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Being Overweight, or Underweight, Can Adversely Affect Fertility

As mentioned in previous posts about fertility and weight, it is important to have healthy weight and waist size when trying to conceive. It is important to address dietary and lifestyle issues in order to be in health weight and waist range before trying to conceive.

Healthy Waist Size

Healthy waist range for a woman is 80cm (from the belly button around)

Healthy waist range for a man is 94cm (from the belly button around)

If a woman’s waist size is about 88cm and a man’s waist size if above 102cm then they are in what we call “metabolic syndrome”

This increases their chances of diabetes, heart disease, depression, gynaecological conditions (PCOS, endometriosis etc), sperm issues, egg quality issues, reproductive issues, increased miscarriage, increased risk of certain cancers and of course…. infertility.

Body fat and how it affects fertility

Excess body fat (now known as obestrogens) can disrupt hormones and fertility and can have a negative effect on egg and sperm quality.

Similarly being underweight and low body fat can affect fertility outcomes too. Body fat has a regulatory role in reproduction and a moderate loss of fat, from 10% to 15% below normal weight for height, may delay the menstrual cycle, completely stop the menses altogether and inhibit ovulation. Both dieting and excessive exercise can reduce body fat below the minimum amount and lead to infertility. But this is reversible with weight gain, increased body fat and reduction of intensive exercise, or both.

A moderate reduction in body fat, not just weight, for those overweight, can increase fertility and chances of pregnancy exponentially. Similarly an increase in body fat for those that are underweight, and who don’t have enough body fat, can increase their fertility and chances of pregnancy as well.

This goes for men too. Increased body fat, or not enough body fat can affect hormone production and fertility and can affect sperm quality and sperm production.

This is why preconception care and healthy screening and weight and waist management is so important before trying to conceive. This should also be a part of any fertility program and is definitely part of my fertility program for all couples.

Are you in healthy waist range?

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

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Sperm Quality and How To Took After It

More often than not, women are often told that is their egg quality, or some gyneacological factor is the cause of not being able to conceive. But, in truth, more often than not, it is actually the sperm quality that is at fault, or in combination. Fertility issues are not just a woman’s cross to bare.

Men are 50% of the fertility equation and up to 85% of miscarriage issues can be related to chromosomal and DNA factors relating to poor quality sperm in men.

To be honest, men often think that they have this inherent right to conceive and often believe there is nothing wrong with their sperm, despite never being tested. Many often avoid being tested and will often make great claims as to why they should not be tested either.

As part of proper fertility assessment, both the man and the woman need to be evaluated, not just the female.
A man will need to have a comprehensive semen analysis done and may also need further testing such as DNA fragmentation analysis, or a sperm chromatin assay. There will also be further genetic testing needed as well.

A semen analysis is really on a basic test that lets us know what the sperm look like and if they have 2 heads, 2 tails and may be swimming in circles. The fact is, that many men’s sperm quality is substandard and their sperm is actually not in a good shape at all. Recent research and statistics have shown that the male sperm quality has fallen by as much as 70% in the last 60-70 years.

There are many things that can affects a male sperm quality such as:
1. Steroids and recreational drugs
2. Alcohol
3. Smoking (including recreational drugs)
4. Chemicals
5. Drugs (pharmaceutical and illegal)
6. Being overweight and too much body fat
7. Age

These are to name just a few. There are also genetic and hereditary issues that need to be checked as part of proper fertility evaluation as well.

More often than not these days, men are the bigger part of the issue when it comes to not being able to have a baby. Men are often also overlooked as part of the issue as well, which is actually not good ethical practice.

Many couples are also quick to tell me, or other healthcare practitioners, that the man’s sperm is fine, or they have been told it is fine, when actual fact it is not. OK, or fine for IVF purposes does not mean that the sperm is fine. It is very rare to see a man that is having troubles conceiving a baby with his partner that has sperm that is fine. That is the truth.

If you have been trying to conceive for a long time (and not being able to conceive) and the male has not been checked properly, or on some kind of lifestyle and preconception care plan, then in might be time you looked into that.

If you do need help with preconception care and getting your eggs and sperm more healthy, then enquire about my fertility program that has helped over 12,500 babies into the world and counting.

