Answers please! When Can We Start Our Next IVF Cycle?

Just a few days ago I went in for some blood work in search of  some answers on where I am at in my cycle. I am currently on CD 36, which means my last period was 36 days ago.  Yikes!  Let me remind you, we had a failed FET in March, with a initial beta of zero – so we thought moving on to another fresh round of IVF wouldn’t take too long.

We are so anxious and excited to begin this IVF cycle, but can’t even think about it or do any further testing until my period comes.  I definitely thought I be on birth control pills (part of my IVF protocol) right now and getting close to my stimulation phase of my cycle.  Unfortunately, we are a few weeks behind in our plan.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a phone call from one of the nurses giving me the good news that my period is in sight or maybe they can induce it with Provera.   The answer I don’t want to hear is you’ll just have to keep waiting.  In a dream world they’ll call and say your PREGNANT!  Okay, so I know the chances of that happening are slim to none, but you never know.  Last week  I thought I felt that AF was in the near future, but here we are and nothing, nada, zilch!!!

Stay tuned, let’s hope we are on our way to IVF #2!

Fertility Forums

Fertility forums can be a great way to interact with others when you are struggling with infertility. With that said, they can also cause stress. I admit, I have a terrible addiction to fertility forums. I don’t know what it is, but I am drawn to reading about everyone else, while at the same time struggling with my own fertility issues.

I originally joined a forum in order to seek support and found it! All to often I have found that those who haven’t struggled with infertiliy truly don’t get it. That isn’t to say they aren’t supportive, but I don’t think they fully understand the heartache that goes along with it. The women and men on the fertiliy forums have first hand experiences of what I have gone through and am currently going through.

It wouldn’t be uncommon to find me reading for hours on a forum. Reading all kinds of things, both good and bad. Reading about women who are upset that they have to take Clomid-seriously?!?!? I’d love for Clomid to be my quick fix. I read about women who are nervous about doing an IUI-again, seriously?!?! Once again, totally jealous, I’d trade an IUI for IVF any day. Then I read about women who can do IVF and don’t have to pay a dime for it, why you ask-INSURANCE. Our insurance doesn’t cover anything, so lucky us (not), we are paying out of pocket. So I’ve found that I begin to get frustruated at all of these women who have it “better off” than I do.

I am quickly humbled as I read about women who aren’t able to use their own eggs or sperm for IVF – I feel fortunate because we can. I read about women who have egg retrievals and no eggs are to be found – I haven’t had that problem. I read about women who haven’t carried a baby for 9 months – I have and will be eternally grateful.

So, there’s good, there’s bad and there’s worse. We are all on these forums to give each other support. That’s what I am there to do-share my story in hopes that I can help someone else who is struggling. I am not there to see who has it worse off. I am not there to count the successes from other women, while counting my defeats. I am there because we all need support from each other, as infertility shouldn’t be dealt with alone.

Show Me The Money – Fertility Treatment Cost

One of the biggest stressors that couples face while battling infertility is, “How am I going to pay for this?” We are one of the unfortunate couples that don’t have an ounce of insurance coverage for infertility, which makes this process even more frustrating. Yes, you could go completely broke paying for treatments!! Good-bye vacations, good-bye big house, hello baby!

So now we are trying to figure out which route we are going to take. We can pay the doctor a flat fee, which will cover IVF with ICSI and pay for the meds from a local pharmacy separately. For some, this is the only option you have if you are seeking treatment without insurance coverage. Our doctor works with a program though which gives us two more choices. The first one being a refund plan, known as a shared risk program, where you pay a heck of a lot of money up front (not including $4,000-5,000 worth of meds). You are given up to 3 fresh IVF cycles and 3 frozen transfers. You are guaranteed a refund of 70% if you don’t bring home a baby from the hospital. In essence, if it works the first time you have “overpaid”…but have you really overpaid if you have a baby, I think not?!?!

With their other plan (still a lot of money, but not quite as much as the shared-risk plan) you are given two fresh cycles and two frozen cycles, but no refund.

Lot’s to consider!

Changes Are Coming! Website Redesign & Additional Features

This is just a quick note to let the PregnancyIVF Wendi, Mike & Katecommunity know that we are going to be making some changes with the website. We will be redesigning the site to offer a cleaner, more user friendly site and we will also be adding on features to help the community voice their opinion as well.

We are in the planning phase now but hope to have these changes completed within the next 1-2 months. If you have any suggestions, please let us know by commenting on this post or you can always send me an email at mike@pregnancyivf.com.

Thanks for your support and have a great day.

Circle + Bloom March Promotion: 20% Off

Circle + Bloom March Promotion

Circle + Bloom is running a promotion for the month of March that gets you 20% off of your order and we are delighted to be able to offer this to the PregnancyIVF community.

To take advantage of this discount, head over to Circle + Bloom and start shopping now! At checkout, be sure to enter code: Fertilitypod20 so it’s applied to your order.

Visit Circle + Bloom Now!

Single Embryo Transfer Next Week!

We are less than a week away from our FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer). This is our last frozen embryo and to no surprise we are hoping we are blessed with a sibling for our dear daughter. I had my ultrasound yesterday to check my uterine lining, it was a 10.5, which to my understanding is great. I assume it will continue to thicken as we get closer to the FET. It is so different going through the process this time around, mainly because we are distracted with a 15 month old-the distraction may indeed be a good thing. Just like last time, I have been doing acupuncture twice a week and will continue to do so up until the transfer. On the day of the transfer, I will have a treatment right before and right after the procedure. Here’s to positive vibes!

FertilityPod has Launched – Fertility Social Network & Expert Content Resources

Fertility Social Network

Our new venture, FertilityPod, has launched. Over the next few weeks we will be rolling out new features and services to help support those who battle infertility as well as help connect fertility professionals with the community.

We encourage you to check us out and connect with us on Facebook here and Twitter here.

If you have any questions about FertilityPod, please email mmcgrath@fertilitypod.com.

We hope you enjoy our new venture. Thank you in advance for your support!

Single Embryo Transfer & Our Second FET!!!

Okay! Round 2 – Here We Go!

I am just finishing my first pack of birth control pills in order to regulate my cycle for our upcoming FET in March. About 10 days about I had a “sono-mock” done by one of our fertility doctors. This procedure involves a mock transfer as well as filling the uterine cavity with fluid and viewing it with ultrasound to make sure that everything looks good. Both procedures went smoothly and things are moving right along. After I finish this pack of pills, I will continue into a second pack and then begin Estrace in order to help build my uttering lining. The past two days were a little rough, I experienced a migraine each day, from which I believe is from the pills that I am on. The first migraine wasn’t too bad, but yesterday’s was an entirely different story-that one was a whopper! (So far so good day-keep your fingers crossed!)

I also began acupuncture again from the same gal who treated me before. At this point, I am just going once a week and then once we are about a month out from the transfer I will begin going twice a week. It gets tricky trying to work out all of these appointments with a one-year old around. I enjoy relaxing once I am there.

This is getting very exciting, but along with the excitement does come nerves and a bit of anxiety. We will be doing a single embryo transfer because that is all we have left-and we are sure hoping it brings a beautiful little addition to our family in late November.

Kate is 1, New Venture and Hope

Kate 1 Year Old

Kate 1 Year Old

Well, our little girl, Kate, just turned 1 this past week. This year has definitely flown by but with many memories that we will hold tight forever.

Kate was our first successful FET after many failed IUI’s and a failed fresh IVF cycle. Our hopes were definitely down after the failed tries but we got through the tough times and now we have just put the first year of Kate’s life on the books with many more wonderful years ahead of us! What a wonderful year it has been….the best year of Wendi and my life. There have been ups and downs and challenges and tough days but this little girl puts a huge smile on our faces each and every day. We love her with all we have…and couldn’t imagine life without her!

We have a lot of things going on right now as well. We have 1 frozen embryo left that we will be using in an FET after the first of the year. If he or she is as feisty as Kate, we’ll likely be blessed again! That is our hope as we journey back into the life of fertility treatments and the stress it brings!

We will also be launching a new web venture, FertilityPod, which is a social network and expert community aimed to help those struggling with infertility to offer support and hope. It’s something we can use ourselves as we battle infertility and we hope others join us to help get through this stressful and tough part of trying to start a family. Look for the launch shortly after the new year! You can also follow us on Twitter @FertilityPod.

Other than that, we just want to enjoy each and every day with Kate. She is our miracle. We are blessed and we want to soak in each and every moment with her.

Wishing everyone else out there who is struggling to start a family the best of luck. Especially to all of the females who sacrifice so much going through fertility treatments. We know first hand that it’s a very tough thing to go through but there is hope and support. We’re always here as well to chat with anyone who just needs some support or someone to talk to about their own fertility journey.

Homemade Baby Food – Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker

Long before Miss Kate was ready to begin solid foods, I knew that I wanted to try to make her food from scratch. Call me crazy, but I just felt it was something that I could do for my baby that would give her the best nutrition possible. (It didn’t help either that I could no longer give her breast milk!) So, one might say that I was still feeling a little guilt from the whole “breastfeeding issue” – but now I was ready to tackle homemade baby food. Before she was even ready to begin solids, I went out and purchased a baby food maker, the Beaba Babycook.

Yes, you can make baby food without this, but simplicity is key with an infant. The Beaba Babycook allows you to cook and puree the food all in one machine. So right around 6 months we got the okay from her pediatrician and her gastroenterologist to start rice cereal. All I have to say is yuck – tasteless, blah, bland, nonsense…well not totally, we buy one packed with iron and probiotics. It wasn’t long before Kate was ready to move on to something tastier. I thought a great 1st food would be one of our favorites, sweet potatoes. At first she wasn’t sure, but after a few days of trying, I think she realized it wasn’t half bad. That isn’t to say we haven’t had some bumps in the road with feeding, she definitely has turned her nose up at some things – and then sometimes things that I think she’ll hate she actually loves. I really enjoy making her food and coming up with different concoctions to satisfy this little princess’s palate.
At 9 months, she is eating 3 meals a day and we have even incorporated meat (not so fun to cook) into her diet. Some of her favorite things are Mango Chicken (mangoes, chicken and carrots) Thanksgiving Turkey (turkey, cranberries, red potatoes, carrots, and sweet potato) and Green Surprise (broccoli, peas, and pears.) Who knew that a 9 month old could be such a little gourmet?

All in all I really am having fun cooking for her. We do try to buy as much as we can for her that is organic, especially when it comes to meat. I try to make things ahead of time and then freeze them using the Beaba Freezer Tray.

Currently she has a hearty appetite and it very adventurous in trying new things, much like her mommy and daddy. We are hoping in the next few weeks we can move on to more textures and possibly some foods that she can even feed herself. Miss Kate is well on her way to being a great eater and we are sure that she’ll eventually transition great to table food.

Bon Appetite!

Breastfeeding Troubles

Kate Sleeping After Nursing

I knew I wanted to breastfeed Kate and began doing so shortly after her birth. After a bit of help from the postpartum nurses, we were a great team and both mommy and baby were successful! Although it did take quite a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed our moments together when I was nursing. It truly is an amazing bond!

With that said, the tenderness, leaking, engorgement, and back pain did cause a little frustration. I was impressed at how fast the baby weight came off as well, and I do attribute it to nursing. When Kate was around 2 months old, she began fussing a bit at the breast and I became a little worried. She would nurse, but not nearly as long as she should have and sometimes I wouldn’t even have a letdown. I knew she wasn’t getting enough to eat. I became more and more concerned and started reading everything that I could about nursing. I thought maybe it was something “with me” and she wasn’t getting enough milk, or maybe it was coming too slow or too fast?!

It wasn’t long before, I had a lactation consultant come to the house to offer breastfeeding advice and support. She weighed Kate and even watched her nurse. Maybe it was possibly a latch issue? When the consultant left, she concluded it was the dairy in my diet that was causing Kate to nurse for a few minutes and then pull off, cry and push away. I can’t tell you how frustrating this was, being a new mommy and I couldn’t feed my baby! She told me to cut the dairy out of my diet and things would improve.

I immediately cut the dairy out and was anxiously waiting for things to get better. I was told it could take a few weeks. Things did not get better so in the meantime we were at the pediatrician 3 times and were finally referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. (Keep in mind the pediatrician really didn’t think it was a food issue, but he was perplexed, as was everyone else that I shared my struggles with.) The GI specialist agreed that it was a food tolerance and more specifically a protein intolerance in ALL dairy foods and possibly even soy.

So I continued to cut out the dairy and I really watched the amount of soy I ate. Things would get better for awhile and then she’d become so incredibly fussy so we’d end up back at square one. During all of this, I was pumping throughout the day and trying to nurse here and there. I didn’t want to lose my breast milk, because I was so committed to nursing. After about 3 more months of pumping and sporadically nursing I had to call it quits because we didn’t see consistent improvement with Kate. I had such a hard time quitting as I felt I was a failure. The specialist said that it could be too many things causing the problems: dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts just to name a few.

There was no way I could eliminate all of this from my diet, especially because we still didn’t know exactly what item(s) were the culprit! So in the end, we put Kate on a very specialized formula called Elecare and that did the trick. After having her on this formula for about a week, she was an entirely different baby!

Moral to the story: you can’t plan everything and although I would have liked to nurse her for a year I learned I needed to “Go with the flow!” We now have a very happy and healthy baby that is almost 9 months old and is gradually working in wheat, soy and dairy. The GI believes she has outgrown the intolerance.

Hopefully others who experience this will see our post and be able to check into any food tolerances earlier than later. It was a pretty easy fix with the special formula (Elecare) once we got the problem pinpointed.

Going Back 9 Months – Our Delivery Story in Short

Kate Delivery

It’s been way too long since I last posted. Baby Katherine is already here and is just shy of 9 months. Who ever knew that 9 months could go so fast? Let’s rewind to last December when our little princess arrived.

We went to the hospital for an induction on a Thursday, thinking that I would deliver by that evening. The induction began early that morning and I was hooked up to Pitocin and even had an epidural by 7 a.m. (The epidural was due to a low platelet count, not pain at that point.) The next three days were spent in Labor and Delivery….drugs, interventions, pushing, contractions….you name it!!! Finally on Saturday morning, we had a C-Section (my bones were too narrow to deliver her naturally!) It was quite the ordeal getting her into this beautiful world (induction + 3 epidurals + 3 days later = spinal and c-section and one tired mommy!)

I remember the moment that I first held her and I thought to myself mine, she’s actually mine! It’s an amazing feeling holding your baby for the very first time. Even more amazing is the fact that not too long ago we even wondered if we’d be able to have children. The once microscopic tiny frozen embryo was now a beautiful, dark haired baby. I am reminded everyday that miracles do indeed happen.

So now at 9 months we are enjoying life as a family of 3 and couldn’t be happier! I am so looking forward to keeping you updated in all the pleasures that life holds with a baby as well as the joys of celebrating a successful Frozen Embryo Transfer.

Okay…WOW…How Time Really Flies!

So, here we are, 9 months after Kate was born. We have not updated this site in a long time and it’s much overdue. This will be a quick post to just let everyone know we are doing well and we are finally getting into a much needed routine with Kate. She is the love of our lives and we couldn’t ask for more. Here is a pic of us earlier this summer. We will be posting on the blog regularly once again so please check back soon!

Hope everyone is doing great!

32 Weeks! Not Much Longer and Kate Will Be Here!

Baby Kate at 32 Weeks

Baby Kate at 32 Weeks

First off, we’d like to apologize for not updating in awhile. People are correct when they say that things will get hectic trying to prepare for a new addition. We just hit the 32 week mark and all is well but yes, things are busy! Kate is definitely an active little girl. Sometimes her kicks and moves catch Wendi off guard and scare her a bit! It’s probably the time when Kate will start running out of room in her mommy’s belly so that means a little less comfort for everyone!

Over the past month we have gotten quite a bit done. After this weekend, we will almost be done with the nursery. The carpet is getting installed tomorrow. The room has been painted pink. The only major thing left is waiting on the crib and dresser to be delivered and assembled.

Other than getting the nursery ready for Kate, we’ve attended some pregnancy related classes. I went to the Daddy Boot Camp a month ago. Last week we attended a breast feeding class at the hospital we’ll be delivering at and this weekend we have a Labor and Delivery class that runs Saturday and Sunday.

Wendi is trying to get things organized for her substitute at school while she is on maternity leave and other than that, it’s time that we make our final “must do” list before she arrives.

At this point, 32 weeks, anything can happen. We want to make sure that if Kate decides she wants to meet us earlier, that we have things ready for her, as much as humanly possible!

Well, that was a quick update. I’ll let Wendi fill you in on the rest. She’s a little more detailed than I am but I just wanted to send a quick update for everyone.

Have a great day!

Baby Gender Selection

Baby Sex Selection

Baby Sex Selection

Yes, we are living in a day and age where couples are able to select the sex of their baby prior to pregnancy. Whether or not you believe in this practice, it is being done. Some couples desire to have a child of a particular sex in order to prevent certain medical illness, while others simply want to even out their families. Without using sex selection techniques you have about a 50% of conceiving a male child and a 50% chance of conceiving a female child. Sex selection methods are done to increase the odds in favor of having either a male or female child. Sex selection is a very controversial procedure, and as you can imagine many ethical and moral concerns come with it.

Sex selection is also commonly referred to as gender selection. Dependent on the method that you choose, you may only be increasing your chances of a particular sex by a small percentage or it can be as much as 99.9 % accurate.

Gender or Sex Selection Methods

The Gradient Method of sex selection is the least expensive of sex selection technologies. With that said, it also yields the poorest success rates of all three methods. Sperm from the father is placed in a fast spinning machine called a centrifuge. The goal is to have the X and Y-chromosomes separate. X chromosomes weigh more and the hope is that they will be identifiable through this separation process. Sperm then from whichever sex is desired is selected and used for IUI. This procedure on average will cost a couple $600.00 not including the cost and fees associated with IUI.

Flow Cytometry is another sperm sorting technique. Fluorescent dye is used to identify the X chromosomes. The dye will stick genetic material of the sperm. It is thought that the sperm with the chromosomes X will have more dye because they are made of more genetic material. The X and Y sperm are then separated with the use of a laser machine. Desired sperm is then used for IUI or IVF. Success rates with flow cytometry are much greater, about a 60-70% chance of conceiving a child of the desired sex.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is one of the most successful techniques for sex selection. The process is complex and it involves the creation of embryos. Once the eggs have been fertilized and embryos have been created, the embryos will be analyzed for cell structure and DNA. The embryo is given time to divide and after about 3-4 days one cell is removed from each embryo. This one cell will be able to give information of the genetic makeup (gender) of the embryo. The desired embryos are then used for the embryo transfer for IVF. PGD yields about 99% accuracy for achieving the desired gender. PGD is much more expensive, it ranges from $2,000 and $4,000 plus the costs related to the IVF procedures.

25 Weeks Pregnant Today!

Our First Little Girl, Kate At 24 Weeks

Our First Little Girl, Kate At 24 Weeks

I am just at 25 weeks and can’t believe it! In the beginning, the pregnancy seemed to be going by very slow and now it seems like the weeks are passing by in the blink of an eye. I had a doctor’s appointment and an ultrasound last week and everything looks great. I always get excited to see the doctor. The appointments don’t consist of much other than a urine sample, weight and blood pressure, but just the mere fact that I am there as a pregnant patient makes it exciting in itself. As I have mentioned before, I really love my doctor and she always puts a smile on my face. I had to get a test done for CMV because I found out that a child in my school in a carrier. As I understand it, CMV can cause some pregnancy complications, including birth defects, but practicing good hygiene habits should help keep me healthy…. needless to say, hand sanitizer is my best friend.

I did get a call today from the doctor’s office because I needed to reschedule some of my appointments and I found out that she is gone the week that I am due…major bummer!!! There are three doctors in the practice and I have met two, so I look forward to meeting the third. You never know who will be on call when I deliver.

At my ultrasound everything looked perfect! She was hiding her face through most of it, so we didn’t get a lot of facial pictures. The ultrasound technician also mentioned how active she was. (Yes, I know!!!) They guessed her weight at about 1.8 pounds, which puts her at the 56th percentile. I’ll be anxious to see how much she weighs at birth.

This past weekend Mike and I headed to Babies “R” Us to begin our registry. Doing it on the weekend was not smart as the store was crowded with babies, pregnant women, and clueless dads. We did enjoy ourselves though and Mike had fun scanning all of the merchandise. We weren’t able to complete the entire registry, but we’ve got a great start. I need to do a little more research on some things and get some advice from my friends that are experienced moms before we add any more to the registry. As I told Mike, “It’s a work in progress!”

We are also in the beginning stages of starting the nursery. It has been cleaned out (thanks to Mike) and decisions are being finalized with bedding selections. We were able to order the crib and dresser a week ago and will have to decide on a rocker in the near future (I am waiting on fabric samples from the bedding to match up with fabric for the rocker.) I am envisioning a beautiful pink and white nursery when it’s all complete.

All in all, I am feeling great and loving life. I am able to keep up my energy at work and have continued with water aerobics about 3 times a week. I am falling asleep without effort and night and am frequently awakened by kicking and hand movements throughout the night. I couldn’t be happier and I am anxious to see what the next few weeks bring.

This Pregnancy Is Flying By!!! Almost 6 Months Along!

Our Pregnancy Is Flying By!

Our Pregnancy Is Flying By!

It’s crazy what a couple of weeks can make when it comes to pregnancy. It seems like things are progressing quicker, day by day. Our little girl is kicking, A LOT! It must be from the yummy treats her mommy is eating! Much of the kicking and moving around is around 9-10 p.m. when we are getting ready for bed! Yes, I said 9 p.m. We are getting old! Wendi’s belly is also growing like no other over the past few days. Her “baby bump” started out very low in her stomach but is now taking over her whole mid-section and rounding out very nicely! I’m sure we’ll be posting more pictures in the next week.

So, with all of these new changes and growth, it means we have to get our act in gear and get moving on things we NEED to get done. The nursery is one of our first tasks. I successfully cleaned EVERYTHING out of our second bedroom this past weekend. It’s now empty and ready to be worked on. We will first paint the new room (PINK, PINK, PINK!!!) and then we are going to get new carpet. After that, we will be ready to start loading it up with all of the baby stuff such as crib, dresser, her clothes and all of the other goodies we will be getting over the next couple of months.

Our next OB-GYN appointment is in 2 weeks and then we should also know when our next ultrasound is. This next ultrasound is going to be a good one. Our last one they were able to tell us the sex of the baby. This third trimester ultrasound should be able to show up much more detail and features of our little girl, Kate! I think the OB mentioned that we would have 2 more ultrasounds before Wendi delivers in December.

Last but not least, please bear with us for the next couple of weeks. Things are looking pretty crazy. Wendi just went back to school yesterday. She’s a elementary teacher. We’ve also received some requests from readers/experts so we are going to work on touching up the website to accommodate some of these requests.

One more thing, we are running a “Best Fertility Story Contest” so please enter here for a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card!

22 Weeks Pregnant & Feeling Great!

Wendi at 22 Weeks!

Wendi at 22 Weeks!

I am 22 weeks and feeling better than ever. My belly is expanding and I am feeling our little girl move all around…such an amazing feeling! I had to head back to work this week, as school starts in a few days. I will miss my usual summer days of water aerobics; instead I will have to opt for the evening classes. I will definitely miss the bright summer mornings working out in the Arizona sun.

I didn’t tell my coworkers that I was pregnant, so arriving back at school this week was exciting in itself. I bought a t-shirt that said “Tickled Pick” to announce the wonderful news that we were expecting. Many friends and coworkers said that I wasn’t showing much, but not being able to fit into my old clothes is a sure sign that I am indeed pregnant and growing. I feel like I am walking around school glowing and am really happy when I am congratulated. (If everyone really knew what a feat it was to get pregnant in the first place!!!) I am anxious to see how some of the parents of my students will react, as parents are sometimes weary of having a “pregnant” teacher. They are concerned about the amount of time I will be away from the classroom. So needless to say, I am working on finding the perfect fit for a substitute teacher while I am on my maternity leave. That’s awhile off, so I thought I’d post something fun…I thought of “22” things I am enjoying at 22 weeks pregnant.

  1. Actually beginning to look like I am pregnant.
  2. Slowly fitting into my maternity clothes.
  3. Feeling so happy!
  4. Feeling the baby move.
  5. Seeing the baby move.
  6. Having Mike feel the baby move.
  7. Picking out our babies name, “Katherine”.
  8. Not having to keep my pregnancy a secret anymore at work.
  9. Buying the cutest little girl outfits.
  10. Trying to find her the perfect bedding.
  11. Picking out her nursery furniture.
  12. A hearty appetite.
  13. Energetic!
  14. Gathering advice from friends and family.
  15. Spending quality time with my husband.
  16. Thinking about all of the possibilities for middle names.
  17. Beginning to prepare the nursery.
  18. My ever-growing belly!
  19. Getting ready to register.
  20. Enjoying cat naps while I can still take them.
  21. My new body pillow.
  22. Thinking PINK, PINK, PINK!

Getting Ready For Fatherhood – First Time Around!

Wendi & Mike July - Firesky Resort

Wendi & Mike July - Firesky Resort

Yes, this will be my first bout with fatherhood and you can definitely tell by all of the questions I have as our due date of December 8th approaches. I couldn’t be more happy and I can’t wait to see our little girl, Kate but there are definitely things that I do not know! There is a lot that goes into being first time parents and it’s starting to hit home.

Much of what we will experience, especially me, we will learn from trial and error. When will the baby eat? When will the baby sleep? What will make the baby sick? What will make the baby smile? How will Wendi and I function on so little sleep? How many potties per day? Those are things that we will experience just like millions of other parents have gone through. It’s part of life and it’s soon becoming a reality to our household.

Our lives are soon to change, but for the best. We will truly have a “family” once Kate is born. Our family might be female dominated (1 wife, 1 daughter and 2 female doggies) but none-the-less a family! Do I see gray hair in my near future? Absolutely! But that’s what hair coloring is for….right!!!

What’s more amazing is to think about our pregnancy. Kate is a “frozen” baby. She was literally frozen and thawed! Our first frozen embryo transfer was a success after an unsuccessful fresh IVF cycle. It’s absolutely amazing what medical technology can do these days, especially for those of us who don’t have the leisure of snapping our fingers and….KAABAAM! We’re pregnant! Didn’t quite happen like that for us. That’s okay though. We definitely went through a life experience during the IVF process and it’s something we will be going through again when it’s time to give Kate a little brother or sister. Without IVF, we’d still be starring at our dogs wondering how the heck we are going to have children. Well, some days….no MOST days, our dogs do think they are humans!

So, we’re going to have to fill Kate in someday on how she was brought to us. I’m guessing, the way technology advances, that IVF will be one of the norms of getting pregnant and I’m sure there will be other procedures that arise over the next decade that allow fertility professionals to more so master the art of fertility treatments. Explaining might not be as tough down the road as it’ll be much more common than today. There is still mystery for a lot of folks that are not familiar with assisted reproductive technology. IVF and fertility treatments have been the craze over the past few years…a few more years and they will be totally normal to someone trying to get pregnant that has fertility issues and cannot due so on their own.

I think that’s about it for now. I need to stop writing and get back to emptying out our second bedroom, so Kate has a little space of her own when she joins us!

Common Methods of Assisted Reproduction

Methods of Assisted Reproduction

Methods of Assisted Reproduction

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) includes IVF but there are also some other methods used that are customized to the specific diagnosis of the patient or couple. Most ART procedures typically deal with the use of fertility medications. Success rates for ART procedures are at an average of 30%.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is when fertilization takes place outside of the body. In vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, yields the highest success rates of all forms of assisted reproduction. Male factor infertility (sperm quality and quantity) or female issues may require some couples to pursue IVF. With IVF, a woman is given various fertility medications in order for her to produce a large number of eggs. When the eggs reach maturity, they are retrieved from the woman during a procedure called egg retrieval. At this time, the husband or partner will typically give a semen sample. The eggs and the sperm are put in a dish for fertilization. After fertilization occurs, anywhere from 3 to 5 days, the best embryos are placed back into the woman’s uterus, this is called and embryo transfer.

If there are severe male factor issues, it may be recommended that the couple pursue IVF with ICSI.

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – In ICSI, a single sperm is injected into a mature egg. Then the embryo is transferred to the uterus.
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) – GIFT involves putting the eggs and sperm into the woman’s fallopian tube so that fertilization occurs within the body. (This procedure is not common.)
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) – ZIFT begins similar to IVF as the embryos will be created the same way and fertilized outside of the body. In the ZIFT procedure the embryo is placed back into the women’s fallopian tube rather than the uterus.

Donors: For various reasons, couples may need to use a donor when seeking assisted reproduction. Eggs, sperm and embryos are all available for reproductive purposes. For women who are older or unable to produce eggs, she may seek the use of a donor egg. If the couple also faces issues that are both male and female factor, they may decide to use donor embryos. Donor sperm is commonly used for male factor issues.

Gestational Carrier (Surrogacy): If a woman doesn’t have a uterus or has been medically advised against carrying a pregnancy, she may decide to use a gestational carrier. This means that she will undergo treatment similar to IVF and will produce multiple eggs. The eggs will then be fertilized by her husband/partner and transferred back into the surrogate. (A surrogate is a women who carries a baby and at birth, the baby will be raised by other parents.) Many legal and ethical issues surround surrogacy. Dependent on the fertility clinic and state laws, certain practices may or may not be allowed.

IVF Egg Freezing

IVF Egg Freezing Is An Option For Women

IVF Egg Freezing Is An Option For Women

IVF Egg Freezing Is An Option For Women Not Yet Ready To Have Children

Maybe you are a single woman, who hasn’t met Mr. Right, or maybe you aren’t ready to have children yet. Many women are now turning to cryopreservation (freezing) of their eggs (oocytes). Beginning at 30 years old, a woman’s overall fertility begins a slow decent, which really is more noticeable as a woman approaches her 40’s. This isn’t to say that you can’t have healthy children in your 30’s or 40’s; it just may become a bit more difficult.

When a female is born, her ovaries contain hundreds of thousands of eggs, meaning she has all the eggs she will ever have in her life. Once a young woman begins her menses (period) she begins to release the eggs. In a healthy female, one of her ovaries will send an egg into one of the fallopian tubes about once each month.

One of the most important factors when thinking about the chances of conceiving is a woman’s age. Age affects both the quantity and quality of eggs that a woman has; one of the biggest issues that challenges older women trying to conceive. One of the most recent developments in reproductive technology is the ability to successfully freeze a woman’s eggs prior to fertilization.

What typically happens during the egg freezing process?

  • Egg retrieval – Similar to an IVF procedure, a female is given drugs to produce multiple eggs. Ultrasound-guided needles are used to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries.
  • Egg maturity – Each egg is examined for maturity using a microscope and then selected for freezing.
  • Preparation for freezing of the eggs – Eggs are treated in an ‘antifreeze’ solution before freezing. The current technologies (vitrification) for freezing eggs are raising success rates, but a great deal of data still needs to be collected.
  • Frozen Eggs – The eggs that have been selected to be frozen are stored in tubes in a liquid nitrogen storage tank.

What happens when you are ready to use your eggs?

  • Egg Thawing – each egg is thawed, not all eggs may make it through this process. Eggs that don’t are discarded.
  • Egg Fertilization – each thawed egg is injected with a needle containing a single sperm from either your partner or donor. Injected a single sperm into an egg is a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection of eggs.)
  • Watchful Waiting – Eggs will be monitored for correct cell division as they develop into embryos.
  • Embryo Transfer – Embryos are transferred into the uterus using a catheter, guided by ultrasound.

Freezing eggs allows a woman to postpone pregnancy for various reasons, but is still extremely controversial. Women feel that they are in essence “buying time” and holding on to their biological clock. The future is endless when in comes to reproductive technology. We aren’t yet sure where medicine and technology will take us. Currently success rates are still fairly low in regards to freezing eggs. For many cancer patients though, it gives them hope when before they were left with little or no options. Most professionals agree that there is still a lot of research to be done.

Swine Flu and Pregnancy: More Severe Affects For Pregnant Women

Swine Flu More Severely Affects Pregnant Women

Swine Flu More Severely Affects Pregnant Women

Back in April, we posted some information on Simple Tips On Going Through IVF During The Swine Flu Outbreak. The swine flu craze has seemed to settle down, at least in the U.S. But, another article came out today on CNN.com that states the swine flu more severely affects pregnant women.

Pregnant women infected with the H1N1 virus are more likely to be hospitalized from it and perhaps even more likely to die from it, according to a federal study released Wednesday.

If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with swine flu, antiviral drugs are recommended to protect themselves and their fetus. Some doctors are hesitant to prescribe antiviral drugs to pregnant women because of possible side effects to the fetus but Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, lead author of the study and a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is urging doctors to put aside this concern for now.

Dr. Jamieson says that the benefits of the antiviral drugs outweigh the risk right now.

The CDC reported 45 deaths between April 1, 2009 and June 16, 2009. Of those deaths, 13% were pregnant women. All of those women were healthy before the swine flu infection and all developed viral pneumonia that lead to acute respiratory distress that required the use of ventilators.

This is no cause for panic but you should be aware of your body and if you do notice any symptoms of swine flu, be sure to contact your OB-GYN promptly so they can determine the best course of action. Just use common sense and try to stay away from large crowds or closed in places with large crowds.

CNN Article Source: H1N1 Virus More Severely Affects Pregnant Women

Picking A Baby Name & Maternity Shopping!

Dipping Oreos For The Doctor's Office!

Dipping Oreos For The Doctor's Office!

This past weekend was great, very productive! Okay, well maybe my “to do” list didn’t shrink, but I still got a lot done. I woke up early Saturday morning and went to water aerobics and really enjoyed the workout in the beautiful Arizona sunshine. Straight from the gym, I headed to a local maternity store that was having a great summer sale…everything in the store was 50% off! (How could I pass that up?) I brought my mom along to help me pick out clothes and get her honest opinion. The store wasn’t too crowded when we arrived, but it didn’t take long before all of the pregnant women looking for great deals arrived. Both my mom and I managed to gather armloads of clothes and headed to the dressing room. I ended up leaving with some pretty cute and very practical outfits. I don’t quite fit into all of them yet, but I am sure it won’t be too long. I came home and had a fashion show for Mike, who agreed that all of my purchases were good ones.

Mike and I went to the pool in the afternoon and then headed to a movie and dinner. I have to say, I am not a big “movie-goer” and I am not sure why. I like movies, but I don’t head to the theater all that often. Mike actually bribed me in a way. He said that if I’d go to the movies, then we could finally name our little baby girl. Of course it didn’t take me long to say, “I’d love to go to the movies!” So now we aren’t calling our little girl, baby anymore. We have officially named her Katherine, with a nickname of Kate. What a beautiful name! We had a few other names that we liked too, but we’ll save those for siblings. After the movie, we went to one of my favorite places for dinner and it was nice to relax and enjoy a great dinner with my husband.

