Fertility Myths

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Fertility Myths

Here are some of the most common female fertility myths:

❌Age does not matter:
✅Many women are of the notion that they can wait as long as they want to and can comfortably get pregnant in later years of their life. While it is not impossible to get pregnant at an older age, it is important to note that age is the single most effective factor when it comes to female fertility. A woman is born with a definite number of eggs at the time of birth, and as age progresses, the fertility keeps on decreasing. According to many experts, female fertility starts declining sharply after the age of 35.

❌Lifestyle does not affect fertility:
✅Various studies have found that women who live an active and healthy lifestyle have better chances of conceiving as compared to those living an unhealthy lifestyle at the same age. Unhealthy diet and activities like smoking, consumption of alcohol, drugs, etc. greatly reduce the fertility potential over a period of time. Women who are obese also find it difficult to conceive. Obesity not only contributes to female infertility but can also contribute to various other health risks like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, etc.

❌Women who already have a child do not have fertility issues:
✅Another common myth surrounding female fertility is that women who have had a successful pregnancy have no fertility issues. It is quite common that women who had their first babies without any issues often face difficulty while conceiving for the second time (this is known as secondary infertility). There can be various factors leading to secondary infertility like age, other health problems, etc.

❌Treatments always result in multiples:
✅There is another common myth that infertility treatment methods like IVF, ICSI, etc. always result in multiple babies. While it was relatively common in the past to have multiple babies due to infertility treatments, these days there is hardly any risk of multiple babies as modern technology allows embryologists to carefully select the embryos before implanting.

❌Female infertility is the only reason for infertility:
✅Most people assume that infertility is always related to females, which is not the case. For a successful conception and pregnancy, both the male as well as the female need to be fertile. If either of the partners is infertile, it may lead to infertility. Moreover, male fertility is also quite common and contributes to a large number of cases of infertility.

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What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is a condition from which women suffer a variety of symptoms related to reproductive hormonal imbalances.

If you suffer from PCOS – it means that you have a higher number of healthy but underdeveloped follicles in your ovaries and because of these hormonal imbalances – egg development does not progress as with a typical menstrual cycle, as there is no lead egg maturing for release at the time of ovulation. The underdeveloped follicles are referred to as polycystic or ‘cysts’.

🌺Symptoms of PCOS
The initial signs and symptoms of PCOS can be apparent in your mid-late teens as you go through puberty but not all women will have the exact same symptoms and many do not experience all of them.

It likely that you will have been diagnosed with PCOS if you suffer irregular periods, prolonged periods or no periods at all.

If the androgens (male hormones) in your body are imbalanced, you may also suffer from hirsutism, which can cause excessive hair growth on the face, neck, chest, back and buttocks.

You may also experience weight gain, thinning hair, oily skin or acne and subsequently, you may find that you have difficulty conceiving when trying to start a family.

🌺What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but it is thought to be linked to abnormal reproductive hormone levels. There may also be a genetic link to developing PCOS as it has been known to run in families. Therefore, your risk of developing PCOS may be increased if your female relatives (mother, aunt or sister) have been diagnosed.

Women with PCOS are found to have an imbalance in certain hormones, which can include:

🔻Higher levels of LH (Luteinising Hormone)
🔻High Insulin
🔻Higher levels of testosterone
🔻Raised levels of prolactin (hormone generated in your pituitary gland, located just below your brain)
🔻Lower levels of SHBG – The SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin)

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Fertility Treatments Should not be a Privilege

It is not uncommon for couples to run fundraising campaigns and/or take on a significant financial burden just to undergo fertility treatment
While the journey for those people who are struggling with fertility may begin with unrecognized health problems, it may continue with difficulties in obtaining services that often are not covered by health insurance.

There are multiple reasons why some couples have problems conceiving or carrying a child. This pathology is best evaluated and diagnosed by fertility reproductive specialists. Unfortunately, access to reproductive endocrinologists (REIs) specifically trained to evaluate and manage reproductive conditions is limited.
Like in most other diseases, early diagnosis and treatment can drastically reduce both financial and emotional burdens while improving positive outcomes. So how can you access high-quality fertility care without imposing financial burdens on yourself?

While technology can certainly help and improve the odds of conception, only an REI specialist can diagnose and prescribe medical treatment. And only telehealth is uniquely equipped to provide access to specialty doctors for underprivileged societal groups who otherwise lack access to highly specialized care.

Conducting video calls with doctors has become the de-facto option for many during the current Covid-19 pandemic that canceled all non-urgent medical procedures as an effort to control the virus spread. Also, talking to a reproductive endocrinologist regardless of a patient’s location can be a life (literally) saver to some. Moreover, doing it without spending hours traveling and waiting can motivate and encourage many to seek early treatment.

Combining REI doctor video consultations with at-home kits that test for underlying reproductive issues can provide much-needed health care for the millions who are priced and placed out of something very essential for our society — reproductive justice and life continuation.

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When is IVF Actually Required?

Here is when you should definitely go for IVF as the final resort:

✔️Confirmed Obstructed Fallopian Tubes
✔️Genetic mutation with desire for elimination from offspring
✔️The desire for genetic testing or family balancing
✔️Using an egg donor or adopted embryos
✔️Severe male factor infertility
✔️Failed initial treatment with Clomiphene, Letrozole, Gonadotropins
✔️Strongly recommended for known or suspected decreased ovarian reserve

For some, IVF is the only option, but for others — if treated early — the IVF procedure can be avoided, thus reducing the overall treatment burden and associated costs.

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What Are The Options to Avoid IVF?

This post is related to those who is not in IVF-only group.

What if you are not ready for IVF? Whether for financial, logistical, ethical reasons, or you just don’t want to do it for some other reason. What can you do to optimize your treatment either naturally or with medical management?

🔹Lifestyle interventions to improve fertility
• Diet. The diet that is mostly associated with the success of either intervention of spontaneous pregnancies is the Mediterranean diet.
• Exercise – women who recreationally exercise 30-40 mins a day have a higher chance of pregnancy.
• Tobacco/Alcohol. It is toxic to the eggs.
• Sugar Overconsumption. It can cause inflammation as well as problems with embryo and uterine interaction.
• Antioxidants/Supplements. Can enhance lifestyle interactions to make you more successful.

🔹Medications for ovarian stimulation
• Continuing with treatment
• Hormones to support early pregnancy
• Surgery

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What is a fertile window?

As you may know, you cannot get pregnant every day of your cycle. The fertile window is the optimal time during the female cycle to have intercourse. Typically the fertile window comes 10-14 days after the start of menstruation in a 28-day cycle.

The fertile window is around 6 days long, and it is the only period in a month when a woman can get pregnant. This includes the day of ovulation and the rate of sperm survival, as sperm can live in the female reproductive system for up to five days before an egg cell is even released! Getting pregnant during your menstrual cycle is unlikely, though not impossible. Because cycle lengths vary from woman to woman, a general rule is that ovulation typically happens 14 days prior to the start of your next menstrual cycle.

Unlike sperm, the egg cell starts to deteriorate quite quickly after ovulation happens and is only able to be fertilized for 24-48 hours. For this reason and to increase the chances of conceiving, it’s best to have sex the day before ovulation happens.

So, a fertile window is the most important time during the month if you want to conceive. Sex outside of this window tends not to lead to pregnancy.

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