In the mean time have a look at this great fact sheet about your sperm and how to look after them at yourfertitity.org.au and put together by Andrology Australia.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

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Why Excess Body Fat and Obesity is The Enemy of Fertility

Excess body fat and obesity is the enemy of fertility and it is something that needs to be talked about. Despite what anyone tells you, being overweight, or being obese significant affect on fertility and it can also affect the future health of offspring. This is a fact and we need to talk about it more and bring more awareness to this subject. This is why I have been focusing on this very important subject a lot more lately.

At present up to 70% (or more) of Australians are either overweight, or obese, so we can no longer ignore what the consequences of these statistics mean. We know that excess weight and excess body fat is linked to serious health consequences, but we need to talk about how it affects fertility and decreases the chances of obtaining a live birth.

Overweight, or obese men and women have higher levels of body fat and higher levels of the hormones leptin. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this excess body fat is also now referred to as obestrogens, as they cause the same health consequences as environmental estrogens (known as endocrine disruptors). These excess body fats and higher levels of leptin do impair production of sex hormones and also reduces fertility. It can also lead to poorer sperm quality, poorer egg quality and can also increase the risk of miscarriage. The more excess body fat, the greater the risk of fertility difficulties a couple will have. This is a fact. Despite what your specialist, your doctor, Dr Google, or your own mind tells you, this is a fact and we need to start being real about it. It isn’t about fat shaming either. It is to help people who are struggling with fertility and to help them seek the help they need to have a baby.

Excess body fat, especially excess abdominal fat is also linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and other health issues. It also interferes with the regulation of sex hormones and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).  This can then increase the risk of irregular cycles, PCOS, endometriosis, sperm quality issues, miscarriage and other factors affecting fertility.

While the facts around excess body fat, excess weight and obesity are very real and can often seem overwhelming, there is some good news for couples that are overweight and obese.

Dietary and lifestyle changes and fat loss interventions which also includes exercise, can significantly improve fertility outcomes. It can also help with regular menstrual cycles, PCOS, endometriosis, sperm issues, egg quality, mental health and many other health issues. It definitely improves the chances of pregnancy and lessens the chances of miscarriage.

Research has shown that fat loss of up to 7%, for those that are overweight, achieved by diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, can improve overall health, fertility and improve chances of a successful live birth.

There is no fast track, or easy way to lose excess body fat and people need to face the facts, face reality and just get in a do it. The best ways to do this are as follows:

Seek the help of trained healthcare professionals that can help you with dietary and lifestyle changes and can help monitor you and support you rather than blaming and shaming. It also helps to hold you accountable and keep you motivated.

Do any dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes as a couple. It is much easier if you both do it and can support each other in any changes. You can also hold each other accountable and also see the changes in each other.

Set realistic goals and be realistic about how long things will take. It is no use setting unrealistic goals and having an unrealistic perception of how long things will take to change it your body. This will only set you up for failure and chances of rebounding. It is about one day at a time and one step at a time.

Seek the help of a trained healthcare professional to educate you on what good nutrition, good dietary and lifestyle habits are. The more educated you are about what a good diet is, the better your chances are of eating the right foods and achieving your fat loss goals

You need to exercise as well. Diet changes alone will only help to a point and you do need to do some form of resistance work to help burn fat. While walking is great, it doesn’t burn fat and increase lean muscle like resistance exercise (weights etc) can. You may even need to see a personal trainer to get yourself started and be held accountable.

Have access to fresh foods and means to increase your levels of physical activity. It is important to have access to good fresh foods and stay away from the processed and refined foods. You also need to have ways of exercising and keeping your body active and burning fat.

It is all about perception versus reality. You need to be real about your weight, your body fat and then set realistic goals to lose the excess body fats. Just remember it is about being proactive. Nobody is going to do this for you, but they can help encourage you to be healthy and make better dietary and lifestyle choices.

Lastly, men and women are twice as likely to achieve healthy weight and waist range and proper dietary and lifestyle choices if their partner does it too. The journey to having a baby requires a couple to do it and the same goes for weight loss and achieving healthy body fat and healthy waist range too.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

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Excess Weight and Male Fertility

It has long been known that for men, being overweight, or obese, is associated with lower fertility and poor sperm quality. We know that excess body fat causes inflammation in the body, but it is also known to cause the following:

  • Hormones Problems
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Sperm Quality Issues
  • Heart Disease
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Lower Testosterone
  • Other Health issues.

It is now known that carrying an extra 10 kilos can reduce male fertility by between 10-50%. This is exactly why all men need to take their health, their body fat and their weight more seriously when trying to conceive.

