Category: Fertility Education

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.

What Sexual Positions Are Best for Getting Pregnant?

A Conception Misconception

best positions for conceptionAccording to the experts, there’re not best positions for conception. In fact, different sex positions aren’t going to make much difference when you’re trying to conceive. Sperm typically reaches its target no matter the position. So just stick with what feels best for you and your partner!

Side Note About the Female Orgasm. Although mutual pleasure is important to a healthy sexual relationship, there is no evidence that the female must have an orgasm to conceive. Gentle contractions in the womb can help to move the sperm along, up into the cervix, but these happen with or without the female orgasm.

Real Advice for Getting Pregnant

Looking outside the best positions for conception, to optimize a woman’s fertility, nothing is better than a healthy lifestyle. Forming healthy habits before conceiving is a key to improving pregnancy and birth outcomes, while also increasing your chances of getting pregnant. But what else can women do to improve their odds of having a baby?

Timing is Everything: Ovulation Calculation

Ovulation refers to the days in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible and is sometimes referred to as the “fertile window.” As with all things pregnancy-related, this varies from woman to woman and depends on the length of the menstrual cycle.

If you know your average menstrual cycle length, you can work out when you ovulate. Ovulation happens about 14 days before your period starts.

For example, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you ovulate around day 14, and your most fertile days are cycle days 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. Your egg can only be fertilized for up to 24 hours after ovulation. If it isn’t fertilized, the lining of the womb is shed along with the egg and your period begins, marking the start of the next menstrual cycle.

A Sexy Schedule

It’s important to note that research indicates that a lot of women (even ones that use ovulation tracking apps) tend to guess when they’re ovulating incorrectly. For this reason, it is recommended to have sex every other day during the fertile window. And having sex more than that won’t hurt your chances. Because sperm can live for up to 5 days after being ejaculated into a woman’s body, you can actually get pregnant from having sex before you ovulate. That’s why it’s possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex while menstruating. If you ovulate shortly after you finish your period, the sperm may still be alive and can fertilize the egg.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Reaching a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, creating and sticking to an exercise routine that works for you, and kicking bad habits before pregnancy can reduce or may even eliminate the risks of some birth defects that occur early in pregnancy. For more info, check out our blog article on Natural Ways to Increase Fertility.

Symptoms of Infertility & When to Seek Help

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months if you are under 35 and the inability to conceive within 6 months if you are over 35. Extensive research shows that most couples (about 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying. Only an additional 7% of couples will conceive in the second year. That’s why we generally recommend seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist as early as possible.

Additionally, there are various scenarios when we recommend a fertility evaluation regardless of how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant:

  • Infrequent or absent menstrual periods
  • A history of pelvic infection or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Surgeries on the reproductive organs
  • Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps
  • Known male factor semen abnormalities
  • Problems with erection or ejaculation
  • Male partner undergoing testosterone treatment
  • Repeated pregnancy loss or miscarriage
  • Family history of genetic disease
  • Female partner approaching her mid-thirties and wants to multiple children

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

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that affects the body’s ability to reproduce. If you are unsure or think something might be wrong, come in for simple fertility testing to get a “pulse” or baseline of your fertility health. After all, knowledge is power!

While each patient is different, an initial workup includes blood work, an ultrasound to measure eggs (or ovarian reserve), and a semen analysis. Some additional test can be included, depending on a patient’s specific history.

At Vios, our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment, discuss your options, and take control of your fertility health.

Are There Good Exercises for Getting Pregnant?

pre pregnancy workout planAre you wondering if there’s a pre pregnancy workout plan you can follow to help you conceive? While there isn’t one specific exercise or series of exercises that will increase your fertility, introducing a healthy lifestyle can help increase your chances of success.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is not only important for overall health, it has a positive effect on both women and men’s fertility health. One way to measure whether you’re in a healthy weight range is using the Body Mass Index or BMI. You can easily calculate your BMI using your height and weight with the formula BMI = kg/m2. In this equation, kg is your weight in kilograms and m2 is your height in meters squared.

pre pregnancy workout plan

If women or men are overweight or underweight, it can take longer to conceive. Overweight and underweight women are at an increased risk of ovulation disorders. Men who are overweight or obese have decreased sperm quality and fertility potential over men who are of a healthy weight. Furthermore, being a healthy weight increases the chances of getting pregnant and reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy. Women who are obese take longer to get pregnant and have a higher risk of miscarriage, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, blood clotting, caesarean birth, and other complications.

If you or your partner are overweight or obese, losing even a few pounds can improve your chances of getting pregnant. Losing weight can be tough, but research shows that if partners get healthier together, they are more likely to be successful in their weight loss goals. So, what can you do to help your weight become “healthy”? Exercise moderately. Overly excessive exercise has been associated with decreased ovulation in women.

Benefits of Being Active

Pre-Pregnancy

Take advantage of the protective role physical activity plays for women and their babies and cut your risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes by incorporating the recommended levels of exercise into your lifestyle. A pre pregnancy workout plan with moderate-intensity exercise for 2.5 hours weekly can help lower the risk of gestational diabetes by more than 20%.

See our article How to Get My Body Ready for Being Pregnant for more info.

During Pregnancy

Just like a pre pregnancy workout plan can improve your heath, the main idea behind exercising while pregnant is to improve or maintain physical fitness and overall health and wellness. Exercising for 30 minutes on most, or all, days can benefit your health during pregnancy. Exercising for just 20 minutes, 3-4 days a week, is still beneficial as well. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you were physically active before you were pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy.
  • If you are pregnant and want to start an exercise routine contact your OB/GYN to discuss what is safe for you.
  • Never push yourself too hard. Stay comfortable.
  • Check with your doctor and make sure there are no other health conditions suggesting exercise may be unsafe.
  • Don’t exercise for weight loss. Exercise for your overall health and wellness. The important thing is to be active and get your blood flowing.

Exercising while pregnant can help to alleviate common discomforts women experience during pregnancy and can help you prepare for labor and delivery. Exercising while pregnant can help in the following ways:

  • Reduce backaches
  • Alleviate constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • Help prevent, or treat, gestational diabetes
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your posture
  • Help you get to sleep and stay asleep
  • Improve your ability to cope with labor
  • Make it easier to get back in shape after birth

Post-Pregnancy

Regular exercise is great for you and offers you numerous health benefits, including assistance with weight loss, increased aerobic fitness, social interaction and psychological well-being. Exercise after giving birth can also hasten recovery and assist with muscle strength and toning. What’s more? It can help to improve your mood, raise your energy level, relieve stress, and help prevent postpartum depression.

First thing’s first! Always consult with your doctor before starting any postnatal exercise program. You may be advised to wait until your six-week postnatal check-up, or, if you were active before and throughout your pregnancy, you may be able to get started sooner. Just make sure to check in with your doctor first! Here are a few things to consider:

  • Gentle exercise like walking can generally be started as soon as it is comfortable after giving birth.
  • Six weeks after giving birth, most of the changes that occur during pregnancy will have returned to normal.
  • If you had a caesarean birth, a difficult birth, or complications, it may take a little longer to feel ready to start exercising.
  • Your lower back and core abdominal muscles are weaker than they used to be after giving birth and it can be easier to injure yourself.
  • It may be difficult to jump into a fitness routine when you’re caring for a newborn. Some days you may be too tired, and that’s ok.

Fitness Do’s and Don’ts

pre pregnancy workout plan

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

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that affects the body’s ability to reproduce. If you are unsure or think something might be wrong, come in for simple fertility testing to get a “pulse” or baseline of your fertility health. After all, knowledge is power!

At Vios, our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment, discuss your options, and take control of your fertility health.

Things to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant

things to avoid when trying to get pregnantYou have decided to add to your family. Maybe you have children already; maybe this is your first attempt. You have your ovulation predictor kit to help time intercourse; your excitement is building. Most likely, you’ve read about all the things you should do to conceive, like taking folic acid and a prenatal vitamin. You’ve got your “must dos” in order, so what about “things to avoid when trying to get pregnant”?

The Top 5 Things to Avoid for Fertility

A young couple with healthy eggs, sperm, open fallopian tubes and an unobstructed uterus only has a 15-20% chance of conceiving each month. If you’re into your 30s, that chance goes down, and after 35, it goes down even more. So why not make your body the most welcoming environment for conception by avoiding the things known to impact fertility? Here are the top five things to avoid when trying to get pregnant.

  • Smoking – you AND your partner. It is well established that smoking negatively impacts fertility. Smoking (even just a few cigarettes per day) prematurely ages and damages eggs and lowers egg and sperm counts. Once eggs are gone, they are gone forever, so the sooner you quit, the better!
  • Being overweight or obese. If you are overweight or considered obese, your chances of getting pregnant are reduced due to factors like hormonal and glucose fluctuations, irregular periods, and/or a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and a baby with high birth weight and weight-related complications can also be risks associated with high pre-pregnancy weight. There is also evidence for lasting impacts in children born to obese parents (even obese fathers) including higher chances of the child being obese. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, losing just ten pounds can make a difference.
  • Drinking alcohol. If you think you can wait until you’re pregnant to stop drinking, guess again. There is no safe amount of alcohol from a fertility standpoint. Drinking just four drinks per week (you and/or your partner) can lower your chances of conceiving and can cause male infertility. And, if you’ve been trying, you may not know you’re pregnant and could be damaging your baby’s brain and nervous system growth. This could lead to miscarriage or birth defects.
  • High stress and mega doses of caffeine. We live in a stressful, fast-paced world. Stress and going full-speed all the time is our way of life, but when you’re trying to conceive, having too many stress hormones can take its toll by causing imbalances that wreak havoc on your system. Stress and added caffeine can produce cortisol and higher glucose levels, physical strain and heart issues, anxiety, and sleep interference, all things that will diminish your chances of getting pregnant. This is a time to slow down and allow your body to produce the hormones needed to conceive. While the things that help decrease stress are very individual, most people can benefit from mild to moderate exercise, meditation, and daily down-time to help maximize chance of pregnancy.
  • Processed and fast food. Processed and fast foods contain chemicals, artificial sweeteners, loads of sodium and unhealthy fats. When you flood your body with these types of foods, you’re putting yourself at risk for disease and illness, and forcing your body to work overtime to function optimally. Eating a well-balanced diet of veggies, fruits, healthy proteins and fats, and drinking plenty of filtered water will increase your chances of conception, not to mention the possibility of losing weight, sleeping better, and improved hormonal balance.

A few other things to avoid when trying to get pregnant include using lubricants, not getting routine vaccines, and over exercising.

Start the Conversation with Your Doctor

If you’re considering getting pregnant, have a conversation with your OB/GYN. He or she will be able to guide you before you’re pregnant and along the way.

If you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for more than a year, over 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months, have irregular or missed periods, or have any other medical condition that may decrease chances of conceiving naturally, there is no downside to having a consultation with a fertility doctor to learn about your options. In fact, a consultation can remove some of the stress of the unknown and identify next steps to put you on a path to achieve pregnancy.

A Variety of Fertility Treatments

At Vios Fertility Institute, our goal is to give couples peace of mind and lower the stress and uncertainty of infertility. When you schedule a consultation with one of our caring physicians, you will learn which fertility treatments may be optimal for you and have the support you need to make informed decisions.

We also provide a number of financial programs aimed at making fertility diagnostic testing and treatments more affordable; giving you clarity so you can decide what path is best for you and your family. Our dedicated team is here for you – don’t hesitate to contact us today.

You can also stay in touch with us by receiving our monthly emails.

Natural Ways to Increase Fertility

natural ways to increase fertilityHave you been trying to get pregnant or are you just starting to try? If want to give your body the very best chance of conceiving, there are important, yet natural ways to increase fertility that you can do on your own and feel amazing in the process.

A Bit of Fertility Info

In the U.S., 10-15% of couples experience trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. That number sounds small, but it equates to millions of men and women.

Why? One reason is that humans are the most inefficient reproducers of all mammals. A perfectly healthy 20-year-old couple, with perfect eggs and sperm, a 28-day menstrual cycle, open fallopian tubes and an unobstructed uterus only has a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant in a given month.

With all of this in mind, our goal at Vios Fertility Institute is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health, while at the same time eliminating the stigma of “infertility.” By understanding how your body works and your goals for family building, you and your partner can take control of your fertility health early-on for the best chance of conceiving and a healthy pregnancy.

How to Boost Your Fertility Health

Stop smoking. Did you know that up to 13% of infertility might be caused by smoking? If you and/or your partner smoke, even as few as five cigarettes a day can lower your ability to get pregnant. It prematurely ages eggs and diminishes egg count, not to mention what it’s doing to the rest of your body.

Proper nutrition. Balanced nutrition is another one of the natural ways to increase fertility. One major factor for optimum health is controlling your insulin with a balanced diet. This is vital to the production of hormones and other bodily functions necessary for fertility.

It is also very important to note, once pregnant, ideal dietary intake is even more critical for the growth of your unborn child. If you follow these simple, common sense rules, you can begin to optimize your health with the best food choices and hydration.

  • First – cut out as much processed food and fast food as possible. Not only do they contain chemical additives and useless calories, they contribute to unhealthy glucose fluctuations, added body fat, and a sluggish metabolism.
  • Eat more fresh vegetables like a variety of lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, chard, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts, as well as squash and sweet potatoes. These foods support egg quality and health.
  • Snack on fruits like blueberries and cherries that are high in beneficial flavonoids and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eat lean meats that are as natural as possible (grass-fed, free-range, organic). Extra protein is beneficial for minimizing some pregnancy complications. Nuts and eggs are also good protein sources.
  • Get plenty of healthy fat from olive oil, coconut oil, olives, avocados, ghee, and organic meats like grass-fed beef and pork. Good fats help your cells stay healthy, produce needed energy, and aid in ovulation. This may be contrary to what you’ve done in the past, but it is important for a healthy pregnancy (and a healthy life).
  • Drink plenty of filtered water and avoid sugary drinks and sugar-free chemical substitutes. Hydration is vital to a healthy body and pregnancy.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. The jury is still out on whether caffeine affects fertility. Recent research shows that a minimal amount (1-2 cups of coffee per day) is safe, however, we recommend avoiding it if you can. Drinking alcohol has been proven to increase the time it takes to get pregnant and reduce the chance of having a healthy baby. For men, it can cause impotence and affect the quality of their sperm.

Vitamins and supplements. If you’re trying to conceive and have any health issues, it’s best to discuss what vitamins and supplements will be safest and most effective for you with your doctor.

If you are relatively healthy and want to try supplementing on your own, we highly recommend starting months before you get pregnant, especially with folate and selenium, additional Omega-3s such as krill oil or cod liver oil, as well as vitamin D3, vitamin C, B vitamins, and Zinc. Prenatal vitamins are a good way to get just what you need to boost your system.

Weight. Too much body fat (more than 28%), as well as too little (15-18%), can impair your ability to get pregnant. Too much fat produces too much insulin along with a host of other hormonal and stress-induced negative effects on your body. Losing just 5-10 pounds can make a difference. Too little body fat can inhibit ovulation.

Exercise. Getting adequate exercise is another of the natural ways to increase fertility. Keep up what you’re used to if it doesn’t fall into the “intense” category. If you’re not one for organized exercise, several hours per week of light activities such as walking, riding bikes, and gardening will help.

Lifestyle factors. A high-stress career or lifestyle, long working hours, lack of sleep, and an absence of self-care will take their toll. All of these contribute to a large hormonal imbalance and fluctuations that create a fight-or-flight cycle that limits your body’s ability to focus on anything but survival.

Try to make time for yourself. Meditate daily, take a long hot bath, or just curl up with a book instead of being in constant motion. This will allow your body to relax and function at more optimal levels.

You Can Raise Your Fertility Chances Naturally

These guidelines will not only help increase your chances of fertility, they can ease PMS symptoms, PCOS, and pain from endometriosis; heavy periods, and many other health-related issues. You may even lose weight, see improved insulin levels and better hormonal function, have a more positive attitude, and realize a host of other wonderful benefits.

Many Fertility Treatment Options

If you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for one year, over 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months, or have irregular periods or no periods, then we recommend you schedule an appointment with one of our caring, experienced fertility physicians at Vios Fertility Institute.

Infertility treatments come in many forms, so don’t hesitate to contact us today and start learning about your options.

How to Treat Infertility

how to treat infertilityIf you are experiencing infertility, you are not alone. Many people wonder how to treat infertility, especially if they’ve received the diagnosis. You aren’t alone. One in eight couples experience trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Infertility is defined as being unable to achieve pregnancy after one year if a woman is under 35 years of age, and after six months if a woman is over 35 years of age. While published statistics tend to focus on the woman, it is important to note that infertility diagnoses are split evenly between men and women and there is an abundance of resources and support that are available to you.

It takes the average couple at least six months to become pregnant. Before seeing a specialist, it is recommended that couples try on their own first. For couples where the woman is under 35, it is recommended that you try for one year. In couples where the woman is over 35, it is recommended that you try for six months.

While these are general guidelines, there are situations where immediate consultation is warranted. If you have irregular or no menstrual cycle, are experiencing heavy, painful periods, or abdominal pain you should schedule an appointment immediately. If you are approaching your mid-30’s and want to have several children a fertility consultation will allow a specialist to project your chances of conceiving at an advanced age based on when you would be trying to conceive subsequent children.

Fertility Treatments

Diagnosis comes before treatment. Read our blog article Common Infertility Diagnoses for more information on common diagnoses couples receive, or visit our Diagnostic Testing page to understand what different testing entails.

Our physicians work with you to understand your goals and develop a plan to meet them. Infertility treatments can take on many forms, and while most people think “IVF” when someone says, “infertility treatments,” there are many varying degrees of how to treat infertility.

From the basic treatments to the more advanced treatments, there are several different options with several varying protocols that can be tailored to your specific situation to help you grow your family. Treatment paths can also include the use of 3rd party reproduction options or those looking to preserve their future fertility for social or medical reasons.

Basic Infertility Treatments

Timed intercourse is the simplest answer to how to treat infertility that a couple can receive. With a limited timeframe for fertilization to occur, it is important to have intercourse at the appropriate time. Monitoring occurs to track approximately when you will ovulate, so you have a greater potential for fertilization.

If a woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular, she may not be ovulating on a consistent basis or even at all. Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common causes of infertility and account for infertility in 25% of couples. If a woman is not ovulating, we can use a combination of ovulation induction (fertility) medications to help grow follicles and time the release of the egg so that intercourse can be planned to increase the chances of fertilization.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), formerly called artificial insemination, is accomplished by placing highly concentrated sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chance of conception by increasing the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes. An IUI is the first step in fertility treatment for many couples. It is a less costly and more conservative fertility treatment option that works for a lot of couples. This form of treatment is commonly used for couples with unexplained infertility issues, ovulation disorders, mild endometriosis, and mild male infertility issues with sperm or erectile dysfunction.

Advanced Infertility Treatments

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology in which eggs are retrieved from a woman and inseminated with sperm from a man in a laboratory to create embryos. After closely monitoring embryo development, one or multiple embryos are transferred to the uterus of a woman. Since the first successful procedure in 1978, over 5 million babies have been born worldwide through IVF treatments. In vitro fertilization is the most common fertility treatment utilized by patients today.

Fertility preservation is an option individuals or couples can choose for social reasons (waiting to have children) or when medical treatments or procedures may harm one’s fertility. Fertility preservation options include egg freezing, sperm freezing, or embryo freezing. Women and men may consider fertility preservation for medical reasons for one of the following circumstances:

  • Cancer Diagnosis – For women and men who have been diagnosed with cancer, egg freezing, sperm freezing, or embryo freezing are options that can protect one’s eggs and sperm prior to chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, all of which can be toxic to both eggs and sperm.
  • Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) – For women who have been diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency, early menopause, or have a genetic predisposition to early menopause, fertility preservation is another option to preserve viable eggs or embryos for future use.
  • Autoimmune Disease – Women with chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may choose fertility preservation due to medications that they need to use, that could potentially harm the ovaries and cause infertility.

At Vios, Conception is Our Life

At Vios, we are here to make your dreams of parenthood a reality. We work with you to show you your chances of success utilizing different treatment plans based on your specific medical situation. 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 what infertility treatments may be best for your situation, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Getting My Body Ready for Pregnancy

getting ready for pregnancyWe all know that trying to keep healthy during pregnancy is important, but women’s health in the months (and even years!) before they become pregnant can have an impact on their health during pregnancy and fetal development.

Forming healthy habits before conceiving is a great way to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes, while also increasing your chances of getting pregnant. We’ve made a list of 5 things you can do to help prep your body for being pregnant. The sooner you start practicing a healthier lifestyle and kick those bad habits, the better it is for you, your pregnancy, and your baby.

#1 Diet

If you think being pregnant means nine months of unlimited cheat days, we’re sorry to disappoint! Studies show that many women’s diets are typically high in refined grains and sugars but lack important nutrients such as magnesium, folic acid, iron, iodine, and vitamin D. In fact, the intake levels for these important nutrients for the majority of women of reproductive age were below daily recommendations for pregnancy.

Research shows obesity and poor nutrition can increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia

What helps? Research shows women with a healthy, balanced diet in the years leading up to pregnancy are less likely to suffer from the complications above.

Diet Influences Body Weight & Nutrition

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of nutrients is essential for both a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

Try limiting your intake of sugars, enriched grains, and red and processed meat while also increasing your intake of these healthy foods to balance your diet:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Fish lower in mercury like salmon, tilapia, and cod

Additionally, taking folic acid supplements in the 2 to 3 months before and after conception can greatly reduce the risk of defects in the brain, spine, and spinal cord (with spina bifida being the most common). Because of this, folic acid supplements are part of established guidelines for women planning to have children.

#2 Exercise

If you’ve already begun planning your family, it’s also time to start working on your fitness routine. Take advantage of the protective role physical activity plays for women and their babies and cut your risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes by incorporating the recommended levels of exercise into your lifestyle.

