What Causes Infertility In Males?

Male infertility has many causes, including medical causes, environmental causes, and lifestyle causes. Human reproduction is a complicated process, one in which any number of things can go wrong. In order for a male to successfully impregnate his partner, there are several crucial steps that must happen: healthy sperm must be produced, sperm must then be transported from the testicles and mixed with semen prior to ejaculation, there must be a high enough number of sperm in the semen, and the sperm must be functioning and motile.

Infertility Treatments

Many couples seek infertility treatment to help them have children. Insurance for fertility treatments is complicated. Many policies cover some treatments and not others. Unfortunately, fertility insurance is only available in some state in the United States. However, there are several major insurance companies that offer fertility insurance. Continue reading article>

Why Being Infertile Isn't The End Of The World, Even Though It May Feel Like It Now

why being infertile isn't the end of the world, even though right now it might feel like it

Full disclosure: I don’t know if I’m infertile or not. I’ve never been tested, but I’ve had my suspicions throughout the years. Here’s the thing though…I’ve never had a strong desire to have biological children, so finding out that I was infertile wouldn’t phase me too much. On the other hand, my sister has always wanted a family. Thankfully, she and her husband are currently expecting their second child. However, if she had been given the news that she or her husband were infertile, I imagine it would have been devastating. Infertility affects different people in different ways, and for some people infertility can feel like the end of their hopes and dreams for what their life will be like.

This is the part where I’m going to repeat the super-insensitive phrase that is the title of this blog post (and hopefully not offend anyone): regardless of whether you dream of pregnancy and children or whether you are content with your fur-baby (I love you, Moxie!), being infertile isn’t the end of the world. You heard me: infertility is NOT the end of the world.

Here are some things that WOULD be the end of the world…a global pandemic (a la ebola, for example), a major asteroid impact, nuclear warfare, climate change, and let’s not forget the dreaded zombie apocalypse. Now before you shoot me, I’m just trying to inject a little humor into an admittedly heavy topic and give everyone a reminder of the proverbial, “it could always be worse.” In no way am I mocking, condescending, preaching, or minimalizing the very real feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and despair that infertility can bring. But I do know from personal experience as an unrelenting pessimist that there are times when we need to step back and get a fresh perspective on things.

Usually, things are not as bad as they seem. Sometimes, they are exactly as bad as they seem. But rarely are things hopeless. Infertility is a struggle, a hurdle, and a wound that you may carry your whole life and that may never fully heal. Every person is different, and some people will “move on” quickly while for others it may be a constant struggle. But it IS possible to find comfort, to find support, and to find happiness and fulfillment in your life. There are numerous infertility resources available, including online forums, message boards, and support groups. Remember, you are not alone on your journey. In the words of Anne Frank, “think of all the beauty still left around you, and be happy.” 

Written by: Margaret Durkovic

Infertility Support: How To Handle The News That You're Infertile

infertility support: how to handle the news that you're infertile

The news that you are infertile may come as the confirmation of a secret fear, or it may come as a total shock. The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone—infertility is more common than most people realize. According to the National Infertility Association, “one in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age has trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy.”

The second thing you need to know is that every person responds to the news differently and that whatever you are feeling (shock, anger, fear, guilt, despair, relief) is valid. There is no universal way you “should be” or “should not be” feeling or responding to the news. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are just plain wrong!

The third thing you need to know is that there is help. Here are some tips that therapists recommended for coping with infertility.

First, take some time privately to deal with your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Journaling can be a good way to do this, as it allows you to express yourself honestly without being worried about other people’s reactions, perceptions, or judgements. Then, when you’re ready and feel comfortable, share some of your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, like a close friend or family member. Keep in mind that it can sometimes be difficult for people who have never wanted to start a family or experienced infertility to understand exactly what you are going through.

