December 17, 2014

10 Tips to Help Couples Conceive in the New Year

Every New Year marks new beginnings, new goals, and a fresh start. For some, the goal of parenthood is on their list for 2015.

Here are 10 helpful tips from Dr. Chris Sipe of Fertility Centers of Illinois that can help empower couples to approach conception with confidence and knowledge.

“We want everyone to be excited about starting this new chapter of their lives, and knowledge is power,” explains Dr. Chris Sipe. “Lifestyle changes and basic fertility knowledge can help couples increase their chances to have the baby of their dreams in the New Year."

1. Map Out a Blueprint
If you know exactly what you are working with, you can arrive at your desired destination more quickly. A Fertility Awareness Check-Up can give fast, easy insight to your fertility potential, at an affordable cost of $90 per couple. Men undergo a semen analysis performed by specialized laboratory professionals to evaluate semen count, shape (morphology) and movement (motility). Women undergo two simple blood tests known as FSH and Estradiol to help evaluate ovarian function and fertility potential, as well as an ultrasound.

2. Know Your Fertility Short-Cuts
When it comes to getting pregnant, timing sex with ovulation is imperative. Every month when a woman releases an egg into the fallopian tubes during ovulation, it only survives 24 hours. Sperm can survive in the uterus for up to five days after sex, therefore regular sexual activity during ovulation and in the days leading up to ovulation will greatly increase conception odds. In order to know when you’re ovulating, track your cycle every month using an ovulation calendar. Ovulation kits can also help when trying to conceive. If your period is irregular, you may not be ovulating regularly. If you are concerned about whether you are ovulating regularly, consult a physician to learn more.

3. Combine the East and West for a Balanced Approach
When you’re trying to conceive, or even pursuing fertility treatment, everyone always tells you to relax. The truth is the trying can become, well, very trying. Boost your chances of conception with alternative treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and massage. Pulling Down the Moon offers all of these options and more, allowing your stress and anxiety to melt into relaxation and bliss. If you’re up for the challenge, they have also created a DIY 12-week holistic program called Fully Fertile to naturally increase fertility, with local chapters near you for support through the process.

4. Keep the Bedroom Fertility-Friendly
You may be accidentally decreasing your chances of conception without even realizing it. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, commercially available water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide, KY Jelly, and Touch, may inhibit sperm motility by 60% to 100% within 60 minutes of intercourse. Opt for canola oil or Pre-Seed oil instead.

5. Work Towards a Fertility-Friendly Weight
Extra weight introduces a host of fertility issues for both men and women. Extra weight causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, hurting your ability to conceive. Increased weight can also make achieving a pregnancy more difficult, and can cause complications during gestation. The positive news is that losing as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight can significantly improve fertility potential. The ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) falls in the 20-25 range. BMI levels from 25-30 are considered overweight, while BMI levels above 30 are considered obese. See where you fall on the BMI scale and set a New Year’s fertility goal to climb closer to that weight. You may conceive before you know it!

6. Nourish Your Body
A nourished, healthy body is a fertile body. The Mayo Clinic has found that Vitamin C can help in ovulation disorders, while Coenzyme Q10 has been found to increase sperm count and sperm motility. Vitamin E can also improve low sperm count, as does Folic Acid. Regular doses of Folic Acid also aid in the prevention of birth defects. Stock up your vitamin cabinet with nourishing supplements – and stack the odds in your favor.

7. Feed Your Fertility
A Harvard study found that women who maintained a whole food, primarily plant-based diet were able to increase their fertility six-fold. Men aren’t off the hook either – high fat diets have been found to decrease sperm count. Fill your refrigerator and pantry with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables while avoiding thick cuts of meat and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and cookies. If navigating a new dietary world seems a bit overwhelming, consult the help of a nutritionist or dietitian. There are also programs available such as FirstLine Therapy for Fertility that can guide you through a fertility-rich diet while assisting in weight loss.

8. Ask Questions, Lots of Questions
If you’re trying to conceive, know that you aren’t the first to start this journey (this should hopefully provide some comfort). It takes the average couple six months to conceive, and there is only a 20-25 percent chance of pregnancy in any given month. Talk to your friends and your family, and ask about their experiences. If you’re considering talking to a fertility specialist, don’t just look at success rates for babies born. Ask your physician what their experience is in treating patients with similar medical diagnoses (such as endometriosis, low sperm count, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low ovarian reserve), center statistics on twins and multiple births, and possible treatment plans.

9. Have One Glass of Wine
High alcohol intake of more than nine drinks per week is associated with decreased fertility.  Low alcohol use (four drinks per week) seems to have no impact on fertility while moderate alcohol use (4-9 drinks per week) appears to be associated with an increased chance of conceiving. Drinking is ok – but don’t drink more than moderately.  When pregnant however, there is no known safe level of alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy is not advisable.

10. Rest Up for the Ride

Sleep is the body’s way of healing and resting. When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, there can be disastrous side effects, whether you are trying to conceive or not. Research shows that the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of sleep. Make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Your body will thank you for it!

December 3, 2014

12 Tips and Strategies to Cope with Infertility over the Holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful time with family and friends, but the season can also be difficult for those struggling with infertility. Regardless of culture, religious affiliation, or socioeconomics, most holidays conjure up media-fed images of happy families gathering together. For anyone who is having trouble conceiving or maintaining a successful pregnancy, these images can dredge up emotional pain.

The holidays tend to remind us that our family building has not gone the way we imagined. Seeing your siblings and cousins with their children can remind you of what you don't have. That's never easy.

Yet there are ways to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Here are 12 tips and strategies to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your partner.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. Realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season. Holding everything inside also does not help. It actually takes more mental energy to hold your feelings back than to express them. Allow yourself time to feel the sadness, anger, and frustration. The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow.” Unknown.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out support from your partner or a close friend. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Stick to a budget. Fertility treatment can be expensive and many couples feel stretched financially already. The holiday season can bring a lot of expectations, but before you go gift shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of presents.
  4. Plan ahead. People sometimes ask inappropriate questions at inappropriate times. So plan ahead. See if you can come up with an answer that feels comfortable to you. Some examples include: "Not sure. So, how's your new job?" or "Ask the powers that be, because I don't know." A simple response might be: "I'd rather not talk about it, thanks." Or, if you want to go for something gutsier, you might answer: "That's a rather personal question, don't you think? Anyway, how's your new job?"  Remember: Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”   Mahatma Gandhi
  5. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time. If you don’t have the desire or strength to attend a family party or holiday event, just say no.
  6. Be smart when buying gifts. You do not need to shop for your young or infant nieces and nephews, or good friends' children at baby stores. Instead buy gift cards for them.
  7. Avoid emotional triggers. Don't open Christmas cards from people you know will include photos of their happy, smiling family. You can always say “I got your lovely card thank you for thinking of us” and quickly move on to another topic of conversation.
  8. Only adults. If you want to throw a holiday party, make it "adults-only." You can take this further if you've had a really difficult year, and being around babies and children is the last thing you need for your mental health. Maybe that means skipping the holidays at your parents’ this year. Instead, you can make dinner at home, get together with some adult friends (without children) or even take vacation days and spend them with your partner on an adults-only getaway. Your family may get upset, but they'll eventually get over it, and most importantly, you'll be calmer in the long run.
  9. Practice relaxation: Learning how to relax and calm yourself can help when feelings become too intense. Relaxation and breathing techniques are all possible ways to calm yourself.
  10. Talk to your partner: Talk about your feelings together. Keep in mind, though, that men and women cope with stress in different ways. Women are more likely to express their sadness, while men tend to hold things inside. Neither way is wrong, just different. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  Lao Tzu
  11. Don't let infertility take over your life: Make sure you fill your life and your relationship with other things. If it seems like infertility is all that you discuss, set a specified time each day for the topic, and use the rest of the day to talk about other things. Do something fun over the holidays like taking a trip or taking a new class at the gym or the local art studio.
  12. Take good care of yourself: Makes sure you are eating and sleeping well. Sleep can make a big difference for our mood and our emotional strength. With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.  Eleanor Roosevelt.
Remind yourself that the holidays and the way you choose to celebrate them will soon pass. This is not how it's going to be for the rest of your life. Your fertility struggles will resolve at some point, things will change and you will be able to celebrate again.

We can't stop the world from turning, but I hope this article will help you better cope with the holidays. I wish you a peaceful holiday season!

 Author Bio: Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski is a clinical psychologist who she specializes in reproductive health issues. In her career, she worked across the spectrum of reproductive health issues, including preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum adjustment to parenthood. She offers psychological services to meet the unique needs of individuals and couples coping with infertility challenges.

For those seeking support, she provides consultation during various stages of fertility treatment. Dr. Cymet Lanski also conducts egg donor assessments and does consultations with surrogates, recipients and intended parents.

Dr. Cymet Lanski received her Psy.D. in clinical psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 2004. She completed her doctoral internship at Illinois Masonic Behavioral Health, and received post-internship training at Swedish Covenant Hospital, and post-doctoral training at Chicago's Institute for Psychoanalysis.

December 1, 2014

December 2014 Patient Education Events!

If you are interested in participating in any of our complimentary education sessions, you may register online by following the "LEARN MORE" links after each event. Many events require registration & spots fill up fast - so sign up as soon as you can!

12/7 | Egg Donation as Your Path to Parenthood | Glenview | 2PM | LEARN MORE

12/9 | Egg Donation: Your Journey Starts Here | Online Webinar | 5PM | LEARN MORE

12/9 | Holistic Strategies for Healthy Holidays | Online Webinar | 6PM | LEARN MORE

12/17 | Egg Donation: Your Journey Starts Here  | Online Webinar | 7AM |  LEARN MORE

All FCI Patient Education Programs are open to the community. We continue to support your fertility journey by offering a selection of  complimentary patient education seminars, holistic healing seminars, and support groups. If you have any questions or comments please contact us at (877) 324-4483.