what if they dont find anything

Surgical Intervention- “But what if they don’t find anything?”

One of the things I often gets asked is “If I have surgery, what if they don’t find anything?”
All sorts of things go around in people head, and rightfully so, but may think that if nothing is found that that their symptoms are all in their head. Not so.
Just because there is nothing found via surgical intervention, does not mean that there is nothing there, or there is no disease state. It just means it cannot be visually seen.
Here in this video I explain all this and more.
Stress and fertility

Busyness, Stress and Anxiety Affecting Fertility & Pregnancy Outcomes

It is now known that modern day busyness, stress, anxiety and depression can significantly impact a couples chances of conceiving. When helping couples with fertility and achieving a pregnancy, one of the biggest issues I see overlooked is a couple’s emotional health. During the assessment of anyone’s fertility, depression, anxiety and stress scores (DASS) should be taken into consideration. Other assessment methods to look at anxiety and heightened adrenalin should also be utilised. It is so important to touch base on the topic of emotional health and make couples (or those who are single) aware of emotional factors that may be affecting their chances of conceiving.

I always recommend seeing a counsellor/psychologist

I always recommend that everyone should check in regularly with a counsellor/psychologist, but less than 10% of people do. What many do not realise is that their underlying stress, anxiety and other emotional concerns are actually a big part of them not being able to conceive, and that looking after our emotional health is just as important as looking after our physical health. There is research to suggest that a parent’s emotional state can be passed onto a child via the sperm, eggs and the parental mode of inheritance. Everything we put in our body, physically and emotionally, can be passed on to the unborn child. This is crucial to understand before considering having children because at the end of the day, it could affect them greatly.

Identifying the impacts of busyness, stress and anxiety

Another common observation I see when people are trying to conceive is they are adamant that they are not stressed, yet their mood/stress scores say otherwise. Many people have normalised their busyness and running on high levels of adrenaline to the point where they do not equate their heightened emotional states as being stress or anxiety. From an outside perspective, I can physically see how anxious and stressed some people are, but it is often hard for people to self-reflect and understand their emotional state.

Control issues exacerbating anxiety and stress levels

Statistically speaking, women have a higher likelihood of being the driving force behind wanting a baby/family so it is easy to see why they may be more focussed or driven in this regard. This also means that they carry a lot of the stress that comes with that. Unfortunately it is becoming more common to see said people struggle with letting go of control and feeling out of control which leads to underlying stress and anxiety. Occasionally this too leads to stress and instability in their relationships, especially if their partner isn’t stepping up.

The one thing I try to explain to all couples is that when it comes to IVF or assisted reproduction, nobody is in control. Everything is timed and controlled by hormones and medications and nobody can control that. Trying to control everything leads to high stress levels, activated adrenalin, heightened anxiety, and a vicious cycle of feeling like more control is needed. The only thing people can control is what they put in their mouths (food, medications, and supplements), how much they exercise, and how well they care for their emotional health. That is it.

Making the changes you need to do now

So many people try to justify their actions and behaviours with statements such as, “I will slow down and make time for myself once I am pregnant, or once I have the baby.” Any parent will tell you that once a child is born, there is hardly any time for yourself and things get a lot busier. The reality is that you need to work on yourself now, while you have the chance. It is not only important for you, but also for your child.

One of the things I say to future parents is this: “If I gave you your baby right now, what would you have to do to ensure its survival and yours? What changes in your life would you have to make?”

I then let them sit and think carefully about it because in reality, it would mean many changes to one’s life. The honest truth is that despite change often being uncomfortable, changing your life is exactly what you have to do right now to create the baby as well. I also tell parents that if you don’t have time for yourself, to do self-care, or to work on yourself, then you really need to question if you have time to have a child too. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I say it with absolute care and understanding of how demanding life gets when one is a parent.

Counselling needs to be mandatory

This is why it is so important to do counselling whether you are going through IVF or trying to conceive naturally. It is my personal belief that for the benefit of the parent/s and the child, counselling should be mandatory as many issues of not falling pregnant actually stem from high stress levels, anxiety, adrenaline, and an inability to slow down. It all stems back to control, and then lack of control, which then creates anxiety and stress. There can also be relationship dynamic issues that need to be addressed prior to having a baby. All this and more is not a good recipe to make a baby, or achieve a successful pregnancy outcome.

Stress animals don’t conceive and it applies to humans as well

The one thing we know from basic biology is that stressed animals do not conceive or will not carry a pregnancy. Many of our breakthroughs in fertility medicine actually come from vet science, where animals have undergone IVF or forms of assisted reproduction. We often forget as humans, that we too really are just animals.

Numerous studies have indicated how anxiety, stress and heightened adrenaline (common states of existence for many people) have a detrimental effect on egg quality, sperm quality, embryo quality, implantation, and overall pregnancy rates.

How busyness, stress and anxiety affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes

Going through IVF, or just trying to fall pregnant, is often described as the most stressful event in the lives of some couples. This is even more heightened if there are difficulties in achieving a pregnancy. There is increasing evidence that psychological factors, such as busy lifestyle, stress, anxiety and depression, have a negative impact on IVF and pregnancy outcomes.

Research studies have shown that the high levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly related to the treatment outcome in IVF and also achieving a natural pregnancy (Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.2008- See diagram for how stress affects pregnancy outcomes).

Stress pathway

The autonomic nervous system is affected by busyness, stress, anxiety and depression. This also leads to increased neuroepinephrine and increased epinephrine, which then leads to vasoconstriction and decreased blood flow into the uterus. It can also lead to increased stress within the uterus itself.

The immune system is also affected by increased Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF), which is a cell signalling protein (cytokine) involved in systemic inflammation. The immune system is also affected by increase in Natural Killer Cells and increased activated T cells, which then lead to reduced implantation and a stressed uterine environment.

The indirect effects of stress are that people will drink more alcohol, smoke, exercise less, sleep less, eat more junk foods and generally have a poor diet and lifestyle, all of which have a direct effect on fertility also.

In summary

In summary, lifestyle interventions and taking care of one’s emotional wellbeing can help reduce stress, anxiety and adrenaline. This should be a priority for all couples trying to conceive, or for those having difficulties conceiving. Body-Mind Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have long understood that stress, diet, lifestyle and emotional factors are a huge cause of infertility. Modern medicine and research is now validating this and advocating for proper preconception care. By addressing the known possible emotional and lifestyle factors that affect fertility by utilising preconception care and a multimodality approach (including counselling and psychology), people can greatly improve their fertility, successful pregnancy outcomes, as well as improve their overall health.

Final Word

If you are having trouble conceiving please call our friendly staff and find out how our fertility program may assist you in having a baby. Our fertility program uses a multimodality, ‘no stone left unturned’ approach which looks at both the male and female aspects of fertility, is used alongside medical interventions, and also gives you access to counsellors and psychologists who have a special interest in fertility.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

-The Experts Program

References

  1. Paulson JF, Bazemore SD. Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010;303(19):1961-1969. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.605
  2. Effects of caffeine, alcohol and smoking on fertility, http://yourfertility.org.au/resource/effects-of-caffeine-alcohol-and-smoking-on-fertility/
  3. Evans J, Heron J, Francomb H, Oke S, Golding J. Cohort study of depressed mood during pregnancy and after childbirth. BMJ. 2001;323(7307):257-60.
  4. Akioyamen LE, Minhas H, Holloway AC, Taylor VH, Akioyamen NO, Sherifali D. Effects of depression pharmacotherapy in fertility treatment on conception, birth, and neonatal health: A systematic review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2016;84:69-80.
  5. Cesta CE, Viktorin A, Olsson H, Johansson V, Sjolander A, Bergh C, et al. Depression, anxiety, and antidepressant treatment in women: association with in vitro fertilization outcome. Fertility and Sterility. 2016;105(6):1594-602 e3.
  6. Sejbaek CS, Hageman I, Pinborg A, Hougaard CO, Schmidt L. Incidence of depression and influence of depression on the number of treatment cycles and births in a national cohort of 42,880 women treated with ART. Human Reproduction. 2013;28(4):1100-9.
  7. Ververs T, Kaasenbrood H, Visser G, Schobben F, de Jong-van den Berg L, Egberts T. Prevalence and patterns of antidepressant drug use during pregnancy. Eurpean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2006;62(10):863-70.
  8. Grigoriadis S, VonderPorten EH, Mamisashvili L, Tomlinson G, Dennis CL, Koren G, et al. The impact of maternal depression during pregnancy on perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2013;74(4):e321-41.
  9. Deave T, Heron J, Evans J, Emond A. The impact of maternal depression in pregnancy on early child development. BJOG. 2008;115(8):1043-51.
  10. Ross LE, Grigoriadis S, Mamisashvili L, VonderPorten EH, Roerecke M, Rehm J, et al. Selected pregnancy and delivery outcomes after exposure to antidepressant medication. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Outcomes after antidepressant use in pregnancy. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013:1-8.
  11. Rich-Edwards JW, Spiegelman D, Garland M, Hertzmark E, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Wand H, Manson JE. 2002. “Physical activity, body mass index, and ovulatory disorder infertility.” Epidemiology 13:184-190.
  12. Palomba, S, Falbo A, Valli B, et al. 2014. “Physical activity before IVF and ICSI cycles in infertile obese women: an observational cohort study.” Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 29(1): p. 72-9.
  13. Ferreira RC, Halpern G, Figueira Rde C, Braga DP, et al. 2010. “Physical activity, obesity and eating habits can influence assisted reproduction outcomes.” Womens Health [Lond Engl] 6:517-524.
  14. Kucuk M, Doymaz F, Urman B. 2010. “Effect of energy expenditure and physical activity on the outcomes of assisted reproduction treatment.” Reproductive Biomedicine Online 20:274-279.
  15. Morris SN, Missmer SA, Cramer DW, Powers RD, McShane PM, Hornstein MD. 2006. “Effects of lifetime exercise on the outcome of in vitro fertilization.” Obstetrics and Gynecology 108:938-945.
  16. Green BB, Daling JR, Weiss NS, Liff JM, Koepsell T. 1986. “Exercise as a risk factor for infertility with ovulatory dysfunction.” American Journal of Public Health 76:1432-1436.
  17. Gudmundsdottir SL, Flanders WD, Augestad LB. 2009. “Physical activity and fertility in women: the North-Trondelag Health Study ” Human Reproduction 24:3196-3204
Menstrual issues traced back to age 13

Many Fertility & Women’s Health Issues Could Be Traced Back To Mismanagement At Around Age 13

Early this week,  I was talking with a colleague about how I would love to be able to see all women before they head into IVF, or see them when they were a teenager to educate them and help the with a better future for their fertility and gynaecological health.

My colleague then said to me “The issue is that most women are mismanaged at around age 13 and this is why they end up having fertility issues and ongoing gynaecological and menstrual related issues later on.”

The truth is, if we really to trace back the cause, or start of a woman’s fertility, gynaecological, or menstrual related issues, it would most likely be due to mismanagement at around age 13 when she first got her period. In this video I bring light to this very introspective, and very interesting topic that many probably have not thought about. It isn’t always mismanaged by the people you think it is either.

Let’s bring better education and awareness to women’s health issues because we know that early intervention and early management if the key to better future outcomes. It all starts with education first. Have a listen to my video on this very important topic (click on the youtube video link to watch

If you, or your daughter needs help with a menstrual issue, or period pain etc, please give my friendly staff a call and ask how I may be able to assist you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

-The Experts Program

Lets talk about sex 1

Let’s Talk About Sex- How often, what’s normal & how to boost that libido

Sex is something that nearly every human on this planet gets to experience, and for each person, the experience of sex can be different. Many people have different perceptions on this important topic, so lets talk about sex, how often, what’s normal and how to boost that libido in those having issues.

