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Prenatal Vitamins to Boost Your Fertility: What Works and What Doesn't

Infertility Resources & Support

Prenatal Vitamins to Boost Your Fertility: What Works and What Doesn't

There's no doubt that a healthy diet holds many benefits, from lowering heart disease risk to supporting mental health. Nutrition also plays a role in fertility and reproductive health. 

While you may not have control over some of the factors involved in fertility — like your age or a medical condition — several vitamins may help boost fertility when you're trying to conceive.

Six Vitamins and Nutrients to Help Boost Fertility

In recent years, much research has been done on the relationship between diet, nutrition, and fertility. Let's look at critical vitamins and nutrients that could benefit people who want to build a family.

Folate (Folic Acid)

woman buying leafy greens to boost fertility

Folic acid is commonly found in prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women should take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy since adequate B vitamin levels can help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida

Research suggests folic acid may also increase the likelihood of getting pregnant. Folic acid supplementation may help increase progesterone levels and support regular ovulation, which can bolster fertility. 

Folate, or vitamin B9, is the vitamin form that occurs naturally in food. When you take a folic acid supplement, your body converts it into folate so it can be used. 

Where to get it:

Folate is naturally present in dark leafy green vegetables, beans, sunflower seeds, fresh fruits, whole grains, and eggs. You'll want to take a folic acid supplement if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. Folic acid is found in most prenatal vitamins. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats the human body can't produce. This means we must get omega-3s from our diets. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and supporting brain health. 

Although it's unclear what role omega-3 fatty acids play in natural fertility, some research suggests that omega-3 supplementation may increase an infertile woman's probability of pregnancy following in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Where to find them:

Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and several other fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Some plant foods also provide them, such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts. There are many popular over-the-counter supplements available as well.


woman taking prenatal vitamins to boost fertility

Sperm function and motility can play a role in infertility. According to an analysis of several studies, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) significantly increases sperm concentration and motility.

Studies suggest that CoQ10 may also benefit women trying to get pregnant through IVFWomen who took CoQ10 for two months before undergoing IVF had higher egg quantity, improved ovarian response, and more high-quality embryos. However, it's unclear if CoQ10 is helpful for women who are trying to conceive naturally.

Where to find it: 

CoQ10 can be taken as a dietary supplement or obtained from foods like salmon, tuna, organ meats, and whole grains.


Selenium is another nutrient that's excellent for male infertility. One study determined that supplementation with this important trace element improves sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm quality in men. 

It's unclear whether selenium benefits fertility in women. However, another study suggested that selenium deficiency could increase a woman's risk of luteal phase deficiency. This can affect the ovulation cycle and uterine lining, putting her at risk of infertility. So it could be worth supplementing.

Where to find it: 

Besides over-the-counter supplements, selenium is present in foods like brazil nuts and seafood.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is important for healthy bones and helps the body retain calcium and phosphorous. Some research suggests vitamin D may play a role in reproductive health. For example, vitamin D may impact hormone levels in men and women and affect semen quality. 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic health condition that can cause infertility. Vitamin D supplements may help with menstrual frequency and metabolic issues in women with PCOS who are vitamin D deficient, potentially boosting fertility. However, it's unclear if vitamin D improves fertility generally, especially if a person is not deficient. Still, it doesn't hurt to up your vitamin D intake, especially if you live with PCOS.

Where to find it: 

Your body makes vitamin D with sun exposure, but it may be hard to get enough sun, especially during winter in colder climates. There aren't many foods with vitamin D, so it's a good idea to supplement or eat foods fortified with vitamin D. 


Zinc is a mineral that helps with cell function, immunity, healing, and metabolism. According to some research, zinc may also play a part in egg quality, and zinc deficiency could contribute to male infertility. 

Where to find it: 

Zinc is found in dietary supplements, as well as chicken and red meat. 

Things to Avoid When You're Trying to Conceive

woman exercising and getting nutrients to boost fertility

Ultimately, there isn't one single vitamin or supplement that will guarantee fertility. 

But some other dietary factors could affect your chances of getting pregnant. For example, one study found that women who ate more fast food and less fresh fruit took longer to get pregnant. Interestingly, another study found that replacing animal protein sources with plant protein may lower the risk of ovulation-related infertility. 

The bottom line is that a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes overall health and well-being. Regarding fertility and reproductive health, a wholesome diet is essential for people of all genders. It can also help maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and reduce stress if you're trying to conceive. 

Support Your Fertility and Grow Your Family

Of course, infertility happens for many reasons, and your diet and nutrient intake may or may not be a factor. If you've been trying to conceive for more than a year or experiencing infertility due to a medical condition, speak to a fertility specialist.

At Advanced Fertility Care, our dedicated and experienced team will answer any fertility questions and support you on your journey to becoming a parent. We offer services at different locations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Can I Use My Own Eggs for IVF After 40 Years Old?

Fertility Treatments

Can I Use My Own Eggs for IVF After 40 Years Old?

Deciding to start a family is an exciting yet highly personal decision. Many people delay trying to get pregnant until later in life. You may have decided to wait because of your career, life goals, relationship status, or simply because you weren't ready. 

If you're over age 40 and want to get pregnant, you likely have questions about your chances of pregnancy. Fertility treatments, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), can help couples and individuals finally become parents. However, how do you know if you should use your own eggs or when to consider donor eggs?  

In this article, we'll look at some challenges of getting pregnant after 40 and when to consider an egg donor. 

The Challenges of Getting Pregnant After 40

woman over 40 talking to doctor about getting pregnant

Being over 40 doesn't mean you can't build the family you desire. However, fertility does decline with age. So, if you're struggling with infertility, you're not alone. 

Statistics show that the odds of getting pregnant decrease significantly as time goes on. The chances of getting pregnant naturally each month for women over 40 are only about 5%. About 22% of all women struggle with infertility after age 35, and up to 29% by 40. Over 40, the likelihood of a successful pregnancy decreases every year, so it would make sense not to delay any attempts at conception and to pursue a fertility evaluation and treatment early on. 

So why, exactly, does fertility decrease as time goes on? There are several reasons this occurs. 

Uterine, Hormone, and Menstrual Changes

Issues like endometrial polyps and fibroids can increase with age, potentially contributing to infertility. Decreased ovarian sensitivity to certain hormones can also play a role, as well as changing hormone secretion levels.

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

However, the main reason women struggle more over age 40 with fertility is the natural decline in both egg number and egg quality. Every woman is born with a limited supply of oocytes (immature eggs), which she will have for her lifetime. Women typically have 1-2 million oocytes at birth. The amount of eggs decreases with age, falling from 500,000 by puberty to 25,000 around age 37. 

Some women may experience a low egg count, also known as diminished ovarian reserve. While all women have some decline in fertility with age, for some, it happens sooner than for others. If there are a lower number of eggs in your ovarian reserve, it could decrease your odds of conceiving. However, your egg count is not the only factor in fertility. 

How do you know if you have a low ovarian reserve? Usually, there are no symptoms other than having difficulty getting pregnant after trying for months or even years. Some people can experience irregular menstruation, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. Low egg count can be caused mainly by aging but also by some cancer treatments or autoimmune disorders.

Egg Quality

The quality of your eggs also contributes to infertility. As a person ages, the eggs that are ovulated are more likely to be genetically abnormal, which of course, means that it will be more difficult to achieve pregnancy. Since the quality of your eggs is closely tied to how genetically normal they are, having a high number of abnormal eggs makes it harder, on average, to end up with a normal egg that can fertilize and end with the successful birth of a child. This is also why we see higher miscarriage rates as women age. 

Despite these challenges, there are also effective ways to treat infertility and achieve pregnancy after 40. 

Paths To Getting Pregnant After Age 40

At Advanced Fertility Care, we offer several fertility treatments to help you start a family.

Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a treatment where sperm are collected from either a donor or a partner, then isolated, washed, and concentrated. Then, they're placed into the uterus around the time of ovulation. Typically, our patients undergo treatment with fertility drugs in combination with IUI. This is meant to help bodies ovulate more than one egg each cycle, giving you more chances that month of getting pregnant. While IUIs have a lower success rate than in vitro fertilization, that does not mean IUI won't work for you even if you're over 40. For those at 40, IUI is considered to have about an 8-10% success rate compared to 15-20% success found with IVF.

In Vitro Fertilization

45 year old woman holding newborn after getting pregnant with donor egg IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is another method that involves fertilizing eggs with sperm in a laboratory, then transferring the best resultant embryo into the uterus using a thin tube. First, eggs are extracted from the ovaries, typically after taking fertility medications. The eggs are then isolated and fertilized in a laboratory, becoming embryos. 

One of the real advantages of IVF is what is known as preimplantation genetic testing or PGT

•      With PGT, a few cells from the part of the embryo that eventually becomes the placenta are removed and sent for genetic (chromosome) testing. 

•      With PGT, we can identify which embryos have the right number of chromosomes and which ones have an abnormal number of chromosomes. If an embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes, it won't result in a pregnancy, or if it does, it would be very likely to miscarry. 

•      PGT also helps us identify embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes that can result in a live birth. The one everyone is aware of is Down Syndrome. This type of thing is seen more often in women over 40. 

Suppose we can identify an embryo that is chromosomally normal with PGT. In that case, your success rates can be as high as 70% when you have your embryo transfer, and you have to worry less about things like Down Syndrome during pregnancy. Success rates aren't 70% for everyone with IVF because many patients will do the IVF but won't end up with any normal embryos. 

IVF can have excellent success rates. However, the success of IVF often depends on factors such as egg quality and your response to ovarian stimulating medications. So how do you know when to consider using donor eggs instead of your own? 

When Should You Consider Donor Eggs?

It's entirely possible to get pregnant using your own eggs over 40. Yet, for some people, there seems to be an egg quality or quantity issue that we can't overcome. This is especially true for women over age 43 or 44. Donor eggs in this situation could greatly increase the chances of getting pregnant through IVF. 

It may be worth considering using an egg donor, especially if you have a diminished ovarian reserve or demonstrated poor egg quality. Ovarian reserve testing is one way to estimate whether your ovaries match your age which would give us a good indication of how you might respond to fertility treatment. Some testing results might indicate that it is unlikely that fertility treatment will increase the chances of you getting pregnant using your own eggs. 

At Advanced Fertility Care, we offer an in-house Donor Egg program which provides those in need of an egg donor a variety of high-quality egg donors available for matching. Preview our available egg donors here.

Ovarian Reserve Testing

Ovarian reserve testing can help determine how many eggs you may have left. Screening for diminished ovarian reserve can tell you whether the ovarian stimulation medications used in IVF treatments might work for you. A low egg count could mean your ovaries won't respond as well to these treatments, decreasing your chances of pregnancy. 

Ovarian reserve testing can also help guide your decision to undergo fertility treatments, as it may suggest how likely you'd be to get pregnant without some kind of fertility treatment. 

To test your ovarian reserve, your provider performs blood tests to assess your levels of certain hormones. Your provider may also perform a vaginal ultrasound to look at your ovaries and count the number of follicles you have. The number of follicles you have in your ovaries at the beginning of a menstrual cycle represents the number of eggs that are available to your body for fertility treatments. The higher the follicle count, the more eggs we have to work with. 

While ovarian reserve testing doesn't definitively say whether or not you'll be able to conceive, it can help you decide if using an egg donor may be a better option than pursuing an IVF cycle with your own eggs. If the tests reveal a diminished ovarian reserve, you may consider using a donor to increase your chances of getting pregnant through IVF.

Advanced Fertility Care is Here to Support Your Fertility Journey

No matter your situation, our caring and professional team at Advanced Fertility Care is here to support you in getting pregnant. We offer IUI, IVF, a donor egg program, and more at several locations. Building a family is within reach, even if you're over 40. 

To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.

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Top Frequently Asked Questions About PCOS

Infertility Resources & Support

Fertility Treatments

Top Frequently Asked Questions About PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a common disorder that can contribute to infertility and long-term health risks. If you think you may be dealing with symptoms of the disorder, you're certainly not alone. In fact, as many as 12% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. live with PCOS. 

If you have PCOS, you may have many questions about the condition, its treatment, and what it might mean for your chances of getting pregnant. In this article, we'll answer some common questions about PCOS.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a multi-system disorder affecting many women of reproductive age. The cause of the disorder is unknown, but people with PCOS commonly exhibit imbalances in certain reproductive hormones, such as androgens. As the name implies, people with PCOS often have large numbers of follicles which are the small egg-containing cysts found in the ovaries. During a normal menstrual cycle, your ovaries mature and release an egg every month. Due to the effects of PCOS, your ovaries may be unable to make or release an egg regularly. This can result in infertility issues.

What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

Woman talking to doctor about PCOS signs and symptoms and risk level

PCOS symptoms vary between individuals and can range from mild to severe. Many people may experience irregular periods, erratic ovulation, infertility, oily skin, extra hair on the face or body, hair loss on the scalp, and weight gain. More recently, PCOS has been linked with depression or mood disorders. Some people with PCOS are overweight, although people who are not overweight can have it also. Being overweight can make the signs and symptoms of PCOS worse. 

A common problem in people with PCOS is insulin resistance (more on this below). People with insulin resistance can often find darkening of the skin along creased areas like the groin or neck can occur, as well as the development of skin tags.

Who is at Risk for PCOS? 

The condition affects women of all ethnicities and can develop at any time during reproductive years or any time after puberty. The precise cause of PCOS is unknown. However, you may be at higher risk if you have a family history of the disorder.

As noted above, people with PCOS often have insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance can make insulin, but their cells don't respond to insulin as they should. As a result, insulin levels in the body may increase. This can cause the ovaries to produce higher levels of a group of hormones known as androgens which causes some of the symptoms of PCOS like unwanted hair growth. 

In addition to PCOS, other factors can contribute to insulin resistance such as being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, or a family history of diabetes. These people can see a worsening of their symptoms of PCOS. It's important to take action if you have high insulin or blood sugar levels since this may increase your risk of developing diabetes. 

How Is PCOS Diagnosed? 

Since PCOS is a syndrome with many different signs and symptoms, not all experts agree on the criteria to diagnose PCOS. The three most commonly used criteria are seen here.

As you can see, some criteria rely on blood tests, others rely on ultrasound, and still, others emphasize signs and symptoms. Therefore, your doctor may perform an exam and discuss your medical history to diagnose PCOS. They may perform a pelvic ultrasound to examine your ovaries and do blood tests to determine your hormone levels. These exams and tests will help rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms. 

