Posts Tagged ‘hormonal imbalance’

Improving Egg Quality and Ovarian Function in Trying-to-Conceive Women

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Women are born with a finite quantity of eggs, a number which steadily declines with age. A baby girl is born with approximately one to two million eggs, but only 300,000 remain by the time she hits puberty. Throughout her reproductive lifetime, she will only ovulate 300 to 400 eggs.

Since your ovarian reserve is limited, it’s important to keep your remaining eggs as healthy as possible. Egg quality is impacted by multiple factors, including age, chronic exposure to environmental toxins, stress, poor diet, hormonal imbalances often associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and ovarian surgeries, all of which can negatively impact fertility. Poor egg quality contributes to fertilization issues, unsuccessful implantation following fertilization, and miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities.

While there is no way to increase the number of eggs you have, it is possible to improve the quality of your existing ovarian reserve. Thankfully, recent scientific research suggests that blends of powerful antioxidants can help improve egg quality. Research indicates that egg cells are highly susceptible to harm from free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that are produced as the body breaks down toxins, and antioxidants help ensure your egg cells are protected from their damaging effects.

We recently added OvaBoost to our line of fertility supplements, which is designed to help improve egg quality and optimize ovarian function in trying-to-conceive women. This all-natural supplement is especially recommended for women over the age of 35 and for women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

OvaBoost contains powerful antioxidants including myo-inositol, which works to promote optimal ovarian function and cycle regularity in women with PCOS, a major cause of female fertility issues. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but hormonal imbalance plays a big role in the onset of symptoms. Women with PCOS tend to produce higher levels of male hormones like testosterone, which can impact ovulation and menstrual cycles.

Many researchers believe that these higher testosterone levels are related to insulin sensitivity. That’s where myo-inositol comes into play. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas, and is responsible for carrying sugar into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy. Women with PCOS have cells that are less sensitive to insulin, resulting in higher insulin levels. High insulin levels appear to be correlated with an increased production of male hormones. But the good news is that research in women with PCOS shows that supplementing with myo-inositol can improve insulin sensitivity, helping restore hormonal balance and increasing fertility in these women. Learn more about OvaBoost

PCOS and Insulin Resistance

Friday, 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.

Is Gluten Sensitivity Linked to Infertility?

Monday, 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.

What is a Luteal Phase Defect?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

First things first, it is important to know what your luteal phase is and when it takes place. Your luteal phase begins at ovulation and ends the day before menstruation begins for your next cycle. It is during this phase that fertilization and implantation would occur. Many women don’t realize that they have a luteal phase defect until they are trying to conceive and begin tracking their ovulation.

A luteal phase lasting less than 10 days can be classified as a luteal phase defect. It is necessary for you to have 10 days or longer in your luteal phase in order for implantation to occur and sustain. With less than 10 days, the uterine lining begins breaking down too early – it is not prepared for implantation which causes an early miscarriage. As stated above, many women don’t discover this defect until they are trying to conceive, but there are a few symptoms to look for. Some women may experience frequent but light periods. Women who chart/track their ovulation, may notice that after ovulation their basal body temperature does not remain elevated during the luteal phase as it should due to the rise in progesterone after ovulation.

There are some known causes of luteal phase defect:

Poor Follicle Production: FSH levels are directly correlated to follicle production. It can be caused by two different issues – either your body is not producing enough FSH or your ovaries are not responding the FSH that it is producing. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which is necessary to prepare your uterine lining for implantation. Inadequate follicle production in the first half of your cycle leads to poor corpus luteum quality. With inadequate progesterone levels, your uterine lining begins to breakdown, resulting in early menses and possible miscarriage.

Failure of the Uterine Lining to Respond: In this case, FSH levels may be adequate, along with healthy follicle development and corpus luteum, however, the uterine lining just isn’t responding to the normal levels of progesterone. The uterine lining will most likely not be prepared for implantation.

Premature Failure of the Corpus Luteum: The corpus luteum can fail when the initial quality of it is inadequate. The progesterone levels may begin low and drop even further after five to seven days after ovulation. Once these levels drop, menses onset early.

If you discover that you have a luteal phase defect, there are some over the counter remedies. Vitamin B6 is one over the counter option; taking B6 every day of the month can lengthen your luteal phase. B6 can be found in fertility supplements, such as FertilAid for Women. If those remedies don’t help – there are also medications that your doctor can prescribe. Luteal phase defect may sound a bit scary but luckily it is a fairly easy to diagnose and correct.

What is Clomid and how does it work?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Clomid (Clomiphene citrate) is a fertility drug commonly prescribed to women that are trying-to-conceive to induce ovulation. Clomid is often prescribed to women with irregular cycles that either experience irregular ovulation or don’t ovulate at all. If you aren’t sure whether you are ovulating, you can determine this by tracking your menstrual cycles with ovulation predictor kits, fertility monitors, or even monitoring your body’s natural signs – the consistency of your cervical mucus and tracking your basal body temperature.

In order to understand how Clomid works, it is important to understand what is happening in your body as you approach ovulation. In the beginning of your cycle, estrogen levels are low which signal your body to produce FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). Estrogen levels begin to increase which triggers LH (Luteinizing Hormone). This surge is what releases the mature egg from the follicle. For ovulation to occur, enough LH and FSH must be produced to release the egg. Clomid is used to help your body produce enough LH and FSH. It tricks the body into thinking that there is not enough estrogen – which increases the production of LH and FSH, causing your body to ovulate. Generally, it is not recommend to take Clomid for more than six cycles, so if pregnancy is not achieved, a different treatment plan should be discussed.

While taking Clomid, it is common to experience a decrease in fertile-quality cervical mucus. It is extremely important to have a healthy environment to transport and protect the sperm when trying-to-conceive. Supplements, such as FertileCM can help increase the quantity and quality of fertile-quality cervical mucus and is safe to take along with Clomid.

How do FSH Levels Affect Fertility?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Follicle Stimulating Hormone, commonly referred to as FSH, is a hormone that can directly influence your chances of conceiving and/or sustaining pregnancy. The level of FSH your body produces correlates to the quality and quantity of your remaining eggs. Typically, women that are trying-to-conceive want to see their FSH levels below 10mIU/ml. When FSH levels are too high or too low, becoming pregnant can become much more difficult as it affects your menstrual cycle and whether or not you ovulate.

Knowing your FSH levels is important in predicting how fertile you are. As your egg quality and quantity dwindle – your body tries to compensate and produces more FSH in order to stimulate ovarian function. This is commonly seen in women experiencing premature menopause or who are at the age when menopause is approaching. Low FSH levels can impact fertility and result in irregular cycles, which is commonly seen in women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). If your body is not producing enough FSH, it cannot sustain a healthy ovarian reserve.

You can easily test your FSH levels either at home or at the doctor’s office. Both tests are to be performed beginning on cycle day 3 (the 3rd day of your menstrual cycle) and continue through cycle day 5. If you receive a positive at home FSH test, you should visit your doctor for further testing with a blood test.

Fortunately, if you discover that you have an imbalance of FSH – there are some supplements that can help to balance those increasing FSH levels. FertilAid for Women is a supplement that contains Vitex, which has been shown to not only keep FSH levels from increasing but to decrease FSH levels to an appropriate level in some women.   Dependent upon your FSH levels and your age, your doctor may want to proceed forward with more aggressive fertility treatments.

How Going Off Birth Control Impacts Your Menstrual Cycle

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Many women decide to go off of their birth control pill once they have decided it is time to begin trying for a baby. Unfortunately, many women picture this to be a much smoother process then it ends up being.  To better understand why this can often be a difficult transition we must first understand exactly what it is that birth control does to your hormones.

There are many different types of birth control; some that stop your period completely or give you very few a year, and others that regulate your period into a 28-day cycle. As they all work a bit different – they have a very similar effect. Birth control works to change the levels of your hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. By altering and controlling these hormones, they can help to prevent pregnancy in multiple ways – by stopping your ovaries from producing eggs, altering the thickness of the wall of your cervix (which prevents the entry of sperm into the uterus), or by changing the lining of your uterus so the egg can’t attach and implant.

Once birth control is discontinued, many women report having irregular cycles or having no menstruation for many months. It can take a while for your body to return to the cycle you had before beginning birth control pills. This can be especially frustrating for women that were hoping to conceive shortly after going off of the pill. Dealing with irregular cycles (or no cycle at all) can make predicting ovulation nearly impossible. Herbal fertility enhancing supplements, such as FertilAid for Women, contains vitex and other herbs to help regulate your cycle and correct any hormonal imbalances that might be present – this in turn should help to normalize your cycle. Many women begin taking this supplement post-pill to help see a regular cycle sooner and increase their chances of conceiving.

What is Endometriosis?

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Endometriosis is a condition that affects around 5-15% of women of reproductive age. Each month, a woman’s body sheds endometrial tissue from the uterus through menstruation. Endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside of the uterus, in areas such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, and areas around the uterus. This tissue outside of the uterus responds to hormones just as it would inside the uterus. It attempts to breakdown and shed but it is unable to do so as it has no natural outlet.

Endometriosis can cause internal bleeding, scarring, abnormal bleeding, inflammation, severe pain during menstruation or during sex, and can often be the cause of infertility. That said, many women don’t experience any symptoms and only discover that have endometriosis once they begin trying-to-conceive.

There are several non-surgical and surgical treatments for endometriosis. A woman may undergo hormone therapy, which can be used in two different ways; hormones to make your body think you are either pregnant or going through menopause. Some hormone therapy may be used to decrease the amount of estrogen your body is producing, as estrogen feeds the growth of tissue. Some surgical options include laser laparoscopy or hysterectomy. The route chosen would depend upon the reason for treatment, whether it be to reduce pain or for treatment of infertility.

Many women with endometriosis have reported positive results when taking a natural fertility supplement such as FertilAid for Women. FertilAid contains a number of fertility enhancing herbs such as vitex (chasteberry) that help to regulate the hormones and correct any imbalances that might be present.

What is PCOS?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that can adversely affect fertility due to an inconsistent menstruation cycle. PCOS is actually quite common, as it affects as many as 1 in 5 women. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries, which is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful, but lead to hormone imbalances and cycle irregularity. When a menstruation cycle is not regular, ovulation is difficult to predict (if it happens at all), making it difficult to pin-point optimal fertile days.

There is debate surrounding what causes PCOS. Many specialists believe that PCOS is genetic, others believe it is a result of weight gain. Other possible causes include: Insulin resistance (which can be connected to obesity), environmental chemical pollution, and abnormality of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (organ/hormonal disorder).

Symptoms often emerge in the sufferer’s teen years around the time of puberty, and include weight gain, acne, abnormal hair growth on the face, back, and fingers and toes. These are only a few symptoms of PCOS, and are the most recognizable.

Treatment of PCOS is largely dependent on the symptoms experienced by an individual woman. One of the most commonly recommended treatments is weight loss (this is only recommended for obese women). After successful weight loss efforts, many women with PCOS begin to experience cycle regularity. They may also see a decrease of other physical symptoms, or even a complete cessation of them. Specialists and doctors may also recommend attaining cycle regulation with progestins and proper supplementation such as FertilAid, which has been reported by many PCOS sufferers to have played a key role in regulating their cycles.

The Skinny on Fertility and Exercise

Friday, September 25th, 2009

298x232-fitness_woman_cycling-298x232_fitness_woman_cyclingFor many of us, our modern lifestyle tends to demand very little of us physically. Because of this, we tend to lead fairly sedentary lives. It is important to remember that while it may not be demanded of us at work or home, exercise is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle. When exercise is pursued in healthy moderation, it can also help to increase fertility! Anything you do to increase your health, increases your chances of conceiving a baby!

How Does Being Overweight Affect Fertility?

Being overweight or obese is often associated with fertility problems. In fact, 12% of infertility cases are due to weight issues. One common weight related infertility diagnosis is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Women who are overweight or obese have more fat cells in their bodies. This fat increases the amount of estrogen. Because 30% of estrogen comes from fat cells, women with more fat produce more estrogen. More estrogen can negatively influence ovulation, menstruation, and ultimately, conception. Women who are overweight also tend to be more resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance can force a woman’s body to produce excess levels of insulin, which inhibits ovulation.

The Benefits of Exercise

Getting a healthy amount of exercise not only lowers fat cells, but it also can help lower levels of stress. Stress has been found to inhibit fertility, and should be avoided, or at least minimized by those trying to conceive. Exercise releases endorphins, which encourages your body to better deal with pain and stress. Activities, such as yoga can be a great stress reliever and have been connected to optimal fertility by specialists world-over.

Additionally, exercise can help both women and men achieve good sleep patterns. Lack of proper sleep has been shown to negatively affect fertility, making sleep a facet of good health that should be addressed by those trying to conceive. As well as minimizing stress and increasing positive sleep patterns, exercise also increases blood flow to all areas of the body, including reproductive organs.

Too Much Exercise Can Have Negative Affects on Fertility.

Many women are unaware of the fact that too much and/or excessive exercise hurts their chances of conceiving a child. Excessive and extreme exercise which causes weight loss and low levels of body fat can cause ovulation to cease. The reason for this is that not enough nutrients in a woman’s body, i.e. too little fat, means that there are not enough nutrients to nourish a fetus. The body senses this and stops ovulation from occurring, making it impossible to get pregnant.

If you would like more information about health and diet while trying to conceive, click Here and/or speak with your doctor about an exercise regiment and proper diet plan for optimal fertility. Get out, get fit, and get pregnant!

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