Inspiration & Expert Advice on What Matters Most

Posts Tagged ‘fertility’

National Infertility Awareness Week: A Message of Hope

In Family, Giving Back=Paying It Forward, Health, Lifestyle, motherhood, News, Relationships, wellness on April 25, 2019 at 11:05

By Laura Sgroi

When I was 32, my already short cycle became even shorter out of nowhere. I had always experienced 21-day cycles with heavy bleeding at the beginning. I got my period at age nine, when a visit to the endocrinologist confirmed that my body was about three years ahead of my actual age. The solution back then? Medroxyprogesterone to help balance out the estrogen. But now I was bleeding just two weeks after my last period. I’d never experience a cycle this short. What was going on?

Dr. E, my gynecologist, did an ultrasound to determine if I had PCOS[1]. After finding nothing, she sent me home with a million-times-photocopied chart to track my cycle. That didn’t help. A few months later, I went to my trustworthy and dedicated endocrinologist, Dr. B, and after telling her the story, she couldn’t believe my gyn had not ordered lab tests to check my hormone levels. I couldn’t believe that either. Dr. B ordered new lab work, which showed that the abnormal bleeding was caused by low progesterone and high estrogen, a condition called estrogen dominance. She told me it was “easy to fix” with synthetic hormone pills, the same pills prescribed decades earlier by my doctor in Santo Domingo.

Thanks. But no, thanks.

It kept happening every other month–I thought maybe one ovary was having the problem. It had been a year of suffering with this hormonal balance.

I spent a year with those first two doctors and my own research, before finally deciding to take a more natural approach. A Naturopathic way to be clear, with an integrative gynecologist who prescribed bio-identical hormones and advertised in “Natural Awakenings,” the free magazine at the entrance to Whole Foods, which I’m not proud to say I pretty much blindly trust. I knew this approach would take longer, and I didn’t know if it would work, but somewhere inside me I felt that it was the right choice and that I had time. I was not necessarily trying to get pregnant anytime soon.

I went to pick up my medical records at Dr. E’s office, my old gyn. The girl behind the front desk window knew I was about to change doctors.

“Where are you going?” she whispered.

“I’m going to Dr. M.,” I told her, “because they use bio-identical hormones and I want to fix my hormones so I can start trying to have a baby.”

“She won’t be able to help you, even if they treat you with bio-identical hormones. Go to this place,” she said, handing me a business card from a center for fertility and genetics.

I thanked her, hugged her, and walked to my car in tears. As soon as I had the breath to speak, I called and booked the soonest appointment available. Their lead doctor didn’t have any openings for weeks, but they offered me their female doctor, Dr. K.

The Coral Gables office was upscale and modern–white, silver, accented with orchids. Dr.K was beautiful and extremely sweet. She asked me about my background, my marriage, my career, my blog, my health history, and did an ultrasound before ordering dozens of tests. “Everything looks good,” she said in her thick Turkish accent, rubbing the ultrasound wand over my pelvis with the help of cold gel. “Except that for your age, I don’t see enough eggs.”

That didn’t worry me much at the moment. I went for all the tests and came back to see her again. My Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) was 0.03 (a normal reading for a woman ten years older than me) and my Follicle-Stimulating hormone (FSH) was 31 (Panic high is 21). Dr. K’s suspicions were right: I had diminished ovarian reserve. Ultra low progesterone and high estrogen were another issue, just as the first labs results showed. My adrenals were not functioning well either. My husband Claudio had also been tested and his results showed low sperm morphology as a large percentage of men in their thirties. Luckily for them, men renew their sperm every ninety days, therefore with some lifestyle adjustments (multi-vitamin, smoking/drinking less, they can  improve their fertility.

I broke into tears. All the reasons why I had delayed pregnancy started rushing through my head: uncertainty and lack of stability in my marriage, the cost of health insurance, working like crazy to save up enough money, stepping on a tack the night before leaving Nicaragua, Zika (trying to conceive in the times of Zika sounds like the title of a Gabriel García Márquez novel). Sobbing, I wondered if I would ever be able to get pregnant.

Dr. K handed me a box of Kleenex. “I will hold your hand until you get pregnant,” she said. It was as if she’d heard the question in my mind. She wrote on her small yellow pad, explaining the different options available: First, two months of timed intercourse. If that didn’t work, we should try IUI, and our last option would be egg donors. IVF wouldn’t be a successful option for me.

She asked the nurse to lead me to a private room where I could cry alone until I felt better. She ordered some tests for my husband, Claudio, and then said, “You should be writing about this.”

I went home devastated. Once again, I had to take charge of my health, my healing and ultimately, my fertility. I knew every month was an opportunity and I only needed one egg. I started Googling everything I could do to fight those results. I found invaluable tips and resources specific to my situation: probiotics, acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, supplements, all kinds of foods and seeding for fertility. A dear friend recommended health coach Beth Hill. I contacted her and we agreed to trade coaching practice hours as we were both finishing our coaching programs. Beth took the time to go over my case, and gave me helpful advice ranging from nutrition tips to relaxation techniques. She inspired me to try new foods and helped me become more mindful about grocery shopping, meal planning, and time management. Her flexibility and understanding made our sessions possible, despite the challenges of my ever-changing schedule. Our work continued during a five-country tour with a rock band in South America when I was sleep deprived, out of my routine, and attempting to adapt my fertility diet to what I could find at Latin American markets and restaurants. I always carried a suitcase full of supplements.

The most amazing thing happened. Four months after we started our program, with the aid of timed-intercourse, faith and divine mercy, I was able to conceive naturally. As my prenatal yoga teacher would say: “My baby and I are happy, healthy and whole.” I even got the bonus of an extremely “fast and easy” childbirth. Thank God.

Photo by: Isis Santana Photography

With the thorough diagnosis of Dr. K, the help and guidance of my health and wellness coach Beth, and a positive mindset, I embarked on a mindful journey to health–and received the gift of a lifetime. As a message of hope, no matter where you are in your health or fertility journey, please know that anything is possible. My baby and I are living proof.


[1] Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Note: This post is an adapted excerpt from our upcoming book, ‘Now That I Am in My Thirties’. I would appreciate your constructive feedback. Stay tuned for the launch!

The 6 Biggest Health Mistakes Women Make in Their 30s

In Great Articles Found Doing Research, Health, Lifestyle, News, wellness on August 29, 2015 at 10:00

By Joan Raymond | TODAY Show

For many women, turning 30 marks the real beginning of adulthood. You’re established in a career, and maybe in a relationship. You might be thinking about starting a family. You feel pretty good about yourself, and all the health indiscretions of your 20s — remember those all-night parties and how you still managed to make it into work the next day? — haven’t taken much of a health toll.

Let’s face it, ages 30 to 39 are prime time. “All in all, the thirties are a very positive time for health, but it’s also the time you have to start developing excellent habits as an investment in the future,” says Dr. Debra DeJoseph, medical director of The Women’s Health Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.

In other words, the healthy lifestyle habits you ignore now could set the stage for a less than healthy life in your 40s and beyond.

Here are the six biggest health mistakes to avoid in your 30s.

1. You don’t think about your muscle mass.

muscle-mass-lifting-weights-today-stock-tease-150814_681d6eb76c92415a2a3e5008b6c2b9ae.today-inline-large

Getty Images Stock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Although aerobic exercise is “arguably the single best thing you can do for your cardiovascular health,” and some studies show it may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and some forms of cancer, women in their thirties should make time for strength training, too, says internist Dr. Holly Phillips, author of “The Exhaustion Breakthrough; Unmask the Hidden Reasons You’re Tired and Beat Fatigue for Good.”

At about age 30 — even if you’re active — humans begin losing muscle mass. If you’re a compete couch potato, you can lose as much as 5 percent of muscle mass every decade after age 30.

To help keep your muscles strong and functioning well, women should incorporate strength training into their exercise regimens. “Strength training creates microscopic tears in muscle tissues,” which then triggers the muscles to rebuild and strengthen, says Phillips.

2. You ignore a metabolism slowdown.

metabolism-burger-health-mistakes-30s-today-stock-150814_998ca0ebeaa150f3bef82c22f135f33f.today-inline-large

Shutterstock

An extra bonus of strength training is burning calories, which increases your metabolism, says Phillips. It seems that as we age, metabolism does slow down for various reasons, including genetics, hormones, and diet, to name a few. Add into the mix the fact that body fat increases incrementally after age 30, with fat accumulating around the middle, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although the metabolic slow-down in your thirties isn’t huge, if you don’t take steps to rev it up, you could potentially pack on double-digit pounds as you age.

Keep your metabolism peppy with strength training. “It (strength training) not only burns calories, but it increases the percentage of muscle mass in your body which boosts your metabolism in the long-term,” says Phillips, who suggests cutting out as many processed foods as possible during this decade filling up on lean proteins and omega-3s like fish and nuts. Also, make fruits and vegetables about 70 percent of your diet, she suggests.

3. You miscalculate fertility.

fertility-health-mistakes-30s-today-stock-150814_059ea494ce61796e7a246331aa77f670.today-inline-large

Alliance / Shutterstock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Very simply, age is a factor when it comes to fertility. The older you are, the tougher it is to conceive, and there is a “gradual decline” in fertility for women, starting at about age 32, which takes a sharper drop when a woman reaches about age 37, explains OB/GYN Dr. Judith Volkar of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “In general, women don’t understand the decline in fertility and they put off child bearing thinking they have plenty of time,” she says. “But peak fertility for women is when they’re in their twenties. It can be a difficult conversation when a woman in her thirties or older is trying to get pregnant and can’t.”

To be clear, pregnancy is “absolutely not impossible” in the 30s, and many women will get pregnant, says Volkar, citing stats showing a woman’s chance of conceiving within a year in her earlier 30s is about 75 percent, dropping to about 65 percent in the late 30s. “Education is really important, and I don’t want to alarm women, since putting off childbearing until the 30s makes a lot of sense for many women,” says Volkar. “I just want women in their 30s to be mindful of fertility.”

4. You don’t make time to see the doctor.

doctor-visit-health-mistakes-30s-today-150814_681d6eb76c92415a2a3e5008b6c2b9ae.today-inline-large

Getty Images Stock

                                                                                           

We know you’re busy, but it’s important to make time for screening for a variety of problems that are “silent” like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Ideally, women should start being screened in their 20s. But if you don’t know your cholesterol numbers by now, make the time to schedule a lipid panel screening, which includes total cholesterol, LDL levels (the so-called “bad” cholesterol), HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. If all is good, you don’t have to have another test for about five years. But if your numbers aren’t stellar, you and your doctor can work out a plan that includes diet, exercise, weight loss, and sometimes, medication, says DeJoseph.

Regardless of your age, get a blood pressure screening every one to two years. And, of course, don’t put off PAP testing, Starting at age 30 (through age 64), get a PAP test and HPV (human papillomavirus) test together every five years — or a PAP test alone every three years. You may have to have more frequent PAPs if abnormal results are found.

5. You treat your skin like you’re still a teenager.

sunburn-today-stock-150716-tease_2b18ee0e4db0eb13d844df3a98dc8f5f.today-inline-large

Shutterstock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Adult acne is an issue for women in their thirties. “It’s almost epidemic and it might be caused by stress, diet and hormones,” explains New York City dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. The biggest mistake women in their thirties make is treating their acne with “. . . harsh chemicals designed for teenage skin,” she says. Instead, she recommends choosing gentle cleaners that don’t strip the skin of natural oils. Look to retinoid creams or lotions that can help with breakouts as well as reduce wrinkles — even though you may not have many yet. And if that doesn’t work, see a dermatologist who can provide a customized treatment plan.

And, of course, don’t forget about sunscreen — ever. Sun damage, wrinkles, and dullness may not show up until your forties, but “anti-aging skin care products and lasers aren’t magic,” says Krant, adding that “every day counts in reducing cumulative ultraviolet radiation damage to cells and connective tissue.” Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and chest, too.

Don’t think you’re too young for skin cancer. Familiarize yourself with skin cancer symptoms, and see your doctor if you notice suspicious moles or skin changes.

6. You light up.

smoking-in-your-30s-today-stock-150814_e81482c3a6b916fb1b6961b4217f9969.today-inline-large

Shutterstock

Although smoking cigarettes is no longer socially acceptable, many women still light up, whether it’s to reduce stress or try to maintain weight. Although women are not as likely to smoke as men, about 18 percent of women ages 25 to 44 are smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Smoking affects everything from your ability to conceive, the health of a fetus and, of course, your health even if you don’t want to get pregnant,’ says OB/GYN Volkar. “The earlier you quit, the better your health.”

Those aren’t empty words. A 2012 study of some one million women published in The Lancet showed that quitting smoking before age 40, “avoids more than 90% of the excess mortality caused by continuing smoking,” according to the authors. So, if you’re still smoking, it seems that right now — today — is a great time to quit. There are many programs and medications available to help you kick the habit for good.

Source: HealthNewsDigest.com

_______________________________________________________________________

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Is there a baby in your future? What women need to know

In Family, Great Articles Found Doing Research, Health, Lifestyle, News, Relationships on June 6, 2015 at 10:03

Many women don’t think about getting pregnant until their 30s. Photograph by: Milan Markovic , milanmarkovic78 - Fotolia

Many women don’t think about getting pregnant until their 30s. Photograph by: Milan Markovic, milanmarkovic78 – Fotolia

Last week marked Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, a time to acknowledge the one in six couples affected by infertility.

Most women begin their reproductive life learning how to prevent pregnancy, but equally important is knowing how to increase their chances of pregnancy should becoming pregnant be something they hope for in their future.

It seems unfair, yet it remains a biological fact that female fertility declines dramatically after age 35. Statistics Canada shows us that in the 1970s the average age for a woman to have her first child was 24. From a biological perspective, this was ideal for maximizing fertility in women. Today, many women are not even thinking about getting pregnant until their 30s.

So what has changed? Today’s women find themselves placed in a social pressure cooker. There’s pressure to pursue and be successful in a career, which can require years of education and financial costs. This then pushes the opportunity to find a life partner and to have children further into the future for many women. Reproductively speaking, education and career goals are not often reached at a biologically optimum time in a woman’s life.

The obstacle of human biology

Women are well educated on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and how to reduce the effects of aging. However, the effects of age on fertility cannot be controlled. Trying to have a baby later in life remains a challenge regardless of how good a woman looks or feels.

Human physiology has not caught up to our present way of life. Fertility decreases drastically once a woman enters her mid-thirties. We are born with between 1-2 million eggs, and by puberty that number has decreased to 300-400 thousand. By 37, most women have around 35,000 left. These remaining eggs are also aging. This leads to an increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs and an increase in the number of miscarriages in this age group.

While age is a common factor, there are other medical conditions that impact a woman’s fertility. These include obstruction of the Fallopian tubes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and a male partner with low or abnormal sperm.

How science can help

Education about the impact of age on fertility can help women with their family planning. If having a biological child of your own is in your life plan, it is important to start trying when you feel ready. However, if the opportunity isn’t there to pursue that dream until your mid to late thirties, there are options.

Technology such as egg freezing has revolutionized female fertility preservation and is providing women with greater choice. However, it is not a guarantee. The quality of eggs frozen affects the outcome, which is why it’s better to freeze eggs when you’re younger.

It is important to understand the process used to freeze eggs, the success rates and experience of the fertility clinic. Egg freezing is much more delicate than other in vitro fertilization (IVF)-related procedures, and choosing the right medical partner is important. At Genesis Fertility Centre we are proud to have a post-thaw egg survival rate and fertilization rate of 95%.

Seek help early

While medical intervention increases the odds, there is no method or technology that guarantees a pregnancy. Many underlying fertility issues remain undiagnosed until you begin to try for a child. The earlier you seek help, the more options there are if you run into challenges. Consult with a physician if you suspect underlying fertility issues. You should also consult a physician if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without success if you are under 35 or six months if you are over 35.

For more information visit genesis-fertility.com

This story was provided by Genesis Fertility Centre for commercial purposes. Postmedia/Laura Sgroi had no involvement in the creation of this content.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: