zika and pregnancy

The connection between Zika and pregnancy is a danger that all soon to be mothers should be aware of. The Zika virus can be transmitted to a fetus from their mother, which can cause detrimental birth defects. Read below to learn how to reduce your risk of contracting the Zika virus:

  1. Zika is spread through mosquitos infected with the virus. Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sexual partners, even if the person does not have any symptoms.  There is no medicine or vaccine for Zika at this time.
  2. Pregnant women should avoid travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must travel, talk to your physician first.  More information about known locations for Zika infection can be found at www.cdc.org/zika/geo/index.html.
  3. You can prevent Zika by preventing mosquito bites.  The mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and stay in air-conditioned places.  It is important to remove any standing water areas around your home as mosquitoes use these areas for breeding.
  4.  Zika has been linked to birth defects.  Infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect which results in incomplete brain development and a smaller than normal sized head.  There are other problems in pregnancies and among fetuses and infants infected with Zika before birth.
  5.  Returning travelers that are infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites and sex.  These travelers (even if they do not feel sick) should continue to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks to avoid spreading Zika to uninfected mosquitoes. If you or a partner has lived or visited an area with risk of Zika, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, steps must be taken to protect with a condom, diaphragm, etc. during sex to reduce the risk of being infected.  Women should avoid pregnancy for eight weeks after possible Zika exposure.  Zika can be spread to partners during this time because it remains present in semen for six months after infection, even without symptoms.

Schedule a Consultation

Questions about Zika? Ask one of our fertility experts or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at any of the Aspire Fertility Clinics or call the:

  • Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003
  • Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806
  • Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760


ICSI Questions to Ask Your Doctor

One of the biggest challenges when visiting the clinic for your ICSI appointment is coming up with questions to ask your doctor when you aren’t sure what to ask. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? Most people don’t know what ICSI is or much about it so you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask your reproductive endocrinologist or embryologists questions about ICSI.

Here are some FAQs from ICSI patients that you may also want to ask your doctor:

  • What is ICSI?
  • What are the benefits of ICSI?
  • Am I a good candidate for ICSI?
  • What will happen if I don’t want ICSI?
  • What are the risks?
  • Do you recommend it and why?
  • Will ICSI increase the chances of getting pregnant?
  • How does it help a couple where the male has sperm that is not of great quality?
  • What is the cost of it?
  • How will it affect my future baby?
  • Is there certainty that our sperm will fertilize an egg?
  • Is ICSI used in most IVF cycles in the U.S.?
  • Are you able to pinpoint the best eggs and sperm before doing ICSI?
  • Is ICSI beneficial to use after I have frozen my eggs and want to later use them?
  • What are your clinic statistics for successful cycles when ICSI was performed?
  • Should we freeze sperm? Should we freeze sperm to have extra?
  • Can I go on a tour of your lab?
  • Can I meet your lab team including the lab director?

Make sure that you get an explanation that you really understand and feel comfortable with. It is best to learn as much as you can about treatment.

Schedule a Consultation

Ask your doctor as many questions as you want, even if you think you already know the answer – it may provide useful information or just reinforce what you already know. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call our:

  • Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003
  • Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806
  • Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760
Today there are many different fertility options for lesbian couples

Today there are many different fertility options for lesbian couples who desire to have a baby.

The simplest option is to do an IUI (intrauterine insemination) which is performed using donor sperm. The sperm donor may be selected through a family member or friend and is common for couples that desire to know the baby’s father.  The other option is select an anonymous donor through a sperm bank where they only provide basic information about each donor.

IVF (in-vitro fertilization) with donor sperm is recommended for patients with fertility issues.  Reciprocal IVF is an option that allows both partners to feel actively involved and connected in the process.  This involves one partner providing the egg and the other carrying the pregnancy.

Donor eggs can be utilized with IVF for women who are unable to use their own eggs for conception but can still carry a child in their uterus.  Gestational carriers are also an option in cases where both women cannot carry the pregnancy.

Aspire Fertility is proud to help lesbian couples create their families through the assistance of fertility treatments.

Fertility Options for Gay Couples

There are many fertility options for gay couples who want to have a baby. There are several different scenarios that could be done to create the child.

  • Using one partner’s sperm with an anonymous donor’s eggs
  • Using the other partner’s sperm with an anonymous donor’s eggs
  • Using one partner’s sperm with a known donor’s eggs
  • The option to do IVF or an IUI
  • Using donor eggs, but choosing a known (friend or family member) carrier to carry the baby
  • Using a known donor and carrier
  • Using donor sperm and donor eggs

The couple is able to pick the eye color, skin color, hair color, health history, and education of the unknown donor. They can also look at pictures of the donor and their family. This is really neat because it enables the couple to choose traits of their baby and possibly avoid traits of their own. Many gay couples these days are having babies and it is becoming more accepted. Everyone deserves to be able to have a child regardless of their sexual preference.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing Options During IVF

There are multiple preimplantation genetic testing options to consider during IVF but, what exactly is the difference between PGD and PGS?

What is PGD?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is a test offered to patients who are known carriers of a genetic medical condition and are therefore at high risk of transmitting it to their children, such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, or Tay-Sachs disease.  It enables families impacted by any inherited disease to reduce the risk that their children will suffer from a genetic disorder.  In PGD, a cell is removed from the embryo, and the test only reveals the mutations relating to the particular medical condition identified.

What is PGS?

Preimplantation genetic screening is a process for screening embryos to test for overall chromosomal normalcy in embryos.  It involves screening the embryo for any structural abnormalities in the chromosomes.  During PGS, the cell is removed from an embryo and tested for the eight chromosomes that malfunction most frequently.  These abnormalities may include aneuploidy which is the wrong number of chromosomes, such as Down’s Syndrome which is an extra chromosome 21; and translocations which are incorrect chromosomal positioning, or other significant structural alterations.


PGS is done before embryo transfer so that the couple can choose to transfer only embryos with the correct number of chromosomes into the womb.  Embryos with the standard number of chromosomes are more likely to result in a full-term pregnancy.  PGS also allows the couple to learn the gender of their embryos.

Is PGS/PGD the right choice for you?

Genetic testing can increase success rates for IVF in women over 35, in addition to those that have suffered repeated IVF failure or recurrent miscarriages because it allows them the opportunity to select the healthiest embryos for transfer.  Patients may also benefit if they are carriers of chromosomal translocations or inherited genetic diseases.


If you are interested in learning more about PGD/PGS, talk to a fertility specialist. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003, the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806, or the Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing in IVF involves the use of genetic screening techniques to evaluate the chromosomal makeup of an embryo prior to implantation. Couples choose to undergo genetic testing because many miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. Preimplantation testing allows couples to select embryos that are chromosomally “normal” to increase the success rates of IVF treatments. Embryos with too many or too few chromosomes can result in failing to implant in the uterus, cause miscarriage or chromosomal congenital disabilities.

What are the Benefits of Genetic Testing?

Certain genetic diseases that can be inherited by offspring may be correlated with the racial or ethnic background of the couple, their family’s medical history, and associated conditions. Sickle cell disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Thalassemia, and Tay-Sachs are a few diseases specific to an individual’s background. Genetic testing can help a couple avoid passing on a genetic disease to their child.

Who Should Undergo Genetic Testing?

While women of all ages have some eggs with chromosomal and genetic abnormalities, the risk does increase with age. Some women can also have a medical history that increases the risk of specific genetic irregularities that make an embryo more susceptible to disease inheritance. The decision to undergo genetic testing depends on your individual situation and seeking the guidance of a fertility specialist can help in making the best choice for your success in having a healthy baby.

Schedule a Consultation

While the genetic testing is voluntary, it may provide useful information, especially if your family has disease patterns. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003 and the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806.

fertility tests

The age old question, “Do at-home fertility tests work?”. While they are functional, they are not informational nor do they provide in-depth information on the factors affecting “her fertility” or “his fertility”. We outlined a few points on the benefits and disadvantages of both at-home fertility tests and medical fertility tests.

At-home Fertility Tests Benefits and Disadvantages


  • The convenience of being at your home while testing
  • A test could be correct and give you an idea of what is contributing to your infertility but this will never be as accurate as a blood test.
  • This method is cheaper than medical fertility tests but this comes with the cost of not knowing information specific to your fertility. You might find that you’re fertility levels are perfectly fine, but all you need to do is just take something like these pills to get pregnant. If you are worried about anything though, then it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor first.


  • At home tests do not provide all the information needed to determine what a patient’s fertility issues are nor does it look at factors that could be contributing to the woman’s infertility.
  • Women with different syndromes, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, may not ovulate each month and an at-home test would not be able to tell the user that.
  • At home tests also don’t explain why miscarriages and stillbirths occur. It is better to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist that can assess the person’s whole case and determine why the person is having fertility issues.
  • At home tests don’t look at the male fertility component of getting pregnant. It is common for women not to get pregnant because their partner has an issue with his sperm. Another disadvantage is that some tests may claim to be effective, but they aren’t. Going through infertility is very stressful, so it is better to get information from a reliable source like a doctor.

On another note, a lot of women use ovulation prediction kits or mobile apps to track their ovulation. According to Dr. Stegmann, most apps are not accurate about when a woman’s exact ovulation period is and can only provide an estimated range. This can cause a person to be having sex during the wrong window for extended amounts of time. This could later lead the person to think that they have fertility issues when they don’t. It could also cause a person to waste a lot of time instead of conceiving a child.

Medical Fertility Tests Benefits and Disadvantages


  • A reproductive endocrinologist can assess different factors and determine why the person is having fertility issues.
  • The tests are reliable, valid, and provide you with more information related to your fertility.
  • A doctor will be able to give you comprehensive care and discuss with you in-person what your next steps should be for treatments for infertility.


  • Less convenient and more time consuming. Aspire has developed a platform called “Aspire Connect” to make scheduling an appointment easy and to facilitate communication with your doctor.
  • Cost of medical fertility tests vary but are worth the investment to properly diagnose your fertility issues.

While the at-home test may provide useful information, in many instances, you will end up needing more information and a fertility expert to guide your journey. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003 and the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806.

Cancer Treatments Affect Fertility

Cancer and cancer treatments often impact fertility. There can be temporary or permanent effects. There are numerous factors based on the type of cancer, the type of treatment, age at treatment and the length of time post-treatment. Oncofertility is a medical field that helps cancer patients conceive despite their diagnosis.

Fertility issues in female cancer patients issues can arise from damage to reproductive organs such as fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix or damage to the ovaries which are essential to hormone production.

In men, fertility issues can be caused by damage to the endocrine glands or endocrine-related glands which release hormones such as the testes, thyroid, and adrenal glands can cause fertility issues. Also, any changes to the area of the brain that control the endocrine system.

What are My Preserve Fertility Options Before Cancer Treatment?

There are fertility preservation options available to both women and men. Women can freeze unfertilized eggs, called oocyte cryopreservation, or freeze fertilized eggs, called embryo cryopreservation. Men can freeze sperm which is known as cryopreservation or sperm banking.

It is important to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist to discuss your concerns with fertility before deciding on your course of treatment even if you are not certain if you want to have children.

Types of Cancer Treatments and Infertility

  • Radiation therapy involves high-energy rays to kill cancer cells which can also damage a woman’s ovaries. For men, radiation may kill sperms cells and also the stem cells that make sperm.
  • Surgical removal any reproductive organs for both males and females can cause infertility.
  • A majority of drugs used in chemotherapy damage a woman’s eggs and impact her fertility.  For men, these drugs can lower the ability to make sperm or cause little or no production of semen.
  • Immunotherapy utilizes targeted drugs that enable the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. There is not much research about these types of drugs and their effect on fertility.
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplants involve radiation and chemotherapy to the entire body before transplant. These treatments result in a permanent stop to the release of eggs from the ovaries in women and the production of sperm in men.

Schedule a Consultation

We would love the opportunity to discuss oncofertility options with you in person. Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003 and the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806.

female infertility

Many female patients want to know what is causing their infertility. As a woman grows older, her chances of getting pregnant decrease but several common factors, other than age, cause female infertility.

The most common reasons that people suffer from infertility are drug abuse, eating disorders, being underweight or overweight, an irregular thyroid, and over-exercising can have problems getting pregnant.

Infertility can be caused by fibroid tumors, polyps, cysts, scar tissue from previous procedures, fallopian tubes that are not healthy, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Endometriosis, irregular periods and an imbalance of hormones also contributes to being infertile. Cancer can also cause a person to be infertile, especially if they have gone through chemotherapy. Oncofertility is a preservation method for cancer patients and survivors.

Sometimes infertility is caused by an unknown factor which is often frustrating for a patient. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and make a list of questions that you have. It can be helpful to ask what you can do to help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If you have any concerns with female fertility, reach out to the Fertility Specialists at Aspire. Feel free to contact us and make an appointment at either our Dallas or Houston clinic locations.

male infertility

Male infertility is typically caused by problems that impact sperm production or sperm transport.

New studies show that in 40 percent of cases with couples experiencing difficulty conceiving, male factor infertility is the sole or contributing cause of infertility.

What are Medical Causes of Male Infertility?

Male infertility can be caused by numerous health issues and medical treatments.  The most common reversible cause of infertility is varicocele, a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, which reduces the quality of the sperm.  Further, infections, ejaculation issues, antibodies that attack sperm, tumors, undescended testicles, and hormone imbalance can also contribute to the problem.  There are also certain inherited disorders that can cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs.  Celiac disease can also cause an issue but may improve after beginning a gluten-free diet.  It is important to watch what medications you take as some can affect fertility.

What are Environmental Causes of Male Infertility?

Daily overexposure to certain elements in the environment can affect sperm production and function. Working with industrial chemicals, being exposed to lead, radiation or x-rays can also contribute to low sperm counts.  High doses of radiation can even permanently reduce sperm production.  Elevated temperatures within the testicles reduce sperm production so it’s important to be mindful of using hot tubs or saunas and working on laptops for extended periods of time.

What are Lifestyle Causes of Male Infertility?

Illicit drug use such as steroids, cocaine, and marijuana can decrease sperm production.  Alcohol use can lower testosterone levels and lead to lower sperm production. Also, smoking does contribute to a lower sperm count.  How much stress do you manage every day?  The impact of emotional stress can be great as stress can inhibit certain hormones that are needed to produce sperm. Obesity also impairs fertility so taking time during the week to engage in physical activity can prove beneficial.
If you have any concerns with male fertility, reach out to the Fertility specialists at Aspire. Feel free to contact us and make an appointment at either our Dallas or Houston clinic locations.