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8 Tips To Increase The Chances Of a Successful Pregnancy

More and more couples are now struggling to fall pregnant. The causes of this can be varied and this is why proper investigations and seeing a fertility expert is important. But, there are things couples can do to increase there chances of having a baby. Here are my 8 tips to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Reduce stress

One of the  biggest cause of fertility issues and cycles not working is stress. This includes being busy all the time too. Stress  and being on the go all the time, increases cortisol and adrenalin and these can affect your hormones.  Stress can also interfere with blood circulation into the uterine environment, which can then affect implantation. We know that in animals, stressed animals do not conceive during time of stress. The same goes for humans.

It takes two people to have a baby

Biology 101 tells us that it takes a man and a woman to have a baby, meaning it takes a sperm and an egg. Unless you are a single woman, or a same sex female couple, using donor sperm, the man needs to be make sure his sperm is healthy and checked out properly too. Over 50% of fertility issues are related to male factors and up to 85% of miscarriage issues can be related to chromosomal and DNA factors relating to to sperm.

Sperm quality also changes by as much as 20% in each month so it is just as important for a male to continue on supplements etc to keep his sperm healthy. Men often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to fertility issues and we need them to be more proactive and not just leave it to the woman to do all the work and take all the burden on. There will always be a bit on each side when it comes to fertility, so men need to get their act together and support their partner and support the process more.

Seeking the right advice and proper investigations

All too often couples wait too long to seek advice and treatment for fertility issues. Early intervention, investigations and management is the key to any issue we face on a health perspective. The wait and see approach isn’t always the best advice that is given to couples. You also need to see the right healthcare professionals too. Fertility evaluation needs to be done for both the woman and the man, not just the woman. This is why it is important to see a fertility expert if you are having trouble falling pregnant.

Getting a second opinion

If someone asked you how many quotes would you get to renovate your house etc, how many quotes would you get?

Most people will say about 3-5 quotes, yet when it comes to their health, or fertility issues, they are only seeking 1, possibly 2 quotes, which means they place more importance on their houses etc. If something or someone isn’t helping you, then it is so important to get a second opinion. Just because someone is nice, or has all your health history, does not mean they are worth staying with, especially if they aren’t helping you fall pregnant. A second opinion, or even a third, fourth, or fifth, could just be what is needed to get you the right advice and see someone who is more suitable to helping you. Things do get missed and something I see daily, so please never underestimate the power of another opinion.

Eat more protein and Essential Fats

Protein and essential fats are the essential building blocks for life. They are also the building blocks for making your hormones and making healthy eggs and sperm. Increased protein also helps prevent ovarian hyper-stimulation and also dampens down inflammatory response caused by over eating highly refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Increase your Electrolytes

Water alone will not stop you from dehydrating. Electrolytes are a very important part of the body chemistry and hormone therapy, certain drugs and medications drastically reduce them. It is important to keep the cells body hydrated at all times and especially during an IVF cycle and during pregnancy. Electrolytes consumption during IVF cycles also helps prevent ovarian hyper-stimulation.

Regular climax

Regular climax, self induced, or with a partner, (also before and especially after embryo transfer) assists with implantation and health blood supply to the uterus. An embryo feeds off blood supply from the uterus and regular climax helps optimise this blood flow and with increasing hormones such as oxytocin. Without a healthy blood supply to the uterus and circulating hormones the embryo will die.

Regular sex also helps with men as well, by improving sperm quality. Storing it up does not help sperm quality and actually makes it worse. Lastly regular sex and climax also helps with a healthy relationship and bonding as a couple.

Not having enough sex and not at the right time

One of the biggest myths is that all women ovulate around day 14, or in the supposed fertile window between day 10 and day 17. A landmark study published in the British Medical journal showed that more than 70% of women were ovulating before day 10 and after day 17 of their cycle and there was actually only a 10% probability of being fertile in the supposed fertile window (day 10 to day 17). Couples need to be having regular sex, at least every second day, from the time the menses finish right up until the woman is due for her menses again.

An egg dies 24 hours after it is release so if there is no sperm there, then the egg cannot be fertilised and the egg dies. That is the facts. And no… sperm do not last up to seven days etc. Most of the three to five hundred million sperm that set off are dead after an hour. Less than 20 sperm actually make the journey to the fallopian tubes and even less make the journey to meet the egg.

Getting the right help

If you are having trouble conceiving, then give my friendly staff a call and find out more about how my fertility program may be able to assist you. For more information, please call +61 0738328369 or email info@drandreworr.com.au

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

genetics and fertility

Understanding How Genetics Play a Major Part in Fertility & Reproduction

Understanding how genetics plays a major part in fertility and reproduction is very important. Many couples are completely unaware that their fertility issues and inability to conceive may in fact be from genetic, or hereditary issues that have not been screened for.

When it comes to fertility and being able to conceive more and more couples are now struggling. Some of this is due to increased stress levels, poor diet and lifestyle, increase alcohol consumption, lack of preconception care and many other factors. However, one key area that is not often talked about, or even known to many is genetic factors, chromosomal factors and DNA issues passed on through our sperm and eggs.

Fertility and reproduction is one of the hardest areas of medicine to understand. I am sure many people think that they understand it, but even with years of study and clinical experience, some questions just cannot be answered at this present time. No amount of “Dr Google” searching is going to bring answers for many couples and this is something that needs to be discussed more. Unless you have done years of study and clinical research into fertility and reproduction, you cannot understand the finer details and intricacies of conception. Even then, some answers are just not available to anyone at this present time.

The Reality of Fertility and Reproduction

The reality of fertility and reproduction is that just because an egg and sperm are put together, it does not mean that an embryo will be formed. Even if an embryo is formed, it does not mean that it will become a baby. Even if an embryo meets scientific grading categories (grade 1-4 etc), it still does not mean that the inner make up of that embryo is chromosomally viable. Even if the embryo is tested to be chromosomally viable (via PGD/PGS testing), it still does not mean that the embryo will go on to become a baby. This is the hardest thing for people to get their heads around and why we need to discuss this more. Quite simply, something that is supposed to seem easy really isn’t that easy at all. Reproduction and having babies is not as easy as many have led us to believe.

Chromosomal Errors

One of the biggest factors in embryos not developing, or IVF cycles failing, or even natural conception not working is chromosomal errors at the embryo stage. Even if both parents have normal karyoptype (46XX and 46XY) it does not mean that they cannot produce random chromosomal and genetic errors in their sperm and eggs. The thing is, the older we get, the more these errors occur and the harder it is to fall pregnant. An abnormal embryo with and abnormal number is cells is called aneuploidy. When an embryo has the correct number of cells it is called euploidy. Unfortunately, many couples are producing high numbers of aneuploidy embryos and this is why they are struggling to conceive. As mentioned before, just because the outer features of the embryo look fine, it does not mean the inner workings (chromosomes and DNA) are fine.

The Important of Genetic Screening

Speaking about chromosomal and genetics, when couples are struggling with fertility and being able to conceive, one of the biggest factors I see is that couples are not being screened properly. This is screening on all aspects, not just the standard blood tests and fertility investigations. Many couples that come to see me for help for fertility often believe that they have had everything done, yet most times I am finding that they have only had the basics done. Many couples have not even had basic genetic screening for karyoptype and genetic issues such as cystic fibrosis.

Understanding the Coding on DNA

Understanding the coding on the DNA is now having a profound practical impact on the practice of medicine today. This is particularly important in the area of infertility. There is increasing knowledge that there is frequently a major genetic component both from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in couples with infertility or subfertility.

Significant examples include:

  • The demonstration of microdeletions on the Y chromosome in men with low sperm count (oligozoospermia)
  • The identifications of mutations in the Cystic Fibriosis gene in those with congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens
  • The high rate of aneuploidy in normally dividing embryos after fertilisation in older infertile couples
  • The presence of an expanded triplet repeat in the androgen receptor in some men with low sperm counts.

Without seeing someone who has all this  knowledge of the molecular and genetic basis  of fertility many couples will continually have troubles trying to fall pregnant and may possible end up with repeated failed cycles in IVF too. There is so much to genetics and it is often overlooked in all areas of fertility these days. No amount of “Dr Google” is going to give you this information, nor will it give you understanding, unless you have a degree in reproductive medicine, or genetics. I do understand that people get desperate for answers, but unfortunately, sometimes these answers cannot be found by an internet search.

Other Genetic Factors Affecting Fertility

There are also other genetic conditions and chromosomal errors such as balanced translocations, reciprocal translocations, Robertsonian translocations, Turner’s syndrome, Kleinfelter’s syndrome, fragile X syndrome and many more. Again, many who are struggling with fertility issues and struggling to have a baby may not have even had some of these genetic screening done.

When I see couples, I also recommend advanced genetic carrier screening which tests for several hundred more genetically inherited mutations. Many fertility clinics do not recommend couples to do advanced carrier screening. Given that 1 in 22 couples are at risk of a hereditary gene mutation, it is really important to screen couples properly and not just do the basics.

Mutations in Genes

A mutation is a change in the information encoded in the DNA sequence. Such a change may result in the production of an abnormal protein, produce a truncated protein, reduce the levels of that protein, or cause it not to be made at all.

A single gene genetic disorder is one where an alteration in the DNA sequence of only one of the genomes 40,000 genes has resulted in significant pathology and disorders that affect the human body.

Such disorders include cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington disease and familial breast cancer. Although individually these disorders are rare, as a group, they are numerous and therefore important.

Cystic fibrosis, one of the most common autosomal recessive conditions affecting people of Northern European decent has a population incidence of 1 in 2,500.

To date up to 6,000 single gene disorders have been characterized and it is estimated that 14 per 1,000 people suffer from one of these conditions. A person who inherits a mutation in a single gene will carry that mutation in every cell of their body.

Mutations occur when a cell is dividing. The task of correctly copying 6 billion “bits” of information, the number of base pairs in the human genome, is huge and mistakes do occur. It has been established experimentally that these mistakes occur and are uncorrected in one in one billion base-pairs copied (or about 6 errors per cell division).

When a mutation occurs in the coding DNA sequence of a gene it may be a polymorphism with no effect or it may significantly impair the gene function. All mutations are thereafter inherited. Inherited or germ line mutations must be present in the egg or sperm. They are twice as common in sperm as eggs.

 Male Sperm Quality is a Big Part of Fertility Issues

Before everyone jumps to the conclusion that all failed cycles are related to women’s egg quality, I need to make it absolutely clear that men are half of the fertility equation. They are not exempt when conception does not take place, or an IVF cycle fails. As mentioned above many genetic mutations are twice more likely to be present in sperm than eggs. Up to 85% of miscarriage and chromosomally defective embryos are related to chromosomal errors that men have passed through their sperm.

Women’s eggs do have more errors as they get older, and eggs are not as viable as they get older, but men’s sperm are exactly the same. If men are not having their sperm quality managed while trying to fall pregnant, there is half your problem then and there. This is why all men are treated and managed on all levels of their health when doing my fertility program.

Sperm quality is variable and each time a man ejaculates the quality of that sperm can vary by as much as 20% at a given time. This is why men need to be continually looking after their health and sperm health while trying to conceive. Men are actually the bigger part of conception not taking place and we need to talk about this more. Men are not exempt when it comes to making babies.

Creating Life

Life does not begin with conception, but is simply a continuum from living cell to living cell with genetic information being transmitted through the genome from one generation to the next. A failure to achieve this is recognised as infertility.

At conception we are a single fertilized cell resulting from the fertilization of the egg by the sperm. The sperm contributes one copy of nuclear DNA, the egg the other copy and the mitochondrial DNA. That cell proceeds to divide, and over the course of 9 months (32 cell divisions) billions of cells are created, with specialized functions, forming complex tissues and organs that constitute the working human body. That first cell therefore must contain all the information necessary for embryological development, growth from fetus and then growth through to adult life. Without all the right coding and necessary information, life does not get created. This is also the answer to why so many couples are having problems trying to conceive.

The Importance of Seeing a Reproductive Medicine Expert

There are many factors to fertility and reproduction and why it is important that couples see someone who is a fertility expert. The fertility profession is largely unregulated and many who are now practicing in that profession are not experts at all. Many actually do not have further training and qualifications in reproductive medicine and are some of the reason why people are struggling to fall pregnant.

Final Word

Lastly, while we cannot change our chromosomes, or change genetic mutations, we can do things to change and improve our cellular DNA. This is why proper preconception care and preconception programs are so important. Everything we do, we ingest, we think etc, can be passed on to our future offspring via sperm and eggs. Health parents produce healthy sperm and eggs, thus producing healthy babies.

If you need help with being able to conceive, give my friendly staff a call and find out how my fertility program may be able to assist you. I use a ‘No Stone Left Unturned’ approach to assisting couples with fertility issues and will look at every aspect of a couples lives, including genetic and hereditary issues, to help them have the best chance of having a baby.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

Copy of Fertility Facts Being Overweight or underweight can adversely affect fertility

Being Overweight, or Underweight Can Adversely Affect Fertility

It is important to have healthy weight and waist size when trying to conceive. It is know that being underweight, or underweight can adversely affect fertility.

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”

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome increases their chances of the following:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • gynaecological conditions (PCOS, endometriosis etc)
  • sperm issues,
  • egg quality issues
  • reproductive issues,
  • increased miscarriage
  • increased risk of certain cancers
  • infertility

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

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.

The importance of preconception care

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

Andrew Orr

– No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

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Lycopene Helps Improve Sperm Quality

A new research study conducted by the university of Sheffield has shown that supplementation of Lycopene, a compound found in cooked tomatoes, has helped improve the sperm quality in a group of men.

Many studies have examined the role of dietary factors, antioxidants and amino acids and data from randomized controlled trials suggest that antioxidant therapy can improve sperm quality.

Health benefits of lycopene supplementation have been proposed for a variety of health conditions. This recent study examines whether 14mg of daily lycopene supplementation, for 12 weeks, can help improve sperm motility and sperm morphology in men.

Poor sperm quality

Poor sperm quality is a major contributor to infertility in heterosexual couples, but men are often overlooked and often are unwilling participants in the journey to have a baby. There is no doubt that sperm quality is declining and many couples inability to have a baby is actually coming from the male side of things, not the female side.

It is generally recognized that 50% of fertility issues are related to male sub-fertility and poor quality sperm. Typically, fertility problems in the male manifest themselves as ejaculates containing too few sperm (oligozoospermia), or sperm that swim poorly (asthenozoospermia), or sperm with poor size and shape (teratozoospermia) or a combination of all three.

Factors Affects Sperm Quality

Known factors that affect sperm are – Poor diet, obesity, alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, steroids, medications, chemicals and environmental factors. There are also genetic and hereditary issues that affect sperm as well.

Women are often driving force behind fertility health

Women are often the ones being very proactive in whatever it takes to have a baby and will take supplements, improve their diet, and look at any way they can to help with conceiving. Unfortunately, getting men to do the same can be like pulling teeth and we need to start educating men of the importance of preconception care prior to having a baby.

Men offered very little advice about sperm health

Unfortunately many fertility clinics and healthcare practitioners in general, are giving very little advice and information around what men can do to improve their sperm. Many healthcare professionals are also only focussing on delivering general advice to highlight the known lifestyle risks for poor sperm quality. More advice around preconception care is needed.

Preconception care for men is a must

There is now lots of research about the importance of preconception care for men and lots of research on the importance of a healthy diet, lifestyle changes and the role of antioxidants and amino acids for sperm health and sperm quality.

This recent study could add to the ways that men can improve their sperm quality and help with the outlook for men with known sperm issues. This recent study could also add to existing research and could also lead to better ways to reduce the damaging impact of modern living on reproductive health. We really do need for all couples to know, that of all infertility cases, at least 50 per cent of the issue is due to male factors and poor quality sperm.

Lycopene increases sperm quality

This is the first ever double-blind randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of giving men a bio-enhanced form of lycopene (called LactoLycopene) to see if it helped with sperm quality. The team from the university of Sheffield discovered that the lycopene supplementation made no significant difference to sperm count and concentrations. However the rapid progressive motile sperm and the sperm with normal morphology increase by around 40% in response to the lactolycopene intervention. Rapid progressive sperm and morphology are the two most important parameters for sperm quality and for increasing chances of fertilisation and pregnancy.

During the 12-week trial half the recipients took LactoLycopene supplements and the other half took identical placebo (dummy pills) every day for 12 weeks. Neither the researchers nor the volunteers knew who was receiving the LactoLycopene treatment and who was receiving the placebo. Sperm and blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of the trial. The researchers were surprised by the improvement in the sperm quality shown by the results. The improvement in morphology and rapid progressive sperm was dramatic after lycopene supplementation.

What are Lycopenes?

Lycopene can be found in some fruits and vegetables, but the main source in the diet is from tomatoes. However, the bioavailability of lycopene from fresh tomatoes is low, but this is enhanced by a special natural processing technique of heating and infusing tomatoes with oil. As such, this study used lactolycopene, the main ingredient of which lycopene is embedded in a special protein mix for enhanced intestinal absorption.

This was the first properly designed and controlled study of the effect of LactoLycopene on semen quality, and it has spurred researchers to want to do more research into lycopene and well as other antioxidants and amino acids that may help with sperm quality. The research also shows the role these antioxidants play in helping inhibit the damaging effects of oxidation and oxidative stress.

Oxidation and Oxidative Stress Damage Sperm

Oxidation and oxidative stress is a known cause of damage to sperm and the sperm DNA. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is potentially inhibiting oxidation and the damage of oxidative stress causes to sperm quality. Researchers believe this antioxidant is the key to improvements in sperm quality seen in this trial and could be an answer to the cause of many male fertility problems. More research is needed and the research team is hoping to embark on a new study as soon as possible.

Final Word

As part of my fertility program all males are educated on the importance of preconception care and about optimum sperm health. All men on my fertility program are given antioxidants and supplements that have been shown to assist with sperm quality and maintain optimum sperm health. Men are 50% of the equation of making a baby and why all men need to be included in any preconception care and any program to assist couples in having a baby.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

 

Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth A. Williams, Madeleine Parker, Aisling Robinson, Sophie Pitt, Allan A. Pacey. A randomized placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effect of lactolycopene on semen quality in healthy malesEuropean Journal of Nutrition, 2019; DOI: 1007/s00394-019-02091-5
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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

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

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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

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

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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

01 Dr Andrew Orr

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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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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.

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.

If you do need help with having a baby, then please give my friendly staff a call and find out how my fertility program may be able to assist you

Regards

Andrew Orr

-Master of Reproductive Medicine (MRepMed)

-No Stone Left Unturned

-The International Fertility Experts