As a healthcare practitioner who is a Master in Women’s Health Medicine and a Master of Reproductive medicine, I have to talk about the topic of sex on a daily basis. A lot of people come into my clinic (both men and women) with varying expectations and thoughts on what is normal, when concerning sex. Unfortunately a lot of people are way off the mark when it comes to a healthy sex life and what a healthy libido should be.

Libido is influenced by our health

If you do not have a healthy libido, there could be something wrong with your health. Yes, what you eat, think, do etc, all plays a part in your sexual appetite. But, we can all have differing libido’s and it is important to understand this and seek help if you are having issues. A healthy libido is a sign of a health body and healthy mind.

What defines a healthy sex life

The average healthy human being in a healthy relationship should be having sex at least 1-3 times per week, depending on age etc. I know a lot of you are lucky to be having sex 3 times per month.

What’s concerning about this is, some of these people are trying to have a baby and can’t understand why they aren’t falling pregnant. The answer is obvious, but, I’ll say it anyway, you have to have sex regularly to fall pregnant and it has to be at the right time. You need to be trying every day, or every second day of your cycle as we now know ovulation just doesn’t take place mid-cycle only.

Clinical research shows that more than 70% of people are ovulating before day 10 and after day 17 of their cycle. So if you are just trying it that small window of day 10-16, this could be the reason you aren’t falling. Btw, don’t stop having sex just because you are doing IVF. Sex (climax in particular) helps with implantation so stopping having sex is only hindering your chances of conception. I have talked about this is a previous post (click here to read)

We also now know that sperm also play a part in a health menstrual cycle as they help to trigger certain hormones to trigger ovulation and thus help with regulation of the menstrual cycle. It may explain why women using barrier methods of contraception have more issues with irregular cycles and menstrual issues. Not that we are promoting unsafe sex mind you. This is for couples in a healthy relationship. I have spoken about this is a previous post too (click here to read)

Why is climax/orgasm so important

Climax also stimulates blood flow into the uterus; helps trigger certain hormones and also helps with implantation. Climax also helps ones libido and it can even help in the treatment of depression.

We also hear the jokes about men and their ever-constant desire to have sex, but most of the time this is greatly exaggerated. In practice I am actually seeing that women are now the ones with the higher libidos and it is the men that are having all the problems. Stress is a big factor these days. We are also seeing many men with testosterone deficiency. Being overweight and unhealthy physically and mentally can be a factor also.

It has also been shown that regular sex, even if scheduled, actually helps with the libido and helps with the desire around wanting more sex.

Understanding differing libido’s

Men and women are different when it comes to libido and the desire around sex. Men need to understand that it can often take all day for a woman to arouse her desire around wanting sex. Men need to know that women need to be wooed, given playful thoughts, mind play and a place to feel safe to get her into the mood for sex. Guys, apparently helping out around the house also helps (hint, hint)

Intimacy is more than just sex

Remember sex is a healthy part of a relationship and a healthy libido shows good health. Sex is also a way of connecting with your partner and couples should find way to prioritise each other so that this connection happens regularly. It is also about intimacy and that sacred intimacy, which is on a whole other level to the physical act of just having sexual intercourse.

What affects a libido?

Many people do talk about having differing libido’s, or having trouble with libido, and it is important to understand what may be affecting ones sex drive.

So, what are some of the main things that effect libido?

  • The Pill – First and foremost, the pill for women. Anything that decreases fertility can decrease your sexual desire. The pill also turns off certain receptors responsible for conception, which can then turn off the libido.
  • Stress – Constant low grade, or high grade stress, is a big problem when it comes to loss of libido. It can cause impotence & erectile dysfunction in men and loss of libido and menopausal symptoms in women.
  • Medications – Drugs such as anti-depressants, the pill, anti-inflammatories, and lots of other medications can ruin your sex life. They can also delay or stop orgasm. There are some that can improve it too. Not many!
  • Alcohol and recreational drugs– This one is pretty self explanatory. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Fosters flop’ from drinking too much beer. Drugs such as marijuana, speed, and other illicit drugs can all impair libido
  • Sexual Abuse– A history of sexual abuse can definitely affect the sex life. This needs to be dealt with by speaking to a counsellor, psychologist or sex therapist.
  • Health Problems– Health problems such as Low Thyroid, Diabetes, being overweight, depression, eating disorders, can interfere with your libido and sex life.
  • STD’s– Some STD’s are often undetected and cause pain and discomfort during sex, which leads to not wanting to have sex. Many of these can be cleared up with medication so that your sex life can return to normal. Some STD’s are there for life but can be controlled. STD’s such as herpes and HIV don’t have to stop your sex life.
  • Gynaecological issues – Some gynaecological disease states such as Endometriosis and Adenomyosis can make sex painful and cause a lack of desire. Have a read of my article about painful sex. Women with PCOS can have low libido as a result of hormonal fluctuations and insulin resistance.
  • Diet– This is a big one. If you eat the wrong foods the body will respond accordingly. Your sex life can be ruined by what you put in your mouth to sustain your body.
  • Exercise– Over-exercising can stop you getting a period and cause fertility issues in both men and women. Reduce the exercise and the libido will respond accordingly. Exercise can also increase libido. It is about moderation.

Final Word

If you are having trouble with your libido there are many medical and natural products that have been shown to assist with low libido and help with a healthy sex life for both men and women. It is important that you talk to a qualified healthcare practitioner about issues to do with sex and libido. You need to see an expert who is trained to know issues that may be causing your particular issues. The can also give you dietary and lifestyle advice to help in this area too.

If you do need help with issues around sex and libido, please give my friendly staff and call and find out how I can assist you. I also have a great network of sex therapists, psychologists and medical specialists I work in with as well.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

 

 

couple in love

Sex Around The Time of Embryo Transfer Increases The Likelihood of Successful Early Embryo Implantation and Development.

Research has now shown that sex around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.

Intercourse during an IVF cycle has the potential to improve pregnancy rates and there is adequate research to now back this up. We know that in animal studies, exposure to semen is reported to promote embryo development and implantation.

Intercourse may assist implantation

This is actually good news for humans as well as it shows that intercourse may act to assist implantation. Animal studies reveal that exposure to seminal plasma, the fluid component of the ejaculate, is particularly important for achieving normal embryo development and implantation. Animals that become pregnant through artificial insemination or embryo transfer without being exposed to seminal plasma have substantially lower rates of implantation than those exposed to seminal plasma (Pang et al., 1979; Queen et al., 1981; O et al., 1988; Flowers and Esbenshade, 1993), while rodents inseminated with spermatozoa prior to blastocyst transfer also have a higher rate of implantation compared with those not exposed to spermatozoa (Carp et al., 1984).

Intercourse may influence pregnancy success rates

A multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial was conducted through IVF centred around the world, including Australia. The study was conducted to determine if intercourse around the time of embryo transfer, or just before and embryo transfer in an IVF cycle, actually has the potential to have any influence on pregnancy success rates.

Participants in Australian IVF clinics underwent frozen embryo transfer (FET) and participants in Spain IVF clinics did fresh embryo transfer. Participants were randomised to either have intercourse, or to abstain from intercourse around the time of embryo transfer.

The study showed that there was no significant difference in the pregnancy rates between those couples that abstained and those that had intercourse. However, the portion of transferred embryos that made it to 6-8 weeks gestation was significantly higher in the women exposed to semen compared to those who abstained.

This landmark multi-centre international study showed that women who had sex around the time of embryo transfer, and who were exposed to semen around the time of embryo transfer, had increased likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.

Couples need to be having more sex during IVF cycles

One of the things that I always promote as part of my fertility program, is that regular sex is so important for our fertility patients, on many levels. Sometimes the obvious eludes some people though.

One of the things we see quite regularly is that couples doing Assisted Reproduction (ART) are abstaining from sex fearing it will affect their chances of conceiving. Actually the opposite is true. By not having sex during ART cycles (IUI, IVF etc) you are affecting your chances of conception.

I have spoken about the importance of sex and orgasm assisting implantation in other posts and there is so much medical research to back this up. This is seen in the research I have talked about above.

Let’s be real and look at the facts

Let ask the question “If you were trying naturally, would you stop having sex for fear that conception has taken place?”

Then why would you stop having sex around an ART cycle?

Let’s face the facts, implantation takes place in the uterus, and not the vagina, and no man is that well endowed to even penetrate the cervix, so…. Let’s get a grip here

The question to ask is “What does an embryo feed off and need to successfully implant?”

The answer is blood!

Think of a tick borrowing into skin to feed off its host.

How do you get blood flow into the uterine lining?

The answer is that sex and climax stimulate blood flow to the lining to assist implantation and also prepare the lining for implantation. Nature has given us all the tools for healthy conception to take place, and yet many of us just aren’t using them.

Sex is more than just and egg and a sperm

Don’t forget that regular sex during this time not only helps assist implantation, but it also helps with the bonding process and physical connection process during this stressful time. Many couples split up because of losing this connection during the ART process and sex is a way of keeping that physical and emotional connection. Sex also tells your body you are also preparing to conceive on another level too.

For those doing IVF etc, next time you are doing an ART cycle maybe it is time to start doing things the way nature intended to give you that boost you so desperately are needing. Go get busy people

Final Word

If you are struggling to fall pregnant, or need advice with preconception care, please give my friendly staff a call and find out how my fertility program, which has helped over 12,500 babies into the world, may be able to assist you too.

Regards

Andrew Orr

– No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

References:

  1. http://humre.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/12/2653.short
  2. Bellinge, B.S., Copeland, C.M., Thomas, T.D. et al. (1986) The influence of patient insemination on the implantation rate in an in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer program. Fertil. Steril. , 46, 252–256.
  3. Carp, H.J.A., Serr, D.M., Mashiach, S. et al. (1984) Influence of insemination on the implantation of transfered rat blastocysts. Gynecol. Obstet. Invest. , 18, 194–198.
  4. Coulam, C.B. and Stern, J.J. (1995) Effect of seminal plasma on implantation rates. Early Pregnancy , 1, 33–36.
  5. Fishel, S., Webster, J., Jackson, P. and Faratian, B. (1989) Evaluation of high vaginal insemination at oocyte recovery in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization. Fertil. Steril. , 51, 135–138.
  6. Franchin, R., Harmas, A., Benaoudia, F. et al. (1998a) Microbial flora of the cervix assessed at the time of embryo transfer adversely affects in vitro fertilization outcome. Fertil. Steril. , 70, 866–870.
  7. Franchin, R., Righini, C., Olivennes, F. et al. (1998b) Uterine contractions at the time of embryo transfer alter pregnancy rates after in-vitro fertilization. Hum. Reprod. , 13, 1968–1974.
  8. Marconi, G., Auge, L., Oses, R. et al. (1989) Does sexual intercourse improve pregnancy rates in gamete intrafallopian transfer? Fertil. Steril. , 51, 357–359.
  9. Pang, S.F., Chow, P.H. and Wong, T.M. (1979) The role of the seminal vesicles, coagulating glands and prostate glands on the fertility and fecundity of mice. J. Reprod. Fertil. , 56, 129–132.
  10. Qasim, S.M., Trias, A., Karacan, M. et al. (1996) Does the absence or presence of seminal fluid matter in patients undergoing ovulation induction with intrauterine insemination? Hum. Reprod. , 11, 1008–1010.

 

Sperm meets an egg

Regular sex found to trigger ovulation in females & make them more fertile.

Regular sex isn’t just beneficial for ones health, physical and mental well being and happiness.  Researchers have now found that regular sex and a protein in seminal fluid actually helps to trigger ovulation in females and make them more fertile to sustain a pregnancy.

Semen isn’t just a vehicle for carrying sperm

Semen isn’t just a vehicle for carrying sperm and studies actual now show that it also plays a crucial role in triggering ovulation. Researchers have discovered the protein in the seminal fluid acts as a hormonal signal on the female brain. This triggers the release of other hormones that signal the ovaries to release an egg.

The international team of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, found this protein in a variety of mammals and say it plays an important role in reproduction in all mammals.

Male mammals have accessory sex glands that contribute seminal fluid to semen, but the role of this fluid and the glands that produce it are not well understood. From the results of the research, it is now understood that these glands produce large amounts of a protein that has a direct effect on the female brain and reproductive organs.

Ovulation Inducing Factor (OIF)

The protein, which was dubbed the ‘ovulation-inducing factor’ (OIF), works through the hypothalamus of the female brain. This part of the brain links the nervous system to the endocrine system (a system of glands that secrete hormones into the blood stream) via the pituitary gland.

The idea that a substance in mammalian semen has a direct effect on the female brain is not a new one, but now there is research to back these theories up. The scientists also discovered it is the same molecule that regulates the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells.

OIF affects ovulation and fertility

In this study, they also looked at how OIF not only affected ovulation in females, but how it also affected their fertility and chances of a pregnancy.

For the purposes of the study, the research team looked at two species of mammals, that being llamas and cattle. They did this because Llamas are ‘induced ovulators, meaning that they ovulate only when they have been inseminated. Cows and humans on the other hand are ‘spontaneous ovulators,’ meaning that a regular build up of hormones stimulates the release of an egg.

Using a variety of techniques, the researchers found OIF present in semen samples taken from both animals. However, when they injected the llamas with this protein it caused them to ovulate. The same effect wasn’t seen in cattle.

While OIF didn’t appear to induce ovulation in spontaneous ovulators, such as cows and human, it did affect fertility in different ways. The protein was found to effect the timing of when cattle developed follicles (fluid-filled sacs in the ovary which carry the eggs). The researcher also found that OIF promoted the development of a temporary endocrine structure needed to sustain pregnancy.

Research has broaden our understanding of ovulation and fertility

This research definitely helps to broaden our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate ovulation and also helps to raises some interesting insights into fertility. More research is needed to see what role OIF plays in human fertility, as the researchers suspect it will be exactly the same. The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is great to see this research getting out there and this is something that I have promoted and taught for ages. It is great to see actual research to back up what I have teaching for years. Let’s face it, many of our advancements in fertility have actually come from veterinary science through use of IVF in cattle.

Couples undergoing IVF need to be having more sex

This is also great research that showed why couples trying to have a baby, or undergoing fertility treatments (IVF etc) need to still be having sex. It isn’t rocket science, yet so many people forget basic biology and that we are actually still an animal.

The problem is that so many couples actually stop having sex when doing assisted reproduction such as IVF. While I can totally understand the whole emotional aspect of why, it is still hindering their chances of conception and having a successful pregnancy. It is a truth that must be talked about and also get couples to understand.

Regular sex also helps with connection for the couple

I am always telling them how important it is to still have an active sex life, for the benefit of a happy, healthy relationship. It is also about the connection and not just about having sex. We do see so many couples split up while undergoing IVF and assisted reproduction, and some of this is purely due to lack of bonding and connection with their partner.

But even so, regular sex and intercourse also gives the chance of a natural pregnancy too, no matter how slim the chance for some couples. We still see couples that have done multiple cycles of IVF still conceiving naturally, but you actually have to have sex for this to happen.

Now we have research, which shows that a protein in seminal fluid actually acts as a hormonal signal that actually triggers ovulation, improves egg quality and may in fact make a woman more fertile for a pregnancy to take place. Again, when you look at this logically, it really is not rocket science and really is easy to understand.

Regular sex while doing IVF improves pregnancy rates.

This is why it is so important for all our couples using ART (Assisted Reproduction Therapy) and IVF to still keep having sex. Regular sex and more importantly regular climax, increases your sex hormones, helps regulate hormones, increases blood flow to the uterine lining, helps with libido, helps with egg quality, helps for better ovulation and most of all improves your fertility and the chance of sustaining a pregnancy. There is also research to show that regular sex before and after IVF transfer, improves pregnancy rates and I will talk about this research in another article on it’s own.

Final Word

If you are struggling to have a baby, and need help with fertility issues, then talk to my friendly staff about how our fertility program might be able to assist you. It has helped over 12,500 babies into the world… and counting.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

 

 

Frequently asked questions about ovarian cancer screening 2

Frequently asked questions about screening for ovarian cancer

I have recently put up a post about ovarian cancer and as usual lots of people had question about the symptoms and also about proper screening. Just like many other serious health issues, there are lots of myths out there and why it is important to talk about the facts only.

Before I go into the frequently asked questions about screening for ovarian cancer, I do need to say this. If you do have bloating, or some of the other common symptoms of ovarian cancer, please don’t get all anxious and run off thinking you have ovarian cancer.

Many of these symptoms can be indicative of endometriosis and adenomyosis too. This is why it is important to talk to your healthcare practitioner, or specialist about any concerns you have around any of the symptoms you may be getting. Early intervention and detection is the key to any disease, and ovarian cancer is exactly the same. Either way it is worth seeing someone a specialist in this field.

If you do have any of the symptoms from my post on ovarian cancer, please talk to your healthcare practitioner about a referral to an expert, or specialist in this field and get assessed properly.

