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So you recently decided that you’re ready to start a family. Congrats! However, you might realize that getting pregnant is not as easy as it seems. If you just started trying to conceive, here are ten helpful tips that could jumpstart the process.
- Okay, so stopping the pill is common sense. If you never took the pill in the first place, skip this step. If you took the pill regularly for even a couple months, your body still may need time to adjust. If you used the pill for less than a year, try three months. If more, try six months.
- Figure out when your ovulation cycle is to maximize efficiency. Between 33 and 66 percent of women under 35 who track their fertility windows are able to conceive within their first month of trying. Some ways to find your fertility window include fertility monitors, ovulation predictor kits, charting or by using all three. Calendar apps might be something you want to try too.
- So you’re off the pill and having ovulation-aware sex for three months… What if it’s your guy? Try not to be accusatory. Simply ask if he could get a sperm analysis. Male factors are responsible for almost half of all fertility issues.
- Try to eat fertility-boosting foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, soy foods and olive oil. Even better, try to avoid processed foods in general. It’s best to avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oil–the FDA just banned them for a reason!
- Prenatal vitamins are specially made vitamins to increase your fertility. They contain folic acid, vitamin B6 and DHA, and other essential vitamins that optimize your body for fertilization and mother-ready health. But guessing which over-the-counter vitamin would be best for you could be confusing, so consult your healthcare provider if possible.
- No, having sex every day doesn’t lower sperm count. You do you. Also, maybe try Pre-Seed. It’s specially made for couples trying to conceive. pH is balanced and isotonic so that it mimics a woman’s fertile fluids and the pH of sperm, so it’s like they’re in their natural habitat.
- No caffeine. Non-smoking women who drink 2 to 5 cups of coffee a day lower their fertility by 12 percent. It’s even worse for guys–5 drinks a day will cut his fertility in half. Instead of caffeinated beverages, consider a full eight hours of sleep. Sleep not only charges you with energy, but could also enhance your mood and health.
- Soak up the sun for 15 to 30 minutes in the afternoon without sunscreen. Sunlight causes your skin to generate vitamin D, which boosts fertility. Plus, it’ll help you sleep (sorry, caffeine).
- Get an effective first response kit so that when you finally think you’ve done it, you’ll know as soon as possible. The sooner you know you’re pregnant, the sooner you could make healthy choices for you and your baby.
Ready for another? Want to wait? Here is what you need to know
Having a baby is a wonderful thing, but how does your fertility change afterwards? Or does it not change at all? Whether you plan on extending your family or want to wait, you need to take these facts into consideration. As we all know, fertility can be a tricky subject, so let’s be informed. That way you can make the best choice for you!
Fertility can resume one month after giving birth
If you’re not planning on having another child anytime soon, you’re probably going to need contraception sooner than you thought. On the other hand, if you do want another baby, you can do whatever is best for your situation. Keep in mind other factors like breastfeeding and age. The older you are, the more difficult it’ll be fertility-wise. Be sure you’re informed about what that might mean for you. Remember: everyone is different.
Breastfeeding can stall fertility…kinda.
According to Dr. Alan Copperman, Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, breastfeeding may temporarily decrease the chance of conceiving. That said, it is still possible to become pregnant while breastfeeding. The reason it may be stalled is that, while you’re breastfeeding, your body releases a hormone called prolactin which inhibits secretion of other hormones necessary for ovulation and fertility. How long it stalls your fertility depends on the overall health and habits of the mother.
If you’re planning for another child, just make sure your body and mental health are in check. Whatever choice you make, be sure you’re aware of all of your options and consult your OB GYN or fertility specialist.
Have you seen the viral marketing campaign #SaytheFWord around recently and wondered what’s going on? Even if you haven’t, it’s a new and important part of the fertility movement, not some weird way to encourage people to curse more.
Celmatix, which is a biotech company that focuses on women’s health, recently ran an extensive survey about fertility. They found some alarming trends in how women feel scared to talk about the subject of fertility with their friends and even sometimes with their partners. In fact, they found that one in five women who have a miscarriage don’t even tell their partners about it!
