Posts Tagged ‘infertility causes’

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.

What is a hysterosalpingogram? Also known as HSG…

Friday, 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.

Antioxidants: An antidote to declining sperm health

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The number of men experiencing fertility issues is rising rapidly, and poor sperm health is to blame. Alarmingly, the average sperm count among adult men has decreased by 50% since 1938, and continues to decline by at least 2% every year. Our modern lifestyle, so often characterized by too much stress, chronic exposure to dangerous environmental chemicals, and a diet deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, has taken a toll on male reproductive health, and specifically targets sperm health. As a result, many men suffer from low sperm count, low sperm motility, and/or abnormal sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm). Sadly, this is a fact that many trying-to-conceive couples are all too familiar with.

In recent years, fertility experts have discovered that oxidative stress causes sperm damage, leading to low sperm count, low sperm motility, and abnormal sperm morphology. Oxidative stress occurs when the amount of free radicals circulating in the body exceeds the amount of antioxidants that are present. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules produced when your body breaks down dangerous chemicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing the damaging effects of these compounds. Like all other cells in the body, sperm cells are constantly bombarded by free radicals. But, as it turns out, sperm cells have less effective antioxidant mechanisms to keep free radicals at bay, and are especially vulnerable to damage from free radicals due to the high amounts of fats contained in their cell membrane. Fertility experts now believe that up to 80% of all cases of male infertility are attributable to oxidative stress.

Fortunately, an ever-expanding body of scientific research suggests that supplementing your diet with key antioxidant nutrients can help prevent free radical damage to sperm cells. In fact, scientists recently reviewed the results of more than 30 clinical trials in which the male partners of couples seeking fertility assistance were given an antioxidant supplement or a placebo or no treatment at all. The results of this statistical review study, which appear in an article titled Antioxidants for Male Subfertility, (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21249690) indicate that supplementing the diet of TTC men with antioxidants is associated with an increased pregnancy rate and an increased live birth rate among couples seeking fertility assistance.

This is wonderful news for those of you suffering from less than optimal sperm health! Supplementing your diet with key antioxidant nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, and quercetin, can improve your sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology. If you are looking for a way to ensure you get the antioxidant support you need to maximize your sperm health, check out the following Fairhaven Health products: FertilAid for Men, CountBoost for Men and Motility Boost for Men.

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.

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.

Infertility- Some Thoughts From Those Who Suffer

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Thank you so very much, to all of you who have opened your hearts and shared your story with Fairhaven Health. Here are some thoughts that have been shared by our customers, friends, and online community about infertility.

Infertility…

  • is the time a future parent suffers the most for their child.bigstockphoto_Couple_In_Love_73114
  • can be scary, emotional, and very difficult to deal with. But it doesn’t have to be dealt with alone!
  • is a struggle that can be overcome… we just have to believe and stay positive!
  • is a struggle that no one can understand until it happens to them.
  • is really difficult, but “Some of the BEST things in life are WORTH waiting for.” :)
  • has been and still is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through.
  • is the most frustrating & heart wrenching aspect of life one can go through. To not know “why” and “what” is the biggest problem.
  • is something most don’t understand. Those suffering from it would give anything in the world to get pregnant. Along with infertility comes: tears, charting, OPK, BBT, frustration, neg pregnancy tests, and much more.
  • is hard to deal with but worth it in the end when your blessed with an angel!
  • changes the lives of many. Not only do we have to deal with all the problems of trying to get pregnant, but also the many losses that can also result from infertility issues, then we try and pick up the pieces and start all over again. It gets harder and harder as more time goes by.
  • gets harder and harder as each HPT is negative.
  • is rarely talked about and the person next to you could be experiencing the same thing and u never know it. It is one of those things u wanna hide in the closet and leave there. Quite depressing really when all u want is a child of your own!
  • is very emotional, it makes you a whole different person. You feel like no one understands you and what you are feeling and struggling with. It is also very hard on couples to become so consumed with with having a baby
  • is life altering. You never think you are going to be “that person” until you go through it first hand and the experience really changes you- as a person and as a couple.

__________________

  • Waiting *patiently* for a baby isn’t easy, it’s quite a roller coaster ride! Between the hopefulness, anticipation, letdown and tears, not to mention the insensitive comments from others, it’s overwhelming sometimes.
  • No matter how tiring and frustrating it may become…we will continue to push forward in hopes that one day soon we will be blessed w/ another child.
  • I so want my little boy to have a sibling soon. I wish for it real soon, but know it will happen on God’s timetable.
  • People tell me that since its me and not my wife and that we still have a chance of getting a pregnant. People tell me to get a sperm donor and that hurts me very much. Prayers are appreciated from a great man that wants to be a great father.
  • After trying for 7 years, we finally became pregnant in 2005 with our now three year old son. We started trying again in 2007, so that there wouldn’t be a big age gap between our kiddos, well two years later and one chemical pregnancy, we still do not have another baby. I really want to give my son a sibling and want to feel the joys of being a mom all over again.

Please read Melissa Sanford’s blog post about Staying Positive in the Midst of Infertility for tips on how to keep your chin up!

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.

Infertility- It’s Not Just For The Ladies!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In the past, when a couple had difficulties getting pregnant, the assumption was that the woman was ‘barren,’ or somehow responsible for the couple’s infertility. We now know, however, that a male factor plays a role in almost one half the cases.

Some Causes of Male Infertilitybaby-1

  • Low sperm count
  • Slow sperm movement (motility)
  • Abnormal shape and size of sperm (morphology)
  • Obstructive tubal blockages
  • Testicular injury or disease
  • Varicocele (a dilation of the testicular veins in the spermatic cord that leads from the testicles to the abdomen)
  • Genetic disorders
  • Drug use
  • Environmental toxins and radiation

The most common reason for infertility in men is the inability to produce adequate numbers of healthy sperm. Azoospermia refers to no sperm being produced while oligospermia is when few sperm are produced. Infertility in men may also be caused by impotence or disorders affecting ejaculation, such as inhibited ejaculation and retrograde ejaculation (when ejaculate is forced backward into the bladder). It may also be caused by failure of the testes to descend into the scrotum, which inhibits the production of sperm.

There are many other factors of male fertility issues that might explain low sperm count, slow sperm mobility and abnormal sperm shape. Some of which include- lifestyle, genetics, and physiology.

If You are a Man Trying to Conceive…

  • Stop smoking. Both cigarettes and marijuana. Smoking has been directly linked to low sperm count. Long-term use of marijuana can also result in low sperm count and abnormal development of sperm.
  • Drink less or no alcohol. Alcohol can reduce the production of sperm.
  • Be Weight Conscious. Both overweight and underweight men can develop fertility problems. Too much weight can cause hormonal disturbances. Too little weight can cause decreased sperm count and functionality.
  • Keep Cool and Comfortable. Heat is detrimental to sperm. Keep clothing loose and wear boxers. You should also avoid hot tubs and steam rooms.
  • Have Regular Sex. Recent studies show that the chances of conceiving go up if you’re having sex with regularity.
  • Avoid Chemicals and Toxins. Landscapers, contractors, manufacturing workers, and men who have regular contact with environmental toxins or poisons (pesticides, insecticides, lead, radiation, or heavy metals) are all at risk of infertility.
  • Consider Proper Supplementation. Ensure optimal fertility by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrients and vitamins.

For more information about male fertility, visit the site of clinically proven FertilAid.

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!

Smokers Less Likely to Conceive

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking adversely affects women and men who are trying to conceive. Specialists recommend a number of things you can do to increase your chances of conception, such as lowering the intake of alcohol and caffeine, implementing an exercise regiment, and positive changes in diet, including proper supplementation. Quitting smoking is a recommended change that is extremely important to ensure good health, and to optimize your chances of getting pregnant.

Here are the Facts:smoking_591

  • Women who smoke are 60 percent more likely than nonsmokers to be infertile.
  • About 25% of women of reproductive age smoke, and nearly a third of them continue to do so during pregnancy.
  • Menopause occurs one to four years earlier in smoking women than non-smoking women.
  • Nicotine has a disruptive effect on egg maturation, ovulation rates, and fertilization rates
  • Smoking is associated with increased spontaneous miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies.
  • Chemicals in tobacco can alter the cervical fluid, making it toxic to sperm.
  • Studies show that smokers require nearly two times as many in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts as nonsmokers.
  • Women who smoke have an increased risk of cervical cancer, which may require surgery that involves removal of the uterus and sometimes ovaries, which leaves the women permanently infertile.

It is not just women who should stop smoking while trying to conceive...

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