6 Things Only Someone Coping with Infertility Understands

6 Things Only Someone Coping with Infertility Understands

Did you know that one in eight couples have trouble conceiving? That means you’re not alone if you have been having infertility problems. Read on to learn what only someone with infertility issues will understand:

It Can Be Very Expensive

Infertility procedures and medications are very expensive. On average, each attempt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) is $11,000 or more. Only a minority of people have health insurance that helps with those costs.

It’s Normal to be Disappointed Each Month

IVF is the most successful and drastic fertility procedure, but it is not a guarantee at all. The CDC compiles rates of success from nationwide fertility centers into one report each year and the latest one shows that 40 percent of IVF attempts in those under the age of 35 who use their own fresh embryos resulted in a birth. But that outcome becomes as low as 11 percent in 41 and 42 year olds.

Timing is Everything

Just missing a dose of fertility medication or taking them at the wrong time can be a disaster. Timing is everything. If you go against the medication schedule your doctor gave you — in the case of IVF — your eggs may not be ready to be retrieved or you might not have your intrauterine insemination during the time where it would be most successful.

It Can be an Emotional Roller Coaster

Usually women with infertility begin taking medications a few days after the start of their periods…and then they wait. “For the next 4 weeks you get your hopes up, you dream, you wish, you tell yourself, ‘It’s going to happen this month,’ and then when the stick says you’re not pregnant or the doctor tells you your embryo didn’t take, it’s soul-crushing,” says Laura Saltman, a woman who has been going through fertility treatments for three years.

It’s Painful

The medications have significant side effects that cause pain, inside and out. It can feel like the worst PMS experience combined with the amount of pain you typically feel on the first day of your period.

It’s Difficult to Hear Friends’ Pregnancy Announcements

“You want to be truly excited for them, but deep down it makes you hurt more for yourself,” says Monica Higgins, who underwent fertility treatments on and off for three years. Be careful not to judge a friend if she is not as enthusiastic about your pregnancy as you hoped she’d be. Give them some space and then attention if she does become pregnant.

 

6 Factors That Affect a Woman’s Fertility

6 Factors That Affect a Woman's Fertility

As a woman becomes older, her fertility decreases. However, even during her most fertile years there are external factors and lifestyle choices that can affect her chances of having a baby who’s healthy. Read on to learn some factors that affect a woman’s fertility and what you can do about them if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Obesity
Hormone production can be affected by carrying around extra pounds, which can make it more difficult for a woman to conceive. “The more weight a woman gains over her healthy weight, the more she tends to experience decreased ovarian function,” says William Schlaff, MD.

Being Too Thin
Not having enough body weight can also affect fertility. This may be because women who have BMIs that are very low are deficient in leptin, which is the hormone that controls feelings of satiety and hunger. Low leptin levels can contribute to not having menstrual periods.

Smoking
Smoking can drastically affect a woman’s chances of conceiving. It causes up to 13 percent of all infertility cases, says the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. According to Dr. Arredondo, cigarette smoke disrupts hormones and does damage to DNA in both women and men. “And it doesn’t have to be heavy smoking, either,” he says. “Even women who smoke moderately or who are exposed to secondhand smoke have disrupted endocrine function and can experience significant fertility issues.”

Alcohol
Doctors tend to caution against more than one drink a day for women (which has been connected to a higher risk for ovulation disorders). Also, a Swedish study that tracked over 7,000 women for 18 years found that those who drank the heaviest were more likely to have sought out fertility treatment. It’s important to remember that you should stop drinking if you think you could be pregnant.

Extreme Exercise
Of course working out helps to keep you in shape, which is important when you’re trying to get pregnant. But you can overdo it: “If you’re exercising too much it can have a negative impact on ovulation,” says Dr. Schlaff. If there is potentially a problem, the most obvious sign is a change in menstrual cycle. “If you notice that it becomes lighter or shorter, you should talk to your doctor about the implications for your fertility and your health,” says Dr. Schlaff.

Certain Medical Conditions
Health issues such as thyroid disease, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can affect a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant or successfully carrying a pregnancy to term. Also, women with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may have issues conceiving since their bodies might reject a fertilized egg or attack her partner’s sperm. This doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, but it’s important to work with a medical team to improve and manage symptoms.

 

9 Tips for Upping Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

9 Tips for Upping Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

It’s easy for some women to get pregnant, but others spend a lot of time — even years — trying to conceive. Read on to learn some tips that you and your partner could use to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Brush Your Teeth Better

Did you know that gum disease can add an extra two months to the amount of time it takes to conceive, according to research out of Australia? Be sure to get your teeth checked before you try to get pregnant.

Give Up Your Soda Addiction

According to a study co-authored by Lauren Wise, ScD, women who drink two servings of any type of soda or more a day have approximately a 16 percent lower fertility rate than women who do not drink any soda.

Exercise, But Don’t Overdo It

Wise’s research suggests that thin women who work out five hours a week or more and vigorously are 42 percent less likely to get pregnant than those who do not strenuously exercise.

Get to Sleep Early

According to research, women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments experience the best results when the regularly get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Make Sure He Doesn’t Turn Into a Couch Potato

Men who watch over 20 hours of TV a week have a 44 percent lower sperm count than those who watch next to none, according to a Harvard study.

Get Chronic Anxiety Under Control

If your stress levels become high, you can stop ovulating.

Give Up Gluten

One study out of Columbia University suggests that six percent of women with unexplained infertility have celiac disease. “They produce antibodies that may interfere with the development of the placenta,” says study author Peter Green, MD. The subjects were able to conceive within a year after they went on a gluten-free diet.

Encourage Him to Lose Weight, if Needed

According to a study, men who are overweight or obese are more likely to have low total sperm concentration and counts.

Encourage Him to Stop Smoking

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, smoking leads to a lower quality of sperm; therefore, it recommends quitting smoking if you’re trying to conceive. There are many other reasons to quit smoking, too, of course!

 

Debunked Myths about Emergency Contraceptive Pills

Debunked Myths about Emergency Contraceptive Pills

Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), sometimes called “morning after pills” are a highly misunderstood method of birth control.  There are a lot of myths floating around the internet (and in general) that need to be cleared up.  It’s vital to have this information because there are numerous situations that a woman might find herself in that would call for an an ECP.  Here are some common myths, debunked.

ECPs are in limited supply and not easy to obtain.
There are actually many types of ECPs.  Some examples of the most common type (the levonorgestrel-only-pill) are Plan B, Take Action, My Way and Next Choice One-Dose.  You can buy them at your local drugstore, grocery store or online, over-the-counter and without any age restriction. There are some that require prescriptions, too, such as ella.  Just ask your doctor.  It’s also possible to be seen very quickly if you seek help at most walk-in/urgent care facilities.

Taking an ECP is equal to having an abortion.
ECPs are not the same thing as medication abortion pills.  A lot of people seem to think they are, so it’s important that the difference is made clear.  ECPs delay ovulation and prevent pregnancy.  There is not an effect on an existing pregnancy from the pills with levonorgestrel such as Next Choice and Plan B One-Step.  The pills don’t work if a woman has already ovulated.

Taking an ECP will keep you protected for a while.
It’s crucial to remember that ECPs protect against one instance of unprotected sex. Having unprotected sex again will greatly increase your chances of getting pregnant. ECPs are meant to block ovulation for a few days, nothing more.

You shouldn’t bother taking an ECP if you just drank alcohol or took drugs.
If you went out and partied like crazy, an ECP is still going to be effective.  Sure, taking drugs and boozing might not be in your best interest for other reasons, but the benefits of taking an ECP are greater than the risks, for the most part.

Taking ECPS will interfere with fertility.
There isn’t any evidence that this is true.  What would be more worth consideration is the effectiveness of an ECP to prevent pregnancy in general.  ECPs are less effective than other types of birth control such as the pill, ring, patch or IUD.  It’s a good idea to have a discussion with your doctor about your different options.  Hopefully some of the above information will give you a decent head start!

 

Trying to Find a Mate? Wear Red!

Trying to Find a Mate? Wear Red!

Throughout many cultures, the color red is connected with feelings of love and passion.  Studies have shown that there is a link between love, sex and romance, and a woman’s use of red.  This has been demonstrated by using a range of populations and methods.  In one particular study, it was found that women reported that they preferred to wear red clothing when imagining they might potentially meet a new mate.  Based on this, it was concluded by authors that the wearing of red by women might be used as a sexual signal to attract potential mates.

