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

Fast food is bad for fertility

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Does anyone else remember when we first started realizing that fast food was unhealthy? I personally remember watching the documentary “Super Size Me”and being shocked; I think we all suspected that fast food wasn’t as healthy as a home-cooked meal, but few of us realized just how dangerous this food could be for our health. Documentaries like “Super Size Me” revealed the negative impact of fast food on health: significant physical and psychological negative impacts were found with regular fast food consumption. Worse yet, this documentary showed how corporations encourage poor nutrition through marketing in order to benefits its own profits.

 

New research now shows that fast food is particularly harmful when trying to conceive. In this study, the nutrition habits of couples trying to conceive were watched. What they found was that couples that ate the most fast food and the least fruits & vegetables took longer to conceive and were more likely to have infertility. This study also found that the effect was dose-dependent: couples that ate the most fast food (>4 times/week) had the highest risk of infertility.

 

Take home points:

  • There are many reasons why you shouldn’t eat fast food. Your fertility is one of them.
  • Limit or altogether avoid fast food while trying to conceive
  • Try to eat diets full of fruits & vegetables to enhance your natural fertility

Recharging Egg Health for Women Trying to Conceive; the role of CoEnzyme Q10

One challenge to diagnosing and managing fertility problems is our inability to estimate the healthfulness of any woman’s eggs. We know that as women age; egg quality declines. But that doesn’t really help us know the viability of the eggs that someone has now. Even more bothersome is nobody fully understands the physiology of immature eggs—the ones not yet fertilized. But we do know that they require a lot of energy.

CoQ10

CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential aspect of the part of the egg that generates power (mitochondria). This enzyme helps our cells convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. It also helps protect our cells from the enzymes that cause them to breakdown—something that most of any woman’s eggs are destined to do. CoQ10 is also a potent anti-oxidant that can help protect the DNA in the egg from damage. These are three vital functions.

 

Although your body makes most of the CoQ10 you need; we do get some from our diet as well. The richest dietary sources are meat, chicken and fish as well as soybeans, canola oil and nuts. Unfortunately there is no easy way to measure which women have adequate CoQ10 and those that would benefit from more. There is no simple test. However, a recent study did provide some insights into the potential benefit of CoQ10 supplementation for fertility patients going through treatment.

 

A prospective, randomized study followed 186 women that were considered to have a reduced chance of achieving a successful pregnancy through IVF due to them being classified as having a decreased ovarian reserve. Half were placed on CoQ10 supplements beginning about 60 days before their egg retrieval. They found that the women placed on CoQ10 had a higher number of eggs retrieved, a higher fertilization rate and produced better quality embryos. Another randomized study found improved ovarian response and higher pregnancy rates in women with PCOS given a smaller dose of CoQ10 during ovulation induction treatment.

 

So if you’re trying to conceive, consider whether or not you may benefit from this important supplement. This may be especially important if you’re older than 35 years of age, have a low ovarian reserve, history of previous treatment failure or have PCOS. If you’re looking for a reliable brand of this supplement, here’s the one that I typically recommend to my patients: https://theralogix.com/products/neoq10-coenzyme-q10-supplement

 

Stay healthy,

~Robert

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Having challenges getting pregnant? Laughter can help!

Most of us are goal oriented. As a result, any obstacle that interferes with us achieving an important result produces changes in our physiology that are referred to as “stress.” Sometimes stress can be a positive response. It can help us think creatively, remember details better and provide motivation to try harder. Unfortunately, the stress associated with trying to conceive is not helpful.

Whether trying to become pregnant naturally or with medical assistance; we work with our patients to help reduce the physiologic obstacles created by stress. One of the simplest ways to help reduce stress is to smile. Even when smiles are artificially induced; they can reduce the physiologic impact of stress. But we encourage people to go even further.

Baby Laughing

As a scientist and clinician, I love having data to further support recommendations. Research on how your body responds to laughter has shown improved immune function. In fact, that data focused in on a specific type of immune cell (NK cell) that we know impacts implantation and early pregnancy. But the best data comes from testing the hypothesis in real world situations like what has been done on patients going through IVF.

One well-designed interventional study followed 220 couples going through IVF. They had half of them randomly assigned to meet with a comedian around the time of their transfer to promote laughter. They found that the pregnancy rate in those exposed to laughter were almost double! Although this study has not (yet) been repeated; the results do make sense. We’ve all experienced serious situations where we have laughed—sometimes even apologizing for our laughter—only to feel better afterwards.

So as you proceed, consider the following advice: “Laugh often and smile loudly”

Mirthfully yours,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Metformin Reduces Miscarriage Risk

I have written previous blog posts about the various ways that metformin can improve fertility treatment. These studies typically focus on the influence that this medication seems to have on becoming pregnant. We now have compelling evidence that this medication can also optimize your chance of completing your pregnancy. In other words, metformin is associated with a reduction in the risk of miscarriage.

Mid Pregnancy Yoga

Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester. It is estimated that 80% of pregnancy losses occur within the first 6 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Previous research has shown that use of metformin may help reduce this risk due to various ways that it seems to influence egg quality and by stabilizing first trimester hormone shifts. Now a study has found that continuing metformin reduces the risk of later miscarriage by 50%!

 

A very well designed study followed nearly 500 women in 14 difference centers as their pregnancies progressed. These women had been randomly assigned to take metformin based upon a previous diagnosis of risk due to either PCOS or concerns of potential gestational diabetes. Unfortunately, 10% of women taking the placebo lost their pregnancy after the first trimester. But the women taking metformin had less than half as many pregnancy losses! Since no other treatment has demonstrated a comparable ability to reduce the risk of second trimester loss—these results are pretty impressive.

 

So if you feel that you may be at risk of second trimester pregnancy loss or gestational diabetes; discuss with your provider whether or not you may be a candidate for metformin.

Stay informed,

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates

Boxers vs. Briefs; another popular myth falls to scientific investigation

There are many common health related beliefs that are popular in our culture today. The field of fertility medicine probably has more than most; for instance check out this excerpt from the popular sitcom Seinfeld. These recommendations are often driven by an idea and maybe even a theory that sounds valid. But rarely are they ever challenged by good investigation. Through time, these suggestions can even become recognized as facts despite the lack of supporting data. This has been the case in how men are advised to help their partner conceive more quickly. “Boxers over briefs” has been the unchallenged advice for underwear for decades…until now.

Boxers v Briefs

The best study to date was recently published in the journal Andrology. They tracked over 500 couples for a year to see if there was a correlation between time to pregnancy, conception delay or infertility in men who wore boxers vs. briefs. They even tracked daytime vs. nighttime habits as well. Although there some changes in sperm counts and other parameters; this did not impact their true goal of having a baby. So it’s best for men to focus on other helpful instructions to optimize their sperm quality and count.

 

Here are few helpful tips:

 

Stay informed,

~Robert

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado