How Chinese Medicine Can Naturally Boost Your Fertility

Did you know that Chinese herbs can boost your fertility? Try using natural Chinese herbs to help you get pregnant. For many years, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have helped many women become pregnant who have experienced infertility problems. Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for Continue reading

From Tomb to Table: Cumin’s Health Benefit’s Rediscovered

Traded along spice routes separating ancient cultures by vast distances, spices like cumin were once worth their weight in gold. Has modern science now revealed why, beyond their remarkable aesthetic value, they were so highly prized?

Many spices are perfectly happy living a charmed life as Continue reading

Macca the Peruvian Ginseng

Did You Know…

…that a versatile Peruvian superfood boosts energy, libido and sexual function, improves fertility, and balances hormones? Continue reading

Poor Diet Linked to Poor Sperm Count

Correlations between lifestyle and male fertility have been made in numerous studies over recent years. Some show that well fed sperm cells are most likely to achieve successful fertilization, while others confirm what most of us already suspected: that bad diet and lifestyle choices are an important cause of male infertility. Continue reading

Warning: Why You Should Avoid Using Your Laptop as Recommended

Story at-a-glance

  • Use caution with any laptop use, especially if you’re a pregnant woman, and if you choose to use it on your lap, only do so with a lap pad or cushion that is about one foot thick
  • You may be able to lessen EMF exposure during laptop use by using an external keyboard (as even typing on your laptop may expose you to high EMFs) and only using it while it’s battery-powered, not while plugged in, Continue reading

New Test Can Better Predict Successful IVF Embryos, Scientists Say

Findings support need for fewer embryos to be transferred back to womb during IVF Continue reading

A Gluten-Free Diet May Promote Fertility in Women with Celiac Disease

A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Women’s Reproductive Care reveals that celiac disease may be behind unexplained infertility in some women, and that a gluten-free diet can help. Continue reading

Spring Flings May Explain Teenage Pregnancies Peak

Researchers have found that the relative likelihood of conceiving in the month of March is higher if you’re a school-aged adolescent than if you’re an adult.

“It certainly is an intriguing finding,” says Mary Anne Jamieson, an Associate Professor in Queen’s Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics, a practicing obstetrician at Kingston General Hospital, and co-author of the paper. “This adolescent pregnancy peak may be explained by biological reasons such as variations in fertility over the course of a calendar year, but it’s also possible that this increased conception rate in March is because of Spring Break.”

The researchers examined all 838 adolescent pregnancies that occurred in the Kingston region over a five-year period and compared the conception rates per month with a random sample of 838 adult conceptions that occurred over the same time period. While more adults conceive overall during the month of March, a larger relative percentage of adolescent pregnancies are conceived at this time compared to adult pregnancies.

This peak in adolescent conceptions coincides with the weeklong break given to all Ontario high school students.

“If Spring Break is the reason Continue reading

Cell Phone Alert: Fertility Issues Discovered

Unfortunately, cell phones do emit electromagnetic radiation. There has been much debate recently in health news circles about the effects of this radiation on human health.

The problem with radiation is that it is made up of subatomic particles. These particles move at a very high speeds, sometimes as much as 100,000 miles per second! Because of these tremendous speeds, radiation can penetrate deep inside your body, damaging your cells.

When a radiation particle collides violently with atoms or molecules in your cells, these cells may die. If the cells survive the impact, they may begin to grow in a mutated form.

And in fact, this is just what a recent study has found when it comes to sperm cells. Researchers conducted an animal trial involving rats exposed to cell phone radiation. Continue reading

BPA in Packaged Food Linked to Asthma in Infants

BPA, also known as bisphenol-A, is a chemical compound often used in the production of a large variety of plastics. The widespread use of BPA has come under public scrutiny due to known connection to a host of health problems, including heart complications, cancer, neurological issues, diabetes and fertility and sexual issues.… The chemical can be found in water bottles, dental fillings, plastic containers, canned food linings… paper receipts, CD/DVD packaging, and more. Numerous studies have found that BPA acts as an endocrine system disrupter, negatively affecting our bodies’ hormone production. Exposure is almost a certainty -a 2004 study by the CDC found BPA in 93% of the over 2000 urine samples tested.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that new information has surfaced linking BPA to breathing issues in babies. An article in Mail Online,  Continue reading

Fertility Booster No. 1: Eat Healthfully

Among the most common causes of unexplained infertility in women is “ovulatory dysfunction” — an umbrella term encompassing problems with ovulation.

