Posts Tagged ‘infertility’

Dad’s health is important for his future baby

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

International Men’s Health Week is June 11-17. Celebrate it by encouraging the men in your life to take steps to improve their preconception health. Yes, men’s health before pregnancy is important too.

Being healthy is beneficial to a man and his future family. Dad’s health before pregnancy is very important. Here are a few things men can do if they are thinking about having a baby in the future:

  • Get an annual medical checkup. During this wellness visit, his health care provider checks for him for health conditions, like high blood pressure and certain infections. Men can discuss their family health history and find out about medical problems that run in families. Certain medical problems may affect his future baby.
  • Avoid harmful substances in the workplace and at home. Men’s sperm may be affected when exposed to certain substances, like mercury, lead and pesticides. If your partner is exposed to substances like these at work, ask him to change his clothes before going home. This can help protect you from these substances before and during pregnancy.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the chances of health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly some cancers. In addition, obesity is associated with male infertility. Men can get to a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and being active every day.
  • Stop smoking, using harmful drugs and drinking too much alcohol. All these behaviors can negatively affect men’s fertility. And they can affect you and your baby, too. For example, a pregnant woman who is exposed to secondhand smoke has a higher chance of having a baby with low birthweight than women not exposed. The smoke from cigarettes also increases health problems in babies, like ear infections, respiratory problems and sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS).
  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (also called STIs). An STI is an infection you can get from having unprotected sex or intimate physical contact with someone who is infected. STIs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies and cause problems like premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage and stillbirth. Ask your partner to get tested for STIs.

For more information about a man’s wellness checkup and preconception health, visit:

What you need to know about infertility

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

April 22-28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Many couples struggle with infertility. In the United States, about 10 to 15 percent of couples have infertility problems. This can cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.

How do you know if you or your partner have an infertility problem?

If you have been trying to get pregnant for several months without any luck, you may start wondering if that’s normal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. Infertility problems affect both men and women. About one-third of the cases are due to female factors, and male factors account for one-third of the cases. The rest of the cases are a combination of factors or the causes cannot be identified. There are many factors that can affect fertility, such as:

What can you do?

If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for 3-4 months, don’t give up and keep trying. You may just need a little more time. Talk to your provider if you’re worried that it’s taking too long. You and your partner should schedule a visit with your provider if:

  • You are a woman who is younger than 35 and have not been able to get pregnant after trying for 12 months.
  • You are a woman who is 35 years old or older and have not been able to get pregnant after trying for 6 months

Your provider may do some tests to help identify if there’s a problem. You can also learn more about certain lifestyle changes that can help you and your partner lower the risk of having fertility problems.

For more information:

 

Fertility myths – we’ve got the facts

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

negtestWe’ve heard of many different theories about fertility and becoming pregnant through AskUs. We’ve rounded up some of the ones we hear most often to help you weed through fact and fiction.

Q: Can folic acid help me get pregnant?

A: If you are trying to become pregnant, it is a good idea that you take a multivitamin that contains at least 400mcg of folic acid. This will help to prevent certain birth defects if you become pregnant. Folic acid, however, is not known to help with fertility in women. So, if you are having trouble becoming pregnant, folic acid is not something that will help you to conceive.

Q: I have an irregular period, can I get pregnant?

A: If you don’t have a regular period, there are other ways you can determine when you are ovulating, such as using your basal body temperature, cervical mucus and an ovulation prediction kit. For more tips, visit here.

Q: “Does drinking caffeine or smoking cigarettes affect my fertility?”

A: You may have heard that too much caffeine can cause miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy). Some studies say this is true, and others don’t. Until we know more about how caffeine can affect pregnancy, it’s best to limit the amount you get to 200 milligrams each day. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Be sure to check the size of your cup to know how much caffeine you’re getting.

Smoking can affect your fertility and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Need help quitting? We’ve got resources.

Q: If I have sex a few days before ovulation will I conceive a girl?

A: Gender is determined at the moment of conception. During ovulation the ovaries release a mature egg that begins to travel to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. Sperm travel through the uterus to fertilize the egg within the fallopian tube. Only a single sperm fertilizes an egg. Both the sperm and the egg contain 23 chromosomes that will combine to make up the zygote which contains a total of 46 chromosomes. At conception, your baby’s gender, eye color, hair color, and much more has already been determined.

Of the 46 chromosomes that make up your baby’s genetic material, two chromosomes–one from your egg and one from your partner’s sperm–determine your baby’s gender. A woman’s egg contains only X sex chromosomes. A man’s sperm, however, may contain either an X or Y sex chromosome. If, at the instant of fertilization, a sperm with an X sex chromosome meets your egg (another X chromosome), your baby will be a girl (XX). If a sperm containing a Y sex chromosome meets your egg, your baby will be a boy (XY). It is always the father’s genetic contribution that determines the sex of the baby.

There are many old wives tales about choosing the sex of your baby but none of them have been proven.

Q: Will my birth control cause infertility?

A: The type of birth control you use may affect how soon you can get pregnant once you stop using it. To check your specific birth control, visit here.

Using birth control will not hurt your chances of becoming pregnant in the future. All reversible birth control methods will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but they do not have long-lasting effects on your ability to get pregnant when you stop.

How long will it take for me to get pregnant?

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Contemplative womanThe answer to this question depends on many factors and is very personal. Some people get pregnant the first month they try. For others, it takes longer. If you have been trying to conceive for a few months, you may just need more time. Most couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.

But if you have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year (or six months if you are 35 or over) and have not conceived, your health care provider may suggest you consult a reproductive endocrinologist. A reproductive endocrinologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) who specializes in diagnosing and treating infertility.

Infertility means that the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction is impaired. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

There are many possible causes of infertility. If you do see a reproductive endocrinologist, both you and your partner will most likely need to undergo testing. Infertility affects men and women equally. And 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Risk factors

There are a number of risk factors for infertility. Many of them are the same for both men and women. They include:

  • Age. As you get older, your fertility will start to decline. Each woman is born with a set number of eggs. As you get older, you have fewer and fewer eggs, and the eggs you have aren’t easily fertilized by a man’s sperm. All this makes it harder for you to get pregnant. And men over age 40 may be less fertile than younger men.
  • Weight. Women who weigh too much or too little can have difficulty conceiving. And a man’s sperm count can be affected if he is overweight.
  • Smoking. Smoking reduces fertility for both men and women.  According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), up to 13% of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking and women who smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Alcohol use. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant, avoid alcohol. Heavy alcohol use in men can decrease both sperm count and motility (the ability of the sperm to swim towards the egg and fertilize it).

Treatment options

There are several kinds of fertility treatments. You, your partner, and your reproductive endocrinologist can decide which treatment gives you the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Treatments include:

  • Surgery to repair parts of your or your partner’s reproductive system. For example, you may need surgery on your fallopian tubes to help your eggs travel from your ovaries to your uterus.
  • Controlled ovarian stimulation (also called COS). COS uses certain medicines to help your body ovulate and make healthier eggs.
  • In vitro fertilization (also called IVF). IVF is the most common kind of assisted reproductive technology (ART). In IVF, an egg and sperm are combined in a lab to create an embryo which is then transferred to the uterus.

You may be concerned that consulting a reproductive endocrinologist means you will need IVF.  Usually, this is not the case. In fact, 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional therapies.

If you’ve been struggling to conceive, talk to your health care provider to learn about what you can do.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

When do you need a reproductive endocrinologist?

Friday, April 29th, 2016

preconception healthWe get a lot of questions from women wondering how long it will take them to get pregnant. If you have been trying to conceive for a few months, you may just need more time. Most couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.

However, if you have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year (or six months if you are 35 or over) and have not conceived, talk to your health care provider. She may suggest you consult a reproductive endocrinologist. A reproductive endocrinologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating infertility. They complete 4 years of medical school and a 4-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. They then receive an additional 3 years of specialized training in Reproductive Endocrinology.

At your first visit, your reproductive endocrinologist will review your:

  • Medical history, including menstrual cycle, pregnancy/loss history, birth control use, & any other medical conditions
  • Family health history
  • Lifestyle and work environment

After a complete physical exam, your doctor will discuss with you any additional tests that may be ordered. These may include ovulation testing, looking at the anatomy of the uterus and fallopian tubes, determining the quality and quantity of eggs, testing hormone levels, and a pelvic ultrasound. Your partner may be referred for additional testing as well.

There are several kinds of fertility treatment. You, your partner, and your reproductive endocrinologist can decide which treatment gives you the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Treatments include:

  • Surgery to repair parts of your or your partner’s reproductive system. For example, you may need surgery on your fallopian tubes to help your eggs travel from your ovaries to your uterus.
  • Controlled ovarian stimulation (also called COS). COS uses certain medicines to help your body ovulate and make healthier eggs.
  • In vitro fertilization (also called IVF). IVF is the most common kind of assisted reproductive technology (ART). In IVF, an egg and sperm are combined in a lab to create an embryo which is then transferred to the uterus.

Some couples may be concerned that consulting a reproductive endocrinologist means they will need IVF.  But this is typically not the case. In fact, 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional therapies.

If you have been struggling to conceive, talk to your health care provider and see if consulting a reproductive endocrinologist is the right choice for you.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

One couple’s rocky road to parenthood

Monday, April 25th, 2016

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are grateful that one mom shared her story with us. We hope that her journey will inspire others who may be on this path.

Infertility is a journey. And every journey looks different. Some end in happiness and some do not.

