National Infertility Awareness Week Events

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

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

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

This week’s events:

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

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

We look forward to celebrating NIAW 2021 with you!

What is Endometriosis?

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

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

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

Symptoms

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

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

Diagnosis

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

Medical Treatment

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

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

Other treatment includes pain killers and anti-inflammatories.

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

Understanding the Potential of Your Frozen Eggs

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

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

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

What Do We Know About the Egg, Exactly?

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

A New Solution Is Available.

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

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

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

Why Is Artificial Intelligence the Answer?

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

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

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

Should You Freeze Your Eggs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO SCHEDULE AN EGG FREEZING CONSULTATION, CONTACT US TODAY!

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

ELECTIVE EGG FREEZING: IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?

EGG FREEZING: FERTILITY PRESERVATION FOR WOMEN

Get a ‘Pulse’ On Your Fertility Health

Knowing your fertility health is an important step in your journey to start a family. As women age, the quality and quantity of their eggs decrease, this is known as Diminished Ovarian Reserve.

Diminished Ovarian Reserve presents no symptoms but nearly 10% of women suffer from it. The most common factor in a woman suffering is being over the age of 35. Other factors that can contribute include endometriosis, surgery for ovarian cysts or tumors, cancer treatments, and smoking.

The Vios Pulse Wellness Check Up provides an insight into your fertility healthy. For $99 you will receive bloodwork, an antra follicle ultrasound, semen analysis, and a consultation with a provider to go over your results

Schedule your Vios Pulse Fertility Wellness Check Up, contact us today!

Learn more about our Vios Pulse Wellness Check Up from Dr. Ellen Hayes and Dr. Mackenzie Purdy in the below video.

Fertility Struggles and Stigmas in the Black Community

Infertility affects 12% of all women up to age 44, but research suggests that black women are twice as likely to experience infertility as white women. However, only 8% of black women between the ages of 25-44 seek medical help to get pregnant, compared to 15% of white women.

To better understand this disparity, Fertility for Colored Girls hosted a webinar with black female endocrinologists including our Dr. Shannel Adams and Dr. Erica Louden to discuss fertility in the black community, the stigma of the diagnosis, and ways to improve egg quality before seeing a specialist.

Fertility is a difficult topic with a lot of stigma attached. This is especially true in the black community. The stereotype is that black women are more fertile than white women and that is just not true. This stereotype could keep black women from discussing their struggles with their doctors or seeing a fertility specialist. According to surveys, 21.3% of black women feel uncomfortable talking to their doctors about infertility issues compared to 13.5% of white women.

A lack of representation in the industry could be one factor. There are less than 50 black, female Reproductive Endocrinologists & Infertility specialists in the entire United states, representing less than 1% of REI physicians. This would make finding a doctor who has had similar experiences, stereotypes, or medical issues difficult.

Socioeconomic issues could also be a factor. Not being aware of financing options can deter people from moving forward in their fertility journey. To learn more about your financing options contact us and we will have a Financial Adviser help discuss your options.

There are things women can start doing now before seeing a doctor to optimize their fertility health. Some of these preempted steps are; no smoking, reduce alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy body weight, and taking supplements.

If pregnancy isn’t in your immediate plans egg freezing could be a good option for you.

Learn more about Dr. Shannel Adams and Dr. Erica Louden, fertility supplements, and fertility in the black community during this Instagram Live.

 

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Environment, Nutrients and Affects on Fertility: Dr. Amber Cooper Discusses

Age is an important factor in a woman’s ability to get pregnant, but lifestyle may also play a vital role.

Currently, research shows that certain chemicals in our environment could have negative effects on fertility but questions still remain on exactly what harms fertility, how much exposure is dangerous, or when the exposure is dangerous.

Types of chemicals in the environment which have the ability to affect fertility are called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals can be found in food, water, plastics, detergents and more. Once ingested, some of these chemicals may disrupt egg quality or quantity, decrease sperm count, or cause early menopause.

Dr. Amber Cooper, a Vios physician in our St. Louis region, spoke with FOX2 in St. Louis about how environment and nutrition affect fertility. Watch for more information about which chemicals to avoid and lifestyle changes that can help.

After the interview, Dr. Cooper answered patient questions on the topic during a Facebook Live.

Patient FAQs: Egg and embryo storage in the TMRW platform

Vios Fertility Institute is proud to be the first fertility clinic in the world to offer the TMRW Platform to patients. The TMRW platform is the first and only automated technology platform that safely stores, manages, and identifies frozen eggs and embryos. (Read the official press release here.)

What does this mean for Vios patients? See some Frequently Asked Questions and their answers below:

What is the TMRW Platform?

Essentially, it is a high-tech embryo or egg storage tank. Typically, embryos and eggs are frozen and then stored in protective, highly sophisticated, tanks. The TMRW platform is all of this PLUS cutting-edge software – a platform – that continuously monitors and provides 1000s of data points every day to provide real time information about the precious cells stored within. This is the first and only automated platform for the management, identification, and storage of the frozen eggs and embryos used in IVF.

When will eggs or embryos first be stored in the TMRW platform?

The first embryos were moved into the TMRW platform in January, 2021. Patients who have embryos or eggs stored at Vios Fertility Institute through our Chicago IVF Lab will have their tissue placed in the TMRW platform from that point forward and we are transferring our existing inventory of eggs & embryos into the TMRW platform. We expect the TMRW platform to be available in our St. Louis region sometime in 2021.

If I want to move my existing stored embryos or eggs to the TMRW platform, how do I do this?

We are in the process of transferring ALL currently stored eggs & embryos at Vios Fertility Institute Chicago IVF Lab into the TMRW platform. There is no action needed from you, as a patient, to make this happen. We are as excited as you are! If you’d like to talk with your doctor about this, please call and make an appointment.

Does this mean my embryos or eggs aren’t safe where they are currently?

Your embryos and eggs have always been safe. Now, they will be even safer.

Vios has also always upheld the highest levels of safety and security for eggs and embryos stored with us. With the TMRW platform, we have an opportunity to utilize cutting-edge technology to continue to deliver on this promise and provide enhanced monitoring. We are proud to offer it to our patients.

TMRW has created the first and only automated platform for the management, identification, and storage of the frozen eggs and embryos used in IVF.

This does not mean, however, that the current storage system is subpar or ineffective. The standard storage system has been in place – safely – at clinics around the world, including Vios, for many years now. Any tissue stored in these tanks can be assumed to be safe.

The current practices used, however, are manual and labor intensive.

TMRW’s technology automates and digitizes the entire process, which helps reduce the risk for human error and more importantly, allows the clinic to individually track eggs and embryos 24/7 through remote monitoring, sensors and state of the art software.

This technology essentially digitizes an existing system and brings clinics up to speed with the rest of the medical field.

Will use of the TMRW platform increase my frozen egg or embryo storage cost?

The installation of the TMRW platform will not be the cause of a storage price increase.

Over time, storage costs may increase as standard operating costs increase. Information about storage cost is available and you always can discuss this with your healthcare team.

Vios Fertility Institute Patients Are First to Have Embryos Transferred to TMRW

As Egg Freezing and IVF Rates Hit New Highs, Vios Fertility Institute Goes LIVE with TMRW, the World’s First Technology Platform that Stores, Manages, and Identifies Frozen Eggs and Embryos

Chicago Couple is First to Have Embryos Transferred

 

CHICAGO, IL (February 3, 2021) – By the year 2100, approximately 300 million people will be born from in vitro fertilization (IVF), something that seemed impossible until the birth of Louise Brown in 1978. TMRW Life Sciences (“TMRW”) is determined to assist in those future births by effectively managing all frozen fertility specimens with the first and only automated technology platform that safely stores, manages and identifies frozen eggs and embryos. Today, Vios Fertility Institute – Chicago announces it is the first clinic to go live and begin storing patient specimens.

TMRW technology platform at Vios“No one undertaking IVF should ever have to worry about the safety of their embryos and eggs,” said Joshua Abram, Founder and Co-CEO of TMRW. “Three hundred million babies are expected to be born via IVF globally by 2100. With TMRW we have brought the safe storage and management of life’s most precious cells into the 21st Century.”

TMRW is the solution to a wide range of issues that have plagued fertility clinics through the years such as embryo mix-ups, incorrect transfers of embryos and catastrophic failures that resulted in the loss of thousands of irreplaceable eggs and embryos. While current methods are manual and labor intensive, they have remained unchanged since the advent of IVF. TMRW’s technology automates and digitizes the entire process, which helps reduce the risk for human error and more importantly, allows the clinic to individually track eggs and embryos 24/7 through remote monitoring, sensors and state of the art software.

Additionally, TMRW’s automated solution improves IVF by replacing the current archaic system of storage — which is not equipped to handle the soon to be hundreds of millions of fertility specimens — with a cryo-robot featuring secure, reliable technology that dramatically reduces risk and provides peace of mind.

“As we see a substantial increase in patients seeking IVF and in egg freezing – up 41% percent and 31.5% over the previous year – I am thrilled that Vios is the first fertility clinic in the world that offers TMRW to its patients,” explains Dr. Angie Beltsos, CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Vios Fertility Clinic. “IVF patients and those wanting to preserve their fertility deserve the most sophisticated care available, and there is nothing more powerful than combining our top-notch embryology services with TMRW’s game-changing technology. The peace of mind the TMRW platform offers extends to doctors, embryologists and patients alike.”

Chicago couple, Mayrav Dolgin and Renee Genova, have received fertility treatments at Vios Fertility Clinic resulting in two beautiful sons -Jonah age 2 and Elan 6 mos. They are the first patients of Vios to have their remaining embryos stored using TMRW’s new platform.

“The fertility journey can be difficult enough without having to worry about the safety of your embryos,” explains Dolgin. “Mayrav and I were ecstatic to learn that our precious embryos would be the first to be stored in the TMRW cryo-robot,” adds Genova. “Knowing that our remaining embryos will be cared for and looked after with the most advanced technology available gives us tremendous reassurance that our ability to continue building our family in the future is protected.”

The TMRW platform’s key proprietary features include:

  • A 24/7 state-of-the-art, cloud-based monitoring system that makes thousands of wellness checks on stored samples every day. TMRW’s onsite and remote communication system uses predictive analytics to proactively identify and address any safety or storage trends before they become issues.
  • Each patient is assigned an RFID tag with a unique identifier, enabling clinics to identify and track every fertility cell, dramatically reducing the possibility of mislabeled or missing samples.
  • An encrypted, HIPAA-compliant software system, providing the highest level of data privacy and security available.
  • Proprietary labware with thermal properties and proven storage freezer provides the ability to maintain safe cryogenic temperatures to safeguard eggs and embryos even without electrical power or human intervention for more than two weeks, in case of severe emergencies such as natural disasters.

Towards the end of the year, TMRW plans to launch an app that will allow patients to track their frozen specimens using a smartphone. By the end of 2021, TMRW’s platform will be used in leading fertility clinics comprising more than 30% of all IVF cycles in the U.S. The company hopes to expand into UK-based fertility clinics in summer of 2021.

About Vios Fertility:
Established in 2015, Vios Fertility Institute is one of the fastest growing fertility clinics in the U.S. with 11 locations in the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis regions. Woman owned, the Vios mission is to help patients find their way to fertility health with the highest chances of success. Vios offers innovative, scientific, and cutting-edge treatment options along with an unparalleled patient experience. www.ViosFertility.com

About TMRW Life Sciences:
TMRW has created the world’s first automated platform designed specifically for cryo-management of eggs and embryos used in IVF. TMRW’s RFID-enabled, complete digital chain of custody SaaS technology radically improves on the error-prone manual and analog methods that have gone unchanged throughout the history of IVF, significantly reducing the chances of implantation mix-ups or loss of eggs and embryos. The TMRW team includes many of the world’s most celebrated innovators in fertility, embryology, cryo-management, automation, software development and robotics to name a few of the disciplines involved. TMRW’s co-founders, Joshua Abram, Alan Murray, and Dr. Jeffrey Port, are serial tech and life sciences entrepreneurs. Their immediate prior ventures sold for a combined sum of more than $1 billion. To date, TMRW has raised $50 million. For more information, please visit TMRW.org.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine and Fertility: What You Need To Know

Graphic of COVID-19 Vaccine and Fertility, What You Need to KnowLately, we hear many questions from patients about the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility and impact on pregnancy.

Vios Fertility Institute follows the guidelines from both the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in recommending that pregnant women, and women seeking to become pregnant, get the vaccine as it becomes available. These guidelines are constantly adjusted as new data is available and our team will continue to stay on top of the changes.

What else do you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine and its impact on fertility?

  • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based and therefore do not contain the live virus. This means that the vaccine elicits an immune response so if the recipient were to get COVID-19 she would have some immunity over it.
  • The vaccine does NOT appear to interfere with fertility in men or women.

Dr. MacKenzie Purdy and Dr. Roohi Jeelani answered many questions on this topic during our Instagram Live this week. Click below to watch!

 

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