Guest Blog: From One Patient-To-Another–an offer of support

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Hi, my name is Lisa and I recently went through IVF.  I became a mother at the age of 40 and am blessed to have our miracle baby girl who is now 10 months old. Having been through this process I understand how overwhelming everything can seem at first.  Here are a few things I learned along the way and encourage others to consider if they are beginning their first cycle.

 

  • The opportunity to be connected with other women who had either gone through infertility treatments or were going through it at that time—–

It was by chance I had a few other friends who were also experiencing infertility challenges, and I was fortunate to form my own mini support group. My openness about what I was going through enabled me to be connected by a local friend to a support group she knew of based in NYC.  The value of sisterhood support I had was immeasurable.  I encourage you to seek out support groups and would suggest searching online for local ones in your city.

 

  • To be informed of resources and specialists who could support you along this journey—-

I learned of a highly regarded acupuncturist from a technician during one of my ultrasound appointments; I wish I had been able to start seeing him sooner because of the valuable information he shared. Throughout my IVF journey I learned of many other individuals who were invaluable to me through their gifts of energy work and healing through art. Be open to healers, coaches, and therapists who may be able to help guide you on this path.

 

  • Support for the emotional rollercoaster you go through—-

There is little attention given to the varying challenges you experience being on all the medications; No one really addresses the emotional impact.  I believe it’s one of the most important factors in giving yourself the best chance of everything working out; If you’re not in a good mindset and able to roll through the low periods then it makes this process that much harder.  You need strategies to help yourself through feelings such as depression, shame, loneliness, anger, hopelessness, desperation and fear.  Try your best to continue doing things that bring you joy and your body, heart and mind will thank you.

 

  • No one prepares you for the setbacks you may experience, as it doesn’t always happen in the timeframe you may hope—–

Little did I know I would have to have 3 surgeries after my second egg retrieval to prepare my body for our embryo transfer; It was one whole year of waiting. During those months and months of waiting as I healed I learned that there were many things I could not control, but there was a whole lot I COULD control. Try not to be too rigid when things are “supposed” to happen. Everything is happening in the exact timing that is needed to help you get to your ultimate destination.

 

I feel so passionate about helping individuals through this process.  Women don’t need to go through this process alone, and partners are in need of support too.  My background as an Occupational Therapist helped prepare me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  I want to empower others on their journey to parenthood, with the help of reproductive medicine, through sharing in my own success strategies and tools.  For further support you may contact me at www.IVFManifestingAMiracle.com where you will also find my personal blog. Cheering you all on your path to manifesting your miracles.
Lisa White, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist & IVF Mentor

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

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

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