Category: Male Fertility

What is Infertility?

what is infertilitySo, what is infertility, and how do we cure it? Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. Just as every individual is unique, the same is true of their fertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year if a woman is under 35 years of age, and after six months if a woman is 35 or older.

At least one in six couples have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. In the United States alone, approximately 7.4 million women experience infertility. The average young couple without known reproductive issues has about a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy in any given month, and it is not uncommon for couples to try for six months before they become pregnant.

How is Infertility Diagnosed?

If you experience any signs of infertility, you should meet with a fertility doctor to discuss your chances of conceiving and available treatment options immediately. Common indications of infertility include:

  • Family history of genetic disease
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Issues with erection or ejaculation
  • The male partner is undergoing testosterone treatment
  • Prior fibroid diagnosis
  • Prior surgical history on the tubes, ovaries or uterus
  • Prior surgical history on the testes
  • Repeated pregnancy loss or miscarriage
  • A vasectomy or tubal ligation has been performed

After discussing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor will probably prescribe basic fertility testing. For a female, testing will involve an AFC ultrasound to assess ovarian reserve and fertility potential, as well as bloodwork to evaluate ovarian function and reserve.

The male partner will undergo a physical exam and a laboratory semen analysis to assess sperm count, shape, and movement.

Additionally, a doctor may choose to perform a saline sonohysterogram (SHG) or a hysterosalpingogram (HSH) on the woman to rule out blockages or masses in the fallopian tubes and uterus.

What is Infertility in Women?

Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common causes of infertility in women. If you have an ovulatory disorder, you may ovulate infrequently or not at all. The symptoms of ovulatory disorders include irregular or absent menstrual cycles.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of female infertility. In a regular monthly cycle, follicles develop, and one egg is released into the fallopian tubes during ovulation. In women with PCOS, the hormones that mature eggs are not present, which prevents ovulation and causes cysts to form on the ovaries.

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as two or more consecutive miscarriages. Common causes of recurrent pregnancy loss include genetic disorders, hormone imbalance, uterine abnormality, and undiagnosed medical conditions.

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the significantly diminished or absent ovarian function before the age of 40 and affects 1-2% of women. Signs and symptoms of POI are irregular or skipped periods, early ovulation, hot flashes, and mood lability.

Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) refers to a decline in the number and quality of the remaining eggs in the ovaries or a poor response to ovarian stimulation. Causes of a diminished ovarian reserve include smoking, endometriosis, previous ovarian surgery, exposure to toxic chemicals, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Less common causes of infertility issues in women include:

  • Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Surgery in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine polyps or tumors
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Abnormal cervical mucus

What is Infertility in Men?

While published statistics focus on women, it is important to note that male infertility diagnoses are just as common. In most cases, there are no apparent signs of infertility in men without testing.

Generally, male infertility is caused by deficiencies in the semen, which include low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Common male fertility conditions are:

  • Varicocele – Varicocele is the most common reversible cause of male infertility. It is a condition of swollen testicle veins that is present in 15% of all men and approximately 40% of infertile men.
  • Klinefelter Syndrome – Klinefelter Syndrome is a chromosomal defect that occurs in males early in the womb. It results in smaller testes, which reduces testosterone levels and sperm production that naturally occurs.
  • Immune infertility related to anti-sperm antibodies – When the immune system mistakes sperm for a harmful intruder cell and tries to destroy them, it is considered a cause of infertility nearly 20% of infertile couples.

Male sperm production can also be abnormal. The most common reasons include:

  • Azoospermia – When there is no measurable level of sperm in the semen.
  • Necrospermia – When the sperm is either immobile or dead.
  • Oligospermia – When there is a low concentration of sperm in the semen. Typically, there is a higher percentage of abnormal sperm cells.

Unexplained Causes of Infertility

Unfortunately, both men and women experience unexplained causes of infertility. Approximately 1 in 4 couples will be told there is no explanation for their inability to conceive.

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make

Although there is no cure for infertility, you can make lifestyle changes that increase your chances of conception. The following changes apply to women and men:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid illicit drugs
  • Limit caffeine
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress

Vios Fertility Hoffman Estates Provides Hope and Help for Fertility

If you have been trying to conceive for six months or a year, it may be time to meet with a fertility specialist. At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates and at our other locations, we provide cutting-edge treatment, led by an exceptional clinical team, combined with unparalleled patient experience in a nurturing environment.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

To schedule your consultation, contact us today.

Infertility Treatments Don’t Always Mean IVF

infertility treatmentsAs a common form of assisted reproductive technology, in vitro fertilization is one of the most popular infertility treatments today. However, everyone has unique fertility needs and circumstances, which means IVF may not be for you.

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at one of our other locations, our team of physicians will work with you to understand your future fertility goals and develop a customized plan to meet them. With a variety of fertility treatments available, we will find a solution to optimize treatment success, achieve pregnancy, and preserve fertility.

Let’s Talk About In Vitro Fertilization

Since the first successful in vitro procedure in 1978, over five million babies have been born through IVF treatments.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology in which the 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 more embryos are transferred to the uterus of the woman. If any resulting embryos remain, they are frozen through a process known as vitrification.

To learn more about IVF and how it works, contact the experts at Vios Fertility Institute Hoffman Estates, read our blog article “The IVF Process: A Step-by-Step Inside Look,” or visit our In Vitro Fertilization page.

Basic Infertility Treatments

Timed Intercourse and Ovulation Induction

Timed intercourse is the simplest form of infertility treatment a couple can receive. With a limited timeframe for fertilization to occur, it is important to have intercourse at the right time. Monitoring occurs to track ovulation so that you will have a better potential for fertilization.

If a woman is not ovulating, we use a combination of ovulation induction medications to grow follicles and time the release of the egg so that intercourse can be planned to increase the chances of fertilization.

While every patient is unique, we follow a timeline to prescribe medications and monitor progress to determine when ovulation will occur and plan for intercourse.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is often the first step in fertility treatment for many couples. It is a less expensive and more conservative infertility treatment option that is ideal for a lot of couples.

An IUI is accomplished by placing highly concentrated sperm directly into the uterus to facilitate fertilization and increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes.

IUI is a common treatment option for couples experiencing unexplained infertility issues, ovulation disorders, mild endometriosis, and mild male infertility issues with sperm or erectile dysfunction.

To learn more about the IUI process, contact Vios Hoffman Estates or visit our Intrauterine Insemination page.

Advanced Infertility Treatments

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

A frozen embryo transfer, or FET, takes an embryo cryopreserved from a previous IVF cycle or a donor embryo and thaws it before transferring it to a woman’s uterus. The advancements in cryopreservation techniques and the use of vitrification have allowed for increased success rates when using frozen embryos.

Once an embryo is cryopreserved, it can be stored indefinitely. A woman can use the embryos in the future at the age in which they are frozen. A frozen embryo transfer can occur:

  • After a successful fresh transfer when a woman wants to conceive her next child later
  • After an unsuccessful fresh transfer, anywhere from months to years later when a woman is ready to try again
  • When a couple decides to undergo genetic testing on their embryos, which results in the need for cryopreservation of the tested embryos
  • When a fresh transfer is not in the best interest of the patient

To learn more about frozen embryo transfer, contact Vios Fertility Institute Hoffman Estates or visit our Frozen Embryo Transfer page.

Genetic Testing (PGS and PGD)

As an additional and optional step in the IVF process, the genetic testing of embryos is incorporated after eggs are fertilized and have begun their development as embryos. By electing to do genetic testing, a patient can increase the chance of implantation and reduce the chance of miscarriage by transferring an embryo that has been tested for chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS)

With PGS, select cells are removed from the embryo and are genetically screened for chromosomal abnormalities, such as trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). PGS may be utilized if multiple miscarriages have occurred or if the female partner is of advanced maternal age.

PGS is available to all patients and can help increase pregnancy rates and decrease miscarriage rates. PGS also determines the sex of the embryo with nearly 100% accuracy.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

In PGD, select cells are removed from an embryo to test for a specific, known genetic condition. It is common for individuals or couples who have been diagnosed with or are carriers of a known genetic condition. After PDG, embryos without the genetic condition are transferred into the uterus for implantation.

The most tested genetic conditions are cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs, sickle cell, and thalassemia. However, with advanced technology, PDG is available for most diseases, including rare genetic disorders.

Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation is a perfect option for women or couples who want to wait until they are ready to start a family. Fertility preservation includes egg freezing, sperm freezing, or embryo freezing.

Apart from social reasons, men and women may also consider fertility preservation if they are undergoing medical treatments or procedures that harm fertility:

  • Cancer diagnosis – For men and women who have been diagnosed with cancer, fertility preservation protects eggs and sperm before chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, which can be toxic.
  • Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) – For women who with premature ovarian insufficiency, early menopause, or a genetic predisposition to early menopause, fertility preservation preserve viable eggs or embryos for future use.
  • Autoimmune disease – Women with chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may consider fertility preservation due to medications they use, which could potentially harm ovaries and cause infertility.

To learn more about fertility preservation, please read our blog Fertility Preservation & Fertility Options After Cancer Diagnosis, or visit our Fertility Preservation page.

A Variety of Infertility Treatments for You at Vios Fertility Hoffman Estates

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or one of our other locations, our mission is to help our patients find their way to fertility health and treatment with the highest chance of success. We also provide a variety of innovative, scientific, cutting-edge infertility treatments along with unparalleled patient care.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

When you schedule a consultation with one of our compassionate doctors, you will learn which infertility treatments may be best for you. We also help you navigate your fertility journey by answering questions, offering financing options, and providing you with the support you need to achieve your dreams of parenthood.

To schedule your initial consultation, contact us today.

Elective Egg Freezing: Is It Right for You?

egg freezingOtherwise known as cryopreservation, egg freezing involves the freezing and storage of unfertilized eggs obtained by stimulation and egg retrieval. The procedure is ideal for couples who want to achieve pregnancy at a later date through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The process begins with ovarian stimulation, which utilizes hormones that are self-administered daily by the patient for ten days. Next, the patient undergoes transvaginal (or trans-abdominal) egg retrieval. The unfertilized eggs are frozen and stored for potential future use.

Fertility Preservation

When it comes to fertility, age is an important factor. As women become older, their eggs diminish in number and quality, which makes it difficult to become or stay pregnant.

For women who are not ready to conceive but want to preserve fertility for the future, fertility preservation is a perfect option. It is also ideal for women who experience conditions that affect fertility or require treatment for cancer or another illness.

Cancer Treatments

For women and men diagnosed with cancer, egg freezing and sperm freezing protect eggs and sperm before cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Unfortunately, cancer treatments are toxic and can negatively impact eggs and sperm.

At Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates and at our other locations, our team of reproductive endocrinologists works directly with oncologists to ensure optimal coordination of cancer treatments and fertility preservation. We understand the importance of cancer treatments, which is why we guarantee all oncofertility patients see a Vios provider within 24-48 hours of their first phone call.

After the initial consultation, we can begin the process of growing, freezing, or fertilizing eggs within two days and finish the process in two weeks. Depending on the type of chemotherapy regimen, the endocrinologist may not recommend fertility preservation.

For more information about cancer treatments and fertility, please contact the experts at Vios Fertility Institute Hoffman Estates or read our blog article Fertility Preservation and Fertility Options After Cancer Diagnosis.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

Premature ovarian insufficiency, or premature menopause, refers to a significantly diminished or absent ovarian function before the age of 40 and affects 1-2% of girls and women. If a female has diminished or absent ovarian function, they will not produce normal amounts of hormones or release eggs regularly, resulting in infertility.

If you experience the symptoms of premature ovarian failure, you should consider fertility preservation to preserve viable eggs or embryos for future use. The signs and symptoms of POF include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular or skipped periods
  • Irritability
  • Mood lability
  • Ovulating early in the menstrual cycle or not ovulating at all
  • Shortening menstrual cycles or pre-cycle spotting

Autoimmune Disease

Women with chronic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, should consider fertility preservation. The medications that treat autoimmune diseases possess ingredients that harm ovaries and cause infertility.

However, like chemotherapeutic agents, some medications do not harm ovaries. If you are unsure about the effects of your medication, you should consult your doctor immediately.

How Does Fertility Preservation Work?

Fertility preservation is the freezing of eggs or embryos for future use through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a normal menstrual cycle, women grow multiple eggs every month, and 1-2 eggs develop bigger than the rest and are selected for ovulation.

Next, medications called gonadotropins are injected into the stomach to grow the eggs. Typically, you will undergo multiple injections per day for about two weeks, or until the eggs can be removed.

The egg retrieval is performed under anesthesia (so the patient is asleep) using a vaginal ultrasound probe with a tiny needle attached. The needle moves through the wall of the vagina and directly into the ovary, so you will not notice any incisions when you wake up. The fluid is removed from the ovary with a needle, which is given to an embryologist. They will identify the eggs under a microscope.

Who is Eligible for Egg Freezing?

Elective egg freezing is ideal for post-pubertal to pre-menopausal females (ages 15-45). However, it is recommended that women take advantage of their body’s fertility in their 20s or 30s.

Future Use for Elective Egg Freezing

When you are ready to have a baby, the frozen eggs are thawed and fertilized. The resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of the patient or a gestational carrier. If the patient does not have adequate ovarian function at the time, she can take hormones for approximately three weeks before transfer and three months after to support the pregnancy.

Fertility Preservation for Men

While a male produces millions of new sperm every day, there are situations in which a man may prefer to freeze sperm.

During the simple process, a man ejaculates into a sterile container, which is frozen through the process of vitrification. A man can produce multiple specimens over a short period of time until the desired number of frozen sperm has been reached.

At Vios Fertility in Hoffman Estates, IL and at Our Other Locations, Conception is Our Life

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates and at our other locations, we are on a mission to help you achieve your dreams of parenthood. Whether you are unable to conceive a child, or you want to learn more about fertility preservation, our team of compassionate doctors is here for you. We will help you find your way to fertility health and conception with innovative, cutting-edge treatment options along with unmatched patient experience.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

To learn more about your specific options concerning fertility diagnosis and treatments, schedule a consultation today.

Signs of Infertility in Men and Women

signs of infertilityWhat is Infertility?

According to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, infertility is defined as the ability of a sexually active couple to get pregnant after one year of trying without birth control. For women aged 35 or older, the window shortens to six months.

Although it is a common issue, infertility is a complicated subject to understand. It can be caused by the woman, the man, by both the woman and man, or unknown reasons.

Fortunately, there are a variety of fertility treatments, opportunities, resources, and support available to you. If you are unfamiliar with the signs of infertility and want to learn more, you can always count on our team of compassionate doctors at Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates.

Common Signs of Infertility in Women

If you are a woman struggling to conceive, you are not alone. In the United States, approximately 7.4 million women have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. Despite a variety of available treatments, female infertility is stressful and devastating for couples who dream of parenthood.

Whether you or your partner struggle with infertility, it is important to understand the causes of infertility before you speak with your doctor. To become pregnant, a woman should experience the following:

  • Ovulation – To become pregnant, your ovaries must produce and release a mature egg. To evaluate your menstrual cycles and confirm ovulation, consult your doctor.
  • Sperm – For most couples, sperm count is not an issue. However, if your partner has a history of illness or surgery, a doctor may need to run simple tests or a semen analysis to evaluate the health of their sperm.
  • Regular intercourse – To become pregnant, you must have regular sexual intercourse during your fertile time. To understand when you are most fertile, consult your doctor.
  • Open fallopian tubes and a healthy uterus – When the egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tubes, the embryo needs a healthy and unobstructed uterus to implant and support the developing fetus.

Factors that Affect Female Infertility

Various factors can affect a woman’s ability to conceive, which means female infertility is difficult to diagnose. The most common cause of infertility in women is ovulation disorders, which account for infertility in 25% of couples.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women of reproductive age. In a woman with PCOS, the necessary hormones for an egg to fully mature are not present, which prevents ovulation from occurring and causing cysts to form on the ovaries. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth, and acne.
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) – POI refers to the significantly diminished or absent ovarian function before the age of forty. Caused by hormonal imbalances, the first sign of POI involves menstrual irregularities or missed periods.

However, there are other signs of infertility in women, such as:

  • Endometriosis – Endometriosis is a disorder where uterine tissue lining develops outside of the uterus on the pelvic organs. The uterine lining continues to function as it would in the uterus by thickening and breaking down with every menstrual cycle. The extra tissue growth can cause scarring, which blocks the fallopian tubes and prevents the egg and sperm from uniting.
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction – Every month, the follicle-stimulating and the luteinizing hormones are produced by the pituitary gland and responsible for stimulating ovulation. Excess physical or emotional stress or recent weight gain or loss disrupts the production of these hormones and affects ovulation, resulting in irregular or absent periods.

To learn more about the causes of female infertility, please contact Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates or read What is Female Infertility? and Common Causes of Infertility.

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make

If you are a woman and ready to have a baby, you should follow specific steps to optimize fertility:

  • Avoid alcohol. Heavy alcohol use is linked to decreased fertility. Whether you plan to become pregnant or you already are, you should avoid alcohol at all costs.
  • Exercise moderately. You should practice regular exercise, but excessive exercise can result in infrequent periods or affect fertility.
  • Limit caffeine. If you want to become pregnant, you should limit your daily caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day. Caffeine can impact the amount of time it takes to conceive naturally.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and underweight women have an increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you need to lose weight, consider moderate exercise.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco has adverse effects on fertility, as well as the health of you and your fetus. If you smoke and plan to become pregnant, you should quit immediately.
  • Reduce stress. If you or your partner are experiencing psychological stress, you may be unable to conceive. If you can, find a way to relieve stress before trying to become pregnant.

Common Signs of Infertility in Men

While you usually hear about infertility in females, male infertility is also a common issue. Although there are no apparent signs or symptoms of male infertility, it makes up 50% of all infertility cases in couples.

If you want to conceive a child with your partner, you must achieve the following steps as the male counterpart:

  • Healthy sperm production – At least one of your testicles must function correctly, and your body must produce testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production.
  • Sperm and semen must mix after the testicles produce sperm – Once the testicles produce sperm, delicate tubes transport them until they mix with semen.
  • There must be enough sperm in the semen – If your sperm count is low, it decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize the egg.
  • Sperm must be functional and able to move – If the movement (motility) or function of your sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate the egg to fertilize it.

Factors that Affect Male Infertility

Typically, male infertility is determined by semen deficiencies, such as low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent sperm delivery. Common signs of infertility in men include:

  • Antibodies that attack sperm – Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to eliminate them.
  • Klinefelter Syndrome – As a chromosomal defect that occurs in males early in the womb, Klinefelter Syndrome results in smaller testes, which reduces testosterone levels and sperm production.
  • Tumors – Cancers and nonmalignant tumors affect the male reproductive organs directly through glands that release hormones related to reproduction. In some cases, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors also affects male fertility.
  • Varicocele – As the most common reversible cause of male infertility, a varicocele is the swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It is present in about 15% of all men and about 40% of infertile men.

However, there are other factors that affect male infertility and impact sperm production:

  • Environmental causes – Overexposure to environmental elements such as high temperatures, radiation, and industrial chemicals can overheat testicles and reduce sperm production or sperm function.
  • Drug and alcohol use – If you take anabolic steroids to stimulate muscle strength and growth, you can decrease sperm production and shrink your testicles. Alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, and decrease sperm production.

To learn more about infertility in men, contact Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates or read What is Male Infertility? and Common Causes of Infertility.

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make

Although there are types of male infertility that are unpreventable, you can increase your chances of conception with these specific lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, and decrease sperm production. Excessive drinking also leads to liver disease, which results in fertility issues.
  • Avoid drug use. Anabolic steroids may stimulate muscle strength and growth, but they also shrink testicles and decrease sperm production.
  • Eat healthy foods and exercise. Obesity increases the likelihood of abnormal sperm cells, which means you should maintain a healthy weight and eat a diet consisting of foods high in antioxidants to improve sperm health.
  • Quit smoking. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than those who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke also may affect male infertility.

Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates, IL Provides Hope and Help for Fertility

Whether you have been unable to get pregnant for six months to a year, it may be time to seek help. Fortunately, with advanced reproductive technology, it is possible for many couples to achieve their dreams of parenthood.

If you want to learn more about the signs of infertility and available treatment options, Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates or one of our other locations is here for you. We will help you navigate the journey and take control of your fertility health.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

To learn more, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Debunking the Myths: Top 5 Facts Men Should Know About Male Infertility

male infertilityMyths about male infertility are varied and widely believed. If you’re trying to become a parent, do you believe having sex daily with your partner will increase your odds of conception? Are you convinced boxers will boost your sperm production? Maybe you think difficulty conceiving is related to a female fertility problem.

The reality is that out of all cases, infertility can be due to the woman, the man, or a combination of the two. In fact, 1 in six couples have problems conceiving, and male infertility makes up about 50% of all infertility cases. However, most men don’t go in for a noninvasive diagnosis until their partner has  had extensive evaluations. Male comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are painless and straightforward.

Here are some other facts that debunk other common myths. How many of them do you know?

1 – Daily Intercourse will not Improve the Odds of Conception

Most people believe that the more you try, the higher the odds of becoming pregnant. The truth is you should look at the timing. A man’s sperm can live for 48 to 72 hours inside a woman’s reproductive tract. For those trying to conceive timing intercourse to match a woman’s fertile window, the five to six days before ovulation, is vital

2 – Boxers or Briefs? It Doesn’t Matter!

The choice of underwear doesn’t affect male fertility. Research has shown that while the testicles need to stay a few degrees cooler than the body’s core temperature for proper sperm production, wearing snug underwear doesn’t seem to have much impact. On the other hand, experts recommend staying out of hot tubs to avoid unnecessary heat exposure.

3 – Not All Men Have Sperm in Their Semen

An absent sperm count affects approximately 1% of the male population. There may be a problem even if the ejaculate looks normal since most of the ejaculated fluid isn’t sperm. The best way to know for sure is to have a semen analysis, or sperm count, to test the health and vitality of the sperm. Testing is simple and painless and there are treatment options if a problem is diagnosed.

4 – Age Can Affect Your Sperm

While men can still procreate well into their later years, their sperm numbers decline along with their testosterone. Also, research has found older sperm can contribute to conditions like autism and schizophrenia in children who are conceived after their father turns 50.

5 – Self-Exams and Check-ups Are Important for Male Fertility

Examining your scrotum monthly not only helps you identify the early stages of testicular cancer but also possible varicoceles, enlarged veins in the scrotum that can cause future infertility. A yearly check-up with a urologist can keep you better informed about your reproductive health as well.

Although some causes of male infertility are out of your control, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, exercise, and lower stress. 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 articles: What is Male Infertility and What Causes Infertility in Men.

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

If you are struggling with male infertility, you are not alone. Comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are painless and straightforward. 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!

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.

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.

What’s the Difference Between a Traditional Surrogate and a Gestational Carrier?

gestational carrierMany people have heard the term “surrogate” when it comes to family planning, but few are familiar with the term “gestational carrier.” In both cases, a woman is using her uterus to carry a child for another family, but there’s a big difference between the two.

Surrogates and gestational carriers may be different, but they have two incredible things in common – a generous heart and extraordinary selflessness to grant a family facing infertility the gift of a child of their own.

Why a Family Needs a Surrogate

If a couple is unable to conceive or the woman is unable to carry a baby, a surrogate can step in to help them become parents. Prospective moms and dads may reach out to a friend or loved one to carry their child, but in most cases, they’re connected to a surrogate through an agency. All surrogacy agencies provide extensive screening of potential candidates through medical and psychological testing, and in fact, almost 98% of women who apply are rejected for various reasons.

What is a Traditional Surrogate?

The type of “surrogate” most people think of and a potentially more affordable option for parents-to-be is a traditional surrogate in which the surrogate donates her egg AND carries the pregnancy. With a traditional surrogate, pregnancy can often occur with intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the male partner’s sperm is injected into the surrogate’s uterus.

The surrogate’s medical expenses are covered by the intended parents and, depending on the situation, she is compensated for carrying the pregnancy. While it can be less expensive, traditional surrogacy can open the intended couple up to heartbreaking legal ramifications. The surrogate is the biological mother of the child she carries, and if she decides she wants to keep the baby, the intended parents may have no legal recourse. Even if a legal contract is in place prior to conception (which we require), laws in many states may allow for the surrogate to fight for custody of the child. For this reason, we strongly advise patients to use a gestational carrier instead of a traditional surrogate.

What is a Gestational Carrier?

In a gestational carrier situation, the egg can come from the intended mother, be donated by a loved one, or acquired through an egg bank. The egg is fertilized with the male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm before it’s transferred to the carrier’s uterus through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Because the egg is another woman’s, the carrier has no genetic relation to the baby she is carrying.

More and more couples are turning to a gestational carrier to make their dream of parenthood come true. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the number of babies born to gestational carriers grew 116 percent between 2004 and 2011.

As with traditional surrogates, the gestational carrier’s medical expenses are covered by the intended parents and the carrier is usually compensated for carrying the pregnancy.

To protect all parties involved, we require all intended parents and gestational carriers to seek legal counsel from a reproductive lawyer. A contract is drawn up with the expectations and rights of each party, as well as details on the delivery and future contact. The reproductive lawyer will also provide guidance on what states have laws regulating surrogacy and what states should be avoided due to negative or non-existent statues. It is strongly encouraged that the gestational carrier and intended parents have separate reproductive lawyers to minimize potential conflicts of interest.

Ready for Help with Fertility?

If you have questions about surrogacy or would like to discuss your options with a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, contact us today to schedule a consultation.