Category: Fertility Education

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.

Preparing For Your First Appointment

After scheduling your first fertility clinic visit with a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Vios, you may be wondering what to expect from your appointment and how to prepare. Here are some ways.

What to bring:

  • Copies of your medical records from primary care physician, OBGYN, and any previous fertility evaluations you may have had. Every piece of background information that you bring could be vital, so having access to your medical records is important, especially up-to-date records.
  • A list of questions. Picking a clinic is important and having questions prepared will help you ask about the items that are important to you for your journey. Having a list of questions written down will ensure that you don’t forget.
  • A notebook to write down any instructions your provider might have or next steps. With so much discussed in the first visit, it is very common to feel overwhelmed. Taking notes during your time with a provider can help you process and remember important details.
  • Your partner if you like or if you have one. It is not necessary to bring your partner, but they are invited and encouraged to attend. This is an opportunity for your partner to be included and having them there may be helpful for you. They can provide support and will also be able to help answer questions about their medical history.

How to prepare:

Your medical records will have a lot of information but they are only part of what’s needed. Your own story and facts are also very important. Here are some other things that might be asked during your first visit:

  • Medications, vitamins, or other supplements you take. Include the amount of each and how often you take them.
  • Any medical conditions that you or your partner may have.
  • Previous evaluations or treatments for infertility you’ve had.
  • Details about your cycle. Is it regular? How long is your cycle? Is the flow especially heavy/light? Do you suffer from especially painful periods?
  • Details about your attempts to conceive.
  • How long you have been trying to conceive.
  • Any family history of infertility. Check with both sides of the family.

Beginning fertility treatment is a very personal journey, and this first visit is where it all starts. It is important to be informed and knowledgeable about every stage of your journey. To learn more about preparing for your first appointment, watch Dr. Ellen Hayes, MD, FACOG and our newest nurse practitioner Sonja Araoz answer your questions and dive into details here!

Look over our Patient Information page to see Frequently Asked Questions from Vios patients!

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.

Myth 1: Fertility treatments always mean IVF 

  • 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.

Myth 2: IVF is a sure thing

  • 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. 

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!