Sunday morning I got up and did a few running around errands. I am heading this week to visit my reproductive endocrinologist and I always bring them a sweet dessert treat, so I needed to get stuff for that. Since we are having a little girl, I wanted to do something with pink. I decided to dip Oreos in white chocolate, yum!!! I actually did half in white chocolate with pink sprinkles and the other half in pink chocolate with white sprinkles. I finished them off in a cute jar tied with a big pink and white ribbon. I really appreciate all of the support and love we received from our doctor, so I enjoy doing little things like this to show our many thanks!

I’ll hit the 21-week mark this week and am looking forward to all that this week has in store!

Water Aerobics During Pregnancy

Water Aerobics During Pregnancy

Water Aerobics During Pregnancy

During the IVF process and pregnancy, most doctors will suggest that you keep a moderate exercise regime that consists of low-impact exercises. Keep in mind your exercise habits prior to IVF and conceiving, so that you don’t over exert your body. If you plan on continuing exercising or you are beginning from scratch, one of the best ways to workout is in the water. Many fitness facilities and gyms offer water aerobics (also known as aqua aerobics) classes. Water aerobics is a low-impact aerobic and strength training workout that is easy and not as demanding on your joints.

Exercising in the water is easy and safe. Water aerobics is perfect for those who are just beginning to workout as well as those who are seeking something more advanced. Many women realize that they are able to tailor the workout to their individual abilities and levels. It may be beneficial to advise the instructor that you are trying to conceive or are pregnant, as he/she will help guide you and modify your workout based on your particular needs.

When you begin your water workout you will notice that the resistance of the water will allow you to push or pull, which will increase your strength. There are numerous pieces of water equipment used to augment your workout. There are foam water weights (like a mini barbell), gloves for the hands, and weights for your ankles. Your particular water class may also use noodles, kick boards, and various elastic bands for strength training and toning exercises. The buoyancy of the water permits you to do movements and work muscles that you aren’t able using traditional exercise equipment.

Most water aerobics classes are designed similar to conventional aerobics classes on land. You will begin your workout with a warm-up/stretch, then proceed to cardiovascular exercises that will raise your heart rate, and you will close will relaxation and final stretching. Some women find that their feet will get sore from the bottom of the pool, a pair of water tennis shoes or other water shoes will help.

Important reminders:

  1. Enter the pool using stairs, rather than jumping or entering from the side.
  2. Remain at chest level in the water, throughout the majority of your workout.
  3. If you workout consists of jumping exercises, make sure that your belly remains in the water the entire time. Either make smaller jumps or find an alternate exercise.
  4. Drink plenty of water during your workout. Even though you are in the water, you still can sweat!

Towards the end of pregnancy, when many women experience swelling, being in the water (pool) will be able to help alleviate swelling issues. Also, as pregnant women become bigger and more and more uncomfortable, relaxing in the pool can be very calming and comfortable. Many believe that a consistent water aerobic regimen throughout pregnancy may ease the discomforts or labor.

Water aerobics is perfect for people of all ages and is a low-impact alternative during the stressful IVF process, during pregnancy as well as after birth. It will allow you to keep an active lifestyle in a healthy, undemanding manner. Before beginning any exercise program, make sure to discuss your health and exercise choices with your doctor.

Planning For Your Baby’s Arrival: A Guy’s Perspective

Planning For Your Baby's Arrival

Planning For Your Baby's Arrival

Wow, this pregnancy is REALLY flying by. We are already past 20 weeks. 4 more months and our little baby girl will be here. So, I think the question is, are we ready for her? OF COURSE, I cannot wait to see her for the first time. Daddy’s little girl! But, we better get our stuff in order quickly because there is A LOT to do before she arrives. I truly didn’t realize all of the little things that need to be done. We’re lucky Wendi is a teacher and has the summer off so she can get some pregnancy things done. Nursery, clothing, strollers, car seats, breast pumps, cord blood. The list goes on and on. We also have 11 more doctors appointments in the next 4 months and that doesn’t include 2 more ultrasounds. It’s simply a lot of things going on but it’s for the best reason ever!

Seriously, Planning Before The Baby Arrives? From A True Male!

This might be tailored more for the guys that are going through pregnancy because I sure am learning a lot about what needs to be done BEFORE she arrives. Here are a couple of things that you need to be thinking about sooner than later. I’m sure Wendi will give a more complete list but these are some of the things that I was not aware of so hopefully it’ll alert you guys to take action sooner than I would have!

  • Nursery furniture can take months before it arrives. We just found out that one of the cribs we like can take 14-16 weeks to arrive. That’s not to say that you can’t go out and get something today but if you are particular about style, safety, etc…it might take some time so start looking sooner than later. At least go shop around to get an idea of what you like and how long it might take.
  • Will you be banking the cord blood? You say, “what’s cord blood?” Cord blood is the blood that is left over in the placenta and the umbilical cord after the birth of the baby. Cord blood contains stem cells, including hematopoietic cells that can be useful for treating hematopoeitic and genetic disorders. If you are interested in banking the cord blood, you need to have everything ready beforehand. Do your research. How much does it cost to store cord bloood What is the process? At what facility will it be stored? What paperwork needs to be done? Ask your doctor for more information.
  • Register for the baby shower. Your baby’s going to need clothes, monitors, strollers, etc., correct? Better make sure you have your registry completed well before any baby shower. It might be a good idea to talk to or bring along a friend who has went through the process to help you pick things that are much needed and steer away from things that are not needed or used very often.
  • Daddy boot camp. Okay…I’ll be the first to admit that I need to attend a daddy boot camp! I’ve never changed a diaper. I’m sure I could use the practice! Check local hospitals for daddy boot camps. I’ll be attending one in the next month or so! Wish me luck!
  • If you have the room, start purchasing diapers a few months out. If you see that diapers are on sale, grab a pack every now and then to stock up. You can never have too many fresh diapers at hand!
  • Do you have dogs? It might be a good time to start hinting to them that there is a new addition on the way. Play baby music. Let them see and sniff the baby stuff. Get obedience training if needed. Hey, maybe if your dogs are smart enough, you can train them to do a little babysitting!!!
  • Decide if you will be breast feeding or not. If you are, you might want to look into breast pumps. Once again, do your research. Will you purchase one? Will you rent one? Now is the time to start looking into this.

Well, there you have a few things that you should be starting to look into. Remember, I’m a guy though so I’m probably missing another 50 things that need to be done BEFORE baby arrives. Best plan of action: create a comprehensive pregnancy to do list that has everything you need to get done before the baby arrives and put into specific categories. Check items off as you complete them.

One last tip from what I’ve heard from every parent out there…get your rest now because those days are soon OVER!

20 Weeks Pregnant After IVF

Right Before Successful FET!

Right Before Successful FET!

I am just about at 20 weeks pregnant after IVF and had another doctor’s visit today. Things are going great and I am feeling wonderful. The doctor checked weight, blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat, which is at 140 bpm which is perfect! I began feeling little movements the night after my last ultrasound, which was about a week and a half ago. It wasn’t the feeling that I expected. It felt more like a little bubble. I am noticing it more and more, especially after a meal. My appetite has been hearty and I have to be very careful of what I am eating, because I could easily put away more calories that I really need. I am very conscious of my diet and I really am counting fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The doctor said I am at the lower end of the scale in terms of weight gain because I have only gained 7 pounds so far. Hey, the more weight I put on means the more weight I have to lose after the baby is born! I still have 20 weeks to go, which could easily mean 20 pounds.

At my last doctor visit, she said to stop sleeping on my back and try my sides instead. As I understand it, sleeping on my back isn’t good because of major blood vessels. I am trying to best to stay on my sides; I think a body pillow is in my near future!

I have been looking at cribs this past week and really need to make a decision. Some of the cribs can take up to 12-16 weeks for delivery! I think it really just comes down to picking one and going with it, if there weren’t so many choices it wouldn’t be so hard!

I am not quite in maternity clothes yet, although much of my current wardrobe isn’t fitting quite right. I think in another week of two, I’ll be able to pull off some of my maternity outfits.

All in all, I am feeling fantastic. I seem to have more energy than the first trimester, but I do get tired in the afternoons (which very well could be due to the summer heat). I look forward to seeing my baby bump increase. Mike and I have a lot to do in the few weeks to month; begin our registry, order furniture, and clean out the “soon to be” nursery.

What an exciting and happy time!

Things To Monitor During Pregnancy

Things To Monitor During Pregnancy

Things To Monitor During Pregnancy

Giving up certain things during pregnancy is to be expected. Whether it is foods or activities, pregnancy does change your life in little ways. I wouldn’t trade being pregnant for the world, but there are a few of my favorite things that I have had to give up while pregnant.

Caffeine: When we first began fertility treatments, I read in some literature from my doctor that caffeine can adversely affect fertility. (I also got the same information when I began acupuncture.) So needless to say, I haven’t had caffeine in quite some time. I am not a coffee drinker, but what I miss the most is iced tea and diet coke. Even before fertility treatments I wasn’t drinking much soda at all. The carbonation isn’t good for your bones, so I slowly was giving up soda. There are a lot of other beverages out there that I can enjoy, but I find that most of them are loaded with a ton of sugar, which then is just going to turn to fat. If I am going to have sugar, I’d rather have it in a dessert that a drink! I have been enjoying lots of water, reduced calorie orange juice and skim milk. The more I have thought about it, even if I wasn’t pregnant, the choices I am making are much healthier anyway.

Soft cheeses: One of my favorite things to eat is cheese, and I really love blue cheese and feta cheese. Unfortunately during pregnancy it is advised to stay away from soft cheeses (feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheese, and Mexican-style cheese like queso blanco fresco) unless they are made from pasteurized milk. Eating soft cheeses raises the concern for bacteria called listeria. I didn’t realize how much I was really eating these before I became pregnant. I have found that many of my favorite dishes in restaurants also include these types of cheeses. It hasn’t been too much of a problem; I can usually substitute something else for the soft cheese. It is also my understanding that while breast feeding I will need to refrain from eating these as well.

Deli Meats: If you were to ask my husband what I have craved the most during this pregnancy, he would probably say a sub sandwich. Whenever I think of something that sounds good, a sub sandwich comes to mind! It’s not that I crave the processed meats, but the meat, cheese, lettuce and fixings on a fresh whole-wheat roll sound so delicious. According to the FDA, deli meats should also be avoided during pregnancy, unless heated. (Ahh, I don’t want a hot sub sandwich!) I have found a perfect substitute for my sub sandwich craving. We have a local sub chain that is just down the street from our house. I order their vegetarian sandwich, pretty much everything I like but without the meat. It is soooo good and definitely hits the spot. Who knows if I will ever order meat on it again!

Here are some other things that I have had to monitor during my pregnancy:

  • Fish – be careful of the amounts of mercury in the fish you eat!
  • Cookie dough – I rarely eat it, but really love the half-baked cookie desserts!
  • Fitness Boot Camp – this one makes sense, instead I have turned to water aerobics.
  • Face wash – I have had to switch to brands that do not include salicylic acid.
  • Botox – self explanatory!

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, make sure to check out the “do’s and don’ts” of what to consume during pregnancy. I have found the FDA’s website to be helpful, as well as many of my pregnancy books. As always, your doctor will be able to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

5 Things You Don’t Want To Hear About Infertility

The Truth About Infertility

The Truth About Infertility

When some people are diagnosed with infertility, they sometimes want to block out the realities and not face the music. Infertility is nothing you with upon anyone but being infertile is not the end of the world. Know the facts. Seek professional help and move forward with the advice from a professional. Some things are just out of your control.

  1. Some infertility is unexplained. You might never find out why you are infertile. It can literally drive you crazy searching for the cause of infertility when in fact there might not be a cause that is found. If your infertility is still unexplained after you have gone through all of the proper testing with a trusted fertility specialist, try to stop thinking about it. This is definitely one time in your life that you do not need added stress. Move on and see what kind of fertility treatments might be right for you.
  2. You might be the reason you are infertile. It might be 100% your fault. You need to look at your past to rule out things you might have done that could cause infertility. Maybe you were careless in your younger years and had unprotected intercourse that lead to STD’s. Left untreated, STD’s can cause infertility. If this is the case, there is really no one to blame but yourself for being irresponsible. Or maybe you have abused drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are a major cause of infertility that can be prevented with a little common sense. Look to your past to see if there are things you have done to increase your chances of infertility.
  3. Infertility can cause embarrassment. Infertility is not a hot topic people like to talk about, especially when it affects them. It’s common to feel embarrassed or ashamed of having fertility issues. Producing little or no sperm can be a huge hit to a guy’s ego. It was for me at first. This should not be the case as infertility is common and should not be look at as a “freakish” disease or condition. Get all the facts and get some help from a fertility specialist if you are diagnosed as being infertile. There are a lot of treatments that can help.
  4. Infertility can be physically, mentally and emotionally damaging. Infertility causes stress in the toughest of individuals. It takes a toll on your body and mind like you’ve never experienced. You need to learn to cope with the stress of infertility in order to help overcome infertility. Stress only increases the severity of infertility so managing stress at this time is essential in optimizing your fertility.
  5. Last but definitely not least, infertility might keep you from being able to have children. Sometimes, fertility treatments do not work. It depends on the causes of infertility and each case and individual are different. Just know, that if you are not able to have children, there are always other options such as adoption. There are many treatments available today as opposed to the past so opportunities to have children are much larger than they were in the past.

The most important thing to remember is that there are many different fertility treatments for many different causes of infertility. Make sure you seek a fertility specialist that you trust. Get references from friends. Shop around. Get the correct advice and educate yourself as much as possible about infertility and what you can do in your power to help improve your overall fertility.

A Natural Way To Fertility

A Natural Way To Fertility

A Natural Way To Fertility

While many men and women are turning to medications to treat or enhance their fertility, some feel that proper nutrition can positively affect fertility in many ways. Here is a list of some easy, natural ways that may help both you and your partner.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, and Beta-carotene, and selenium may aid with the sperm membrane, higher sperm count, and oocyte development. It may reduce female reproductive diseases such as PCOS and endometriosis.

B-Vitamins
Folate – important for all aspects of fertilization and embryo development. Good sources of folate: dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, eggs and milk.

Condiments high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic, maple syrup, molasses, parsley, to name a few.

Manganese – found in vitamins B1 and E, vitamin deficiencies can lead to reproduce issues. Manganese can be found in whole wheat, seeds, leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, strawberries apples and pineapple.

Zinc is found to aid with sperm quality. Zinc can be found in red meat, yogurt, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, corn, fruits and vegetables.

Fats

DHA, Flaxseed – possible correlation to enhancing sperm quality and quantity

Fresh food

For the best nutritional safety, many people are turning to organically grown vegetables and fruit. When purchasing meats, look for free range and wild.

Low Glycemic Foods

Low Glycemic foods are those that are typically not as processed and will not raise your blood pressure as much as other foods.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds act as building blocks in the female for a balanced hormonal system.

Sunflowers Seeds

Sunflowers seeds have a lot of Vitamin E, which some say in itself helps with fertility. If you are one that suffers from endometriosis, Vitamin E may help you liver break down excess estrogen caused by the endometriosis.

Whole Grain

Grains such as those found in oatmeal are high in inositol, which can help ovarian function.

Wheat Germ

Zinc and selenium are both found in wheat germ and can be beneficial for the fallopian tubes and well as the ducts where the sperm exits the testes. In essence, making the transportation of egg and sperm easier. It is also found to increase sperm count and quality.

Treating fertility naturally means using mild treatments that are a natural and safe way to balance your body. The hopes are that you will be able to assist your body’s own fertility, while at the same time, making you a much healthier and happier person.

Daddy’s First Little Girl, The Color Pink and Weddings! Oh My!

My First Baby Girl Purchase!

My First Baby Girl Purchase!

In our last post, Wendi wrote that we were quite surprised when the doctor told us that we would be having a girl after they told us in the first trimester that there was a 70% chance of our baby being a boy. Even though there is a lot of room for error by trying to guess in the first trimester, we still had it embedded in our minds that we would be having a little baby boy so all of our thoughts were leaning towards having a boy, naturally.

It was quite the surprise when they did tell us we were having a girl. I know that when the doctor told us, behind the wave of happy tears from Wendi, that there was this certain glow as well! The glow was PINK, PINK, PINK!!! If you don’t know Wendi, she LOVES to shop and this is what she has been waiting for her whole life; to buy stuff for her little girl.

From a guy’s perspective, there were a ton of thoughts that hit my mind too when they told us we are having a girl. First of all I thought, “We’re having a little baby girl. I can’t wait to see her. I am going to love her SO SO much and I already do and she’s only 18 weeks old.” Second thought was, “We’re having a baby girl. She’s not dating, EVER!” Okay, maybe she can date when she’s 40 but the guy is going through the “Meet The Parents” lie detector scene. My third thought was, “We’re having a baby girl. Uh oh! I better start saving for her wedding since I know how her mother is!!!” My last thought was, “Aww…we’re having a baby girl. We couldn’t ask for more and we are SO lucky.” We truly are very lucky after battling infertility and having to go through IVF. It’s a blessing.

On to the next thing. The day we found out we are having a girl which was last Friday, I also had another milestone in my life. I picked out my first girl outfit ever! It might not be the most practical outfit, but it sure is cute and I can’t wait to see her in it. It’s the little fuzzy, pink thing at the top! Wendi, however, has lapped me and has bought roughly 8-10 outfits over the course of 3-4 days. One thing is for certain. This little girl will be well dressed!

Putting all of the material things aside, we are so excited about our news and we can’t wait until early December when we get to see her for the first time. I’m ready for a new routine that includes, late nights, early mornings, changing diapers, crying, snuggling and all of the other great things we are going to experience very soon!

It’s Official – We’re Having A Baby Girl!

Our Baby Girl At 18 Weeks

Our Baby Girl At 18 Weeks

So it’s Sunday and we are still in shock after our ultrasound last Friday!

Let me back track about 6 weeks ago…

I went in for my 12-week ultrasound with my mom, Mike had to work and I definitely wanted some company. I thought while I was there, I’d at least ask if the ultrasound technician could make a guess on our baby’s gender. After taking some time, she said her best guess at this point is boy! She did say that she wasn’t going to document this in my paperwork, but she felt to be about 70% sure. (I was told not to paint any rooms or making any big “boy” purchases yet, though!) So of course, my mom and I left the appointment and headed to the mall. I wanted to do something nice to surprise Mike. I ended up coming home with a bouquet of blue balloons and a small gift from Pottery Barn Kids. Mike seemed happy; I am under the assumption that all men would like to have a son. We didn’t tell anyone about the gender, as it still wasn’t 100% positive.

So needless to say, we have spent the past month and a half with visions of blue and green dancing around our heads. I have searched endlessly for the perfect baby bedding and found one I really liked. I did restrain myself and only made one purchase, an adorable little boy outfit.

Okay, now back to last Friday.

We went in for our 2nd trimester ultrasound. The first thing that I told the ultrasound technician is that I’d like to make a guess if she could show me the “goods” on the screen. She had a lot of measurements and pictures to take before she got to the genitalia.

Once she was ready to tell us gender, I stared at the screen and said, “Boy?” I couldn’t really see much, but I just assumed we were having a little boy. She said, “Nope, girl!” I immediately began crying and looked at my mom and Mike in disbelief. (I am not sure why I began to cry, but they were definitely happy tears.) I even think Mike began to choke up a little. All I could think to myself was “PINK!!!” I love pink! So now we are rooting for team pink and are thrilled that we will be welcoming a little girl into our family.

The past two days we have managed to buy a few outfits and begin our new search for the perfect baby girl bedding. We are thrilled that we have been blessed with the news of a daughter.

Baby Gender Prediction

Boy or Girl?

Boy or Girl?

I am only a day shy of my 18-week ultrasound and am anxiously waiting to hear if we are having a little girl or boy. The excitement and anticipation is overwhelming! I have gotten mixed feedback from friends and family. There is a small group who believes that it is better to wait until the birth of the baby, they say it will be a bigger surprise. Then there are those, like me, who take the opportunity to find out as so as they can. Whether it is now or 18 weeks, it will still be a pleasant surprise! (And, the professional shopper that I am must say that there is not a huge selection of neutral clothes and accessories. So whether it is team pink or blue, we are ready!

Of course I have entertained myself by searching for “online gender prediction” results and came across many entertaining quizzes and philosophies. I have taken a few online questionnaires, with mixed results.

It is still fun, for entertainment purposes only, to partake in the online fun. I did find a list of all of the types of gender prediction that are out there:

Baby’s Heart Rate
The babies heart rate is a popular theory on guessing gender. Supposedly if your baby’s heart rate is 140 beats per minute or more, it’s a little girl. If the heart rate is under 140, it will be a little boy. No evidence supports this theory.

Chinese Gender Chart

Some say that the Chinese Gender Chart is up to 90% accurate, hmm. (Seems to me like any fertility treatments, especially FET’s wouldn’t hold any water with this prediction method, considering the fact our baby was conceived in December, but I didn’t carry it until March!) Legend states that the Chinese Gender Chart was buried in a royal tomb near Beijing over 700 years ago. As of now, the original is supposedly the Institute of Science in Beijing.

Click the link to test out the chart: Chinese Lunar Calendar

Drano Method

It is actually advised that pregnant women not try this method because of the toxicity of the fumes from the Drano. Here are the “rules”:

The Drano gender prediction test is “best” if performed after 16 weeks of pregnancy.
This test should be performed outside using a large glass container or jar.

What will I need for the Drano Gender Prediction Test?

  • Approximately 2 tablespoons of Drano
  • Large glass or glass jar
  • A few ounces of first morning urine

Put your urine and Draino in the glass jar. There will be a quick chemical reaction with strong fumes that will be emitted from the jar…stay away!

When the reaction stops, observe the color of the test.

If the liquid you observe darkens to a brownish color within the first 10-15 seconds – It is a boy. If the liquid shows no darkening or color change after 10 – 15 seconds – It is a girl.

Wedding Ring Method

Use your wedding ring and attach it to a thread or strand of hair. Hold the dangling item over your belly while you are laying down. If the ring swings in a strong circular motion, you will be having a girl. If it moves in a to and fro motion like a pendulum, you will be having a boy.

IntelliGender Gender Prediction

There is a fairly new kit on the market that claims up to 80% -90% accuracy in predicting gender called the IntelliGender Gender Prediction test. It is a urine test that you can use in the privacy of your home. This test is advertised in many popular pregnancy magazines.

Check out the IntelliGender now:
IntelliGender Gender Prediction Test Kit

All in all, the best way to find out the sex of your baby is through the use of ultrasound. Sonographers are highly qualified in making educated guesses about the sex of you baby, but the only way to get 100% accuracy is with an amniocentisis or CVS testing.

Our IVF Pregnancy! 18 Week Baby Bump!

18 Weeks Pregnant After IVF - My Baby Bump

18 Weeks Pregnant After IVF - My Baby Bump

I am now 18 weeks and enjoying the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. The evening nausea has completely gone away and it seems that my energy level has increased a little bit. The best part of this trimester so far is the little baby bump that emerges more and more each day!

I went in for blood work last week for the “2nd Trimester Screening” and should hear back in the next day or two with the results. This round of blood work is also known as the multiple marker screening test (I think my doctor referred to it as a quadruple screen). This test will be able to tell us if our baby is at an increased risk for Down syndrome and Trisomy 18, as well as possible neural tube defects. We go in this Friday for another ultrasound and hopefully will be able to find out if we are having a little girl or boy!! This is going to be an exciting week!!!

Since I am off for the summer, I find that most of my days are spent mentally preparing a “to do” list of things we need to get ready in the house. I’d like to get going on some of the stuff before I get too big and uncomfortable. I have also found time to get to the gym about 4 days a week. I am really enjoying water aerobics and have been told by many that it is one of the best ways to exercise during pregnancy.

I am still amazed that I am pregnant and am so thankful that we have been blessed with the opportunity to become parents. Stay tuned, we will keep you updated on the baby’s gender.

Infertility Risk Factors

Infertility Risk Factors

Infertility Risk Factors

You and your partner may be thinking that you are ready to start trying for a baby, or maybe you have already been trying for some time without any luck. About 10-15% of couples are labeled as infertile; this can be due to female factors, male factors, or even a combination of the two. No matter where you are in the family planning process, it is essential to examine a few factors that may adversely affect your ability to conceive.

It is believed that many of the factors that negatively impact fertility do so for both women and men.

What are some infertility risk factors?

  • Age. Beginning at age 30, with more drastic changes at the age of 35, a woman’s fertility potential gradually declines. Infertility in older women may be due to a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities that occur in the eggs as they age. Older women are also more likely to have health problems that could potentially hinder fertility. As a woman ages, her risk of miscarriage also goes up. It is also suspected that men who are over age 40 may be less fertile than younger men.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol use during conception or pregnancy for women is not safe at any level. Male fertility does not seem to be affected by moderate alcohol consumption.
  • Being overweight. Inactivity can lead to being overweight, which in turn can alter a women’s ability to conceive. Being overweight can adversely affect the sperm count in males.
  • Being underweight. A low body weight may also cause potential problems with female and male infertility. Underweight people may be deficient in the vitamins and minerals needed to aid with a healthy conception.
  • Caffeine intake. It is still questionable on whether or not large amounts of caffeine negatively affect fertility. Some studies have shown ingestion of large amounts of caffeine can potentially increase a woman’s miscarriage risk.
  • Chronic illness. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or thyroid disease can alter the reproductive process.
  • Emotional factors. Hormones that control reproduction can be impacted directly by stress and depression. In males this can alter sperm production and in females in may interfere with ovulation.
  • Occupational and environmental risks. Exposure (for men and women) to high mental and/or physical stress, high temperatures, chemicals, radiation, or heavy electromagnetic or microwave emissions could potentially decrease.
  • Tobacco smoking. Women who smoke experience a higher miscarriage rate than those who do not. Also for men and women that smoke, fertility treatments may be less successful.
  • Too much exercise. Ovulation problems may be apparent in women who over exercise more than 6-8 hours a week.
  • Unprotected sex. Having multiple sex partners and not using condoms may increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases that can cause infertility in both men and women.
  • If you think that you or your partner may have an issue that is affecting your fertility talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist. It is important to be open and honest regarding your concerns or fears. Your doctor will be able to answer your questions or, if necessary, refer you to a fertility specialist for a complete fertility workup.

Update: Second Trimester of Pregnancy After IVF

Wendi & Mike - Lake Como, Italy Honeymoon

Wendi & Mike - Lake Como, Italy Honeymoon

Sorry, it’s been a few days since we’ve posted. Wendi is in St. Louis visiting family and I am playing dad to our two very ridiculous dogs! Back on schedule from here on out!

Just wanted to give a quick update on our positive IVF pregnancy. We are in our second trimester and things are moving right along. The whole pregnancy has seemed to move by very quickly for me, but then again I’m a guy and I don’t go through all of the physical, mental and emotional pain so maybe that’s why it seems like it’s going fast for me.

Wendi was very nauseous the first trimester but that has seems to fade away a bit since the start of the second trimester. There are times when she feels not so well but it’s definitely better than it was for the first trimester. It seems to me that she is also getting a bit of her energy back which is great. We’ve been working out more the past few weeks which is much needed for a healthy pregnancy and especially for me since I could stand to lose a few! We also want to be able to keep up with our children so getting in better shape should help us do that too, even though they will probably still run us ragged! That’s okay…we are ready for that!

The most recent change has been Wendi’s “baby bump.” It was so weird. It was like one night she said to me, “hey, come here and look” and the little bump appeared. This definitely got Wendi excited as she can really start hunting for those perfect maternity clothes. She’s a great shopper so I’m sure she’ll have no problem at all finding plenty of things, especially since her and her mom, like…no, no, no, LOVE to shop!

The next exciting milestone in our pregnancy is finding out the sex of the baby. Wendi definitely wants to find out while I’m more of the “let’s wait and get the surprise on delivery day!” After some discussion, we will be finding out the sex so we can “properly” prepare (aka decorate and clothing) for our new arrival.

After we find out the sex of the baby, then we’ll be moving onto the baby’s room and finding a name!!! We both agree on girls names much more so than boys. I’m sure there will be some discussion before we settle on the perfect name. Who knows we like to play Yahtzee and Scrabble so maybe we’ll have a tournament and the winner picks the name! Just kidding. Maybe!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. We will definitely have more news in the next couple of weeks regarding the sex of the baby so stay tuned.

Best of luck for everyone else trying to get pregnant or going through their own pregnancy.

Travel During and After IVF

Can I Travel During & After IVF?

Can I Travel During & After IVF?

Can I Travel When Going Through IVF?

IVF medications and procedures can interfere dramatically with your day-to-day life. Many couples wonder, though, if they can take vacations and travel before, after, and during treatment. In all honesty, the bottom line is better safe than sorry.

It would be quite difficult for one to travel during the medication phase of the IVF process. Regardless of your medication schedule, which is likely to be hefty, you will be seeing your doctor on a regular basis for monitoring appointments that include blood work and ultrasounds. It is likely that you won’t be able to get away during this phase of your treatment. Keep in mind, you also don’t know how your body is going to react to the medications, you might want to be near your doctor just in case you have some bad side effects or concerns.

The next part of the IVF process includes two procedures; egg retrieval and embryo transfer. You won’t be able to find here to travel at all. Some IVF patients do travel from their home quite some distance to seek treatment in a larger town or city. This type of traveling is okay, as you will need to travel back and forth between your home and treatments. Some doctors do recommend a hotel stay for a night or two immediately following each procedure.

So you are thinking to yourself, after all that I have gone through I need a little time to get away. Dependent on your doctor, you typically will have bed rest for at least 1 day following your embryo transfer. Some doctors recommend up to 5 days, but the average is typically 2-3 days. Do to your work schedule and or planned vacations, many women wonder if it okay to proceed with life as normal. Part of the answer is yes, you need to continue with day-to-day routines, but traveling by air or even long road trips, during this time may not be the wisest decision. Many women will find that their doctor tells them that they are free to go about and do as they wish, while others are told to refrain from flying and sitting for long periods of time. Years ago a study was conducted and found that flight attendants had a slightly higher miscarriage risk than the average population. It is also a concern for many women to sit in a car, as your blood flow is restricted because you are not moving. To play it safe, wait and see indeed if you are pregnant, and even more so, get confirmation that your pregnancy is uterine. The last thing that you want is a complication 25,000 feet in the air from an ectopic pregnancy.

If you find that your doctor is more on the conservative side, relax; there will be plenty of time for traveling in the future.

Very Poor Sperm Morphology – Will IVF and ICSI Work?

Very Poor Sperm Morphology

A lot of our readers wonder if it’s possible to still get pregnant if you have a very poor sperm morphology. The answer is, absolutely! With advancements in Assisted Reproductive Technologies, IVF with ICSI is a great option for those of us who have very poor sperm morphology. I speak from a personal experience as I was diagnosed with very poor sperm morphology. I was sad, shocked and confused at first but after learning more about possible treatments, my eyes were opened and I began to relax knowing there are options.

Right now, my wife Wendi, is in her second trimester (over 15 weeks pregnant). My Kruger Strict Morphology Analysis came back at under 2%. Our first fresh IVF cycle was not successful but we had some frozen embryos from the first round that we used for our first frozen embryo transfer a few months after our fresh IVF cycle. Our first FET was successful! IVF with ICSI made this happen for Wendi and I. All it takes is one little sperm injected into the egg and pregnancy is possible.

Besides having a very poor sperm morphology, I also have a low sperm count and low viscosity. I thought it was the end of the world. Don’t let it get you down. It’s not worth spending your energy on. You will have many other things to focus on such as IVF treatment and keeping stress levels as low as possible so there is no need to waste time getting down on yourself. Some of us were blessed with great sperm and some of us were not. If you are like me and were not blessed with high quality sperm, just know that there are options out there.

So, having poor sperm quality is not the end of the world. It took me time to realize this but I did finally come around after some stress and depression from my semen analysis results. Take what I’ve learned through our infertility experience and don’t let this eat at you. If you find out that you have poor sperm morphology, move on to the next step of the fertility process which is researching IVF clinics and various fertility treatments.

IVF Egg Donation

Human Egg: IVF Egg Donation

Human Egg: IVF Egg Donation

Egg Donation Can Be An Option For IVF

Not all women will have the ability to use their own eggs for IVF. The good news is that with today’s technology and advanced medical care, women are able to carry a child even if that child was not created with her own eggs. If a couple decides to use another woman’s eggs it is called egg donation, and may also be referred to as oocyte donation. Most couples pursue egg donation because of the female’s inability to produce quality eggs for IVF.

When is it time to think about using donor eggs?

Deciding to be the recipient of donor eggs is a hard decision. Many times it is after multiple failed IVF attempts that a couple will even begin considering IVF egg donation. It is important to speak with your doctor about your medical history as well as their clinics policies and success with donor eggs for IVF treatment. If you have encountered any of the following conditions, it may be helpful to begin discussing with your doctor the potential need to seek egg donation:

  • Early menopause
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Poor egg quality
  • Poor responder to ovarian stimulation
  • High day 3 follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels
  • History of genetic disease

Once a couple decides that egg donation is the avenue that they would like to pursue, there are many factors that will play in selecting their particular egg donor. Depending on where you live, fertility clinics may have different guidelines on using family member’s eggs. Keep in mind that the egg donor will receive compensation; it typically is about $5,000. Legal contracts may also be drawn up to ensure that parental rights of the donor will be nonexistent.

There are a few things that a couple will want to consider when choosing their donor:

  • History of STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
  • History of birth defects or hereditary diseases from donor or donor’s family
  • Medical history
  • Lifestyle
  • Mental Health and Well-Being

The donor that you chose will now become a patient of your fertility specialist. She will have a consultation and many times will meet with the clinic’s geneticist. In many cases, your donor was selected from a database from your fertility specialist, so that means that initial screenings have already taken place.

The egg donor will begin stimulation drugs, just as if she were the IVF patient. Her treatment will include constant medical monitoring so that the doctors can gauge her egg retrieval date. On the egg retrieval day, your partner will give a semen sample so that they eggs that she developed will be able to be fertilized by your partner’s sperm. Throughout this process, you, the recipient, will be preparing your body for the transfer of the embryos (Embryo Transfer). This will include medical monitoring along with medications to help your body get ready for the embryos. Depending on your fertility clinic’s practices, your embryo transfer may be as early as 3 days after the eggs were retrieved from the donor. Some clinics prefer 4 or 5-day embryo transfers. Once the transfer takes place you will continue with medications and monitoring and await your pregnancy test in two weeks.

Preconception Visit

Husband and Wife Preconception Visit

Husband and Wife Preconception Visit

So you are thinking that you want to have a baby! One of the most important things is to make sure that you and your partner are in great health, before you begin the baby making process. A perfect place to start is with your regular doctor or your OB-GYN. A preconception checkup will cover all of the important things that you need to before conceiving. Your health and lifestyle are important factors that can affect your ability to conceive, your doctor will be able to go through a complete health history with you. They will also be able to look at your partner’s health history as well. If you are someone that suffers from a chronic health condition, it is even more important for you to meet with a doctor.

Some health conditions that may need medical monitoring, especially prior to family planning:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression/Mood disorders
  • Epilepsy

It is essential that you be honest and straightforward with your doctor about your lifestyle and health so that they can completely understand you and your body. This is the same for the men as well, as their health is just as essential in the role of conception. If either of you and uncomfortable about bringing up past health or lifestyles issues with your doctor in front of each other, simply request a private consultation.

