Obesity and Fertility

photo courtesy of shreehospital.com

photo courtesy of shreehospital.com

According to a March 2014 article in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, in 2010, 31.9 percent of women ages 20 to 39 years old in the United States met the definition of obesity.  Obesity is defined as an adult with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which translates roughly to a woman of 5’9 who weighs 203 pounds or more.  However, ill effects to your health can be felt long before you reach the stage of obesity; they can be found in the overweight stage as well.  A 5’9 woman is considered overweight with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, which is approximately 169 to 202 pounds. Continue reading

Natural Ways to Detox Your Body

detox naturally to help your fertility

photo courtesy of davieanddanielle.com

If you are readying your body for the possibility of conception, it is a perfect time to do a fertility cleanse.  The concept behind a fertility cleanse is to encourage the liver to let go of toxins and excess hormones.  It also helps to increase circulation in the uterus, and assist it in naturally removing any old blood it is retaining.  There are a number of natural therapies you can use to supplement a fertility cleanse and support your body during the process.  Some examples are below.

  • Yoga impacts the endocrine system which controls the hormones of your body.  Practicing yoga regularly can help you to release physical blockages in your reproductive organs and balance your hormones.  It can also be effective in helping you stay centered and reduce your stress while you are trying to conceive.
  • Exfoliating your skin can increase circulation, aid in liver detoxification, and help move lymph through your bloodstream.  For maximum results, scrub your skin in circular motions towards the heart, then follow by taking a bath or shower.
  • Castor oil has been used for hundreds of years to help heal issues with the reproductive system.  Soak a cloth on castor oil, place it directly on your skin, and cover it with a heating pad or hot water bottle.  This will enhance circulation and promote healing of the organs beneath wherever it is placed.
  • Fertility massage consists of massage techniques designed to increase circulation in your ovaries and uterus, break up any adhesions that may be present, relax hip muscles and organs, and bring a tilted uterus back into alignment.  A web search will help you find many articles and videos describing these techniques.

After completing any of these activities, it is important to remember to drink plenty of water. This will help to accelerate the release of toxins and flush them out of your body.

The Emotional Repercussions of Infertility

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photo courtesy of infertility.about.com and Paul Bradbury/Getty images

When a couple is trying to conceive a baby, it can be a thrilling time in their lives.  However, as months continue to go by with no pregnancy, the hope and excitement can turn to stress and anxiety.  While couples may know that infertility is possible, actually dealing with it can result in an unexpected emotional roller coaster.  It is not unusual for one or both partners to experience the following:

  • A sense of loss and disappointment
  • Physical symptoms of depression or grief, such as headaches, low energy, irritability, inability to concentrate, extreme sadness, and insomnia
  • Denial or numbness
  • Anger
  • Jealousy towards those who are able to get pregnant easily
  • Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or shame

Unfortunately, infertility can also put a huge strain on a couple’s relationship, as each person struggles to cope with their own feelings.  Each may have a fear that their partner will leave them to have a child with someone else.  Couples undergoing fertility treatments may experience financial strain, or find they are not in agreement about which options they are willing to try.  Furthermore, after endless attempts at trying to conceive, having sex can feel less like fun and more like a chore, adding additional emotional difficulties.

If you are experiencing infertility, the most important thing you can do as a couple is to keep the lines of communication open and be totally honest about what you are feeling.  Take time for each other, and do not let infertility become the entire focus of your existence.  Make it a point to find fun activities you can do together to help release some tension and relax.  Finally, if you are experiencing any of these emotional issues, please know that you are not alone, and that professional help is available to you both as individuals and as a couple.

 

Sources:

http://www.resolve.org/support/Managing-Infertility-Stress/emotional-aspects.html

http://infertility.about.com/od/copingwithinfertility/a/copestress.htm

Are You Really Infertile?

trying hard to get preg

photo courtesy of justmommies.com

Are you really infertile?  A February 2012 survey from the Guttmacher Institute found that 19% of women ages 18-29 believed they were very likely to be infertile, when in reality, this is only true of 6% of women in that age group.  From a physician’s perspective, infertility is typically diagnosed when a couple attempting to become pregnant is unable to do so after a minimum of one year of trying.  While the word “infertility” carries a heavy connotation of permanence, this is not necessarily so, as 90% of all infertility has an identifiable physical cause.

