IVF might not be enough

I am incredibly proud to work at a REI clinic that has the highest live birth rate in the country. A recent study, however, suggests that IVF may not be enough. Lifestyle and the environment can impact your IVF success rates, even at a top notch REI clinic.

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In this study, levels of pesticides and common pollutants were measured in the fluid that was obtained from the ovary during an egg retrieval. They found that higher levels of Pretilachlor, β-cyfluthrin, PCB 28 and 180 was associated with fewer eggs at retrieval, lower fertilization rates, and impaired embryo development. They also found that high PCB and pesticide concentrations negatively affected embryological outcomes. This study provides evidence that these harmful chemicals are found in the fluid surrounding individual eggs and are associated with decreased success with IVF. This suggests that if you want the very best chances of success with IVF, you should consider optimizing your lifestyle to minimize exposure to these harmful chemicals.

 

What you can do:

  • Learn how to minimize your exposure to PCBs and pesticides
  • Make a plan to optimize your health before you invest in an IVF cycle
  • Talk to your doctor about a timeline for implementing these changes

Great resource

I spend a considerable amount of time working with my patients to prepare them for a healthy pregnancy.  Lifestyle modifications like small changes to your diet and environment can absolutely optimize your chances of conceiving, regardless of what kind of treatment you are undergoing. This blog is dedicated to exploring the research behind our recommendations to couples.

I want to share an additional helpful resource to those of you who are trying to initiate these lifestyle changes. This group helps you tackle lifestyle changes, one room at a time in a user friendly and interactive manner. Check them out!

 

 

 

 

Air pollution stinks!

Common air pollutants include ozone and fine particles. Exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of problems with fertility and pregnancy complications like pregnancy loss.

 

A recent study conducted in Michigan and Texas found that ozone, commonly found in urban smog, was associated with early pregnancy loss. These researchers found that couples that had higher exposures to ozone were more likely to experience and early pregnancy loss than couples who had lower levels of exposure to air pollution. We do not know why exposure to air pollutants might cause pregnancy loss, but it could be related to inflammation and oxidative stress.

 

This is not the first time we have seen that air pollution can negatively impact fertility. Researchers in Salt Lake City found that sperm parameters like sperm motility were decreased for two to three months after exposure to higher air pollution. In a study done in Korea, researchers found that exposure to air pollution resulted in pregnancies rates through IVF.

 

These findings suggest that women who are trying to conceive and pregnant women may want to consider avoiding outdoor activity during air quality alerts, but more research is needed to confirm this association.

 

What you can do:

  • Click here to learn more about air pollution and how you can reduce your exposure

Organic Food and your Fertility

Has anyone else noticed that just about everything is available now as “organic?!” Should we buy organic everything? I mean, Oreo’s?! How is that even an option? Is buying organic worth it?

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Organic food refers to food produced with limited pesticides, fertilizers, and additives. Organic foods tend to be higher in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidant content compared to conventionally grown food. Conventionally produced food is associated with higher rates of various cancers compared to organic foods.

 

Organic food is usually more expensive than conventionally produced food. But is the cost worth it?

 

A recent study evaluated pesticide exposure in couples going to a fertility clinic. They found that the more pesticides a couple consumed, the less likely they were to get pregnant and bring home a healthy child. This finding was dose dependent: women with the highest pesticide exposure had the lowest pregnancy rates.  This was true even though the couples were going through fertility treatments. This suggests that dietary pesticide exposure can be associated with difficulty conceiving.

 

Switching to organic products can also reduce your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals and support beneficial practices for our environment.

 

What you can do:

  • Buy organic produce whenever possible. Some products are more worth the cost than others. Consider being selectively organic to keep your budget on track.
  • Just because something is labeled as “organic” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Organic junk food is still junk food.
  • Buying organic doesn’t fix everything. Organic food has just as many calories as conventional food. And buying organic is healthy, but should not be used as a substitute for going to the gym.

You CAN improve your swimmers

Nearly 40-50% of couples who are having trouble getting pregnant have a male factor impacting their ability to conceive. Part of the evaluation includes performing a semen analysis, which measures how much sperm is produced. These results can help us learn if there is a male factor contributing to your infertility.

The majority of preconception counseling involves preparing a woman for a healthy pregnancy. I go even further and encourage your entire family to make positive changes to their nutrition when trying to conceive. Not only will you all become healthier, which will enhance your fertility as a couple,  but you will also keep one another motivated because it’s hard work!

We have previously reviewed what guys can do to boost their fertility and improve their numbers on this test.  A recent study adds to this: what you eat impacts your semen analysis results and, ultimately, how easy it is for a couple to conceive. Men who stick to a healthy diet were found to have more sperm and a greater number of swimming sperm. This suggests that men with poor sperm counts could potentially improve their numbers with their nutrition when trying to conceive.

So keep up the good work and continue to motivate one another to be the healthiest you can be when trying to conceive. Fertility and enhancing fertility is a team effort.

Reduce your risk of autism with a vitamin!

My goal as a REI is to help provide patients with the information they need to not only boost their natural fertility, but also to help them have a healthy pregnancy and to, ultimately, bring home a happy healthy kiddo. Those of you who know a family affected by autism, know how terrifying the condition can be. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior.

Autism is thought to develop during pregnancy. Many neurodevelopmental disorders, like problems with the baby’s spinal cord, are known to be impacted by maternal nutrition during pregnancy. New research suggests that what mom eats during her pregnancy may alter the risk of her child developing autism.

In this large study of over 270,000 mother-child pairs, women were screened for vitamin use and their children were followed to see if they developed autism throughout childhood. Maternal multivitamin use with or without additional iron or folic acid, or both was associated with lower odds of having an autistic child with intellectual disability in the child compared with mothers who did not use multivitamins, iron, and folic acid (odds ratio 0.69).  This study suggests that maternal multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy may be something women can do to decrease their risk of having a child with autism.

 

What you can do:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin when you are trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy