Category: Fertility Education

Debunking Fertility Myths

Fertility is a very personal and often stressful experience. There is a lot of misinformation in our society about fertility, IVF, and fertility treatments in general. Here are some common fertility myths debunked.

  1. Myth 1: Fertility treatments always mean IVF 
  2. Once you meet with a provider and test results come in, you and your provider will speak about the option that is best for you. IVF is a great solution for many but there are other options including: timed intercourse, oral medication, IUI, and InVoCell.
  3. Myth 2: IVF is a sure thing
  4. There are many factors that can impact IVF success. There are ways to up your odds by reducing some of the unknowns such as multiple rounds (2 is average), PGT testing to get the most info before a transfer, and more. At Vios, our live births and other success stats are higher than national average. 
    • Myth 3: Age doesn’t matter 
    • You can have issues at any age–even in your 20s or have great ease in your 40s. If you want a family in the future, protect your chances early on by taking steps like egg freezing. Statistically age does matter. Women are born with all their eggs and their eggs decrease over time. 
  5. Our Dr. Amber Cooper sat down with Future Family to debunk some common fertility myths. Learn more about those myths here.

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.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Moving Forward

The loss of a pregnancy is heartbreaking, but when this happens repeatedly, it can be devastating and confusing for the parents. A careful review of the circumstances and a comprehensive evaluation can often lead to a strategy with the outcome of a family.

Although random miscarriages are common, only 1-5% of people will suffer from repeated losses. According to American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is defined as having three or more consecutive miscarriages. According to ACOG, about 5% of women have two or more consecutive miscarriages and 1% will have three or more. The risk of recurrent pregnancy loss is higher in women who are over the age of 35 or who have had a previous miscarriage.

What causes RPL?

Most recurrent pregnancy losses result from chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. The abnormality may come from the egg, the sperm, or the early embryo. Ovarian aging can also be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, which is due to poor egg quality. As woman age their eggs decrease in quantity and quality.

Another factor could be an abnormality in the uterus. Some women may be born with an irregularly shaped uterus and some women may develop abnormalities with their uterus over time. Another possibility is scar tissue that has developed from previous procedures.

If you have suffered two or more miscarriages, you should talk with your provider. Your doctor might suggest one of these treatments to help reduce your risk for miscarriage.

Surgery

  • Surgery can fix some problems like extra tissue in the uterus, fibroids, or scar tissue. Correcting the shape of the inside of the uterus can often lower the chance for miscarriage.

Genetic screening

  • In about 5% of people, one of the parents has a chromosomal issue. The parents’ blood can be analyzed to see if this is a factor.

According to Dr. Mackenzie Purdy, MD, 60-70% of patients will go on to have a live birth. You can learn more about recurrent pregnancy loss here.

Contact us today to speak to a provider about recurrent pregnancy loss.

What is Male Infertiliy?

Infertility is a common problem among couples, and while we talk about it as a women’s issue, men deal with it too. Infertility due to the male partner is known as “male infertility.”

Fertility issues are just as likely to come from problems in men as they are in women. According to the Dr. Shannel Adams MD, FACOG, it is estimated that 30-40% of couples struggling with infertility have a contributing factor of male infertility. While it is estimated 20% of couple’s struggling with infertility male infertility is the only factor. Male infertility is defined as abnormal sperm count and lack of pregnancy after one year of trying. Usually, that inability to sustain a pregnancy is a problem with the sperm count, motility, or morphology. In addition to the number of sperm a man has, the shape and movement or swimming of the sperm is also important. A problem in one of these three areas can cause male infertility.

What is a normal sperm count?

A sperm sample should contain millions of sperm. Because of this, sperm is measured in ‘concentrations.’ Normal sperm concentration come in a wide range, but 15 million sperm per milliliter is a good benchmark.

What about sperm motility?

High ‘swimming’ sperm count is also important. A portion of your sperm will swim, and it is the swimming sperm that increase your chances of achieving a pregnancy.

What is a normal sperm morphology?

Sperm are very tiny. Morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm. Sperm must be a certain shape to penetrate an egg. You want 4% of your sperm count to be a normal shape.

To learn more about what is considered normal sperm watch Dr. Erica Louden, MD, PHD explain it all here!

A semen analysis will provide information on your sample discovering if there are any issues with count, motility, or morphology. A semen analysis is a laboratory evaluation of the semen after it has been collected at home or in the clinic. Learn more about a semen analysis and what a normal SA is here. Once results from the semen analysis are in, you and your physicians can discuss your options. Here are some available:

  • Sperm freezing can preserve high quality sperm.
  • Sperm donor
  • IVF and gestational carrier can provide an option for couples, especially same sex male couples, to have the families they’ve always dreamed of.

To learn more about male infertility or to get a semen analysis, contact us today!

Family Building for LGBTQIA+

June marks the beginning of Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Riots and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. June 1 also is #LGBTQFamiliesDay, created for individuals, families, and allies to celebrate and support LGBTQIA+ families. Family comes in many forms and everyone’s path to their family is unique to their journey. No matter what your journey is, anyone who struggles to build a family should have the opportunity including the LGTBQIA+ community. According to Resolve, between 2 million and 3.7 million children under the age of 18 have a LGTBQIA+ parent.

For most LGTBQIA+ single people and couples, the journey to building your dream family can have a different path than what may be considered “traditional”. At Vios, we are far from “traditional” ourselves and are an ally for the LGTBQIA+ community, here to help those wishing to become parents.

Recently, in the state of Illinois a bill was passed changing the definition of infertility providing insurance coverage to the LGBTQIA+ community. HB3709 amends the IL Insurance Code to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility shall be provided without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, Sex, or sexual orientation. It removes provisions stating that “infertility” means the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse or the inability to sustain a successful pregnancy. You can read more about this bill here.

There are three necessary components to make a baby: eggs, sperm, and a uterus. Thanks to improved medicine and technology, as well as generosity from third-party donors, same sex couples and single individuals have more options than ever to build the family of their dreams. From sperm donation and IUI, InVoCell for reciprocal IVF, egg donation, and gestational carrier Vios Fertility Institute can help bring the pieces together for all our patients. LGBTQ+ individuals and couples do not necessarily have a diagnosis of infertility so pregnancy rates per cycle are generally high in these cases.

If you need help financing your treatments learn more about our financing partners here!

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it has become more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Patients coping with an infertility diagnosis can experience the same stress levels as patients battling a cancer diagnosis. At Vios, providing care and awareness for all aspects of health to patients is high priority. We have partnered with organizations like Wildflower Center for Emotional Health (CHI), Fertility RallyUniquely KnittedHope Against Infertility (MKE)The Broken Brown Egg, Fertility for Colored Girls and similar organizations to provide support for our patients.

There are also activities and mechanisms you can do at home to help cope. Having an arsenal of coping skills to deal with everyday stresses and anxiety can help with one’s mental health. Some coping skills are:

1. Surrounding yourself with people who can support you.

2. Meditating to relax.

3. Music to distract your mind.

4. Going to places that bring you joy.

5. Having mantras and phrases to support yourself.

We encourage anyone dealing with a mental health illness to reach out for support and health. Some resources are the National Alliance on Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationMental Health Resources and American Psychiatric Association.

 

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!