Category: Infertility


Can new fertility device improve chances of pregnancy?

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Improving Chances of At Home Conception – Is it Possible?

We read with interest about the new Fertility device (Twoplus Fertility Sperm guide) that promises to increase the chances of conception by retaining sperm in the vagina for over an hour. The aim is to prevent sperm leakage after intercourse and create a rich pool of sperm in the vagina, thereby increasing the chances of fertilization by enabling more sperm cells to swim up into the uterine cavity.

The device is inserted into the vagina, and the male ejaculates sperm into the pouch of the device. Manufacturers of this device recommend that couples use a lubricant to minimize the male partner’s discomfort during intercourse. 

 

“Great interest among our patients; including same-sex couples who wish to explore self-insemination.”

 

Obviously, the development of any device that facilitates conception is always exciting to the Fertility community.

Although we are yet to see any scientific data to back the efficacy of this device, we anticipate that it would draw great interest among our patients; including same-sex couples who wish to explore self-insemination.

Obviously, the outcome of fertility treatment is influenced by various factors, which is why treatment must always be individualized. Each case is different, and it is essential to ensure that the treatment of choice is suitable for the individual patients.

“The outcome of fertility treatment is influenced by various factors.”

Devices like this would be much more effective for women who have a good understanding of their ‘body’.

It is extremely helpful for women to understand the ‘fertile window’ and to aim for insemination/intercourse at the time of optimum fertility.

The fertile window is best defined as the 6day interval ending on the day of ovulation. The viability of both eggs and sperm should be maximum during this time. Research has shown that peak fecundity was observed when intercourse occurred within 2 days before ovulation.  

Among women who have regular cycles, the likelihood of conception increases during the putative fertile window.

 

At home fertility device to help with conception

TwoPlus Fertility Device

 

 

Unfortunately, the timing of the fertile window within a given cycle can vary considerably, even in women who have regular cycles. Although fertility tracking methods (including calendars and apps; cervical monitoring, ovulation detection kits and basal body temperature tracking) can help assist patients to understand their own personal cycle characteristics. A major weakness of these predictor devices is that they are based on the assumption that the timing and duration of a woman’s fertile window are consistent and dependent on cycle length characteristics and trends. But we know that cycles are pretty much variable, and the timing of ovulation can vary from month to month and from woman to woman.

The calendar method is based on the length of the menstrual cycle. The length of the luteal phase (the part of the menstrual cycle after ovulation) is presumed to be about 14days. Thus, the day of ovulation would be cycle day 14 for women who have a 28-day cycle and day 16 for women with a 30days cycle.

 

“Unfortunately, the timing of the fertile window within a given cycle can vary considerably, even in women who have regular cycles.”

 

The fertile window, therefore, is set as the presumed day of ovulation and the 5 days prior (cycle day 9-14 in a 28 day cycle and cycle days 11-16 in women with a 30 day cycle etc).

Finally, it is important to note that sperm is motile and swims into the cervical canal extremely quickly and shortly after deposition in the vagina. Studies have shown that sperm deposited into the vagina at mid-cycle are found in the fallopian tube within 15 minutes. Sperm has been found in the cervical canal seconds after ejaculation, regardless of the coital position.

Although many women think that lying face upwards for some time after intercourse facilitates sperm transport and prevents leakage of sperm from the vagina, this belief is not backed by any scientific evidence. Lying still in bed or elevating the legs does not necessarily increase the chance to conceive. Motile sperm swims up the genital tract, and some seminal fluid leakage is normal.

Whilst we welcome new devices that help our patients conceive, it is important that the right patient group are identified for each treatment type, and treatment must be individualized.

 

For more information on the different fertility options available to you at The Surrey Park Clinic, please click here.

 

By

Mr Emmanuel Kalu MBBS, DFFP, FRCOG

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Specialist in Reproductive Medicine 

Egg Donation with The Surrey Park Clinic

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Egg Donation with The Surrey Park Clinic

Creating a family now comes in many differing ways and, since the birth of the first egg donation child in 1984, it’s an IVF option which has steadily grown to become a widely accepted and practiced treatment for female related infertility.

It’s incredibly painful and heart-breaking when couples realise that IVF isn’t going to be the answer for them and, whilst the use of donated eggs can offer hope, the choice isn’t always an easy one to make. Women are sometimes left with a sense of grief, mourning their own fertility, feeling increasingly overwhelmed and apprehensive about what the future may hold. However, as daunting as it might first appear, egg donation IVF is associated with increased rates of pregnancy success and, for some, will provide the best option of conceiving and carrying a child to birth.

