fertility 1

Fertility- Before you go any further, you are forgetting one thing…….. The Male

In this video blog I explains how I often get emails from patients and practitioners, needing assistance with fertility issues. The only thing is, it is often only from the female perspective and I have to then explain this to people, or these practitioners. So often, as I am hearing their case study, or patients telling their story, I have to politely stop them and explain “Fertility Before you go any further, I can see what the issue is, you are forgetting one thing…… The Male”

Being completely honest, 95% of the time it is the full female history I am hearing and absolutely no mention of the male. The male is always 50% of the fertility picture, unless there is absolute infertility with the female (medically diagnosed infertility)

Fertility issues require proper evaluation of both the male and female, otherwise crucial things get overlooked. It takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby, not just an egg. Besides that it is a legal and ethical requirement to investigate the female and male. You cannot just investigate and treat the female. Have a listen to the latest video (below) of this very important subject.

If you do need assistance with fertility and reproductive issues, please give my staff a call and find out how my fertility program may be able to assist you and your partner.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

 

Fertility and a piece of string

Explaining The Facts of Fertility- “How long is a piece of string?”

When people ask me about what is the cause of most couples issues trying to conceive, I always say ” How long is a piece of string?”

There can be so many factors involved and there is never just one clear answer. Many times people are focussing completely on the wrong thing too.

In this video blog below,  I have an honest discussion about fertility on every level. I discuss diet, lifestyle, preconception care, supplements, natural medicines, western medicines, investigations, genetic issues, stress, IVF procedures, Natural killer cells, unrealistic expectations, self sabotage, weight issues and much much more.

So again, when anyone asks what the cause of fertility issues are, I will always answer “How long is piece of string?”

Because in reality, there are so many factors that couple are unaware of, and need to be aware of too.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-No Stone Left Unturned

-The International Fertility Experts

Fertility

Let’s Talk About The Facts Of Fertility & The Fertility Profession

Wouldn’t you love to sit down for 2-3 hours with a fertility expert and cover everything you need to know for your fertility and journey to become a parent?

Wouldn’t you love to have a fertility expert that can not only talk to you about all the medical investigations, medical protocols, genetics and genetic testing, hormones and medications etc, but can also talk you about preconception care, nutrition, diet, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, complementary medicines, acupuncture, counselling and other modalities?

Wouldn’t you just love it if someone could listen to your individual needs, listen to your full history, be empathetic to your journey so far, be there to guide you every step of way, and then make sure you are looked after on every level possible?

Well, you can have this, but before I talk about how, let’s talk about the facts about fertility and the fertility profession first.

Let’s talk about the facts

I never hold back from telling people the cold hard facts on any health topic I talk about. It may, or may not upset some people, but the truth is that it needs to be said all the same. People deserve to know the reality about every health condition and their reproductive system. For this post I am going to talk about the cold hard facts of the fertility profession and facts around fertility.

The fact is that many people are lucky to get half hour with a fertility specialist/expert when they decide that need help in having a baby. Some may only get a 15-minute appointment with a fertility specialist/expert and are lucky to get a few questions answered. Then at each of your next 15 minutes appointments, people are trying to cram in as many questions as they can before they are escorted to the door, because the next patient has arrived.

Many medical fertility specialists/experts have no idea about diet, lifestyle advice, preconception care etc, and the one subject that they did learn years ago at college is now a lost and distant memory. Basically it becomes a case of not my area, not my concern.

People then go home and arm themselves with a degree in ‘doctor google’ and then desperately search for answers themselves. They then end up on all manner of sites and support groups with a plethora of misinformation and angst. Have read of my post about Fertility and Dr Google 

This then leads to people searching for a local naturopath, nutritionist, Chinese medicine practitioner etc, trying to cover off on all the complementary medicines, nutrition, dietary advice and nutritional and herbal supplements.

Then this can lead to the case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, too many with differing ideas, or no idea at all, and the turf war on fertility begins.

The medical specialist damns the complementary medicines. The complementary medicine practitioner damns the medical specialist and the couple, or individual, is then caught in the middle. Dazed and confused, the couple/individual has to make a choice of whom they are going to believe and whom they are going to continue to see. But does it have to be this way?

Health professionals should be working together, for the greater good of the patient, not working against each other. Nobody has all the answer and a symbiotic relationship can greatly increase a couples success of having a child.

No wonder many couples/individuals don’t know where to turn to, who to believe and then end up searching for answers themselves. Worst still, while all this confusion and mud slinging continues, the couple/individual still have not get the answers they need, let alone the baby they are desperately wanting.

The fertility profession is largely unregulated

1.The medical side of things

What many are unaware of, especially here in Australia, is that the fertility profession is largely unregulated. Anyone can say they do fertility work and yet not have the qualifications to back it up. Only one state here is regulated, where you have to have what we call a CREI (Certificate of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility).

