Fertility Rates in United States at an All-Time Low

Fertility Rates in United States at an All-Time Low

couple holds hand in black and whiteIf you scroll down your Facebook page right now, it probably seems like just about everyone is pregnant. However, that may not be the case. According to recent data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the United States fertility rate is the lowest ever recorded.

Here’s fertility in the United States by the numbers:

  •  In 1950, the fertility rate was nearly 105 births per 1,000 women
  •  In 1970, the fertility rate was 89 births per 1,000 women
  •  The NCHS preliminary estimates predict the fertility rate to be 61.5 births per 1,000 women for the first quarter of 2017

With all the reproductive technologies available, why are women having less children, or not having children at all? Experts weigh in, and the potential results are frightening.

The Great Recession of 2007

Economic Forces are Family Planning Forces

Everyone knows that starting a family is a great financial responsibility. After the Great Recession of 2007, the United States saw a drop in the fertility rate that many attribute to financial concerns around raising a child. Young adults had difficulty entering the workforce and finding affordable housing, and therefore decided to put off having children in an economically challenging time. This pattern has been present within periods of economic depression, recession, and surplus in the past, and is suggested to have contributed to the post-WWII Baby Boom.

Career Driven Women

With Women Empowered within their Careers, Fertility Rates Drop

We no longer live in a country where women are expected to be stay-at-home mothers and homemakers – and with this, our fertility goals are changing. With women empowered to make decisions regarding their career goals, having children is often put on the back burner while a woman grows with her career. Not to say that women are not having children at all, but many women are having children later until they reach the personal and professional goals they aspire for prior to entering motherhood.

Immigration and Fertility

Is Trump’s America affecting the fertility rate?

President Donald Trump’s suggested immigration policies vastly targeting Hispanics, in addition to existing economic concerns, are projected to discourage fertility among the Hispanic population – a population that has greatly boosted U.S. fertility rates.

What does this Decrease in Fertility Mean for the Future?

In addition to smaller families and more professional women in the workforce, the Population Research Institute predicts significant economic consequences from the dropping U.S. fertility rate. Trump’s crackdown on immigration will cause the replacement rate to drop as the 65-and-older population doubles over the next thirty years. This issue of the growing elder class ensures economic and social pressures in the coming decades. In addition to a growing elder class, economists say that nearly one-third of annual economic growth is driven by new additions to the labor force. With fewer people entering the workforce, we could see a long period of stagnation and depression in the future.

When we say “children are the future” we really mean it! As we evaluate the shifting dynamics in childbearing and family make up in the United States, we must take into account not only the personal goals of couples, but the economic consequences of having children or not.

Fertility Rate in Utah Continues to Drop

Fertility Rate in Utah Continues to Drop

newborn baby in basketUtah is the fastest growing state in the United States. With Americans venturing to Utah for a variety of reasons – an excellent climate and resource-rich industry, just to name a few– it’s surprising to discover that the fertility rate in Utah has continued to drop for eight straight years. Now, Utah’s fertility rate is at a historical low. So what gives?

  •  Fertility in the United States has declined as a whole as women are waiting longer to have children
  • Families are, on average, decreasing in size as women are giving birth to less children
  •  Researchers suggest that these trends in decreasing fertility could be the new normal

Current Fertility Rate in Utah at an All-Time Low

The population of Utah is growing, but not because of more births

Birth rates in Utah peaked right before the great recession of 2007. For the past eight years, however, the fertility rate has followed the national trend and plummeted, leaving the average woman in Utah having 2.29 children in her lifetime. Pamela S. Perlich, Ph.D., the Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Institute, says, “Again, we see people moving to the state, birth keeps falling, fertility rates keep falling.” This interesting demographic dynamic leaves many searching for a reason why.

Cultural Changes Leading Shift in Fertility Rates in the U.S.

Scholars and professionals point to education and economic factors for explanation

Perlich, at a panel discussion held at the Thomas S. Monson Center, introduced that both men and women in Utah are now attending college and attaining high-level degrees and working and serving LDS missions. She sites these ideas as to potential factors in the declining fertility rate. With women especially dedicating more of their lives to education and a professional life than ever before, something’s got to give, and many times that involves delaying building a family. With this, many women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children – a time in life with more professional and economic stability for mothers.

What does this say about the Direction of American Culture?

Lower fertility rates and smaller families could be the new normal in the U.S.

It’s important to note that there is little change in women’s desire to have children or start a family, but the timing of when to start is shifting. Women have more active roles professionally and have been liberated to make decisions where she sees fit, whether that be in starting her family or advancing her career. With this, we can anticipate a shift in public policy to ensure that these families be adequately supported as family age demographic shifts. This brings new definitions to affordable housing, health care, and education to the forefront in the coming years for policymakers to take into account when creating policies to benefit families.

New Study Reveals What Makes Egg Freezing Successful

New Study Reveals What Makes Egg Freezing Successful

baby holding finger

In a 2017 study conducted by Boston University, researchers looked into what factors were most important when it came to the success rates of egg freezing. They also compared different ovarian stimulation techniques, specifically in non-infertile women, by looking at the mature eggs yield in each woman. Take a look at what they found and see if this information helps you on your road to parenthood:

The Study

The study was conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine.  The study excluded women who were undergoing oocyte preservation because of cancer or gonadotoxic therapy and those that had had an embryo transfer within the last year.

5676 cycles were reviewed for the study.  The data was analyzed by unpaired t-tests (and ANOVA (a collection of statistical models used to study the variation among different groups).  The antagonist protocol was used as the baseline, as it is the most commonly used form of ovarian stimulation among reproductive endocrinologists.  They found that the average number of mature oocytes was higher in women who underwent the antagonist protocol.  So what does all this mean?

BMI Matters

Patients with a BMI of 30 or greater had significantly fewer total oocytes (immature egg cells) successfully cryopreserved.   This means having a healthy BMI weight could increase your chances of success.  

If you are struggling with your weight, talk to your doctor about your options.  Even starting off with small changes can get you on the right track for becoming a healthier, happier you!

Age is a Huge Factor

The study found that as the age of the woman undergoing cryopreservation increased, the rate of success decreased. There was a significant drop in the number of total oocytes preserved after the age of 37.

When it comes to fertility, age is the single most important factor. At 30, the chance of a woman naturally conceiving each month is 20%. By age 40, the chance is around 5%. If you are interested in starting a family, discuss your options with your physician and partner sooner rather than later.

Antagonist Stimulation Protocol is Most Effective

When going through fertility treatments, many women will have their ovaries stimulated to trigger the development of eggs. Most reproductive endocrinologists use a GnRH antagonist down-regulation protocol in order to avoid ovarian hyperstimulation in patients. The GnRH antagonist works to decrease peak estradiol levels, thus decreasing the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation. In the oocyte cryopreservation cycles, the antagonist protocol was found to be the most effective.

What is ovarian hyperstimulation?

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs most commonly when women are taking hormone medications, usually before IVF, ovulation induction, or intrauterine insemination.  Occasionally, it can arise spontaneously in women who are not undergoing any kind of fertility treatment.

In the study, there were 31 cases of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, with 4 of them being severe.  Symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome include rapid weight gain, vomiting, severe abdominal pain (due to the ovaries becoming swollen), and shortness of breath.  Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms after receiving injectable medications.

Why freeze your eggs in the first place?

At this point, you might be wondering why people would freeze their eggs and risk OHSS when the success rate isn’t particularly high.  But freezing eggs is a viable choice for women who want to delay childbearing to pursue other goals (whether those are educational, professional, or personal), for women who have been diagnosed with a disease that might impact future fertility, and for women who might object to embryo freezing for personal or religious reasons.

How does cryopreservation work?

