Category Archives: Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnancy & Fertility

Everything You Need To Know About Fertility and Testing

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Not all people have the ability – or even the passion – to produce offspring by default. Some couples choose to focus on their careers at the moment, so that they can prepare enough for the future of the family.

However, when it seems like nothing is happening even after living together for more than 3 years and trying real hard to conceive, a fertility check should be your reason for your next visit to the doctor.

One of the major concerns when trying to conceive is the age of the woman. A woman is most fertile during her late 20s. After the age of 35, fertility may decrease and the increase of having a miscarriage increases. However, this may not be true to women who have already given birth. We very well know that there are women who can still give birth even beyond 35 years old.

A woman who is below 35 years old may still want to allow more time to get pregnant. However, those who are older than 35 years old might need to consider getting help.

Fertility Problems

There are several instances wherein fertility of both man and woman may be affected. These are a few instances that may cause infertility:

  • The woman’s reproductive system may be the problem due to some conditions of the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovulation.
  • The man’s reproductive system may be affected due to low sperm count.
  • Inability to conceive may be due to a medical condition.
  • The time when couples are trying to conceive may not be the fertile days of the woman.
  • Stress can also be a contributing factor, preventing couples to conceive.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, drugs or radiation may aggravate the condition.
  • Infections like sexually transmitted diseases may have damaged the reproductive system.

Fertility Awareness

Before you even jump into a conclusion that you may need some medical intervention, it will be a huge help if the woman learns to record her basal body temperature. This is the temperature when the woman is fully at rest. An increase in the basal body temperature may be due to ovulation.

A woman is most fertile during 2-3 days before the rise in temperature. By tracking the basal body temperature each day, the woman may be able to predict when her fertile days are. In return, she will be able to determine when the best time to conceive is.

In as much as this could be a great way to determine the perfect time to conceive, knowing the basal body temperature can be a huge help in trying to know when to avoid getting pregnant.

Prior to seeking any treatment

There may be personal issues that need to be discussed among the couple themselves prior to seeing a gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist. These should be well taken care of, to ensure that the couple is on the same page towards the needed step in wanting to conceive.

Available Treatments

There are ways on how a couple may be able to conceive depending on what is causing the problem:

  • There are medicines that can help a woman to ovulate. These injectable hormones that help stabilize the hormone level to aid in ovulation.
  • A procedure called artificial insemination may be done. This is a procedure done where the sperm is directly implanted inside the woman’s womb.
  • Inability to conceive may sometimes be due to a medical condition in women wherein the endometrium grows outside the uterus. It is called endometriosis.
  • Seek a procedure that can help increase the sperm count.
  • The last resort may be having an in vitro fertilization (IVF). It is a process wherein egg and sperm cells are harvested from a couple and are mixed in the lab to help the sperm fertilize the egg. Then the fertilized eggs are placed inside the woman’s uterus. This procedure is done more than once to ensure positive result.


Things to consider prior to getting a treatment

The psychological effect of not having a child may be too much. But with that, a couple can do everything that they can so that they can conceive.

Note that this may be costly and stressful. Be aware of how much it would take before you can achieve your goal of becoming a parent.

  • Learn everything about the options. Decide on which options to choose that you think would be best for you to handle.
  • Be aware of the cost of your chosen treatment. Know if your insurance can cover the cost. Otherwise, decide on the treatment options that you can afford.

The adverse effect of taking these treatments is an increased potential of having multiple births – twins, triplets or more.

Ovulation Induction Defined

Ovulation induction is the term used to describe a fertility treatment that involves the use of medication to help stimulate the development of one or more mature follicles in the ovaries, in cases of difficulty in fertility and ovulation.

Those women with anovulation – or abnormal ovulation – have a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) whose menstrual cycles are irregular. Other symptoms of PCOS include increased body hair and infertility.

