Choosing Conventional in vitro Fertilization to Combat Infertility

Approximately 165,000 in vitro fertilization procedures were performed at United States fertility clinics in 2012, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies.  This represents a significant proportion of women seeking to become pregnant, making conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) one of the most popular and effective interventions for infertility.

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Who is a Candidate for Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing, or human oocyte cryopreservation, is a modern reproduction technique to extend the fertility of women. It includes a stepped process that includes extracting a woman’s eggs, or her oocytes, freezing them, and storing them. In the future, when the woman is ready to conceive and become pregnant, her eggs can be thawed, fertilized with sperm, and transferred as embryos into the woman’s uterus.

Freezing of eggs can be beneficial for women desiring to preserve their fertility for a number of reasons, including.

  • Women diagnosed with cancer who will be receiving certain types of treatment. Prior to getting radiation, chemotherapy, and in some cases, surgery, egg freezing offers an opportunity to preserve a woman’s eggs before the treatment destroys the eggs and renders her infertile.
  • Women who desire to delay childbirth due to educational or career goals. In order to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant at a later age, freezing ages at an early point in a woman’s reproductive cycle is often sought by women. While a woman’s eggs can deteriorate in quality as she ages, her uterus is typically able to carry a pregnancy well into her 40’s and even in her 50’s. In this way, egg freezing is a way to extend a woman’s biological clock.
  • Women with a genetic history of early menopause, endometriosis, or premature ovarian failure. For women whose mother, sister, or grandmother encountered menopause early, freezing eggs offers a chance to preserve some eggs before an early menopause.
  • Women who currently lack a male partner. Some women who are currently not in a relationship opt to freeze their eggs so they can conceive a child later in life when they do have a partner.
  • Women who are concerned about egg quality as they age. It is a fact that egg quality declines as a woman ages. While female fertility generally peaks in a woman’s early 20’s, her egg quality begins to decline after that, and becomes even more pronounced beginning around the age of 35.

While egg freezing is not for everyone, it is a viable option for some women as it allows them to better control their fertility options. To learn more about egg freezing and to find out if you are a candidate, contact the Fertility Clinics in New York City.

The Best Fertility Tracking Tool: The Ovulation Calendar

Carefully tracking ovulation is an excellent way for a woman to increase her chances of becoming pregnant. Since there are a number of variables that go into determining your most fertile days for conception, tracking can become a headache for busy women in New York City. To take some of the stress out of tracking fertility, you can use a simple tool to organize the necessary information: the ovulation calendar. Tracking your monthly menstrual cycle on the calendar helps you bring together all the information needed to predict when an egg will be released. Once that all-important ovulation day is determined, you can plan your monthly window of opportunity to conceive. Ovulation calendars clearly show each woman the days when she is most fertile.

What are Your Ideal Days for Getting Pregnant?

Biologically, the odds of getting pregnant are in your favor from 4 or 5 days before ovulation through about 2 days (48 hours) after the egg is released. For most women, ovulation occurs 2 weeks (14 days) after the first day of the menstrual period, which makes them most fertile on days 10 through 16 days after her period begins. Your fertility calendar will be personalized to show you just which days offer you the best chance to conceive.

How to Use an Ovulation Calendar to Find Your Most Fertile Days

There are many formats of fertility calendars online to help you figure out the best time to conceive. Choose the one that seems easiest to use and read for you. For many women, mobile fertility apps provide the best method, since most of us have our smart phones nearby at all times. You can also use an ovulation predictor or calculator by entering the first day of your last menstrual period and typical cycle length. However, keeping your own calendar–whether on your cell phone or on your wall–provides a more detailed, personalized schedule of your fertility.

Track Biological Signs for an Accurate Ovulation Schedule

There are other details that can make your calendar more complete. According to the experts at Neway, your local fertility clinic in NYC, watch for ovulation clues like: basal body temperature (which rises gradually leading up to ovulation) and note the consistency of your cervical mucus (which becomes “stretchy” and clear 3 to 5 days prior to ovulation). Other data that helps you isolate your fertile days includes: cervix position, firmness and dilation. Some ovulation calendars and apps allow you to track all of this information, while others are more basic.

For more information about tracking your ovulation cycle, contact innovative New York fertility clinic, Neway Fertility. Our NYC fertility and IVF clinic offers compassionate fertility treatment and impressive conception rates. Contact us today.

Egg Freezing and the Workplace

Egg Freezing is a game-changer for women in the workplace. No longer must
they feel the pressure of their biological clock and they can continue to
rise in executive positions knowing they have this option. In fact, some
companies offer Egg Freezing coverage from female employees. The technology
and trends around egg freezing are growing daily and Neway Fertility in New
York City is leading the way and helping women store their eggs and preserve
their biological clock for when they are ready to start a family.

Dr. Janelle Luk, Medical Director of Neway Fertility, wants women to know
she became a part of the mostly male dominated field of infertility because
she wanted to help women be as equal as men are in all aspects of their life
– including their biological clock. As a female, Dr. Luk understands what
women go through and can help them on all levels, not just with infertility.
There are many decisions and things to consider when freezing eggs and Dr.
Luk is an expert guide. She notes that many women in their mid-20s aren’t
thinking about preserving their fertility unless they have a serious illness
like cancer.

It is important that women understand the benefit of preserving their
fertility at an early age. The technology available today allows women to
control their biological clock in a way that many deemed impossible.

Choosing a Fertility Doctor: Deciding Who Is Best For You

Approximately 12% of married women have difficulty getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth.  These issues may be caused by female infertility, male infertility, or a combination of the problems in both partners.  As a result, thousands of couples seek medical care for infertility each year.  When entrusting the potential future of your family to a fertility doctor, it’s essential to find a clinic that is best for you.

 

Look for Transparency About Success Rates

More than 90% of fertility clinics in the United States are members of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, which collects birth outcome data from member clinics and sets guidelines for best practices.  When looking for fertility clinics in New York city, searching the SART web page is a smart decision.  For example, as a SART member, you can find detailed statistics about Neway Fertility’s IVF success rates.  Be wary of fertility doctors who are not upfront about the risks, benefits, and success rates of various procedures.

 

Inquire About the Range of Services Available

Infertility treatment approaches are consistently improving, with new technologies or protocols becoming available every year.  A good New York fertility clinic doctor tailors each intervention plan to the individual couple.  A physician advocating a “one size fits all” approach may not be considering the unique medical situation or concerns of each patient.  Look for a clinic with a range of available services, and ask questions about the benefits and drawbacks of each.

 

Compassion Counts

Infertility can often feel like an isolating and insurmountable problem.  A great fertility doctor is one who makes you feel comfortable and understood.  If your physician is abrupt, rude, or seems unresponsive to your concerns, it’s time to find someone new.  Good doctors listen to questions, solicit feedback about your concerns, explain things in easy-to-understand terms, and make you feel comfortable with your decisions.

 

Ask Questions

Before committing to a fertility clinic, ask a few basic questions.  Most reputable clinics have websites that answer common questions about services, but it can be helpful to get additional information.  For example, how long have the doctors and technicians been at the clinic?  Does the clinic ever turn away patients who are not strong candidates for assisted reproductive technology?  A fertility doctor who will perform procedures on any patient of any age may not be appropriately concerned about ethical and health issues.

 

Setting up an initial consultation is the best way to get a feel for your fertility clinic NYC doctor.  Ask questions to learn more about available treatment options and make the decisions that are best for you.

Hope for Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Until they have difficulty conceiving a child, many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are unaware that they have this condition.  It interferes with a women’s monthly ovulation cycle, often resulting in infertility.

What Exactly is PCOS?

This disorder takes its name from the cyst-like appearance of a patient’s ovaries.  Doctors also refer to it as Stein-Leventhal syndrome.  A polycystic ovary usually has many cysts – sacs filled with fluid – less than 1 centimeter in size, according to Cedars-Sinai®.  These cysts typically line the surface of an ovary or lie immediately below the surface layer.

While its exact cause eludes researchers, PCOS is shrouded in a complex biochemical environment that stops ovulation, making it difficult to become pregnant.  Womenshealth.gov estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of American women of childbearing age suffer from this disorder, which affects girls as young as 11.