The egg is the largest cell in the human body. Unfortunately, it is also quite fragile. When an egg is frozen, the ice crystals that form can potentially destroy the cell. That’s why reproductive endocrinologists now dehydrate the egg and replace the water with an anti-freeze. The eggs in the study were vitrified, meaning they were frozen using a flash-freezing process.

Conclusion

To many women, egg freezing is a viable option. It’s a way to shatter the biological clock and combat fertility problems in the future. If you are considering this step, you should talk to your doctor about your options.

Based on this study, you are most likely to have successful results if you are under 37 and have a BMI of less than 30. By staying educated on all of your options, you are already ahead of the game.

Why Testing Your Fertility Level Goes Way Beyond Counting Eggs

Why Testing Your Fertility Level Goes Way Beyond Counting Eggs

Cardiovascular Health

After having difficulty conceiving for at least a year, it is common practice for your OB-GYN to run some some diagnostic tests to evaluate your fertility—including tests that estimate the number of eggs you have. However, new research suggests the results of such tests may not mean as much as we once thought.

First, you’ll typically get blood tests to look at your levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which are thought to give some insight into your fertility and how many eggs you have. If your results show that you have high FSH and low AMH levels, doctors usually have concluded that you have a low ovarian reserve (a.k.a. egg count) and your fertility chances aren’t great.

However, experts say that one or two tests cannot determine the full picture of your fertility level on their own.

In a recent study published this week in the journal JAMA, researchers collected fertility and conception data for 750 women between April of 2008 and March of 2016. All participants were between the ages of 30 and 44, without a history of infertility, and had been attempting to get pregnant for three months or less.

The researchers collected urine and blood samples from all participants, which revealed participants’ levels of FSH and AMH. Throughout the study, participants had to take pregnancy tests after each missed period. Participants were also required to keep track of their menstrual cycles, intercourse, medications, and pregnancy-test results. The researchers followed up with participants for up to 12 months.

Their results showed that the 84 women with low AMH levels were just as likely to become pregnant over the course of 12 months as the 579 with normal AMH levels. And the 83 participants with high FSH levels didn’t have a significantly different chance of becoming pregnant than the 654 with normal levels. The study’s authors therefore concluded that biomarkers indicating diminished ovarian reserve compared to normal ovarian reserve were not associated with reduced fertility. Nevertheless, even if these tests alone aren’t so helpful in determining your fertility, they’re not entirely worthless.

Your body holds on to your eggs in different stages. Some are held dormant in reserve, a few are recruited to begin maturing every month, and one makes it out in front of the pack to the fallopian tubes (to either be fertilized or give you a period). The main way that doctors assess a woman’s fertility is by evaluating her ovarian reserve, i.e. the ability of her ovaries to provide egg cells that go through this process to be fertilized and result in a healthy pregnancy.

But there’s really no way to directly assess the number or quality of eggs someone has in reserve, so every test doctors have to evaluate ovarian reserve is an indirect measure.

For instance, blood testing, typically done the third day of a woman’s cycle, includes AMH, FSH, and estradiol (a female sex hormone). Levels of FSH and estradiol give insight into the way a woman’s brain and ovaries communicate, and they can provide one indirect measure of her ovarian reserve. Because the cells that support each egg produce AMH, this hormone provides one of the more direct measurements of egg quality and quantity.

A vaginal ultrasound can give more information about a woman’s reproductive organs and whether there are any cysts, fibroids, or polyps, which could mess with her fertility. It can also reveal her antral follicle count, another indirect measure of ovarian reserve.

Doctors may also order a hysterosalpingogram (known as an HSG), an X-ray test during which dye is injected into the fallopian tubes. This allows doctors to look for blockages that could interfere with the fertilization of an egg.

Depending on your doctor, you’ll probably have several or all of these tests to evaluate your fertility level. And, in addition to all of this, your doctor will take your age into account because overall fertility declines with age. Age is still the biggest determining factor, after all. All in all, fertility is complicated and no one test can tell all.

Medical Professionals Provide Options to Preserve Hope of Future Fertility to Young Men Battling Cancer

Medical Professionals Provide Options to Preserve Hope of Future Fertility to Young Men Battling Cancer

doctor points sthethoscope at youAfter being diagnosed with cancer, patients and families often have only one thing on their minds: healing. With support and extraordinary strength, many cancer patients are able to make a full recovery. However, for many men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer (or other cancers directly connected to reproductive organs), future fertility is put at risk through treatment. Luckily, new studies are introducing options to cancer patients to preserve their potential reproductive futures.

Cancer Patients Banking Sperm for Future Fertility

A Vital Family-Building Tool for a Cancer Survivor

Branden Lischner was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 18 years old. His radiation treatments and surgeries were known to cause infertility, so his doctors pressured him to save a sperm sample prior to many of his treatments and procedures. He eventually stopped backing his sperm until his cancer returned in 2013 – when Lischner was married – and he decided to save more samples. These samples ended up being the reason Lischner and his wife were able to start a family four years later.

A healthy man produces between 200 and 500 million sperm per ejaculate, but Lischner only had thirteen to work with when trying to conceive. Only a fraction of the sperm in every ejaculate make it to the uterus, so Lischner and his wife’s chances of getting pregnant were only about one in 100,000. With very few families as lucky to conceive as the Lischners were, researchers have actively been working to create a treatment for men – and even prepubescent boys – who want to preserve sperm and sperm precursor cells to preserve fertility after beating cancer.

Stem-Cell Transplants to Preserve Fertility

Experimental Study Involves the Use of Spermatogonial Stem Cells at Any Point in Life

An experimental procedure at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) Magee’s Women’s Hospital was the hope that Lischner and thousands of men before and after him could be looking for to preserve future fertility. What’s so groundbreaking about the procedure is that it does not require a traditional sperm sampling from ejaculation, meaning even young patients’ parents can lead the decision in preserving future fertility.

The study, known as spermatogonial stem-cell transplantation, was pioneered at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. It was first performed successfully on mice and since has been reproduced on a variety of other animals, including nonhuman primates. The idea behind the study was based on natural sperm production in healthy men – a process that involves the turning of spermatogonial stem cells into functional sperm. Although prepubescent boys cannot create sperm, they already have the stem cells necessary to do so in the future. The scientists suggest that the collection of stem cells can be frozen and returned to the testes after cancer treatment in hope of allowing men the natural ability to produce sperm later in life after beating cancer.

Fertility specialists have recently began collecting and freezing human spermatogonial stem cells with Magee’s Fertility-Preservation Program’s method to use in future human trials. A great amount of research remains, including working to determine how much time can go by until these stem cells are rendered ineffective. What does this mean for young patients currently battling cancer? It means that taking small samples of stem cells could potentially be a solution to fertility issues they could face down the road from treatment.

How Important is a Woman’s Egg Count For Her Fertility?

How Important is a Woman’s Egg Count For Her Fertility?

pregnant woman holds belly with heart

If they choose to do so, women can have follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) blood tests that are then used to determine how many eggs a woman has. Unfortunately, these blood test results are not promising fertility-wise for some women and they lose hope.

But they shouldn’t.

Because hormone level tests can never tell you that you can or cannot get pregnant. There is much more to fertility than a patient’s FSH and AMH levels. While it is true that high FSH, as well as lower AMH levels, are connected to reduced fertility, a new study published in the medical journal JAMA suggests that having high FSH and low AMH levels might not be significantly tied to reduced fertility after all. It was previously thought that some FSH and AMH tests indicated a low ovarian reserve or egg count, but the ability of those biomarkers to predict a woman’s fertility chances are uncertain.

This new medical study’s lead author, Dr. Anne Steiner challenges the clinical assumption that diminished ovarian reserve is a cause for infertility.  She later goes on to say, “Women are partnering and getting married later in life. They are aware of age-related decline in fertility. Women are seeking tests, outside of their age, that inform them about their fertility. Some women may also use such tests to guide their decision-making about freezing eggs.”  However, age is still the best predictor of a woman’s reproductive potential. Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 24. It can take much longer to get pregnant when you hit your late 30s or early 40s, and in those years women have more problems conceiving.

Infertility is typically defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year or longer of unprotected sex, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  About 6% of married women, 15 to 44, are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying in the United States, according to the CDC. Among all women, 15 to 44, about 12% have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

How was the study conducted?

Dr. Anne Steiner’s study involved 750 women, between the ages of 30 and 44, from the area around Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. These women tried to conceive for up to three months between April 2008 and March 2016. The women did not have a history of infertility.  In the study, each woman was given a pregnancy test and was instructed to notify the researchers if they tested positive for pregnancy. During the course of the study, blood and urine samples from the women were tested and analyzed. The women also completed diaries and questionnaires about their pregnancy attempts, medications, results of pregnancy tests and other data.

The results?

Researchers found that, among the women, the probability of conceiving was not any lower for those with low AMH or high FSH levels — even after adjusting the study results for age, body mass index, race, recent contraceptive use, and other factors that might influence fertility.

Women with low AMH levels did not have a significantly different cumulative probability of conceiving by six cycles of trying compared with women with normal levels, according to the study.

Women with high FSH levels did not have a significantly different cumulative probability of conceiving after six cycles compared with women with normal levels, according to the study.

Are AMH and FSH blood tests still useful?

Yes. Dr. Anne Steiner thinks that AMH and FSH blood tests could still predict the number of eggs that could be retrieved for in vitro fertilization or IVF.

If AMH and FSH biomarker levels are not associated with fertility, then what explains reduced fertility among women 40 and older?

Most likely, the quality of their eggs. As a woman ages, the quality of her eggs also decline.  When the egg is fertilized, the resulting embryo is more likely to be aneuploid, or not have the normal number of chromosomes. This is why women are less likely to get pregnant, more likely to miscarry, and more likely to have a baby with Down syndrome, as a woman gets older.

What are the study’s limitations?

Most of the women involved in the study were white and highly educated. More research is needed to determine whether similar study results would emerge in a more diverse group of women. The study also did not include assessments of ovulation, the semen of the women’s male partners, and actual live births.

What is the main take away?

This new study suggests that biomarker tests showing diminished ovarian reserve do not necessarily predict fertility among women without infertility — that being said, fertility decreases with age in all women independent of ovarian reserve testing. Women are born with a finite number of oocytes, or eggs, that continue to undergo atresia, to die, over their lifetime. As time passes, the chance of pregnancy decreases, and the risk of miscarriage increases.  

In the end, age trumps all when it comes to fertility treatment. Ovarian reserve parameters and tests are helpful in predicting dose of medication and ovarian response to fertility treatment. But ovarian reserve in and of itself does not predict chance of conception particularly in a woman without a known history of infertility.

Sperm Banking Is A Useful but Underused Tool in Combating Infertility in Cancer Patients

Sperm Banking Is A Useful but Underused Tool in Combating Infertility in Cancer Patients

doctor

Sperm banking as a means to preserve fertility in cancer patients is a practical and useful approach, according to James L.  Klosky, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in New York. However, according to a recent study, it has been underutilized as a strategy among adolescent male who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Study

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, only about half of young men observed in the study attempted to use sperm banks to preserve their fertility.

The study, which examined 146 at-risk males, their parents, and their medical providers from eight different oncology centers in the United States and Canada, had the participants fill out a self-report questionnaire in the first week of their cancer treatment. The average age of the subjects was 16.49 years, with the ages ranging from 13 to 21.99. Out of those males, 43.8% were successful in their effort to bank sperm, with 53.4% making a collection attempt.  This means that there was an 82% success rate.

The reasons given by patients who did not attempt to bank their sperm included lack of knowledge about sperm banks and a belief that it was simply not necessary.  A few subjects reported that they discussed their options before deciding against using a sperm bank. The study also found that individuals who had experimented with masturbation were more likely to successfully bank their sperm.  Subjects were also more likely to attempt to use a sperm bank if it was recommended by a medical team or parent.

What are the benefits of using a sperm bank?

Sperm banking could also be a viable option for men who do not have cancer, but want to preserve their more youthful sperm for future use.  A 2012 study found that older fathers have an increased risk of passing on mutations that could lead to developmental problems in their children, such as schizophrenia and autism.

It is clear from this study that sperm banking can be a useful practice, but many people are not educated on exactly how it works or how beneficial it can be.  This practice is particularly useful for young men who have been diagnosed with cancer that could negatively impact their fertility in their later life.  As acceptance of alternative fertility methods increases, hopefully more men will look to sperm banks as a viable option for preserving fertility and healthy sperm.

 

Kim and Khloe Kardashian Help to Destigmatize Infertility Treatments

Kim and Khloe Kardashian Help to Destigmatize Infertility Treatments

pregnant woman holds bellyWe’ve all watched the Kardashians’ rise to fame on television, tabloids, and in popular culture. As savvy businesswomen, the Kardashians have created an empire – and in this, a platform to discuss many salient lifestyle issues. With news that three Kardashian sisters are expecting, new discourse has arisen around a woman’s family planning and fertility options.

Here’s the scoop on the expecting Kardashians:

  •  Kylie Jenner is expecting her first child this spring
  • Kim Kardashian-West is expecting her third child via surrogate
  • Khloe Kardashian is expecting her first child after questions of infertility

Kim’s Journey to Motherhood

Making Decisions for her Children’s Health and her Own

Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West currently have two children – North and Saint West – who were born via natural pregnancies. Kim faced serious health risks to her and her children during pregnancy. While pregnant with North, Kim suffered from preeclampsia and had to give birth six weeks early. After giving birth, Kim learned she had developed placenta accrete (where the placenta grew into her uterine wall) and that the placenta accrete returned when pregnant with her son, causing Saint to be born six weeks early as well.

Kim Looks to Surrogacy for Child #3

A Liberating Decision to Ensure the Health of Her Growing Family

Kim opened up about her experience with repairing her uterus after developing placenta accrete during pregnancy in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. After revealing that she is unable to have more children herself, Kim and Kanye discussed the option of using a surrogate. Though currently not confirmed by Kim herself, Kim’s potential decision to use a surrogate could destigmatize mothers looking for a nontraditional route to motherhood.

Khloe Kardashian’s Road to Pregnancy

A Public View of Fearing Infertility

Khloe Kardashian and boyfriend Tristan Thompson are rumored to be expecting their first child after a very public fertility scare. Khloe visited a fertility specialist on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians for a reproductive evaluation last April, and learned that her follicle counts were slightly low for a woman her age. After learning later in the episode that her low follicle count was likely nothing to be concerned about, Khloe’s fertility scare brought to light the reality that nearly 6.1 million women in the United States face.

We’ve watched the Kardashian women suffer heartbreak, reach their greatest goals in life, and rise as some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. This type of publicity, though often receiving mixed reviews from the public, creates a platform for these powerful women to bring important issues to the table. Although we cannot always relate to the Kardashians’ lavish lifestyle, many women relate to their struggles with struggles with fertility and learn from them that if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Future Fertility Tests may be Overused, Ineffective

Future Fertility Tests may be Overused, Ineffective

woman talks to doctor about pregnancy and fertilityWith fertility treatments on the rise for a variety of reasons, many women have growing concerns about their biological clocks running out before they have a chance to start a family. Many of these women seek out diagnostic tests that estimate the number of eggs a woman has left, but a new study shows that these tests are not reliable in predicting a woman’s fertility at all.

Here’s what we know:

  • Women are becoming more proactive in family planning and want to be sure that they take the right steps =in family planning early on
  • For women concerned with their fertility, antimullerian hormone tests (AMH) and follicle-stimulating hormone tests (FSH) are growing in popularity even though they are not excellent measures of a woman’s fertility
  •  The best way to see if you are fertile – trying to get pregnant!

Antimullerian Hormone and Follicle-Stimulating Tests

Are these Tests Effective in Determining a Woman’s Fertility?

A blood test, for antimullerian hormone (AMH), and a urine test, for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – that determine how many eggs a woman has left – have become more and more popular with women hoping to gain insight on when to have children or pursue fertility treatments. These tests have been marketed to women looking to take charge of their family planning on their biological clocks, and have even been used by women who have not yet tried to conceive. However, new studies emerge saying that these tests have no indication on how likely a woman is to become pregnant.

AMH and FSH Predicting Fertility

A Study by the Journal of the American Medical Association Says These Tests are Not Good Indicators of Fertility

Researchers looking to test the accuracy of AMH and FSH tests in predicting fertility collected urine and blood sample from women who were just beginning in their attempts to conceive. The final test followed 750 women using AMH and FSH to predict fertility and indicated that women who were reported to have fewer eggs had no more difficulty in getting pregnant than women with a normal amount of eggs. Therefore, the number of eggs a woman has is not a great indication of how fertile she is after all.

Scientists Weigh In

What’s Next for AMH, FSH, and Women Looking to Conceive?

Reproductive endocrinologist and founder of the Center for Human Reproduction in New York City, Norbert Gleicher, says that these results should not be applied to women facing infertility because the women in the study were only seeking pregnancy and not infertility treatment. Since AMH is typically done prior to treatments like egg freezing, it is normally a preliminary study for infertile women exploring their options. Although AMH cannot currently predict fertility, it does give information on changing fertility levels, which may be informative for women looking to get pregnant later.

For healthy, fertile women, AMH and FSH probably aren’t your best bet in exploring your fertility. The best (and often most enjoyable) way to conceive is to just try! If you still find you are struggling to get pregnant, then it is time to take the steps in considering infertility treatments and contact your doctor.

 

The Effect of Obesity on Fertility

The Effect of Obesity on Fertility

pants being stretched

While many women are aware of the substantial impact age has on fertility, you might not realize the negative influence that excess weight can have on your reproductive health. Take a look at some of the risks associated with obesity and reproduction.

Decreased Likelihood of Conception

Obesity has a large impact on a woman’s ability to conceive. The chance of a young woman with a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2 getting pregnant is as likely as a woman aged 35 or older successfully conceiving. There is a 3% drop in monthly fecundability, or the probability of a woman getting pregnant each month, for each BMI unit above 25 kg/m2.

Additionally, obesity can have an effect on male fertility.  According to a study published by Dr. Rajeshwari Sundaram at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, couples in which both partners had a BMI of at least 35 kg/m2 had greater difficulty getting pregnant than couples with BMIs of 25 kg/m2 or lower. Maintaining a healthy BMI weight is crucial to increasing your chance of conceiving.

Increased Health Risks

Obesity can be harmful in pregnant women.  According to a 2015 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Obesity in Pregnancy Practice bulletin, excess weight can cause spontaneous abortion, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.  Obesity during pregnancy can also be dangerous for the fetus as well.  The risk of stillbirth is increased by 30% for women with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 to 34.9 kg/m2, compared to women with normal values.  The risk doubles for women with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher.  Maternal obesity also increases the child’s risk of congenital anomalies, metabolic syndrome, and childhood obesity.

Will Losing Weight Help Get Me Pregnant?

While losing weight will certainly improve the health of men and women who struggle with obesity, studies have been inconclusive about the effect of weight loss on a woman’s fertility. In one study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there was no benefit found from preconception weight loss on the number live births. More infants were born to overweight women who received an infertility treatment (the medication clomiphene) than women who underwent a six-month weight loss before receiving clomiphene. However, the women in this study only reported modest weight loss, which could indicate that greater weight loss is required to see positive results on reproductive health.

While the results of studies on obesity and reproductive health have been mixed, it is clear that excessive weight can increase your risk of health problems during pregnancy. Your health should be your top priority. Your body (and your future baby!) will thank you.