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!

 

Nipple Pain among Women Is Common

surfer

It’s very common for women to have sore nipples.  This type of pain is triggered by various factors including environmental, hormonal imbalance, friction, infection, sexual activity, breastfeeding, allergies, and more.  Reasons for nipple pain and discomfort include:

Friction or “jogger’s nipple”

Nipple pain is often the result of friction during athletic activity such as running and working out.  This can be worsened if the athlete is wearing an ill-fitting sports bra.  Long-distance runners are at a higher risk, as well as surfers who neglect to wear rash guards.

Allergies and temperature sensitivity

Nipples are extremely sensitive and might not take well to certain environmental changes. Hygiene products such as soaps and lotions and detergents, clothing and linens, and outdoor temperatures may be too stimulating.  The nipples might appear red and chapped and feel itchy.

Hormone changes

Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause nipple pain during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This is quite common.  Just before her period, a woman often experiences tender breasts and nipples. This isn’t cause for concern, but if it’s prolonged, it’s important to see a doctor and get testing if needed.

Friction from sexual activity

It’s inevitable– if there’s a lot of friction in the nipple area during sex, they’ll feel sore.  This should be a temporary experience and can be relieved with different gentle moisturizers or gels.

Paget’s disease

In rare cases, pain in the nipples can be part of having Paget’s disease of the nipple.  The cause of this disease is unknown and rarely may indicate breast cancer.  This condition is seen in about 1 percent of breast cancers.  Symptoms range from redness and crusting to pain, itching and burning. In very rare, serious cases surgery is needed.

Problems during pregnancy

It’s very common to experience nipple pain during pregnancy.  Blood volume increases when pregnancy hormones kick in and since the breasts are so sensitive, soreness occurs.  A woman’s areolas are usually darker and bigger after the first few months of pregnancy.  Breathable fabric and appropriately fitting bras are even more important during this time.

Breastfeeding

Nipple pain can be unbearable for some women during breastfeeding and they might quit because of the discomfort.  It’s incredibly common for a woman to experience soreness, especially in the beginning. Sometimes their baby is unable to latch on properly or is teething and bites.  Other issues associated with breastfeeding that could cause pain are inflammation and blocked ducts, mastitis, abscess, dryness and chapping, eczema, Raynaud’s syndrome, dermatitis, milk blisters and thrush.  Many choose to breastfeed because they know of the associated benefits and might need to seek advice from a medical expert if it feels like they can’t keep it up.

Depending on the reason for nipple pain, there are a lot of home remedies and over-the-counter treatments available to help ease discomfort.  Creams, sprays, moisturizers, compresses and adjustments in feeding positions if the pain is due to breastfeeding, are options.  It’s also wise to consult a doctor if the pain seems to be a mystery.

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!

 

Pregnancy Orgasms Are Simply Amazing

Pregnancy Orgasms Are Simply Amazing

Many women don’t feel particularly sexy during pregnancy or even sexual in general.  There are some things that are unique about the way a woman can experience orgasm while she’s pregnant that are quite exciting.  Read on and see if you might find yourself in a better mood about having sex when you’re pregnant. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Orgasms don’t interfere with a healthy pregnancy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using dildos, vibrators, your own fingers or your partner’s, or having ‘regular’ intercourse, orgasms are great and safe.  Just be careful if you’re at risk of placental bleeding or premature birth.  Your doctor has probably already advised you to avoid an orgasm in certain special cases.

Orgasms can feel even more amazing during pregnancy.
Pregnancy orgasms can feel better and more intense due to increased blood flow to sex organs during that time.  Many women say that their orgasms are extra exciting through the breastfeeding phase.

A woman’s belly changes shape during orgasm.
Sometimes a woman’s belly looks pointed or triangular when the muscles of the abdomen and uterus contract.  The point might be to her side or in the middle, and there’s nothing to be alarmed about when this happens–it’s normal!

It’s normal for a pregnant woman to have cramps after an orgasm.
Women typically feel some cramps in the uterus after an orgasm, which are uterine contractions. They’ve always occurred, but are sometimes only noticeable during pregnancy.  It’s possible that they’ll feel somewhat like menstrual cramps during pregnancy and intensity varies.

Pregnancy can sometimes make it easier to have an orgasm.
Many women report that they can achieve an orgasm more easily during pregnancy and some say they have done so without any physical stimulation.  They are ahead of the game already because blood flow to the genitals is already checked off on their steps towards reaching climax.  Some women find that they have a more difficult time reaching orgasm during pregnancy because the position that works for them isn’t possible for them to get into.  They also may report that during late pregnancy their orgasms feel more dull or that they’re no longer able to have one.  This is natural due to the contraction limitations of the uterus when the baby is there.

Hopefully these facts will encourage you to possibly have the best sex of your life when you thought that maybe you shouldn’t even bother.  Sex during pregnancy is way underrated. Some women experience long-term effects with their ability to achieve orgasm more easily after they’re pregnant!

Contraception Misconceptions

Contraception Misconceptions

Becoming pregnant unintentionally can cause an extreme amount of stress, and can affect emotional and physical health. There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about birth control. Read on for some of the most common myths about contraception.

I won’t be able to feel pleasure nearly as much if I use a condom.
This is a very popular myth and even those who rank high in the area of sex education tend to fall for it. It’s simply untrue.  One study showed that men felt the same amount of ease where orgasms and erections were concerned, with or without the use of a condom.

The pull-out method is just fine. I won’t get pregnant that way!
It’s very possible to get pregnant, even when the male pulls out before ejaculation.  Why?  Because ejaculate that contains sperm can make its way out before a man has an orgasm…which can lead to pregnancy.

There aren’t any female condoms available.
This might be what many believe, but it’s untrue.  Yes, most marketing is targeted towards men, advertising male condoms, but female condoms are also available.  These condoms have two rings at each end and are inserted into a female’s vagina.

Taking emergency contraceptives will allow me to have unprotected sex in the next 72 hours.
This is not true.  If you take an emergency contraceptive pill you can greatly lower your chance of pregnancy if you take it within 72 hours after sex.  One pill works for one session.

Using two condoms is better than one.
It’s actually less safe to use two condoms, as the friction created by having two can cause them to tear each one apart more easily and break the condoms.

Condoms can be reused if I wash them thoroughly.
Condoms are only meant to be used once.  It doesn’t matter how much you wash one, it’s not reusable. If you absolutely have no access to a new condom, refrain from engaging in sexual intercourse until you can get a new condom.  There are ways to have sex that use body parts other than the penis, so try some of those out.