You don’t have to turn yourself into a fitness fanatic to glean the benefits of a healthy exercise routine – just 4 hours of low to moderate levels of exercise a week is enough to lower the risk of gestational diabetes. Another study indicated that you only have to meet the standard recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week can lower the risk of gestational diabetes by more than 20 percent – that’s only 2 and a half hours weekly!

Keep in mind that too much body fat (more than 28%), as well as too little (15-18%), can impair your ability to get pregnant. Too much fat produces too much insulin along with a host of other hormonal and stress-induced negative effects on your body. Losing just 5-10 pounds can make a difference. Too little body fat can inhibit ovulation.

#3 Hydration

While adequate hydration is especially important during and after pregnancy, it is also a good idea that women establish healthy hydration habits before pregnancy, as pregnant women have different hydration needs compared to non-pregnant women. According to the Mayo Clinic, women should consume about 10 cups of water each day during pregnancy to meet the increased demands of your baby.

If you find it hard to meet your daily water quota, try fruit and herb flavor-infused water for variety and to keep your taste buds interested. Some tasty flavors include mint, lime, cherry, strawberry, watermelon, and more.

#4 Rest & Relaxation

Doctors may not know the exact links between stress and fertility, 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.

Although research on whether stress reduces your chances for success is inconclusive, studies have shown that stress does affect the dropout rate from fertility treatment. Most patients enter treatment feeling stressed, and those who continue to feel stressed tend to give up sooner.

Getting a full night’s rest is one of the best ways to control stress levels. Achieving a full 8 hours can be hard, but tracking your sleep habits and making sure you go to bed and wake up at consistently the same time is a great start. Finding a relaxation technique that works for you, such as exercise, yoga, acupuncture, family support, or psychological counseling, can help women get their stress levels under control.

#5 No Smoking, Drug Use, or Alcohol Consumption

It’s a well-known fact that smoking and high alcohol consumption are bad for you, but they both also make conception harder to achieve. Giving up cigarettes, vaping, and marijuana before you start trying to conceive is a great way to put you and your baby on the right track for a healthy life.

Most women don’t realize they are pregnant for several weeks – hence why cutting alcohol consumption from your diet before you try to get pregnant is ideal.  Additionally, some studies have revealed that women who drank between 1 and 5 alcoholic beverages when trying to conceive for the first time were considerably less likely to conceive within 6 months compared to women who consumed no alcohol.

Lastly, if you’re taking a prescription drug, let your doctor know right away. Before trying to get pregnant you must stop taking all Class D or X drugs.

Get a Head Start Today

Women need time to reach health or lifestyle objectives well before conception. Reaching a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, creating and sticking to an exercise routine that works for you, and kicking bad habits before pregnancy can reduce or may even eliminate the risks of some birth defects that occur early in pregnancy. The fetus is most vulnerable during the first trimester of pregnancy, so starting your pregnancy on a healthy foot increases your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

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

Everyone’s fertility journey is different. If the you’re less than 35 years old and you have been trying for 12 months, or if you’re older than 35 years old and you have been trying for 6 months, it may be time to seek help.

At Vios, our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality. We believe that by understanding how your body works and your future goals for family building at a younger age, women and men can take control of their fertility health.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Understanding the Risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

ovarian hyperstimulation syndromeAre you experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome with fertility treatment? As with any medicine or medical treatment, fertility medication comes with its own set of side effects that vary from person to person. In most cases, they’re on the minor side – issues like bloating, headaches, and mood swings, which are understandably uncomfortable, but nothing worse than what you’ve experienced around your period.

But in some cases, particularly with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), the side effects can be severe, putting your overall health at risk. OHSS, which occurs when medication overstimulates and enlarges your ovaries, requires monitoring by your physician to ensure symptoms don’t get worse and to relieve you of any pain and discomfort you may be experiencing.

While ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome sounds scary, there’s no reason to panic! Only 10% of patients experience OHSS, and in most cases, the symptoms are mild. Your physician will go over all the details of OHSS and monitor you from day one to reduce your risk. But doing a little research first on your own can help you prepare for the unexpected.

What is OHSS and What Are the Symptoms?

Fertility drugs like gonadotropins were developed to stimulate your ovaries in order to produce an egg. But sometimes they can do too good of a job. Overstimulation can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, causing the ovaries to swell and fluids to leak into the belly and chest. If you get OHSS, you may notice one or more symptoms:

  • Weight gain
  • Decreased urination
  • Problems breathing
  • Bloating and abdominal comfort
  • Nausea or vomiting

In severe cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can lead to blood clots, kidney dysfunction, twisting of an ovary, fluid collections in the chest, stroke, and rarely death. But again, severe instances are uncommon with only one percent of OHSS patients requiring hospitalization or invasive treatment.

Women who have a low body weight, have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or have an excessive number of ovarian follicles develop are at a higher risk of developing OHSS.

What Happens When You’re Diagnosed with OHSS?

ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome symptoms appear a few days after ovulation is triggered and usually go away within a week or two unless  pregnancy occurs. If you do become pregnant, you can expect your symptoms to stick around for a few more weeks until they resolve on their own.

OHSS requires close monitoring by your medical team, which can include ultrasounds, blood tests and medical evaluations. If symptoms become too severe, certain medications can help treat the condition. If OHSS doesn’t resolve or becomes worse, treatment cycle will need to be canceled to protect the health of mom and her future baby.

How is OHSS Treated?

There’s no cure for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The best way to alleviate the symptoms is good old rest and plenty of salty snacks. Before taking any of the following steps, it’s important to get clearance from your physician first:

  • This is one time where you can lose the eight glasses a day of water rule. Stock up on fluids with electrolytes and salt, such as Gatorade and V8, and salty foods like tomato soup, pretzels and (yes!) potato chips.
  • In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, eat raw fruits and vegetables and high-fiber cereals to avoid constipation.
  • Avoid bed rest during the day and do some light physical activity, such as taking a slow walk. Pass up activities like running or jumping, don’t lift anything over five pounds, and keep kids and pets from pushing on your stomach.
  • Maintain pelvic rest and skip out on sex for now. If you end up in the emergency room for any reason, do not allow anyone to perform a pelvic exam before talking to your physician first.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of severe OHSS, including extreme bloating, reduced or dark urine, constipation lasting three or more days, nausea and/or vomiting, shortness of breath, and pelvic pain.

The journey to become pregnant doesn’t always offer the easiest path. During your care, you may experience a variety of side effects along the way you can’t always control, but can possibly monitor and treat. To help prevent ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, be sure to follow all of your physician’s instructions and let them know right away if anything feels “off” once your medication kicks into action.

Ready for Help with Fertility?

If you still have questions, we are here to help and take away the uncertainty and stress that can make daily life challenging when you want a baby and it’s not happening. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

What Causes Infertility in Men?

Male Infertility Causes

male infertility causesYou don’t hear about it as often as its female counterpart, but infertility is not just a female problem. While statistics tend to focus on the woman, it is important to note that male infertility diagnoses are just as common. In fact, male infertility (or a combination of the male and female partner both having issues) makes up 50% of all infertility cases. However, most men don’t go in for a noninvasive diagnosis until their partners have endured extensive evaluations.

How It Works

Fertility is complex, with infertility seeming more complex still. What we do know, is what makes fertile couples successful from a male fertility standpoint:

  • Healthy sperm production
  • Sperm and semen must mix after sperm are produced in the testicles
  • Sperm count – to increase the chance that an egg is fertilized
  • Sperm motility (or how it moves) – so it can reach the egg to fertilize it
  • Sperm morphology (or how it is shaped) – so that it can penetrate the egg to fertilize it

If anything interferes with sperm production and delivery, or if an infection hinders your sperm’s ability to move, male infertility issues may arise.

Causes and Risk Factors

Problems with male fertility can be caused by several things – from health issues and medical treatments, to poor lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and normal aging.

Post-testicular causes are a set of conditions that affect the male genital system after the sperm has been produced. They include infections, obstructions, and defects of the genital tract as well as problems in ejaculation.

Some Common Infertility Culprits

The most common (and reversible!) cause of male infertility is varicocele – a condition of swollen testicle veins that is present in about 15% of all men and in about 40% of infertile men.

Of the most commonly known causes of male infertility, Klinefelter Syndrome is a chromosomal defect that occurs in males early in the womb that results in smaller testes, which reduces the levels of testosterone and sperm production that naturally occurs.

Furthermore, antisperm antibodies are immune system cells which mistake sperm for a harmful intruder and tries to destroy them. These antibodies can be found in both males and females and have been considered as the cause of infertility in about 20% of infertile couples.

Cancer/Tumors

Cancerous tumors and nonmalignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, via the glands that release hormones related to reproduction. Unfortunately, some treatments to overcome cancer can also negatively affect male fertility, such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Seeking a fertility consultation before undergoing cancer treatments will allow you to understand what negative effects (if any) are expected based on your specific treatment regimen. If treatment will harm or eliminate fertility potential, you can choose to preserve your fertility through sperm freezing.

STDs and STIs

Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. Chlamydia is the most common STI associated with male infertility, followed by gonorrhea. Both are bacterial infections and are treatable with antibiotics.

It is important to note that up to half of infections do not produce noticeable symptoms, and if left uncontrolled, can cause permanent scarring and blockages in the areas associated with sperm production. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often sperm can still be retrieved through surgical procedures.

Other Causes

There are many associated causes related to lifestyle choices and health issues. These include smoking cigarettes, being overweight, heavy consumption of alcohol, or the use of illicit drugs.

  • Smoking tobacco products may damage the testicles and kill sperm
  • Obesity increases the likelihood of abnormal sperm cells
  • Alcohol abuse can cause erectile dysfunction and decreased sperm health

Aging happens to us all and is not under our control, but it is an important factor in infertility. While men can still procreate well into their later years, their sperm numbers decline along with their testosterone. In addition, research has found older sperm can contribute to conditions like autism and schizophrenia in children who are conceived after their father turns 50.

Although some causes of male infertility are out of your control, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, perform self-exams, and get regular check-ups. By doing so, you will have a head start in addressing all the aspects of male fertility that you do have control over. Learn more in our article What is Male Infertility.

Should I See a Specialist?

If you are struggling with male infertility, you are not alone. Comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are simple and painless. Vios Fertility Institute offers you a team of compassionate doctors and state-of-the-art testing and treatment options to help you along your unique fertility journey.

Take control of your fertility health and contact us today to schedule a consultation!

What is Male Infertility?

What is Male InfertilityMale infertility is defined by a male’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. Out of the 15% of couples that have trouble getting pregnant, male infertility accounts for about 40–50% of infertility and affects approximately 7% of all men. Male infertility is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, such as low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm.

Even though this article focuses on “what is male infertility,” it is important for both you and your partner to undergo testing. By doing so, we save time and identify right away the root cause of the fertility problems. Then, we can then address the issue(s) and move you closer to your dreams of parenthood.

Causes & Symptoms of Male Infertility

Sometimes the only obvious symptom of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child with a woman who has under gone a fertility checkup to determine everything is working properly on her end. The rule of thumb for infertility is the inability to conceive a child after 1 year if the woman is under 35 years of age and after 6 months if the woman is over 35 years of age.

But there are a number of reasons why a man might experience fertility problems.  Male infertility may result from an injury, an inherited or chronic health condition, or lifestyle choices. If the cause of infertility is related to an underlying medical problem these conditions may cause additional signs and symptoms like:

  • Problems with sexual function (such as difficulty with ejaculation, reduced sexual desire, or difficulty maintaining an erection)
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Inability to smell
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair (or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality)

You can learn more about causes and risk factors in our article What Causes Infertility in Men.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help

While some types of male infertility aren’t preventable, others can be treated with lifestyle changes. Optimizing your health and avoiding things thought to be associated with or known to cause male infertility can increase your chances of conception. For example:

  • No cigarette, e-cigarette, and marijuana smoking (see Can Smoking Really Affect My Chances of Getting Pregnant for more information)
  • Limit alcohol
  • No illicit drugs
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid prolonged heat exposure to testicles
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides and other toxins
  • Reduce stress
  • Discuss any testosterone supplement use with your physician or fertility specialist as testosterone treatment can cause a decrease in sperm production

 Now for some good news. Unlike a woman who is born with all the eggs she will ever produce, a man makes sperm throughout most of his life. Usually it takes 2.5 to 3 months for new sperm to fully mature and be capable of fertilizing an egg. Therefore, any positive lifestyle changes made today will have a positive effect on ejaculated sperm within 3 months.

 When Should I See a Specialist?

Couples may be disappointed when they aren’t pregnant after a few months of trying, but they shouldn’t be. It takes the average couple at least six months to become pregnant. If you haven’t conceived within one year, a fertility consultation for you and your partner is warranted. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, seek a consultation immediately, regardless of time trying to conceive.

What to Do If You Think Something is Wrong

In most cases, there is no obvious sign that a man is infertile without testing. Not being able to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating. That’s where the experts at Vios come in. A simple semen analysis test can give us a good indication of what is going on, and what treatment options would be best for you and your partner.

Conception is Our Life. Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Vios Fertility Institute’s experienced doctors and compassionate team focus on your care from day one to help you along your unique fertility journey. Our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take control of your fertility health.