Caution about Sunscreen Use

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If your family is anything like ours, sunscreen is a routine part of our daily lives. Sunscreens protect our skin from sunlight using mineral or chemical filters. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Most sunscreens use chemical filters that contain active ingredients such as oxybenzone. Studies have demonstrated that these chemical filters mimic hormones and can act as endocrine disrupting chemicals.

 

Sunscreen exposure increases our exposure to chemical filters, such as oxybenzone. Oxybenzone use is widespread throughout the US. It is detected in nearly every American.

 

The reproductive system is sensitive to environmental factors. Early pregnancy is a particularly vulnerable time for endocrine disruption. Exposures when trying to conceive can impact the likelihood of conceiving as well as the health of the pregnancy.

 

Oxybenzone exposure and exposure to related compounds is associated with male infertility  and poorer reproductive success in men undergoing fertility treatments. Similarly, men with greater exposure to a similar compound found in sunscreen had poorer sperm quality and took longer to conceive. Female exposures to oxybenzone and related chemicals have been linked to increased risk of endometriosis and problems with ovulation. These chemicals have also been associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in pregnancy.

 

The good news is that we can be informed consumers and change our exposure.

This is a great resource of safer sunscreen alternatives.

 

 

Take home points

  • Avoid sunscreens with chemical filters, particularly oxybenzone
  • Use mineral sunscreens when possible when trying to conceive

Infertility hurts! For many that pain is due to endometriosis

Many women that are trying to conceive suffer with pelvic pain on a regular basis. Oftentimes, they had previously gone on birth control pills to help manage this discomfort. For obvious reasons, that isn’t an option compatible with getting pregnant. It’s important to know that there are other options.

Pelvic Pain

One of the most common reasons for pelvic pain in women with fertility problems is due to endometriosis. In fact, one study found that one of every three women with infertility has this condition. Paradoxically, the best way to treat endometriosis is to become pregnant. Yet the presence of endometriosis is associated with infertility. It is possible that the inflammation causing the pain also makes it an unhealthy environment for eggs and sperm. However, the drugs commonly used to treat inflammation can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.

 

A recent analysis has revealed that one of the best ways to reduce pain in women with endometriosis might be through acupuncture. Better still, acupuncture can also provide other potential benefits for patients trying to become pregnant like improved pelvic blood flow and a reduction in stress hormone levels.

 

In previous blog posts we have also described the potential benefit of a naturally produced supplement called pycnogenol. We have had many patients take this supplement and achieve partial to complete relief of pelvic pain. It may even help boost your odds of becoming pregnant!

 

As always, please talk to your provider before starting any treatment to get their input on whether or not it is appropriate for you.

 

Stay informed,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

IVF is more common than most realize

Laboratory microscopic research of IVF (in vitro fertilization).

How many of you have seen celebrity couples that seem to effortlessly conceive only to think to yourself, “How is that even possible?!” The answer, to those of us who know about the journey of infertility, is that many get help through assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF. I want to share this recent article.

IVF is much more common than we all realize. At least 8 million babies have been born through IVF.

Your neighborhood friend, a celebrity, and even a family member may have used IVF to conceive and you would have no way of knowing that they needed the extra help- Their children are just as cute. And despite a growing number of celebrities speaking out about infertility recently, many still shy away from sharing their stories to family and friends.

My friendly advice is to let go of any insecurities or guilt about using help to create your family.  IVF is much more common than we all realize.

 

One Baby at a Time

Our blog is dedicated to what we can do to optimize fertility and help with the ultimate goal of bringing home a healthy child. Although there are lots of ways to build a family, many patients use IVF. In IVF, we use medications to grow multiple eggs at the same time with the hope of developing multiple embryos in the lab. Once we have a healthy embryo, we use embryo transfer to get our patients pregnant.

 

One baby at a time is always the safest thing for mom and baby.

 

When IVF first started, the success rates were low, so it was common for clinics to place multiple embryos back in with the hope of one of them sticking. Now that our field’s success rates are much better, we need to step back and look at the goal that our patients ask us to help them with on the initial patient consultation: building a healthy family.

