fertility quiz

There are countless recommended ways to increase fertility and outside factors that contribute to one’s ability to conceive. With so much information available, it can be difficult to determine which components will actually have an impact on your fertility. Can you distinguish myth from fact? Take our Fertility Quiz now to see how much you really know!

If you have any questions or concerns with 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. We also have an Atlanta fertility clinic opening in September.

Differences Between Fresh Embryo Transfer and Delayed Embryo Transfer

When considering IVF treatment, it is important to understand the difference between a fresh embryo transfer and a delayed embryo transfer.

Fresh embryo transfer is an option in which the embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus during the same ovulation cycle in which the eggs were retrieved and fertilized.  This typically occurs five to six days after fertilization.

Delayed embryo transfer is an option during IVF treatment in which the fertilized embryos are frozen for future transfer to the woman’s uterus.

Instead of implanting embryos while the body’s cycle is altered by IVF, eggs are first retrieved, grown in a lab for five to six days and then frozen. Freezing techniques have made significant strides in recent years. Aspire uses vitrification which is the process of freezing so rapidly that the water molecules do not have time to form ice crystals. It is a more complicated and successful process than the slow-freeze method of the past.

People often wonder if freezing hurts the embryo; the answer is no.  The process preserves the embryo in time and allows for the option of genetic screening to test for certain genetic medical conditions like Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell Anemia.  Genetic testing can also provide the gender of the embryo.  The embryo can be frozen indefinitely or until the women is ready to become pregnant.

Once the uterus environment recovers from the stress of IVF, and has returned to a more normal cycle, the embryo is then thawed and implanted. These advanced techniques more closely resemble natural conception and result in increased pregnancy and live birth rates, decreased miscarriages, and healthier babies. Delayed Embryo Transfer during IVF greatly increases the chance for successful implantation.

Aspire provides Delayed Embryo Transfers as our standard of care for our IVF treatments at no additional cost to patients. If you would like to speak with a fertility expert, please contact us if you have any questions or need support.

ethical issues with egg donation

There are many ethical issues with egg donation to consider. Here are a few common issues that people who are considering using donor eggs face.

How important is it to the parents that the child is genetically related to them?

Is the goal a healthy pregnancy or a genetically related healthy pregnancy? Often times, the use of a donor egg is more beneficial, because it results in a healthy and successful pregnancy when a woman’s own eggs are not of good quality.

Is parenting better done at a younger age or an older age?

It can be better to have youth on your side, but it can also be good to have maturity when it comes to parenting. After age 40, IVF is often more successful using donor eggs. Some benefits to using donor eggs is the ability to avoid negative genetic and psychological health issues.

How will you explain to your child about how they were conceived and at what age?

What if your child wants to meet his or her biological parents? If your donor is known, then you could arrange for this to happen. It is helpful to think about what you would want their relationship to look like if your child did meet his or her biological parents.

How does your religion view the use of donor eggs?

It can be helpful to talk with a leader of your church about this in addition to pinpointing your own beliefs.

Is it ethical for a sister to donate eggs to her sister?

Who will carry the baby and how will this be explained? This is a common scenario and all parties involved (including husbands) must go through a psychological evaluation and be approved to move forward.

Making a list of pros and cons in addition to speaking with a counselor can help reduce anxiety about the use of donor eggs. Contact Aspire Fertility with any additional questions regarding ethical concerns with egg donation.

 

Nutrition Tips for Increasing Fertility

Have you ever wondered if there were ways that you could increase your fertility through nutrition? Nutrition can affect your chances of becoming pregnant more than you may realize.

Here are some helpful fertility nutrition tips with foods to avoid and foods that are beneficial to eat when trying to conceive.

1. Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.

2. Avoid eating unpasteurized cheese, meat, eggs, and dairy. These foods can harm a developing fetus and put the mother at risk for salmonella, listeria, or other food-borne bacteria.

3. Reduce caffeine intake to less than two eight-ounce cups of coffee per day. Coffee has been proven to play a role in causing miscarriages. Two or more cups of coffee per day can cause a woman to be twice more likely to have a miscarriage. If you drink caffeine in other substances like energy drinks, reduce the amount you drink of those products, too.

4. Dr. Barbara Stegmann recommends eliminating alcohol intake altogether to increase your chances of getting pregnant. If you can’t eliminate alcohol, try reducing how often you drink alcoholic beverages. Some studies have shown that alcohol can inhibit a person’s ability to get pregnant. Alcohol can also cause birth defects early on, before a person knows that they are pregnant.

5. Dr. Stegmann also recommends not being underweight or overweight when trying to conceive. Your body can sense when it is healthy, and you are more likely to get pregnant when you are healthy. If you have too much or too little fat, your estrogen levels will get thrown off and your fertility could be affected. A lot of people don’t realize that being underweight can make a person have a difficult time becoming pregnant. If you are trying to gain weight, avoid binge eating in order to gain weight. Instead, gradually increase your weight by eating a balanced diet. If you are trying to lose weight, be sure to also lose it in a healthy way with diet and exercise. Do not try to find shortcuts for this, such as taking diet drugs. Be sure to talk to your doctor more about how to gain or lose weight in a healthy way.

6. Folic acid is important to have in your diet, because it is one of the few nutrients that can help you avoid neural tube birth defects. You can take a folic acid supplement or eat foods that contain folic acid, such as dark leafy vegetables (collard greens, asparagus, kale), citrus fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and grains.

7. Vitamin D is very important to have in your diet, because it is extremely important for healthy reproduction and bone health.

For women, Vitamin D increases ovarian follicular fluid levels. There is a higher success rate for getting pregnant when these levels are high, because higher levels help with receiving embryos during an embryo transfer.

Vitamin D is helpful for men because it helps in making their sperm healthier (higher sperm concentration, better sperm morphology and motility). You can find Vitamin D in foods like portobello mushrooms, almonds, caviar, and Cod Liver Oil.

8. Taking a prenatal vitamin daily can be very helpful when trying to conceive, because it helps women get the nutrients and vitamins that bodies need. Your menstrual cycle is disrupted when your body is lacking certain nutrients.

Reproductive BioMedicine Online published a study finding that women undergoing fertility treatments are more likely to conceive when taking a prenatal multivitamin daily. Women who took a prenatal multivitamin had fewer fertility treatments, and 75 percent of them were pregnant on the first cycle of fertility treatments.

9. Avoid eating types of fish that contain high amounts of mercury, as higher levels can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Fish that contain high amounts of mercury are: swordfish, tilefish, shark, canned tuna, and king mackerel.

10. Don’t become too obsessed with following a strict diet, because doing so could increase your stress and anxiety levels. It is good to splurge once in awhile. When you are eating better, you will feel better, too, which also benefits your baby when you become pregnant.

lifestyle choices for boosting fertility

How you choose to live your life each day can impact your fertility. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, such as managing your weight, eating right, and exercising, enhances your fertility. Let’s take a look at some lifestyle choices and how they impact your health and fertility:

Effects of Body Weight on Fertility

Maintaining a healthy weight alleviates many of the strains on the body that can interfere with getting pregnant, such as elevated blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), 12 percent of all infertility cases are caused because women either weigh too little or too much. The issue is estrogen, a sex hormone produced in the fat cells. With too much body fat, your body over produces estrogen, and your body begins to react as if it is on birth control, which reduces your odds of becoming pregnant. The inverse is true for women with too little body fat. By not consuming enough calories and not weighing enough, their bodies cannot produce enough estrogen, and their reproductive cycles begin to shut down. It is recommended that you visit your physician to assess your individual health situation to determine the appropriateness of your weight.

Regular exercise can also help control your weight and manage stress often associated with trying to conceive. Working out stimulates the endocrine glands to secrete hormones that produce egg growth. Getting your heart rate up for thirty minutes a day will not only enhance your fertility, but release any daily frustrations before they have a chance to build up. Aspire Fertility is happy to offer resources that will help you toward developing a fertility exercise plan that works for you and your needs.

Fertility Nutrition: A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet will ensure that the body receives appropriate nutrition to maximize performance, which includes ideal ovulation for women and sperm production for men. Small changes to your diet can make a huge difference. Begin by eating more fruits and vegetables, and aim for at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Be creative and try drinking a few in a smoothie or adding some puree into a dinner dish.

In terms of what you should try to avoid, white flour, white bread and white rice food products make the top of the list. It is best to replace these items with foods made from a variety of whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats and whole grain corn.

So what should your shopping list look like? Start with foods that are rich in folic acid, such as brown rice, oats, beans, peas, spinach, cereals and oranges, then continue to add other fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Effects of Caffeine on Infertility

Caffeine may also impact one’s ability to become pregnant. Caffeine increases stress and is known to have addictive qualities.RESOLVE documented several studies that have shown that caffeine increases the length of time it takes to conceive. One study revealed that women who drank more than one cup of coffee a day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle as compared to women who consumed less. Another study identified that caffeine could damage sperm and increase the risk in females of developing endometriosis.

Experts have recommended consumption of less than 100 mg per day of caffeine. Remember that caffeine is all around us and can be found in several sources such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. In the morning, try reaching for a glass of orange juice or decaffeinated tea to start your day.

Meet with a Fertility Specialist

For more information on lifestyle and infertility and how you and your partner can start making changes today, consult with one of Aspire’s fertility experts in Houston and Dallas .

Dealing with Infertility

by Meslissa Estes, LPC, LMFT

It is important to have a strong relationship throughout the infertility process. It can be difficult to deal with infertility during the holidays while staying tuned in to your partner’s needs, which is why it’s important to set aside time to communicate with your partner to share these feelings and work through the sadness, grief or stress related to infertility. Now more than ever, you need each other’s comfort and support through these difficult moments.

Navigating Infertility Conversations

Set limits on conversations related to attempting conception or fertility treatment. This helps contain the potentially powerful emotions that may surround the issues. Some strategies for limiting serious talks include:

Limit Infertility Conversations to 30 Minutes

This may mean just tackling a part of the topic, or concentrating on how one or both partners are affected, rather than going over the same issue or discussion point. Agree on a time limit for the conversation. Keep in mind that there may be moments where the conversation has to be extended based on the circumstance. If you keep to a time limit, you’ll be able to focus your attention on exploring that emotion or circumstance without letting yourself get distracted by other thoughts.

Take an Infertility Break

Take “mental breaks” from talking about infertility during the week. Limit conversations to one place or to particular times of the day, and set the scene for an effective discussion. It is important that it takes place at a time when you both have enough emotional resources and there are not other stressors competing for your attention such as work, other people, watching TV, or phone calls.

Use “I” not “You” to Communicate Infertility Feelings

During conversations, do not blame your partner. To avoid any sense of blame, use “I” messages with your partner. The process goes like this: When I have to do A in situation B, I feel C. For example, “When I have to attend medical appointments by myself, I feel scared and alone.” Avoid saying “you always” and “you never” in order to keep your statement focused on the immediate event. The use of “you” statements make a person feel attacked, which may lead to feeling on the defensive and hinder the conversation.

The Aspire Fertility teams in Houston and Dallas are here to help strengthen your infertility communication. Contact us with any questions about infertility or if you need support–we’re happy to support you throughout this journey.

by Meslissa Estes, LPC, LMFT

Trying to get pregnant can be extremely stressful. Anxiety can lead to thoughts of worry about what is wrong with you and your partner. A lot of times people jump to thinking the worst. There is a universal tendency to underestimate the stress caused by infertility, and the impact it has on your fertility journey.

(more…)

By Dina Goldstein Silverman, Ph.D.

Infertility is an extremely taxing journey. Emotionally, physically, financially, whether undertaken with a loving, supportive spouse or partner or as a single-parent-by-choice, infertility can seem like an overwhelming trail with no endpoint in sight. (more…)

by Melissa Estes, LCP, LMFT

Struggling with infertility is emotionally taxing. Patients often feel stressed, guilty, sad, and under pressure to have a baby right away. There are often ups and downs throughout the journey-feelings of hope, sadness, excitement, and anxiety. These tips, grounded in solid physiological research, can help you cope with your fertility journey. (more…)

by Melissa Estes, LPC, LMFT

Can I love a child I am not genetically connected to? Will that child love me once they know?

It can be devastating for a woman to learn that she can’t use her own egg to have a baby. For a couple, it can be hard to accept that their baby won’t be, genetically, their child. These worries are common when weighing up donor conception. (more…)