Also, 75% of women who are considering or even actively involved in fertility procedures don’t tell their friends about it.
Things like this contribute to the culture of shame around fertility and make it even more difficult for women who are undergoing fertility issues or who are unsure about other parts of their journey to get the help they need. That’s why viral campaigns like #SaytheFWord are so important.
They give women a chance to speak out about the issues that are impacting their lives, even when they don’t always have words for how difficult it can be. So get out there and talk about your journey if you feel comfortable with it, or at least take a moment to appreciate how much the social internet is letting us share all of the difficulties and joys that were often kept quiet and private before!
You can also take Celmatix’s pledge here. If you do, they donate $1 (up to $25,000) to the charity of your choice! Not only is Celmatix looking out for women’s reproductive health, they’re also helping make the world a better place one small step at time.
For many years, transgender people were forced to accept the potential loss of their fertility after transitioning. However, thanks to recent advancements in assisted reproductive technology, transgender patients may be able to preserve their fertility early on in their treatments.
- Fertility counseling for transgender patients
- Consequences of preserving sperm and eggs before transitioning
- Future advances in fertility technology
Fertility counseling for transgender patients
Several years ago, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital began incorporating discussions regarding fertility and family planning into counseling sessions for transgender and gender nonconforming youth. The hospital drew its counseling strategies from its fertility preservation program for pediatric cancer patients. However, out of 105 transgender adolescents who went to Lurie Children’s Hospital, only 13 chose to see a fertility specialist for a formal consultation. Out of those 13, only five had their sperm or eggs frozen.
The British Fertility Society recommends that medical providers discuss fertility treatment with patients transitioning from female to male. When appropriate, they should have their eggs or ovarian tissued as early as possible in treatment. The ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommended that all patients should be offered options for fertility preservations before transitioning.
Consequences of preserving sperm and eggs before transitioning
Looking into fertility treatments a decade or more before actually conceiving can be difficult for transgender patients even with the help of counseling. Fertility procedures and storage fees can cost thousands of dollars and are not usually covered by insurance. The invasive and intimate aspects of the procedure in which the sperm and eggs are retrieved can magnify patients’ feelings of gender dysophoria. This is a condition in which a person is in conflict with his or her physically assigned gender and that with which he or she identifies with.
Kacey Cabanban, a junior at Michigan State University, recalled that retrieving his eggs was one of the most uncomfortable moments of his life. However, now that they are no longer inside him, he only sees them as a tool for reproduction.
Future advances in fertility technology
Some transgender youths will freeze tissue from their ovaries or testes for later use. This method is still considered experimental. Scientists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine recently created 3-D printed bioprosthetic ovaries that allow mice to ovulate, give birth, and nurse their offspring. The original research goal is to restore fertility in cancer survivors, but this too could benefit transgender patients in the future.
Of course, it is important to remember that there are different forms available to patients such as adoption and surrogacy. Biological parenthood is just one option.
For many women, the journey of trying to become pregnant can be one of the most nerve-wracking and frustrating experiences of your life.
If you’ve been struggling to conceive a baby or you’re thinking about starting the process, keep reading. We’re here with Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D to give you some empowering tips for conceiving.
1. Get off the pill a decent amount of time before trying to conceive.
The longer you’ve been off birth control, the greater chance you have of getting pregnant. A good rule of thumb is to stop taking it for three months if you’ve been on it for less than a year, and six months if you’ve been on it for over a year.
2. Track your ovulation cycle.
Figuring out your fertile window is super beneficial. About two-thirds of women under 35 who are aware of their five-day window have success in their first month of trying to have a baby. Try checking out different trackers, monitors, or ovulation predictor kits.
3. Have your male partner get a sperm analysis.
The sperm factor of conceiving comprises nearly half of all fertility issues, so it could be worth checking out.
4. Adjust your diet.
Incorporating fertility-boosting foods into your diet such as veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish, soy foods, and olive oil could help you see results. Take care of your body and avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated oil.
5. Take vitamins.
Many studies have proven that taking prenatal vitamins with crucial nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B6, and omega 3 fatty acids increase your chances of achieving pregnancy. They are also linked to developing better embryos in IVF, and decreasing the risk of birth defects in babies.
6. Cut caffeine.
Consuming 2-5 cups of coffee a day drops your fertility by 12 percent! Instead of relying on caffeine to give you energy throughout the day, make sure you get a full eight hours of sleep instead. This will enhance your mood and your health.
7. Soak up sunshine
Sunlight causes your body to generate vitamin D, which has been linked to fertility. Soaking up the rays for just 15 minutes a day could do wonders for you.
8. If you think you’re pregnant, don’t wait to take a test.
The earlier you know you’re having a baby the better, so don’t hesitate to take a test. Once you know, you can begin making the healthiest pregnancy choices possible for yourself and your future baby.
Why is this an issue?
A lot of cancers can affect fertility, and if they don’t then treatments can. A lot of doctors recommend that men save their sperm quickly after they learn they have cancer just in case. Now a new program is looking to see if they can help men who did not save a sample before their battle with cancer. The Fertility-Preservation Program at Magee Women’s Hospital is looking into options for men who do not have high sperm counts after beginning treatment.
So, what is it?
The process is called spermatogonial stem-cell transplantation, and it works by taking a sample of stem cells and freezing them, then returning them to the testes. While radiation and chemotherapy do affect the stem cells before they become sperm, once they are in the testes after therapy sperm seems to function normally. Putting stem cells in helps spermatogonial stem cells become sperm.
The tests on humans started in 2011, and while researchers still have a lot of work to do, they’re confident that this new method will be able to help a lot of people.
Should I do it?
It really depends. It’s a great idea for those who definitely want children or those still on the fence, but if you’ve decided to live your life childfree, there’s no real point. Some oncologists are also worried about the necessity of the procedure–they’d rather focus on life-saving work, as if the patient isn’t alive, there’s no point to preserving their fertility. However, not all patients have fatal cancer, and sometimes the procedure can be done at the same time as a scheduled oncology surgery.
So if you think that this might be the method for you, make sure to talk to your doctor and see what they think. After all, when it comes to fertility it’s better to be safe than sorry, but it shouldn’t come at the risk of your health or life.
We all know IVF costs thousands of dollars, but before you go there make sure you’ve looked at all your options.
Many assume that women who need fertility treatments will automatically need IVF. Fortunately, that is not the case.
There are other alternatives before you need to bring out the big bucks:
- Ovulation induction
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- Reproductive Surgery
This basically means timed intercourse. Women have ovulation periods when they are most fertile. However, without ovulation, pregnancy isn’t possible. Luckily there are meds that release the hormones necessary to get your body into that state. The most common one is called Clomid. Clomid typically costs less than 25 dollars, and is one of the safest and most researched methods that deal with infertility.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
This is also known as artificial insemination. If you’re having trouble conceiving due to male factor infertility or unknown causes, this would be a good option for you. IUI is when sperm is inserted directly into the uterus via a catheter. Typically the couple is taking fertility meds at this point, which could cause more than one egg to mature. So it is recommended that you get an ultrasonography, a procedure where medical providers can view the ovaries, to reduce the risk of multiple births. This procedure can vary from 1-2,000 dollars, depending on the fertility center and insurance.
This kind of surgery is used to correct anatomical abnormalities for both men and women. It is usually done with conditions like endometriosis or for men with a vasectomy. For women with endometriosis, the success rate for this option is fairly low. The cost can range between 1,700 to 5,000. It all depends on the complexity of the issue you are addressing.
Be sure to look at the “cheaper” options before resorting to IVF. Having a baby can be hard, so let’s try to be as easy on your wallet as possible.
Australian study concludes that we are still too uninformed
An Australian study reports that women with chronic diseases like cystic fibrosis receive inadequate information about fertility. A key finding was that women with chronic illnesses were more likely to report younger pregnancies, unintended pregnancies, and abortions. A lot of women with chronic diseases assume that their condition prevents them from having children. Therefore, a lot of them do not use contraception and have unwanted pregnancies as a result.
This mentality also works its way into women not meeting with a fertility specialist to discuss tools to manage their fertility. Dr. Sara Horton says “It is likely that women’s consultations with a healthcare provider are focused on managing or treating their disease and, therefore, women with a chronic illness may not be receiving pertinent or timely advice about managing their fertility.”
Horton also believes that women with chronic conditions need fertility information that relates to their specific condition. It is essential to have all of the facts about your body before trying to get pregnant.
Jamaican Folklore has some interesting things to say about fertility
Before the discovery of science and modern medicine, our ancestors had a different way of interpreting our medical conditions. Pregnancy was definitely not excluded. Jamaica has some superstitious things to say about fertility and pregnancy, and hey, don’t think it’s bogus because who knows what may happen.
Lizard Pregnancy Test
According to folklore, a true sign of pregnancy is if a lizard jumps on you. As silly as it sounds, some people in rural Jamaica still hold to this belief.
If you dream about fish, that means either you or someone you know is about to be pregnant. According to Renee Lewis, her grandmother warned her that she “dream sea fish” and Renee got pregnant three weeks later.
Dirt and Ashes
We all know that pregnant women get weird cravings. Have you ever heard someone craving dirt and ashes? If you’re all of a sudden craving those things, you may have a bun in the oven.
These also extend to the baby’s personality…
Climbing Over Fences
Some believe that if a pregnant woman climbs over a fence, the baby will turn out to be a thief.
Sorry Instagram moms. According to legend, if a woman takes photos of herself while pregnant, her child’s eyes may be crossed when he/she is born. Beware!
Learning more about cultures before modern medicine gives you a little taste of what life was like and teaches you something new.
Think you might be experiencing early menopause, or just want to be prepared for when the first hot flash strikes you? We’re here with Jolene Brighten, N. D. to talk about symptoms, prevention, and treatment for menopause.
When is menopause supposed to start?
Menopause begins when your menstrual cycle has been absent for at least a year. Your ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone – two hormones needed for fertility.
Typically, this stage launches itself for most women when they’re in their mid to late 40s. The average age is 51.
What are the symptoms of early menopause?
Although menopause usually begins in the late 40s, it can start much earlier. The first red flag of early menopause includes irregular periods, followed by low energy levels and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms can be vast and early menopause can make them feel even more intense. Women report experiencing
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Having to urinate often
- Sexual dysfunction
- Joint pain
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
What causes early menopause?
According to Jolene, “anything that compromises your estrogen production or damages your ovaries could result in early menopause.” Her list of potential triggers includes
- Autoimmune disorders
- Adrenal Insufficiency
- Infections including mumps and tuberculosis
- Enzyme deficiencies
- Metabolic syndromes
- Early menarche (getting your first period before you turn 11)
- Genetics (if your mom had early menopause, you probably will too)
- Radiation and chemotherapy (these can be reversible and your ovary may resume ovulation and menstruation after one year of amenorrhea)
What can be done about early menopause?
If you believe you are going through menopause, visit your doctor! Find a specialist and work on creating a protocol together that’s right for you.
You may undergo a variety of different treatments to restore hormonal balance and reduce the miserable symptoms of menopause. However, your plan can be as simple as eliminating processed foods from your diet.
Jolene created a hormone reset program to help women kick-start their journeys to breaking free from unwanted symptoms. She also found these strategies to be effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms.
- Find a healthy weight and stick to it
- Consume a healthy diet
- Eat estrogen-replenishing foods
- Find an exercise plan and stick to it
- Manage stress
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine
- Drink plenty of water
- Keep your brain active
Along with following these methods, Jolene suggests visiting a therapist may also be helpful in working through the physical and mental changes menopause can cause.
Menopause can be scary, but you don’t have to suffer through hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. Consult with a specialist to get yourself the care you deserve!