Below is a list of important things that your doctor will want to know about. (Remember, your doctor is not there to judge you, but to help you become your best as you begin the family planning process.

Fertility can be negatively affected by the following:

  • Smoking
  • STD’s
  • Drug use
  • Previous miscarriages and/or abortions
  • Stress
  • Exposure to environmental hazards

There are a few things that you can do beforehand to help ensure good health. Begin taking a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis. Prenatal vitamins can be found at your local drug store, a prescription isn’t necessary. Be sure to check and see that your prenatal includes an adequate amount of folate (folic acid, at least 400-500 mg.) as this will help to prevent some birth defects.

It is also important to eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise. Studies have shown women who are underweight or overweight may have an increased risk with fertility problems. If you are concerned about your weight, be sure to mention it at your preconception visit with your doctor. They will be able to advise you of a healthy weight for your frame and height.

Embarking on the wonderful journey of family planning can be both stressful and exciting. Take a list of questions that you may have with you to your preconception visit with your doctor. If your partner or spouse is able to attend, bring them along so that your doctor can get a complete picture of you as a couple. Remember, conception isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always happen in our time frame. Be patient, stay healthy, and keep an honest communication with your doctor about your health as you prepare to create a new life.

Embryo Implanted In Wrong Woman – IVF Nightmare

Embryo Implanted In Wrong Woman

Embryo Implanted In Wrong Woman

One of the more uncommon but dreadful nightmares of IVF is having your embryo implanted into the wrong person. That’s exactly what happened to this couple. Their last frozen embryo was implanted into the wrong woman. Human error can and does happen with fertility treatments including IVF. Thoroughly research IVF and fertility clinics before proceeding with treatment. Make sure to get references and referrals from people who have experienced a particular IVF clinic you might be interested in.


First Trimester Screening and IVF

First Trimester Screening and IVF

First Trimester Screening and IVF

One of the very first tests that your doctor may offer you is a First Trimester Screening. Screening and diagnostic tests were typically recommended for women over the age of 35, but more and more doctors are offering these tests to women of all ages. The First Trimester Screen is a fairly new screening test; it is used primarily to detect Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome).

If you express interest in this screening, let you doctor know, as the testing needs to be completed between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. Your physician will typically send you to a facility with trained doctors, geneticists, and ultrasound technicians that have the capability of completing this test. The test is noninvasive; it is a combination of blood work and ultrasound (sonogram).

What are they looking for in the blood work?

  • Pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A)
  • Free beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (bHCG)

PAPP-A and hCG Test

Your blood will typically be taken with a finger prick and sent off to a lab. The blood is tested for PAPP-A and hCG. Potential chromosomal abnormalities exist where the PAPP-A levels are to be found considerably low and with hCG levels that are significantly high. The blood levels will be combined with the results from the ultrasound to give you a risk factor for possible chromosomal abnormalities.

Nuchal Translucency: What are they looking for in the ultrasound?

During the nuchal translucency test, an ultrasound will be done to check the clear space in the tissue at the back of the baby’s neck. Babies with abnormalities have a tendency to collect more fluid at the back of their neck during the first trimester, making the space larger than expected. The ultrasound technician must be skilled using advanced equipment to ensure that they are gathering appropriate measurements.

Your screening results

You can expect your screening results within about a week after you initial testing. Many things will be factored in for your screening results such as blood test results, ultra sound results and maternal age. Most likely you will be given a number that correlates to a risk factor (for example 1/250.) Remember a screening test will not give you a diagnosis, but instead may indicate the want or need for further testing. About 85% of abnormalities will be able to be identified on a first trimester screening test. Keep in mind there is about a 5% false-positive rate with this screening test. If further testing is desired, you may choose more screening tests in the second trimester or diagnostic tests such as CVS or amniocentesis.

Screening tests can help assess the risk of a birth defect. It is more and more common to see testing offered to all pregnant women. Other tests may be suggested based on your history, age and/or risk factors. Discuss with your doctor about which screening test is right for you.

IVF Injections And Stimulation Drugs

Husband Helping Wife With IVF Injection

Husband Helping Wife With IVF Injection

Now that you think you are officially on your road to pregnancy, your mouth drops as you hear the nurse explain how to inject yourself with IVF medications. Your eyes widen and you unconsciously blurt out, “You want me to stick that where?” You are initially shocked at the idea of giving yourself an injection, but quickly realize the impending results will rapidly extinguish your anxiety and fear.

After you and your fertility specialist have decided that IVF is indeed in your future, you will typically meet with a nurse to go over your personal medication protocol. During this meeting it will be wise to bring your spouse or partner for additional “eyes and ears”. This visit can be quite overwhelming, so just realize that your nerves are completely normal. The nurse is likely to give you paperwork or a calendar with your specific IVF medications and dates. She will also show you the various types of injections and the easiest ways to administer them. It’s typical for you to wonder to yourself, “How am I going to remember all of this?” Don’t worry, you will!!! (You’ve got paperwork to confirm times and dates.) During your meeting, don’t hesitate to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable before you leave.

It’s not uncommon to feel fearful the first time you have to inject yourself during your IVF cycle. For many women, this is the first time they have had to stick themselves with a needle. Part of the apprehension is the fear of hurting yourself, but is also the amount of emotions that you are facing because of the fact you are simply battling infertility. You may be hesitant about puncturing your skin with a needle or even worried that you will mess it up. Most IVF stimulation drugs will be injected into the abdomen or thigh. Some progesterone support medications will be done on the buttocks and hip area. For most women, the anxiety is quickly defeated with the realization that it really wasn’t that bad. The IVF injections typically will be painless and will rapidly become part of your normal day-to-day routine.

Here are some helpful hints to get you through your IVF injections:

Have a spouse or friend help – If you find that you simply can’t do the injection yourself, ask your spouse or a friend. This is a good way to let your husband feel helpful and a part of the process. Depending on the location of your injection, a spouse or friend may be necessary as you may not be able to reach the injection site yourself.

Make sure to eat beforehand – Many women get faint at the thought or site of needles. Be sure to have some food in your stomach so you aren’t prone to fainting.

Relax in chair or on the couch – Be sure that you are comfortable and relaxed.

Complete injections around the same time each day – When you first decide on a time to take your injections, make sure it works with your work and personal schedule. Many couples find that evening (around dinner time) works best, as they know they will be home.

Just keep in mind that the thought of injection IVF medications is much worse than the actual injection. Don’t think too much about it. It will become a part of your everyday routine and you will think nothing of it.

Paying For IVF and Fertility Treatments

Different Ways To Pay For IVF

Different Ways To Pay For IVF

One of the first hurdles after determining that IVF is your best option at becoming pregnant is figuring out how to pay for IVF. IVF is very expensive (anywhere from $8-15K without meds.) but there are various ways you can come up with the cash you need in order to pay for an IVF cycle(s).

Does Your Insurance Cover IVF & Infertility?
Before you look into paying for IVF, you should check your insurance policy to see if it covers IVF and infertility. If so, see what your plan includes and talk with the finance person at the IVF clinic you choose. Some employer plans pay for the entire IVF process, some pay for a little and some pay none. It can’t hurt to check before you begin the entire IVF process.

Just Swipe Your Debit Card
If you have no insurance, another option would be paying for IVF with your checking account. This might be the most far fetched because not many of us have $10-$20 thousand dollars sitting in our checking account. But if you do, this might be your best option. You will pay it up front and then you can put the cost behind you and worry about the important thing at hand…becoming pregnant and having a baby.

Borrow From Family or Friends
Family and friends can be a great source of money. Set up arrangements for borrowing from them and a payment plan that is in writing. Borrowing from family and friends usually has a much lower interest rate, or no interest rate, meaning you will spend less overall.

Get a Gift From A Family Member
Family members or friends can also “gift” you money. This would be money given to you from friends or family and is not expected to be paid back hence the term “gift”.

Credit Card
Do you have a credit card with a high enough limit to pay for IVF? If so, this might be one of your options of financing IVF. Make sure your interest rate is not out of hand or you will be paying MUCH more than you should for the IVF treatment.

Savings Account
Use your hard earned savings. If you’ve been good at tucking away money for the past few years, this might be a great way to pay for your IVF and fertility treatment. Once again, you can pay up front and forget about the money part of infertility.

401K Loan
Some 401K loans allow you to borrow for medical reasons. Check with your 401K provider for more information. Borrowing from your 401K is not the best option but can help if your options are limited.

Shared Risk Programs
Shared risk plans can be a great way to finance IVF while giving you multiple attempts. For example, my wife and I did a shared risk program and it allowed 3 fresh IVF cycles and 3 frozen embryo transfers for one price. If you do not bring a baby home from the hospital, you are guaranteed a large portion of your money back. Not everyone will be approved for a shared risk program. There are age restrictions as well as fertility tests that the woman might have to go through before being approved. The cost of a shared risk program can be up to $30,000 or more but it does offer multiple tries. Our shared risk program did not include the IVF drugs which can cost upwards of $4,000 to $5,000 for a fresh IVF cycle. Ask your IVF clinic if the participate in a shared risk program.

IntegraMed Specialty Healthcare Services has a popular shared risk program you can look into.

Get Second Jobs
This obviously is not the ideal situation since you will already have added stress from infertility but getting a second job might be a good option to save up that extra money for the IVF treatments. If you have a skill, you can also use that to consult and do some side projects for extra money.

Home Equity Loan
You can use some of your home equity if you have some built up. Obviously the housing situation is not at it’s best right now so this might be a tough option but it is none the less, an option.

IVF Trials
Some IVF clinics have trials of IVF treatments. Look around to see if an IVF clinic near you is having a trial. You must still do your due diligence and research the IVF facility to make sure they have a good reputation but an IVF trial can often be free or very inexpensive if you are chosen.

Tax Return Check
See, an you never thought the IRS would help you out. You can use your tax return to pay for IVF or a portion of IVF. You can even plan accordingly have have extra money taken out of your paycheck so you know you will have a larger tax return come next March.

Decrease Your Standard of living
Lower your standard of living can help save the money you need over time. Make coffee at home. Pack your lunch. Don’t eat out so much. Skip vacation this year. Don’t buy the new car. All of these things add up over time and can help you put a nice chunk of money away to pay for your IVF treatment(s).

I’m sure there are more options to pay for IVF and fertility treatments but this list will get you started. Make sure you check with your insurance administrator to see if you have benefits that cover IVF and fertility treatments first. This will be your best option for paying for IVF if it’s available to you. Always speak with the finance specialist at the IVF clinic to weigh out all of your possibilities.

The Benefits of Infertility! Really?

The Benefits of Infertility

The Benefits of Infertility

Obviously we would never wish infertility upon ourselves but if you are diagnosed with infertility issues of any kind, make the most of your situation. It’s the least you can do for yourself and it will help you out in the long run. Getting upset and frustrated will only add stress to your life and this is definitely a time when it’s very important to keep stress levels as low as possible.

So, you’re probably asking…how the heck can I turn infertility into a positive thing. You’re crazy Mike! I might be a little crazy but my wife and I have done it! It’s easy. There are tons of things you can do to better yourself and your lifestyle. We’ll give you a few things to start with but the opportunities are endless if you put your thinking cap on.

  1. Change your life habits.
    Going through infertility is a perfect time to change your life habits. Learn to treat yourself better. Just like anything, it will take a routine for it to truly become part of your lifestyle but now is the perfect time. When going through infertility, a healthy body and lifestyle is a huge factor. Eat better, exercise, reduce stress and sleeping habits are four very important pieces to fertility. Start here. See how changing your life habits can change your infertility. Not to mention, you will be healthier in general.
  2. Start your own fertility blog.
    Hey…we did it! So can you. Blogging is a great way to write about your feelings, thoughts and comments on particular situations. Infertility is definitely a time that you will need to open up and blogging can help do this. Blogs are simple to set up and you need to know nothing about programming or coding. If you know how to type, you can blog. You never know…you might really enjoy blogging and you might get a readership and even make a little money that can help pay for some of your infertility treatments.
  3. Grow closer to your better half.
    Infertility can be a major stress on your life and your partner’s life. This is a time when you can go two different ways. Further apart or closer together. There is nothing good that will come out of arguing about infertility or being upset that you are infertile. This will just drive you apart. Learn to talk about infertility and learn about infertility. Get as much knowledge as you can about infertility. Do it together. The more you know…the better equipped you will be in dealing with infertility and the treatments you might have to go through such as IUI or IVF. Plus you’ll know all of those cool infertility words that your doctor will use!
  4. Realize that life isn’t always perfect.
    This particular point is so very true. Whoever has had a perfect life so far, please contact me and let me know how you did it. Things don’t always go our way. Infertility is one of those things that can creep up on us and hit us like a ton of bricks. Most people don’t assume they are infertile. It catches them off guard and is a major curve ball in life. Learn to hit those curve balls. If infertility is the worst thing that has ever happened to you, then you are lucky. There are options for you. Medical technology is amazing and allows those of use who have infertility problems to get pregnant. Don’t see infertility as an end all. There are solutions for you.
  5. Use infertility as a major life experience.
    There are some major life experiences we face. Some good. Some not so good. After going through infertility with my wife, I wouldn’t say infertility is always a bad thing. Most of you will say that I’m nuts! I really think infertility is a great learning lesson. It helps you realize the miracle of pregnancy. It helps you realize all of the little pieces that have to happen before you can get pregnant. It keeps you humble. It can help change your life and lifestyle. You can become healthier because of infertility. You can become more educated because of infertility. It can grow your relationship. It can make you realize the important things in life that we often forget about. Infertility can be a positive major life experience.

Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage, the word you never want to hear!

A miscarriage, also known as a spontaneous abortion can be one of the most devastating times in couple’s life; it is both an emotional and physical issue. A miscarriage is considered a loss of pregnancy that is less than 20 weeks along. Unfortunately, miscarriages are the most common form of pregnancy loss and they will happen in about 25% of all pregnancies. As a woman ages her risk for miscarriage increases.

Most early miscarriages occur because of a chromosomal abnormality. Many explain that this is nature’s way of letting your body know that something is wrong. A miscarriage may also happen if the mother has a hormonal problem, it could be a hormone deficiency. The use of drugs and alcohol can also negatively affect a pregnancy at any stage and may result in a pregnancy loss.

Here is a list of some other common factors that may increase risk for miscarriage:

  • History of previous miscarriages
  • Physical injury or trauma
  • Certain infections
  • Improper implantation
  • Problems with the structure of the uterus
  • Blood clotting disorders

What should I watch for?

It isn’t uncommon for many women to fear pregnancy loss early on in their pregnancy, especially for those women who have suffered a prior miscarriage. There are some common symptoms and signs that you can look for. Keep in mind, if you experience any of the following, it doesn’t necessarily a miscarriage is or going to take place. It is important to call you doctor with any questions or concerns.

  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms
  • Bleeding, passing clots
  • Extremely painful cramping or contractions
  • Pain in lower back

Are there different types of miscarriage?

Each miscarriage is unique unto itself; it is an unfortunate event that typically happens over time. There are different types and stages that you may hear about that relate to miscarriage.

Blighted Ovum: A blighted ovum may also be referred to as an anembryonic pregnancy. It happens when a fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus but the embryo either stops developing very early or doesn’t form at all.

Complete Miscarriage: A completed miscarriage is when the embryo or products of conception have “completely” emptied out of the uterus. A woman will typically experience bleeding and cramping that will eventually subside.

Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized ovum develops in any tissue other than the uterine wall. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube, you may hear these referred to as “tubal pregnancies”. Immediate medical intervention is necessary.

Inevitable or Incomplete Miscarriage: An incomplete miscarriage is when the woman has passed much of the pregnancy tissue, but some remains in the uterus. Typically, the fetus has been passed, but bits of the placenta still haven’t passes. The cervix stays open, and bleeding may be significant.

Missed Miscarriage: In a missed miscarriage, the woman doesn’t have any symptoms of losing the pregnancy because the body fails to “notice” the loss of the fetus. As a result, the uterus does not immediately expel the fetal tissue.

Molar Pregnancy: In a molar pregnancy, the early placenta develops into an abnormal mass of cysts referred to as a hydatidiform mole. It consists of abnormal tissue that rarely will develop into an embryo.

Recurrent Miscarriage: A women that suffers from recurrent miscarriage is diagnosed as having 3 or more consecutive first trimester miscarriages.

Threatened Miscarriage: In a threatened miscarriage, a woman may experience uterine bleeding along with cramping or lower backache. Her cervix remains closed, the bleeding may or may not be the sign of miscarriage.

Sadly, miscarriages can affect anyone. Many times there is not much a woman can to do prevent or stop a miscarriage from occurring. It is at this time that is it important to seek support from family and friends. Miscarriage is not easy for the female or the couple for that matter. It is essential to heal yourself emotional and understand the causes, risks, and what you can do in the future to help prepare for a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy and IVF

Ectopic Pregnancy and IVF

Ectopic Pregnancy and IVF

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is one of the more serious complications and risks of IVF and can even be life threatening. Although it is well known, it is fairly rare compared to other risks associated with fertility treatments.

An ectopic pregnancy starts out like a normal pregnancy but in an ectopic pregnancy the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus. They often implant in the fallopian tubes, which is called a tubal pregnancy. The embryo can also implant in the ovaries or cervix but this is more rare.

There is nothing a doctor or fertility specialist can do to save an ectopic pregnancy. It is not a viable pregnancy and will not result in delivering a baby. If the embryo grows in the fallopian tube, it can eventually damage or burst the tube causing heavy bleeding which can be deadly. If you suspect you are having an ectopic pregnancy, see your fertility specialist quickly for treatment. The sooner an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed the better. Treatment is essential.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy during IVF?

Most commonly, an ectopic pregnancy is caused because there is damage to the fallopian tubes. The embryo can have a difficult time getting through a damaged tube to the uterus and can implant in the tube and begin growing.

There are many things that can cause damage to fallopian tubes and in turn increase your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy:

  • PID or pelvic inflammatory disease. You can get PID from an STD such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. These are routine tests that are usually offered before fertility treatment begins. Ask your doctor about testing for STDs.
  • Smoking can increase your chances of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Endometriosis causes scar tissue in or around the fallopian tubes and can increase your chance of having an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Previous surgery dealing with your pelvic region or fallopian tubes can increase your chance of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • IVF can increase your chance of an ectopic pregnancy.

How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

There are a few things that can diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. First of all, you have to be pregnant so a urine test or blood test will likely show that you are pregnant. Then, if an ectopic pregnancy is likely your doctor can perform a pelvic exam to check the size of your uterus to feel for any type of growths, a blood test that will check your hCG level or an ultrasound that can check for pregnancy. A pregnancy can often be seen in the uterus 6 weeks after your last menstrual period.

Are there any signs or symptoms that I’m having an ectopic pregnancy?

Early into a pregnancy it’s often hard to differentiate an ectopic pregnancy from a healthy pregnancy. The same symptoms usually arrive such as fatigue and tiredness, nausea, sore breasts, headaches and a missed period.

Some signs of an ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Belly or pelvic pain that may be sharp on one side and then spreads throughout your belly.
  • Vaginal bleeding

If ever in doubt, make sure to contact your doctor asap so it does not develop into a larger problem.

How can my fertility specialist or doctor treat an ectopic pregnancy?

As with most medical treatments, surgery and medicine is the most common form of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. This treatment is done as soon as the doctor can diagnose the ectopic pregnancy to help prevent further damage and harm.

If the ectopic pregnancy is found early enough, medicine might be the first form of treatment before the tube is harmed. A common shot that is given is called methotrexate and this will end the ectopic pregnancy. Further blood testing is usually done to make sure the shots were successful.

If the pregnancy has developed further that the first few weeks, surgery is usually the best options to treat an ectopic pregnancy. This surgery will often be laparoscopy which can be done though small incisions through the belly. Your doctor will be able to guide you in the right direction depending on where you are at in the pregnancy.

How does this affect my fertility and chances of getting pregnant in the future?

Sometimes more so than the actual physical part of losing a pregnancy, the emotional and mental damage is hard to handle. There are many places you can seek help and support and is encouraged in such circumstances. Depression is common when going through fertility treatments and pregnancy in general. Be sure to monitor your behavior and if you see a change, contact your doctor for more help.

Just because you had an ectopic pregnancy does not mean you can’t have a normal pregnancy in the future. It may mean that you do have fertility issues to deal with and you may have trouble getting pregnant and you may be more likely to have another ectopic pregnancy.

If you decide to try again and get pregnant, make sure your fertility specialist or doctor knows that you have already had an ectopic pregnancy in the past so they can monitor you more closely.

What are my chances of having an ectopic pregnancy?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, ectopic pregnancies occur in 1 in every 40 to 1 in every 100 pregnancies.

Can an ectopic pregnancy be prevented?

Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be prevented. Serious harm and tubal damage can be decreased if the ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early so be sure to see your doctor if you suspect you are having an ectopic pregnancy.

First Trimester of Pregnancy After IVF

Our First Trimester of Pregnancy After IVF

Our First Trimester of Pregnancy After IVF

The first trimester can be the most exciting time in your life as well as the most nerve-racking. The initial news of your pregnancy comes with great joy, but many women find that their worry doesn’t quite fade away.

For those that have gone through infertility treatments, getting through the first trimester may be a very trying time. The average fertile couple trying to conceive will typically get a positive pregnancy test shortly after a missed period and will be seen by an OB-GYN a few weeks later. For the infertile couple, the first pregnancy test will come just two weeks after conception; it will be followed by at least one more blood pregnancy tests 48 hours later. If the numbers rise correctly, an ultrasound will be scheduled for the patient to determine if there is a fetal pole and yolk sack. As you can imagine, each step in this process creates great anticipation for the couple. Once the initial ultrasound confirms everything is developing correctly another ultrasound may be scheduled a few weeks later. Most infertility patients do not return to their regular OB-GYN until at least 8 weeks in pregnancy.

For us, the initial news of our pregnancy was surprising and exciting. It was hard to believe that I was actually carrying another life, completely surreal. In the very beginning, I didn’t experience too many early symptoms, which often made me question if I indeed was pregnant. A home pregnancy test was a quick reassurance that I was pregnant, and I have to admit is was fun to see those “double lines.” Since I was on a progesterone regime, I was required to insert a compounded progesterone cream twice a day for the first 11 weeks. Even before our positive pregnancy result I did notice a brown-flecked discharge. I did wonder if it was “old blood” from implantation bleeding or irritation from the applicator. (Early on, I did convince myself it was implantation bleeding, this is when I was searching for some sort of sign.) I remember searching endlessly on the Internet for early pregnancy symptoms wondering if I really was experiencing anything super early on, or possibly it was simply wishful thinking. About 5-6 weeks into the pregnancy I began to notice the fatigue and nausea. The worst time of the day for me was evening. I would feel very tired, nauseous, and not much sounded good to eat. I quickly learned that orange juice and fruit seemed to hit the spot. I was so glad that evenings were my worst time; this allowed me to get through the workday. I did have a few bags of Saltines at work to keep on hand, but was never “so sick” that I couldn’t teach a lesson or work with the students. I kept up my weekly acupuncture treatments until week 12. I do wonder if my fatigue and nausea would have been worse if I hadn’t been getting the acupuncture. I have had terrible skin problems and I’d like to think that I typically have great skin. My forehead is constantly broken-out and I resemble a prepubescent teenager. I am hoping my skin begins to look better in the weeks to come.

All in all, my first trimester has been great. Of course there were the evenings, I was so sick of lying on the couch, but I knew it could be worse. I’d gladly take all of the terrible symptoms in order to be pregnant; I’d go through anything! As the 1st trimester is coming to an end, I am feeling better and better each day. I am really looking forward to the renewed energy that I keep hearing about in the second trimester. We are both looking forward to finding out whether we are having a little girl or little boy…that will probably be sometime in mid to late July. Looking forward to what the next 13 weeks hold in store and hoping that a little “baby-bump” pops out soon.

Positive Pregnancy Test After IVF

Positive Pregnancy Test After IVF

Positive Pregnancy Test After IVF

First off, congratulations!!! You got a positive pregnancy test after your IVF or FET cycle! Your fertility treatment(s) have paid off. Second, congrats on making it through the 2 week IVF wait that is often harder than the actual IVF treatment itself. The emotional and mental portion of IVF can be very trying. Now you are wondering what you should be doing since your IVF treatment is over and you have gotten a positive pregnancy test. Each IVFer will have a little different routine but there are still the basics once you have gotten the positive pregnancy test.

  • Keep your stress levels down. This is as important now as it was during your IVF cycle. Practice relaxation techniques to help keep stress to a minimum.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. You will still likely be on your IVF medications so make sure you keep taking what your fertility specialist advises. It’s very important that you get the correct support from the medications so keeping on track with them is essential at this point to promote a healthy uterus lining and overall fertility to create an environment for your embryo and baby to develop.
  • Start thinking about planning your first OB-GYN appointment. Your fertility specialist will want to monitor you a for a month or so after your positive pregnancy test to make sure the embryo is developing as it should. They will likely provide ultrasounds to measure the development and track the results from appointment to appointment. They will advise you as to when you should make your appointment with your OBGYN…usually around week 8 but can vary. It’s not too far off from this point!
  • Your HCG levels need to rise. In general, your HCG levels will need to double every 72 hours. The HCG levels will reach their peak around week 8-11 and then decline and level off for the rest of your pregnancy. Your fertility specialist will likely do blood draws to check your HCG levels for the first couple of weeks after you get your positive pregnancy test. IVF clinics vary about how often they test your HCG levels. Each pregnancy is different so each needs its own schedule of monitoring. Talk with your fertility specialist about how often you should get your HCG levels checked after a positive pregnancy test.
  • Enjoy your great news. Seriously, take a minute or as much time as you like and enjoy the good news. Pregnancy is a miracle and you just went through a miracle. Congratulations again!

Remember to follow the protocol that your doctor or fertility specialist gives you after you receive your positive pregnancy test. This period is just as essential as the IVF procedure itself and you need to make sure you are doing everything in your power to help promote a healthy environment for your baby or babies.

Pregnancy and IVF is Truly Amazing!

We're Having A Baby!!!!

We're Having A Baby!!!!

This is coming from a guy’s perspective, but seriously…when you actually sit down and think about it, pregnancy is a miracle. All of the little pieces of the conception puzzle that have to go together are overwhelming and it’s such an amazing process.

Having gone through infertility and IVF with my wife, I have learned so much from this experience. It’s really been a great life lesson. If my wife and I would have gotten pregnant naturally, I would not have seen all of the detail that comes with getting pregnant. Going through IVF, you get to see a pregnancy from the very beginning stages, when the eggs are retrieved and fertilized with sperm. Just the process of the fertilization is amazing and most people never think about that if they get pregnant naturally. It takes so much for one little baby to go through the entire process of development. Most people that get pregnant naturally won’t find out until they are 12 weeks or so, some later than that. They miss that early stage of egg fertilization and implantation of the embryo which is a feat in itself. It takes so much for that to even happen. I by no means wish infertility upon anyone, but I’m not mad or upset that my wife and I had to go through it. Yes, the woman has to do the hard part during IVF and I hated seeing my wife have to go through that but she was great and always knew that the pain she was going through was for a very good reason and I thank her for that.

I guess there is no hard data behind this blog post. I just want those trying to get pregnant, whether naturally or with help from a fertility specialist, to just sit down for a few minutes and realize all of the things that must happen in order to have a baby. For those of us who have went or are currently going through fertility treatments, I’m sure we’ve thought about this many times throughout the process, sometimes a bit too much! It’s sort of embedded in our heads now that pregnancy is a miracle.

Best of luck trying to get pregnant and please never take it for granted.

Our First Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) Was Successful!!!

Our FET Was Successful!

Our FET Was Successful!

We initially thought that we’d post our results from March’s FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) right away. Sorry for the delay, but as the phone call with our results came we didn’t quite realize the implications of announcing our news.

We’re having a baby!!!

We found out on April 1st that our FET was a success!!!! I received the phone call from Dr. M at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon with his calm voice telling me that I had a positive beta test, if I remember correctly my number was around 118. I tried calling Mike immediately, but couldn’t get a hold for a short period of time. When he called me back I was so happy to announce our positive result. We both were ecstatic, but knew this was still another step towards our goal of a healthy baby. I went back 2 days later to confirm that the beta was rising appropriately….and it was with about 370! Although we were experiencing great excitement and emotions, we decided to stay “hush-hush” for a while. I am a teacher and once you tell one person the entire school and community will then know. I wasn’t quite ready for that. There are also some parents who have strong feelings about having their child in a classroom where the teacher will be on leave. I also wanted to protect myself from drama that may surround next school year. So now that I am out of school, we are slowly letting our fantastic news get around. I just passed 12 weeks so sharing the news of our pregnancy now seems a bit more appropriate.

Thinking back to February and March as we prepared for the FET, I don’t think I even thought it would be a success. Of course I wanted it to, but I truly thought since the fresh round of IVF in December was a failure, this would be too! I pictured my summer being spent doing stimulation drugs….much to my surprise, my summer will now be spent gawking over sample nursery designs and pregnancy magazines. I have had 3 ultrasounds and of course cried at every one of them. Conception is truly remarkable and I feel so blessed and lucky to be considered a success in the infertility world. Our first ultrasound was just shy of 6 weeks and there wasn’t much to see. The doctor was able to see and measure what he needed to and we were pleasantly surprised to see a faint flicker on the screen of a heartbeat. My second ultrasound came at about 7 ½ weeks, at that one we were able to see the little bean and a more distinct heartbeat. At yesterdays scan, boy had things changed!!!! A very lively baby with arms, legs, fingers, toes…all incredible, reminding me of what a miracle this all is.

I am still surprised that the little baby inside me was once frozen, completely amazing. I do remember back in January talking to a nurse at Dr. M’s office. I was upset on the phone after the IVF cycle and she said we have really great FET rates. I think, at that point, I chalked it off for her simply trying to make me feel better. Now I am a believer in successful FET’s as we have one special baby growing inside of me right now. Quite often I wonder why this round worked. I did add acupuncture to my preparation and possibly this time it wasn’t as stressful. The medications were less and I knew what to experience in terms of the transfer.

We are cherishing this time as a couple and look forward to the changes that our life will bring in the next year. Stay posted, we will continue to update our story through each and every stage of this pregnancy.

HSG Test and Infertility

HSG Test & Infertility

HSG Test & Infertility

What is an HSG?

An HSG (hystosalpingogram) is often one of the first tests conducted for a female that may be experiencing a difficult time becoming pregnant. The HSG test is an X-ray that looks in the uterus and fallopian tubes and the areas around them.

Who needs to get an HSG?

An HSG test is regularly offered to any woman going through or seeking fertility treatment. An HSG test can determine a lot of fertility issues including overall uterine health.

The HSG Procedure

The HSG procedure is usually performed at the office of your reproductive endocrinologist. If your RE doesn’t have the proper equipment they may send you to the radiology department at a nearby hospital. The HSG is typically performed at least a week after your period, but before time of ovulation.

The procedure itself is relatively quick – it only takes about five to ten minutes to actually perform. Be sure to ask your doctor if they would like you to take any medications prior to the HSG procedure. It isn’t uncommon for your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic or muscle relaxant.

The HSG procedure is performed as follows:

You will lie on an examination similar to a routine pelvic exam with the speculum placed in your vagina. Some physicians will use a “block” or medication that will numb your cervix and help you to relax so that the catheter can easily be inserted through the cervix into your uterus. The doctor will slowly inject dye into the catheter so that it fills the uterine cavity. X-rays are taken as the dye streams into the fallopian tubes and flows into the abdominal cavity.

Once sufficient images are attained, the doctor or radiologist will remove the speculum and you will be asked to rest of the examination table for 20-30 minutes. It isn’t uncommon to experience abdominal cramping or even slight spotting after the procedure.

The physician may speak with you at that time about your results or they may send the information back to the referring physician.

The HSG Results

Your health care provider will sit down with you to explain the results of your HSG test. Normal results will show no blockages in your fallopian tubes and and a uterus that is of natural size and shape. Abnormal results could show one or more blockages in your fallopian tubes, uterine adhesions, or an unusual uterine shape.

What can an HSG identify?

  • Damages or blockages in the fallopian tubes
  • Shape of uterus
  • Uterine fibroids and/or polyps
  • Adhesions / scar tissue
  • Endometriosis

Complications of an HSG

As with any medical or fertility procedure, there can be some complications that arise from the HSG test. These complications are fairly rare but are still risks however.

  • spotting
  • fainting or nausea
  • uterine infection
  • allergy from the iodine dye

What happens after the HSG is over?

Once the HSG is over and your results come back, the doctor can determine your next steps. If your results come back normal, this means that there were no issues detected with your fallopian tubes or uterus. If you are still experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, further testing may be needed to help diagnose your fertility problems.

Clomid and Male Infertility

Clomid and Male Infertility

Clomid and Male Infertility

Clomid is most commonly associated with female fertility treatments but it can also be used in cases of male infertility. When men have a low sperm count or poor motility, Clomid can stimulate the pituitary gland to produce more quality sperm. A study by WHO (World Health Organization) done in the 90′s shows that Clomid can increase the production of sperm.

There is still very limited research on men using Clomid for infertility issues such as low sperm count and poor motility. It’s also thought that if a male has severe sperm issues, such as extremely low sperm count, Clomid will not help.

Before Clomid is prescribed by a fertility specialist, a semen analysis and blood work will be done. Speaking from first hand experience, my urologist advised me to give a few semen samples over the course of a couple of months before prescribing Clomid. He wanted to get a few reading before making any decisions to make sure my counts were accurate. All of my semen analysis came in with a low count and very abnormal morphology as well. You will likely have blood work done at the same time to check your hormone levels. Clomid can help regulate your hormone levels which in turn can improve sperm production.

Side Effects of Clomid on Men

On another personal note, my urologist prescribed Clomid for my diagnosis of low sperm count. I had a sperm count of around 15-19 million per ml which is a little under average. Average sperm count is considered 20 million sperm per ml. Anything below 20 million is considered below average so that’s where I was categoriezed. My urologist prescribed me Clomid for low sperm count once a day for 6 months. Sperm changes and changes in sperm production take around 90 days to happen so he wanted to monitor me for 6 months to see if the Clomid would help improve my sperm count. Each month he would do blood work to check if my hormones were in balance. If there were not, he would adjust my dosage. After a few weeks of taking Clomid, I started to notice the side effects. I was having regular hot flashes, mood swings and blurred vision. I was basically having a geriod (guy period!). Okay…that was my attempt at humor! Don’t laugh too hard.

I stuck with Clomid for about 2 months and had to stop taking it. The side effects weren’t worth it and my wife and I were already going through the IUI process. So, I stopped taking Clomid and the side effects stopped almost immediately. I was finally back to a state of manhood!

A few weeks later we went through our second IUI cycle. After they took my semen sample for the IUI, I was stunned that my sperm count went down to under 10 million per ml. The first IUI it was 19 million. It decreased by almost half of what it was originally! I can’t say for sure if it was or was not the Clomid but it all happened at the same time. I’m also not saying that Clomid is horrible and you should never use it if you’re advised by your doctor to do so. It just wasn’t for me. Everyone reacts differently. I happened to not react well to Clomid.

