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!
Here is a couple that we had the opportunity to assist in 2016! Their story is too perfect and deserves to serve an example of why all of our wounded veterans deserve fertility coverage. Please check it out in today’s New York Times.
Having been through fertility treatment with my own wife, I understand how awkward the holidays can be for couples faced with probing questions, inappropriate advice and sometimes just being around friends and family. Dr. Grindler–as both a mom and compassionate provider–is also very empathetic to what her patients are going through as well. Here are some tips that we hope that you may find helpful and empowering as you plan your fertile future!
–Positive redirection–the act of visualizing and verbalizing your desired future is a common technique endorsed by many therapists. By repeatedly saying what your goals are, you not only reduce your own stress but you may actually help shape your future. So a polite response to queries can be: “…we’re planning to start our family in the coming year!”
— Allow yourself to feel however you are feeling- sad, deprived, depressed, unsure. We both understand, firsthand, that infertility is a major life crisis; you are entitled to these feelings. Choose to use the holidays as a time for you and your partner to become even more of a team and present a united front at holiday gatherings. Use each other for support.
–Practice self-compassion—This is a great year to be kind to yourself and your holiday calendar. Consider passing on any specific events that you may be dreading. It’s ok to be a little selfish, not go to a party, and protect yourself from an upsetting situation. Most people don’t mean any harm; they simply don’t get it. If you need to leave a party early or arrive somewhere late; do that. If you need to skip a holiday event with family this year, skip it. These do not make you a bad person. Be kind to yourself this holiday season and put your well-being first.
–Consider lending a helping hand—Helping others in need may help rejuvenate your holiday season.
–Reevaluate your diet and lifestyle–consider steps that you and your partner can take to improve your health and fitness. Maybe now is the time to consider making better food choices or actually shedding the extra pounds that may be hampering your chances of conceiving.
–Create a “green home”–many of your household products may contain hormone disrupting chemicals that can be impairing your fertility.
–Create a financial plan–treatment can be expensive but it can also be your best path toward creating your family. So review your insurance benefits in detail rather than keeping the same one. Consider funding a medical flexible spending account. If you’re open to going public…set up a “go-fund-me” site and direct your friends and family to make donations. Here is one couple’s experience with crowdfunding for IVF.
Happy Holidays and Here’s to your Fertile Future!
We’ve already provided pretty compelling reasons why it is worthwhile to avoid these chemicals with a funny name but now there is even more evidence. A new study has now found that these chemicals can reduce the chance that a man’s sperm will make a healthy embryo. Bottom line is that paying careful attention to your potential exposure risk with both your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy home to raise your child.
Here are some easy steps that you can take to begin reducing your phthalate level today:
- Only use nail polishes that are phthalate free—most add a phthalate called DBP to reduce chipping
- Don’t microwave or cook your food in plastic containers or use plastic utensils to eat hot foods—heat leaches this chemical out of the plastics and into food—the easiest pathway into your body
- Avoid plastic bottles—seek out glass or metal instead. When you must use plastic seek out bottles with the #2, #4 and #5 in the recycle triangle
- Avoid perfumes and scented products—phthalates (DEP) are used to prolong fragrances
- Don’t use air fresheners—most contain phthalates
- Avoid vinyl containing products—many products like lawn furniture, rain coats or shower curtains can not only release phthalates that can be inhaled but they can also be absorbed through the skin as well.
There is a global obesity epidemic. More than one BILLION adults are projected to be obese by 2025. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as numerous types of cancers. Obesity, in either male or female partners, is associated with a decrease in the ability to become pregnant. Obese women are not only at an increased risk of having trouble conceiving, they are also at risk of: needing medications to conceive, being less responsive to fertility treatments, losing pregnancies to miscarriage, having children with birth defects, as well as having complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Many people use artificial sweeteners or “diet” drinks as a substitute for whole ingredients with the hope of cutting calories. A recent study suggests that this may be a bad idea. This group followed people for 10+ years and found that people that used low-calorie sweeteners had a higher body mass index (BMI), larger waist circumference, and were more likely to be obese. This paper suggests that using low-calorie sweeteners may not be effective means of weight control, and might even lead to harm.
When I review studies like this, I think it’s important to note that these studies are NOT designed to prove that artificial sweeteners CAUSE obesity; rather, they show an ASSOCIATION at a population level. For me, as a physician and mom, this association is reason enough to be cautious about the use of artificial sweeteners. For others, especially die-hard Diet Coke drinkers, they might want more proof before changing their diet habits.
There is no easy solution for weight loss; diet drinks probably aren’t going to help. If you are overweight or obese, don’t lose hope. Even a modest weight loss (10-15% body weight) can enhance your natural fertility. It will take hard work through diet and lifestyle changes. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks in general. Consider using natural sweeteners like stevia (Dr. Greene’s favorite!) or honey (my favorite!) instead of artificial ingredients. Your selection in which sweetener you use, is likely going to depend on what is most important to you including considerations like why you are using a sweetener, why you are looking for artificial sweeteners (cutting calories), and taste. Please be an informed consumer and make sure that you know why you are making the choices that you make. Taking care of yourselves will help prepare you for a healthy pregnancy and prepare you to be healthy parents.