But let’s face it, it is a certificate, not a postgraduate degree and they are very easy to get. But now, many have to have a Masters in Reproductive Medicine as well. But this is only in one state mind you. In all other states, there is nothing stopping anyone doing fertility.

So what this means is that anyone can go and work in a fertility clinic, without the proper extra training to do so. We see obstetricians often do the change to fertility, without having to do extra training, and are basically learning on the job as they go along. The patients then become the guinea pigs and test cases while they are learning on the job. It really should not happen. Sure, they have some reproductive training, back when they studied, but fertility is a very different area to obstetrics and pregnant women.

We also are now even see some GP’s do the sea change to some of these bulk bill IVF clinics and then are consulting with people are their fertility. Many of these couples are then led to believe they are seeing a fertility specialist, when in fact they are just seeing a GP, without any formal training in fertility and reproductive. For many of these, the last time they did any study on fertility, was back in university, and it was probably one subject, if that.

2. The complementary medicine side

But, at the same time, this is not just an issue that is related to the medical side of things. There is just as many complementary medicine practitioners saying that they do fertility, when in fact they have had no formal training, and many often have no idea. They are doing the same thing of learning at they go along, and the patients are the guinea pigs.

Many of these complementary medicine practitioners are lucky to have studied one subject in fertility and reproduction. Many of their lecturers have no formal qualification in fertility and reproduction either. They are then leaving college, or university, and then setting themselves up as experts in fertility.

Many are literally setting up overnight, with no clinical experience, or post graduate certification in fertility, and then trying to say that they do fertility. Daily, I see some of these practitioners not even knowing the basics, yet are out there trying to treat people for fertility issues. I often comment on how some of these practitioners are out there trying to have a crack at it with no idea what so ever. This should not be happening.

There needs to be better regulation

It is a big issue for couples trying to wade their way through the murky waters of the fertility profession. It really should not be allowed to happen. But again, it is all due to lack of regulation and laws preventing it from happening.

As I said, it is on both sides and not just related to one profession. There desperately needs to be more tougher and tighter regulation with the fertility profession, so that couple know that when they are seeing a fertility expert, they actually do have the post graduation training and degree, as well as the clinical experience too. The only good thing here in Australia, is that nobody can advertise that they are a specialist, unless they have a specialisation. If they are caught advertising they are something that they are not, there are harsh penalties around this.

But seriously, this would not happen in any other profession. You would not see a backyard mechanic, or a backyard hairdresser, or someone without the appropriate levels of training?
Yet, why are people not checking who they are seeing for fertility, and just presuming on face value. Your fertility and reproduction is far more important than your car, or your hair. I hope people get what I am trying to say here.

So how do you know whom to see?

This is the million-dollar question and why I always say to patients to be careful. It really is a case of buyer beware.

What you need to do is ask the big questions and do not see someone unless they can answer all the questions and tick all the boxes.

  • Here are some of the things you need to ask:
  • Does you fertility practitioner have a post graduate degree in Reproductive Medicine?
  • Can you please see a copy of their degree?
  • What is their official academic title?
  • What extra study have they done in fertility and reproductive medicine?
  • How long have they been practicing for?
  • Is the practitioner a recent graduate (medical, or complementary medicine)
  • How many fertility patients have they helped?
  • What experience has the practitioner had, and who has mentored them, or trained them?
  • What was their motivation for getting in this area of healthcare?
  • Do they work in with a fertility/IVF clinic?
  • Do they have a symbiotic relationship with a fertility/IVF clinic?
  • Does the practitioner know all the fertility investigations, fertility terms, drugs, hormones, procedures, and all things related to fertility?

These questions are just some of the important questions someone should be asking any practitioner, medical or complementary medicine, before they decide to seek their help to assist them having a baby.

See someone who specialises in fertility and reproductive medicine

I also generally tell people that when seeing someone for fertility, the practitioner should specialise in that area and not have their hands in too many pies so to speak. If seeing a medical specialist, you should try and see someone who just does fertility work on, and who isn’t trying to juggle a busy obstetrics practice at the same time. I see this happen often, where patients are left waiting while a specialist is off delivering babies and the couples are left waiting for hours. Someone like this cannot give you his or her full attention and why I believe you need to see someone whom just does fertility work only.

But again, you just need to do your homework with whomever you see. This goes for complementary medicine practitioners as well. Find out if their primary focus is fertility and not trying to be someone who does a bit of everything. Remember, don’t forget to check that they have post graduate training and experience in reproductive medicine and fertility.

Many couples are having the basics missed

Many couples I see, are often at the point of desperation, and some are also at the point of giving up. I feel sorry for those who get to this point, when in fact it is because some of the basics just have not been investigated.

Being desperate can also lead to bad decisions and also for couples to be exploited by big fertility clinics and the hard sell on offering a solution to their fertility. The fact is that nobody has all the answers, there is no magic pill, and IVF is not a cure for infertility, and we need to start being real about this.

There is often the case of expectation versus reality and many are exploited because they are desperate. We need to be very real that while IVF etc, can help couples have a baby, it really is not a cure for infertility, and it cannot help everyone.

But at the same time many couples issue really are that they have not have the basics done, or proper evaluations done, purely because the person they are seeing is a properly trained in fertility and reproductive medicine. That is a fact.

Males are not exempt from fertility issues

I’ve talked about this often and it is one of my biggest annoyances with the whole fertility profession and men who do not need to be part of the fertility journey. Have a look at my previous posts on this (click here) 

The fact is that many men are not evaluated properly and are not having the basics done with regards to fertility testing. Women are being focussed on and the male is often almost excluded from the process. Let’s face it, some men are literally in denial and excluding themselves as well. I honestly do not know why some women chose to be with men who refuse to be part of the process. Their actions speak volumes.

The long and short of it is that men are often the biggest part of the reason why a couple is not conceiving. Up to 50% -60% of fertility issues are related to men and up to 85% of miscarriage and fertilisation issues are related to chromosomal and DNA factors related to men. Yet many men are under-investigated, or not investigated at all. I see it so often where couples have literally been trying for years and years, and then we find out it is the man who is the issue. Yet all along both the fertility practitioner, and the woman’s partner alike have blamed the woman as being the primary issue. I see this so often and it actual disgusts me. Why should women be blamed for all fertility issues, when men are an equal, and often greater part?

Proper fertility evaluation and testing

I’ve spoken about this in previous posts and it is so important that couples are evaluated properly. Personally I believe that everything that should be done is done up front and at the beginning. So many couples end up finding issues years later, which should have been found in the beginning.

Proper testing should involve at least the following:

  • Full blood testing and screening
  • Hormone assay
  • Scans and imaging
  • Surgical intervention (Laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and dye studies)
  • STI screening
  • Semen analysis
  • Sperm chromatin Assay (SCAT)
  • Full genetic screening
  • Advanced genetic carrier screening
  • Others

I make sure that all my patients have been screened and investigated properly on all levels, for both the man and the woman, not just the man.

You can also see my previous post about the importance of proper genetic screening as well (click here) 

We do have same sex couples and single women seeking help now, and it is still equally important that all concerned are screened properly. Sometimes one of the partners in a same sex relationship may have an issue which prevents them from conceiving, so you have to screen the other partner just in case. It is all about screening and proper evaluations and investigations.

Expectation versus reality

While we have talked about the fertility profession, we also need couples to be real about their chances too. As mentioned before, couples do need to be aware that IVF is not a cure for infertility and that is cannot help everyone. It can help many couples that would never have been able to conceive naturally too.

Age 

We also need for couples to be real about age related fertility, as that is the biggest issue as far as fertility and conception is concerned. The older you are, the harder it is going to be to fall pregnant. No matter is you are doing IVF, or not, age is a big factor in couples being unsuccessful. The older you are, the poorer quality your eggs and sperm are, and the more random chromosomal/DNA errors you get in embryos.

Preconception care

There are other issues with diet and lifestyle that need to be addressed too. Couples that are overweight are going to struggle more with being able to conceive. This is why proper pre-conception care is so important and why I have talked about it often before. We need for couples to look at their diet, their lifestyle, their alcohol intake, their stress levels etc. All these things in combination can affect ones fertility and chances of having a baby. Have a look at my post about the importance of preconception care 

Not everyone will be able to have a baby

There are also those couples, that despite the best medical interventions and help, that they may not be able to fall pregnant. This is really sad, but it is a harsh reality that some will have to face. You can read my post about why IVF cycles fail

But now they are more ways to have a baby then ever, with donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos and even surrogates.

Final word

There is a lot to know about fertility and many couples are unaware of the lack of regulation around the fertility profession. Many are literally at breaking point and for many of these it is really through lack of proper investigations, or seeing someone who is not properly qualified to be doing fertility work.

We also need couples to take responsibility for their own health and lifestyle and also be real about age related infertility too. It is all really overwhelming for couples, but the fact is that we still need to talk about it.

Lastly, you need to do your homework, when going to see someone for help with fertility. As mentioned previously the fertility profession is largely unregulated and there are a lot of practitioners out there, medical and complementary medicine, who really are dabbling, or who are not adequately qualified to be assisting you.

How I can help?

If you do need assistance with fertility issues, and do want to see someone with a masters of reproductive medicine and years of clinical experience, please give my staff a call and find out how my fertility program may be able to assist you. You can also look at some of my posts about my fertility program on my website too.  You can do our full fertility program or you can now do our new 3 phase fertility program too. There are also meet and greet appointments before joining the fertility program. Again for more information, speak to my friendly staff, or drop us an email.

I hope this helps those trying to have a baby better understand the fertility profession on all levels and seek the best help possible.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Fertility Expert

-The International Fertility Experts

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cartoon sperm

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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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

 

IVF cover image

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

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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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 Andrew’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, Andrew can assist you in your journey to becoming parents.

To find out how Dr Andrew Orr’s fertility program, please call his friendly staff to find out more.