Frequently asked questions about ovarian cancer screening

This information covers screening for ovarian cancer i.e. the testing of women at population risk who have no symptoms that might be ovarian cancer. This information has been developed to support discussion with a woman about screening for ovarian cancer. Most of this can be found at the Australian Cancer Council (www.cancer.org.au)and the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (www.nbocc.org.au)

Is there a screening test for ovarian cancer?

No. There is currently no evidence to support the use of any test, including pelvic examination, CA125 or other biomarkers, ultrasound (including transvaginal ultrasound), or a combination of tests, to screen for ovarian cancer.

A Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer; it is only used to screen for cervical cancer.

What about the CA125 blood test?

CA125 is a protein found in the blood. It is known as a tumour or cancer marker. Increased levels of CA125 may indicate ovarian cancer. However, there are many other conditions that can affect CA125 levels such as ovulation, menstruation, endometriosis, benign ovarian cysts, liver or kidney disease, and other cancers such as breast or lung cancer.

If CA125 levels are not raised, this does not completely rule out ovarian cancer, as about 50% of women with early-stage ovarian cancer have normal CA125 levels.

For these reasons, the CA125 test alone should not be used as a screening test for ovarian cancer. It can be used in the assessment of symptoms that may be ovarian cancer.

Can an ultrasound be used as a screening test?

A transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) gives the best picture of the ovaries but while able to detect the presence of ovarian disease, a TVUS cannot distinguish between benign and malignant disease.

For this reason, transvaginal ultrasound should not be used as a screening test for ovarian cancer.

What if a woman decides she still wishes to have a CA125 blood test or ultrasound?

She should be informed that if either a CA125 or an ultrasound test is abnormal, it may be necessary to repeat the test, or to undertake further tests, which may include surgery to investigate the abnormal result.

The discovery and investigation of abnormal findings can result in unnecessary anxiety and the investigations can carry significant risks.

Final word

I hope this explains a few of the fact around screening for ovarian cancer and helps people understand why some perceived screening methods are not reliable. For more information, you should always talk to your healthcare practitioner, or specialist, and never ever diagnose yourself based on some stupid google search. Always see a qualified healthcare professional for all your healthcare advice. Your life could depend on it.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

The link between endometriosis and cancer

The Link Between Endometriosis & Cancer

One of the most common questions that I get asked from women with endometriosis is “Is there a link between endometriosis and cancer?”

There has been many research papers on this and there is some evidence to suggest that women with endometriosis may have a higher risk of certain cancers such as endometrial cancer and also ovarian cancer.

We all know that Endometriosis is a debilitating disease, but many people don’t realise the possible future implications of this disease, mixed with our highly inflammatory diets and lifestyle. Unfortunately it is a recipe for any inflammatory disease, and for expression of cancer cells.

There have been many reputable studies to date showing the link between inflammation and cancer and endometriosis is definitely an inflammatory disease that needs proper management otherwise some studies are now suggesting it could be a precursor to certain cancers.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone either. It is just to help people realise the possible implications of this disease and to be more proactive around getting yourself and your body healthier and also being properly managed by a qualified health professional. When it come to cancerous states, prevention is key and early intervention is also.

Better education is needed

Given that, we need to really take this disease more seriously than many people with the disease and many in the medical community probably realise. Prevention is always the key to any disease and even though endometriosis cannot be prevented, early intervention and ongoing management of the disease is crucial. This is why I think all young girls should be educated about what a proper menstrual cycle should be like and that period pain is not normal. There also needs to be proper education about diet and lifestyle interventions with inflammatory diseases, such as endometriosis, and how it also needs a multimodality approach to be managed properly.

Endometriosis is like cancer in many ways

Endometriosis, like cancer, is characterised by cell invasion and unrestrained growth. Furthermore, endometriosis and cancer are similar in other aspects, such as the development of new blood vessels and a decrease in the number of cells undergoing apoptosis. In spite of these similarities, endometriosis is not considered a malignant disorder.

The possibility that endometriosis could, however, transform and become cancer has been debated in the literature since 1925. Mutations in the certain genes have been implicated in the cause of endometriosis and in the progression to cancer of the ovary (Swiersz 2006). There is also data to support that ovarian endometriosis could have the potential for malignant transformation. Epidemiologic and genetic studies support this notion. It seems that endometriosis is associated with specific types of ovarian cancer (endometrioid and clear cell) (Vlahos et al, 2010). The relationship between endometriosis and ovarian cancer is an intriguing and still poorly investigated issue. Specifically, histological findings indicate a definitive association between endometriosis and endometrioid/clear cell carcinoma of the ovary (Parihar & Mirge 2009).

Women with endometriosis may be more prone to certain cancers

There are recent studies which have shown that mutations in the certain genes found were identified in 20% of endometrial carcinomas and 20.6% of solitary endometrial cysts, played a part in the development of ovarian cancers. In addition to cancerous transformation at the site of endometriosis, there is recent evidence to indicate that having endometriosis itself may increase a woman’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, malignant melanoma, and breast cancer (Swiersz 2014).

Women with endometriosis appear to be more likely to develop certain types of cancer. Brinton, PhD, Chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology branch at the National Cancer Institute has studied the long-term effects of endometriosis, which led her to Sweden about 20 years ago. Using the country’s national inpatient register, she identified more than 20,000 women who had been hospitalised for endometriosis.

After an average follow-up of more than 11 years, the risk for cancer among these women was elevated by 90% for ovarian cancer, 40% for hematopoietic cancer (primarily non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and 30% for breast cancer. Having a longer history of endometriosis and being diagnosed at a young age were both associated with increased ovarian cancer risk (Brinton et al, 1997).

Farr Nezhat, MD, Chief of Gynecologic Minimally Invasive Surgery and Robotics at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University, spoke on the pathogenesis of endometriosis and ovarian cancer. According to a 2000 study of women with ovarian cancer by Hiroyuki Yoshikawa and colleagues, endometriosis was present in 39% of the women with clear cell tumours and 21% of those with endometrial tumours. The studies clearly suggest that Endometriosis may be the precursor of clear cell, or endometrial ovarian cancer (Yoshikawa et al, 2000).

Inflammation and Estrogens are a big factor in many cancers

If you combine inflammation with oestrogen as with both endometriosis and ovarian or uterine cancers, it’s going to be a vicious circle, as the 2 diseases share numerous other characteristics. For example, both are related to early menstrual cycles and late menopause, infertility, and inability to fall pregnant. Any factors that relieve or offer protection against both conditions need to be explored, including dietary and lifestyle changes etc.

Some authors also suggest that there is an also increased risks of colon cancer, ovarian cancer, thyroid cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and malignant melanoma in women with endometriosis when compared with the general population (Brinton et al, 2005).

Proper management and early intervention is crucial

If you do have patients with endometriosis you do need to take into consideration the future implications of this disease, not only the pain and turmoil it causes on the way, but also the future possibility that endometriosis could also lead to cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, or many of the other cancers that can be found in the body.

There are certain medications, both natural based and medical that can great assist in the treatments and management of endometriosis and microscopic endometriosis implants. These do need to be explored and we now have the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommending diet and lifestyle changes and to use complementary medicine such and Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture for the the management and treatment of endometriosis. This is recommended alongside medical interventions and it does get back to a multimodality approach is the key factor in proper management of this disease.

Diet and lifestyle changes are crucial in cancer prevention

There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of a low inflammatory based diet and reduction in lifestyle factors such as stress. These things are also crucial in any inflammatory disease and certainly in cancer prevention.

Anyone with endometriosis does need to be following anti-inflammatory diet, with reduced refined foods and increased whole foods. This is something I promote whole-heartedly and see great results with on a daily basis. It is also part of my PACE- Diet and Lifestyle program. PACE meaning (Paleo/Primal Ancestral Clean Eating) .

This style of diet is very much like the mediterranean diet which is now shown to be one of the best diets in the world to help with cancer prevention and reduction of cardiovascular disease. It is something that has been shown to assist with inflammatory diseases such as endometriosis. This can be done alongside supplements such as omega 3 oils and antioxidants that also offer protection and prevention against inflammatory diseases too. You should also talk to a qualified healthcare professional about diet and lifestyle interventions and supplementation.

See an Endometriosis Expert

Hope that helps everyone to understand why it is so important to really make some proactive changes if you do have endometriosis. You really need to explore as many options as you can when trying to manage this disease and halt its progression. It is also important to see an endometriosis expert and not try and manage this disease yourself. You just should not be doing this and it is not effective management. Always see an appropriately trained healthcare professional who is trained in endometriosis and other disease states in women. We don’t want to see it end up as cancer later on and this is why it is so important to make sure you are being appropriately managed now.

Final Word

If you do need help with endometriosis, and the associated symptoms of endometriosis, give my friendly staff a call and find out how I can help you. Always remember that early intervention is the key and being managed properly is also crucial.

Take care

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

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Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer awareness is something that everyone should know about. Mankind has known breast cancer since ancient times. In 460 B.C. Hippocrates explained breast cancer as a disease caused by an excess of black bile, or “Melancholia”. He named the condition ‘Karkinos’- (Cancer)- the Greek word for crab and the astrological constellation. This was because the tumor seemed to have tentacles which reached out into the surrounding breast tissue, resembling the legs of a crab.

The history of Breast Cancer

This theory of Hippocrates held for many centuries until 1680, when the French physician Francois de la Boe Sylvius suggested that Breast Cancer developed from an increase in the disruptions of the acidity of local lymphatic fluids.

There were many theories that followed including celibacy causing breast cancer, too much rigorous sex causing disruption to the local lymph drainage and thus causing breast cancer and others linking breast cancer to mental disorder-the melancholia references again.

In 1757 Dr Henri Le Dran was the first person to suggest that the surgical removal of the tumor was the most effective treatment, provided all the lymph nodes in the armpits were removed. This must have been a horrific prospect prior to anaesthetic and proper sterilised surgical procedures. The survival rates were appalling, due to immediate death post surgery from the high infection rates. It wasn’t until 1976 that advancement in radiation and chemotherapy actually took place. This really isn’t that long ago and the first mammogram trails showing reduction of breast cancer due to early screening, where only initiated in 1989. To think that in such a short spam of time, we now have this as a routine screening tool that can save lives.

It wasn’t until 1994 that scientist have isolated the first of the genetic mutations associated with breast cancer and these genetic screening for the gene mutations and being predisposed to breast cancer. This screen has led to Angelina Jolie having a double mastectomy when testing revealed she had the BRCA1 gene mutation which predisposed her to both ovarian and breast cancer. It was estimated that Jolie had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. Jolie’s mother died at 59 from the disease in 2007.

Since Angelina Jolies decision, there was a surge in enquiries around genetic testing and medical evaluation as to breast cancer risks across all parts of the world.

Breast cancer remains the most common malignancy in women, comprising 18% of all female cancers and there is 1 million cases of breast cancer diagnosed worldwide. Most women will know someone who has had the diagnosis, based on these figures.

Despite all the testing and screening it is estimated that about 40% of women have never discussed their risk factors with there doctor, or health care practitioner.

So what can you do to reduce your risks?

The first thing anyone can do is check yourself for any noticeable signs of changes to the breast. You can also have a routine breast examination at your doctor.

Next is regular mammogram, or ultrasound screening, followed by biopsy if anything suspicious is found. Screening for genetic predisposition is another tool that should be used by all women too. About 10% of breast cancer in developed countries is due to genetic predisposition. Certain populations of people have higher genetic risk factors with the Ashkenazi Jewish population having the highest risk factors and well as risk factors for some rare genetic diseases.

The good thing with early screening and detection is that we have now seen in increase in survival rates with the increase between 72-89%.