Egg donation is typically suggested when IVF has repeatedly failed and although it’s understood that maternal age does impact the quality of eggs, external factors are also known play a role too. Genetics, environmental factors and medical conditions, including treatment for cancer, can all have a negative impact on a female’s fertility.

Despite the fact that egg donation IVF is a globally accepted procedure, proven to help many women conceive, the NHS currently offers no funding for this type of treatment. With couples forced to self-fund private medical care they can, unfairly, be left alone to research the increasingly confusing and complicated world of treatment protocols, additional options and fertility clinic data. It’s therefore only right that patients are under the responsibility of a sensitive clinic, who have their whole wellbeing at its core.

Alongside the wide range of fertility treatments available, Surrey Park Clinic offers an egg donation IVF service for patients embarking upon this route. Working in close partnership with Institute Bernabeu, in Spain’s Alicante, patients are fully supported by two clinics, receiving personalised and professional care throughout the process.

In April 2005 it became a legal requirement, in the UK, for all egg, sperm and embryo donors to become identifiable. From the age of 18, donor conceived children are entitled to access all identifying information about the person who donated. This, understandably, can make finding a donor in the UK a difficult task and patients can be left waiting, without a large amount of choice.

One of the reasons Surrey Park works in tandem with a Spanish clinic is due to the extensive donor databases across Spain. Spanish law requires complete anonymity of anyone who donates and, because of this, they have more readily available donors, when compared to the UK. This means there is typically no waiting time to find a donor and, once the paperwork and pre-treatment investigations have been completed, patients can usually proceed with their treatment immediately. The cost of egg donation IVF, in Spain, is also more favourable, when once again compared to the UK.

Spanish donors are fully screened and are young, healthy women, legally required to be under 35 years of age. Donations must also be altruistic. Spain was the first country, within Europe, to create definitive laws surrounding egg donation treatment and, since then, has become the most popular European destination for those seeking IVF with donated eggs. Donors are matched with recipients on ethnicity, blood type and phenotypes; hair and eye colour and body type, and medical teams are legally required to guarantee the greatest possible match on appearance and blood group, with the recipient.

For patients undergoing IVF with donated eggs at Surrey Park Clinic, one to one support is available during every stage, with consultants and nurses always on hand to answer any of the questions which inevitably arise. A fertility nurse will also help couples to fill in the necessary paperwork and join Skype calls, with the medical team in Spain, to truly strengthen the bond between the three parties involved.

Institute Bernabeu has a wonderfully supportive International team who all speak excellent English and assist with organising transfers and accommodation in Spain. Undergoing any IVF procedure is an anxious experience and both clinics believe that the logistical side, of the treatment, should be as worry-free as possible for all patients.

Recipient preparation takes place at Surrey Park Clinic and is consultant-led. Patients are partnered with a named consultant, who they work together with, in close proximity, throughout their journey. Whilst the procedure might take place in another country, consultants are still fully accessible throughout the complete treatment. All transfers are fresh, and synchronised with the donor, unless a medical reason prevents this, and mock transfers are always conducted by the medical team in Spain.

It’s perfectly natural to have doubts surrounding egg donation, either in the UK or overseas, and couples need to feel fully comfortable with their decision. Surrey Park Clinic provides the required implications counselling alongside additional, ongoing support, from their in-house counsellor.

Every person is unique and it’s the responsibility of fertility clinics to ensure that everyone is treated as an individual. Not all patients are the same and neither are the protocols used in assisted reproduction. Surrey Park clinic provides a sensitive and compassionate environment, understanding not only the intricacies of the IVF procedure, but also the importance of a tailormade service, which caters to every patient’s specific needs.

The people who walk through the doors at Surrey Park Clinic, are real people with hopes and dreams of becoming parents. No one asks to live with infertility and, when help is required, patients deserve kindness, as well as a professional and individualised treatment options.

For more information or to book your appointment please contact us

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House prices and 9 other surprising things that can affect your fertility

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development found that for every 10 per cent rise in house prices, the birth rate drops by 1.3 per cent.

With one in seven couples (approximately 3.5 million people) experiencing fertility problems in the UK, and more and more women delaying pregnancy for work or financial reasons, the question of what (beyond age) can impact the chances of conception is a hugely important issue.