There are several options for ovulation drug therapy that are used to help in stabilizing the hormone level to aid in fertility:

  • Injectable gonadotropins / FSH hormone products: This contains follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) to help in the development of one or more follicles. This is given through intramuscular injection.
  • Clomid: This is an oral drug is taken either on the third to seventh day of the menstrual cycle or fifth top ninth day of menstrual cycle. Its generic name is clomiphene.
    • The gynecologist will measure FSH and estradiol level on the third day of the woman’s menstrual cycle.
    • 100 mg of clomiphene will be given on the fifth to ninth day of menstrual cycle.
    • The FSH and estradiol level will again be measure on the 10th day of menstrual cycle. Test kits such as ZRT Fertility Profile are available in the market to determine the level of estradiol and FSH.
  • Bromocriptine: This drug is used to treat pituitary tumors and other related issues, all of which may cause infertility.
  • Femara: This is the second drug of choice if Clomid is unsuccessful in helping the woman to conceive. However, many physicians would not prescribe this drug due to an increase incidence of birth defects.


Common Female Fertility Tests

Here are some of the popular tests in the market to check fertility in women:


This scanning method checks the uterus and the fallopian tubes. This is done to see if there is blockage in the fallopian tubes and uterus.

How Hysterosalpingogram is done

  • A dye is injected into the vagina and cervix through the uterine cavity.
  • A blocked uterus will not be filled with dye.
  • If the dye spills out then it means that there is no blockage.


This is a surgical procedure that allows examination of the organs inside the abdomen.

How Laparoscopy is done

  • A laparoscope will be inserted into the abdomen.
  • A small incision is made for the laparoscope to pass through the abdomen to check the fallopian tubes, cervix and uterus.
  • If there are any pelvic structure abnormalities, the doctor may be able to treat it as well as get rid of scar tissues and blockages that may have been the cause of infertility.


This helps in identifying and treating uterine conditions.

How Hysteroscopy is done

  • A hysteroscope is inserted into the abdomen.
  • The doctor may be able to view and treat any abnormalities and may diagnose polyps, fibroids, remove scar tissues and blockage.
  • This procedure may be done in a doctor’s office with either local or general anesthesia.

Endometrial Biopsy

This procedure is done to determine any hormonal disorder that may be causing infertility.

What to expect during Endometrial Biopsy

  • A pregnancy test is performed to ensure that the patient is not pregnant.
  • The biopsy is done several days prior to menstruation.
  • A small tissue is taken out from the endometrium for observation.

Cervical Mucus and Post-coital Test

This test can best determine the quality and consistency of the cervical mucus for the doctor to know how the sperm interacts with it.

Success Rate with in using Induction Ovulation

The success with the use of this treatment varies, as it depends on the age of the woman, the type of medication used, other underlying causes that may affect fertility and several other factors.


Fertility Tests for Men

While the female may be the one bearing the child in her body, difficulty to conceive does not mean that the infertility issues are exclusive to women. In fact, some men may also have infertility problems that should be identified.

Here are some of the tests that men should undergo in order to check for fertility:

Health Evaluation

A complete medical history is needed to eliminate possible causes of infertility, such as:

  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Physical activities
  • Smoking
  • Sexual activity (presence or had STD)

Sperm Count and Analysis

There should be at least two tests given to confirm if the patient has low sperm count, normal sperm count, or does not have sperm at all. Having no sperm may mean that there is blockage, which may be corrected through surgery.

Physical Examination

The doctor may look for the presence of varicoceles. Such abnormal formation of veins may also need to undergo surgery.

Hormone Evaluation

This test checks for hormonal balance to determine if the level is within normal or if there is a deficiency and needs to be corrected using hormone therapy.

Genetic Testing

This test should determine if there are genetic problems, which may be the reason for not conceiving.

Anti-sperm Antibodies

A male may have a normal sperm count but may be going to a different direction instead of going to where the eggs are.

Other Factors Which May Cause Infertility in Men

Having a low sperm count will definitely not be helpful in wanting to conceive. Here are some of the causes of having a low sperm count in men:

  • There could be a blockage between the penis and testicles.
  • The male may have idiopathic infertility, a term used by doctors to denote that the cause could not be identified.