A review of studies about the effects of paternal obesity on reproductive outcomes found that overweight, or obese men were more likely to experience fertility issues and less likely to have a live birth if they and their partner used assisted reproduction technology (ART) – (IVF, ICSI, IUI etc).

The reason being is because the extra body fats are known to be estrogenic (known as obestrogens) which not only reduce sperm quality, but also changes the DNA, the physical shape and molecular structure of sperm cells.

This is why all men need to look at preconception care and lifestyle changes for trying to have a baby, but also their future health and their future offsprings long term health as well.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicines

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

 

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Let’s Talk About Why IVF Cycles Fail

Let’s talk about why IVF cycles fail because it is a very common question that is asked when a cycle fails. Often there will be no conclusive answer and often when I am asked this, I have to say the old saying “How long is piece of string?”

The reason I say this is that there are so many factors involved with a cycle failing. It could be from following

  • poor egg quality
  • poor sperm quality
  • age of the couple
  • genetic factors (diagnosed, or undiagnosed)
  • hereditary issues
  • DNA and chromosomal issues
  • a non-receptive endometrium
  • dietary and lifestyle factors
  • weight factors (excess or too little weight)
  • emotional factors, or mood disorders
  • stress
  • incorrect hormone therapy
  • medications
  • human error
  • lab errors
  • many other factors in the IVF process.

I wish it was as easy as putting a sperm and an egg together and it just happening. I know many couples do look at it this way, but there is so much more to the whole process of conception. I know it is often hard to understand, but no google search is going to tell you all of this and you would need years of study to completely understand the whole process. Plus IVF is still only a young form of medicine and it still evolving.

This is why IVFsuccess rates are still relatively low. We just do not have the technology yet to tell us which embryo will go on to become a baby. If we had that, then there would be a much higher, if not near 100% success rate. The reality is that type of technology may never be available, or would be many many years off. We can only hope.

The other thing I explain to couple is that sometimes it is literally the IVF process hindering a couples chances of success, by not having the right protocol, or right team helping them.  I could go on and on because there are so many factors that could affect a cycle and someones chances of conceiving. This is why I use the term “How long is a piece of string?”

This is why I do what I do and explain all of this and more to all my patients as part of my fertility program. I am literally there to hold their hands every step of the way and explain everything in detail each step of the way as well. I will always make sure everything is done properly and even go into bat for them and step on toes if I have too. My patient’s come first always.

What is required for a successful pregnancy?

At least three things are required for a successful pregnancy during in an vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle:

  • a healthy embryo
  • a receptive endometrium
  • careful transfer at the proper time in the cycle

There are things other things such as the right diet and right nutrients and right emotional state for the couples and proper preconception care, but for now I am just talking about a successful embryo transfer on a medical level. Firstly I will discuss the IVF process.

IVF has improved significantly in its almost 40-year history. Different types of hormone and fertility drugs have been developed that are easier to administer and are associated with an improved safety profile. In addition, numerous stimulation protocols are available that allow us to individually tailor treatments. For example, ultrasound-guided embryo transfer using soft catheters and embryo glue (enzyme to assist implantation) has also helped with ensuring better placement of the embryo, without trauma to the endometrium, but very few clinics are actually doing this. Tests can also be used to evaluate the receptivity of the endometrium in order to determine the best time to schedule the transfer.

Despite all these improvements, however, implantation and pregnancy rates with IVF only slowly increase year after year.

Achieving Implantation-The hardest step

The rate-limiting step of IVF is implantation. It requires the proper interaction of a healthy embryo and a receptive endometrium. It often fails due to problems with the embryos. The genetic health of the embryo depends on both its inherited genetic material and on the errors and repairs during the cell divisions.

A chromosomally abnormal (anuploidy) embryo is unlikely to implant, and when it does it is likely to be lost early on. Many embryos that are transferred have chromosomal abnormalities, even if they look fine on the outside, or are classified as being the best grade prior to transfer. We need people to understand that just because and embryo has reached Blastocyst, or Morella stage and it looks like a good quality embryo from the outside, it does not mean that the inside and the chromosomes inside the embryo are OK. Not every fertilised egg will result in a genetically sound embryo that will go on to become a baby.

DNA & Chromosomal When Sperm and Egg Combine

We also need people to realise that an embryo is made up the genetic material of two people and that requires the sperm to be healthy both outwardly, but also chromosomally, and this can change with each batch of sperm ejaculated. Sperm quality and the viability of sperm changes and just because something was “OK” last cycle, or two years ago, or last month, or last week, does not mean that it is OK now.

Unfortunately people need to face the reality of what happens with the body and reproduction. The health of the sperm is also reflected in the health and lifestyle and age of the male too. Unhealthy males produce unhealthy sperm and higher levels or sperm with chromosomal abnormalities and damage to the DNA. Unless you are testing every batch of sperm for DNA and chromosomal abnormalities, you aren’t going to see this and even then, testing can only see so much.

A healthy embryo (Euploidy embryo) also requires a female to be healthy and her eggs to be health chromosomally and on a DNA level. It also requires a healthy male for his sperm quality to be healthy on a DNA levels as well. Egg and sperm quality is also related to age, diet, lifestyle, environment, and exposure to environmental disruptors, weight, body fat, stress and so many other factors.

We need people to be aware of this. Then when you put two unhealthy people’s genetic and reproductive material together, there is a high likelihood that it will produce higher numbers of abnormal embryos, and sometimes it can be all of them. It all depends on the health of the sperm and health of the eggs at time of fertilisation. Even then we can still have random errors in chromosomes and DNA and this then produces faulty embryos. Again this is a hard process to explain and again Dr Google isn’t going to tell you this.

Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis/Screening (PGD/PGS)

Various methods of genetic testing of embryos have been evaluated in past decades. During the early days of PGD/PGD many embryos were lost in this form of screening. Today it is more routine and more perfected.  One can test the chromosome content of the polar bodies, but a cleavage-stage embryo (day 3 of development) or a blastocyst-stage embryo can be evaluated as well. In addition, various techniques  are available for assessing the chromosomes.  There are also new testing and new technologies that have addressed the shortcomings of these earlier tests.

The authors of a recent systematic review concluded that comprehensive genetic screening of embryos using day 5 blastocyst biopsy is associated with increased implantation and pregnancy rates. In addition, this technology appears to be a good tool to limit the number of embryos transferred. But embryos can still be tested early on in their development, with good results, too.

Most experts recommend genetic testing of embryos in women with advanced reproductive age, recurrent implantation failure, recurrent pregnancy loss, or severe male factor infertility/DNA issues. This then gives a greater probability of transferring a chromosomally normal embryo and having a higher chance of implantation and pregnancy occurring. But even a chromosomally normal embryos doesn’t ensure a pregnancy. This is often the hardest thing for people to get their heads around. To be honest, much of this comes down to luck and is really in the hands of the gods. Again this is often not told to people and no google search is going to tell you this either.

Preconception care increases chances of conceiving

But what you can do to ensure healthy egg quality, healthy sperm quality, healthy embryo quality, healthy uterine lining, decreases stress levels, optimal health at time of transfer etc, is doing proper preconception care as part of proper fertility program.  There is now growing evidence that the health of both parents before and at the time of conception influences the chances of conceiving and the short and long term health of the future offspring. (9,10,11,12,13,14,15)

This is why I offer couples a program to go over everything they need to know and everything the need to do prior to trying to conceive or trying to embark on the next IVF cycle. It is about getting the couple as healthy as possible and their bodies as ready as possible to give them the best chances of success. I always explain to people that preparing for an IVF cycle is like preparing for a marathon. If you do the work and get the body ready, it gives you a better chance of making it to the finish line.

If you are having trouble falling pregnant, or are having failed IVF cycle, then give my clinic a call and find out more about how my fertility program may be able to assist you achieving success of having a baby. So far my program has helped over 12,500 plus babies into the world and counting. It doesn’t matter if you are starting the journey, or well on your way into the journey or trying to have a baby. You can also do a meet and greet appointment to find out more about the fertility program before you commit to the whole program.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

References

  1. Mains L, Van Voorhis BJ. Optimizing the technique of embryo transfer. Fertil Steril. 2010;94:785-790. Abstract
  2. Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Clinic Summary Report. https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=0Accessed April 27, 2015.
  3. Staessen C, Platteau P, Van Assche E, et al. Comparison of blastocyst transfer with or without preimplantation genetic diagnosis for aneuploidy screening in couples with advanced maternal age: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Hum Reprod. 2004;19:2849-2858. Abstract
  4. Mastenbroek S, Twisk M, van Echten-Arends J, et al. In vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic screening. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:9-17. Abstract
  5. Yang Z, Liu J, Collins GS, et al. Selection of single blastocysts for fresh transfer via standard morphology assessment alone and with array CGH for good prognosis IVF patients: results from a randomized pilot study. Mol Cytogenet. 2012;5:24.
  6. Scott RT Jr, Upham KM, Forman EJ, et al. Blastocyst biopsy with comprehensive chromosome screening and fresh embryo transfer significantly increases in vitro fertilization implantation and delivery rates: a randomized controlled trial. Fertil Steril. 2013;100:697-703. Abstract
  7. Forman EJ, Tao X, Ferry KM, et al. Single embryo transfer with comprehensive chromosome screening results in improved ongoing pregnancy rates and decreased miscarriage rates. Hum Reprod. 2012;27:1217-1222. Abstract
  8. Scott RT Jr, Upham KM, Forman EJ, et al. Cleavage-stage biopsy significantly impairs human embryonic implantation potential while blastocyst biopsy does not: a randomized and paired clinical trial. Fertil Steril. 2013;100:624-630. Abstract
  9. Buck Louis, G. M., et al. (2016). Lifestyle and pregnancy loss in a contemporary cohort of women recruited before conception: The LIFE Study. Fertility and Sterility, 106(1), 180-188. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.03.009
  10. Chiu, Y.-H., Chavarro, J. E., & Souter, I. (2018). Diet and female fertility: doctor, what should I eat? Fertility and Sterility, 110(4), 560-569. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.027
  11. Day, J., et al. (2016). Influence of paternal preconception exposures on their offspring: through epigenetics to phenotype. American Journal of Stem Cells, 5(1), 11-18
  12. Homan, G. F., Davies, M. J., & Norman, R. J. (2007). The impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive performance in the general population and those undergoing infertility treatment: a review. Human Reproduction Update, 13(3), 209-223.
  13. Nassan, F. L., et al. (2018). Diet and men’s fertility: does diet affect sperm quality? Fertility and Sterility, 110(4), 570-577. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.025
  14. Salas-Huetos, A., et al. (2017). Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies. Human Reproduction Update, 23(4), 371-389. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmx006
  15. Sharma, R., et al. (2013). Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. [Review]. Reprod Biol Endocrinol, 11(66), 1477-7827.
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Let’s Talk About Fertility

Dr Andrew Orr has an honest and open chat about his years of experience dealing with couples with fertility issues.

Much of it gets back to couples not having the proper testing and investigations, being on the same page, preconception planning, getting healthy, doing the work and the expectations versus reality.

Have a listen to Dr Andrew Orr’s open and honest discussion about a very serious topic.

If you do need help and are struggling with fertility and not having a baby, Dr Andrew Orr can assist you in your journey to becoming parents and having your little miracle.

The Journey of Trying To Have a Baby is Sometimes Like a Marathon 1

The Journey to Have a Baby Can be Like a Marathon For Many Couples.

The Journey to have a baby can be like a marathon for many couples. It can be physically, emotionally and financially draining on every level.
 
One of the things I teach my patients, struggling with fertility issues, is that the journey often is like trying to run marathon. I also explain that they also need to prepare for the journey, just like preparing for a marathon too. 
 
I teach them that ‘couples’ (meaning two people) not just the woman unless she is doing it alone, need to get into the best shape possible prior to running the marathon, not just think about it half way through, when they are tiring and the finish line is nowhere in sight.
 
Healthy couples create healthy sperm and healthy eggs, which then go onto to being health embryos and then later health babies.
 
When preparing for a marathon you need to get the body into the best shape possible. That means physically and mentally too. Never overlook the mental aspect and this is why counselling and mindfulness is so important for couples struggling to have a baby. Many times this is the most important, but often overlooked aspect to a couple having success. 
 
Then couples need to get their diet in check, their lifestyle in check, get the body investigated and assessed properly and get the body fully ready to be able to make that finish line.
 
Nobody should ever just decide to run a marathon without proper training, good nutrition, mental preparation and getting the body in shape.
Unfortunately many couples try to run the marathon without the proper preparation and preconception care and then try to patch things as they struggle along the journey. This is when I see many of them. They are struggling on every level and exhausted and ready to give up.
One of the things I mention often is that  I wished that I saw every couple before they even started their journey. This way they are less likely to end up at this point of exhaustion and despair and clutching at straws to make it all work. I see so many out at sea in a leaky boat trying to patch the holes as they go along, when really they should have got the boat sea ready before they head out. Trying to patch things half way through the journey never works. It  just causes desperation and wasted time and money as well. It can also lead to much worse and many couples actually end up breaking up due to the stress of it all.
 
This is why my fertility program is about preparing the couple on every level. Making sure everything is evaluated and properly investigated on a medical front first and then preparing their bodies on a holistic, and physical and emotional level too. It is also teaching the couples the power of intimacy and connection again too. Literally, I make sure “No Stone is Left Unturned” and then I know couples are ready for the journey ahead. For many it is often a short journey afterwards and this is what I hope for everyone trying to have a baby.
 
I always say that the couples that put in the work, get their bodies ready, prepare physically and emotionally, get the right nutrition, change their lifestyles, take all the supplements and nutrients, talk to a counsellor, do mindfulness, get some acupuncture, do some exercise, connect as a couple, have date nights, make love often, and do all the requested investigations and testing etc, they are the one that get that baby they so desperately deserve.
 
I have assisted in helping over 12,500 babies into the world and I know what couples need to do to get their little miracle. I want all couples to have their little miracles and experience the joy of being a parent.If you are having trouble have a baby, or not getting the help you so desperately deserve and need, then it is time to make the change and make that call.
Regards
Dr Andrew Orr
-The Brisbane Baby Maker
-No Stone Left Unturned
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The Myth of The Barren Woman Runs Deep

The word “Barren” comes originates from the French word ‘Brehaigne’, which means not producing, incapable of producing offspring, infertility, infertile; sterile.

Sounds terrible doesn’t it?

Fortunately very few women are ‘sterile’ and the word “infertility” is often misused in our modern society. Nobody is truly infertile, unless they actually have reproductive organs missing, or have genetic abnormalities that will actually prevent conception from happening etc. When a couple is having trouble conceiving, we should really use the word “sub-fertility” instead of “infertility”

The problem with talking fertility, sub-fertility, or infertility is that we often reference, target, or even blame the woman. Yes, women are often the blame of not being able to conceive a child and therefore the myth of the barren woman still runs deep and is very much in existence and kept alive by all concerned today in our modern world.

But is conception and the ability to conceive a child inherently the fault, or responsibility of the woman?

The answer to that is “No!”, but there is still this expectation, or focus, that not being able to conceive all falls back on a woman. Sometimes women actually wrongly blame themselves, or wrongly take on that responsibility too. Some women will even take on that burden, to protect a partner, who may actually be the main issue. Then we now have an area of medicine that has its focus as being the woman, because women are the primary driving force for wanting to have a child.  Hence the vicious cycle continues in this terrible loop and then many, practitioners included, buy into the myth of the barren woman and so the cycle continues over and over again.

Well, I am here to tell you that women are not the only part of having a child and that men play just as big a part when it comes to fertility issues and not being able to conceive.

No matter what you get sold, or what BS (bullshit) you are sold, while pulling on your ‘I need a baby heartstrings’, to make you part with your hard earned money, the fact remains, and will always remain, that it takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby. That is basic biology 101 and no matter what someone tries to tell you, sperm quality is just as important as egg quality in this equation.

Every day I see practitioners, both medical and in complementary medicine, focussing in on women as the primary focus of fertility and actually feeding the myth of the barren women by their very actions. Many times the men are overlooked, or ignored, or completely disregarded in the fertility equation. Not only is this unethical, to just treat and focus on the women when it comes to fertility treatment, but it is highly negligent as well. Men are not born with an inherent right to automatically be able to conceive and worse still, the male sperm levels have fallen by as much as 60% in the last 70 years, with sperm quality levels said to be dropping at an alarming rate.

So why is the focus, the burden, the guilt and the whole emotional baby roller coaster left solely to women?

Well, I have explained that practitioners are to blame, the fertility profession is to blame, society is to blame, guilt is to blame and last of all men are a big part of  the issue too.

Men are often to reluctant passengers in the fertility journey and are often very happy to bury their heads in the sand and pass the responsibility of not being able to conceive onto a woman. Then many men are told their sperm is fine, when in fact it is far from being fine.

Over 50% of fertility issues are related to male factors and up to 85% of miscarriage issues may be related to male chromosomal, or DNA issues related to sperm. As I said before, research has now shown that the male sperm quality has fallen by up to 60% over the last 70 years and is actually on the decline. Men are often the bigger part of the fertility picture and it isn’t just the woman at all.

Semen analysis parameters are based on what is needed for Assisted Reproduction (IVF, IUI, ICSI) , not based on what is needed for natural conception and this is where some of the biggest issues lay. Misinterpretation of semen analysis and misinterpretation of parameters have many men believing they have OK sperm, when in fact it is far from being OK. With modern procedures such as ICSI, we only need a few single sperm to be able to fertilise eggs and this can still be considered ok, because at least there was some sperm to fertilise the egg in the first place. A few single sperm, or a few hundred sperm, or even a few thousand sperm is not OK when it comes to natural conception. We actually need a few hundred million sperm for it to be OK and even then they need to be motile and they need to be swimming properly (rapid progressive) and actually be of good shape (morphology)

While a semen analysis is often the first part of male fertility evaluation, it is also very limited. While we can look at morphology, motility, concentration, count etc, it does not tell us about the actual quality of the sperm inside. Many sperm may look ‘OK’ via a semen analysis, but inside their DNA integrity is poor and there are high amounts of DNA fragmentation and this can only be measured by a DNA fragmentation analysis. Even then, each time a man ejaculates, the quality of the sperm will be different and can differ by up to 20% in each ejaculate.

We also know that what a man eats, drinks and even his physical and emotional health will affect his sperm quality and that a man’s physical, dietary and emotional health can be passed onto his offspring through the sperm. This is why it is important for a man to get his physical and dietary and emotional health in check way before he tries to conceive a child with his partner.

We always say that the healthier a man is, the healthier his sperm is and the healthier the woman is, the healthier her eggs will be also. A healthy man and a health woman produce healthy babies.

I have been assisting couples with fertility and pregnancy for over 20 plus years now, and helped over 12,500 plus babies into the world,  and I can tell you that conception is not just about the woman. It gets back to basic biology 101 that it takes a sperm and an egg to have a baby. Even when couples are having issues trying to conceive, or doing IVF, or however they are trying to conceive, there will be some issue on the man’s side and the woman’s side. Unless there is absolute infertility on one side, or the other, there will always be a bit of both the man and woman to work on to assist in being able to conceive.

While the myth of the barren woman runs deep in society, fertility clinics and through the guilt handed down from their fellow sisters and mothers, fertility issues and the right to be able to conceive ‘does not’ fall solely into the hands of a woman, far from it. Men are an equal part in the fertility equation and men need be held just as accountable when it comes to trying to have a baby, or if there are difficulties in conceiving. No matter what anyone tells you, a man needs to be part of treatment, management and support of the journey to have a baby.  This is a big part in my multi-modality fertility program being so successful in assisting over 12,500 babies into the world. Fertility isn’t just the responsibility of the woman, it is the responsibility of the man as well and I make sure both the man and the woman are properly investigated, clinically managed and helped with treatments as well.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-The Brisbane Baby Maker

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Fertility Diet for website

Mediterranean Style Diet May Help to Improve Pregnancy Rates for Couples Undergoing IVF and Assisted Reproduction.

New research published in Human Reproduction, has found that those who follow a “Mediterranean” style diet at least six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.

As part of my Fertility Program, one of the first things I talk to couples about is the importance of a healthy diet that has adequate protein, lots of vegetables, seeds and nuts, healthy oils, adequate water intake, electrolytes and cutting out all the refined carbohydrates that cause inflammation. The hard thing is that I hardly see a couple following those health food principles, with many not even really knowing what a health diet is. The diet that I promote is a Primal based diet.

Previous studies have shown that when refined carbohydrates are cut out and replaced with proteins, essential fats and good carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, that the clinical pregnancy rates shot up by 80%. (Fertility & Sterility 2012 Volume 98 issues 3 Page S47)

In this new study, researchers focussed in dietary patterns rather than individual nutrients, food, or food groups. They found that those who ate lean protein, more fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and olive oil, had a 70% greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to women who didn’t follow this style of diet.

The research outcomes found that out of the 244 women in the study, 229 women (93.9%) had at least one embryo transferred to their wombs; 138 (56%) had a successful implantation; 104 (42.6%) achieved a clinical pregnancy (one that can be confirmed by ultrasound); and 99 (40.5%) gave birth to a live baby.

The most important message to come from the study is that women attempting to have a baby should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean style diet, because it may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and successful live birth.