In early 2015, after 3 years of trying to get pregnant, my husband and I found out that we were expecting. After all of the roadblocks we had hit along the way, hearing, “you’re pregnant” was surreal. The pregnancy was not without challenges, and I was extremely paranoid that we would somehow lose this baby. I am happy to say that my son was born healthy at 38.5 weeks, albeit with a nearly week long NICU stay. But, this happy ending came after a journey of twists and turns and more downs than ups.

I’d wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. . . That sounds so cliché, doesn’t it?

We were young and had only been married for a couple of years when we decided to start a family. We were so naïve and full of hope! I went off my birth control and started actively trying to have a baby. I read everything I could about getting pregnant and started charting my cycles.

When my cycles went from the perfectly timed 28 days to 60 and 70 days, I knew something was off. I did some reading and thought I might have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). (The beauty and danger of the internet!) PCOS happens when you have hormone problems along with cysts on the ovaries. I bought a book, went on a diet and started exercising. I learned everything I could about getting pregnant with PCOS and did my best to take control of my body.

After 6 months of trying to conceive with no luck, my doctor examined me, ran some tests (blood and ultrasound) and confirmed the PCOS diagnosis. She told me that she could write a prescription for Clomid to try and stimulate ovulation. But, she said that before I could start on the Clomid, my husband needed to have a semen analysis. (A large number of infertile couples have both female and male infertility issues, and they don’t want to unnecessarily medicate someone.)

To say that my husband was less than thrilled would be an understatement. It took me a few months to convince him to go for the test. He finally went and when we got the results back we were devastated. His sperm count was very low and the chances of conceiving on our own were basically zero. The doctors told us that they might be able to treat my husband and me, so that we could conceive. Little did we realize that this was just the beginning of years of doctors’ visits, but nevertheless, we jumped in with both feet.

Dealing with infertility can be all-consuming (at least it was for us). I would wake up and go to sleep thinking about it. There was never down time for my brain. I would see a pregnant woman or a couple with a baby and I would feel jealous, angry and sad. Hearing that other couples got pregnant without even trying was overwhelming. . . And the medical bills were never ending. Our insurance didn’t really cover any of our treatments so we paid almost all of it out-of-pocket. We were saving for a down payment on a house when we started trying to have a baby. And after the fertility treatments we were back to square one.

Through all of the doctors’ visits, blood work, ultrasounds and shots, I kept up the hope that someday I would be a mother.

Fast forward…

Now that we’re 6 months into being parents, I can say that I am thankful for my son every day. The first couple of months were incredibly challenging, and the idea that “maybe I wasn’t meant to have kids” crossed my mind frequently. But, I now revel in time spent with my son.

Although at the time, it seemed that the process of trying to conceive was going on and on, with no end in sight, I can say now that it is becoming a distant memory. The intense joy my husband and I feel every time we see the smile on our son’s face or see him hit another milestone, fills me with happiness and pushes the difficult journey of how we got here into the background.

I am sending baby dust to everyone out there struggling with infertility.

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts or personal story below.

 

Preconception health for dads

Friday, February 12th, 2016

becoming a dadWe talk a lot about getting a woman’s body ready for pregnancy. But what about men? Dad’s health before pregnancy is important too. Here are a few things men can do if they are thinking about having a baby in the future.

Avoid toxic substances in your workplace and at home

If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, it may be more difficult if you are exposed to the following substances:

  • Metals (like mercury or lead)
  • Products that contain lots of chemicals (like certain cleaning solutions, pesticides or gases)
  • Radioactive waste, radiation or other dangerous substances (like drugs to treat cancer or X-rays)

Read more about how to protect yourself at work and at home here.

Get to a healthy weight

Obesity is associated with male infertility. And people who are overweight have a higher risk for conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and possibly some cancers.

Prevent STDs

A sexually transmitted disease (also called STD) is an infection that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. You can get an STD from vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Many people with STDs don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms. About 19 million people get an STD each year in the United States.

It is important to continue to protect yourself and your partner from STDs during pregnancy. STDs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies and cause problems, such as premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth.

Stop smoking, using street drugs, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

All of these behaviors are harmful to your health. Being around people who smoke is dangerous for pregnant women and babies. Being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born with low birthweight.

Secondhand smoke is dangerous to your baby after birth. Babies who are around secondhand smoke are more likely than babies who aren’t to have health problems, like pneumonia, ear infections, asthma, and bronchitis. They’re also more likely to die of SIDS.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and using street drugs can negatively affect a man’s fertility.

Know your family’s health history

Your family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in both of your families have had. It can help you find out about medical problems that run in your family that may affect your baby. Taking your family health history can help you make important health decisions. Knowing about health conditions before or early in pregnancy can help you and your health care provider decide on treatments and care for your baby.