Taking necessary treatments may cause a lot of money and time to spend. In fact, the assurance to conceive after going through the methods mentioned above is not 100 percent. Still, these tests and treatments should be able to not only increase the chances of reproduction but also enhance the mindset and passion of the couple to have a child of their own.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Marijuana Use While Pregnant Increases Health Risks in Child

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marijuana legalization

Pregnancy is a condition that should not be taken lightly. In fact, a recent study pointed out that the use of marijuana during childbirth posts a high risk on the baby’s health.

There are already various studies conducted regarding this issue, some of which have been evaluated to further reiterate the connection of the use of marijuana during pregnancy to low birth weight of newborn babies. In addition, according to research these babies are placed in the intensive care unit due to their delicate condition.

The breakthrough on the effectiveness of cannabis in the medical world has pushed many states and countries to work on its legalization. Study author Jayleen Gunn, who works as assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a news release that the public should understand the effect of cannabis to fetal health.

Moreover, the research of Gunn and her associates showed that there is a 77 percent probability of the newborn being underweight if the fetus is exposed to marijuana compared to infants born of parents who did not use marijuana during pregnancy.

Data gathered by scientists are confined in the context of the relationship concerning the use of marijuana during pregnancy and the health issues faced by the newborn. It does not directly single out marijuana as the cause of the problem.

Further studies need to be conducted regarding the link between cannabis and pregnancy to better understand its effect on the pregnant women and their newborns. There are many aspects not yet explored, such as the form and amount of marijuana taken, as well as the unhealthy practices of the mother while pregnant. Just like other regulated substances, the use of cannabis should be regulated and prohibited if it posts danger to one’s health.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Proper Pregnancy Spacing May Reduce Obesity in Older Kids

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pregnancy spacing family planning child siblings baby

Planning the age gap between your children may help them avoid obesity, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated a potential association between sibling age gaps and their obesity risk. Roughly 700 kids in the U.S. were monitored for weight profiles and their age gap with the next younger sibling, if any.

Results revealed that children who are 4 years old at the most when their next siblings get born have a lower risk of obesity. The association was most prominent for kids between age 3 and 4, with only 5 percent of this population becoming obese when then reach first grade. In contrast, 13 percent of children whose next younger siblings were born after they reached first grade were diagnosed with obesity.

The research team was surprised with the findings. “In the study… we did not have data that would help us understand the mechanism,” study author Dr. Julie Lumeng said in a news release. However, she points out one possible reason behind the link: more playing opportunities in the presence of similarly aged siblings. “Maybe you go to the park more… or maybe there is just more activity in the house,” Dr. Lumeng added. The association, although seemingly conclusive, was not a causality relationship — in short, the study doesn’t say that proper spacing between pregnancies will definitely cause a decrease in obesity risk in older kids.

Childhood obesity continues to be a global threat. In the U.S. alone, roughly one in every six kids are diagnosed with obesity.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Eating Fish While Pregnant Increases Child Obesity Risk

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fish health effect on pregnant women

Pregnant women who eat lots of fish may think that they’re improving the health of their babies, but a new study revealed that it might actually increase the child’s risk of obesity.

This was discovered by a team of researchers from the University of Crete in Greece, after conducting a study on roughly 26,000 expectant females residing in Europe and the U.S. The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, looked into the eating behavior of the women and the weights of their children from birth until age 6.

According to study results as reported in a news item, women who consumed fish more than thrice a week during their pregnancies gave birth to kids who grew faster going to age 2. This also led to an increase in obesity when the kids reach 4 to 6 years old.

The research team believes that part of the reason behind this relationship is the presence of organic pollutants in the fish, which could affect the hormonal processes in the body and increase obesity risk in the children. However, the researchers were quick to note that the link between fish consumption and childhood obesity is not a relationship of cause and effect.

The study proved to be in support of the recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that expectant women should eat only up to three servings of fish every week.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

CDC Reports Disturbing Numbers In Pre-Pregnancy Smoking

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smoking woman pregnant

Smoking has long been proven as a health hazard for pregnant women and the children that they bear. Despite the wide awareness campaign of the federal government, many women still disregard this health risk months before they become pregnant.

This was reported by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after reviewing birth records in 2014. “We know that smoking is a problem for pregnancy, and we continue to see many women smoking,” said study co-author Dr. Edward McCabe, who works with the nonprofit group March of Dimes as chief medical officer and senior VP.

Results of the review, as reported in a news release, revealed that about 10 percent of females were found to smoke within a three-month period prior to their next pregnancy. Worse, only 25 percent of them quit smoking before the pregnancy. In addition, roughly 10 percent of women smoked cigarettes during the time that they were pregnant.

Study lead author Sally Curtin reminded the general public that there is plenty of research about the harmful effects of smoking on the child in the womb, some of which include low birth weight and preterm labor. “Smoking during pregnancy is double trouble,” Curtin said. Meanwhile, McCabe believes that women must be responsible for the health of their future children. “Part of planning a pregnancy, if you’re smoking, is to work on quitting,” McCabe mentioned.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnant Women Who Eat Chocolate May Deliver Healthier Babies

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chocolate eating good for women health

Expectant mothers might want to start eating chocolates in moderation to improve the development of their babies.

This seems to be the recommendation of a team of Canadian researchers who looked into the truth behind the effect of eating chocolate on pregnancy-related issues. The team, led by Emmanuel Bujold of the Université Laval Québec City, said that earlier studies revealed the increased risk of preeclampsia when pregnant women eat chocolate. Meanwhile, some other studies suggest the benefits of chocolate in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

To investigate the topic, the researchers asked the participation of 129 women who were carrying a single child between the 11th and 14th week of gestation. The women were tested using the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index, which identifies the blood flow in the uterus, placenta, and fetus during pregnancy. The respondents were divided into two groups: the first group was asked to eat 30 grams of chocolate with low flavanol levels, and the other was asked to eat high-flavanol chocolates. The indices were checked after 12 weeks, and monitoring was conducted up to the birth of their children.

Results showed that the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility of the mothers significantly improved from before the tests started. The findings were consistent, regardless of the amount of flavanol in the chocolates. “This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” said Bujold via a news item.

However, the researchers mentioned that their study did not include a group of pregnant women who did not eat chocolate. “We cannot speculate on the overall effect of chocolate on the risk of preeclampsia from our study results because we did not have a group of women who were not taking chocolate. However, previous epidemiological studies along with our results suggest that consumption of dark chocolate during pregnancy could help in the improvement of placental function and the reduction of preeclampsia.” Bujold added.

The study was recently presented in the Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine held in Atlanta.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Doing Exercise While Pregnant Lowers Risk of Hypertension and Big Babies

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exercise during pregnancy

Pregnancy may be a delicate situation for some women, but a recent study revealed that pregnant women who engage in exercise may reduce the risk of complications associated with childbearing.

According to a new study jointly conducted by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Western University, doing exercise while pregnant lowers the risk of high blood pressure in women. In addition, the physical activity also reduces the likelihood of having oversized infants, the condition of which is clinically called fetal macrosomia. “Those oversized babies are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, like obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and/or hypertension. We really want to try and prevent those big babies because they are at risk for health issues,” said study co-author Michelle Mottola in a news release.

To get the results that they needed, the proponents of the study tapped the participation of a random group of pregnant women who were asked to follow a specific exercise program during their respective pregnancies. Results showed that pregnant women who don’t engage in exercise have a threefold likelihood of developing high blood pressure, roughly 2.5 times more susceptible to give birth to oversized babies.