 

Although success rates vary based on individual clinics, I work for a clinic that has the highest live birth rate in the nation. This means that the majority of patients get pregnant and bring home a healthy child later that year from the first embryo transfer. This also means that if we put back two embryos, there will be twins, but possibly even more, like triplets or even quadruplets.

 

One baby at a time is always the safest thing for mom and baby.

 

Multiple pregnancies, like twins, are higher risk for just about everything. Children from a multiple pregnancy are higher risk being stillborn, having a birth defect, developing autism, prolonged admission to the neonatal ICU, and cerebral palsy than single babies. For moms of multiples, they are at higher risk of developing severe complications including life-threatening conditions like pre-eclampsia, diabetes of pregnancy, and delivering preterm.

 

One baby at a time is always the safest thing for mom and baby.

 

Infertility treatments like IVF are expensive, both emotionally and financially. Putting back more than one embryo at a time will not save you money. It won’t get you that healthy family sooner. In fact, multiple studieshave shown that because of the higher risks of complications to mom and baby, these pregnanciescost much more than one pregnancy at a time.

 

That is why, in our practice, the majority of patients get one embryo transferred at a time. The average number of embryos transferred in our practice is 1.1. We are very proud of this! Other clinics are doing this across the countrytoo. Together, we are helping develop a generation of healthier moms and babies.

 

Take home points:

  • One baby at a time is always the safest thing for mom and baby.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have more questions

Current Estimate of Vitamin D’s Influence on Fertility and Miscarriage Rate

We have reviewed many previous studies on the why the hormone referred to as Vitamin D is so important to pregnancy. However, a new analysis resulted in a news release from the National Institute of Health. Simply put they stated the following findings:

  • Women with adequate vitamin D levels were 10% more likely to become pregnant
  • Pregnant women with sufficient vitamin D were 15% more likely to have a live birth

Simply put, now that we fully appreciate that vitamin D is a hormone produced in our skin—it makes even more sense that women insure that they have sufficient levels during their reproductive years.

 

If you’ve never had your levels tested, consider consulting your provider to discuss this simple life hack.

Shine on,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Depression in Dads

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The stress related to a diagnosis of infertility parallels what is experienced with a cancer diagnosis or grief of the loss of a loved one. We all recognize that stress has a negative impact on our health and can impact fertility. However, most of what we know has been from studies based on the female partner.  New research demonstrates that the stress of infertility on male partners should be considered as well.

 

Nearly 50% of men seeking IVF reported symptoms of depression. 50%! This study found that although major depression is more common in female partners than in male partners, it can still have a significant impact on fertility success. Couples in which the male partner had major depression were 60% less likely to conceive and have a live birth than those in which the male partner did not have depression.

 

Although this study shows an association between male depression and decreased likelihood of success with fertility treatments, it leaves many questions about whether one causes the other unanswered. What this study does a great job at, however, is demonstrating the need for us to focus on the health of all our families prior to conception.

 

Take Home Points:

  • Infertility and the associated treatments are a major life stressor.
  • Depression during fertility treatments can be common, in both female and male partners
  • Untreated depression in men may decrease fertility
  • Talk to your REI and primary care doctor if you think depression is impacting your life

Your blood pressure matters

High blood pressure has long been known to be linked to heart disease and stroke, but why does it matter in our fertility patients, who are overall young & healthy? Doesn’t high blood pressure matter later in life? Why is your fertility clinic checking blood pressure? Many of our patients have noticed that we make a significant effort to measure blood pressure at each visit. So, what’s the deal? Is blood pressure also important for your fertility?

In a recent study, researchers found that women who had higher blood pressure had an 18% higher risk of suffering a pregnancy loss, or miscarriage, than patients with normal blood pressure. Although this study shows an association between elevated blood pressure and pregnancy, it does not prove that hypertension actually causes pregnancy loss. It does, however, show that the best way to have a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy is to start by being the healthiest you can be before conception.

 

What you can do:

  • Be a pro-active patient. Learn about your baseline normal blood pressure and talk to your doctor if you notice that your blood pressure is elevated