fertility journey!

Should You Freeze Your Eggs?

The average age of women having their first child has increased in recent years from 21-26 years old. What is causing the increase? According to Forbes, career goals, pursuing advanced degrees, and wanting financial stability are factors.

Having goals is important but women’s fertility depends greatly on their age. By the time a woman reaches 30 she has about 200,000 eggs remaining in her ovaries, and that number continues to decrease with age.

Egg freezing is a great option for those who want to extend their fertility. Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is the process where eggs are removed from the ovaries and frozen for future use. The process begins by a woman taking medications before eggs are retrieved and frozen.

Who should consider egg freezing? According to Dr. Erica Louden, anyone! Egg quality and quantity decreases with age so if starting a family isn’t in your near future egg freezing is a great option for you. More specifically, women who will be undergoing cancer treatments, who have premature ovarian failure, and have chronic autoimmune diseases should consider egg freezing.

Assessing the quality of an oocyte before fertilization has, to date, been difficult as there is no standard assessment tool. At Vios Fertility Institute, we are one of the only fertility clinics currently offering Violet™, an AI-enabled software solution for women undergoing elective egg freezing. Learn more about Violet here.

Egg freezing is a great option for those “freezing” their fertility in time for either medical or personal reasons. Speak to a Vios team member about freezing your eggs today!

TO SCHEDULE AN EGG FREEZING CONSULTATION, CONTACT US TODAY!

To learn more about egg freezing and who should consider watch the video and read the below blogs.

ELECTIVE EGG FREEZING: IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?

EGG FREEZING: FERTILITY PRESERVATION FOR WOMEN

ASPIRE Study: COVID19 and Pregnancy

Vios Fertility Institute is proud to partner with the University of California-San Francisco to make patients aware of the ASPIRE study regarding COVID19 and pregnancy. ASPIRE stands for Assessing Safety of Pregnancy In the Coronavirus Pandemic.

ASPIRE study on COVID19 and pregnancy

ASPIRE is a nationwide prospective cohort study of pregnant women and their offspring during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) member clinics have been invited to share this study information with their pregnant patients, directing patients to register to participate at this website.

From ASPIRE, “The goal of this study is to help understand the spread of COVID-19 infection among pregnant women and how infection might affect the health and wellbeing of pregnant mothers and their babies, particularly when the infection occurs in early pregnancy or without any symptoms. The goal is for this knowledge to inform and empower pregnant women and their healthcare providers to provide the best possible care for their pregnancies and future babies. Also, women and couples planning pregnancies will gain important information to help make decisions for their families.”

ASPIRE is focused on the first trimester, a critical and vulnerable period when all of a baby’s organ systems form and the placenta – the crucial connection between mom and baby – develops.

Currently, there are no data about the effects of COVID19 infections in the first trimester. The ASPIRE study will provide critical information to:

(1) Guide the care of pregnant women
(2) Protect the safety of their babies and families
(3) Help those considering pregnancy in the future understand what it means to be pregnant in this new era

Becoming pregnant at any time is a personal choice and with the added uncertainty of a global pandemic, we realize this decision did not come lightly. We celebrate your pregnancy!

We’re also careful to counsel our patients at every step of their care journey about COVID19 and pregnancy considerations and safety guidelines so that you can feel informed and an active and empowered partner in your care.

Who can join the ASPIRE Study?
Anyone who is over the age of 18 and is between 4 – 10 weeks pregnant. Eligible participants will be compensated financially.

  1. You’ll be asked to:
    1. Submit frequent, quick (<1 minute each) symptom tracking reports using your mobile phone and/or computer.
  2. 2. Collect finger-stick blood samples from home at several points throughout your pregnancy. (A helpful how to video is here.)
  3. 3. Give permission to review medical records related to your pregnancy, delivery and baby’s development.
  4. 4. Complete questionnaires online about your health during your pregnancy and after delivery of your baby.

How to get started:

Visit https://aspire.ucsf.edu/ to learn more and register on their website here.

Do you have additional questions about COVID-19 and fertility treatment at Vios? Click here for our latest update.

Fertility Preservation and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic female fertility preservation (aka “egg freezing”) has increased. This recent article highlights the trend in the United States.

At Vios, we’ve seen a similar increase in fertility preservation treatment.

Today, Dr. Roohi Jeelani of Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago shared her experience and expertise on the topic with Chicago’s ABC7.

Ovarian Reserve and Your Fertility

As fertility specialists, we’re asked a lot about ovarian health and ovarian reserve – specifically egg quantity and quality.

A woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have. At birth, a baby girl typically has about 1 million eggs and by puberty this number has declined to 500,000. Each month, a handful of eggs are eligible to become mature but only one will be ovulated. (For a detailed description of this process, click here.)

Ovary with ovulation

Age is one of the most important factors in a woman’s fertility potential. Yet, there is no “magic” age and recent studies show that genetics and the environment also play an important role in egg and reproductive health.

Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicle count (AFC) are the most useful predictors of the number of eggs a woman has remaining. Bloodwork and ultrasound tests – along with a conversation with a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist – can help you understand your current ovarian reserve.

Dr. Violet Klenov recently shared information about ovarian health, how to determine the number of eggs you may have, and how to improve egg quality with St. Louis’s Fox2. Watch the full story below.

Additionally, Dr. Klenov answered patient questions on this topic. Click below to watch the Q&A.

To schedule a consultation to take control of your fertility health, contact us today.