Though a number of factors can be responsible, many doctors now believe diet is key. In a study of some 17,000 women conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers were able to define a group of “fertility foods” able to improve conception odds.

Which dietary tenets were key to increasing fertility?

  • Eating more monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) and less trans fats (like the kind found in many baked goods or fast foods).
  • Increasing intake of vegetable protein (like soy), while reducing animal protein (like red meat).
  • Eating more high fiber, low-glycemic foods — like whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits, while reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Consuming moderate amounts of high-fat dairy products — like ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.

Jorge Chavarro, MD, a researcher in the study, believes diet made a difference because the majority of women experiencing ovulatory dysfunction were also suffering from undiagnosed or subclinical PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a condition related to insulin resistance that also affects ovulation.

“It responds well to diet, so that could be one of the reasons these foods were so helpful,” says Chavarro, who translated his medical study findings into a book called The Fertility Diet.

Pollack believes it’s worth giving the diet a try but says, “You should not depend on it alone — make it just one part of your overall efforts to conceive.”

Liver, Dietary Proteins Key In Fertility

When you think about organs with an important role in reproduction, the liver most likely doesn’t spring to mind. But a new report in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, shows that estrogen receptors in the liver are critical for maintaining fertility. What’s more, the expression of those receptors is under the control of dietary amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

The findings in mice may have important implications for some forms of infertility and for metabolic changes that come with menopause, the researchers say.

“This is the first time it has been demonstrated how important the liver is in fertility,” said Adriana Maggi of The University of Milan in Italy. “The idea that diet may have an impact on fertility isn’t totally new of course, but this explains how diet, and especially a diet poor in protein, can have a direct influence.”

Scientists had known that the liver expressed estrogen receptors and that those receptors played some role in metabolism. But, Maggi says, those receptors had not garnered a lot of attention.

Her group got interested in the liver receptors quite by accident. In studies of mice, “we saw that the organ that always had the highest activation of estrogen receptor was the liver,” she said. Initially they thought it must be a mistake and disregarded it, but over time they began to think maybe the mice were telling them something.

They now report that the expression of those estrogen receptors depends on dietary amino acids. Mice on a calorie-restricted diet and those lacking estrogen receptors in their livers showed a decline in an important hormone known as IGF-1. Blood levels of the hormone dropped to levels inadequate for the correct growth of the lining of their uteruses and normal progression of the estrous cycle, they show.

When the calorie-restricted mice were given more protein, their reproductive cycles got back on track. Dietary fats and carbohydrates, on the other hand, had no effect on the estrogen receptors or fertility.

The researchers suggest that this connection between amino acids, estrogen receptor signaling in liver, and reproductive functions may have clinical implications. For instance, Maggi said, this may explain why people who are anorexic are generally infertile. It suggests that diets loaded with too many carbohydrates and too little protein may hamper fertility.

The results also provide new clues for understanding the increased risk of metabolic and inflammatory disease in menopausal women. Maggi says that those changes may be explained in part by the lack of estrogen action in their livers and its downstream consequences.

Today, given concerns about hormone replacement therapy, menopausal women are often treated with drugs that target one organ or another to protect against specific conditions, such as atherosclerosis or osteoporosis. Given the liver’s role as a central coordinator of metabolism and producer of many other important hormones, she says, drugs that “target only the liver may solve all the problems.”

Smoking Could Harm Sperm, Study Finds

Two new studies provide evidence that smoking can harm sperm – both in smoking men who may become fathers, and in sons born to women who smoked during pregnancy.

The research also suggests that both men and women who hope to conceive should kick the habit.

“The results of the present study suggest a negative biological effect of smoking on spermatozoa DNA integrity,” said the lead author of one study, Dr. Mohamed E. Hammadeh, head of the assisted reproductive laboratory in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of the Saarland in Saar, Germany.

Research by Hammadeh and his colleagues showed that men who smoke heavily may experience fertility problems stemming from a drop in levels of a protein crucial to sperm development, as well as damage to sperm’s DNA.

Another study suggests that women who smoke early in their pregnancy may ultimately compromise their sons’ reproductive health.

Both studies are published in the Sept. 8 online issue of Human Reproduction.

In the first study, Hammadeh’s team compared sperm from 53 heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes a day) against that of 63 nonsmokers.

After three to four days of sexual abstinence, a single semen sample was taken from all study participants, to measure levels of two forms of a specific type of protein found in sperm, called protamines. According to the researchers, protamines are key players in sperm development, helping to spur on the process by which chromosomes are formed and packaged during cell division.

Hammadeh and colleagues found that in the smoking group, one form of protamine appeared at levels that were 14 percent below concentrations observed in the sperm of nonsmoking men. This was enough to constitute a form of “protamine deficiency” and, in turn, raise risks for infertility among the smokers.

What’s more, smoking-linked “oxidative stress” appeared tied to an increase in damage to sperm DNA, the team reported.

According to Hammadeh, past attempts to clarify the relationship between cigarette smoking and male infertility have had trouble identifying a molecular mechanism underlying any such link. So he believes the new finding should help convince male smokers struggling with infertility to kick the habit.

“Because of the fact that cigarette smoke contains mutagens and carcinogens, there have been concerns that smoking may have adverse effects on male reproduction,” Hammadeh noted. The new findings help bear that out, he said.

The second study was led by Dr. Claus Yding Andersen, a professor of human reproductive physiology at the University Hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark. It focused on the impact of maternal smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy upon the development of the male fetus.

In this case, the authors analyzed tissue from the testes of 24 embryos that had been aborted between 37 and 68 days following conception.

After classifying the prospective mothers according to smoking habits, the research team found that the number of so-called “germ cells” — cells that develop into sperm in males and eggs in females — were 55 percent lower in the testes of embryos obtained from women who smoked. This observation held regardless of the mother’s alcohol and coffee consumption habits.

As well, embryonic levels of so-called “somatic cells” (those that go on to form other types of tissue) were 37 percent lower among those women who smoked.

In both the case of germ and somatic cells, drop-offs in levels appeared to be “dose-dependent,” meaning that the more the prospective mother smoked, the lower the number of cells grown by the embryo.

Based on these findings early in fetal growth, Anderson and his colleagues conclude that the apparent impact of smoking on cellular production might continue in male offspring carried to term. And that could mean a higher risk of impaired fertility in sons.

According to the Danish team, their earlier research involving female embryos also revealed “germ cell” reductions of about 40 percent for embryos taken from women who smoked during pregnancy. This suggests that maternal smoking in pregnancy may harm the reproductive health of both male and female offspring.

“Our results provide health care professionals who talk to women who are considering conceiving, or have conceived just recently, with a ‘here and now’ argument to convince them to stop smoking,” Anderson said. “Because the negative effect of smoking appears to take place right from conception and during the early days [of gestation], when the human embryo becomes differentiated into either a girl or a boy.”

Fertility Awareness and Charting Helps Conception

Fertility charting can help make the most of existing fertility with and without other treatment. Many couple experiencing fertility problems are not completely infertile, but instead suffer from conditions that make getting pregnant more difficult. Fertility awareness methods can help identify the best times for intercourse. This helps couples maximize their chances of getting pregnant.

A typical female will have 13 cycles in the course of 1 year. This corresponds to 13 chances to conceive (assuming all cycles are ovulatory). If intercourse is not appropriately timed, sperm may have no chance of uniting with the female egg during some cycles. Normally this is not a problem and averages out. Eventually intercourse timing lines up and the couple gets pregnant. Women suffering from fertility may have far fewer than 13 chances to conceive in a year. Ovulation may not occur in every cycle. Even if it does, other conditions relating to both male and female fertility may make conception more difficult.

Couples suffering from infertility have fewer or less effective opportunities to conceive. It therefore becomes important to maximize the odds of getting pregnant in every way possible. Fertility charting can help. By identifying ovulation it enables couples to maximize their chances. It can also be used to help diagnose fertility problems. Other medical options can be explored while continuing to use fertility awareness techniques. Couples should consult their doctor for further information. Women who have been charting should bring their charts with them.

How Do I Know if I am Infertile?

As each cycle passes without a successful pregnancy, anxiety can rise. Sometimes couples can begin to panic too quickly. In general you should seek medical advice if you are unable to conceive after trying for 12 or more months. Women over the age of 35 should see a doctor after trying unsuccessfully for 6 months. Your doctor can best assess your situation and explain your options. Couples already using fertility awareness techniques should see a doctor sooner if they are unsuccessful. Most couples will conceive much faster complements of fertility charting. If you do not conceive after 6 months of charting, an early diagnosis may be possible and you should see your doctor.