How Is PCOS Treated?

There is no total cure for PCOS. But fortunately, you can take steps to manage or improve your symptoms. Getting adequate exercise, managing your weight, and eating a healthy diet can all help. You may also be able to take medication to lessen physical symptoms, like hair growth and acne. Making lifestyle changes can lower your long-term risks like type 2 diabetes. 

It's not easy to hear that you may have PCOS, but you can talk to your doctor about how to lessen your symptoms. Some simple lifestyle changes may improve things.

Can You Get Pregnant if You Have PCOS?

Woman with PCOS with positive pregnancy test smiling

It's possible to get pregnant if you have PCOS. While PCOS can cause infertility struggles, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of pregnancy. 

Having irregular ovulation will make it harder to track the fertile phase of your menstrual cycle. Even so, you could still be able to get pregnant naturally. If this doesn't happen, there are fertility treatment options available. 

Can Fertility Treatments Help You Get Pregnant With PCOS?

Absolutely! If you're having trouble getting pregnant, one possible option is in vitro fertilization (IVF). During this advanced fertility treatment, a doctor extracts your eggs, fertilizes them in a laboratory with collected sperm, and transfers the fertilized egg into your uterus. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes, enabling a fertilized egg to be placed directly into your uterus, where it can implant. IVF can be an effective choice for many people, including those with PCOS, endometriosis, or damaged fallopian tubes.

However, many patients don't require IVF to get pregnant. 

Reducing insulin resistance by lifestyle changes or medication can often result in more regular ovulation and pregnancy. Another alternative is ovulation induction with intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI). For this procedure, you take fertility drugs to induce ovulation before having intercourse or undergoing artificial insemination so that your eggs can become fertilized.

Does Having PCOS Increase Your Risk of Pregnancy Complications? 

If you have PCOS, there can be some increased risk of certain complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy. However, this does not always happen, and you can reduce your risks by maintaining a healthy weight and making sure your blood sugar levels are normal before trying to become pregnant. 

No matter your situation, the team of caring professionals is here to support you on your fertility journey. We would be glad to answer any questions you may have about PCOS, infertility, and fertility treatment options. Explore our website or schedule a consultation with our experts today if you'd like more information.

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Infertility in the U.S.

Infertility Resources & Support

Infertility in the U.S.

Who Faces Fertility Issues?

More than 48 million couples struggle with infertility worldwide. In the U.S., one in eight couples faces fertility issues.

Who Is Using Fertility Services?

Fully one-third of Americans have either used fertility services themselves or know someone else who has.

How Long Does it Take to Get Pregnant with Fertility Treatment?

With treatment, 85% of couples will succeed in getting pregnant within the first year and 7% during the second year.

What’s the Average Age to Have a Baby with Fertility Treatment?

The odds of conceiving depend on various factors, including underlying causes and treatment types. For IVF, the age range with the greatest success is age 30 to 33.

Need help? Contact us today.

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Everything You Need To Know About Fertility Evaluations (Including When to Get One)

Infertility Resources & Support

Everything You Need To Know About Fertility Evaluations (Including When to Get One)

Those experiencing fertility challenges while trying to build their family may have many questions about fertility. One common question is about fertility testing and the evaluation process. Without the correct information, couples or individuals may delay consulting an infertility specialist for a fertility evaluation. We compiled specific details in this guide to help you make the proper decisions and get started with a fertility evaluation. You will learn more about the fertility evaluation process, what to expect, and the tests involved.

What is Fertility Evaluation?

A fertility evaluation assesses fertility health and involves reviewing medical history, a physical examination, and diagnostic testing. The fertility evaluation process differs for men and women. Through a fertility evaluation, are productive medicine physician can diagnose possible causes of infertility and aid decision-making. After assessing your needs, your fertility physician will recommend the most appropriate treatment plan to reach your family-building goals.

When Do You Need a Fertility Evaluation?

The reasons to seek a fertility evaluation can differ from person to person. The presence and or persistence of these symptoms are typically an indication for a fertility evaluation.

For women, here are some signs you may need a fertility evaluation:

  • If you’ve been actively trying to conceive without success for one year (or six months if you’re over 35)
  • history of uterine or tubal disease
  • irregular periods or no menstrual periods
  • endometriosis
  • history of pelvic inflammatory disease
  • history of having had cancer treatment(chemotherapy or radiation treatment, especially if directed to the abdomen andpelvis)
  • history of multiple miscarriages
  • If you’re 37 or older and want to get pregnant
  • history of genetic diseases that run in your families

Here are some indications for fertility evaluation in men:

  • a history of testicular trauma
  • history of surgery for an undescended testicle or hernia
  • treatment with chemotherapy drugs
  • history of infertility with a previous partner
  • if you’ve been actively trying to conceive without success for one year (6 months if your partner is over age 34)

What to Expect From a Fertility Evaluation?

During your first visit to a fertility clinic, the fertility physician will start with a detailed clinical history to collect your personal health information and identify your unique health needs. The fertility physician may ask you (and your partner) the following:

  • history of medical illnesses, including STDs and past pelvic surgery
  • medication uses
  • sexual history
  • duration of infertility
  • use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs

 For women, the doctor will typically ask about:

  • your last menstrual period
  • menstrual cycle length and frequency
  • birth control methods
  • past pregnancies and their outcomes.

While for men, here are some questions the fertility physicians may ask:

  • history of childhood trauma to the testis
  • history of infections such as orchitis or mumps
  • prior childhood disorders like cryptorchidism
  • history of infertility

After the clinical history, your fertility doctor will perform a physical examination.Clinical history details help direct the physician to examine particular organs. For example, males with testicular symptoms may require further urologic examination.

To aid the accuracy of clinical diagnosis, your doctor may recommend a series of diagnostic tests.

What is Fertility Testing?

A fertility specialist uses your medical history obtained when consulting with you to help choose the most suitable diagnostic tests that fit your personal situation. Hence, consulting with a fertility specialist early in the process may save you time and money and keep you from having any unnecessary testing.

Fertility testing involves a combination of laboratory tests and imaging studies to try to identify an explanation for your struggles to conceive. The results of these tests often point to a cause of your infertility, though it is important to know that at least 20% of the time, there is no explanation identified becauseall of the tests come back normal. The testing results will help your fertility provider know what treatments are available to you and will also help them know what treatment they would recommend as the most appropriate.

Fertility testing procedures are obviously different for men and women and best requested by fertility physicians.

Fertility Testing for Women

Female fertility testing entails using specific tests and radiological procedures to assess the ovarian function of your fallopian tubes and the integrity of the uterine cavity. Here are specific tests often performed in a complete fertility evaluation:

Assessment of Ovarian Function and Reserve

Ovulation— the release of a mature egg from the ovaries occurs at a specific time point in the monthly menstrual cycle. Ovulation testing helps to determine if a female is ovulating or not. It involves hormone testing on specific days in the menstrual cycle.

Ovarian reserve testing— women, lose the ability to get pregnant as they get older due to a decline in their ovaries and egg quality. Testing of your ovarian reserve is performed using a combination of blood testing of reproductive hormones and ultrasounds assessing what is referred to as your follicle count. 

Follicles are fluid sacs with an egg, which are visible on ultrasound early in your cycle. The number of follicles you have represents the number of eggs available to your body for ovulation that month. Typically, women start with a relatively large number of follicles, even if they ovulate only one egg at a time.

Hormone testing is another important part of evaluating ovarian function. These blood tests assess the level of hormones such as follicle stimulating hormones( FSH), antimullerian hormone (AMH), and estrogen levels in the blood.

Most of these ultrasounds and hormonal blood tests must be performed on a particular day of your menstrual cycle. AMH testing, however, can be done at any time in the menstrual cycle.Your fertility physician interprets the results from these hormone tests and determines if the ovarian function and reserve are within normal range.

Assessment of the Uterine Cavity

There are different methods for assessing the uterus. Typically, fertility experts use imaging tools to inspect the uterine cavity for abnormalities such as congenital uterine defects and adhesions. In addition, fertility doctors typically use a hysteroscope (a long lighted, flexible tube) to visualize the interior layers of the uterus. The procedure is called hysteroscopy. 

There is also a specialized ultrasound that is performed at the same time saline is instilled into your uterus to better determine if there is anything abnormal that may be keeping you from getting pregnant.This is known as a saline sonohysterogram.  Your physician will determine which of these tests is/are most appropriate.

Assessment of the Fallopian Tubes

Fallopian tubes are typically assessed in the clinic with a procedure known as a hysterosalpingogram or HSG. This fertility test aims to inspect the fallopian tubes for occlusions or blockages.The fallopian tubes can become blocked due to prior pelvic infections, endometriosis, or prior pelvic surgeries.  

An HSG involves using X-rays and X-ray contrast to outline the fallopian tubes and uterus. This test is typically done in the week or so after your period ends but before ovulation occurs so that there is no chance you are pregnant when you have it performed.

Laparoscopy (an actual surgery) is another method your fertility physician may decide to use to assess the fallopian tubes. However, it is invasive and not often the first choice.

Fertility Testing for Men

Semen analysis is the primary method of male fertility testing. The andrologist analyzes the semen for various characteristics such as the quality and quantity of sperm cells. Before the test, you or your partner will be counseled to abstain from sexual activity for 2-5 days. Your fertility doctor interprets the semen analysis result to determine the impact.

Here are the specific components of a semen analysis test.

Sperm Count

What most people refer to as a “sperm count” is technically a measure of the concentration of sperm in the ejaculate. It is reported as the sample's number of sperm cells per milliliter. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the normal sperm cell count should beat least 15 million cells per milliliter. If the sperm cell count is below this level, the fertility doctor will typically assess the possible causes and recommend the most suitable therapeutic intervention.


Sperm motility evaluates the movement pattern of sperm cells in the ejaculated semen.A sperm sample should have at least 40% progressive sperm motility, which does mean that it can be normal if over half of the sperm in the sample is “dead.”

Unlike conventional laboratory evaluation of sperm motility, computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) uses digital technology to provide an in-depth kinetic analysis of sperm cells. CASA provides details on the sperm head motion patterns and a quantitative overview of the sperm cell kinetics.

Sperm Morphology

The word morphology means the shape, and so when your sperm is assessed as part of the analysis, we take a look to see what percentage of your sperm looks normal in every respect. Here the concept is that it is only normally shaped sperm that are capable of fertilizing an egg. 

Any defects or abnormalities in the sperm head, neck, body, or tail typically affect sperm quality and increase the risk of male infertility. A normal semen analysis should have at least 4% sperm cells with a normal shape.

Other features assessed in a semen analysis include:

  • pH:Normal range is 7.0-8.0
  • Volume:Normal should be at least 2 mls per ejaculated semen
  • White blood cells: White blood cells are typically absent in semen. The presence of white cells indicates an infection.
  • Sperm viability: Some of the sperm ejaculated are simply dead. The viability assay helps determine if there is too high of a percentage of sperm that are dead when ejaculated.

Do You Need a Fertility Evaluation?

Fertility evaluation involves a review of your medical history, a physical examination, and specialized diagnostic tests. This process helps a fertility physician to evaluate your fertility status and offer solutions to any fertility problems.

Getting a fertility evaluation starts with consulting a fertility expert and choosing a fertility clinic with a team of professional fertility experts with a proven track record of helping couples or individuals start and expand their families. The proper fertility evaluation is essential to move you towards achieving your dream of starting or growing your family.

The first step in your fertility journey to parenthood is an initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists at Advanced Fertility Care. We have dedicated fertility professionals who assess our patients using the most recent reproductive technology solutions. We provide personalized fertility evaluations and testing that fits your unique health needs. Schedule your initial consultation today to get started on realizing your dreams of parenthood. We serve at several locations. Connect today!

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Understanding Male Infertility: Diagnosis and Treatment

Infertility Resources & Support

Understanding Male Infertility: Diagnosis and Treatment

Starting and expanding a family is a dream come true for many couples. Unfortunately, infertility impacts one in eight couples in the U.S. and many who desire to start a family or expand their family size may face challenges in conception. Male factor infertility is responsible for about 20-30% of infertility cases. Genetic and acquired medical conditions that affect the reproductive tract in males are responsible for male infertility.In this article, we discuss the common causes and diagnosis of male infertility as well as the therapeutic interventions available.

What is Male Infertility?

Man upset and worried struggling to conceive

Male infertility occurs when male reproductive factors cause an inability to conceive. Inherited or acquired defects in the male reproductive tract can cause male infertility. Abnormalities may occur at various sites in the male reproductive tract and affect the chances of achieving conception. For instance, male infertility occurs when medical conditions destroy sperm-producing cells in the testis or hinder sperm transport.The clinical symptoms and therapeutic interventions in male infertility differ based on the underlying causes. For example, the therapy for individuals with a primary disorder in the testis is different from those with sperm transport disorder. Resolving male infertility starts with an accurate diagnosis of the cause.

Causes of Male Infertility

There are various causes of male infertility, but unfortunately, in a large percentage of patients, we are unable to identify the exact cause. Fertility experts classify these causes into groups for clinical management purposes. Here is a classification of the common causes that we can identify.

Genetic Causes

Genetic disorders account for 15-30% of male infertility cases. Genetic disorders could result from alterations that disrupt the structure and number of chromosomes (the cellular structure that contain the genes for sperm production). Males with a genetic or sex chromosomal defect are prone to male infertility.These genetic disorders affect the hormonal regulation and quality of sperm produced in the testis. An example of this would be a "microdeletion" of a part of the Y chromosome responsible for sperm production that can lead to very low or even absent sperm numbers. Males with genetic causes of infertility may also have a collection of other co-existing medical disorders. This is called a medical syndrome. Examples are Klinefelter syndrome, Young syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, etc.

Hormonal Causes

Hormones from the pituitary gland and testosterone influence sperm production in the testicles. Medical conditions that alter the blood concentration and balance of testosterone and pituitary hormones cause male infertility. Oftentimes, when these medical issues are addressed, sperm production normalizes.Examples of such conditions are iron overload syndrome, head trauma, intracranial radiation, hyperthyroidism, etc. Included in this category would be problems in sperm production caused by men taking testosterone supplementation. If men take regular testosterone injections or use testosterone gels or creams, sperm production often ceases completely. We, therefore, recommend any man interested in getting pregnant with his partner should not be taking testosterone or other steroids.

Undescended Testis

Typically, during fetal development, the testes descend from the abdomen into the scrotal sac. However, in some individuals, one or two testicles do not fully descend into the scrotum. Males with undescended testes are more prone to infertility, especially if the undescended testicle is not brought down into the scrotum surgically at a very young age.

