Reversing the Effect of Obesity on Fertility

There are countless negative effects of obesity on a person’s body. For women in particular, being obese can be a serious hindrance to getting pregnant.

To make the situation even worse, scientists have discovered that the negative effects of obesity don’t just harm the mother, but can actually be passed down to her children as well. Rebecca Robker, Associate Professor from the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide, says obesity can “result in altered growth of babies during pregnancy, and it permanently programs the metabolism of offspring, passing the damage caused by obesity from one generation to the next.”

Obesity leads to a specific stress response that damages the mitochondria in the body. Since all of your mitochondria come from your mother, whatever state hers is in is the state yours will be in as well. When researchers learned this, they were set on finding out how to stop this from happening. The researchers “identified the type of stress involved [and then] used compounds known to alleviate that stress in the cells. These compounds were highly successful in preventing the stress response, thereby stopping the damage from obesity being passed onto the offspring. It restored egg quality, embryo development and mitochondrial DNA to levels equivalent to those of a healthy mother.”

The best thing you can do to increase your chances of becoming pregnant are to exercise regularly and eat healthily. Talk to your doctor about any other concerns you might have about getting pregnant and find out how you could soon be on the path to parenthood.

Posted in Blog, Improve your Fertility, Infertility, Infertility Contributing Factors, Lifestyle

Ancient Fertility Stones Found in Israel

Over the years, archaeologists have been able to learn vast amounts about an ancient culture by uncovering artifacts, whether they are art, writing or objects in the ground. Recently they’ve found that cultures 8000 years ago were just as concerned about fertility as we are today.

In several different locations, archaeologists have uncovered stone formations that are akin to worship sites, suggesting that these were places where people would pray to fertility gods. Rocks in the shape of both a vulva and a penis have been found at several locations. Although archaeologists aren’t sure what went on during these ceremonies, the formations are strongly reminiscent of other cults whose artifacts have been discovered nearby.

Today, we have brilliant minds and state-of-the-art technology to help us figure out why some people are unable to conceive. If you have been experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, don’t leave your success up to fate; talk to a doctor to find out what can be done to help you achieve your dream of having a child.

Posted in Blog

Tips for a Valentine’s Day in the Midst of Infertility

While Valentine’s Day is a day meant to celebrate the love between you and your significant other, it often can turn into a day of heavy expectations and comparison with those around you. It can be an especially emotional day if you are currently struggling with infertility. This Valentine’s, here are a few ways to keep your day happy:

—Don’t Expect Perfection
No one is perfect—including you! If you or your honey aren’t super romantic, that probably won’t change overnight. Even small ways of showing your love, even if it’s just saying “thank you for going through life with me,” can be special.

—Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
People only post their highlights on social media, not the normalcy of day-to-day life. Put down your smartphone and focus your time and energy on the person you are with.

—Take a Day Off From Fertility Talk
If you are trying to become pregnant, that thought is no doubt consuming your mind. Set aside this one day to be about just the two of you. Agree to not talk about fertility at all; reminisce about when you first started dating or what made you fall in love with that person in the first place.

Let Valentine’s be a day you look forward to because of the love you already have in your life. But do not struggle alone with infertility; talk to your doctor about what the issue might be, and begin your journey to parenthood.

Posted in Blog, Infertility

How Being Celiac Could Affect Your Fertility

Doctors are now suggesting that if you have unexplained infertility, get tested for celiac disease.

Celiac affects about one in 100 people. If you are celiac, you cannot consume wheat, barley or rye; doing so results in intestinal damage, malnutrition, and other issues.

A research team recently pooled results from previously published research studies to explore the link between celiac disease and infertility. “Women with infertility were 3.5 times more likely to have celiac disease than women who didn’t have difficulty conceiving, the analysis found, based on a review of three studies including 449 women with infertility. For women with no known cause for their infertility, the connection was even stronger. These women were six times more likely to have celiac disease, based on data from five studies including 422 women with unexplained infertility.”

Typically doctors first send women experiencing difficulty conceiving to an endocrinologist to investigate hormonal issues or imbalances. Women are told to record their basal body temperature (BBT) for about three months to see if they are ovulating regularly; if there are still issues after that time, women may also be asked to undergo a blood or urine test. But because doctors and researchers are discovering that celiac is quite often the issue with being unable to conceive, they are recommending doing a test for celiac the first time a woman comes in to see a doctor.

If you are concerned about your inability to conceive or are wondering if you have celiac, talk to a doctor today.

Posted in Infertility, Infertility Contributing Factors, Lifestyle

Great Britain Approves Process for 3-DNA IVF

This controversial procedure replaces damaged mitochondrial DNA from the biological mother with that of a donor, who has healthy DNA. Read more here.

Posted in 3 DNA, Blog, Christine Mullin, Fertility Treatments, IVF, News

February is LGBT Awareness Month

LGBT_history-month-2015

The Center for Human Reproduction is happy to assist same sex couples build families with the help of fertility treatments. The course of treatment is different for every couple and can include insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donation and sperm donation. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Posted in Blog, Donor Sperm, Fertility Treatments, IUI, IVF, Lesbian Mothers, News, Same-sex couples

Your Thyroid and Your Fertility

Having trouble getting pregnant or experiencing several miscarriages? Doctors are recommending that you have your thyroid checked out.

The thyroid has long been a factor that affects fertility. Usually testing for thyroid issues isn’t done, but a new report suggests it should be. “The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of the neck. It secretes hormones involved in regulating metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, growth, development, and body temperature. Thyroid hormone is also important for embryonic development. An underactive or overactive thyroid can affect the menstrual cycle. A sluggish thyroid can mean you don’t always ovulate. Another thyroid problem may increase the risk of miscarriage, research finds.”

Professor of medicine and physiology at UCLA’s School of Medicine, Dr. Gregory Brent, says that general symptoms of a thyroid issue can be fatigue, feeling cold, dry and brittle hair, and weight gain. Though those are broad symptoms, it’s best to get tested if you are experiencing any of them. The test is very simple and widely available and involves having blood drawn. Thyroid issues can often be successfully treated by taking medication.

There is no way to know if your thyroid is playing a part in your inability to conceive unless you talk to your doctor. Schedule an appointment today to find out how you can achieve your dream of having a child.

Posted in Blog, Infertility Contributing Factors, Thyroid

Fertility Problems Linked to Thyroid Disorder

A new study supports what many doctors have observed for decades — that women with thyroid disorders can experience serious reproductive problems.

tomer

Dr. Tomer Singer

Dr. Tomer Singer, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Center for Human Reproduction notes that “For over two decades now, we have noticed a strong link between hypo- and hyperthyroidism and infertility as well as adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.

Thyroid disorders can prevent patients from ovulating and is one of the leading causes of irregular menstrual problems,” Singer explained. “The treatment is simple and safe and results in resumption of the menstrual cycle within weeks.

Read more of Dr. Singer’s comments, and this story, at HealthDay.

Posted in Blog, News, Reproductive endocrinologist, Study, Thyroid, Tomer Singer

New Device for Taking Body Temperature

Colorado company Prima-Temp recently unveiled its new body temperature fertility device, called BLOOM, this past month. It has the potential to drastically help women pinpoint their most fertile times.

One way to decipher what stage of fertility your body is in is to take your temperature every morning when you wake up, before even getting out of bed. This temperature is called your Basal body temperature, or BBT. “How does measuring BBT help detect ovulation? A woman’s normal non-ovulating temperature is between 96 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the individual. Following the release of the egg, BBT increases by about half a degree in almost all women. The hormone progesterone, secreted by the ovary after ovulation, heats things up; it also prepares the uterine lining for a possible pregnancy. Body temperature will remain roughly half a degree higher until right before menstruation, when it will return to normal. Because the spike in body temperature at ovulation is so small, you need a special basal thermometer (available at drugstores for about $10 to $15) to measure it. A basal thermometer records temperatures in one-tenth of a degree increments instead of the two-tenth increments on fever thermometers.”

The point of BLOOM is to have an even more accurate reading. By having the device inside your body for a month at a time, it can constantly track and record your body’s vitals. The device is self-inserted into the vagina and it transmits information wirelessly to an accompanying app on your phone. When it detects a trend that points toward the possibility of the beginning of ovulation, it sends you an alert, notifying you to take advantage of this window of time!

Until BLOOM is widely available on the market, talk to your doctor about other ways to be aware of and track your fertility.

Posted in Blog, Improve your Fertility

ICSI Treatment Equally Effective for Male, Female Infertility

Dr. Avner Hershlag

by Dr. Avner Hershlag

ICSI, which is a procedure where a single sperm is injected into a single egg, is a cutting-edge IVF approach demanding significant technical expertise. The discovery that this could be done in the early ‘90s has revolutionized the treatment of male infertility. Whereas before ICSI, IVF was mainly a treatment for female infertility, ICSI has made IVF equally effective for males with abnormal sperm or even no sperm at all, where sperm has to be surgically retrieved from the testes. In the pre-ICSI days, couples with severe male infertility would frequently have to resort to donor insemination, thus eliminating the possibility of the man to be the genetic parent. There are now millions of children and adults whose fathers had deficient sperm, and it is because of ICSI that they have been created.

Egg-sperm-250Male infertility is complex. It is not just the sperm count that tells the story. In the pre-ICSI era, we would regularly have cases of no fertilization of eggs in IVF with seemingly normal sperm. In fact, early on, we published a study on ICSI-split in unexplained infertility. In that study, we compared two groups of patients with unexplained infertility. In one group, ICSI was not used, whereas in the other group the eggs were split: about half underwent ICSI and half insemination. What we found at that time, was that in the ICSI-split group, there were no cases of zero fertilization, while there were a few cases in the insemination-only group. Therefore, we concluded that the ICSI-split in patients without clear male infertility rescued IVF cycles from a total failure where no embryos were available to transfer, a pretty devastating end of a cycle for any IVF patient.

My explanation for this phenomenon is that there is a group of males with subtle infertility, whose sperm count looks normal according to the minimum criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO), yet whose sperm has no capacity to fertilize eggs. ICSI allows us to bypass the sperm-egg interface and increases fertilization in select cases.

That being said, the JAMA study may point to over-use of the ICSI procedure in some couples. The problem remains: how do you distinguish between males who have normal fertilization capacity, and that much smaller group of males whose sperm test is normal but has lower fertilization potential?

In lack of a better test, IVF remains not only the most effective fertility treatment to date, but also the most powerful diagnostic test. Until IVF is performed, for patients who have never conceived before, there is no absolute certainly that the sperm will fertilize an egg. Until we have another test to prove that, patients with unexplained infertility with sperm normal by WHO criteria, will only find out if their sperm can fertilize the egg through IVF. The use of ICSI-split in unexplained infertility, where some of the eggs undergo ICSI, safeguards us against total fertilization failure. Given the physical, emotional and financial impact of an IVF cycle this is as important as the figures presented by this study, without a single embryo available to transfer.

Dr. Hershlag was asked to comment on the ICSI study, and the corresponding article and his comments can be found on news.health.com.

Posted in Avner Hershlag, Blog, ICSI, Infertility, IVF, News