In consultation with your physician, there are many healthy and natural avenues to pursue to fight against an infertility diagnosis.  First and foremost, you can work to achieve a healthy body weight.  Research conducted at Harvard Medical School indicates 40% of ovulation failures are caused by being over or underweight.  They advise that a body fat percentage and body mass index in the 20-25 range are optimal for pregnancy.  However, you should go about obtaining this the right way, through healthy eating and moderate exercise.  Research shows that women who skip meals and engaging in intense exercise have trouble conceiving, because both of these activities put stress on the body and suppress hormone surges.

Next, consider alternative medicine.  Chiropractic adjustments can stabilize your autonomic nervous system, which allows your reproductive organs to function optimally.  These adjustments can also impact your pituitary gland, balance hormones, and correct imbalance in the muscles of your pelvic floor.  If you are feeling more adventurous, acupuncture treatments are known to improve ovarian function, regulate ovulation and reproduction hormones, and increase blood flow to the endometrium, producing a thick uterine lining.  Finally, abdominal massage can help restore your uterus to its proper position, break up scar tissue around the uterus and other abdominal organs, and increase blood flow and lymph drainage in your pelvic area.

 

Sources:

http://www.justmommies.com/articles/trying-too-hard.shtml

http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/070429/7infertility.htm

http://newbeginningschiropractic.net/fighting-infertility-naturally/

photo courtesy of justmommies.com

The Impact of an Irregular Menstrual Cycle for Women Trying to Conceive

A normal menstrual cycle can vary.  For the average woman, it is 28 days in length.  Medically speaking, a variance of 7 days or less each month is considered to be normal.  A variance of 8 to 20 days is moderately irregular, and 21 days or more is very irregular.

If you are trying to conceive a baby, any variance in cycle can be frustrating, as it makes it much more difficult to predict when you will be ovulating.  In a given month, the average couple trying to conceive has a 15-25% chance of becoming pregnant.  However, if you have an irregular cycle, your chances are decreased.  Strictly mathematically speaking, if you tend to have longer cycles, you have fewer opportunities over time to conceive than someone with a perfect 28 day cycle.

If you have an irregular cycle and are trying to conceive, there are two methods that can assist you in predicting when you will ovulate.  One is tracking your basal body temperature on a daily basis over a period of months.  A woman’s body temperature rises after ovulation, so charting yours can help you predict when you will ovulate next.  The other is by charting your cervical mucus.  You will find the amount and consistency of your mucus changes throughout the month.  When you are nearing ovulation, it will become clear and slippery, similar to raw egg white, and you will have more of it.

Of course, you may be reticent to try either of these methods on your own. After all, if you are not a medical professional yourself, how can you really know for sure?  Luckily, you can remove the guesswork with Lady-Comp, an easy-to use fertility computer that can predict when you will ovulate with 99.3% accuracy, based on the information you provide it and its daily reading of your basal body temperature.  If you would like to learn more about how Lady-Comp can help you conceive, please call us at 1-877-925-LADY.

Contraception for Women in Perimenopause

All too often, women in their 40’s and 50’s abandon the use of birth control before their periods stop completely, due to an assumption that the risk of pregnancy is much lower with age.  A rule of thumb to follow regarding birth control is that you should continue to use it for one year following your last period if you are 50 or over, and two years following your last period of you are under 50 years old.

One reason women in their 40’s and 50’s may be eager to stop hormonal birth control is that the health risks associated with hormonal birth control increase as a woman gets older.  Examples of this include:

  • Nutrient Absorption– Hormonal birth control can impact the rate at which your body absorbs and utilizes B vitamins, zinc, and beta-carotene, which can cause changes to glucose tolerance, liver function, and insulin sensitivity.
  • Risk of Stroke– The chance of stroke occurring in birth control pill users increases over the age of 35, particularly if the woman is a smoker or a migraine sufferer.
  • Cholesterol Levels– Oral contraceptives can increase total serum cholesterol levels in perimenopausal women.
  • Breast Cancer Risk– Studies have found that women on oral contraceptives have an elevated risk for breast cancer, and that hormones contained in the pill can actually accelerate the growth of malignant cells in the body.
  • Blood Clots– While hormonal birth control increases the risk of blood clots at any age, the risk is higher for women over 50 years old.  Blood clots are frightening in that they can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not know you are developing one, and they can be deadly if they travel to a major organ, such as the lungs or heart.