In addition to irregular menstrual periods, symptoms include hirsutism, which appears as excessive hair growth on their face, stomach, back, chest, toes or thumbs.  Acne, obesity, sleep apnea and male-pattern baldness are not uncommon.

Doctors at fertility clinics in New York City diagnose this condition using blood tests, a physical exam, sonography and a medical history.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome.  According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment usually concentrates on managing individual issues like infertility, acne, obesity and/or infertility.  Patients who visit a New York fertility clinic will most likely receive recommendations for one or a combination of six types of treatment:

  • Lifestyle changes:  They often center on diet and exercise tips to shed excess weight.
  • Regulating menstrual cycles:  Birth control pills help control cycles, clear acne and cut male hormone levels.  Once a patient stops taking them, however, cycles can again become abnormal.
  • Medication for diabetes:  Physicians sometimes prescribe a medication normally used for type 2 diabetes.  It controls blood glucose levels and reduces the production of testosterone.  It also retards abnormal hair growth and has shown additional positive effects.
  • Fertility drugs:  Several medications are available to stimulate ovulation in PCOS patients and to help them become pregnant.  If they fail to produce fertility, another option is in vitro fertilization.
  • Surgery:  A procedure known as ovarian drilling can boost the likelihood of ovulation.  Doctors typically recommend this option only after a patient fails to respond to fertility drugs.
  • Medication for excess hair and male hormones:  These drugs are called anti-androgens and minimize the effects of male hormones.  Creams and treatments such as electrolysis or laser therapy can also remove or reduce the amount of abnormal hair.

To find out more about this disorder, contact Neway, a fertility clinic in New York City.  Staff members have extensive experience treating PCOS and have a number of treatment options that offer hope for women with this condition.

Understanding the Artificial Insemination Procedure

In the United States, an estimated 6.7 million women of childbearing years are unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Although the reasons for infertility vary, both male and female factors may be contributors.  Artificial insemination (also known as intrauterine insemination, or IUI) is one of the most popular infertility interventions, with tens of thousands of these procedures performed each year.  Before deciding to undergo IUI, individuals should understand the process to ensure they make an informed choice.

The Artificial Insemination Process

Essentially, IUI bypasses the need to have sexual intercourse for sperm to reach a mature egg.  Rather, sperm are placed directly into a woman’s uterus to maximize the probability of reproductive success.  Although exact protocols vary by clinic, most follow the same general procedure:

  1. The woman may receive special medications to increase the number of mature eggs.  This typically includes injections of follicle stimulating hormone, which tells the ovaries to produce more eggs than usual.  Hyperstimulation of the ovaries ensures that enough mature eggs are present to become fertilized.
  2. The man produces a semen specimen at home or in fertility clinics in New York City.  Before producing the semen sample, the man should refrain from ejaculating for 2 to 5 days.  This ensures that the volume and quality of sperm are optimal for fertilizing the egg.  Alternatively, donor sperm may be used if preferred or medically necessary (i.e., if the male partner’s sperm is very low quality).
  3. The semen sample is taken to a laboratory for special processing.  For healthy men, semen contains 1 to 3% sperm, with the remainder consisting of fluid containing vitamins, minerals, and proteins that nourish the sperm cells.  In the laboratory, semen undergoes a “washing” procedure in which sperm are separated from the other components.  Sperm cells are concentrated in a small volume, with low quality sperm separated from the higher quality sperm cells.  This procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes and ensures that the best quality sperm are used, increasing odds of successful pregnancy.
  4. A New York fertility clinic physician places a speculum in the vagina to gently clean the cervical area, preparing the reproductive tract for insemination.
  5. A small, sterile, flexible catheter is inserted into the uterine cavity.  The highly motile sperm yielded from the “washing” procedure are placed into the cervix or uterine cavity.  This allows the sperm to have the greatest likelihood of successfully fertilizing the woman’s mature eggs.

When properly performed by Neway fertility clinic NYC doctors, the artificial insemination procedure is reminiscent of a regular Pap smear.  This outpatient procedure involves little discomfort and is widely employed to treat male and female infertility.

Assessing Forms of IVF: Which Is Best?