Blockage in Sperm Transport Tubules

The testicles have tubules that transport sperm after production in the testis. When these tubules are blocked, it leads to infertility. One situation that everyone knows about that fits into this category is having had a vasectomy. Sperm cells are still produced but are unable to enter the ejaculate because the vas deferens (the tube that connects the testicle to the penis) have been interrupted.There can be genetic reasons for this too. Some men who are carriers of Cystic Fibrosis are actually born without vas deferens leading to infertility. Common risk factors of acquired blockages are physical trauma, prior pelvic surgeries, and infections. Chronic infections cause prolonged inflammatory changes that damage men's health and may produce car tissues that block these tubules.Poorly treated sexually transmitted diseases are one of the most common causes of blockage in sperm transport tubules. Thus, if you suspect you could have a sexually transmitted disease, consult your doctor for prompt treatment.

Medical Disorders

Apart from infections, some health conditions cause male infertility. For example, swelling in the veins located in the testis. These are known as "varicoceles." These swollen veins alter the blood supply to your testes. Consequently, impaired blood flow affects sperm production and the quality transported in the tubules. In addition, some immunological disorders and tumors may damage the regulatory hormone-producing glands. Examples are tumors in the testis and pituitary glands.


Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or steroids, affect sperm formation and increase male infertility risk. Discuss therapeutic options with your doctor if your medications adversely affect your fertility.

Exposure to Environmental Toxins

Persistent exposure to Industrial chemicals and radiation disrupts sperm formation in the testis. This results in a reduction in sperm count if unchecked. Periodic health screening in a fertility clinic is beneficial if your profession exposes you to heavy metals and radiation.

Unhealthy Lifestyle and Habits

Young man exercising to boost fertility and combat male infertility

Self-care is critical to your reproductive health. Stay active, eat healthily and avoid unhealthy habits such as alcohol and tobacco intake. We also recommend that you not smoke or use marijuana frequently if you are attempting pregnancy with your partner. Neglecting these self-care practices raises your risk of male infertility. An unhealthy lifestyle may affect the formation and quality of sperm produced.

Symptoms of Male Infertility

Although the male infertility symptoms vary depending on the cause. Much of the time, there are no symptoms that you would be able to notice. However, here are some signs you may notice:

  • Sexual dysfunction such as difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection.
  • Reduced fluid volume ejaculated.
  • Pain or swelling in your testis.
  • Abnormal breast growth.
  • Decreased facial or body hair.

If you notice any of the symptoms above, consult your doctor for further clinical evaluation.

Diagnosis of Male Infertility

Your doctor typically starts with a thorough clinical history and physical examination before conducting further investigations for diagnosis. During the clinical history, your doctor will take an exhaustive history to understand your unique health needs. Your doctor will ask questions related to your family history, sexual history, social history, and medical history to identify possible risk factors. During the physical examination, your doctor inspects your body for visible signs of defects or features that suggest hormonal imbalance. Also, your doctor may examine your genital for any abnormalities.

Tests You Can Expect for Male Infertility

Semen analysis is the major test for diagnosing male infertility. For your doctor to get the best results, here are some tips:

  • Observe between two and five days of sexual abstinence.
  • Submit semen samples within 30 minutes of collecting the semen.

Sometimes, your physician or laboratory may request you submit two semen samples at an interval of no sooner than one month. Your semen is analyzed for the following:

  • volume
  • pH
  • presence of white blood cells.
  • "Sperm count" or concentration
  • Sperm motility
  • Sperm morphology (shape)

In addition to semen analysis, the clinical findings from history taking and physical examination guide your doctor on the type of investigations to conduct. For example, suppose there is a history of multiple sexual partners with signs of a sexually transmitted infection (S.T.I.). In that case, your doctor may request blood and urine tests for S.T.I diagnosis.If your semen analysis results are significantly abnormal, or if your medical history indicates that you need more intensive assessment, you may be referred to a male infertility urology specialist.Other possible investigations are:

  • Scrotal ultrasound scan
  • Testicular biopsy
  • Hormonal profile.

Your Options for Male Fertility Treatments

Man at doctor for infertility fertility testing

The specific treatment for male infertility depends on the underlying cause. If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, your doctor may recommend adjustments such as weight loss, physical activity, stoppage of alcohol and tobacco smoking, and intake of supplements. Here are some male fertility treatments that could put you on the path to parenthood.

Hormonal Therapy

This is the therapeutic option for males with hormonal causes of infertility. Your doctor may prescribe these medications to normalize the blood concentration of hormones that affect sperm production. Examples of these medications are aromatase inhibitors or Clomid.

Surgical Intervention

There are various types of surgical interventions. For instance, males with varicocele (distended veins in the testis) may benefit from a surgical repair. Also, individuals with obstruction along the transport tubules in the male reproductive tract are sometimes candidates for surgical correction.

Antimicrobial Therapy

These are medications for treating infections caused by microbes. Males with underlying sexually transmitted infections will benefit from antimicrobial therapy.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

This is a procedure in which sperm cells are injected into the egg for fertilization outside the body. This occurs in conjunction with an IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment with your partner. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends intracytoplasmic sperm injection for couples with male factor infertility. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is safe and effective and can often overcome even the most significant male factor.

Assisted Reproduction Technology

The American Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) defines assisted reproduction technology as fertility-based treatments in which the eggs or embryos are manipulated to aid conception. This is what is commonly known as IVF. Here are the stages of an assisted reproduction technology procedure:

  • Stimulation: This involves using medications to boost egg production in the female.
  • Egg retrieval: Here, the fertility doctor conducts a minimally invasive procedure to retrieve eggs in the female.
  • Insemination and fertilization: This step involves placing sperm cells and selected eggs under favorable conditions for fertilization.
  • Embryo culture: After successful fertilization, the fertilized egg undergoes cellular divisions in a regulated environment to become an embryo from the 5th day.
  • Embryo transfer: The doctor retrieves the embryo and transfers it into the uterus for implantation.

Do You Need Help Starting a Family?

Male infertility occurs due to various factors such as genetic or acquired causes such as untreated sexually transmitted diseases, physical trauma, or the use of some medications. If you notice symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, painful swelling in your testis, or abnormal breast growth, see your doctor.As part of men's health awareness, regular clinical screening and checks will aid the early diagnosis of medical conditions that may cause infertility.Your doctor will typically diagnose male infertility after conducting a clinical history, examination, and semen analysis. A fertility expert decides the most effective therapeutic option based on clinical findings and test results.

At Advanced Fertility Care, we want to help you start a family. Our fertility experts use evidence-based best practices combined with innovative technology, which increases your chances of conceiving and fulfilling your dreams of being a parent. To join other happy parents who have used our services, take one step today by contacting us.

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Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being During Infertility

Infertility Resources & Support

Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being During Infertility

Whether you are trying to conceive (TTC) or pursuing in-vitro fertilization (IVF), infertility can become a serious strain on your mental health and emotional well-being. In this article, we look at the reality of the strain of infertility and ways to cope during this time.  

