Infertility Blogs

I recently found an interesting site on fertility called Fertility Authority. It’s chock full of interesting articles, blogs, and information. Here are a few blogs that I picked out as being especially interesting:

The Fertility Doc: Dr. Kreiner
Recent posts include acupuncture, donor eggs/sperm, PCOS and stress and infertility.

Eating to Conceive: The Fertile Kitchen
Recent posts include top three fertility foods, eating meat, sticking to a fertility diet, and eating to improve the uterine lining.

Fertile View: Dr. Joseph Hill
Recent posts include genetic causes of recurrent miscarriage, thrombophilia and recurrent miscarriage, infertility evaluations, environmental and lifestyle factors linked to loss, immunilogic causes of recurrent miscarriage, and tons of other information on recurrent miscarriage.

The Fertile Future: Dr. Levens
Recent posts include lifestyle tips for couples with infertility, nutritional supplements and fertility, and PCOS and miscarriage.

Hopefully you’ll find some of this interesting and helpful!

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Progesterone and TTC

We often hear about low progesterone levels, or women taking progesterone supplements. What exactly is progesterone, though, and how does it affect a pregnancy? Check out tons of information in the below article from JustMommies.com:

Signs of Low Progesterone
By Rebecca Pillar

The body is an amazing miracle in action. Every second, millions of reactions are taking place to maintain a perfect balance. People spend years of their lives studying how the body functions and they still don’t know everything there is to know about human life. One aspect of humanity is reproduction. For some women, becoming pregnant seems as easy as simply thinking about a baby. For others, becoming pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy is a very frustrating experience. The hormone progesterone is responsible for several reactions that must take place for a healthy pregnancy to occur. If progesterone is not present in the body at a proper amount, a woman is most likely going to be dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss.

The female menstrual cycle is a complicated “dance” that takes place within the female body. Each cycle varies from woman to woman with an average length of 28 days. Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain stimulate the ovaries to secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone at different intervals. Of course, this process is much more complex than described here.
Progesterone is an important hormone as it is responsible for preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation. Progesterone is also responsible for maintaining a pregnancy. Progesterone is secreted from the ovary after ovulation by a mass called a “corpus luteum.”  The corpus luteum is maintained by the hormone hCG until the placenta is capable of taking over progesterone production. HCG is the hormone detected in blood and urine in a pregnancy test. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum begins to die, progesterone levels plummet and a woman starts her menstrual cycle over again with menstruation. It is easy to see how important progesterone is and why it is commonly referred to as “the pregnancy hormone.”

Low progesterone symptoms:

The problem with progesterone imbalances is the symptoms typically mimic those of other disorders. Besides infertility and pregnancy loss, low progesterone symptoms can include:
Mood swings
Depression
Insomnia
Appetite changes
Weight changes
Irritability
Lack of concentration
Anxiety
Fatigue
Frequent menstruation
Irregular menstruation
Low sex drive
Migraines
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Vaginal dryness
Painful intercourse

Causes of low progesterone:

Low progesterone levels can be caused by several known factors or unknown factors.  Due to the complexity of hormones, some women may have no difficulty getting pregnant but for some reason, the placenta does not create the proper levels when it should.  Researchers believe that high levels of stress, poor nutrition and lack of exercise can contribute to low progesterone levels. Certain medications can also interfere with the body’s ability to produce progesterone.

Treatment for low progesterone:

Diagnosing low progesterone can be done by a blood test that measures your level after ovulation and by ovulation charting. Progesterone is responsible for the spike in body temperature after ovulation. If there is no increase in body temperature, progesterone levels may be low. Women should never attempt to self diagnose or self treat a suspected hormonal imbalance as low progesterone symptoms mimic symptoms of other disorders.

Progesterone creams, shots and vaginal suppositories are available once a diagnosis is made. Generally, a progesterone supplement is taken right after ovulation to boost progesterone levels. Many times, when a woman is supplemented with progesterone, it is taken until 12 weeks or so but sometimes, is taken for the duration of the pregnancy.

The most important thing to remember is talk to your doctor about your fertility and pregnancy loss concerns. There are many reasons why couples may have difficulty becoming pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy aside from progesterone. If are concerned that you have low progesterone talk to your doctor.

Let’s Talk Sperm

We focus on our own bodies so much on TTCAL: charting, Vitex, cervical fluid…well, what about that OTHER oh-so-important fluid that is needed for babymaking? Yes, I’m talking SPERM.

Below is an article from Just Mommies all about those little swimmers.


Sperm 411: 7 Little Known Things That Can Affect Sperm

When it comes to making babies, both the quantity and quality of sperm your partner produces matters. An average ejaculation contains about 180 million sperm (about 66 million per ml). When semen is analyzed doctors look at more than just how much semen is ejaculated. The amount of semen produced per ejaculation can vary quite a bit, anywhere from 1-6 ml of semen per ejaculation is considered normal. Likewise, the amount of sperm produced during an ejaculation can vary greatly. The quantity of sperm in a semen sample – or sperm count – is measured per ml; 20-150 million sperm per ml is considered normal. A sperm count below 20 million per ml indicates a low sperm count and could result in infertility.

While your guy may produce millions of sperm during an ejaculation only a handful of them – about 200 sperm – are hardy enough to make it past the cervix and travel far enough up the fallopian tube to fertilize the egg. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some things that can affect a man’s sperm.
Some basic info about sperm:

* Sperm are produced in the man’s testes, mature in the epididymis, and finally travel through the vas deferens and out through the urethra during an ejaculation. This process takes about 75 days.
* Sperm makes up only a small percentage of what is ejaculated.
* Healthy sperm can live up to 5 days inside the woman’s vagina.
* 20 million sperm per ml (or higher) of semen is considered normal.
* Some abnormal sperm are usually found in most semen samples. As long as 40% or more are shaped correctly, this is considered normal.
* They don’t call sperm swimmers for no reason. A normal sperm moves in a forward direction. A man is most likely fertile if at least half of his sperm are forward moving “swimmers”.

Things that can affect a man’s sperm

You probably know about some of the biggies like smoking, alcohol, illicit drug use or hot tubs impairing a man’s fertility but here are a few things you may not know about:

1. Morning sex = higher sperm count: If you are trying to conceive, time intercourse when his sperm count is at its highest. Researchers have found that men generally have a higher sperm count in the mornings. Men’s sexual interest may be higher in the mornings as well.

2. His weight matters: Women are not the only ones who have weight related fertility issues. Men who are overweight or underweight are more likely to have problems with infertility. Having too much or too little body fat may affect a man’s hormone levels. Scientists in one Finnish study found that a 20 lb weight gain may increase a man’s chance of being infertile by 10 percent.

3. Have more sex, not less: Men with low sperm counts are often advised to abstain from sex in order to improve their sperm count, but new research suggests that while this may improve sperm count, too much abstinence can damage the DNA of the sperm that is produced. Australian researchers have found that having daily sex actually improves the quality, if not the quantity of sperm. The thought behind this is that regular ejaculations get rid of the old sperm and make way for newer healthier sperm.

4. Folic acid: Not only good for the goose, but it is also good for the gander. Most women know that taking a folic acid supplement is important during childbearing years because it can prevent certain birth defects. You may not have known that it is also important for men to eat a diet containing folic acid. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkley found that men who had lower levels of folic acid (or folate) in their diets had a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm.

5. Avoid soy products: A recent study published by Oxford University Press’s online publication Human Reproduction, suggests that eating a diet high in soy foods could cause men to have a lower sperm count. According to the study, men who ate soy foods were more likely to have lower sperm counts (although not necessarily abnormally low) than men who did not eat soy.

6. Skip the lubricants: Lubricants can impede the movement of sperm. A woman’s cervical mucous is designed to help transport sperm, but many commercial lubricants have the opposite effect. Lubricants like KY Jelly, baby oil, or petroleum jelly have been shown to slow down or damage sperm. Saliva can also damage sperm. One lubricant that is okay to use is Pre-seed. According to one study in the ASRM’s journal of Fertility and Sterility, Pre-seed was not shown to harm or slow down sperm.


7. Watch out for cell phones and lap tops: There have been a few studies that have shown that excessive use of lap tops or cell phones can cause sperm damage. Lap tops, if placed on a man’s lap, get hot over time. The increase in scrotal temperature may have a negative effect on a man’s sperm if he keeps a lap top sitting on his lap for extended periods of time. Similarly, cell phone emissions might also cause sperm damage. Keeping a cell phone in a close proximity to a man’s scrotum could potentially cause a decrease in sperm quality, according to a small research study from the Cleveland Clinic.

Yoga for Fertility?

Yoga: relaxing, stretching, and…good for baby-making? Some people think so!

A woman named Brenda Strong created a yoga program the promotes women’s health and fertility. How? It can help lower chronic stress, detoxify the body, and increase blood flow to those organs that are oh-so-important for fertility. Brenda uses a “fertility ball” (a small rubber ball) to stimulate specific areas on the body that she believes are conducive for fertility.

For $25, you can get the DVD and for $40, you can get the ball (shouldn’t they come together?).

Don’t want to spend all that money? (Though in the grand scheme of things, I guess $65 for something you’ll use a lot isn’t too bad, considering we spend hundreds on pee sticks we use once! And it certainly can’t hurt anything, right?) Check out Brenda’s top five yoga positions for Fertility, below!
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The best yoga positions to aid fertility have a few key things in common:
-Increase Circulation to the Reproductive Organs
-Balance Hormones
-Reduce Stress
You made have already heard that inversions like headstand and shoulder stand are powerful fertility aids. Those positions didn’t make our list for one simple reason: they should be done with proper supervision. These poses made our list of the five best yoga positions to aid fertility because they don’t need supervision. In fact, they can be done in the safety and privacy of your home.

This pose is one of my favorites and I almost always start my Fertility Yoga classes with this because of it’s ability to soften the internal organs, open the pelvis, unburden the heart and calm the mind. It is sort of a one-stop-shop to get all your needs met! I like to use one or two bolsters, but you can use a bolster and a block, four blankets or a combination of the above to create your own cozy haven for relaxation. Set up a block or bolster for height crosswise. Then lay (for the spine) a bolster or blankets perpendicular to the first. You should have a gentle sloping ramp where the head is highest, then heart, then pelvis on the ground. If you have neck issues, occasionally using blankets instead and rolling the top one under to support your cervical spine feels good. The key is that your torso is supported at an angle, your hips are on the floor and you can lean back, draw your heels in, soles touching, and relax. If your groins are overly tight or loose, you may benefit by a block, or pillow under each knee to soften the groins and support the pelvis in relaxing. If your shoulders are tight, you can elevate the elbows in the same manner with pillows or a block at each elbow. The key is that once you are settled to stay and breathe deeply, allowing the mind to scan the body for tension and release it breath by breath. I also like to infuse the internal organs with white light as you inhale, and allow yourself to release any tightness on the exhale, creating more space internally with each breath. You can stay for 5-15 minutes in this pose for the greatest benefit.

Pigeon pose is one of my personal favorites, because I have tight hips. If your hips are very tight see Reclining half pigeon below as an alternate pose. Double pigeon helps to release stored emotional trauma in the periformis muscle, which guards the gateway of energy in the hips. The hips are the sister hinge to the jaw and when released, tension, emotional pain and chronic holding get released, allowing increased blood flow, and energy to the reproductive organs in the pelvis. Double pigeon is a seated pose where one shin stacks perfectly on top of the other, and creates an equilateral triangle from the shins to the pubic bone.
Feet are flexed, spine long and pubic bone threads back so that the hips can release up and over the bent legs. Breathing is key in honoring your body’s edges of resistance and allowing it to open when it’s ready, establishing trust. You can extend the arms straight in front, with your elbows on the floor and create prayer pose with your hands and place your thumbs at your third eye, fore fingers on the forehead or extend the fingers on the ground and walk the hands out until your arms are straight. Breathe until the discomfort softens, and then change sides, alternating opposite foot on top of knee. Shins parallel.

*There tends to be unexpressed emotion in the hips. If you are in double pigeon you can sit on a bolster and work at simply lifting up through your heart and gently leaning forward. In 1/2 pigeon can you get your ankle to cross your knee? If so, then use the elbow on the knee to gently press it away from you to open the hips. If doing this doesn’t help, try sitting in a chair and crossing you ankle over your knee and let gravity take it down to soften the hip. Hinge forward from the hips and breathe.*

Reclining Half Pigeon (thread the needle)

A safer version for the knees is to lay on your back. Hug both knees into your chest. Lower your left foot to the floor and stack your right ankle on top of your left knee. Reach through the center hole and clasp your left shin. Flex the top foot and soften the bottom ankle. Gently pull the leg in to activate the periformis on the right side. Breathe deeply and visualize more space where you feel the tightest. Breathe until it softens. Change sides. Be aware of added unnecessary tension in shoulders, jaw and face, keep breathing deeper to soften any reactions to the sensation. [Obviously you will not be on a island in a koi pond. : ) Make sure you’re resting your head on the floor]

According to B.K.S. Iyengar this pose is a blessing to women. It stimulates the abdominals and ovaries.
Sit comfortably on a rug or yoga mat. Draw your heels together in front of your pubic bone, allowing your knees to open outward.

*If your knees won’t open fully, this just means your pelvis isn’t open yet. For your comfort, you can sit on a blanket or firm pillow to elevate your hips, this will help. [see picture below]*


Close your eyes a moment and tune into your breath. Soften your belly and allow your inhale to fill the space between your belly button and pubic bone, as if you could breathe into your womb. As you exhale draw the belly gently in toward the low back, massaging your internal organs.
Press your feet firmly together to allow your inner groins to stretch as you elongate the spine up and out of the hips. Stay here a few breaths.
As you breathe, your body will soften into the pose. If you feel you can lean forward without collapsing the lower back, extend forward over your heels reaching up through the crown of the head.
Hold onto your feet with your hands, and gently press your knees toward the floor with your elbows. Breathe into the sensation in your hips. Keep your shoulders and face soft.
This pose helps to open the hips and increases circulation in the pelvis, it has been known to help balance irregular menstruation and helps the ovaries to function properly.

This asana stretches the hamstrings and helps the blood to circulate properly in the pelvic region and keeps it healthy.
Sit on your mat or rug, and open your legs wide.

*If your legs won’t open fully, this just means your pelvis or hamstrings aren’t open yet. For your comfort, you can sit on a blanket or firm pillow to elevate your hips. This will help.*

Flex your feet back toward your face and make sure your feet are straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor. Lift up through your heart and extend your spine on an inhale. With a long spine, slowly walk your hands forward until you feel the first sensation in your groins and hamstrings. Stop here and breathe. Inhaling as if you could breathe into your womb, allowing the belly to soften and swell then exhale drawing your belly in. When you feel the body has opened, walk your fingers forward until your next edge of sensation. Stop and breathe, and then continue. Once you are fully extended (this will be different for every woman), you can slowly rise, lead with the heart and gently shake out your legs.
This Yoga asana (or pose) is beneficial because it helps regulate menstrual flow and also nourishes the ovaries. One of the wonderful benefits of Yoga is it teaches you to respect your journey. It requires that you approach everything as a process. Treat yourself gently as you approach these poses, knowing that mastery doesn’t occur overnight. Treat yourself just as gently as you proceed on your path toward parenthood.

This pose is restorative and helps to calm the nervous system and the heart rate. It is powerful for women because of its inversion qualities and ability to focus on the 2nd chakra, which houses the reproductive organs.
Find space at a wall. Place a bolster or thick firm cushion, a couple of inches from the wall. Sit on the cushion and walk your legs up the wall until your hips are level and your back is on the floor. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart or the arms can lay open, creating space in the heart.
This pose is about receiving. Let your breath be soft and deep, allow your mind to quiet and let the pose “do” you. You will feel the circulation in your body shift. Imagine a waterfall starting at your legs, pooling at the hips and slowly spilling down into the heart and the brain. This visual will follow the natural flow of energy as it cultivates a calm nervous system. This pose can be done while you’re menstruating as long as the hips are level. This pose has great healing qualities and is a gem for women.
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I know what I’ll be doing tonight! At the very least, maybe it will help me stretch out (always good for FWP!) and relax a little. 🙂

The Sex Post

Is baby-making sex – or as we like to call it on TTCAL, FWP – getting boring? Is your partner claiming you only want sex on THOSE days (even though you SWEAR you gave him a BJ two weeks ago!)?

What can you do? Check out this article from Concieve.com on how to keep sex smokin’ while you are focused on the, ahem, business at hand.

Read more here!