With the advent of new reproductive technologies, more women than ever are using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to achieve pregnancy in the face of infertility.  RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, reports that 1 in 8 couples have difficulty getting pregnant, with nearly 12% of women receiving infertility services at some point in their lives.  With rising awareness about infertility issues, fertility clinics in New York City provide expert consultations about reproductive health options.

What Is IVF?

Simply put, IVF takes some of the guessing game out of getting pregnant.  Rather than waiting for sperm to fertilize an egg in the body, mature eggs are fertilized in the laboratory before being implanted back into the uterus.  This allows couples struggling with male or female infertility to become pregnant and carry the baby to term.

What Are The Different Forms of IVF?

Neway Fertility offers several options for IVF, each with its own benefits.  The best way to decide which option makes sense for you is to visit our New York fertility clinic doctors, who have decades of experience helping patients become pregnant.

Conventional IVF

Conventional IVF is a tried and true method that has been used for decades.  During this procedure, hormone injections stimulate the production of numerous eggs.  These eggs are extract, fertilized with a man’s sperm in the laboratory, and transferred to the woman’s uterus.  Although conventional IVF results in high success rates, some women experience side effects from the hormone treatments.

Mild IVF

Mild IVF is very similar to conventional IVF; the primary difference is that a lower dose of ovary stimulating hormones is used.  This approach is particularly helpful for women concerned about multiple doses of hormones, those with side effects to hormones, or couples for whom male infertility is the primary concern.  However, mild IVF results in fewer eggs being retrieved, meaning that it may result in a lower likelihood of successful pregnancy.

Natural Cycle IVF

For women who prefer a drug- and chemical-free approach, natural cycle IVF follows a woman’s natural menstrual cycle.  Rather than stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs, the one mature follicle produced during the normal menstrual cycle is retrieved.  Although this results in a lower success rate (meaning that several cycles of egg retrieval may be necessary), many couples prefer the lower cost, decreased stress, and lower side effect profile associated with this approach.

 

In Vitro Maturation

A relatively new technology, in vitro maturation involves the collection of immature follicles from the ovaries.  These follicles are matured in laboratory cultures, creating viable embryos without the invasiveness of hormone injections.  The approach is particularly well suited for women with PCOS or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, according to fertility clinic NYC doctors.

Fertility fog

Article with quote from Neway doctor Dr. Janelle Luk featured on Aeon.co. Read the whole article HERE

A 42-year-old single friend tells me she is thinking of freezing her eggs. I nod with a tight, fake smile. I’m torn: on the one hand, I know how tough everything to do with fertility is because my husband and I have been trying to have a baby since we got married three and a half years ago when I was 41 and he was 45. On the other hand, going through this, and writing about it for The New York Times Motherlode blog, I’ve amassed a vast trove of information about in vitro fertilisation (IVF), egg-freezing and women’s fertility. I know you can’t start thinking about freezing your eggs at 42. Because even if you immediately stop thinking about it and start doing it, it probably wouldn’t work at that age.

What I really want to tell my friend is that if she is serious about having a baby, her best bet would be to go out to the nearest bar and hook up with a stranger – during her 36-hour ovulation window, of course. But I won’t tell her to sleep with a random guy, I won’t ask if she ovulates regularly, nor will I say anything else about the state of her ticking – nearly stopped – biological clock: it’s too delicate a subject.

Besides, I know exactly how she feels. I know how little we women know about our own fertility – despite the daily bombardment of news about declining fertility and egg-freezing and snatching up a husband in college à la the notorious ‘Princeton mom’, Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart (2014), who says women at Ivy League universities should spend that time to find a mate. After all, I didn’t know much about fertility either.

It was three months before my 41st birthday when I went first went to a gynaecologist to discuss what steps to take before trying to conceive. Solomon and I had been dating 15 months and had just had the ‘talk’, a vague discussion in which we concluded that I would go off birth control and we’d start trying to get pregnant. (It would take me another three months and a ring to understand that the baby talkwas his proposal for marriage.) I found a female ob/gyn, whom I believed would be more sensitive than a man.

‘So, I read somewhere that you shouldn’t start trying to conceive until you’ve been off birth control for a while,’ I said to the gynaecologist. ‘How long should I be off the Pill before I start?’