There are also other risk factors that people need to take into consideration. Women who have their menstrual cycle too early and those who go into menopause later in life are at increase risk of developing breast cancer. Having a baby later in life also increases the risk factor for cancer. Having a baby after 35 years old doubles the risk, while having children earlier reduces the risk. Breast-feeding also reduced the risk of breast cancer too.

Obesity and lifestyle factors increasing breast cancer risks

Obesity and increased alcohol intake also increases a woman’s risk and doubles the chances of having breast cancer. Obesity doubles a woman’s risk factors in postmenopausal women and increased alcohol intake (3-6 standard drinks per day) also doubles the risk factors.

Women on the combined pill also have in increased risk of breast cancer, while progesterone only options do not increase the risk.

Lifestyle modifications

Since there is compelling evidence alcohol and obesity increase the risk of breast cancer, women do need to reduce their alcohol intake and also aim to keep their weight within a healthy range.

This is why we all need to be looking at anti-inflammatory based diets, free from inflammatory wheat grains, excess refined soy products, alcohol, refined foods and refined sugars. These highly inflammatory based foods all lead to excess blood sugars, which in turn spike insulin product. This then causes interference to hormone metabolism (namely estrogens) and also causes the body to store fats and stops the burning of fats, again interfering with estrogen metabolism. This is turns causes inflammation, which is he cause of many of our disease states and leading causes of death.

This is why I always promote a Primal based, low inflammatory, clean eating diet. This is the basis for my PACE-Diet and Lifestyle program (Paleo/Primal Ancestral Clean Eating) that I promote to my patients. This style of diet promotes leans meats, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, good fats, fresh vegetables and salads, clean water etc. This is very similar to the famous Mediterranean diet, which has to date never been scrutinized and has lot of research behind it. Eating this way will not only make you healthier for it, but will be reducing your risk factors around any inflammatory disease state. Just remember that 90% of breast cancers come from non-hereditary factors related to lifestyle and the way we eat in the modern world.

Early detection and awareness is vital

It is well known that early detection and treatment is vital to survival rates in women with breast cancer. It is so important to regularly check for lumps and bumps and talk to your doctor about regular screening. If you have hereditary risks then talk to your healthcare provider, or specialist about genetic screening for breast cancer.

Let’s all raise awareness for breast cancer and support more research into finding a cure for this disease that affects millions of women world wide each year.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

 

 

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Bringing Awareness To Cancers In Women

Over the next week I am going to focus on a very serious subject – Cancers in women.

Having recently focusses on the awareness of endometriosis and adenemyosis, I thought I should bring some awareness to the topic of cancers in women as a whole. This isn’t to scare people either. It is to bring awareness to a very serious topic and to help people understand the importance of early intervention and changes to diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce the risks of this horrible disease.

With cancer rates increasing I am going to focus on the cancers that affect the female reproductive system and impact of reproductive health. This will also include those cancers that increase after menopause too. Whenever I talk about fertility and reproduction, it is referring to the stage in life when women are fertile and are of reproductive age. Menopause is also including because that still comes under the reproductive system.

Cancer has been around a long time

Humankind has been dealing with the impact of cancer and malignancy for its entire history and the first clear description of any cancer is found in the Ebers Papyrus, dating from nearly 3500 years ago. The cancer was very accurate described by the Egyptian writer and what was described was in fact breast cancer. Chinese Medicine has texts dating back for further than that, describing the different forms of cancers and their treatments. Modern medicine does tend to only reference Greek, Egyptian and Roman text.

When these Greek physicians first cut the surface of a breast cancer, it did in fact resemble a crab, because of it solid central body, with extensions into the surrounding tissue resembling legs.

The ancient Greek word for crab is “Karkinos” which in Latin is translated into ‘cancer’- as in the astrological sign. This term was then extended into all cancers and malignancies, not just breast cancer.

Genetic, hereditary and hormonal links to cancer

It is believed that cancer is predominantly caused by a failure in the regulation of genes which govern cell growth and differentiation. Malignant change is most typically the result of a cascade of changes in a number of genes.

These changes in genes can be bought on by hereditary genetic genetic changes, while others may be the incorporation of foreign viral DNA, or a compound that may act as the primary trigger for malignant change. Some cancers and malignancies are also caused by hormonal stimulation both internally and by injection, or ingestion of hormones from an outside source (Drugs, Hormone Replacement etc).

Diet and lifestyle links to cancer

Other cancers are plain and simply caused by the highly inflammatory foods we eat and the lifestyle we live. Obesity and being overweight increases our cancer risks and there are no many studies proving these links. Having excess fat stores, eating highly processed foods, high GI foods and over 3-4 glasses of alcohol per week can increase your cancer risks exponentially. This why we all need to adopt a clean eating approach to foods and look at eating less refined foods and more whole foods.

The incidence of cancers in women is highest in developing western countries and lowest in countries such as Africa and Asia. The difference has more to do with diet than it does genetics. Since there is compelling evidence that alcohol, highly refined foods and obesity increase the risk of cancers in women (and men) I will be focusing greatly on the need for us all to look at changing our diets to not only help in the prevention of certain cancers, but to also help prevention of other disease states that are leading causes of our lives being cut short.

The most common cancer in women

Since breast cancer remains the most common malignancy in women, comprising of 18% of all female cancers, most women will know someone who has had this diagnosis.

I’ll focus on breast cancer firstly and then go into the other cancers so that we can all be educated about how we can prevent these disease states from increasing. If you have any questions, or topics you want discussed around this topic, please let me know

Take care and remember prevention is better than cure. Always talk to your doctor, or healthcare practitioner about cancer risks and always seek early intervention if you find any lumps and bumps that were not there before.

Hope you the topics help you all. If I can save just one person with this information, then I am happy. Lets try and save more than one, so please like and share to spread the word.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts