Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ovulation Pain (Mittelschmerz)

The decision to (try and) conceive is one made excitedly by couples each day. One of the first steps to scientifically better chances of this happening is for the woman to determine approximately at what time each month she ovulates. This does change slightly from month to month, but with Basal Temperature Charting, an approximation can be made and is very helpful for many women. While basal charting can be tedious and time-consuming, some women find that charting their time of ovulation is indeed no problem whatsoever. 20% of all women do have this easier time of pinpointing ovulation, but for a not so desirable reason. Nearly a quarter of women experience pain with ovulation called mittelschmerz, in German, meaning middle pain. This pain happens in the middle of a woman’s cycle, at ovulation, and this is where it gets its name.

This middle pain experienced by some women is not always felt in the middle (of their abdomen) but usually on the side, depending on which side the ovary releasing the egg that month resides.
The degree of pain is different from woman to woman, with some experiencing nausea due to intense pain, while others might experience merely a dull pain resembling indigestion. The length of this pain varies as well and, for some, is accompanied by bloody discharge. Scientists are not sure why some women experience this pain and others do not, but speculate that the blood released along with the egg during ovulation might in some way aggravate the lining of affected women’s abdominal cavities. Treating this pain, which should not last more than 24 hours, is relatively easy. Most women find that warm baths, warm compresses to the abdomen, and over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen work well enough to relieve the pressure and pain. Women for which mittelschmerz causes extreme pain that truly disrupts their daily living may find it necessary to take some sort of prescribed birth control pill to stop ovulation all-together. With no ovulation, no pain is experienced, but women trying to conceive, obviously, should not take this route.

Because this 20% of women experience this true indicator of when they ovulate, they do, in a sense have an advantage when deciding to conceive. Their charting might not need to involve a thermometer whatsoever, but merely a dot showing when, each month, this middle pain begins and ends. Having sexual intercourse in the days preceding this monthly pain would be advantageous and chances of conceiving, provided normal fertility exists in male and female partner, are quite good.

About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of ovulation testing. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Increasing Male Fertility

Millions of couples each year decide it is time to start a family. A substantial percentage of those find that after several years of successful family planning to avoid conception, getting pregnant can be elusive and seemingly impossible. In these situations, infertility responsibility should not merely fall to the female, for research has shown that male infertility shares the burden of conceptive issues. In fact, male infertility has shown to be a contributive factor in 50% of all infertility cases and the sole reason for unsuccessful conception in nearly 33% of all infertility cases. Male partners must be conscious of their lifestyle in order to put their best sperm forward that will prove viable and capable of making contact with their partners’ eggs and flourish.

Many men are less fertile because of their negligible diets. Eating potato chips, drinking beer, and sitting on the couch each and every day does not provide the due diligence necessary to be a productive partner for the female you care for and want to start a family with. Men need to be more conscious of their diets. Diets rich in zinc provided by multi-grain cereal, seafood, and eggs, have shown to increase sperm production in healthy men and increase viable sperm production in less fertile men as well. Men should also consistently eat 5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables daily to help promote motility in their sperm. A diet rich in antioxidants can help men produce vigorous and healthy sperm that will have no trouble wriggling their way through their partners’ vaginas and ultimately fertilizing an egg.

Daily exercise is not only helpful at keeping obesity and that unsightly paunch at bay, regular exercise has been shown to help relieve the stress and anxiety which often affects fertility in both men and women. Men should exercise at least 45 minutes, 5 times a week to help promote a healthy body weight and increased sperm production, not to mention its positive affects on male libido. Research is split over cycling however, with studies showing that the friction the testicles are subjected to can increase their temperature and cause lower sperm counts.

As always, the use of tobacco products, excessive drinking, and illicit drug use are not good for the body, male or female. Men should abstain from use of these recreational substances as part of their conscious effort to help with conception.

Male fertility can be increased by simply adapting better food and exercise choices. It is only fair that fertility responsibility be shared by a hopeful couple as they look forward to the future of shared responsibility that is parenting.

About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of semen analysis and male infertility treatment. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Basal Body Temperature Charting for Conception

So you’ve made the decision. You and your partner have decided to start a family. If you’re like most couples, you’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying not to conceive; be prepared, it might take more time, energy, and perseverance, to get that baby started. While being conscious of lifestyle (i.e. health, exercise, diet, etc.) is necessary, there are other things that a woman can do to know her body better and help to maximize the chances of conceiving. Guys, you have your own health considerations to consider, but it is important to keep in mind that charting basal body temperature in order to conceive a child is the first effort made when a pregnancy does not occur naturally. It can be an arduous and frustrating endeavor at times, and the woman usually feels the brunt of responsibility for success in determining and interpreting the parameters necessary to achieve a budding pregnancy.

Most women are well familiar with their menstrual cycle inasmuch as they know when it begins due to the beginning flow of their period. Knowing when ovulation occurs requires more attention and observation. This observation of changes in body temperature as an indicator of ovulation is known as Basal Body Temperature Charting. Let’s start by looking at the monthly menstrual cycle itself. The cycle can be observed as two halves: the first part being the follicular phase, the second, the luteal phase. During the follicular, or proliferative phase, follicles that have been growing in the uterus for much of the year mature and begin to compete with each other for dominance. As estrogen levels increase, the clear follicular winner (or sometimes two) emerges. Estrogen, oft described as a “cool” hormone in temperature, is secreted at highest levels during the follicular phase, and lowers a woman’s body temperature minutely. For this to be adequately observed, a digital thermometer is a necessity, for the difference is in the decimals, and body temperature should be taken orally (vaginally for more precision) at the same time each morning, before ingesting anything. This observation should be recorded on a daily chart, and on a month-to-month basis, a discernable pattern should emerge. The second half of the cycle, the luteal, or secretory phase, begins as the follicle is released, usually 6 to 7 days after the temperature drop. Progesterone, a “warm” hormone, then takes over, and a woman’s body temperature can be observed to rise .2 degrees higher than the temperatures of the previous 6 days. This temperature will then stay elevated for at least 3 consecutive days, denoting that ovulation has truly occurred. Charting this temperature rise, and keeping in mind the temperature drop, can help better discern when ovulation occurs, and allow a couple to pinpoint the times and days to have intercourse and better their chances of conceiving.

Observing basal temperature, though, admittedly tedious, is a viable non-medical, intervention-free tool at a couple’s disposal when attempting conception. The best a male (or non prospective child bearing partner) can do during this time is listen and be supportive; otherwise, the charting and observation that most always falls to the female can often result in feelings of isolation and insularity to the burden bearing partner.

About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of ovulation testing. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Personal Lubrication and Conception

A very popular television advertisement proudly proclaims: “Having a baby changes everything”. A truer statement has never been uttered, as the birth of a child is definitely one of the most amazing occurrences that life has to offer. The growth, development, responsibility, and awe that follows is nothing short of spectacular, though often frightening and exasperating as well. Sleep becomes a premium, as well as peace and quiet, but nothing in the world will ever replace the wonder a baby can provide. Birth is magical, but birth can never occur without the often misunderstood and quite complicated nexus of sperm and egg that is conception. Just the right conditions have to be present, and many couples become thwarted by this process, adding strain and stress to their relationships.

Stress, as we all know, affects not only our mental attitude, but also our bodies. In women, stress in their mind often manifests itself in their bodies as vaginal dryness, hindering both the desire to have sex and the ideal chemical situations for successful conception. Millions of couples each year turn to the personal lubrication market in their effort for more enjoyable intercourse, and among these couples are those who are also trying to conceive. Reading the labels to make sure the lubrications they choose are spermicide-free, couples feel safe to proceed, often looking at their calendars, checking their body temperatures, and amping up the romance, although achieving conception after failed attempts can often feel programmed or rudimentary, in efforts to conceive naturally. Could their choice of lubricant, though free of spermicide, actually be thwarting conception for other reasons of which they are not aware?

Fertility aside, the vulnerable mucous membranes of the vagina are very susceptible to irritation by preservatives and other ingredients often found in personal lubricants. Women feel protected by using preservative-free lubricants, but the slippery, gooey, viscosity lubricants provide, that is indeed part of their allure and a much-touted selling point, actually hinders the migration of the sperm to the cervical mucous where conception can take place; though the vagina might feel more hydrated and penetration is aided by this slipperiness, overhydration caused by lubrication can reduce sperm motility. Another detriment to the successful sperm migration to egg is the acidic environment created by the vaginal secretions at all times except just before ovulation, when the secretions and vaginal pH become more alkaline and advantageous for sperm survival. The advantageous pH needs to be between 7 and 8.5, and many personal lubricants actually have a pH as low as 3.5, resulting in a harmful and disadvantageous vaginal situation for sperm prosperity. Thankfully, there are several lubrication products (as well as common household products) that promote sperm migration and survival, so don’t dismay. These methods will be profiled in detail in a successive article.

Conception, though sometimes elusive, can be achieved with education, knowledge, and of course, perseverance, and all the work put in is duly rewarded when a successful pregnancy is attained. Conception-minded couples should talk to their physician to receive both encouragement and more information.

About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of infertility treatment. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Ways to Tell When You’re Ovulating

Getting pregnant does not always happen when you would like it to. Some couples decide it is time to have kids and within a month or two they are announcing they are pregnant. Other couples try month after month without success. If you are one of the couples having difficulty, do not feel discouraged. It is estimated that 25 percent of couples trying to conceive experience problems with fertility. There have been great advances in infertility treatments over the last ten years. A better understanding of the reproductive system may help to solve the problem.
Knowing when you are most fertile is a significant step towards conception. This will be the few days a month when you are ovulating. Ovulation is when the ovaries release an egg and it is deposited in the uterus. Your menstrual cycle begins with the first day of your period and ends with the last day before your period. Ovulation will typically occur mid cycle. Once released the egg is only viable for fertilization for 24 hours. Sperm can survive for approximately 72 hrs. If you do the math you will see that the2 to 3 days before you ovulate are the best days to try for conception. Knowing exactly which day you are going to ovulate may seem difficult, but here are some helpful tools.
Ovulation test kits measure the amount of Luteinising Hormone (LH) in your urine stream. Prior to ovulation there is a surge of LH in your system to cue the ovaries to release an egg. This happens approximately two weeks after your period. You will need to know how long your menstrual cycle normally is, as cycles can vary from 28 to 34 days. Ovulation test kits come with step by step instructions and will supply a chart to help you determine which days to start testing your urine. It is important to test urine at the same time every day. False positive results can occur as a result of some oral medications. Check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. When the test strip detects higher levels of LH that means ovulation will occur within the next 48 hours. This is when you should have intercourse. Ovulation test kits are available at any drugstore or online at many fertility or pregnancy websites.
Another method is charting your basal body temperature (BBT). This method requires you to measure your body temperature during the first few hours of waking. By charting these temperatures over a period of time you will be able to determine when you are ovulating. During your menstrual cycle there are two hormones that play important roles. Estrogen is the hormone that is active in your system during the first half of your cycle, also called the follicular phase. Estrogen helps to trigger the ovaries to release an egg. When ovulation occurs Progesterone is released to help prepare the uterus for possible implantation. These changes within the body create fluctuations in your BBT. Typically, you can expect to see a decrease in BBT just prior to ovulation and then a significant increase, approximately.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more, once the egg has been released. Your BBT’s will remain high if conception takes place, but will return to their base line if your period starts. By tracking and charting your temperatures you will be able to know when the best times are for intercourse. A digital thermometer that measures to the tenth of a degree is easiest to use. You can make your own chart to keep track of your temperatures or download and print one from an infertility treatment website. If you are uncertain about your temperatures or do not see any change in BBT consult your doctor.

Like so many aspects of life a little understanding goes along way. Maximize your chances using these tools. If you still are unable to conceive after 1 year, or 6 months if over 35, talk to your doctor about infertility treatment options.


About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to explain what an ovulation test is in plain language. To review this information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ovulation Test Kits

If you and your partner are trying to conceive an ovulation test kit is a great tool. It can help you by finding out when your body releases an egg from your ovary, an ovulation, and pin point the time of the month when you are most fertile. The egg, once released from the ovary, only has a 24-48 hour life span, while sperm can survive for about 72 hours. You are most likely to become pregnant when sperm is present on the day prior to, the day of, or the day following ovulation.

Ovulation test kits measure the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Luteinizing hormone is always present in human urine. LH increases dramatically just before a woman’s most fertile day of the month in a process commonly referred to as the “LH Surge”. This LH increase triggers ovulation, which means an egg is released from the woman’s ovary. It is important to know that some infertility treatment medications, such as menotropin, may affect the test result. Certain rare medical conditions or the onset of menopause can cause elevated levels of LH. Some women do not ovulate every cycle, and therefore will not see any increase in the level of LH hormone during these non-ovulating cycles. Women with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may not get reliable results from ovulation tests, as a result of related hormone imbalances. Please check with your doctor if you are unsure.

To find out when to begin testing, determine the length of your normal cycle. The length of your cycle is from the beginning of one period (the first day of bleeding) to the day before the start of the next. If your cycle length is irregular (varies by more than a few days each month) take the average number of days for the last 3 months. Ovulation typically occurs in the middle of your cycle. It is recommended to begin testing a few days before ovulation occurs. For example, if your period normally begins every 28 days then ovulation would occur on or around day 14 of your cycle. In this case, you would want to begin ovulation testing eleven days after the beginning of your last period. Most test kits come with a sample calendar to help you determine which day in your cycle to begin testing.

Read all the instructions that come with the test kit fully before starting your test. The best times to test are from 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm. Early morning testing is not recommended as most women experience a blood LH surge that will not show up in the urine until later in the day. To make sure you catch your LH surge, test twice a day, once in the earlier time frame and the other in the later time frame. Reduce your liquid intake two hours before testing since drinking excessive amounts of fluids can dilute the LH in your urine yielding a false negative result. Test at the same time each day. Have intercourse during the 48 hours following your LH surge to maximize your chances of conception.