‘Well, I wouldn’t wait if I were you. You don’t have much time,’ she said snidely.

Ouch. I looked up from my note pad, where I’d been scribbling notes from our conversation, like ‘get a mammogram’ and ‘start taking pre-natal vitamins’. I’d been in the woman’s office for about 10 minutes and it felt like she was being… well, kind of a bitch.

‘Excuse me?’ I said. I felt like I’d gone to buy lipstick at a cosmetics counter and been offered plastic surgery.

‘You’re almost 41. You don’t have time to wait,’ she said again with a grim look in her eyes. I still wanted to know whether trying to conceive immediately after stopping the Pill could raise the chance of birth defects. (I later learned that that’s patently false – a woman’s fertility is often higher right after she goes off birth control.) But her comment was said with such finality, such disdain – and no actual medical facts to accompany it – that I just took my mammogram script and high-tailed it out of there.

I didn’t heed her advice. I suppose I was still fixated on the ‘first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a carriage’ thing – and I waited half a year until the month of my wedding to have unprotected sex. Lo and behold, a week or two after the nuptials, I discovered I was pregnant. Huzzah! I wanted to throw the positive pregnancy test in that smug gynaecologist’s face and say: ‘Who you callin’ old now, girl?’

But before I could make it to a doctor (a different one), I miscarried. Then I got pregnant again, then miscarried again. Over the next three and a half years, I moved from natural conception to assisted reproduction and IVF, and subsequently learned everything I never wanted to know about pregnancy, miscarriage, age and fertility. Alas, it was too late for me. Sure, I’d gained all this knowledge about the speed of fertility decline but, at 43, I was getting too old to have a baby.

 

 

It’s too painful to wonder what would have happened if that first gynaecologist had sat me down calmly and opened up some informative graphics to show how women’s fertility drastically declines with age – beginning at around 32, more rapidly after 37, then precipitously at 40. The way a doctor might explain to you the risk of smoking by showing you a picture of blackened lungs, or describe the effects fat has on arteries, often leading to heart attacks: simple medical facts, presented in an objective manner, without judgment or guilt or some hidden cultural agenda.

Sadly, all this is missing from the discussion on women’s fertility.

Many studies show that women are not only woefully ignorant when it comes to fertility, conception and the efficacy of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – but they overestimate their knowledge about the subject. For instance, a 2011 study in Fertility and Sterility surveyed 3,345 childless women in Canada between the ages of 20 and 50; despite the fact that the women initially assessed their own fertility knowledge as high, the researchers found only half of them answered six of the 16 questions correctly. 72.9 per cent of women thought that: ‘For women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.’ (False.) And 90.9 per cent felt that: ‘Prior to menopause, assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) can help most women to have a baby using their own eggs.’ (Also false.) Many falsely believed that by not smoking and not being obese they could improve their fertility, rather than the fact that those factors simply negatively affect fertility.

‘You don’t have much time,’ she said snidely. I felt like I’d gone to buy lipstick at a cosmetics counter and been offered plastic surgery

Fertility fog infects cultures and nations worldwide, even those that place more of a premium on reproduction than we do in the West. A global study published for World Fertility Awareness Month in 2006 surveyed 17,500 people (most of childbearing age) from 10 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America, revealing very poor knowledge about fertility and the biology of reproduction. Take Israel, a country that puts such a premium on children that they offer free IVF to citizens up to age 45 for their first two children. According to a 2011 study in Human Reproduction, which surveyed 410 undergraduate students, most overestimated a women’s chances of spontaneous pregnancy in all age groups, but particularly after receiving IVF beyond age 40. Only 11 per cent of the students knew that genetic motherhood is unlikely to be achieved from the mid-40s onward, unless using oocytes or egg cells frozen in advance. ‘This can be explained by technological “hype” and favourable media coverage of very late pregnancies,’ the authors concluded.

Media hype is one reason why so many overestimate the possibility of getting pregnant when older. With frequent news stories of older celebrities having babies – Amanda Peet (now expecting her third child at 42), Jane Seymour (who had twins at 44), Geena Davis (twins at 48), Kelly Preston (third child at 48), Beverly D’Angelo (twins at 49) – it’s hard not to think the sky’s the limit.