If you would like to avoid the inherent risks of hormonal birth control, you do have other options, one of which is Lady-Comp.  The Lady-Comp system is a safe, natural way to determine your fertile days based on your previous cycles and morning body temperature.  For more information, please give us a call at 1-877-925-LADY.

Anovulation

Anovulation is the term used for a menstrual cycle in which there is no ovulation.  In other words, you still experience bleeding even though you did not release an egg or ovulate.  It is normal for these cycles to occur occasionally throughout your childbearing years.  However, when experienced on a frequent basis, the result is difficulty conceiving.

The number one cause of anovulation is hormonal imbalance.  This can be brought on by a prolonged and strenuous exercise program, emotional stress, and/or eating disorders.  There are also several medical issues that result in hormonal imbalance, including polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothalamic dysfunction, and tumors of the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or ovaries.

Additionally, it has been found that certain medications cause anovulation.  For example, because they work by intentionally disrupting the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries, hormonal birth control is often the culprit.  It appears that the longer a woman is on hormonal contraceptives, the more likely she will experience anovulation when she stops taking them.

Because many women will continue to have what appears to be normal periods even if they do not ovulate, anovulation can be difficult to detect without extensive testing.  This could include blood tests, CT or MRI scans of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, and endometrial or ovarian biopsies.  However, there is one way you can potentially detect this issue yourself at home, and that is with Lady-Comp.  Lady-Comp is a personal fertility monitor which learns and adjusts to your individual cycle regardless of irregularities or cycle length.  It is programmed with a database of more than 900,000 cycles and uses bio-mathematical forecasting calculations and computer techniques to predict your fertile days, primarily based on your morning body temperature.   Research shows that Lady-Comp is 99.3% accurate.  If you are experiencing bleeding without the indication of any fertile days, you will know something is amiss and can follow up with your doctor for further testing.

Once anovulation is detected, there are treatments available, including medication, nutritional adjustments, stress reduction, and surgery.  What is recommended for you will vary depending on the cause of your condition, your age, and your medical history.

If you are interested to learn more about how Lady-Comp can help you, please feel free to call us at 1-877-925-LADY.  We are looking forward to speaking with you.

Decrease Your Risk of Ovarian Cancer

While women are very commonly educated about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, they are not often provided with information about ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer actually grows faster than breast cancer, and kills nearly three out of four late-stage patients within five years.  Approximately one in eight ovarian cancer patients is under the age of 45.

Unfortunately, medical screening for ovarian cancer is difficult.  Symptoms are often vague (low back pain, lack of energy, abdominal bloating, heartburn, feeling full quickly, pelvic pain, and frequent need to urinate) and can easily be attributed to more minor conditions, leaving early detection rates low.  The only current test for ovarian cancer is a transvaginal ultrasound paired with a CA 125 blood test that measures a cancer-indicating protein.  This test is not sensitive enough to catch most cases early, and actually has been shown to yield false positives.

Currently, your best defense against ovarian cancer is to educate yourself on the disease and take good care of your health.  To decrease your risk, consider the following:

  • Giving birth to and breastfeeding at least one baby are known risk reducers.  Scientists are not sure why, but speculate it is because these actions suppress ovarian activity for a period of time.
  • The phytochemical sulforaphane, found in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, reduces cancer risk.
  • The National Institutes of Health states that you can decrease your risk of ovarian cancer by limiting your intake of fat, especially animal fat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Studies have shown women with a higher body mass index (BMI) are at increased risk for ovarian cancer.
  • Seek alternative birth control options, such as Lady-Comp.  Research shows that the longer you use oral contraceptives, the higher your risk of developing cancer.  The most common hormones in oral contraceptives, estrogen and progesterone, increase cell production.  This not only applies to healthy cells, but to pre-cancerous and cancerous cells as well.

Finally, you should visit your gynecologist for an exam at least once per year.  If you have any new symptoms or concerns, do not hesitate to bring them up.  Any issue that is persisting warrants investigation.

Fertility Treatments and Stress

In a previous article, “The Psychological Impact of Infertility,” we discussed the reasons why undergoing fertility treatment can cause someone stress.  In short, the synthetic estrogen prescribed to help boost ovulation has side effects that include anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings, and irritability.  Additionally, the expense of infertility treatments, which run $8000 and up, are often not covered by health insurance.  Finally, waiting for the treatment to take hold, and dealing with the knowledge that the treatment did not take hold, are both anxiety producing.

There have been many studies in the medical community linking stress to infertility.  Therefore, doctors would like to mitigate stress in patients undergoing infertility treatment as much as possible.  Doctors on medicinenet.com offer the following tips to help these individuals manage their stress:

1)      Do not try to downplay or deny that you are going through a time of heightened stress.  While you are undergoing infertility treatment, you life may not be business as usual.  Consider cutting out nonessential activities to give yourself some time to decompress.

2)      Do not try to handle the stress on your own.  Find a trusted friend or family member who you can talk to about your feelings.  You can also check with your fertility clinic to see if they offer a support group for their patients.  Understand that your partner is likely going through his/her own stress regarding the situation, and therefore might not be able to provide you with all of the emotional support you need.

3)      Empower yourself with knowledge.  Make sure to read up on and understand the treatment you are experiencing, and do not be afraid to ask questions of the doctor when you need clarification.

4)      Discuss the possibility of treatment breaks with your doctor.  It may be viable for you to undergo treatment every other cycle if you feel breaks in between would be beneficial to your mental health.

Most of all, you should understand that you are not alone.  Feelings of sadness, depression, and frustration are common among women undergoing infertility treatment.  Do not hesitate during this time to make your physical and emotional needs top priority. If you are still thinking about taking fertility treatments and have not made up your mind as to what route to take, Lady-Comp Baby is a great natural alternative before going through the stress and turmoil fertility treatments can take you through.  The Lady-Comp and Lady-Comp Baby can pinpoint a woman’s fertile window to help her plan when to focus on intercourse. And if necessary, the Lady-Comp can give her detailed information about her cycle that her doctor may use if she still has difficulty conceiving and may negate the need for costly and stressful fertility treatments.

6 Tests to Consider if You Can’t Get Pregnant

Lady-Comp provides you with a highly effective and all natural way to determine the days of the month when you are most likely to conceive.  It is a personal fertility monitor which learns and adjusts to your individual cycle regardless of irregularities or cycle length.  It is programmed with a database of more than 900,000 cycles and uses bio-mathematical forecasting calculations, as well as the very latest computer techniques to predict your fertile days, primarily based on your morning body temperature.   Research shows that Lady-Comp is 99.3% effective.

But what if, after using Lady-Comp and following all instructions, you find you are still unable to get pregnant?  Doctors assert that women under 35 should actively try to become pregnant for 12 months before considering alternatives.  Women between 35 and 40 years old should try for 6 months.  If that period has passed, it is time to see your doctor.  Here are six blood tests you may want to discuss with your physician when you visit.

1)      Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)- This hormone acts as a communicator between the pituitary gland in your brain and your ovaries.  It causes the ovary to recruit and stimulate follicles, leading to a main follicle that releases an egg when you ovulate.  The higher the FSH, the lower the potential for follicle growth and stimulation because of decreased ability of the ovary to produce eggs.  This test is best done on day 3, 4, or 5 of your menstrual cycle.

2)      Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)- The anti-mullerian hormone is also a marker of ovarian reserve.  Low levels mean low follicle count, and high levels are a strong indicator of polycystic ovarian syndrome.  This test is best done on day 3 or 4 of your menstrual cycle.

3)      Progesterone- Progesterone is critical to prepping the uterus for implantation, and holding the pregnancy for the first several weeks, until the placenta takes over.  Lower levels may indicate lack of or weak ovulation, which can be aided by progesterone treatment.  This test it best taken on day 19, 20, or 21 of your cycle.

4)      Full Thyroid Panel- A balanced thyroid is critical for fertility.  Even suboptimal levels can present problems with becoming pregnant.

5)      Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- For this, the doctor must check your free testosterone levels, total testosterone levels, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S) levels, and fasting insulin and glucose levels.

6)      Prolactin- Prolactin is the hormone of milk production in the breasts.  Results that are elevated even slightly, or are at the high end of normal, can trick your body into thinking you are already pregnant.  High prolactin levels can be caused by stress or by prolactinoma (typically a benign tumor) in the brain.

As you are going through these tests, please keep in mind that the health of the father-to-be is a factor as well.  Make sure he also visits a physician for appropriate testing.