Posts Tagged ‘PCOS’

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.

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.

Secondary Fertility – Two Peak Fertility Readings in One Cycle

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

When trying-to-conceive, many women track their cycles to determine their most fertile days by using ovulation tests or fertility monitors.  Charting your cervical mucus consistency and basal body temperature can also indicate when your most fertile days are and help confirm when ovulation has occurred. Some women, more commonly women with PCOS or irregular cycles, may be unaware that they are experiencing multiple follicular stimulation in a single cycle.

If you have ever received two peak readings or a second lh surge in one cycle just a couple days apart– you may have unknowingly experienced multiple follicular stimulation. In order to achieve pregnancy, the follicle is released from your ovary and it must rupture for the egg to be released from the follicle. In cases of multiple follicular stimulation, your body releases the follicle, but it doesn’t rupture – therefore the egg is not released and you are unable to achieve pregnancy at that time. Your body realizes that this has happened and subsequently releases a second follicle 3-5 days later.

Typically, after ovulation, fertility monitors will register ‘low’ fertility, cervical mucus egg-white consistency will be gone, and there will be shift in basal body temperature. Women that experience multiple follicular stimulation will receive a second peak reading with their monitor and may continue to see any other natural fertile signs. If you receive a second peak reading, it is extremely important that you continue intercourse as you can only conceive after ovulation has taken place (i.e. conception will not result from the first follicle that was released).

It is important to track your cycle diligently so you are able to catch cycles where there may be a delay in the time when you are able to conceive that month. Using the OvaCue Fertility Monitor can help to identify the release of a second follicle so you don’t miss this opportunity to conceive. The combination of the oral sensor and optional vaginal sensor indicates ovulation with a dark pink/purple color on the OvaCue fertility calendar – if this color is seen a second time that cycle, you can conclude that secondary fertility has taken place. When this second set of peak days are identified, intercourse should be continued as ovulation didn’t occur as it should have with the first peak reading. This is one of the main reasons that women experience a cycle that is a couple days longer than usual. Women who experience irregular cycles or who have been diagnosed with PCOS should be especially cognizant of this.

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.

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