About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to explain what an ovulation test is in plain language. To review this information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com.

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Semen Analysis

For couples facing infertility, it is necessary for both partners to undergo equally thorough examinations. Male factors are found to be the sole cause of infertility in one third of couples, and are in combination with female factors in over half of all infertility cases. This usually comes down to problems related to semen production or delivery. Typically a thorough medical history is taken, and a semen analysis is done. The semen analysis test is the best way to help doctors determine whether or not a man’s sperm has the ability to fertilize an egg.

While a woman is born with all the eggs she will have in her lifetime, the male testes are continually producing sperm by a process known as spermatogenesis. It takes about three months for spermatozoa to reach maturity. Abnormalities at any point in this process can contribute to the male factor infertility.

The semen analysis test is simple. For a proper analysis, two samples should be taken at different times with at least 48 hours between ejaculations. The samples are measured, put on slides, and examined under a microscope. An individual’s test results can vary significantly, and a single abnormal result may be no cause for alarm, only an indication for further testing. A wide range of factors based on genetics, lifestyle, and presence of various medical conditions can affect the quality of sample as well. Five major factors that contribute to sperm quality are: sperm count, concentration, motility, speed, and morphology or shape.

Sperm count is the number of sperm present in a sample. Normal samples will contain around 40 million spermatozoa. Some causes for low sperm count may be exposure to excessive heat or radiation, drug use, consumption of alcohol, smoking, previous medical surgeries, or infection. Concentration refers to the amount of sperm present per millilitre of ejaculate. Results can range between 2 million/ml and 300 million/ml, but average around 40 million/ml. Conditions such as azoospermia, where sperm is produced but unable to mix with the ejaculate, contribute to low sperm count. Motility describes the sperm’s ability to move in fluid, or its “swimming ability”. This enables the sperm to make the journey through the uterus and fallopian tubes to penetrate the egg. In healthy samples at least half the sperm should be active. Speed is a measure of the forward progress a sperm makes. The morphology of a sperm should be similar to that of a tadpole. The genetic material is contained in the head while the tail provides propulsion.

Comparing these factors to set standards helps fertility specialists target possible causes of male infertility. A closer look at specific areas is necessary to develop the most effective infertility treatment plan.


About the Author:

Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about male infertility. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com


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The Pain of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue found in the lining of the uterus attaches to organs and other areas outside the uterus. It is thought to occur in 10-20% of women between the ages of 20 and 45. While the cause of endometriosis is still unknown, there is a relationship between hormone estrogen and immune system dysfunctions.

During a women’s menstruation the lining of the uterus bleeds and sheds and is forced out of the uterus by small uterine contractions. Uterine tissue, called endometrium, that is shed makes its way into the pelvic cavity. This is referred to as retrograde menstruation. This displaced tissue may then implant on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and on top of the uterus or its supporting ligaments. Other areas of occurrence are the abdomen, the area between the vagina and rectum, bowel, bladder, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars. In rare circumstances they can be found in the lungs, arms, or thighs.

Women who suffer from endometriosis have been found to have excess levels of estrogen in their system. Studies have proposed that women with excessive levels of estrogen are at higher risk for endometriosis. This is because estrogen stimulates cell growth. Normally, the immune system is able to take care of any endometrial tissue that finds its way in to the pelvic cavity via retrograde menstruation. However, high levels of estrogen counteract the body’s ability to cope with the invading tissue. The immune system is overwhelmed and the implanted tissue grows and flourishes. This tissue will continue to respond to the hormonal cycle, and the shedding and bleeding causes inflammation and scarring.

One difficulty in diagnosing endometriosis is that the symptoms mimic several other medical conditions, such as ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, fibroid tumors, or irritable bowel syndrome. The most common of endometriosis symptoms is pain. However, some women may experience no symptoms at all. Other symptoms include pain in the abdomen and lower back associated with the changes occurring during the menstrual cycle, pain experienced during intercourse, heavy or irregular periods, painful bowel movements and urination, diarrhoea or constipation, fatigue, and general chronic pain at any time. Additionally, endometriosis will cause infertility in 40% of women affected.

Treatment of endometriosis is the subject of some controversy, as the exact causes of the condition are unknown. Some treatments may focus on eliminating or reducing the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces. Laparoscopy is a common infertility treatment when endometriosis affects a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Less obtrusive treatments suggest changes in diet and exercise routine, thereby strengthening the body’s muscles and immune system which help the body naturally fight the condition.



About the Author:

Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about endometriosis symptoms. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com



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