How accurate is the OvaCue Fertility Monitor?

October 23rd, 2012

If you’ve done any research at all on the OvaCue Fertility Monitor, you have probably read that the OvaCue has been clinically proven to be 98% accurate in monitoring ovulation (based on studies from the National Institute of Health). So, what exactly does that mean? To give these statistics a “real life” perspective, we decided to put the OvaCue up against the transvaginal ultrasound to help showcase its accuracy in a different way. Transvaginal ultrasounds are the most accurate way to pinpoint the exact date of ovulation, as it makes it possible to visually monitor the development of the dominant follicle until it is released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube.

Sarah, Director of Social Marketing and Customer Service at Fairhaven Health, uses the OvaCue daily and blogs about her experience at OvaCue.com. Some of you may know her as “FertilityChartingWithSarah” at OvaGraph.com, and others of you may know her from corresponding with her about OvaCue customer service questions. Sarah has always been interested in female reproductive health and ovulation prediction, so she jumped at the chance to monitor an entire cycle with a series of transvaginal ultrasounds to predict and confirm when ovulation took place. She continued to use the OvaCue Fertility Monitor (oral and vaginal sensor) daily while also going to a fertility clinic for regular transvaginal ultrasounds. What did she find? Read the results here!

Controversy over Calcium Supplementation: What’s A Girl To Do?

September 19th, 2012

As many as 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and 34 million Americans have a condition called osteopenia (low bone mass), according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. These conditions affect women more frequently than men, due to the fact that as women age, a variety of factors can cause the loss of bone mass, including low estrogen, lack of calcium, vitamin D deficiency, and a sedentary lifestyle. And, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, a woman is also susceptible to bone loss, as her nutrient stores are continually tapped to ensure the growing baby receives proper nourishment.

As a result, it is no wonder women of all ages are constantly reminded to make sure they get enough calcium. After all, calcium is famous for its ability to build bone, and also offers many lesser known health benefits.  In fact, results from research studies conducted over the last several decades suggest that dietary calcium intake may help prevent hypertension, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, in addition to helping to prevent bone loss. So, unless you are absolutely certain that your diet contains at least the recommended amount of calcium (approximately 1,000 mg a day), supplementing your diet with a high-quality calcium supplement is a no-brainer.

But, if you happened to see the recent headlines about calcium supplements and heart disease, you might be a bit confused about the benefits and/or potential risks of calcium supplementation. Earlier this year, the controversial results of a study conducted by German and Swiss researchers were released, creating quite a buzz in the health world and generating some unnecessarily alarming headlines, such as Calcium Pills Linked to Heart Attack Risk.

The study, which followed 24,000 people over 11 years, was performed to evaluate the impact of calcium intake (from food and supplements) on cardiovascular disease risk. Participants were asked to report food and supplement intake from memory, using food frequency questionnaires given at specific intervals throughout the course of the study. Once all of the data was analyzed, the researches came out with some controversial conclusions. Contrary to the results of previous research suggesting that higher calcium intake protects against the development of cardiovascular disease, the German and Swiss researchers concluded that increasing calcium intake from diet does not provide significant cardiovascular benefits and calcium supplements might actually increase the risk of heart attack. The researchers went on to theorize that the reason calcium supplements might pose a threat to cardiovascular health is that calcium supplements might cause a spike in blood calcium levels, which may ultimately lead to calcium attaching itself to plaque in the walls of the arteries, leading to hardening of the arteries, a key risk factor for heart attack.

Unfortunately, these controversial results were widely disseminated and may have caused consumers some unnecessary concern about any potential risks associated with supplementing with calcium. But now that the dust has settled a bit, many health experts are pointing to serious problems with the design of this study and are raising doubt about the reliability of the conclusions that were drawn. One thing is certain: any time participants are required to self-report food and supplement intake based on memory, the results are likely to be suspect. And, even assuming that the participants reported their food intake with absolute accuracy (again, highly doubtful), it is important to put the results into the proper perspective. Only 850 of the 24,000 participants reported the use of any type of calcium supplement and dosages were not well-quantified. Among this small group of calcium users, only 40 participants had a heart attack, which equates to fewer than 4 heart attacks per year. Also, national surveys conducted in the United States suggest that nearly 11% of the population takes calcium supplements. In this study, less than 4% of the study participants used calcium supplements, suggesting that calcium use was significantly underreported in this study. The researchers themselves concede that, “It is possible that the unreported calcium supplementation would affect the accuracy of our results if identified calcium supplement users had a different cardiovascular risk profile than unidentified calcium supplement users.” (Heart 2012; 98:920-925)

The moral of this story seems to be that headlines rarely tell the whole story. So, what is a girl to do about calcium supplementation? When all is said and done, the weight of the scientific evidence clearly favors ensuring sufficient calcium intake from a combination of food and supplements, especially during specific life stages, including pregnancy and lactation. If you are currently trying-to-conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding, here are five important things to keep in mind about your calcium intake:

1.     Pregnancy and breastfeeding can deplete your stores of nutrients. Adequate intake of calcium is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unique times in a woman’s life when her own nutritional stores are constantly tapped to ensure that her growing child is properly nourished. Taking a high-quality calcium supplement before, during and after pregnancy ensures that you maintain adequate stores of this important nutrient.

2.     Bone health is just one of the reasons that calcium supplementation is important for pregnant women. Research indicates that calcium plays a role in preventing preeclampsia, a serious condition of pregnancy which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention. Ensuring optimal intake of calcium before and during pregnancy can go a long way in helping to prevent pregnancy complications, like preeclampsia.

3.     Experts recommend taking no more than 500 milligrams of supplemental calcium at one time. By limiting the supplemental dose to 500 mg, you can minimize the potential “spike” in blood calcium levels that the German and Swiss researchers theorized about, reducing any chance that the calcium will end up in your arteries where it doesn’t belong.

4.     Calcium does not work alone. To work effectively, calcium needs both magnesium and Vitamin D:  magnesium helps transport calcium into the bones and vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium.  Be sure to choose a calcium supplement that also contains magnesium and vitamin D to obtain maximum support.

5.     Consider the form of calcium in your supplement. Supplemental calcium comes in a variety of forms. While calcium carbonate is the most common supplemental form, calcium citrate is thought have better absorption rates. Choose a supplement that contains a combination of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and be sure to take your calcium supplement with food.

6.     Include calcium-rich foods in your diet. The healthiest choice is always to obtain vitamins and minerals from a variety of food sources, and to supplement when necessary. If you take a supplement containing 500 mg of calcium, you still need another 500 mg from food to meet the recommended daily amount of 1,000 mg. Low-fat dairy products (milk and yogurt) and green-leafy vegetables are excellent sources of calcium.

Fairhaven Health recently introduced the newest addition to our Pregnancy Plus line of products: PregnancyPlus Cal – Mag. This product was formulated by Dr. Amos Grunebaum, leading fertility expert and Director of Obstetrics and Chief of Labor and Delivery at one of the nation’s top university medical centers, to provide the optimal supplemental dose of calcium and magnesium. It contains a combination of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and vitamin D, to ensure optimal absorption of calcium.  For more information about PregnancyPlus Cal-Mag, see www.pregnancy-plus.com.

Increase Your Odds Of Conceiving – The Natural Way

August 20th, 2012

When we’re younger, we’re told (with good reason!) that nearly any instance of unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy.

When we’re actually trying to conceive, however, we discover that this is not necessarily the case. The reality is that most women have just a 3-5 day window each cycle in which pregnancy can occur. The result? If you’re not aware of your fertile window, the path to pregnancy can quickly become a very frustrating journey.

In calculating your fertile window, it helps to know your average cycle length and whether you have a regular or irregular cycle. You can determine your cycle length by simply counting the days from when full menstrual bleeding begins (cycle day 1) to when you see menstrual bleeding return. A regular cycle is one that contains roughly the same number of days in each cycle, give or take a few. An irregular cycle is when your cycle length varies considerably from cycle to cycle. For women with irregular cycles, ovulation prediction can be a bit more difficult and may be an indicator of an underlying ovulatory disorder. Many women indicate that FertilAid for Women has helped them in imparting some normalcy to an irregular cycle.

