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.

Apps & Gadgets To Improve Fertility

There are an increasing number of fertility products and apps that have hit the market in recent years which are helping women get healthy, optimize their fertility, and become more aware of their cycles. Here are a few of them.

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Here are 7 fertility gadgets and apps that can help you get pregnant. Purchase, download and then get busy!

1. Wink
Kindara’s Wink (available Spring 2015, $79 preorder; $129 retail) is a discreet wireless oral fertility thermometer that records basal body temperature. Wink syncs automatically to the Kindara fertility app that they claim has helped 35,000 women get pregnant. The app lets you track your menstrual cycle, cervical fluid and sexual activity. Track other important factors that affect fertility in the custom data and journal sections and set up your own custom reminders. Available on iOS and Android.

2. Ovia Fertility
Designed by Harvard scientists and fertility experts, the Ovia fertility app by Ovuline boasts 200,000 pregnancies to date. Plus, the company says that 10 percent of couples who were diagnosed with infertility reported a pregnancy. The app tracks basal body temperature, cervical fluid and ovulation, menstrual cycle, blood pressure, weight, sexual activity, mood, physical health, diet, exercise and sleep. You can sync the app with Jawbone, Withings, and Fitbit, as well as the MyFitnessPal, Apple’s HealthKit (iOS only) and Ovia Pregnancy apps. You can also print out a report for your doctor. Available on iOS and Android.

3. Daysy
Daysy is an all-in-one basal body thermometer and computer that tracks your cycle, analyzes your data over time, uses advanced statistics to determine your fertile window and displays it all directly on the device. The company claims that the Daysy algorithm, which is backed by several clinical studies, is 99.3 percent effective. You can also download the daysyView app (iPhone only) to access detailed information about your cycles, charts and share the stats with your partner.

4. KNOWHEN
FDA-approved and U.S. clinically-tested, the KNOWHEN Saliva Fertility Monitor ($59.99) uses a small amount of saliva to determine when you’re ovulating. The Personal Ovulation App lets you input the days you ovulated and had sex. Available on iPhone and their web version.

5. Glow
The Glow app, which claims to  have helped more than 25,000 pregnancies, tracks your menstrual cycle, basal body temperature and ovulation, reminds you when you’re fertile and includes daily health tips. The Glow Genius feature gives you personalized insights about you and your body to optimize your fertility. You can sync information from Jawbone UP, Fitbit, and the MyFitnessPal app. Plus, the Glow First feature offers financial assistance if you’re looking to conceive through a not­for­profit crowd­funding program that helps reduce the cost of fertility treatments.  Available on iOS and Android.

6. ONDO
Keep track of your basal body temperature with Ovatemp’s ONDO Basal Thermometer (available Spring 2015; $75) which syncs wirelessly to your smartphone using the Ovatemp app. The app also tracks your period, cervical fluid and sexual activity. Powered by the YinOva Center, the app has fertility coaching programs with personalized tips on nutrition, exercise and lifestyle to optimize your health and fertility and syncs with Apple’s HealthKit app. Available on iOS only.

7. Clue
The Clue app helps you keep track of your menstrual cycle, cervical fluid, pain, mood, and sexual activity. It also includes information about your cycle, fertility and personal notes. Available on iOS and Android.

Sleep & IVF Success

The effects of sleep deprivation go well beyond just feeling grouchy the day after a sleepless night. Lack of sleep hampers many physiological and psychological processes that, when not addressed, can impact many health conditions — including fertility. Read the article below.

Sleep Well and Increase IVF Success 
By Marta Montenegro for The Fertility Authority

Sleeping woman (2)The couple that decides upon in vitro fertilization (IVF) to make their dreams of a family come true have so much to think about. But something important you may have overlooked throughout the process are your sleep patterns. You may already be among the statistics from the National Sleep Foundation in which 30% to 40% of adults report occasional insomnia or, even worse, be among the 10% to 15% of Americans that report having trouble sleeping all the time. Perhaps the “counting sheep” strategy to fall sleep has become a regular pattern due to stresses of fertility treatments. Whatever the reason you are tossing and turning, a recent study shows that you need to do something now to achieve at least seven hours of sleep a night if you want to increase the chances of a successful IVF outcome.

Lack of sleep hampers many physiological and psychological processes that, when not addressed, can impact weight management, Alzheimer’s risks, and many other health conditions.

With weight management, a recent study found that adequate sleep can reduce body fat. Participants were put on a diet and slept either 5.5 hours or 8.5 hours. While both groups lost the same amount of weight, those that slept for 8.5 hours lost more body fat.

As for fertility, the hormone prolactin spikes with sleep loss. One of this hormone’s tasks in the brain is triggering egg release. It’s common to find that women with fertility issues have suppressed ovulation due to elevated prolactin. Chances are you have never suspected your sleep habits could be a source of infertility.

Experts agree that sleep is very much needed for the growth and rejuvenation of our muscles and bones and to enhance our immune, nervous and endocrine systems. During sleep, our bodies repair muscles, consolidate memories, and release hormones and chemicals that regulate everything from energy to appetite.

So, how do good sleep patterns affect your IVF treatment results?

An ancient Proverb states that “sleep is better than medicine” and there is some truth to this assertion.

Let’s begin with the master sleep hormone: melatonin. It is produced in the pineal gland and not only synchronizes the sleep pattern cycle, but also acts as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and DNA protector. All this in addition to its behavioral and endocrine effects.

Indeed, it’s the antioxidant effect of melatonin that makes this hormone so important for fighting off the free radicals in our bodies from daily exposure to excess sugar and saturated fat consumption, alcohol intake, chronic stress, pollutants, etc. In the medical field, we know that maintaining the balance between the body’s antioxidant levels and free radical production is critical to prevent everything from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and premature aging. The list of health threats goes on and on.

Filled in the egg basket

Understanding the relevance of melatonin in overall health – particularly as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – it is no surprise that two recent studies found it to be helpful for those undergoing IVF treatment.

In the first study from the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, a total of 60 patients with sleep disturbances were divided in two groups. One group with 30 patients was administered melatonin. The control group went without the supplement. Both groups underwent IVF-Embryo Transfer (ET). The group who took the melatonin improved both the number of eggs and their quality to be retrieved, and the embryo quality significantly improved compared with the group who did not take the melatonin.

While this study shows the benefit of melatonin on patients with sleep troubles undergoing IVF, will melatonin have the same effect when you don’t have sleep issues? It seems so. In another study, published in Ginecol Endocrinal Journal, patients underwent IVF with a technique called Injected Sperm into Egg (ICSI) – which in lay terms is a method to fertilize eggs in the lab after being aspirated – for two cycles. The first cycle was without melatonin supplementation, the second cycle with melatonin supplementation for at least two weeks. The fertilization rate of ICSI was lower in the first cycle than the second (69.3% Vs. 77.5%). Likewise, as the previous study cited showed, the quality of embryos also increased 65.5% v. 48%.

Before reaching out at the drugstore

At this point you may feel tempted to buy melatonin supplements. However, as with any supplement, they are not all created equal. Neither are they harmless as you may think since you can get them next to the toothpaste in drugstore aisle. Consult with your fertility doctor and/or you nutrition specialist before popping any pills.
Remember though that food is also medicine and there’s no harm in increasing hormone levels by adding melatonin-rich food to your diet. And the best food sources do not come in “package.” Experts used to think that melatonin was exclusively found in animal hormones, but evidence shows that melatonin presence is higher in plants. Basically, just as our own bodies do, the plants have to defend against oxidative stress from all the internal and external hazards to which they are continuously exposed. This is when this powerful hormone constitutes such a healthy weapon of antioxidants that have shown to enhance crop tolerances to heat, cold, and pollutants. They also show higher germination rates. – Journal of Experimental Botany.

Look at “no label” food sources

Not all plant-based foods have the same melatonin content. A group of study subjects were provided with three fruits: pineapple, oranges, and bananas, in both whole fruit and juice form. The test was to evaluate the influence of melatonin serum levels and antioxidant status. The highest serum melatonin concentration was observed 120 min after fruit consumption, with pineapple taking the lead, followed by orange and then banana. Equally, the fruit consumption increased the body’s ability to sweep out harmful free radicals. No need to go along with the fruit alone; add in some oats which in another study proved to have the same effect. – Journal of Pineal Research.

A Financial Plan For The New Year

Have you been postponing a new patient consultation or a follow up visit to discuss your options? The New Year is a great time to start treatment for infertility or to revisit your fertility treatment program.

At The Center, we understand how stressful fertility treatments can be, especially for those who do not have insurance coverage for the treatments they need. The dream of having a baby can be difficult to plan for financially. Our goal is to help our patients find a way to pay for their care. We continue to offer new programs on a regular basis, and are available to talk to patients about what they qualify for. From new patient visits to completing an IVF cycle, our experienced financial counselors will help every step of the way.

Contact the Center by going to the website and filling out the confidential “contact us” form.

BetterCT Video: Our New Facility

If you missed WFSB TV’s Better Connecticut tour of our new facility, the video is posted below.

Dr. Benadiva, Director of the IVF Lab at the Center along with Dr. Kathryn Worrilow, founder of LifeAire discuss the state-of-the-art patented air purification system used to support the growth of the human embryo during IVF at our new location in Farmington.

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Survival Tips To Navigate the Holidays

While the holidays can be a special time of year filled with joy and celebration with loved ones, it can prove especially difficult for those who are trying to conceive. See the article below from the Huffington Post for some tips on how to handle the holidays.

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9 Survival Tips: How to Navigate the Holidays When You Have Infertility
(Published in the The Huffington Post by Dr. Angeline Beltsos)

Since the holidays are often centered on family, it can be difficult to avoid the painful reminders that can surface during this time of year.

If you are trying to conceive and feel unsure about how to handle the holidays, here are nine helpful tips that can make the season easier.

1. Prepare answers to questions ahead of time.
It’s possible that someone will ask a question that will make you uncomfortable. Don’t be caught off guard — think of an answer you are comfortable with in advance. Answers to prying questions can range from vague (“I don’t know, we’ll see, I’m not sure”) to simple and direct (“My husband and I have decided to keep this topic private but thanks for asking”).

2. Don’t be afraid to say no.
This is the time to take an inventory of your social calendar and holiday obligations, and do an honest assessment of what you can handle. Forcing yourself to attend something that makes you sad can be emotionally taxing and not worth it, so don’t be afraid to say no. If you’re not up for it, don’t attend the party.

3. Avoid emotional triggers.
If you foresee something that may upset you, steer clear. At times, certain things may trigger a wave of emotions that usually makes us happy but during this time may fill you with tears. If that is the case, staying away from the mall when Santa is there or staying out of children’s stores when buying presents (gift cards are great and you can avoid the store) might avoid the anguish. If you know that a holiday card will have a family photo that will cause distress, don’t open it. You can acknowledge the card to a sender without discussing the contents (I received your card, thank you.)

4. Adults only.
If you feel that a family party is too much, opt to spend time alone with your partner instead. Your family will miss you, but remember, there is always next year. You need to listen to what you need. If it’s best for you to apply an “adults only” rule to your holiday celebrations, then go for it. If you know other couples without kids, you can celebrate the holiday with them as well.

5. It is okay to feel what you’re feeling.
The wide range of emotions that result from infertility can feel overwhelming, but they are common — and each one of them is okay. Give yourself permission to take care of you. It’s normal and okay to feel sadness, grief, and the urge to cry. You can’t change your emotions and feelings, but you can acknowledge them, and allow yourself to feel them. When you do, you will feel better.

6. Get support from a person or community you trust.
Holding things in doesn’t feel good. Sharing what’s inside can reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and lift your spirits. There is always a community available to you — whether that is a partner, close friend, family member, fertility counselor or online forum or social media outlet. With your special people, celebrate and do things that bring you joy this season! And, with the New Year, you will regroup about your efforts to build your family.

7. Make your health and happiness a priority.
Now, more than ever, is the time to take care of yourself. This can come in a variety of ways, and the more you do, the better. Be sure to get enough sleep, meditate and deep breathe to calm the mind, exercise to reduce stress and anxiety, and do things that make you happy and relaxed. Many women find yoga, massage or a trip to the nail salon a nice pick-me-up.

8. Shift your focus.
The holidays are busy, but if you find your mind wandering to infertility too often, it’s time to shift your mental focus. Start a book series, take up a new craft, or practice cooking new dishes in the kitchen. Focusing on something you enjoy will give your mind the breathing room it needs. It also does not mean that trying for pregnancy is less important but it gives balance in your mind to stay positive and live.

9. Remember, this is temporary.
Know that it is not a question of “if” you will become a parent, but “when.” Infertility, just like the holidays, will pass. Around the corner is a new year, filled with new possibilities. Take care of yourself while making the most of the holiday season with your loved ones. You will be okay.

Revolutionary Air Quality Technology At The Center

Those facing fertility issues can realistically hope for improved results thanks to LifeAire Systems, one of the many innovative design, engineering and environmental solutions at the Center’s new world-class facility.

LifeAire System is an innovative air purification and irradiation technology to remediate all levels of airborne contaminants, inactivate biologicals and eliminate embryotoxic VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). New data from in vitro fertilization programs using the revolutionary LifeAire System air purification technology demonstrates dramatic increases in clinical pregnancies through in vitro fertilization.

Roof2 800View of the LifeAire system on the roof of the new building.

Combined, all of the innovative design, engineering and environmental solutions featured in the new location will assist the Center in achieving better embryo development, improved embryo implantation rates, and higher pregnancy rates by minimizing or eliminating the negative impact of toxic environmental factors along with an increased ability to maintain quality controls.  “The Center is very excited to provide Connecticut fertility patients access to this level of world class expertise and technology,” stated Claudio Benadiva, M.D., the Center’s IVF Lab Director.

More information on our new building here.

Behind the Scenes at Our New Location

Watch WFSB TV’s Better Connecticut at 3:00 this Thursday for a tour of our new facility!

Dr. Benadiva, Director of the IVF Lab at the Center will be giving the tour along with Dr. Kathryn Worrilow, founder of LifeAire who will be discussing the state-of-the-art patented air purification system used to support the growth of the human embryo during IVF at our new location in Farmington.

Here is a sneak peek from the taping:

Roof1 800Kathryn C. Worrilow, Ph.D. Founder and CEO, LifeAire Systems discusses the system on the roof of the building.

Roof2 800View of the LifeAire system on the roof of the building.

UConn 800From right: Kara Sundlun of BetterCT, Claudio Benadiva, MD, HCLD, IVF Laboratory Director,  Alison Bartolucci Operational Lab Director and Paul Verrastro, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services

Your First Visit - Our New Location

Start the New Year with an appointment at our NEW Farmington location. We are open for appointments starting January 5th. Simply fill out this form to request your free fertility consultation.

Getting Ready for Your First Visit:
Taking the first steps on the path to seeing a fertility specialist may be difficult or even overwhelming. Knowing what to expect at your first visit may offer reassurance and help alleviate some of these concerns. Below is a video that tells what you can expect at your first visit.

At the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services, we strive to make this a comfortable, stress-free process for all of our patients.

We offer free fertility phone consultations for patients at different points in their fertility journey. Your fertility phone consultation will be an opportunity for you to obtain information about our program and learn about general treatment options.

Dixie Chicks

5DixieChicks-pg-verticalSisters and bandmates Martie Maquire and Emily Robison from the group Dixie Chicks have been open about using IVF to conceive their two sets of twins, as well as Emily’s son.

Dixie Chicks song “So hard” was inspired by their struggles to conceive.

Martie has daughters Kathleen and Eva, while Emily has son Gus, and twins Henry and Julianna and daughter Violet.

Martie Maguire: “That song touches on the issue of infertility, which Emily and I both had to deal with. I think we feel a responsibility to break down some of these barriers – it’s much more of a common problem than people realize. Someone the other day asked me if twins ran in my family. When I told them I did in vitro they said, ‘Oh, so you took the easy way.’ I couldn’t believe they said that.”

Emily Robison: “We both got pregnant through in vitro fertilization, and people usually get all freaked out when we tell them that. I don’t find it a stigma at all – people need to start talking about it, because it feels almost epidemic. And it’s so wonderful that we have this technology.”

Quotes thanks to the band’s publicist on Songfacts

Thanksgiving Recovery

Fertility Authority’s Cure for Infertility Blues

Post-Thanksgiving-585x346Your family has packed up and headed to the airport, the dishes are all put away, and the buzzer is about to sound on the washing machine. You’ve recovered from Thanksgiving…or have you?

Inevitably, your Aunt Sally tried to be helpful, but said all the wrong things when it comes to fertility advice. “You know, Uncle Greg and I conceived your cousin Sarah on our honeymoon, upside down, drunk, laying still for 17 minutes exactly, while eating a pineapple core…you should try that!”

Before you reflect on the image of Aunt Sally and Uncle Greg that has burned an image into your brain you’d rather forget and binge on leftover pumpkin chiffon pie, remember this:

7.3 million people in the United States are struggling with infertility and at least one million of them have to have received horrible advice from an Aunt Sally and Uncle Greg just like yours!

So, check out Fertility Authority’s list of ways to shake off the holiday-induced pity party for one:

  1. Head on over to FertileThoughts.com to share turkey day war stories with other infertility veterans.
  2. Splurge on some Cyber Monday deals for YOURSELF, because you deserve it!
  3. Read Fertility Authority’s Top 5 Ways to Cope with Infertility over the Holidays
  4. Giggle over these advised rules for Infertility Etiquette (and jot down ideas of your own!)
  5. Get a massage or pedicure (or both!)
  6. Round up your girlfriends and go to the movies.
  7. Catch up on the latest celebrity gossip or memes of Kim Kardashian’s derriere.
  8. Check out @fertilityauthor or @fertilethoughts on Twitter and catch up on the infertility journeys of our Twitter friends!

You may have infertility, but don’t let infertility have you!