The fertility awareness techniques described on this site can still benefit most types of diagnosis. It can even compliment many treatment options. You should consult your doctor if you suspect that you or your partner may suffer from infertility after trying to conceive. Infertility has many causes. Some common causes of infertility follow:

  • Low sperm count
  • Hormonal deficiencies
  • Infrequent intercourse
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Salpingitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Uterine conditions

Even if you have not been diagnosed with any fertility problems or have not been trying long enough to justify inquiring, fertility charting can help. Studies have found that fertile couples who chart female fertility can get pregnant much faster (up to 5-7 times faster). This is possible by timing intercourse to coincide with ovulation. Pregnancy odds can be greatly improved by creating more opportunities for the sperm and egg to unite.

More details on the effectiveness of these methods are available here.

What is Fertility Awareness and Fertility Charting?

Fertility awareness is a term used to describe a method of predicting ovulation and fertility. It asks women to record different symptoms from day to day to look for patterns indicative of increased fertility. These symptoms may include oral temperature, cervical mucus observations, cervix status, saliva ferning patterns, etc. These patterns can be charted to facilitate analysis of changes throughout a given menstrual cycle. This is why the term fertility charting is frequently used to describe this technique.

For a more detailed introduction to fertility charting, you should consider reading the page on this site that covers trying to get pregnant. It also recommends additional links to help teach you how to use these techniques.

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Scientists Give Evolutionary Explanation for Fertility Problems

TEL-AVIV – The environmentalists blame pollution and psychiatrists people’s stressful lifestyles for fertility problems in about 10 per cent of all couples hoping for a baby, Tel Aviv University researchers have now come up with a different suggestion.

Dr. Oren Hasson, an evolutionary biologist in the university’s Department of Zoology, says that the reproductive organs of men and women are currently involved in an evolutionary arms race, and the fight is yet not over.

“The rate of human infertility is higher than we should expect it to be. By now, evolution should have improved our reproductive success rate. Something else is going on,” says Dr. Hasson.

The researchers combined empirical evidence with a mathematical model, and came to the conclusion that the bodies of men and women have become reproductive antagonists, not reproductive partners.

Writing in the journal Biological Reviews, Dr. Hasson points out that, over thousands of years of evolution, women’s bodies have forced sperm to become more competitive, rewarding the “super-sperm” – the strongest, fastest swimmers – with penetration of the egg.

The researcher further states that men, in response, are over-producing these aggressive sperm, producing many dozens of millions of them to increase their chances for successful fertilization.

However, according to Dr. Hasson, these evolutionary strategies demonstrate the Law of Unintended Consequences as well.

“It’s a delicate balance, and over time women’s and men’s bodies fine tune to each other. Sometimes, during the fine-tuning process, high rates of infertility can be seen. That’s probably the reason for the very high rates of unexplained infertility in the last decades,” the researcher said.

Dr. Hasson says that the unintended consequences have much to do with timing.

The researcher says that the first sperm to enter and bind with the egg triggers biochemical responses to block other sperm from entering.

This blockade is necessary because a second penetrating sperm would kill the egg, adds the researcher.

However, says Dr. Hasson, in just the few minutes it takes for the blockade to complete, today’s over-competitive sperm may be penetrating, terminating the fertilization just after it’s begun.

Women’s bodies, too, have been developing defences to this condition, known as “polyspermy”.

“To avoid the fatal consequences of polyspermy, female reproductive tracts have evolved to become formidable barriers to sperm. They eject, dilute, divert and kill spermatozoa so that only about a single spermatozoon gets into the vicinity of a viable egg at the right time,” says Dr. Hasson.

The researcher notes that any small improvement in male sperm efficiency is matched by a response in the female reproductive system.

“This fuels the ‘arms race’ between the sexes and leads to the evolutionary cycle going on right now in the entire animal world,” the researcher says.

According to Dr. Hasson, sperm have also become more sensitive to environmental stressors like anxious lifestyles or polluted environments.

“Armed only with short-sighted natural selection, nature could not have foreseen those stressors. This is the pattern of any arms race. A greater investment in weapons and defences entails greater risks and a more fragile equilibrium,” Dr. Hasson argues.

He says that infertile marriages can be stressful, but unlike birds, humans have the capacity for rational thinking.

He advises infertile couples to openly communicate about all their options, and seek counseling if necessary.