Infertility: A Common Challenge

If you are having difficulty conceiving, you are far from alone. With over 6 million pregnancy-challenged couples in the U.S., this is a well-traveled -- if sometimes bumpy -- road.

young couple going through fertility challenges and struggling emotionally

Fortunately, medical advancements and practices have made it possible for many people to overcome infertility and achieve the family of their dreams. Assisted reproductive technology has moved light-years forward in the past few decades, delivering the miracle of life to over 10 million babies. Also, mainstream awareness of infertility as a commonmedical challenge has improved dramatically.Despite these progressions, one study suggests that the psychological impact of an infertility diagnosis is comparable to a diagnosis of cancer. It is typical – and perfectly normal -- for anyone to have a difficult emotional reaction to infertility.

The Challenge of Waiting and Uncertainty

Battling infertility can bring physical challenges, such as pregnancy losses, failed cycles, medications, and medical procedures. There may be a gauntlet of tests, calendars, doctors, and pills.Yet most people feel that it is really the uncertainty of infertility that presents the greatest challenge. Infertility can involve long periods of waiting combined with the ultimate fear of not being able to build your family or provide for your partner. You may have to sit with this discomfort for long and indefinite periods of time. It is common for those struggling with infertility to grapple with depression and anxiety.

Mental Health and Infertility

Infertility and Depression

One U.K. study found that 90% of people facing infertility reported experiencing depression.You may be experiencing  clinical depression (also known as major depression) if you exhibit at least five of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:1. Depressed mood2. Loss of interest/pleasure in everyday things3. Weight loss or gain4. Insomnia or hypersomnia5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation6. Fatigue7. Feeling worthless or excessive/inappropriate guilt8. Decreased concentration9. Thoughts of death/suicideDepression can be a painful condition in which your perception changes. You may begin to feel helpless and have a harder time seeing the possibility of ever conceiving. Infertility may seem like a life sentence rather than a temporary challenge.Depression also leads to changes in behavior. These can negatively impact your self-care, relationships, work, outlets, and other areas of life.

When to Contact Your Doctor

The onset of depression is not a medical emergency. In the U.S., over 10% of the population will experience major depression in a given year. 1 out of 6 Americans will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression brought about by life circumstances (like infertility) tends to resolve itself with time.If you have experienced five of the DSM-V symptoms listed above, you should mention this to your doctor. They can walk you through your options to find support and help monitor any worsening of your condition.If you are thinking about hurting yourself or suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak to someone who can help.

Infertility and Anxiety

woman experiencing anxiety and depression from infertility issues

Anxiety is another common source of discomfort when trying to conceive. Anxiety and depression occur together so commonly that clinicians call them “two sides of the same coin.”A common complaint among those struggling to grow their family is that their thoughts become dominated by infertility to the point of becoming overwhelming. This type of fixation and these intrusive, troubling thoughts can cause both depression and anxiety.

The Problem of Stigma

Infertility is not limited to women: male factor infertility accounts for about one-third of infertility cases. This is most often due to low sperm count.   Regardless of gender, everyone faces the challenge of stigma – both perceived and actual – because of fertility issues.Perceived stigma may be internalized from a young age. For women, entrenched, historically-based stereotypes suggest that they are primarily valued for their child-rearing ability. There may also be a complex about sexual inadequacy.Actual stigma only exacerbates these existing insecurities. A loved one that always asks, “When are you having children?” can make a family holiday a source of dread and fear.Stigma can lead to low self-esteem, guilt and shame. Even though both are patently untrue, those struggling with infertility may begin to think that there is something “wrong” with them or it is “their fault.”Another pervasive effect of stigma is for people to self-isolate and suffer insilence. Many fear being judged, invalidated, or embarrassed and are less likely to share what they are going through.

Does Depression Reduce Fertility?

The short answer is “no.”  While individuals may experience depression in relation to their infertility, several studies have concluded that depression and anxiety do not significantly impact the success of assisted reproduction.However, depression can have secondary effects on one’s behavior that could influence pregnancy attempts. Feeling helpless or shameful can discourage someone – perhaps even subconsciously- from pursuing all available fertility options. For those TTC, the tendency to isolate may reduce physical intimacy.Depression and anxiety can also bring about lifestyle changes, like overeating, missed sleep, or difficulty in being productive or active. These can all contribute to a cumulative deterioration of health and overall well-being. If you are not feeling physically healthy, it may be harder to find the courage and resilience to help you get through the trials of assisted reproduction.

Side Effects of Fertility Medications

Though far less serious than the aforementioned concerns, you may also experience some side effects if you are taking fertility medication. The most common are:·   breast tenderness·   hot flashes·   headache·   upset stomach·   bloating·   mood swingsFertility drugs may also involve health risks, most notably:·   Multiple pregnancies·   Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)These effects will vary significantly by the drug taken, the dosage, and the individual. Your doctor can walk you through medication considerations.All of these potential side effects and health risks are not welcome news to anyone already managing anxiety and other infertility-related health concerns. However, these medications are all FDA-approved and have a proven track record of successfully helping achieve pregnancy. The benefits are considered to outweigh far the potential side effects and risks of these medications.On the other hand, fertility medications may offer a subtle boost to your mental well-being: they can provide peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to achieve conception.

Finding Infertility Support

Research has shown that participation in counseling that teaches coping tools for managing infertility-related stress is associated with significantly reduced emotional distress and even increased pregnancy rates in response to fertility treatment.  

Finding Personal Support

Couple struggling with infertility seeking mental health support for depression and anxiety

Professional one-on-one counseling can help you become more aware of your mental state and develop strategies for dealing with difficult emotions. A counselor with experience and specialized training in helping with fertility challenges is the ideal type of therapist to help, though many different types of therapeutic professionals can help. These include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and life coaches. One-on-one therapists are particularly useful when you feel withdrawn or are having trouble communicating what you are feeling.

Group Support

Connecting with others is the best way to beat the stigma, secrecy, and isolation that so often make infertility painful.Research has consistently shown that group therapy – sharing your experience in a safe, non-judgmental forum – is one of the most effective forms of therapy available. Some groups may be led by professionals, while others are organized by members. In a cohort of people with the same fertility struggles, participants are typically eager to share their experiences and pool together information, including how they have coped with various infertility-related challenges. Within these support groups, powerful, lasting relationships are often formed.

Partner Support

If you are in a relationship with a significant other,  support from your partner is critical throughout this process. Depression and infertility-related stress can result in distancing and reduced communication. Couples therapy is a healthy way to improve communication in a constructive, mediated space.Some are surprised to find that their partner may be feeling helpless, worried, or upset – yet doesn’t feel like they should keep this to themselves so they can be “strong” for you. Even more of a surprise may be that your partner wants to better support you -- but doesn’t always know how. Therapists can help identify the best ways for partners to support one another.When someone we care about is experiencing difficult emotions, our first instinct may be to try to “fix” the situation. But often, what most people need most in these times is empathy - to be heard, without judgment, by someone who cares.A therapist can help you practice empathic listening. This can help partners validate one another’s feelings without trying to change them. Simply listening to your partner can be the best medicine of all.

Web Resources

A good starting point to learn more about support options is this fact sheet from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.The National Infertility Association offers a wealth of coping techniques and practical tips, such as scripts that can help you prepare for – and no longer fear – conversations with family members about future children.