The Conclusion: Clomid For Male Infertility

There’s still not much evidence behind Clomid working for male infertility. The jury is still out. Although sperm production can be increased by use of Clomid in cases of male infertility, men that took Clomid were no more likely to get their partner pregnant than men who were taking a placebo.

As with anything else fertility related, please see a specialist who can help advise the best path for your individual fertility situation.

Fertility Drugs For Men

Guys – Increase Your Sperm Count, Improve Morphology & Motility – Naturally

Fertility Drugs For Men

Fertility Drugs For Men

Are There Fertility Drugs For Men?

There are not too many similarities between men and woman. That is, until you talk about fertility drugs. Just like woman need the right amount of hormones to ovulate regularly, men also need the right hormones and amount of hormones for optimal fertility and healthy sperm production. Fertility drugs that help women stimulate ovulation also help stimulate sperm production for men. See, we do have something in common!

One thing to keep in mind is that although there are fertility drugs for men, they don’t work as well for men as they do for women. On top them not working as well, the FDA has not approved most fertility drugs for men. This is not to say that a fertility specialist or urologist cannot prescribe fertility drugs for men. They can and do.

There is still not much information on the effects of fertility drugs on men. What has been researched and tested is that fertility drugs in men can help regulate certain hormone imbalances. If your hormones are not producing the correct amounts, this can lead to issues with sperm production. So, fertility specialists treat men for hormonal imbalances with fertility drugs.

Common Fertility Drugs For Men

Clomiphene Citrate
Clomiphene citrate tells the pituitary gland to make luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These two hormones tell the testicles to produce testosterone and promote healthy sperm production. The common brand name for clomiphene citrate is Clomid.

HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
HCG alerts the testes to produce testosterone and sperm. In women, HCG is the hormone produced during pregnancy. This is what is detected in most pregnancy tests.

Should You Be Taking Clomid or HCG?

It all depends. After a careful examination by your fertility specialist or urologist, he or she will determine the best treatment for your situation. If your blood test comes back showing a hormonal imbalance, your doctor might prescribe a fertility drug depending on your diagnosis.

How Long Do I Take Fertility Drugs?

It all depends on your individual cases and diagnosis but a common time frame is anywhere from 3-6 months and sometimes up to a year. For Clomid, one pill is usually taken per day for 3-6 months. In my case, my doctor wanted me on Clomid for 6 months to one year. I had to stop after a month due to the side effects which I’ll talk about in another blog post. If you are on a cycle of HCG, you might have 2-3 injections per week for six months or so.

What Are The Success Rates For Fertility Drugs For Men?

There is no guarantee that fertility drugs will work for men. It’s on a case by case basis. What works for one guy might not work for another. Getting checked out by a fertility specialist is your first step in the process to see if fertility drugs are right for you.

Side Effects of Fertility Drugs For Men

In men, Clomid can cause temporary blurred vision, breast enlargement and tenderness, mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain.

Cost of Fertility Drugs For Men

Prices can vary depending if your insurance covers any portion of the medicine. You should first check your insurance provider. If you have to pay out of pocket expect to pay $100-$200 for a month’s worth of Clomid.

Secondary Infertility

Secondary Infertility: Why Now?

Secondary Infertility: Why Now?

What is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after already successfully conceiving one or more children naturally. Couples assume that if they could do it the first time without any fertility issues, why would it happen the second time around. Unfortunately, infertility can happen the the second time around or the third, or forth, etc… It’s actually pretty common. Secondary infertility can account for up to 60% of infertility cases making it a real issue when trying to conceive again after already conceiving naturally.

One of the major issues with secondary infertility is that couples are less likely to seek help from a fertility specialist…most likely because they think nothing is wrong and it’s just taking more time to get pregnant this time around. Without help, they could be spinning their wheels and using precious time, especially if age is a factor. Often, couples are told to “keep trying” and if secondary infertility is the issue at hand, this can cause stress, heartache and can prolong the entire process of getting pregnant. According to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, 3.3 million American women were experiencing secondary infertility. This is a large enough number to show that it is an issue and should be treated as such.

Why do I have secondary infertility?

There are many reasons why you can have secondary infertility. These reasons are often the same reasons why couples experience primary infertility. See a fertility specialist to try and help diagnose your secondary infertility but some common reasons for secondary infertility include:

  • you or your husband/partner got an infection since your last pregnancy
  • you or your husband/partner gained weight
  • you or your husband/partner changed your diet
  • egg or embryo quality has changed
  • sperm issues are now present – sperm count, morphology, motility, etc…
  • ovulation problems
  • uterine fibroids
  • endometriosis

There are many reasons you can have secondary infertility. Your lifestyle can be a huge factor in your fertility so check first to see if you have made any lifestyle changes that might be affection your fertility.

What can I do for secondary infertility?

It’s always good to see a fertility specialist if you have concerns regarding your fertility. It also goes back to the general rule that if you have been trying to conceive for one year by having regular, unprotected intercourse and have been unsuccessful, you should make an appointment with a fertility specialist.

Other reasons to see a fertility specialist include miscarrying, irregular periods, painful ejaculations and a loss of sex drive. These could be signs of infertility and should be checked out by a specialist.

Secondary infertility causing stress?

Since secondary infertility is not diagnosed as quickly as primary infertility and is often in the back seat, couples can experience increased stress. This can be harmful to your relationship and should be handled just as seriously as the infertility treatments you might need. Keeping a strong relationship between you and your partner will keep your stress levels down so you can focus on the primary task at hand…and that’s trying to get pregnant. You are both in this together so use this life experience to grow your relationship stronger. Your child will also see the stress so maintaining control of the situation is essential.

The good news is that secondary infertility can be treated just like primary infertility. If you suspect you have a fertility problem, get checked out. The sooner you find out the problem, the sooner you can get back on track to having your second, third or forth child.

Increase Sperm Count With These Foods

Increase Your Sperm Count With These Foods

Increase Your Sperm Count With These Foods

Can certain foods increase my sperm count?

Guys, there are a lot of things you can do that are in your control to help improve your sperm count. Your diet should be your first focus. Getting certain foods, vitamins and nutrients can help increase your sperm count and send you to baby making land.

A healthy diet is essential when trying to increase your sperm count and improve your fertility. Your body requires the proper vitamins and minerals and if it’s not getting what it needs, it will not function properly including your reproductive system. Lack of certain nutrients and vitamins can mess with your hormones, make it harder for your body to produce sperm and also increases the chance that your sperm will be abnormal.

So, what can you do to help increase your sperm count and improve your fertility?

  • Take a multivitamin if you are not already doing so. You need all of the right vitamins and minerals for a properly functioning reproductive system.
  • Make sure you are eating natural foods that focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These are fertility boosting foods and all around good foods for your body.
  • Drink. Drink. Drink! No, not whiskey. No, not a case of beer. Drink up on water. It will keep your system hydrated and flushed which is essential for sperm production.
  • Eliminate processed and refined foods. All that good junk food such as candy, potato chips, lunch meats, etc… should be reduced or eliminated if possible. Put fresh stuff if your body, not man made – chemically driven foods.
  • Olive oil is good, right? Use it instead of margarine or other saturated and hydrogenated fats.
  • Eat up on pumpkin seeds. This is a great snack that is high in zinc and essential fatty acids which are a key component to the male reproductive system. So, instead of that afternoon snickers bar, opt for the 1/4 to a 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds to give your reproductive systems a boost.
  • Get plenty of antioxidants that rid your body of toxins that can cause harm to sperm production. Many berries are great sources of antioxidents such as blueberries.

What are some other supplements that can help increase my sperm count?

Adding a new vitamin or supplement to your diet will take a little time before your reproductive system will reap the benefits. Allow 2-4 months before you look for changes in your sperm production.

  • Arginine – Needed to produce sperm. If the sperm count is too low, arginine probably will not provide much help.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – Helps to increases sperm count and motility.
  • Flaxseed oil – This is a great source of essential fatty acids.
  • L-carnitine – Helps create normal sperm function.
  • Selenium – Helps improve sperm motility (upward movement of sperm).
  • Vitamin B-12 – Not getting enough B-12 can reduce sperm motility and sperm count.
  • Vitamin C – Drink your OJ! It’s an antioxidant.
  • Zinc – Zinc promotes a healthy male reproductive systems and helps in sperm production.

As with anything, make sure you seek medical advice from a fertility specialist beforehand. Your doctor will know how to provide the best solutions for your individual fertility situation.

Semen Analysis and Evaluation

Sperm Analysis & Evaluation

Sperm Analysis & Evaluation

Not many guys ever think that they will have to get their little swimmers tested to see how they perform. Male infertility is now a much larger issue than it was years ago. The semen or sperm analysis is one of the first tests for the male to see how fertile he is. Semen analysis terminology can be a bit confusing at first but if you can learn the basics of what’s involved in the semen analysis and evaluation, you can decipher the reports and understand your fertility specialist a bit better.

What is a semen analysis?

Simply put, a semen analysis measures the amount of semen that is produced by a man and determines the quantity and quality of sperm in the semen sample taken.

A semen analysis is usually one of the first tests done since it’s a simple procedure (a little embarrassing the first time but non the less, simple!) and can give a lot of information. Research shows that sperm issues affect more than one-third of the couples who are infertile.

A standard semen analysis will test for the following:

  • Volume. Measures how much semen is in one ejaculation.
  • Liquefaction time. Liquefaction time measures the time it takes for the semen to liquefy.
  • Sperm count. The number of sperm present per milliliter (mL) of semen in one ejaculation.
  • Sperm morphology. This is a measure of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Sperm motility. This is a measure of sperm that can move forward normally.
  • pH. This is a measure of the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen.
  • White blood cell count. White blood cells are not commonly found in semen.
  • Fructose level. Measures the amount of fructose in semen.

Why is the semen analysis done?

There are a few reasons why a semen analysis is done. One of the most common reasons is when there is suspicion that the male has fertility issues. A semen analysis can also be done to check if a vasectomy has been successful or to see if a vasectomy reversal has been successful.

How do I get ready for a semen analysis

Getting ready for a semen analysis is pretty basic. You are usually asked to avoid sexual activity that ends in ejaculation for 2 to 5 days before the semen analysis and evaluation. This is pretty standard practice for a semen analysis and ensures that your semen count is at its highest for the evaluation. On the other hand, it’s not good to go too long without ejaculation, for example 1-2 weeks. This could alter your results as you might have inactive sperm. Stick with the 2-5 day scenario and you should be okay. For some, 2 days is optimal and for others, 5 days is better. I know guys…even going one day is tough but hang in there!

How is the semen analysis done?

The primary purpose of a semen analysis is to get a full and clean sample of a guys sperm. This is most often done in a doctor’s office such as a urologist or a male fertility specialist. You will usually be left in a room where you will be left a semen sample cup as well as a sheet with some information you will have to fill out after you ejaculate into the cup. If you are lucky, you might have a few magazines to browse through! If not, see if your wife or partner can join you to “help” out. Whatever you do, make sure you get the whole ejaculation in the cup that is provided so you can get the best results possible. If you miss the cup, let the doctor or specialist know.

There are also times when you can collect semen at home and bring it in to the doctor in a special container but giving a fresh semen sample at the doctor’s office is recommended. When done at home, you will need to get the semen sample to the doctor within one hour. Consult with your doctor on all of your options.

Semen samples vary from day to day so you might need to give multiple samples over a 3 month period to get accurate readings.

Are there any risks from doing a semen analysis?

No.

What results will I get from the semen analysis?

A semen analysis and evaluation will give you measurements on the amount of semen a man produces, will determine the number of sperm present and also check for the quality of the sperm. Each lab might be a bit different but they usually all seek the same information.

What factors can affect the semen analysis?

There are several factors that can affect the semen analysis results.

  • Some medications including hormone and chemotherapy medications
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Drugs such as cocaine, marijuana
  • Smoking
  • The temperature of the semen sample
  • Radiation, chemicals and other toxins
  • Too long or too short of time between ejaculations
  • Stress and poor lifestyle choices

If your semen analysis and evaluation comes back and shows you have low sperm, low motility or a high percentage of abnormal sperm, additional testing might been needed to help diagnose your infertility. Some of the other tests include testing hormone levels such as testosterone, LH or luteinizing hormone, FSH or follicle-stimulating hormone and prolactin. Several semen analysis and hormone tests might be needed over a 3 month to 1 year period to get the best results.

Just remember, knowledge is power. It’s impossible to know if you have sperm issues unless you get tested. There is no way of just “knowing”. If you have concerns, make an appointment. It’s a simple and painless test that can help get you to the end product quicker…and that end product is pregnancy.

Learn more about sperm morphology

Relieve The Stress From IVF – YOU Come First!

Relieve Stress During IVF

Relieve Stress During IVF

IVF is Stressful

If anyone tells you otherwise, they are fibbing to you! Having gone through the IVF cycle a couple of times with my wife, it’s no surprise that there are good days and there are bad days. What you have to keep in the back of your head is that you are doing IVF for one reason…and that’s to have a baby.

Keep Stress Under Control

It’s very important to try and keep stress under control as much as possible during the IVF process but sometimes things still get a bit overwhelming and IVF gets the best of us. A lot of times, this is out of your control. Emotions peak, things seem so hectic and anxiety can set in. When you have these types of days during your IVF cycle, learn to take time for YOU! Do something you love to do whether it’s take a walk or hike, read a book, cook your favorite meal, spend time with your family and loved ones or go do that spa day that’s been long overdue. Whatever you decide to do, do it for you and you only.

Manage Your IVF Cycle

Those going through and that have gone through cycles of IVF know that IVF becomes a part of your life. It’s an everyday process during the IVF cycle and you have to get into a routine and not let it take over your lifestyle. Learning to manage your IVF cycle can help tremendously. Each and every person will have their own way of managing IVF but try to make it a routine that fits into your current lifestyle. Don’t try to fit our lifestyle into the world of IVF.

Go Do Something Fun!

So, if you are still reading this post, you need to close down your computer and you need to get out and do something for YOU. Go enjoy the day. Do something you love to do that helps you relax. Make that spa appointment. Meet your girlfriends for lunch. Go shopping! Just get out, get your mind off of IVF for awhile and have fun!

IVF and Exercise – Is It Okay?

IVF and Exercise - Is It Okay?

IVF and Exercise - Is It Okay?

Is It Okay To Exercise During IVF?

We all know what it takes to build a nice figure and we all know how hard it is to maintain that nice figure once we have it. So, is it okay to exercise during the IVF process? It seems the jury is still out on this one. There are many reproductive endocrinologists that say it is alright to exercise and there are many that say you should limit your exercise during IVF.

Bases on a study in London, researchers have found that women who continue to exercise while they are trying to conceive using IVF may reduce their chances of conception. The research found that women who regularly exercised for more than four hours per week – and who had done so for one to nine years previously – were 40 per cent less likely to have successful IVF treatment than women who didn’t exercise.

The best thing to do is consult with your RE or fertility specialist to see what their recommendation is. Depending on your fertility and lifestyle situation, your recommendation might be different than someone else. For example, if you are a couple who has severe male factor infertility but no female infertility issues, you might be able to do some exercise where as someone with severe female infertility might want to streer clear of exercising during IVF. Talk with your doctor before you continue any exercise during the IVF process.

Before our first IVF cycle, my wife and I were going to a boot camp four days per week. This was 45 minutes a day of very strenuous activity such as kettlebells and medicine ball exercises. When we consulted with our reproductive endocrinologist, he cautioned that my wife stay away from the boot camp and strenuous exercising. Also, raising your body temperature can have negative affects on fertility and by doing strenuous exercises, your base body temperature is elevated. He suggested that my wife stick to walking and swimming while staying away from activities such as moderate to heavy weight lifting, jogging and core strength training.

IVF is not a cheap fertility procedure so if your doctor cautions you from exercising, then you should probably follow orders. Those of us that have fertility issues, need to follow the rules as closely as we can. We don’t have the luxury of trying naturally so every IVF cycle counts.

Just think, if you can hold off on strenuous exercise until after you have the baby, you can start jogging again, with the jogging stroller and baby, and get back to your normal routine!

Foods To Avoid For Fertility

Foods To Avoid For Fertility

Foods To Avoid For Fertility

Just as essential as putting the right foods in your mouth for fertility, it’s also equally important to avoid some foods while trying to improve fertility. The list below points out some of the more common foods that women trying to increase their fertility and get pregnant should avoid.

Watch Your Seafood and Fish Intake

Fish and seafood in general can carry high amounts of mercury. Mercury has been known to cause serious birth defects so staying away is essential in your efforts to get pregnant. If you are a huge seafood and fish eater, consult with your doctor to see what types of fish and seafood you should be eating. Tuna is most always a no-no.

Stay Away From Processed Foods

Processed foods such as sugar and refined flour provide no nutritional value for you or your baby. When trying to improve your fertility, you need to make sure your body is getting the right amount of calories and from the right sources such as fruits and vegetables. Read, Best Fertility Foods When Trying To Get Pregnant, to see the types of foods you should be focusing on.

Cut Out Caffeine

This means either cut WAY down on coffee, tea and soft drinks or totally cut them out of your diet. Decaf is fine. Caffeine can interfere with conception and can also affect the fetus and cause miscarriage. If you do need your cup of morning joe, drink no more than 2, five ounce cups per day.

No More Alcohol

This should be a no-brainer but you’ll need to cut out alcoholic beverages. When trying to increase your fertility alcohol consumption can cause numerous ovulatory dysfunctions. If you suffer from anovuation, you should completely stay away from alcohol. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can also increase the risk for spontaneous abortion as well as impair fetal growth and development.

Avoid Unpasteurized Cheese

“For years, the federal agency has warned pregnant women to eat hard cheeses only. The reason: Risk of food poisoning from Listeria, a common bug that can be deadly for unborn babies. Soft cheeses and precooked meats such as hot dogs and deli meats often harbor the germ. But now, the FDA says, new data show that Listeria lurks only in unpasteurized feta, Brie, Camembert, queso blanco, queso fresco, blue cheeses, and other soft cheeses. Those made from pasteurized milk are OK.”

In general, avoid any unpasteurized products including cheese, milk or other dairy products to help prevent Listeria poisoning. Here are a few other things you can do to minimize the risk of Listeria poisoning:

  • Keep your fridge temperature to 40F or lower
  • Avoid hot dogs and luncheon meats
  • Stay away from canned refrigerated meat spreads
  • Steer away from refrigerated smoked seafood labeled nova-style, kippered, lox, smoked or jerky
  • Do not drink raw milk or any unpasteurized milk product

Cut Out Fast Foods

Fast foods are very high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and cholesterol which can be a major cause of infertility due to obesity. Your body needs quality foods rich in nutrients so make sure you are feeding it properly.

Avoid Aspartame and Other Artificial Sweeteners

You have to watch these because they are in so many food these days. If you NEED your artificial sweetener for your cup of decaf tea, opt for something with more nutritional value such as Agave Syrup.

Your fertility depends on the foods you eat. Eating healthy is one of the easiest things you can do that is in your power and can play a huge factor in your overall fertility. Get in a routine of eating foods that are good for fertility and good for your body. It will become a habit and you will think nothing of it. You will thank yourself and so will your baby.

Check out Best Fertility Foods When Trying To Get Pregnant

Best Fertility Foods When Trying To Get Pregnant

Fertility Foods

Fertility Foods

How Food Affects Your Fertility

The foods you eat can be a major impact to your fertility. Making sure you are getting the right amount of “fertility foods” is essential to your fertility and your overall health while trying to get pregnant. There are many foods which you should consumer while trying to improve your fertility and there are also many foods that you should avoid which we will discuss tomorrow in a different post. For now, let’s focus on the foods you should be eating for optimal fertility.

Eat these foods when you are trying to boost your fertility.

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
I know this sounds cliche but you need to make sure you are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, not only for fertility but for your general health.

Fruits and vegetables not only deliver a ton of vitamins and minerals, they also abundant antioxidants which help promote a healthy immune system. Try and eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables per day. Get colorful when you buy fruits and veges too. Colorful fruits and vegetables often pack the most nutritional punch.

Drink Plenty Of Fluids – Ideally Water
It’s vital that you keep your body hydrated to improve fertility so drinking enough fluids is on the top of the list. Water can do so much to help our bodies function properly so drinking water throughout the day is very important. When you neglect yourself from enough water your cervical fluid can become sluggish as well as a man’s ejaculate fluid. So, keep your water bottle full and handy at all times!

Add Some High-Fat Dairy To Your Diet
Even though whole milk might not be your first choice, studies show that adding a little high-fat dairy to your diet can improve your fertility, especially ovulation issues. The more low-fat dairy products you eat, the greater your risk of ovulatory infertility.

This doesn’t mean that you should eat a gallon of high-fat ice cream every night! Adding a glass of whole milk will do the job. Remember, moderation is key.

Get Some Protein From Nuts and Vegetables
Replace some of your protein intake from beef, chicken and pork with protein from nuts and vegetables. This can help reduce your chances of ovulatory infertility as well. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and many types of beans can help you get the right types of protein.

A balanced diet when trying to improve your fertility is the primary focus. You don’t want to eat too much or too little when it comes to the nutrients you need for optimal fertility. So, figure out what your current diet is and adjust it so your body gets everything it needs. If you have specific dietary questions, be sure to consult with your doctor. A happy body, is a happy mom, is a happy baby!

Check out Foods To Avoid For Fertility

IVF with ICSI

IVF with ICSI Procedure

IVF with ICSI Procedure

What is ICSI?

ICSI stands for intra cytoplasmic sperm injection. In simple terms, this is when the embryologist injects a single sperm into the middle of the egg. ICSI can increase the chance of getting the eggs to fertilize after they have been retrieved from the female patient. ICSI utilizes special medical devices and equipment including micro-manipulation tools and inverted microscopes that allows the embryologist to pick and capture individual sperm into a ICSI needle which is then injected into the shell of the egg where the sperm is injected into the inner part of the egg which is called cytoplasm. On average, when ICSI is utilized, about 70-85% of the eggs injected with sperm will fertilize. Before ICSI can be done, the female partner must take stimulation medications and go through the egg retrieval process in hopes that numerous eggs will be retrieved for the ICSI procedure.

Am I a good candidate for ICSI?

There is really no right or wrong answer. ICSI can increase the chance of fertilization in many cases but whether you are a good candidate or not is a discussion you should take up with your doctor. Often, ICSI is recommended for couples with severe male factor infertility which includes low sperm count, very poor sperm morphology and that do not want to use donor sperm. Some couples choose to do everything in their power to increase the chances of a successful IVF cycle so they choose to add on ICSI to the IVF procedure. ICSI can also help those who have a low yield of eggs that are retrieved in order to get them fertilized.

Success Rates When Using ICSI

Success rates for ICSI vary depending on each individual situation. Many IVF programs see anywhere from 70-85% of the eggs injected using ICSI become fertilized. Fertilization rate is different from the actual pregnancy rate. Just because an egg is fertilized does not mean it will develop into a viable pregnancy.

Often, pregnancy rates when doing IVF with ICSI show to be higher than IVF without ICSI. Once again, each individual situation varies based on infertility issues for both the male and female, age, skill of the infertility specialist and quality of the eggs. Often, ICSI is recommended for cases of male factor infertility due to the sperm not being able to penetrate and fertilize the egg(s). ICSI is also done when there is an egg factor case such as low ovarian reserves. This can mean there is a low number of eggs, low quality eggs or both low quantity and quality.

What is the cost of ICSI?

The cost of ICSI can vary based on different IVF treatment facilities and location. ICSI pricing can range anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 just for the ICSI portion alone. Once again, this varies from IVF clinic to IVF clinic so ask specific questions when you are at your IVF consultations.

Abnormal Sperm Morphology

Examples of Abnormal Sperm

Examples of Abnormal Sperm

What is Sperm Morphology?

Sperm morphology is one piece of the semen analysis puzzle. Sperm morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm. When sperm morphology is tested, they look for a percentage of sperm that seem to appear normal when viewed under a microscope. Abnormal sperm morphology is one cause of male infertility.

When looking at sperm under the microscope, doctors look for sperm that have an oval head and long tail. This is considered normal. Abnormal sperm can have many defects such as head and tail defects including crooked or double tail. These abnormal sperm have a very difficult time reaching the egg and fertilizing it.

Causes of Sperm Morphology

There are many causes of abnormal sperm morphology including:

  • infections
  • exposure to toxins
  • varicocele veins in the scrotum
  • fever and extreme heat
  • lifestyle
  • drug and alcohol use
  • testicular abnormalities

How Do I Know If I Have Abnormal Sperm?

First steps in finding out if you have sperm morphology issues is getting a semen analysis. If it’s determined that you do have abnormal sperm morphology, it will probably be recommended by your doctor to repeat semen analysis in a month or so to determine any changes and to tell if the sperm abnormalities are temporary or permanent.

What To Do If I Have Abnormal Sperm Morphology

If your analysis does come back showing abnormal sperm morphology, don’t get too worried without letting your doctor do a full examination. There are things that can be done such as intrauterine insemination or IVF. Your doctor will know the best track of fertility treatments for your situation.

Learn more about the semen analysis and evaluation

Simple Tips On Going Through IVF During The Swine Flu Outbreak

Precautions To Take During Swine Flu Outbreak

Precautions To Take During Swine Flu Outbreak

If you are currently going through IVF or just trying to get pregnant in general, then the swine flu outbreak is probably of a little more concern since you should to be in good health to undergo IVF and achieve pregnancy. With this said, there are things that you can do in your power to help reduce the chance of catching the swine flu while going through the IVF process and while trying to get pregnant.

Wash your hands.
Sounds simple but so many of us neglect washing our hands throughout the day. Imagine all of the things we touch throughout the day in general such as door knobs, ATM machines, toilet seats, etc… Make sure those hands are clean and germ free! If you don’t have access to antibacterial soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser.

Get plenty of rest.
Your immune system should be in the best shape as possible while trying to get pregnant and going through IVF so getting enough rest is essential in fighting off enemies such as the swine flu. Make sure you are well rested and if you are not getting enough sleep at night, take a 15 minute power nap when you get worn down to re-energize.

Do your best to keep away from flu breeding grounds such as trains, small rooms and airplanes.
This is not saying confine yourself but be smart about where you decide to venture off too and if you notice someone that doesn’t look well, stay away. This doesn’t meant don’t travel either. It’s just saying to use precaution.

Treat your body to good foods.
Going back to your immune system, take your vitamins and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Keeping your body healthy in a time of possible flu pandemic is very important.

What if you do become ill?
Seek medical attention. If you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant it’s very important to get medical help if you notice any symptoms of the swine flu or symptoms of any sort. Pregnant women are usually considered high risk and will be treated accordingly. Taking action as soon as you notice anything can be vital to a healthy pregnancy.

Basically, just use common sense in a time like this. Being sanitary can work wonders alone. Doing the simple things mentioned above can help keep you out of harms way.

Things That May Affect Male Fertility

Guys – Increase Your Sperm Count, Improve Morphology & Motility – Naturally

Male Infertility

Male Infertility

Over the past several years, there have been huge technical advances in the treatment of infertility. Even the most infertile couples can now become pregnant and give birth due to Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures such as in vitro fertilization. But, even with all of these reproductive technology advancements, male infertility still remains poorly understood.

Male infertility make up about 50% of infertile couples, even with all of the female infertility issues including ovulation disorders, tubal issues and uterine abnormalities. It was always thought that the female was the primary cause of infertility and that is just not the case.

Furthermore, males are much less likely to take a proactive approach to infertility and get evaluated sooner than later. Only when a couple has trouble getting pregnant is when the male undergoes fertility testing. As common as male infertility is, creating more awareness to males is essential in diagnosing infertility before a couple has wasted precious time trying to get pregnant.

Below is a list of factors that could possibly affect male fertility. Sometimes, male infertility is unknown but ruling out certain factors can possibly help you pinpoint the cause of male infertility.

  • scrotal injury
  • alcoholism
  • undescended testicles
  • exposure to extreme heat
  • anabolic steroids
  • erectile disfunction
  • family history of male infertility
  • testicular cancer
  • painful testicular swelling
  • incomplete development
  • loss of sexual interest
  • vasectomy
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • toxic exposure
  • many prescription medicines
  • many over the counter medicines
  • inguinal hernia repair
  • prostate surgery
  • chickenpox or shingles
  • prior infertile sexual relationship
  • serious illness or disease
  • urinary tract infections

There are many more causes of male infertility but being able to eliminate from a list of common factors is a great start. If you ever have concerns that you might have fertility problems, make an appointment with either a urologist or a fertility specialist who specializes in male infertility.

The IVF Cycle – How The Guys Can Take An Active Role!

Male Support Post

It’s not uncommon for the guy to feel a little left out of the mix during the IVF process. Look at the IVF process as a whole. Your wife or partner will be the one who has to go through the most testing, take all of the medications including the dreaded injections and has all of their hormones racing from the medications that she has been taking to prepare for the IVF procedure. This doesn’t even include the actual IVF procedure which includes the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer which is a huge physical, mental and emotional process that takes a toll on your partner. Needless to say, the female goes through a much harder IVF obstacle course than her husband or partner.

So, how do the guys keep in the mix of the whole IVF process? Easy….provide support for your wife or partner during this emotional and physically challenging time. Stress and anxiety levels will be sky high so keeping your mate calm should be your number one focus. It’s natural to have stress during IVF but if you are there to comfort her and keep her mind at ease, the whole process will be much smoother for both of you.

There are many things that you can do to keep her stress level down during the IVF cycle.

  • Clean more so than you usually do. I know that we are not as good at cleaning that our female counterparts, but the effort will speak a thousand words. Just put in an attempt to show your wife you are trying to help relieve some of the everyday stress that she deals with.
  • Cook something for your wife. If you’re like me, and burn spaghetti, you might want to order take out. You can always trick her and put it on nice china once you get home to make it look like you cooked a gourmet meal!
  • Massages are always a favorite. Give your partner a massage to help her relieve stress. I don’t think many of our wives would turn down a nice massage if we offered it.
  • Let her know that you are there if she needs anything. Saying this says a lot. Sometimes they just want to hear that we care. Show her you care by being there for her.
  • Go to the doctor appointments with her. Unless you have work obligations or some other obligation, try and make the fertility clinic appointments with your wife. It shows your support in the whole IVF process and you can also learn a great deal about IVF by attending the appointments.
  • Tell her you love what she’s doing for your family and that you truly appreciate the sacrifice she is taking. IVF is stressful, emotional, physically challenging and mentally challenging. Let your partner know she is doing a wonderful thing.

It’s definitely not rocket science. Just prove to your wife or partner that you are there for whatever she needs. She’s definitely doing the hard part!

Ladies…what has your guy done to support you through the IVF process? Please leave comments! Thank you.

STDs and Infertility

STDs and Infertility

Often, infertility is unexplained. It can sometimes be very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of infertility due to so many factors that can affect fertility. If you do get diagnosed with infertility, make sure you talk with your doctor about possible causes such as common STDs. STDs can harm your body in many ways and can lead to infertility if not treated.

It’s also important to get tested for STDs when you are trying to get pregnant because you do not want to pass any STDs onto your baby or your partner. There are many common STDs that cause infertility but they can be treated with prescription drugs so make sure you are tested for STDs when trying to get pregnant.

If you are going through fertility treatments such as IVF, most IVF clinics will require some STD testing before they start the IVF cycle such as HIV/AIDS, various Hepatitis and possibly Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis.

Below are some common STDs that you will be tested for if you are seeking fertility treatment such as IVF.

HIV
IVF clinics usually always test for HIV if you decide to go through with IVF. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. Sexual contact can include vaginal sex, oral or anal. There are other ways to transmit HIV such as blood transfusions, needle sharing or breast mile but these are less common. Often, HIV symptoms will not be notices for years. The only way to tell if you have HIV is to get tested. Some symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes and glands

Symptoms of HIV can also be similar to many other diseases and illnesses so never assume you have a particular disease or illness until you are properly tested by a professional.

Chlamydia

One of the most common STDs in the U.S. is Chlamydia. Chlamydia affects millions of people each and every year. It’s typically transmitted through vaginal or oral intercourse and is causes by a bacteria in semen and vaginal fluid.

If chlamydia is not treated it can lead to PID, which is pelvic inflammatory disease and epididymitis which can lead to infertility. Most symptoms of Chlamydia are hidden so it’s hard to know if you have it unless you get tested.

If you do happen to have symptoms of Chlamydia, they can include:

  • Painful intercourse for women
  • Painful urination
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis

Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea commonly affects men and women between the ages of 15 and 29, however, anyone can contract the disease. Commonly known as the clap, gonorrhea is caused by bacteria that live in bodily fluids. Gonorrhea is usually contracted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If left untreated, gonorrhea can also lead to fertility problems, including PID and epididymitis. Gonorrhea symptoms typically take between 2 and 10 days to manifest and include:

* nausea and vomiting
* in women, bleeding after sex
* yellow or bloody vaginal discharge
* green, white, or yellow discharge from the penis

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Syphilis
Syphilis is usually contracted through sexual contact with an infected person. If caught early, it is easily treatable, however, if allowed to progress to its later stages, it can result in serious health problems, including blindness and psychological disorders. Men are more likely to contract the disease, though women are also at risk. Syphilis symptoms appear in stages and include:

* sores, called “chancres”
* brown rash
* sore throat and swollen glands

Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused by the HPV virus, and are transmitted through oral, anal, and vaginal sex. It is an extremely common disease, with over 100 different strains. Many genital warts sufferers will exhibit no symptoms. Those that do illustrate symptoms tend to develop cauliflower-shaped warts on their genitals and in the pelvic region. These warts can grow on the:

* vagina
* cervix
* penis
* scrotum
* anus

Herpes
Herpes is a very common STD, and is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner. Herpes is a lifelong disease, but can be managed through medications. Herpes symptoms tend to appear as outbreaks, which may be months or years apart. Symptoms include:

* itching and burning around the genitals and anus
* lesions on the buttocks, thighs, vagina, or penis
* vaginal discharge

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a very serious disease that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, contact with infected blood, or by using infected needles. Hepatitis B can become chronic in some sufferers, leading to severe liver damage. There is now a vaccine available to protect against this disease in those who have never been infected. Many sufferers will exhibit no symptoms while others will experience:

* nausea and vomiting
* fever
* loss of appetite
* abdominal pain

Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is a very common STD and is usually transmitted through unprotected vaginal sex. If left untreated, it can cause fallopian tube inflammation, complicating fertility. Symptoms are often invisible in men, however women commonly produce symptoms. Symptoms of trichomoniasis include:

* yellow-green vaginal discharge
* pain during sexual intercourse
* itchy genitals

Pubic Lice
Sometimes referred to as crabs, pubic lice are actually small, parasitic insects that feed off of human blood. Pubic lice attach to coarse hair all over the body, particularly in the genital region. Pubic lice can be easily transmitted through close contact with an infected person. Symptoms generally include itching and irritation.

For more detailed information on sexually transmitted disease, visit Epigee.com.