But the stories behind how these actresses came to have these children hardly ever come to light: for example, was it their first child? (A woman who already has children is more likely than a first-time mother to conceive when older.) Did she use IVF? (Most celebrities do not admit it.) Most importantly, did she use her own eggs or donor eggs? (Donor eggs from younger women reset the fertility clock, because it’s the age of the egg, not the uterus, which matters most – up until age 45, when age begins affecting pregnancy even with donor eggs.)

The stories behind how these actresses had their children at such advanced age hardly ever come to light. Yet fixation on celebrity fairy tales gives the rest of us false hope

For a woman over 42, there’s only a 3.9 per cent chance that a live birth will result from an IVF cycle using her own, fresh eggs, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). A woman over 44 has just a 1.8 per cent chance of a live birth under the same scenario, according to the US National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Women using fresh donor eggs have about a 56.6 per cent chance of success per round for all ages.

Indeed, according to research from the Fertility Authority in New York, 51 per cent of women aged between 35 and 40 wait a year or more before consulting a specialist, in hopes of conceiving naturally first. ‘It’s ironic, considering that the wait of two years will coincide with diminished fertility,’ the group says.

Stories of celebrities and other older women having babies have led to misunderstanding precisely because they fly in the face of long-held beliefs: for many years, all women heard was that fertility takes a dive at 30-35. But when you see plenty of people having no trouble having babies until 40, you think it’s just a scare tactic. That’s what happened to me, anyway. Raised in a traditional Jewish, family-oriented community that emphasises early marriage and plenty of children, I was constantly warned about waiting too long to get married and have kids. But when I left that community, I saw so many women who had kids at 37, 38, that I thought it was all bubbe meises, old wives’ tales.

It’s not. There is a declining rate of fertility strongly tied to age – but the exact numbers have recently come up for debate. In a piece for The Atlantic in 2013 headlined ‘How Long Can you Wait to Have a Baby’, the psychologist Jean Twenge showed that much of the research cited by articles and studies (such as how one in three women aged 35-39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying) was based on ancient figures, such as French birth records from 1670 to 1830. She also cites a 2004 Obstetrics and Gynecology study examining chances of pregnancy among 782 European women. With sex at least twice a week, the study found, 82 per cent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceived within a year, compared with 86 per cent of 27-to-34-year-olds. ‘In our data, we’re not seeing huge drops until age 40,’ Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Twenge.

This information might have helped people such as me. Had I known that 40 was the real age when fertility generally takes a dive – and not that I’d long passed it five or 10 years’ prior – I might have rushed into baby-making. I might have saved myself from a hellacious IVF journey that still hasn’t ended.

It’s easy to blame our cultural fertility fog on the media and faulty scare-mongering statistics. But the problems go way deeper – and start much earlier.

‘I think as a society no one tells women what fertility is,’ said the reproductive endocrinologist Janelle Luk, medical director of Neway Fertility in New York City. When it comes to women’s health, she said: ‘There’s a cultural barrier.’ Even a menstrual period is only discussed in terms of inconvenience, cramps and pain. ‘When you’re 15 or 17, you’re not planning to have a family, and you only learn about preventing pregnancy,’ she added.

‘Women don’t know there’s a limit: the message is equal, equal, equal. But our biological clock is not’

Luk became interested in women’s health issues from an early age. Her own mother had been given away in China as a baby and raised by relatives because she was a girl. They moved to the US when Luk was 10, and by the time she was in college she got involved as a sex health advocate. She talked on campus about sexually transmitted diseases such as the human papilloma virus (HPV) and chlamydia, which causes infertility in 10 per cent of the infected. ‘It’s part of biology, and women should know because the consequences are severe: HPV could lead to cervical cancer – it’s not fair, but that’s how it is.’

‘No one talks about fertility,’ said Luk, who does not believe women are really open to hearing about it. ‘I don’t think women know that there’s a limit: the message is equal, equal, equal. Women say: “We want to go to college, we want to work on our careers, we want to be equal to men.” But our biological clock is not.’

Or was not, she adds. Today, especially in the past two years, with the advancements in egg-freezing – the flash-freezing vitrification process improves egg survival rates to 85 per cent – women can start to level the playing field by freezing their biological clocks. The problem with oocyte cryopreservation? ‘The younger the better,’ Luk told me – before the age of 30 is ideal. But women often don’t become cognisant of the need to do it until their fertility starts declining, and the process is less likely to produce a baby.

Another way women might even out the fertility playing field is by focussing on the so-called male biological clock. But is there one? Although there have been recent news stories about how advanced age in men (over 40 or 50) increases time to conception and the incidence of autism and schizophrenia, the absolute risk is negligible. ‘When you look at the numbers, you have to separate what the absolute risk and the increased risk is,’ said Natan Bar-Chama, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. ‘The absolute risk is still really very small.’

Fertility fog is not just a cultural problem, it’s human nature, says Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a San Francisco Bay Area fertility specialist who calls herself the egg whisperer.  Recently, a 51-year-old woman telephoned her to discuss egg-freezing. ‘Nobody wants to be told they’re infertile. Women are shocked when nature applies to them,’ she says. She wishes women were more informed. She recommends a woman start by talking to her mother.

Women can also take certain tests to ascertain their fertility age. One blood test measures follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), indicating the egg quality, especially as compared with other women in the same age group. Another test, for Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), assesses ovarian reserve (how many eggs are left) and their potential for fertilisation. ‘It’s part of general health to prevent infertility,’ Eyvazzadeh said. Patients in their 40s complain to her that they wished they’d gotten those blood tests earlier, because now they can’t use their own eggs. ‘If she were counselled at an earlier age, and educated, perhaps she would have made different decisions.’

But who is going to counsel women who are so in the dark? In 2014, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had its Committee on Gynecologic Practice deliberate the issue. The Committee Opinion recommends education about age and fertility for ‘the patient who desires pregnancy’ – and that is a quote.

There are no guidelines for talking to a woman about her fertility unless she herself brings it up

In other words, only women who are already trying to get pregnant or thinking about it should be counselled about how age affects fertility. But what about the other women – the ones who do not realise their fabulous health might not protect them from age-related declining fertility; the ones who might want to start thinking about freezing their eggs while they’re still young enough; the ones who are waiting for one reason or another to have a baby and don’t know that perhaps, like me, they don’t have that much time. Does ACOG believe it’s the doctor’s responsibility to bring up the subject?

‘We feel that women should be able to talk to their ob/gyn about fertility,’ said Sandra Carson, ACOG’s vice president for education. ‘We certainly want to remind women gently that, as they get older, fertility is compromised, but we don’t want to do it in such a way that they feel that it might interfere with their career plans or make them nervous about losing their fertility.’ In other words, there are no guidelines for talking to a woman about her fertility unless she herself brings it up.

All this talk of ‘gentle’ reminders and ‘appropriate’ counselling has a history – a political one. Back in 2001, the ASRM devoted a six-figure sum to a fertility awareness campaign, whose goal was to show the effects of age, obesity, smoking and sexually transmitted diseases on fertility. Surprisingly, the US National Organization for Women (NOW) came out against it. ‘Certainly women are well aware of the so-called biological clock. And I don’t think that we need any more pressure to have kids,’ said Kim Gandy, then president of NOW. In a 2002 op-ed in USA Today, she wrote that NOW ‘commended’ doctors for ‘attempting’ to educate women about their health, but thought they were going about it the wrong way by making women feel ‘anxious about their bodies and guilty about their choices’.

Although the ASRM denies the backlash is connected, its spokesman Sean Tipton says the organisation has not done a fertility awareness campaign since.

In the end, lack of fertility education on the medical side and the unwillingness to explore it on the patient side seems to come down to the fear of offending women.

Naomi R Cahn, author of Test Tube Families (2009), argues that ‘the politics of reproductive technology are deeply intertwined with the politics of reproduction’ but ‘although the reproductive rights issue has a long feminist genealogy, infertility does not’. Discussion of infertility is threatening to feminists on two levels, she contends: ‘First, it reinforces the importance of motherhood in women’s lives, and second, the spectre of infertility reinforces the difficulty of women’s “having it all”.’

The debate over egg‑freezing involves such work-life concerns as better maternity leave and family rights

Even a debate over egg-freezing has assumed political overtones. When Facebook and Google recently announced that they would pay $20,000 health benefits for female employees who wanted to freeze their eggs, ‘Room for Debate’ roundtable discussion in The New York Times had three of the five women opposing it: one was worried about the health concerns, another about fairness, and the third about corporations paying women to delay motherhood. In other words, the debate over egg‑freezing involves such work-life concerns as: ‘Why don’t we have better maternity leave?’ or ‘Why isn’t this country more supportive of family rights?’

I was one of those arguing in favour of egg-freezing, because despite success rates being low, they are better than waiting five years with older eggs. At 35, you have 20‑30 per cent chance of your frozen eggs creating a baby in the future, using IVF. At 42, it is 3.9 per cent – the difference is vast.

Unfortunately, the polarising nature of the debate on egg-freezing does little to lead us out of our fertility fog or illuminate the discussion. It just has many women categorically deciding they’re not going to freeze their eggs. That is a perfectly acceptable choice, except that these women seem to be deciding without investigating their individual fertility status, relinquishing control over their fate.

‘Shunning that information about the relationship between fertility and age, however, ignores biological facts and, ultimately, does a disservice to women both in terms of approaching their own fertility and in providing the legal structure necessary to provide meaning to reproductive choice,’ writes Cahn.

Although published five years ago, her words are particularly prescient in the US today in light of proliferating anti-abortion laws and ‘personhood legislation’ – proposals to declare legal human life from the minute an egg is fertilised, granting an embryo the same rights as a newborn. Resolve, the national US infertility awareness movement, resolutely opposes personhood legislation because it ‘would produce so many legal uncertainties about the status of embryos’ that it would make IVF virtually impossible. In the US, IVF would go the way of abortion, with clinics closing their doors, especially in conservative states; women would have as much difficulty getting fertility treatment as they do abortions.

Maybe this threat to embryos and IVF will finally wake women from their fertility fog and allow them to be educated about their own bodies, its capabilities and its limitations. Just like they would be informed about any other medical condition.

‘It is only with this information that reproductive choice becomes a meaningful concept,’ Cahn writes. ‘Choice cannot mean only legal control over the means not to have a baby, but must include legal control over the means to have a baby.’

Neway Fertility – New Year Fresh Start

A new year offers a fresh start and a time to prepare your body for pregnancy.  At Neway Fertility we seek to help couples find the easiest, most natural way to pregnancy possible.  In January, so many people have resolutions; it might be helpful to get your body ready for pregnancy.

 

There are many things to keep in mind when you are ready to become pregnant.  Many people feel that they can let themselves go during this time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Weight can play a big role in your ovulation cycle.  The first thing you should consider doing is to develop a work out schedule that involves cardio as well as some minor weight lifting.  This will help you stay and shape and help maximize your possibility of becoming pregnant.

 

Nutrition is also very important, you will want to avoid too many processed foods and stick with foods rich in zinc, vitamin E and folic acid.  It is also helpful to start taking a multi-vitamin or a prenatal vitamin at this time.

It is so important to avoid cigarette smoking for both the male and the female in the relationship.  Cigarette smoking can hinder sperm production.  It is recommended that you quit smoking as a couple at least six months before trying to conceive.  It is also ideal to refrain from drinking alcohol and avoid caffeine or teas with herbs as they also can cause issues with fertility.

Most importantly: rest and relax.  Stress can wreak havoc on a body and can cause problems when trying to conceive.  Make sure to pace yourself and not to take on any new big projects.   If you are having issues conceiving, you may want to consider avoiding family or work situations that cause you undue stress.

Finally, please keep in mind that if you are over 40 and have been trying for 3-6 months, reach out to a specialist and get help.  If you are over 30 and have been trying for a year, reach out to a specialist.  One of the major causes of stress when trying to conceive is waiting too long to seek help – if you are having issues, once you get on the road to fertility, you will have hope.  Neway Fertility is available for consultations and initial testing – just one call can ease your stress as taking action for any issue is the first step towards solving your problem.