This is your home for learning more about fertility factors--medical, emotional, and physical. Our team of bloggers, from physicians to nurses, financial counselors to patients, are all dedicated to giving you news, information and thoughts relating to the the fertility journey. Please explore and let us know if there other topics of interest to you.

Dr. Jacob will be on Better CT

The Center’s psychologist, Mary Casey Jacob, Ph.D., will be making an appearance on WFSB TV’s Better CT Show on Tuesday, April 22nd. She will be discussing the following topics:

  • The challenges of making the decision to seek help
  • The primary day to day challenges of a fertility patient: sadness, needles, frequent visits, dealing with friends/families
  • The impact of stress while having fertility issues and treatment (different types of stress and tips on how to manage them)

For tickets to the show, visit the Better CT Show website here:

 

Two couples overcome infertility together

Two couples became more than just friends through their battle with infertility. “We’ll stick together for everything,” said Philip Palmisano, the father of a six-month-old baby. His twins were born thanks to a chance meeting with another couple. TODAY’s Kyle Michael Miller reports.

5 Foods to Boost Fertility

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(First published by Dave Zinczenko for ABC News)

Infertility affects about 12 percent of couples, a statistic attributed partly by some studies to an increasingly Western-style diet, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Adding these five foods to shopping cart can help you to pivot away from heavily processed food choices, and find your path to optimal health, and perhaps, increased fertility.

Walnuts
Fertility discussions usually focus on women’s aging ovaries, but we all know it takes two to tango. And research suggests that for men, a couple of handfuls of walnuts every day may be the ticket to stronger, faster, even prettier sperm. The study printed in the journal Biology of Reproduction looked at the effect of added polyunsaturated fatty acids on the sperm health of 117 healthy men aged 21 to 35. Sure enough, those that ate 75 grams of Omega-3 rich walnuts (about 2/3 cup, or 2 man handfuls) experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology. The nut-free control group experienced no changes. Most of us, men and women, can benefit from additional Omega 3s, so consider making walnuts a staple on your weekly grocery list.

Ice Cream
Ladies, you can now add “reproductive health” to the list of reasons you need to keep the freezer stocked with ice cream. A study published in the journal Human Reproduction suggests full-fat dairy may increase a woman’s chances of ovulating. Researchers found that women enjoying a scoop of full-fat ice cream at least twice a week had a 38 percent lower risk of anovulatory infertility compared with women consuming ice cream less than once a week. Low-fat dairy, on the other hand, had the opposite effect. The results may seem to contradict standard nutritional advice, but researchers suggest skimming the fat from dairy alters its balance of sex hormones in a way that could tip the scales against ovulation. While more research is required into the relationship between dairy and fertility, you can check out a list of some of my favorite full-fat, minimally processed ice cream brands in “Eat It to Beat It.”

Carrots
A study by Harvard researchers printed in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that produce rich in beta-carotene can improve sperm motility (its ability to swim toward an egg) by up to 8 percent. Carrots were singled out for their sperm-boosting properties. Luteine, an antioxidant found in leafy greens, had a similar effect, according to the study. So make like Bugs Bunny and get snacking. When it comes to male fertility, that’s what’s up, doc!

Lentils
An inexpensive form of vegetarian protein and fiber, lentils are also a rich source of iron, a mineral known to play a key role in reproductive health. In a well-cited Harvard School of Health study, women who got most of their iron from plant sources reduced their risk of infertility by 40 percent. Moreover, the higher the dose of the iron supplements, the lower the risk. Women who took the highest doses, more than 41 milligrams a day, reduced their risk of ovulatory infertility by 62 percent. Iron from meat didn’t show the same benefits. While researchers don’t recommend popping iron supplements as an aid to becoming pregnant, supplementing a well-balanced diet with a whole-food multivitamin may improve your overall health and, consequently, your baby-making prospects.

Spinach
Get the man in your life to start channeling Popeye, and you may soon have a baby on board. A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that supplemental folic acid and zinc to increase sperm counts in men with reduced fertility. You can find sperm-boosting folic acid, the B9 vitamin, in leafy greens like spinach and kale. And lentils are a good source of zinc; one more reason to add them to your shopping list!

Dave Zinczenko, ABC News nutrition and wellness editor, is a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author. His latest book, “Eat It to Beat It!” is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies.

Yoga for Optimal Fertility

“Yoga for Optimal Fertility” with Carissa Spada starts this weekend, April 12th, at West Hartford Yoga. For women who are in any stage of trying to conceive…no previous yoga experience necessary.

Carissa is one of our “family members”—her daughter was conceived with help from Dr. Engmann and the Center. She is a 12-year yoga teacher, personal trainer, and massage therapist. She’s also proud to state that she’s maintained a 90-pound weight loss for 15 years…so if anyone is struggling with weight issues, she’d love to help in this area as well.

Registration is required, so check out the flyer below and give Carissa a call if you’re interested at 860-953-9642.yoga for optimal fertility flyer

Be Anything You Want To Be

A mom…I always wanted to be a mom. I used to love playing the “What do you want to be when you grow up” game.  My answer was always the same: A mom. But Jen, my friends would say, what about a rock star, a doctor, a ballerina?  Nope, not me. My greatest dream in life was to be a mom.

When you’re little, people are always telling you, “You can be anything you want to be.” Oh, everyone says it. Parents, teachers, coaches…and with good intentions. I know, I believed it. So when you are told that you have “less than a one percent chance of conceiving naturally,” well, what do you mean? I’m meant to be a mom. Don’t you know—I can be anything I want to be!

My world fell apart. Everything about my life from the moment I got married was planned for having children. We choose our town because it had a good school district. We bought a house with plenty of bedrooms and a nice backyard. We bought an SUV for driving little ones around. I chose my career around being a mom some day.  How could my dream come so easy for some and be so difficult for me. I felt so defeated and my spirit was broken. What do you do?  Do you start planning a different life? When you are in the thick of it, you can’t see clearly. I often wondered what did I do to deserve this.

So now what? Do we move to the city? Do we get a dog? Hold on…I’m just not willing to give up my dream of becoming a mother. So, with that, I took my dream and last bits of hope to Dr. Engmann.

I was especially nervous to meet him.  If anyone could help us achieve our dream, it would have to be him. I kept looking at Dr. Engmann’s picture on the Center’s website.  He had a huge smile on his face: This is good I thought. I remember someone saying it doesn’t matter what kind of bedside manner the doctor had, just as long as he gets you pregnant. Not, me I thought. I wanted a doctor that was going to hold my hand, and tell me that my dream would come true some day.

“Jen, the doctor will see you.” I felt like I was going on a job interview, and I could tell my husband was just as nervous. He kept squeezing my hand and saying, “This is going to work.”

As soon as Dr. Engmann shook my hand, I felt lighter. He had this demeanor about him, a sense of ease. Remember that phrase “he had us at hello” from Jerry McGuire? “Don’t worry,” he said, “Let me worry for you.” And that was it. Maybe it all wasn’t a lie. Maybe my dream would come true.

Jen is mom to two amazing boys, thanks to the help of the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. She’s also a middle school teacher and a peer support leader for Resolve. She credits her incredible husband for his support through their journey together.

Giuliana & Bill Rancic on Dr. Oz Show

Giuliana and Bill Rancic appeared on the Dr. Oz show recently where they opened up about their struggle with infertility and other health issues.

Dr Oz
Giuliana shared her experience with breast cancer. The E! host was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy soon after. In the midst of the difficulty the couple experienced with Juliana’s health, the Rancic’s also learned of their infertility.

In the midst of Juliana’s failed fertility treatment her doctor recommended a mammogram which showed cancer in Giuliana’s breast.

Despite the possibility of the couple conceiving naturally the Rancic’s remained determined to extend their family. The couple welcomed son Edward Duke Rancic via surrogate in August of 2011.

Dr. Oz introduced the topic of Juliana’s small frame being the potential reason for her infertility. Giuliana explained her small frame being a result of genetics. The red carpet host also expressed her feelings of hurt when people comment on her bones seemingly protruding through her back. Giuliana suffered from a spinal disorder diagnosed as scoliosis when she was 13. Rancic’s condition was corrected through surgery but her bones will remain visibly curved.

Giuliana and Bill plan to use the same surrogate to conceive their second child sometime in the near future.

First published on The Examiner by Tasia Lawrence on March 31, 2014.

A Decision to Freeze Eggs

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More and more women are freezing their eggs. Read a personal account of someone who went through the process.

If I Freeze My Eggs, Will You All Get Off My Back?

by Lara Naaman
First published on Lifetime Moms

It’s not my imagination. There are a lot of people out there who think I should have babies. And I think that if I freeze my eggs, that won’t bother me so much. Because no matter how awesome my life is, or how successful my career is, there’s always going to be that person at a party who says, “Don’t you want kids?” There will always be that fellow single friend who calls, post-breakup, to cry into the phone, “I’m worried I’ll never get married and have babies!” There will always be a news story on how childless women are more likely to get breast cancer. There’s a lot of pressure—of both the overt and insidious varieties—to breed.

Sometimes that pressure can turn up the volume on the little voice in your head that says, “There’s nothing better out there. And if there is, you don’t have the time to go looking for it. You’d better hold on to this one so you don’t end up a cancery spinster.” That sh*tty little voice has convinced me to make some pretty stupid choices: guys who just weren’t that into me. Guys who were really into me but still kinda married to someone else. Guys who lived in other countries. Guys who liked me but “really needed to be in a touring band right now.” And that all before I even turned 30.

I have a few friends who get to my age (37), panic about their ability to have babies, then take to the internet to arrange a flurry of dates. On the rare occasion that a date turns into something more, I listen to a lot of justifications for a guy’s flaws.

One friend will say, “He’s kind of messy, but that’s ok.” She means, “He’s a pig. But I’m not sure if it’s bad enough for me to start all over again. I don’t have a million eggs left, you know.” Another will say, “He doesn’t make a lot of money, but he’s working on his resume.” She means, “I hope he figures out how to make more money. I don’t have a million eggs left, you know.” And yet another says, “During dinner, he took a dirty sock off and smelled it to see if he needed to put on a cleaner pair.” She means, “I could have one egg left and he could be the only guy left on earth and we’d just have to end humanity. But I’m pretty irritated about having to go back out there to find another suitable option.”

Well thanks to science, you don’t need a million eggs. You just need a few frozen ones, and I plan to get me some. That way, if I date a stupid musician, it will be because he is HOT—not because I’m worried he will be my last chance at a making a baby.

Dr. Nulsen on Better CT

The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services and Dr. Nulsen were recently featured on Better Connecticut.

Stess & Infertility

Your stress level could keep you from getting pregnant. Researchers as part of a new study, say stress doubles your risk of infertility. Scientists took saliva samples from more than 500 women who were trying to conceive and tested it for an enzyme that indicates stress.

Dr. Tara Shirazian, from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, in New York, talks about the research with the “CBS This Morning

Shirazian told CBS This Morning, she tells her patients not to worry about getting pregnant and to try stress-reducing technique such as meditation. Shirazian also recommends exercise and yoga as a stress-reliever.

The study followed couples who were trying to conceive for a year. “We found that women who had the highest levels of stress actually took 29% longer to get pregnant compared to other women, and their risk of infertility doubled,” said lead author Courtney Lynch, PhD, MPH, of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“There are certainly many other medical and lifestyle factors that can make getting pregnant difficult, but we now know that stress is something women and their doctors may want to consider,” said Lynch.

“This is one marker where they are starting to test saliva in women,” Shirazian said. “More research needs to be done.”

First published on CBS, March 24, 2014

Endometriosis awareness

awareness_month_bannerEndometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects over 176 million women worldwide and is one of the main causes of infertility.

For some women, severe pain during a monthly cycle may actually be caused by a painful, chronic disease called endometriosis. Endometriosis, for which there is no known cause or cure, can affect fertility, bowel function, gynecological health and most importantly, quality of life.

In honor of March’s Endometriosis Awareness Month, Dr. Meike Uhler of Fertility Centers of Illinois has shared some helpful information. Dr. Meike Uhler began by explaining the condition: “Millions of women around the world have endometriosis, and it is one of the most common causes of infertility. It is important that women and those close to them understand the disease, as well as how to alleviate symptoms and overcome fertility challenges.”

In order to understand endometriosis further, Dr. Uhler explains that “each month during menstruation, the endometrial lining found inside the uterus sheds from the body. When the endometrial tissue normally found inside the uterus grows outside the uterus or in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis.

“Each month, endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Without the ability to drain from the body as it would in normal menstruation, inflammation and pain result. Endometrial growths have been found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity and between the vagina and rectum. While rare, growths have also been found in the arm, thigh and lung.”

The doctor went on to outline how endometriosis affects fertility: “scarring and adhesions from endometriosis can restrict movement of the ovaries, change the position of the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as block the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also increase production of prostaglandins and other hormones that can affect fertility. Roughly 35 to 50 percent of women diagnosed with endometriosis also have infertility, with endometriosis being one of the top three causes of female infertility.”

7 common questions about endometriosis:

1. How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Laparoscopy, a common surgical procedure with a camera that is inserted into the abdominal cavity to directly see endometrial growths, is needed for the diagnosis of endometriosis. Diagnoses can also be made through a biopsy of tissue samples.

2. What are common symptoms?
Symptoms include painful menstruation, pain during sexual activity, painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation, infertility, fatigue, recurrent yeast infections, chemical sensitivities, allergies, and gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation and diarrhea.

3. Can only older women be diagnosed?
Endometrial tissue only forms in women with active ovarian hormone production, restricting diagnoses to women of reproductive age. Symptoms may arise during adolescence, but many women are not diagnosed until they are older.

4. What is the cause?
The cause of endometriosis remains unknown.

5. How many women have endometriosis?
Roughly 176 million women worldwide.

6. Is there a cure?
There is no known cure, but there are solutions available to alleviate symptoms.

7. How can you lessen symptoms?
Through hormonal treatments such as birth control pills, symptoms can be lessened but not eradicated. Symptoms tend to lessen during pregnancy.

First published by Tim Sandle for Digital Journal, March 6, 2014