This is where seeking advice and support from other individuals who have experienced infertility comes in. If you don’t personally know any people who have struggled with infertility, that’s ok; there are numerous online resources for infertility, including message boards and support groups. One of these is FertilityTies.com,  “a community where you can get medical information and peer support from others in similar situations.” Also, if you’re comfortable using social media to seek advice and support, you may find that you know more people who have dealt with infertility than you thought (friends, friends of friends, that kind of thing).

Another wonderful resource if you’re looking for infertility support groups is through the National Infertility Association. RESOLVE Support Groups are free and they offer two types of groups, peer-led support groups and professionally-led support groups. Peer-led groups are facilitated by volunteers, not by a professional counselor, and typically last about two hours per group. Professionally-led support groups are facilitated by a mental health professional and are more structured (weekly sessions for 10-12 weeks, specific topics discussed, limited to a small amount of individuals or couples).

To find RESOLVE support groups in your area, click on the following link: http://www.resolve.org/support/support-group/support-groups-list.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Finally, speaking of professionals…it is never a bad idea to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional in coping with the news that you are infertile, especially if you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or just feel that you could benefit from professional guidance. Infertility is an incredibly difficult thing to process, but no matter what it’s important to remember that you are not alone. 

Written by: Margaret Durkovic

How To Cope With Your Partner Being Infertile

How to cope with your partner being infertile

You just found out your partner is infertile. A million worries, emotions, and questions are probably running through your mind about what this means for your partner and for your relationship. You may also be worried about what to say or how to handle the situation…how to cope with infertility is not something everyone just automatically knows how to do!

Fortunately, you are not the first person who has had an infertile partner, and there are many things that can help you (and them!) cope. Here are a few “do’s” and “don’ts” that can get you started.

DON’T: blame

Pointing fingers and finding fault won’t make anyone feel better about the situation, and it certainly won’t fix the problem. You may experience feelings of blame and/or resentment, and this is perfectly normal. Acknowledge those feelings, but don’t take them out on your partner! He/She didn’t choose to be infertile any more than you chose to break your ankle skiing that one time.

DON’T: analyze the past

Hindsight is 20/20, and you can make yourself crazy with “what if” scenarios…”what if we’d tried to have a baby earlier?” “what if I’d know about this before we got together?” The reality is that infertility is usually caused by factors beyond anyone’s control, and even if you or your partner could have done anything differently, you can’t change the past. All you can do is focus on the present, on possible solutions, and on how you want to handle the situation.

DO: get in touch with your own feelings

Take some time privately to process how you feel about the situation. Journaling can be helpful, as can talking with a trusted friend or family member. Remember, your partner may be feeling or handling the news very differently from you, and that’s ok. Make sure take the time to process your own emotions as well as be considerate of theirs.

DO: ask your partner what he or she needs from you

Don’t just assume you know how the other person feels, and don’t assume you know what he or she needs from you. Different people handle infertility differently, and something that would help you feel supported might have the opposite effect on your partner. Be patient!

DO: communicate

This goes hand in hand with the above advice. “Studies show that couples who keep their feelings hidden are much more likely to have problems related to the stress of infertility.” Communicate with your partner—find out how they are feeling and what you can do to help, and clearly express your own feelings and needs to them. Make a plan of action, together!

DO: seek outside help

Talk to family, friends, infertility support groups, or even a professional therapist. This is something that you can do individually to help you cope with your own feelings, and this is something you can also do together. There are all kinds of resources out there!

The bottom line? Infertility can have a negative impact on your relationship…but it doesn’t have to! 

Written by: Margaret Durkovic

What Cause Infertility In Females?

Female infertility can by physically and emotionally draining for couples trying to conceive. Questioning the reasons why your body is struggling to ovulate or carry a baby can be disappointing and put unnecessary stress on couples who already have busy lives jugging their careers and relationships.  Continue Reading Article >

FAQs: Do Fertility Drugs Actually Work?

When a couple has trouble conceiving, infertility drugs are often the first step in increasing hormones in the female body to encourage ovulation. Some question the effectiveness of these medications and wonder when should an infertility treatment be used? The FAQ below provides some insight into these questions. Continue Reading Article >

Diagnosing Infertility: What Goes Into The Process

What is infertility? Infertility is a condition that causes men and women problems having children. It can be causes by illness, hormones, low sperm count, physical defects, environmental chemicals, cancer, ovulation problems, tumors and age. It is often expensive and often involves uncomfortable procedures. Many insurance plans do not cover the expense but several states do require insurance companies to offer it and employers. Continue Reading Article >

Day by Day Explanation of IVF

In vitro fertilization is reproductive technology that combines an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. After that the embryo is implanted into the woman’s womb. It is used to treat infertility in women with damaged fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders, fibroid tumors and genetic disorders. It can be used to treat low sperm count in men and  endometriosis. Continue Reading Article >

The 7 Best Baby Books for Expecting Couples

Perhaps, this is your first pregnancy, or maybe it is your third time having a baby, and now you have decided that you want to better educate yourself on raising children. If this is the case, that is fantastic news for you and your children. Anytime, we take our time to learn more, especially when it comes to children, it improves our lives and those around us. Continue Reading Article > 

5 Conception Myths Busted

What do you really need to do to conceive a baby? Of course there are always the rumors that our friends and family tell us, but most likely they aren't licensed practitioners. It's important to understand the truth behind conception when you're trying to conceive, so here's 5 conception myths busted. Continue Reading Article >

6 Signs You Need to See a Fertility Specialist

Getting pregnant is not easy for many couples. Some couples try for years without success and watch from the side lines as their friends and families have children of their own.  There are many factors that make infertility a pressing issue for some and not others. The age of the woman and her partner, missed periods, diabetes, miscarriages, low sperm count, mothers that took DES, and fibroids tumors. Continue Reading Article >

Fertility Drugs: The Top Cause of Multiple Births

We have all seen the TLC shows about the seemingly average couples who end up with sextuplets. One minute the newlyweds are enjoying late-night dominos pizza and dealing with a few conception troubles, and the next minute they are trying to nurse and change diapers for six or more children. How does this happen? Continue Reading Article >

5 Labor Myths Busted

When women become pregnant for the first time, the mere thought of going into labor can be frightening. With so many myths about the pain, morning sickness, water breaking, and ways to induce labor, one doesn’t know what to believe. So, we've compiled a list of bogus myths surrounding going into labor in order to soothe your worries. Continue Reading Article >

5 Reasons Why You Can’t Become Pregnant

Sometimes our hopes of becoming pregnant are not always that easy to obtain. While some of us ladies may imagine that it'll be pretty easy and presto chango—pregnancy arrives. However, the truth is far more discouraging at times. Sometimes the process of becoming pregnant can be very stressful and discouraging. Below are five reasons that infertility may be affecting your pregnancy process. Continue Reading Article >

6 Things About Pregnancy You Weren't Prepared For

Getting pregnant is pretty cool; I mean think about it… tiny little humans are forming inside of another. It’s pretty incredible when you stop to think about it, but any woman would think twice before saying pregnancy is nothing but rainbows and happiness. Keep reading to find out some things you might not know about pregnancy. Continue reading article>

10 Blog Ideas For Your Fertility Clinic

10 blog ideas for your fertility clinic

Healthcare social media is the latest trend in medical marketing, and as people rely more and more on technology they turn to the Internet to answer their questions. Blogging is an excellent way to outreach as it not only increases your website’s search engine optimization, but it also gives your visitors a way to personally connect with your practice.

Blogging can be especially beneficial for a fertility clinic for a number of reasons. People like to read about things they can relate to, and thousands of people in the US alone each year are actively trying to start a family, which means they’ll be automatically interested in your content out of the gate.

Additionally, the topic of infertility can be incredibly emotional, and in many cases it can be comforting and much more powerful for women to read about other people’s similar struggles and journeys than it is to hear it from the doctor.