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How to Decide Between IUI and IVF

Fertility Treatments

How to Decide Between IUI and IVF

Millions of Americans are impacted by fertility challenges each year. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that roughly 9 percent of men and 11 percent of women have had fertility problems of varying severity. These fertility struggles may get in the way of people’s dreams, and they can have a devastating impact, if left unaddressed, on both individuals’ and couples’ mental and emotional health. Fertility challenges may not be the only reason people consider fertility treatments. For example, many people who are single by choice, as well as LGBTQ+ couples, may see fertility treatments as their best road to building their family.

Fertility Treatments Are Available To You

If you’re struggling to conceive, the good news is that there are treatment options available that could help you realize your dreams of parenthood. Two of the most common treatment choices are intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. In this article, we discuss these two fertility treatment options in greater detail and compare the pros and cons of each one while recognizing that patients’ ultimate decisions are highly personal.  

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination, also referred to as IUI, is an increasingly popular fertility treatment that can be used as an initial intervention when people have trouble trying to conceive. One of the selling points of IUI is that it is dramatically less expensive than a treatment like IVF. Even though IUI treatments often include medications, like Clomid, to encourage ovulation, many see it as a less intensive or invasive treatment than IVF. You may find yourself wondering what happens in IUI. The answer is quite simple. Washed sperm from a partner or a donor will be inserted directly into the uterus. This means that the sperm will have less distance to travel to meet a released egg, and hopefully, it means that the likelihood of a pregnancy increases. IUI is a common first step for many couples struggling to get pregnant, single parents by choice, or others using donor sperm.

Fertility Specialist consultation for IUI and IVF

Although you may not need a highly qualified reproductive specialist for a successful IUI, there are many reasons why you might consider working with one. This way, you will have an established relationship with a fertility physician if you need to consider other interventions down the road. A reproductive specialist can also provide any necessary testing to help you determine why you may be experiencing challenges on your fertility journey. Many find that an initial evaluation from a fertility specialist can provide a fuller picture of their fertility status and better understand their best options to move forward.

What is IVF?

IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a well-known type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that’s helped thousands of people worldwide have the family of their dreams. IVF involves fertilizing eggs in the laboratory and transferring created embryos to a uterus. The process involves extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and combining an egg and sperm in the laboratory to help fertilization and embryo creation.The first step in an IVF cycle is ovarian stimulation, which is where synthetic hormones are injected to stimulate the ovaries so that they can produce multiple eggs. Once the eggs mature, it’s time for follicular aspiration, also known as egg retrieval, when a needle is inserted into one or both ovaries to retrieve the eggs. After that, the egg is fertilized with sperm provided by a partner or donor. Once this has happened, medications are administered to the person planning to carry the pregnancy to prime the environment for a healthy pregnancy. The embryo is then transferred into the uterus. If any other embryos were created, they may be frozen and kept in storage for future use.

What Are the Main Differences between IVF and IUI?

There are multiple differences between in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination. A few of the  most significant differences are highlighted below:

#1 The Extensiveness of the Process

IVF is considered more involved and has more stages in the process than IUI. This includes egg retrieval, which can be uncomfortable or painful for the patient. Many of these steps happen in a laboratory before the embryo is transplanted back into the uterus.

#2 What Is Treated  

As we will explore in more detail below, there are some situations in which IUI may be appropriate, and there are others where providers may recommend IVF. Remember, everyone’s fertility journey looks different, depending on numerous factors, and there is no single perfect answer for everyone.

#3 How Much It Costs

The price of IVF and IUI may vary depending on where you live and various factors. IVF is usually costlier than IUI. Depending on the clinic you are using and the accompanying treatments you may need, IUI may cost less than $1,000 per attempt, and IVF is estimated to cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per attempt. This price differential explains, at least in part, why some doctors recommend starting with intrauterine insemination as an initial fertility treatment.

#4 The Length of the Process

There is no easy or perfect answer for how long it will take someone to get pregnant. Some medical experts suggest that your success rate with IUI will be about 15 to 20 percent per try. However, your odds jump significantly if you decide to go the IVF route. In this case, your likelihood of a successful overall outcome is between 30 and 60%, depending on the woman's age. The chance of a successful pregnancy from one round of IVF can vary depending on the underlying source of infertility. For example, advanced maternal age, which describes people over the age of 35 during pregnancy, may be one factor that significantly lowers the success rate. Although these factors impact many people's decisions when discussing their treatment options and plan, there is also a psychological and emotional toll to every cycle without a successful pregnancy to be carefully considered.

When Is IUI a Better Choice than IVF?

As stated above, IUI is less expensive than IVF treatment. However, there are two caveats here. First, the budget should never be the sole determinant of your reproductive health. It is important to talk to skilled fertility practitioners and see what they recommend for your unique circumstances. Second, the attractive prices quoted above were for a single round of IUI. However, given the relatively low success rate per cycle, many patients need to undergo multiple treatment rounds, and the cost can accumulate cycle after cycle.In addition to very valid cost considerations, some other factors could nudge you to consider IUI. If, after testing, doctors are still unsure about the source of your infertility, then this treatment option could be a good starting point. If it does not work, you can always move to another option, like IVF. It may be a good idea to discuss how many cycles you are willing to try before changing your approach with your provider ahead of time. This can help with future decision-making when in the midst of fertility treatment. Also, IUI can be a great option if the fertility challenges you're experiencing have been determined to be caused by sperm motility issues. The IUI process puts the sperm and the egg in much greater proximity, upping the likelihood of success. However, this may only be effective if the motility reduction is mild or moderate. More severe cases of sperm motility issues may require a greater amount of intervention, such as IVF or ICSI.

When Is IVF a Better Choice than IUI?

IVF successful pregnancy

Even though IUI is an excellent choice for many people, especially those with unexplained infertility, it may not help everyone achieve the family of their dreams. In these cases, it might be time to consider IVF. For instance, if fertility testing shows that the source of infertility is fallopian tube scarring, IVF might be a better choice. This creates an issue because the egg cannot make it to the uterus for fertilization. IVF treatment bypasses this issue by uniting the sperm and egg in the controlled environment of a laboratory dish. IVF treatment also allows for the opportunity to utilize genetic testing. With Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), medical professionals can test embryos for a wide range of genetic and chromosomal conditions and only implant the healthy embryos. In many cases, undergoing IVF with PGT can significantly increase the chance of having a healthy baby. Another reason why IVF may be a better choice is if sperm quality and/or motility are very low. The controlled environment of a lab with IVF may be the only way to achieve fertilization. However, even placing the sperm closer to the egg, like with IUI, may not be enough to achieve fertilization. In some cases, it may be recommended to utilize intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI. During ICSI, a single sperm is directly injected into the egg, which can greatly improve the fertilization rate. IVF may also be recommended for someone dealing with endometriosis or if the patient has experienced multiple miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy.  

Reach Out to Advanced Fertility Care

At Advanced Fertility Care, our highly qualified team of medical specialists prides itself on being the best at helping people realize their dreams of parenthood. Set up your initial consultation today to learn how our team can guide you in this journey. We understand that everyone’s fertility journey is unique, and we will work with you to set up a treatment plan that transforms your dreams into reality.

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How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby – Naturally – 5 Simple Steps


How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby – Naturally – 5 Simple Steps

Choose The Sex of Your Baby The Natural Way

One of life’s biggest miracles has to be bringing a child into the world, and while many may argue that gender is not a factor, provided the baby is healthy, there are some couples who have their hearts set on having a little girl or boy. In saying that, however, is there a way to predetermine the sex of an unborn child? In this article, we take a closer look at this topic, examining what is real versus what is, by and large, wishful thinking.

How to Choose The Gender of Your Baby Naturally

According to, an online resource covering topics related to biological and clinical research on human reproduction, your diet can play a significant role in not only your baby’s health but also their sex. For example, it has been shown that diet rich in magnesium and calcium, while low in sodium and potassium, can increase your chances of having a girl. Similar findings were also shown amongst those who added acidic foods to their diet, primarily blueberries, pomegranates, and other fruits with have levels of acidity. As far as improving the odds of conceiving a baby boy, the study found that eating foods rich in potassium could put the odds in your favor. Along with potassium, foods containing alkaline were considered to be similarly beneficial with respect to choosing the sex of your baby naturally.

Pick Baby Gender With Creative Sex Positions

Although this may make many of us blush, studies have shown that specific sex positions, along with the time of intercourse, can play a role in whether we conceive a boy or a girl. It should be noted that there is no scientific data to substantiate these claims, but many believe that sexual positions and shallow penetration are the keys to conceiving a baby girl.

How does this work, exactly? It is believed that shallow penetrations will allow sperm to settle closest to the entrance of the vagina where acidity levels are highest. This combination has been said to improve the odds of having a girl over a boy. Conversely, deeper penetrations with sperm being deposited closer to the cervix can improve the chances of having a boy.

Is Choosing The Sex of Baby All About Timing?

While choosing the right position can increase the odds of having a boy or girl, the time that you have sex can be equally important. For example, having sex around ovulation can increase your chances of having a boy while having sex several days out from ovulation means you’re more likely to conceive a girl.

Can You Plan The Gender of Your Baby With Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination may be the closest we can get to ever choosing the sex of a baby naturally; with nascent technology called “Micro Sort,” sperm cells are separated based on X and Y chromosomes, meaning couple now have more say in the gender of their baby. How does this new technology work? Once prospective parents pick from an assortment of X or Y chromosomes, the sperms cells are then inserted via in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.

Fate Versus Choosing Sex of Baby Naturally

When it’s all said and done, there are things that we can do to stack the proverbial cards in our favor, but there is no definitive answer when it comes the age-old question of how to choose the sex of your baby naturally. It often comes down to luck and, maybe to a lesser degree, what the universe has in store for you. Can you plan the gender of your baby? As detailed throughout this article, the answer is yes and no; however, there is a lot that you can do to ensure your baby is born healthy. How to choose the sex of your baby is a question that will continually be asked until science catches up with our desire to be parents.

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Is Artificial Insemination (IUI) Painful

Fertility Treatments

Is Artificial Insemination (IUI) Painful

Even though building your family could be relatively easy for some couples, it could be a devastating process for others.  Based on the latest CDC statistics, in the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). Also, about 1 in 4 (26%) women in this group have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term (impaired fecundity).

Infertility and impaired fecundity are less common among women with one or more prior births. In this group, about 6% of married women aged 15 to 49 years are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying and 14% have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.  

In the US, approximately 5-20% of couples experience infertility.

When you and your partner face infertility issues, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone and you have options. If you seek the assistance of a fertility specialist, they can provide guidance on your individual situation, including the best treatment options for you. In many cases, a technique or treatment that is recommended is artificial insemination.  

During artificial insemination (also known as intrauterine insemination or IUI), a doctor or healthcare provider will insert washed sperm into your uterus or cervix. Most commonly, IUI is where sperm is directly placed in your uterus. An IUI can increase the chance of a successful pregnancy because it shortens the time a sperm takes to the fallopian tube, where sperm and egg must meet to hopefully fertilize. Moreover, the IUI technique can tackle various fertility problems associated with male infertility, such as low sperm count or lower motility (less sperm that can swim appropriately) to get to the fallopian tubes. Some gynecologists may perform IUI procedures in their offices; however, this is rare. Therefore, most people with infertility seek specialized fertility care in a fertility clinic such as Advanced Fertility Care.

IUI Treatment Procedure

Consumption of Prescribed Medication

When undergoing IUI treatment, you are likely to be prescribed one of two oral medicines, Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or Letrozole (Femara) which both work to stimulate the ovary to mature up to 3 or 4 per attempt. The medication works by causing the brain to release more Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) than it normally would, and these two hormones are needed for egg maturation. In addition, you will likely be prescribed an additional hormone injection called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) to induce ovulation. These medications, in most cases, do not cause patients any pain except occasionally very short-lived discomfort at the HCG injection site. Rare side effects of the oral medications are emotional lability, dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.

Monitoring of Ovulation

Transvaginal ultrasound monitoring of the egg development and growth during the treatment cycle is performed to determine the appropriate time for the HCG trigger shot for ovulation induction and timing of subsequent IUI. Some clinics may choose to rely on ovulation predictor kits to determine when IUI should be performed.  In these situations, you would be performing home urine LH tests to predict ovulation and timing of IUI.

Sperm Collection and Preparation

Sperm is typically collected from your male partner (or a sperm donor) either at home or in the clinic. Once collected, the semen is washed in the fertility clinic lab to separate sperm from the semen (the fluid that nourishes the sperm). This process is quite essential since it ensures that only sperms are injected into your uterus for successful fertilization.

Sperm Injection Process

The sperm injection is the main procedure in the IUI treatment process. The process, which primarily takes place within 2-3 minutes, involves injecting the collected sperm sample into your uterus after the provider inserts a speculum in the vagina to visualize the cervix. The actual insertion of the very thin catheter into the cervix for the release of sperm into the uterus is painless. However, depending on the person, some find any speculum exam to be uncomfortable for various reasons. However, it is the identical process used to perform speculum exams during the annual gynecological Pap Smear examination at the Ob/Gyn’s office. In most cases, some form of progesterone vaginal suppository or pill may be recommended to help with implantation after the IUI.

Pregnancy Test

After 14 days (about 2 weeks), a pregnancy test is usually done to determine the effectiveness of the entire process. If the pregnancy test is negative, you would be instructed to stop progesterone if you were using it and notify your practitioner once your period starts if you wish to initiate another treatment attempt.

What Are the Pains Associated with The Procedure?

Before undertaking an IUI procedure, it is highly recommended that you seek professional advice on some of the procedure's adverse effects. Generally speaking, the IUI treatment is painless. However, patients might have different experiences, with some having mild discomfort during the speculum examination, ultrasounds, or insemination itself, while others experience none of these side-effects.

Cramping and Light Bleeding

In general, most patients who undergo the treatment for the first time might feel discomfort when the sperm is injected into the uterus. You may experience a very quick pinching sensation and cramping when the catheter passes through your cervix, but this is usually exceedingly rare.  

The procedure only takes a matter of minutes so typically the discomfort is short-term. Pain and cramping are not expected to be severe. There may be some leakage of sperm into the vagina after the procedure and occasionally spotting as well from manipulation of the cervix.

Hot Flashes and Pinching Pain

In rare circumstances, women taking one of the oral medications may experience temporary hot flashes as a side effect of the prescribed medicine. Moreover, when the speculum is inserted in your vagina, you might experience some pressure that usually goes away immediately once the speculum is withdrawn from your vagina.

Is IUI painful?

Although patients have reported having pain-free IUIs and others have expressed their procedures were painful, the consensus is that although there may be some amount of minimal discomfort associated with an IUI procedure, it is very tolerable and very short-lived.

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