At our center, we have long held that your circadian rhythm–how your biology responds to the day-night cycle–impacts your fertility. This is one of the many reasons we focus on optimizing vitamin D levels, melatonin (when necessary) and paying careful attention to our embryo transfer schedules. In case your fertility center hasn’t figured out how important that this is, check out the following recent study on miscarriage risk associated with time shifts. https://consumer.healthday.com/infertility-information-22/infertility-news-412/daylight-savings-time-may-lower-chances-of-ivf-success-for-some-study-719514.html
As those of you who have already been through IVF may know, we advise you not to wear strong scented perfumes or lotions on the day of your egg retrieval. Evidence shows that strongly scented perfumes release chemicals that may be toxic to eggs and sperm. Now studies show that you should consider avoiding fragrances all together, even if you aren’t at the IVF stage of treatment. Remember, if you can smell something it’s not only getting into your body but its actually getting directly into your bloodstream as if it were injected!
Don’t contribute to secondhand scent problems! One thing we all share intimately is the air that we breathe. There is growing evidence that your cologne, perfume or air freshener may not only harm your health and fertility; but those are around you as well. A recent study found that one-third of Americans report health problems linked to commonly fragranced consumer products. So your as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, laundry products, scented candles, cologne, and personal care products may be worsening some else’s asthma attack, migraine headache, or even poor performance in school or at work. Fragranced products are pervasive in our society, and over 99% of Americans are regularly exposed to fragranced products due to their own use or to someone else’s use. Some of the most bothersome chemicals include: Limonene, pinenes, acetone, ethanol, camphor, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, limonene, benzene, formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, methylene chloride, acetaldehyde, synthetic musks, phthalates, etc . But rather than becoming an expert chemist, consider looking at a database like the one set up the be Environmental Working Group. This resource can help you better understand your own brands as well as provide guidance to some safer alternatives.
Take home points:
- Look for “fragrance-free” not “unscented” products.
- Do not use air fresheners. All air fresheners, even those advertised as “natural” or “organic” or with “essential oils” emit chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous. Don’t use them.
Fertility treatment is stressful. Worse still, there is evidence that stress can reduce your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. For both of these reasons we’re aggressively seeking ways to help our patients reduce their stress. Here is another excellent study demonstrating the incorporating a yoga practice into the lead-in time to fertility treatment is one effective strategy. Smile, breathe and read on: https://www.mdlinx.com/obstetrics-gynecology/medical-news-article/2015/02/18/infertility-in-vitro-fertilization-stress-yoga/5919631/
One of the most frustrating experiences for some women preparing to go through IVF is to find an ovarian cyst at their baseline ultrasound. An ovarian cyst can produce hormones that inhibit the ability of other follicles to develop and even reduce their potential by their size alone. Worse still, in rare instances they can grow and become a surgical emergency. For these reasons, most fertility specialists prescribe a birth control pill (to inhibit further growth) and cycle delay in order to let the ovaries return to a resting state before starting the ovarian stimulation process. However, this is not the only option.
Ovarian cyst aspiration is a procedure that I have been performing for over a decade. And yet, I’ve long been amazed that my colleagues don’t offer this simple procedure to their patients. Many cite the “lack of data” as the reason that they never started draining cysts. I had to go to a prominent cardiology journal to find a well designed study on ovarian cyst drainage back in 2006—the results were very encouraging. Since that time several studies were performed and their data was collectively summarized in a Cochrane review published in 2014. Ironically, their conclusion is that cyst drainage did not improve the pregnancy rate over cycle cancellation. But it is also noteworthy, that draining the cyst prior to proceeding did not reduce the chance of pregnancy, did not reduce the number of eggs collected in the IVF cycle, nor did the procedure create an increase in complications or cycle cancellations.
Here at Conceptions, I’ve done a small study on the last 60 cyst drainage cases—all performed within the last year and a half. The patients rated the discomfort of the procedure as about a two out of ten (range 0 to 4). We have not experienced any complications of bleeding, infection or cycle cancellation. Most notably, all of the patients felt that the option of having their cyst drained instead of simply delaying their cycle was a very positive experience.
Conclusion: cyst drainage prior to IVF is a safe and reasonable alternative to delay-and-pray approach.
We often talk about how important it is to create the ideal environment in the lab to foster healthy embryo growth. Ironically, music is part of our system and there are the occasional discussions about who should choose the station and what sort of music we should listen to. Now a new study suggests that maybe it should be the…embryos! If it works, we’re all for it!
The Mediterranean diet has long been promoted as a heart-healthy eating plan. This diet incorporates healthy eating like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and limits unhealthy fats like animal fats. A recent study, however, suggests that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet may be further reaching.
A group in Greece evaluated men attending a fertility clinic and determined their adherence to a Mediterranean Diet. They then compared their semen analysis results. What they found was incredibly interesting: men who deviated the most from the Mediterranean diet were 2.6 times more likely to have lower sperm counts and decreased motility in their compared to men who followed the Mediterranean diet closely. These results suggest that greater adherence with this diet may help improve semen quality.
This study doesn’t directly answer all the questions we need answered like whether changing your diet will improve your semen parameters or whether you will be more likely to get pregnant on your own with this diet. So unfortunately, the answer is “no”: an apple a day may not keep you out of the fertility clinic. We still think it’s worth a try!
Happy 2017! Like many others, I use the new year as a time to reflect on what I can continue to improve on. The global obesity crisis is real and it is common for weight loss to be a new year’s resolution. Although the risks of infertility and pregnancy complications is understood with female obesity, men have largely been left out of these discussions until now.
A new study released by the NIH suggests that dad’s weight also has a significant influence on child development. Children of obese parents may be at risk for developmental delays. The study found that children of obese fathers were more likely to fail developmental tests, like measures of social competence or problem solving ability.
It is not known why parental obesity might increase children’s risk for developmental delay. But if you or your partner are obese, now is the time to re-consider what you can do to become healthier.
Wishing you all a healthy and fertile 2017!