When doing any kind of writing, it’s important to remember who you are trying to appeal to. The ideal audience of a fertility clinic’s blog would likely be females between the ages of 20 – 45, so when writing blogs try to focus on this demographic. It can be difficult to know where to start, but once you sit down and start brainstorming some initial topics everything will start to come naturally. Don’t worry, though! We’ve got 10 blog topic ideas to get your creative wheels turning.

1.         Why You Shouldn’t Skip Out On Your Yearly Gyno. Exam

2.         Breast Feeding: It’s Harder Than It Looks (new mothers give their honest advice on how to deal with the woes of breast feeding)

3.         5 Infertility Treatments Options for Singles

4.         7 Benefits of Seeing a Fertility Specialist

5.         IVF 101: Everything You Need To Know About In Vitro Fertilization

6.         5 Tips For Finding the Perfect Sperm Donor

7.         Getting Pregnant After 40: Tips, Tricks, and Expectations

8.         5 Fertility Success Stories

9.         7 Infertility Signs to Lookout For

10.     How To Talk To Your Partner About Infertility

The most important thing about any blog, whether it’s for a retail company or a fertility clinic, is that the content is relevant, engaging, and varied. Don’t get stuck posting about just one thing. Make sure to have a mix of “feel good” stories, testimonials, and funny pieces, but don’t be afraid to dive into the nitty gritty side of infertility either. Your content should be tailored to the women you’re trying to reach, so remember that that means sharing both sides. 

Written by: Maren Burns

Alternatives To Conventional IVF Treatment

alternatives to conventional ivf treatment

If you’ve struggled to have children, then it’s likely that you’re very familiar with the ins and outs of in vitro fertilization. It’s one of the most common treatment options for couples who struggle with infertility, so it’s pretty well-known throughout the fertility community. What you might not know as much about, though, are the alternative treatment options available to you.

Traditional IVF isn’t the only solution out there, there are actually several different types of IVF available to help with infertility, as well as several other treatment options. Take some time to familiarize yourself with all of your options now.

Different Types of IVF

Dr. John Zhang of New Hope Fertility contributed to Fertility Authority, discussing three alternatives types of in vitro fertilization:

Natural Cycle IVF: With Natural Cycle, there is no medication or stimulation. The woman’s ovulation is monitored and the egg retrieved with the assistance of medical simulation. This significantly cuts down on side effects as there is no hormonal fertility medication leading up to the procedure.

Minimal Stimulation (Mini) IVF: Mini IVF uses, you guessed it, minimal stimulation to get the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Conventional IVF treatment focuses on the quantity of eggs, but Mini IVF strives to produce a small number of high quality eggs.

Ultra Mini IVF: Ulta Mini IVF uses no injectable fertility medications (as opposed to the Mini IVF 1-3). The Ultra Mini IVF treatment relies on oral medications only to produce multiple eggs.

Why Not IVF?

Though IVF can be very successful, there are a lot of things to consider. There are a number of possible IVF side effects that go along with IVF associated with the hormone therapy, the actual procedure, and the pregnancy if it’s successful.

The fertility medications that a patient typically endures before a round of IVF can result in headaches, mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, and bloating.

Side effects associated with the procedure include vaginal discharge, mild cramping and bloating, constipation, and breast tenderness. The egg retrieval may also result in bowel or bladder damage, infection, or bleeding.

If there’s a pregnancy after the IVF treatment, it’s very possible that it will be twins or even triplets since multiple embryos are implanted at once. There’s also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and infants who are premature/born with low birth weight.

Some may consider in vitro fertilization an ethical concern. The idea of selecting certain embryos and discarding others, especially when the reasoning is to scan/avoid diseases and disorders or choose specific genders doesn’t sit well with everyone, but remember that this is your family, so you have the final say.

Lastly, it’s pretty expensive. The cost will differ for everyone based on location, insurance coverage, and a number of other factors, but you can learn more here and here about the pros, cons, and costs associated with IVF.

If you want more information, take a look through one of the various IVF Forums so you can connect with other families who have gone through this or are considering the same course of treatment. They may have some great insights or have questions you may not have thought to ask.

Other Types of Infertility Treatment

If you decide IVF is not for you, that’s okay. There are a lot of infertility treatment options to explore.

For some, fertility medications alone will work. They can help regulate ovulation and stimulate the egg. For others, surgery is a good fit because it can help combat endometriosis or PCOS. There’s also Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which is similar to IVF, but it injects sperm instead of an embryo. IUI can help the embryo form naturally even if the sperm has low motility. Finally, Gestational Surrogacy is another great, popular option, in which another woman carries the baby for the couple.

Whatever you decide, make sure it’s right for you and that you’re honest with your specialist. If something makes you uncomfortable (physically or emotionally), tell them.

Written by: Joanna Hynes

IVF and Embryo Grading: How It Works

IVF and embryo grading: how it works

What is IVF?

Couples with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, male infertility (like low sperm count or sperm with low motility), ovulation disorders, ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, or unexplained infertility may seek out in vitro fertilization. IVF is a fertility treatment option that allows couples to carry their children after they are unable to conceive naturally.

After egg and sperm retrieval, they are combined in a laboratory to create an embryo. Then, a number of embryos are inseminated back in the uterus to hopefully result in a healthy pregnancy.

However, there are some IVF side effects. The procedure may result in discharge, mild cramping and bloating, constipation, breast tenderness, or bowel/bladder damage, infection, or bleeding. The hormone treatment that precedes the procedure may result in headaches, mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, and bloating.

If the IVF treatment is successful, the couple should be prepared for the increased likelihood of multiple pregnancies as well as ectopic pregnancies (especially when the woman has damaged fallopian tubes). IVF may also result in a child born premature or with low birth weight.

What is Embryo Grading?

For all you over-achievers out there - no, unfortunately embryo grading is not a way for your embryos to earn an A+.

After the egg and sperm are combined in the laboratory, they are observed and given a “grade” to ensure that the embryo transfer goes smoothly, and that the embryos inseminated are healthy and likely to result in a pregnancy.

On Day 3, the embryos are in their “cleavage stage,” which means that the cells are actively dividing. That fragmentation is what the specialists are looking for when they grade your embryos. The grade descriptions below were found via ARC Fertility:

      Grade 1: Cells are of equal size; no fragmentation seen

      Grade 2: Cells are of equal size; minor fragmentation only

      Grade 2.5: Cells are mostly of equal size; moderate fragmentation

      Grade 3: Cells are of unequal size; no fragmentation to moderate fragmentation

      Grade 4: Cells are of equal or unequal size; fragmentation is moderate to heavy

Days 5/6 are more important, however, because this is the “blastocyst stage.” Embryos in this stage have a higher chance of implanting, which means you’ll need to implant fewer and the chance for multiple pregnancies decreases. Embryos that reach this stage also have a lower rate of chromosomal disorders. The grade descriptions below were found via Atlanta Infertility:

      Grade 1:The embryo has the appropriate cell number for stage development and the cells are even in their size and shape. The embryos should have little or no fragmentation between cells.

      Grade 2: The embryo has the correct development of cell numbers, with a small amount of fragmentation, or slight unevenness of blastomere sizes.

      Grade 3: The embryo contains blastomeres that are uneven in size and has more than 30% fragmentation. Embryos developing slowly will also receive a grade of 2 or 3 even if they are normal otherwise.

      Grade 4: The embryo contains very few, if any, viable appearing cells and has a high percent fragmentation.

The grade is based on a few other things in addition to fragmentation. Embryo expansion means their size and how it correlates to the fragments below (similar to their density - a large embryo with few fragmentations inside isn’t very strong). The inner cell mass specifies the most desireable cells that will eventually grow into a baby. The trophectoderm, on the other hand, specifies the most desireable cells that will eventually grow into the placenta and will initiate the implantation to the uterine wall.

Written by: Joanna Hynes