Be supportive of your partner

Help your partner. If she is trying to quit smoking, make sure you support her efforts—and join her if you need to quit too! If she has a medical condition, encourage her to see her doctor.

Even before pregnancy, dads play an important role in their baby’s lives, so make sure you are planning for the future too.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Why can’t I get pregnant?

Friday, May 1st, 2015

womann reading HPTOne of the most common questions we get in the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center is about conception. Women want to know when they will get pregnant and why it is taking longer than they thought it would. Often they wonder if something may be wrong and they should seek out a reproductive specialist.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 to 4 months, don’t panic, and keep trying. The good news is that most couples will conceive on their own, although it may take longer than expected. Nearly 9 out of 10 couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year.

But if you have been trying to get pregnant for over a year or longer than six months if you are over 35, then you may want to talk to your health care provider. Infertility means that the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction is impaired. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

There are many possible causes of infertility. If your provider does refer you to a specialist, it is important to know that both you and your partner will most likely need to undergo testing. Infertility affects men and women equally. And 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Some lifestyle factors that contribute to infertility are a woman’s weight and whether she or her partner smoke. Women who weigh too much or too little can have difficulty conceiving. Getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it may help to reverse some infertility.

Smoking also reduces fertility for both men and women.  According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), up to 13% of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking and women who smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage.

The majority of couples (85-90%) who experience infertility can be treated with surgery or medications. Only a small percentage of couples (less than 3%) will need to undergo advanced procedures, such as in vitro fertilization, to conceive.

Insurance coverage for infertility treatments varies from company to company and state to state. Because treatment can be very costly, be sure to learn more about the costs and your insurance coverage while you are still thinking about treatment options.

If you are concerned about your ability to get pregnant, make sure you talk to your provider. She can guide you and help you determine what the next step is for you and your partner.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is endometriosis?

Monday, March 9th, 2015

crampsEndometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows in places outside of the uterus. This misplaced tissue is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, and sometimes even the bladder or intestines. Endometriosis affects about 5 million women in America and is most common in women in their 30s and 40s. Endometriosis may cause fertility issues for women who want to conceive.

 

Symptoms of endometriosis

  • Pain: This is the most common symptom of endometriosis. Regardless of where the endometrial tissue is located in the body, it continues to act as if it were part of the uterus. Each month it thickens, breaks down and bleeds. This can make for very heavy and painful menstrual periods. Depending on the degree of extra tissue growth, a woman with endometriosis may also experience sharp pain during ovulation, sex, or bowel movements.
  • Infertility: According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, “up to 30-50% of women with endometriosis may experience infertility.”
  • Digestive issues: Women with endometriosis may experience diarrhea or constipation.

Causes and treatment of endometriosis
Unfortunately, we don’t know what causes endometriosis. While there is no cure, treatment options include:

  • Medications
    Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medicines can help provide relief. If you are trying to become pregnant, ask your health care provider which ones are OK for you to take.
  • Hormonal birth control: If you are NOT trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control such as an extended cycle (you only have a few periods each year) or continuous cycle (no periods) pill or shot can reduce the number of periods you have each year.  There are other medications that may be appropriate as well. Your health care provider can advise you depending on your symptoms and your reproductive plans.
  • Surgery
    When hormones are not helping or you want to get pregnant, surgery may be an option. The doctor will locate any areas of endometriosis and remove them. This procedure may improve the chance for conception.

Can I get pregnant if I have endometriosis?
Most women with a mild to moderate case of endometriosis are able to conceive, eventually.  But, it may be more difficult to get pregnant. If you have endometriosis and are thinking about getting pregnant, make sure you talk to your health care provider. He or she will be able to advise you of treatment options that may work for you.

Considering fertility treatment

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

coupleIf you’ve been trying to get pregnant for three or four months, keep trying. It may just take more time, even longer than you think it could. But, you may want to think about fertility treatment if you’re younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, or you’re 35 or older and have been trying to get pregnant for at least six months.

Here are some things you and your partner can do to find out if you need treatment:
• Talk to your health care provider about whether or not you need treatment.
• Learn about how things like smoking and weight affect fertility. It’s possible that you may be able to make changes in your life that will help you get pregnant without fertility treatment. Talk to your health care provider about what you can do on your own, without fertility treatment.
• Tell your health care provider about diseases and other health problems in your family.
• Keep a monthly diary of your periods. Write down the date you start and end your period each month. This will help you figure out when you ovulate.
• Have your partner get his sperm tested to make sure it’s healthy.
• Have a test to make sure your fallopian tubes are open and your uterus is a normal shape. (When your ovary releases an egg, it travels down the fallopian tube to your uterus.)

If you’ve tried various options and think it’s time to speak to a fertility specialist, read our information on when and how to find a fertility specialist and center. You’ll find information on risks and benefits, who pays for it, and more.