Mottola said that even the simplest and easiest of exercise routines can already do wonders to the health of the mother and the child. “Many people think that you have to go to the gym and sweat – and yes, that’s true for some people – but walking will also give you great aerobic benefit. It’s very important to be physically active during pregnancy. We suggest 10,000 steps a day. If you can walk 10,000 steps a day, that’s incredible,” Mottola added.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Autism Risk Increased By Antidepressant Drugs Taken By Pregnant Mothers

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Despite the numerous studies about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the growing issue has been fairly misunderstood. However, researchers continue to study the condition further, including a recent study from the University of Montreal.

In the latest research led by Prof. Anick Bérard, it was discovered that pregnant women who take antidepressants increased the risk of autism in their children. The researchers based their findings on data from more than 145,000 birth records in Canada as part of the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort.

The people involved in the pregnancy cases were followed up by the researchers for 10 years. The records were cross-checked with antidepressant use, and the researchers identified at which trimester the women took the drugs and what specific drugs they took. “Amongst all the children in the study, we then identified which children had been diagnosed with a form of autism by looking at hospital records indicating diagnosed childhood autism, atypical autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or a pervasive developmental disorder. Finally, we looked for a statistical association between the two groups, and found a very significant one: an 87% increased risk,” Bérard said in a news release.

Results showed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) heightened the risk of ASD in children, especially when their respective mothers took this specific class of antidepressants on the second or third trimester. Berard explained a possible reason for this: “Some classes of antidepressants work by inhibiting serotonin (SSRIs and some other antidepressant classes), which will have a negative impact on the ability of the brain to fully develop and adapt in utero.”

This study puts another angle on the ongoing debates regarding antidepressant use during pregnancy, especially since roughly 10 percent of pregnant women take antidepressants.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Higher Tax on Tobacco Products Reduces Risk of Infant Death

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smoking cigarette ashtray

Several studies have already confirmed the harmful effects of smoking on infant health during a woman’s pregnancy. A new study investigated through another angle, this time assessing the impact of tobacco taxation on infant mortality.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the Vanderbilt University, looked into data from the Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) system of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999 and 2010.

Study lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick explained the team’s reason for focusing on a possible link between tobacco tax regulations and infant death. “Taxing cigarettes is known to help convince people to quit smoking, or not to start. This study helps physicians, public health officials and policymakers understand just how much benefit cigarette tax increases can have on infant health,” Patrick said in a news report.

Based on the results of the study, the research team was able to confirm that increasing taxation on tobacco products will result to a reduction in the number of cases of child death during pregnancy.

The team believes that the study will help push for higher tobacco taxes. “The US is doing worse than almost all other industrialized nations in infant deaths. The solution may lie in public health solutions that prevent infants from being born early in the first place – like cigarette taxes,” Patrick added.

Details of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.


DNA & Paternity Pregnancy & Fertility

Teens Who Live with Rules More Likely to be Cautious About Sex

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teen pregnancy

Teenagers who live in households where they have set rules to follow and whose parents keep tabs on them may be more cautious about sex, a new analysis suggests.

Researchers from the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work combined and analyzed the results of 30 studies from around the world. The studies, completed from 1984 to 2014, analyzed the effects of parental activities on children’s behavior. Specifically, researchers looked at the effects of keeping tabs on teenagers and setting rules for them. The goal of the studies was to see whether the kids of more watchful parents were more likely to skip sexual activity — defined in different ways — or use birth control.

Kids whose parents set rules and who monitored them more by knowing what they were doing and who they were with,  had sexual intercourse later in life, the researchers found. Those whose parents monitored them were also more likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control.

“When kids are sexually active, it’s less about setting clear rules and more about having a better relationship and better communication,” said said report co-author Vincent Guilamo-Ramos. “Parents really matter, and they’re influential,”  .

The researchers cautioned that their study doesn’t definitively prove that making rules for teens and monitoring them more will cut down on sexual behavior, as other factors could have also played a role.

Statistics suggest that hundreds of thousands of U.S. teens become pregnant each year, and more than 75% of the pregnancies are unplanned. Sexually transmitted disease like HIV is another risk for teens and young adults. In fact, research shows that in 2012, people aged 20 to 24 had the highest rate of new infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.