How Does Breast Cancer Affect Your Fertility?

3583199_sIf you are one of the millions of women in the world who has developed breast cancer and is wondering how this affects your fertility, you are not alone. Each person is different; therefore how each person is affected is also different. There are generally three main factors which affect how breast cancer will impact your fertility:

–Type of treatment. If you have a type of breast cancer which only requires surgery and radiation to treat, your fertility will not be affected. If you have a more aggressive type of breast cancer which needs chemotherapy to treat, there is a higher likelihood of your fertility being affected. Premature ovarian failure or early menopause are two effects chemotherapy might have.

–Type and stage of the cancer. If you have a small tumor still in the early stage of growth that is responsive to hormones, it is possible to easily remove the tumor or treat it with hormone-containing drugs. If your cancer has spread across your body and is in a later stage, it’s possible that it is “hormonally insensitive”—meaning drugs do not affect it—and the only option is chemotherapy.

–Age. The older you are when you get breast cancer, the less impact it has on your fertility. This is because your fertility is already declining by your late 30s and it’s possible you’ve already had all the children you want to have. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer in your early 20s, there’s much more at stake: you may not have had any children yet, it’s unknown what your fertility will look like after cancer treatment, etc.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it’s possible you still have time to undergo egg freezing before your cancer treatments start. By doing this, you are giving yourself some insurance that you could still have children after your ordeal with breast cancer is over.

Talk to your doctor about your specific situation and what you can do to still ensure you have children even though you’ve also had breast cancer.

Posted in Blog, breast cancer, egg freezing, Fertility Treatments

‘Shoebox IVF’ Hope for Infertile Couples

The struggle of infertility is one that knows no race or nationality. Despite  recent political rhetoric over the state of healthcare in the US, the bottom line is we are a first world country and we have medical advantages, advanced technology and well-trained physicians that many people in the world do not.75698675_ivf

That’s not the case in many countries around the world, and the stigma associated with not being able to have children is so negative that some women are shunned from their community and in extreme cases resort to suicide.

But Belgian obstetrician Dr Willem Ombelet, who worked in South Africa in the 1980s, believed there must be a way to overcome the cost barriers that prohibited IVF treatment. He and embryologist, Jonathan Van Blerkom, birthed the idea of a cheap, portable lab for embryo incubation.

By mixing baking soda and citric acid they created their own CO2, periodically adding it to the solution holding the embryos to maintain the optimal CO2 concentration and alkalinity levels.

Voila! Reliable, inexpensive embryo incubator.

Read the full story, by Cathy Edwards, in BBC News.

Posted in Blog, Fertility Treatments, Infertility, IVF, News

4 Things to Know About Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is becoming increasingly popular as the process is perfected and news about it becomes more widespread. If you know nothing else, here are four things you must know about egg freezing:

—It’s never too early to do it. A woman doesn’t make eggs throughout her life; she is born with a certain amount of eggs and has a window of time to use them. The eggs on reserve start expiring around age 30. If you are even considering this idea, it is best to take action now.

—It can be too late to do it, however. The usual cut-off age for undergoing egg freezing is 38 years old. Past this age, the quality of the eggs is not as guaranteed as when women are younger. Do not wait to undergo this procedure if you are thinking about it!

—Egg freezing is a process. First is the initial consultation, then comes an ultrasound, blood work, hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs, egg retrieval, and storage. The whole process can take up to six weeks to complete.

—Freezing your eggs opens up future family-making possibilities. “You don’t need to freeze your eggs in hopes of meeting Mr. Right. You can also freeze them while you search for Mr. Right Sperm Donor.” Whichever you decide, egg freezing allows you the time to make a decision in peace, rather than being rushed.

Do not feel pressured or rushed to have children if you aren’t ready. Talk to your doctor about if egg freezing may be right for you.

Posted in Blog, egg freezing, Fertility Treatments

Fertility Preservation Gives Hope to Endometriosis Patients

DW In-Tomer logoDr. Singer, Director of our Egg Freezing Program, sheds light on how fertility preservation can help endometriosis patients.

 

I have been working with Dr. Seckin for over a decade now, and could not agree more that endometriosis is a disease that’s under-researched and that patients with endometriosis should be treated in parallel for both their debilitating pelvic pain and for their inevitable impending infertility. Endometriosis, though benign, is known to affect patients’ uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs crucial for successful pregnancy and a healthy delivery.

A good strategy to tackle this condition and provide patients with the highest level of care would be an inter-disciplinary approach to treating endometriosis while preserving their fertility. I would advise young single patients with endometriosis to be proactive and consider freezing their eggs before this chronic medical condition reduces their fertility and conception potential. With improvements in the egg freezing technology in the past three years we can now offer endometriosis patients hope and the chance of starting a family.

If you have concerns about endometriosis and how this affects your fertility, please schedule an appointment with myself or one of my colleagues to get expert advice on treatment options.

Posted in Blog, Endometriosis, Fertility Treatments, Improve your Fertility, News, Tomer Singer

Foreign Couples Heading to America for Surrogate Pregnancies

The New York Times recently ran an article detailing the trending flow of affluent couples from foreign countries who are coming to the US for surrogacy services. The US is just one of a few countries where paid surrogacy is legal and accepted.

Currently New York State law prohibits the hiring of a gestational carrier in exchange for money. However, if your potential gestational carrier is a friend or relative and is not getting financial compensation, it is possible for the Center for Human Reproduction to accommodate you, provided the carrier passes our screening.

We support the efforts of RESOLVE and other groups to enact a surrogacy bill in New York State. Women who are unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy for medical reasons should still be afforded the opportunity to become a mother and have a family.

To read the full New York Times article, by Tamar Lewin, click here.

Posted in Blog, Center for Human Reproduction, Fertility Treatments, News, Same-sex couples

Scientists and Bioethicists Clash Over 3-Parent DNA

The possibility of 3-parent DNA continues to be a topic of debate in the US as well as Britain. Although Britain is expected to make a decision on the legality and ethics of this controversial procedure by the end of this year, US FDA officials have yet to approve the procedure, or make any decisions regarding its use.

Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of the human reproduction center for the North-Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, takes a cautionary approach, stating, “How we make sure that what you are transferring is safe and healthy remains to be seen.

To read more of this story from Newsday, click here.

 

Posted in Avner Hershlag, Blog, Center for Human Reproduction, Fertility Treatments, News

Melatonin and Your Fertility

Sleep will forever be a necessary ingredient to staying healthy, especially getting the right amount of sleep. But it turns out that the amount of darkness you get affects how much melatonin your body produces, which has an impact on your fertility.

Russel J. Reiter, a professor of cellular biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and his colleagues decided to conduct a review of studies that examined melatonin levels and circadian rhythms, the results of which were published in July in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

He found that every time you turn on the light at night, your melatonin production decreases. “Melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness, is important when women are trying to conceive, because it protects their eggs from oxidative stress. Melatonin has strong antioxidant properties that shield the egg from free-radical damage, especially when women ovulate.”

Ultimately, the light-dark cycle should be regular from day to day. If it isn’t regulated, a woman’s biological clock could get confused and thrown off, making it more difficult for hormones to be consistent. Reiter is careful to distinguish between sleep and darkness. Yes, sleep is important, but melatonin can be produced even when you are awake, as long as you are in the dark. Be sure your bedroom has adequate coverage over any windows so you can rest and sleep in solid darkness.

There are many other factors which play in to how fertile you are. Talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you have, so you can soon be on your way to parenthood.

Posted in Blog

How Cholesterol Can Affect Your Fertility

As doctors and scientists do more research about human fertility, they are finding ever more factors that affect how fertile humans are. The latest research has found that if both partners have high cholesterol, it can take significantly longer for them to conceive a child.

It’s unclear at the moment why cholesterol affects fertility. However it is known that cholesterol is closely involved with the production of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development lead scientist Dr. Enrique Schisterman said, “We’ve long known that high cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease. From our data, it would appear that high cholesterol levels…also reduce couples’ chances of pregnancy. In addition to safeguarding their health, our results suggest that couples wishing to achieve pregnancy could improve their chances by first ensuring that their cholesterol levels are in an acceptable range.”

The study was conducted of 500 American couples and examined fertility along with environmental chemicals and lifestyle. It found that couples where both the male and female had normal levels of cholesterol had the easiest time conceiving. Couples where the female had a higher level of cholesterol than the man had a more difficult time conceiving. Couples who both had high levels of cholesterol took the longest time to conceive.

Staying healthy is not just for you—it impacts any future children you would like to have. Talk to your doctor today about any health concerns you have and how they would affect you being able to have a child.

Posted in Blog, Improve your Fertility, Infertility

Ready for DIY Fertility Treatment?

A new “do-it-yourself” ultrasound method could let women who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) cut down on their trips to the doctor’s office, a new study suggests.

For them to feel that they can rely on their own monitoring, I think, is a big leap.
Avner Hershlag. MD
Chief, Center for Human Reproduction

I’m all in favor of doing monitoring at home; I just don’t think that this study proves that doing it in all patients is feasible.
Tomer Singer, MD
Reproductive Endocrinologist, Center for Human Reproduction

Read more about the DIY Vaginal Ultrasound from Rachael Rettner at Live Science.

Posted in Avner Hershlag, Blog, Center for Human Reproduction, Fertility Treatments, News, Tomer Singer

Fertility Specialist vs. OB/GYN

If you are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant and have decided to see a doctor, you may now be at a crossroads of which doctor to see: a fertility specialist or an OB/GYN. What are the differences, and when should you go to each one?

An obstetrician-gynecologist, commonly called an OB/GYN, has gone through four years of undergraduate schooling, four years of medical school, and usually four years of residency before she can see her own patients. She is trained in understanding the body both in day-to-day life as well as in pregnancy. See your OB/GYN first for a preliminary fertility evaluation. If your evaluation results show that you may have a fertility issue, you should then consider seeing a fertility specialist.

A fertility specialist has gone through all the schooling an OB/GYN goes through, but also has completed an additional three years of schooling specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. If your periods are irregular or extremely painful, you have a difficult time tracking your ovulation, you’ve had more than one miscarriage, you or your partner has an STD, or you have other health concerns that could be affecting your fertility, see a fertility specialist.

Talk to your doctor today about any fertility concerns you have and who you should be talking to. Do not wait any longer to start your journey to becoming a parent!

Posted in Blog, infertility specialist