The researchers did note that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women. Previous studies from the same research group showed that male partners that adhered to the same sort had better semen quality.

A healthy diet is important for all couples prior to trying to conceive and should be a part of any preconception planning by all healthcare practitioners assisting couples with fertility. While this study focussed on improving assisted reproduction pregnancy rates, this style of diet should be adopted by any couple wanting to have a baby and should be implemented at least 6 months prior to conceiving. This is why it is essential for all couples to receive counselling and guidance on the importance of a healthy diet and having a healthy lifestyle as well. This is a foundation of my fertility program that has helped over 12,500 babies into the world and continues to help many more couples reach their goal of becoming parents.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

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Zinc Deficiency Affects Egg Quality and Early Stages of Egg Development

A new study shows that zinc deficiency can negatively affect the early stages of egg development, reducing the ability of the egg cells to divide and be fertilised. This may affect fertility “months” in the future and why preconception planning is so important for a couple. The researchers will be presenting their results at the American Physiological Society annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2018 in San Diego.

Millions of couples around the world struggle with fertility issues and the ability to conceive a child. While there are many factors that can make conception difficult, ovulation disorders and sperm issues are a leading cause of couples not being able to conceive. Researchers are finally looking into how vitamins, amino acids and micronutrients affect fertility and in particular the early stages of egg development.

The availability of micronutrients, through diet, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamin supplements, in the ovarian environment and their influence on the development, viability and quality of egg cells is now the focus of a growing area of research. Sperm also need micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients for optimal growth and development too. This is nothing new to me as this is something I have always focussed on for many years as part my fertility program and as a part of preconception planning and making sure that the couple are in optimal health before trying to conceive.

In human and mammals, the ovary is made up of thousands of structures called follicles, which consist of one oocyte surrounded by layers of support cells, known as somatic cells. At puberty, the body starts to prepare groups of oocytes for maturation, ovulation and fertilization. While a female grows groups of oocytes, which begin to mature each month, only one will be ovulated and have the chance of being fertilized. Many things can influence whether an oocyte will mature correctly and the go on to one day be ovulated, including the presence of sufficient levels of certain micronutrients. To date this has probably been poorly understood by many.

Scientists have recently found more and more evidence to show that zinc is a key player in oocyte development and have been assessing the effects of zinc on egg development extremely early on in the development and maturation of oocytes.

Previously Fertility research and treatment has primarily focused on the larger follicles, called antral follicles, which respond to signals from the pituitary gland to be ovulated. In humans, preantral follicles have to keep growing for about 90 days before they are ready to ovulate. This is why it is important to focus on egg and sperm quality months before conception is to take place, because this is when both egg and sperm are still growing and maturing and need vital nutrients to develop properly.

In this new research they have examined the smaller preantral follicles, which are still growing and don’t respond to the ovulatory signal yet. Previous studies showed that zinc levels are critical in the antral follicle, but no one had tested the effect of zinc deficiency on preantral follicle growth.

The researchers collected preantral follicles and then matured them in a special cell culture medium. They compared eggs matured in a zinc deficient environment to those grown with normal levels of zinc. The researchers found that preantral zinc deficiency:

  • Impaired the egg cell’s ability to properly divide (meiosis), which is a necessary step before successful fertilization can occur.
  • Led to smaller and more immature egg cells early in development
  • Hindered and disrupted growth of the cells
  • Caused problems with development of somatic cells and elevated certain cell markers.

The new research shows that zinc plays an important role in oocyte growth at an earlier stage than previously investigated, which is during development and before division. The research also showed why preconception nutrients are needed months before the eggs fully develop to give the best outcomes for a healthy pregnancy.

It is estimated that about 17 percent of the global population may be deficient in zinc, due to poor dietary intake their diet. But the estimate may not include cases of marginal zinc deficiency, where people may be getting zinc in their diet, but not enough for their recommended levels. People that are more susceptible to zinc deficiency are those with dietary and disease factors such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, gastrointestinal disorders and liver disease, those with eating disorders, those with certain dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians or vegans, who may not then be taking supplemental zinc.

Preconception planning, care and management is so important for a healthy pregnancy to occur and should start months before trying to conceive. This is to ensure that the sperm are in optimal health and quality and also to make sure that the egg quality is optimal and in the best quality it can be as well. This is what I do for all my fertility patients and is a crucial part in the high success of my fertility program that has now helped over 12,500 babies into the world.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

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