With this information in hand, you can begin to track your fertile window through a variety of means, including monitoring changes in your cervical mucus, using urine-based ovulation tests, taking your basal body temperature (BBT), or even using an electronic fertility monitor like the OvaCue.

Once the menstrual bleeding associated with your period ends, your body begins to prepare for its next opportunity to conceive and your ovarian follicle begins to develop and mature. At this time, production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) increases to help facilitate the maturation of the dominant follicle. The dominant follicle is the “chosen” follicle that your body seeks to rupture, resulting in ovulation.

Your most fertile window is comprised of the days leading up to ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation itself. Due to the fact that sperm can survive within a woman’s body for up 4-5 days, it’s recommended that you time your “procreational” intercourse (aka “babydancing”) to occur just prior to ovulation, as well as on the day of ovulation, to increase your chances of conceiving.

During your fertile window, we would expect you to see a change in the quantity and consistency of your cervical mucus. What is referred to as “fertile-quality” cervical mucus very much resembles raw egg whites in both look and feel. This clear, highly viscous fluid provides the sperm with a healthy medium in which it can swim toward the egg for fertilization. FertileCM is a Fairhaven Health product designed to help support your body’s production of fertile-quality cervical mucus.

When using ovulation tests, you’ll find that knowing your average cycle length comes in handy to help you determine when to begin testing. Women with longer cycles will ovulate later; therefore they will begin testing for ovulation later than women with shorter cycles. Make sure to refer to the directions that come with your brand of ovulation test to you know when to begin testing. Ovulation tests detect the LH surge in your urine, and from the first positive test you see, you can expect that ovulation will occur anywhere from 12-48 hours later. This helpful tool provides you with advance notice of ovulation, allowing you to time intercourse to coincide with your most fertile window.

After ovulation, your body increases its production of progesterone to warm the body and prepare for pregnancy. This shift from estrogen dominance to progesterone dominance is a signal that ovulation has occurred. If you are using a basal thermometer, you will see this switch confirmed by the slight rise in temperature on your basal body temperature (BBT) chart. OvaGraph is a free online service that Fairhaven Health has created to allow women to conveniently chart their BBT online. At this point in your cycle you are in your luteal phase, or what some TTC aficionados affectionately call the “two week wait.” If the egg is fertilized, then your body will begin to prepare for pregnancy, and the fertilized egg will attach and implant to the uterine wall. If not, your body will begin breaking down the uterine lining, resulting in menstruation.

Many struggling TTC couples neglect to consider male fertility as a possible contributing factor, despite the fact that male fertility issues contribute equally to infertility. We recommend that all trying-to-conceive men take a comprehensive male fertility supplement, such as FertiAid for Men. Doing so will provide him with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids needed to ensure optimal sperm health.

Wishing you all the best in your trying-to-conceive efforts!

Promoting Pregnancy Wellness and Breastfeeding Success in Our Communities

April 24th, 2012

As a leading provider of natural and safe products to support pregnancy and nursing, we love to hear about the work that people are doing in our community (and throughout the nation) to promote pregnancy wellness and breastfeeding success. And, we especially love it when these people ask us to partner with them in their efforts. Here are some of the exciting people and organizations we have been working with over the past several months to reach pregnant and nursing women.

A few months ago, our website caught the eye of Amelia Axness, a senior at Macelester College in St. Paul, MN, studying both German Studies and Biology. Amelia contacted us at here at Fairhaven Health as she was formulating her plans to complete a service project in her hometown of Medford, Oregon. As part of her required coursework, she had been studying the importance of routine prenatal care and nutrition for pregnancy wellness.  Through her research in this area, she discovered that the women visiting the Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services Clinic in Medford, OR needed better educational materials about the role that prenatal vitamins play in pregnancy wellness and early development of the fetus. She received a fellowship that covered the cost of developing and printing new educational materials for the women, but, she also hoped to provide these low-income women with free prenatal vitamins. We were happy to help! Here is what Amelia had to say about her amazing project:

“With the help of Fairhaven Health I was able to provide the Jackson County Health and Human Services Clinic in Medford, Oregon with 60 pregnancy kits. The kits included a two-month supply of prenatal vitamins (PregnancyPlus®) along with a brief, easy to understand 4×5 card listing the various vitamins and minerals vital for a healthy pregnancy and lactating period. Many young women who visit the clinic are of low-income and are there for a pregnancy screening. The majority of the women qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), Oregon’s Medicaid program. The women are also able to receive prenatal vitamins under their OHP policy. However, from the moment they learn that they are pregnant until the time the paperwork is processed and they can finally get a hold of the vitamins, critical windows of development have come and gone. My goal was to provide those women who couldn’t afford the vitamins during that in-between period with the prenatal vitamins. Years ago the clinic actually would give out free prenatal vitamins to expecting mothers, however that program was canceled due to budget cuts. Ideally I would like to see a permanent reinstatement of such a program and continue to work with the clinic to try and provide those women in need.”

Thanks, Amelia, for stepping out to make a difference in your community and for giving Fairhaven Health the opportunity to help you spread the word about pregnancy wellness.

At Fairhaven Health, we support breastfeeding as the optimal feeding choice for moms and babies. But, we also understand that for some women, “choosing” breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Pregnant woman are constantly bombarded with confusing messages about breastfeeding and formula feeding, and even when new moms want to breastfeed, they often lack the information and support (from peers and professionals) they need to breastfeed successfully.

The American Academy of Physicians recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. While we understand that these guidelines might be easily achievable for some women, for other women, achieving these goals requires a Herculean effort. We are committed to helping new moms reach their breastfeeding goals (whatever those goals might be, 1 week to 1 year or longer) and we are proud to partner with several amazing organizations that are working to normalize breastfeeding, provide moms with the evidence-based, unbiased information they need to make a truly informed choice about feeding options, and ensure that moms have the support they need from peers and lactation professionals to successfully breastfeed.

It is our pleasure to support the work of the following breastfeeding organizations in their efforts to make breastfeeding accessible to all moms and babies.

Cottonwood Kids:

Many new mothers receive their first can of formula for free, from the hospital where they give birth. These “free” samples come at a tremendous cost in terms of breastfeeding success. Cottonwood Kids was created solely to assist in elevating breastfeeding in the eyes of families across the country and to help hospitals and birthing centers create a breastfeeding-friendly environment for their patients. Cottonwood Kids created the Healthy Baby Bag, a useful product designed to store expressed breast milk that is given to new mothers at the hospital where they deliver. Packaged inside the bag are essential breastfeeding product samples and support information for new moms. The Healthy Baby Bag Program was launched in July of 2009, and since then more than 600,000 bags have been sent to more than 500 hospitals around the country.

BestforBabes:

Best for Babes was founded by Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigs, two moms eager to change the way breastfeeding is viewed in the United States. Best for Babes is the only mainstream nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of and removing the barriers (The Breastfeeding Booby Traps™) that keep millions of mothers in the U.S. from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. The Best for Babes Credo sums up what makes this organization a champion for moms:

  • ALL moms deserve to make a truly informed feeding decision and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt.
  • ALL breastfeeding moms deserve to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals without being undermined by cultural & institutional Booby Traps.

One of the things that we love most about Best for Babes is that they use style, fun and glamour as weapons in their fight to eliminate the BoobyTraps.  Best for Babes recently partnered with Healthy Child Healthy World and actresses Jenna Elfman, Kelly Preston & former boxer Laila Ali, to host the first-ever event (an afternoon tea at the home of Jenna Elfman) to raise awareness among expecting and new celebrity moms about the barriers to breastfeeding and the benefits of toxin-free living in raising healthy children. Fairhaven Health was honored to participate in this event as a contributing sponsor.

The wonderful hosts - Bettina Forbes, Jenna Elfman, Kelly Preston, Danielle Rigg, and Laila Ali (from left to right). Courtsey of LeAnna Azzolini.

Fairhaven Health's nursing supplements displayed as the focal point in Jenna Elfman's Bathroom! Courtesy of Jessica Pettyjohn

The Leaky Boob

Started in 2010, the Leaky Boob consists of an informative blog, an active Facebook page, and a moderated forum.  What caught our attention is the amazing community of support that the Leaky Boob Facebook page provides. With over 500 new people participating in the site each week, the Leaky Boob Facebook page provides a safe and convenient place for breastfeeding families to get immediate answers and support for all of the breastfeeding questions and issues that arise. As most new moms will tell you, this 24/7 help and feedback is vital for breastfeeding success. We are proud to support the work that the Leaky Boob is doing to ensure breastfeeding families feel supported and encouraged in their breastfeeding journey.

La Leche League

La Leche League is an international non-profit organization dedicated to breastfeeding awareness and promotion. Their mission is to help mothers worldwide – through support, encouragement, information and education – to obtain a better understanding of the importance of breastfeeding in the healthy development of the baby, as well as the for the emotional and physical health of the mother. We’ve recently had the honor of supporting our local La Leche League group by donating to their fundraising auction. We provided educational brochures for the attendees as well as provided gift baskets of our nursing supplements and products for the auction. As a leading online retailer, we feel lucky to be able to support our local community as well.

Thanks again to all of these passionate people for allowing us to partner with them in lifting up pregnant and nursing women. Wishing you all pregnancy wellness and breastfeeding success!

Did you know that exposure to environmental toxins may be decreasing your fertility?

March 1st, 2012

Over the last couple of decades, environmental and reproductive health advocates have been sounding the alarm about the devastating impact that short-term and long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment has on male and female fertility. And, these folks are not just crying wolf: The mounting evidence linking exposure to environmental toxins with impaired reproductive function (including decreasing fertility rates and increasing rates of pregnancy complications) grows larger and larger with each passing year.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to completely avoid exposure to the chemicals that harm reproductive health, which is certainly unsettling news for trying-to-conceive couples. These chemicals, often referred to as endocrine disruptors because of their ability to wreak havoc with the normal function of our hormones, are everywhere in our environment. You breathe them in, drink them in, eat them, and apply them to your hair and skin when using cosmetics and shampoos.

While it is impossible to completely avoid exposure to toxins in today’s world, there are steps you can take to mitigate their effect on your reproductive health. Here are 10 things you can do to reduce the toxic burden in your body:

1.     Get to know the enemy. Here is an introduction to the chemicals that may be reducing your fertility.  By familiarizing yourself with these names, you can take steps to reduce your exposure, remembering of course, that some exposure is inevitable.

Bisphenol–A: BPA is used to make the plastics found in food and drink containers, the lining of tin cans, toys, baby bottles, dental sealants, flame retardants, and plastic wraps. The story of BPA clearly illustrates the uphill climb that environmental and reproductive health advocates face when trying to initiate change. Armed with a large body of scientific evidence (based on animal research) that reveals that BPA exposure contributes to heart disease, diabetes, as well as fertility and reproductive issues, advocates have been lobbying for years to get BPA banned. In January 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did officially state concern about the health effects of BPA exposure, although no additional action was taken to restrict the use of BPA in the manufacturing of plastics.

Parabens: These chemicals are found primarily in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals as a preservative, appearing on ingredient labels with names like methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben.

Phthalates: These chemicals are added to plastics to make them more flexible and resilient. Phthalates are found in lots of different products that we come in contact with daily, including detergents, plastic bags, food packaging, shower curtains, children’s toys, soaps and shampoos, and hair spray. Again, it is important to read labels, as these chemicals may appear in the ingredient listing with names like DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate).

Dioxin: A general name given to a group of hundreds of chemicals that are formed during industrial processes that involve the use of chlorine, including waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin is released into the air and settles onto the ground where it contaminates soils, and thereby makes its way into the food supply.

Organophosphates and organochlorines: These compounds are used in the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides.

Heavy metals: Due to industrial processes, pollution from automobiles, cigarette smoke, and heavy pesticide use, heavy metals (such as cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic) pervade our food supply and our environment. As a result, most people are exposed on a daily basis to these metals, which can accumulate in our organs and impair reproductive health.

2.     Support organic farming. Whenever possible choose organic produce, dairy products, and meats. Buying “organic” guarantees that your food will be free of pesticide residues and artificial growth hormones. And, it is important to remember that many toxic chemicals are stored in fatty tissues, which means that organic dairy products and meats that contain fat (which all of them do to some extent) will have fewer contaminants than animal products coming from conventionally raised livestock.

3.     Break the habit. Cigarette smoke is a major source of heavy metal exposure.

4.     Say no to BPA. Avoid purchasing food and drinks packaged in plastics containing bisphenol -A. And, never microwave food in plastic containers.

5.     Drink filtered water. And, be sure to avoid bottled water packaged in plastic bottles containing bisphenol-A.

6.     Supplement with fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish oil) are an important part of a healthy diet, and especially important for trying-to-conceive and pregnant women. But, unfortunately, the fish that are high in Omega 3s also tend to have high levels of mercury. By supplementing with a high-quality fish oil supplement, such as Pregnancy Plus Omega 3, you will reap the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids without the risk of increasing your mercury levels.

7.     Put the green in clean. Use only non-toxic cleaning supplies in your home.

8.     Free yourself from parabens and phthalates. Read the labels of the personal care products you use very carefully, and avoid products that contain phthalates and parabens.

9.     Don’t contaminate your yard. Choose natural, non-toxic alternatives to conventional pesticides and fertilizers for your lawn and garden care needs.

10.  Take FertileDetox! At Fairhaven Health, we, too, are concerned about the impact of environmental toxins on reproductive health. In response, we gathered our team of doctors and nutritionists together to develop FertileDetox, a comprehensive formulation designed to enhance fertility in women and men by helping the body’s detoxification systems to neutralize and remove the toxic compounds that diminish reproductive health. For more information on how FertileDetox can enhance your trying-to-conceive efforts, check out www.fertiledetox.com.

Chart Your Fertility Online – Free – at OvaGraph.com!

October 27th, 2011

Do you chart your fertility? That is to say, do you take your basal body temperature each morning and plot it on a graph to identify that telltale temperature spike that indicates your ovulation date? Or better yet, do you use the OvaCue Fertility Monitor – an electronic ovulation prediction device that pinpoints your most fertile time of month?

If you don’t do these things, you should! Basal body temperature charting is a wonderful way to learn more about your body’s reproductive rhythm. And using the OvaCue is simply the best way to ensure you identify your entire peak fertile period – that time of month when you’re most likely to conceive.

Good news! We’ve developed a site for women who’d like to have ALL of their fertility indicators charted and graphed in one convenient location – OvaGraph.com. At OvaGraph, you can enter your daily basal temperatures, OvaCue readings, cervical mucus status, intercourse days, ovulation test results, and much (much!) more. Want to share all of your fertility status with your ObGyn? No problem! You have your own unique link that displays your entire reproductive profile for that cycle, and previous ones as well. Not interested in sharing your fertile status with the world? No worries! Just configure your privacy settings to conform to your own comfort level. Click here to see the chart of Fairhaven Health’s own fertility specialist, Sarah.

Perhaps equally beneficial to trying-to-conceive women, OvaGraph also features a wonderful community of trying-to-conceive women who interact daily in the forum. Get your questions answered by other women in the same position (or by our product experts who log in daily to assist with interpretation) – or just get a bit of support from ladies who really know what you’re going through.

We invite you to come over to OvaGraph and establish your free account today!

Which Nursing Supplement is Right for You?

September 30th, 2011

Throughout your trying-to-conceive journey, vitamin supplementation, tracking ovulation, and living a generally healthy lifestyle likely played an important role in the conception process. Throughout your pregnancy, you made sure to do all the “right” things – prenatal vitamin supplementation, eating healthy for the two of you, exercising, and finally your little one has been welcomed into the world! Now that you are breastfeeding, it’s important to continue vitamin supplementation to help ensure proper nutritional support for Mom and Baby. Given there are unique nutritional requirements for lactating women, Fairhaven Health has developed two comprehensive vitamin supplements specifically formulated for nursing moms – Nursing Blend and Nursing Postnatal. Which one is right for you?

Nursing Postnatal Breastfeeding Supplement – This supplement provides the vitamin and mineral support nursing moms need to stay healthy and produce quality breast milk for their babies. It contains 200% Daily Value of the following B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. This complex aids in energy production, the proper function of the immune system and nervous system, and in the production of red and white blood cells. It also contains 700% Daily Value of Vitamin D. Recently, Vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in the prevention and treatment of many conditions, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, obesity, seasonal affective disorder, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Nursing Postnatal also contains 100% Daily Value of most other vitamins and minerals recommended by ObGyns.

The Nursing Postnatal Breastfeeding Supplement is ideal for women that have a sufficient supply of breast milk and are looking solely for vitamin supplementation. However, if milk supply may be lacking, then we’d recommend the Nursing Blend Breastfeeding Supplement.

Nursing Blend Breastfeeding Supplement – This comprehensive formula contains all the vitamin support that the Nursing Postnatal Breastfeeding Supplement as well as proprietary blend of herbal galactogogues to help support breast milk production. Fenugreek and fennel seed, in particular, have been used for centuries to help stimulate milk production.

PCOS and Insulin Resistance

August 19th, 2011

A significant number of the women who experience issues with fertility also suffer from a medical condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  Unfortunately, PCOS affects as many as 1 in 5 women of reproductive age, and most of these women will have difficulty becoming pregnant.  Many women who are diagnosed with PCOS have multiple, small cysts in their ovaries, which can lead to hormonal imbalances and cycle irregularity. But, the presence of cysts on the ovaries is just one of the signs of this syndrome.  In fact, PCOS is characterized by a wide array of symptoms, including acne, weight gain, loss of hair, abnormal hair growth (typically seen on the face, back, or fingers), miscarriages, and sleeping problems.

While there is still much to learn about PCOS, it is now believed that the symptoms listed above, including the development of multiple cysts in the ovaries, appear when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones, particularly testosterone.  And, what stimulates the ovaries to produce abnormally large amounts of male hormones? The answer: Insulin.

What exactly does it mean to be insulin resistant?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. On the surface of each cell of the body there are insulin receptors, little doors that open and close to regulate the flow of glucose (the sugar that is used by your body’s cells for energy) into the cell.  These receptors, or doors, are activated by insulin.  Women who have PCOS often have insulin receptors that do not function efficiently. This causes a condition known as insulin resistance, which forces the pancreas to produce more and more insulin to push glucose into the cells. These elevated insulin levels have the detrimental effects described above. It estimated that anywhere from 30-50% of women with PCOS experience insulin resistance.

How is insulin resistance controlled?

Recently, I’ve seen quite a bit of discussion surrounding the benefits (or lack thereof) of taking the prescription medication known as Metformin for PCOS and insulin resistance. Metformin is a drug used to help control blood glucose in three ways; it decreases the absorption of dietary carbohydrates through the intestines, it reduces the production of glucose by the liver and it increases the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. Simply stated, it lowers insulin, glucose, and testosterone levels, which results in a decrease in the symptoms associated with PCOS. Therefore, addressing insulin resistance helps many women with PCOS restore cycle regularity and increase their chances of conception.

There is also a large amount of information available about lifestyle changes that could help control insulin resistance. Weight loss has shown to be helpful for women that may be overweight – yet, weight loss can be more difficult for those with PCOS. The combination of dietary changes and more aerobic exercise has been shown to help even if weight loss is not achieved. What dietary changes are most helpful? Eliminating high glycemic carbohydrates such as refined sugars, white bread, and refined corn and potato products and incorporating high-fiber foods (whole grain bread and brown rice) and non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, etc) is recommended.

For women with PCOS that are trying-to-conceive, herbal supplements (such as, FertilAid for Women) can help to restore hormonal balance and encourage cycle regulation.

What is a hysterosalpingogram? Also known as HSG…

June 10th, 2011

Hello! My name is Sarah, and I’m a specialist here at Fairhaven Health. From here on out, I’ll be writing the Fairhaven Blog! Some of you may already know me from the OvaCue Blog where I chart my  OvaCue Fertility Monitor data and offer insight by interpreting those readings. For those of you that don’t follow me there…Nice to meet you! I have the honor of talking with many wonderful women about their trying-to-conceive journeys and feel fortunate that we’re able to provide them support and assistance. Of course, I’m very familiar with the Fairhaven Health product line (I track my ovulation every day! ) and look forward to sharing advice and information relevant to trying-to-conceive couples. Which brings us to my first topic….