In separate studies, there were findings that men believe women who are surrounded by or wearing red to be especially sexually desirable and attractive.  This has been shown in both Western industrialized cultures and with members who are non-Western in very isolated, traditional, small-scale societies, where red has negative and divergent cultural associations.  This suggested that a male’s tendency to find reddish colors sexually attractive could be universal among humans.

Many possible explanations have been suggested regarding men’s attraction to this color on or around women.  Suggestions are that red has attention-grabbing perceptual qualities, a reddish skin tone frequently indicates that women are sexually aroused, and males of other species show attraction in similar ways.  This indicates that cognitions might have first come about in a shared ancestor and then continued in humans.

This major tendency among men leads to an intriguing prediction regarding women, regardless of the mechanism that underlies the effect.  Since women have a brief fertile window, it could be beneficial and adaptive for them to dress in order to increase their level of sexual attractiveness during this time.

It was predicted that women would take advantage of a chance to dress in red or pink during times of peak fertility with the drive to appear more sexually appealing during this time of the cycle.  And, if the hormones associated with ovulation make women feel more sexually attractive during peak fertility, they might be inclined to wear clothing that draws more attention to them, such as red colored, even if they’re not necessarily looking to attract men.

So You Think You’re Pregnant?

So You Think You're Pregnant?

Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, and whether you are using a form of birth control or not, if you’re of child bearing age, you are likely to feel a tinge of fear or excitement every month as you wonder if you are PMSing or actually pregnant. You could, of course, purchase and use a pregnancy test every month, but not only are they not always accurate, it can get pretty expensive to use regularly. There are subtle signs that you can pay attention to as well. Of course symptoms vary for everyone and depending on how far along you are from the date of conception, but there are some things that will let you know its time for a professional test.

Fatigue
If you’re suddenly too tired to get through the entire day at work, your regular workout regiment, or to stay up until you’re normal bedtime, it might be time to look into a pregnancy test. Pregnancy increases the hormones in your body, which in turn cause fatigue.

Nausea
Nausea is one of the most telling symptoms of pregnancy. If the thought of food or the taste of one of your favorite foods suddenly makes you sick to your stomach, it might be best to get a test. Women often note a strong sense of smell that causes nausea as well.

Missed or Late Period
If you’re late on your period or have skipped a period completely while you’re usually very regular, this might be the most obvious sign that you could be pregnant – if not, you definitely should look into your hormones to be sure there’s nothing else going on with your hormones.

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, you should be sure to go in for a medical check up regularly. If you think you might be pregnant, you should see a professional as soon as possible. The test administered by your physician will be the most accurate, and there will be plenty to discuss if you are pregnant!

Working Too Much Isn’t Good for Your Sex Life

Working Too Much Isn’t Good for Your Sex Life

Gainful employment might be killing your sex life.

Unemployment rates are seeing a decrease — excellent news for the unemployed Americans who are ready to land a job — but working too much, over 40 hours per week, can negatively impact a person’s sex life. Do you work 50 to 60 hours a week?  Have you noticed that your sex life isn’t what it used to be?  If so, then you might want to think about cutting down your hours.

Lowered Libido
If you’re working more than 40 hours a week, your body is taking on stress.  Sure, you might love your job, but extended hours cause your cortisol levels to increase significantly. When cortisol levels are increased, your sex hormones to become suppressed, which ultimately leads to a lowered libido.

Decreased Fertility
Not only is your libido lowered when cortisol levels are up, but your fertility is impacted in a negative way as well.  This means if you’re trying to get pregnant and you can’t, then working 40+ hours might be the culprit of the problem.  And everyone knows, when you’re trying to conceive and you can’t, this only boosts stress and cortisol levels to an even higher level.

Weight Gain
You’ve been working more hours and you would think that this would mean that you would lose or maintain your weight, but when you look at the scales, you see the pounds going up and up. Because the hormones related to stress influence your metabolism, you might find yourself gaining weight when working too much, even if you’re eating less. And when you don’t feel good about your body, you’ll probably be less inclined to crawl into bed for a sexual encounter.

Greater Chance of Excessive Drinking
There’s nothing better than coming home after a 16-hour day at the office and sipping on a glass of wine to unwind. But no matter the type of alcohol that you consume, excessive consumption can lead to lubrication challenges.  As a woman, lubrication is vital to the enjoyment of sex.  If you believe that your extra hours at work are contributing to your increase in alcohol consumption, then perhaps it’s time to wean down the hours to 40 or below.