What is a hysterosalpingogram?

Try saying that five times fast! Recently, I’ve had quite a few women call, explaining that they recently had an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test. While familiar with the term HSG, I’ll admit to not having a detailed understanding of what takes place procedurally in an HSG test. This became very clear when women began calling to discuss changes they were seeing in their OvaCue readings…and I then began digging a bit deeper into this procedure. Little did I know, that a saline solution is used often during the procedure, which can alter your electrolyte levels and, thereby, impact OvaCue readings.

An HSG, simply stated, is an X-ray examination of a woman’s uterus and Fallopian tubes. Women that have been trying-to-conceive for some time often undergo this test to determine if a Fallopian tube is blocked, or to find problems in the uterus (such as, abnormal shape or structure, fibroids, polyps, etc). This information can help to eliminate or diagnose an issue that may be impacting a woman’s ability to conceive.

The procedure is often performed just after menstruation, but before ovulation – to ensure that you are not pregnant at the time of the exam. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina and cervix, and finally into the uterus. A contrast dye (which is visible in an X-ray) is then added into the tube and projects into the Fallopian tubes and uterus. As the dye flows through the female reproductive tract, X-ray pictures reveal any blockages or abnormalities. The dye is then absorbed naturally into the body. If a blockage is discovered, certain dyes may be used to remove the blockage.

Many benefits can come from this procedure. It is a short, minimally invasive procedure that can provide valuable information about structural problems that can impact fertility. Another added benefit may be that if a blockage is found during the exam, the dye can potentially unblock and open the Fallopian tube. Risks include exposure to radiation, though minimal. If there is a chance you are pregnant or have an untreated sexually transmitted disease, it is important to discuss these issues with your physician prior to the procedure.

One thing I’ve discovered from discussions with ladies that have undergone this exam is that they experienced some cycle irregularity that first cycle or two after the exam. Some women skipped a period entirely. Interestingly, I wasn’t able to find this “risk” anywhere online. So, please take it with a grain of salt, but it may be something to consider.

Well, there you have it! Now, if you ever hear the term HSG mentioned or if your doctor discusses this as an option for you – at least you have some understanding of what goes into an HSG examination.

Is Gluten Sensitivity Linked to Infertility?

April 4th, 2011

If you follow the news related to nutrition and fertility, you might have heard that gluten (a protein substance found in wheat and other cereal grains) sensitivity and/or celiac disease (a disease of the small intestine caused by gluten intolerance) may be linked to infertility and/or irregularities with the menstrual cycle. Research studies have shown that women with gluten sensitivity are more likely to experience:

- Delays in menstruation

- Amenorrhea

- Miscarriage

- Gynecological and obstetric complications

- Low birth weight

Gluten sensitivity can affect if and how your body absorbs vitamins and nutrients – crucial components to a woman’s reproductive health. Without proper food absorption, a woman’s hormones may not function as they should, which could cause irregular menstruation and/or ovulation. Suboptimal nutrient absorption may impact the ability of a woman to conceive, and might also impact the health of a fetus (e.g. low birth weight) due to insufficient availability of nutrients.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the gluten connection

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that can adversely affect fertility due to an inconsistent menstruation cycle. Most women with PCOS have many small cysts on their ovaries, but also experience a cluster of symptoms ranging from excessive hair growth to insulin resistance.

One nutritionist that works closely with women dealing with PCOS noted that at least 85% of her PCOS patients tested positive for some form of gluten sensitivity. That is HUGE! Those that went gluten-free saw a reduction in their PCOS symptoms (and even lost weight which can be tough with PCOS).

Fertility issues caused by gluten sensitivity are not just for women . . …gluten sensitivity may also be linked to low sperm count, motility and morphology.

All in all, gluten sensitivity is becoming more common in our society. If you’re experiencing issues conceiving, it may be worth getting tested for a gluten allergy.

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