Research suggests that the reasons behind unexplained infertility are varied, and sometimes, extremely unusual. Here are a few surprising discoveries.

1. Night shifts

Earlier this year, a study by Harvard University revealed that women who work night shifts are potentially more likely to suffer from infertility problems. Women working anti-social hours had a 28 per cent reduction in eggs, in comparison to those who worked during the day. Researchers believe that this could be due to the disruption of a woman’s circadian rhythm, caused by irregular shift patterns.

2. Heavy lifting

The same Harvard study that highlighted the impact of night shifts noticed the same effect on the egg count of women whose jobs involved heavy lifting. According to researchers, women seeking fertility treatment whose work included heavy lifting (such as nurses or interior designers) produced 14% fewer eggs than women who did not, and those that were produced were of a poorer quality. This could be due to the stress such repetitive physical exertion puts on the female body and its ability to reproduce.

3. Consuming too many soft drinks

A 2016 study indicated that the frequent consumption of soft drinks could limit a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. The artificial sweeteners used in many diet versions were associated with higher rates of infertility, while added sugar was linked to a lower quality of eggs. While the impact of individual additives needs further scrutiny, it is key to remember that the regular consumption of both diet and regular soft drinks can lead to obesity and diabetes, both of which can impact fertility.

4. Eating the wrong things (even if you’re not overweight)

An unhealthy diet and obesity can reduce a couple’s chances of conceiving. Two American studies showed that a diet high in trans-fats can damage ovaries and cause lower quality embryos, as well as impacting a couple’s fertility. Fertility problems occur both to those who are overweight and those who aren’t, but who still eat an unhealthy diet. The good news is that 2016 research indicated that losing a relatively small percentage of body weight (in this instance, 9.7lb) can double a woman’s chances of conceiving. Dr Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, recommended that women with a high BMI consider restricting calories to 1500 per day, and taking up 35-40 minutes of daily aerobic exercise.

5. A high-pressure work environment

Last year a study revealed that women working in finance were significantly less likely to conceive through IVF than teachers. Despite the fact that investment banks have some of the best employee health schemes, the pressure of a stressful work environment, combined with volatile markets means that female staff are more likely to skip appointments and forget to take medication. Working in a male-centric environment is also said to have an impact, with teachers and women in PR, sales and marketing (who also have a higher success rate) benefiting from the support of a female environment.

6. Wine o’clock

The notorious wine o’clock practised by professional women could potentially negatively impact their fertility. A Danish study of over 6000 women aged 21-45 indicated that those who drank over 14 servings of alcohol per week (equivalent to 7 glasses of wine – higher than NHS guidelines) lowered their chances of conceiving by 18%. The NHS advises that women trying to get pregnant give up alcohol altogether in order to minimise damage to a potential foetus.

7. Having your tonsils removed

A 2016 study showed that women who have had their appendix or tonsils removed are likely to be more fertile than others. The research, undertaken over 15 years, indicated that women who had had an appendectomy increased their chances of pregnancy by 34%, while those who had had a tonsillectomy increased them by 49%, and those who’d had both by 43%. This disproves the idea that an appendectomy could damage a woman’s chances of pregnancy, as previously thought. Fertility expert Prof Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield argued that the surgery could have a positive impact on a woman’s immune system, improving her fertility.

8. Kissing the wrong person

In a recent Italian study of women with unexplained primary infertility, 43% of participants were found to have HHV-6A, one of the human herpes viruses. The virus is undetectable in the blood, but it is replicated in the saliva glands, meaning that it can be unknowingly passed on by kissing someone already infected. More research is required, but the findings may signal a breakthrough for the millions of women whose infertility is simply “unexplained”.

9. Having a partner that sleeps too much (or too little)

The male proclivity for a lie-in could have a negative impact on a couple’s chances of conceiving. In a survey of over 700 American couples, it was found that men who slept for longer than 9 hours (or less than 6) per night, reduced their chances of conception by over 40%. This is likely to be due to the release of testosterone overnight. The study suggests that peak fecundity could be attained by an average of 8 hours a night, but scientists were quick to point out that forcing a male partner to sleep less in the hope of having a baby was more likely to make them grumpy, more than anything.

» Find out more about Fertility Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Telegraph article

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Physically Demanding Jobs And Night Shifts ‘Linked To Poor Fertility In Women’

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Research found that a physically demanding job or work schedules outside of normal office hours may lower a woman’s ability to conceive.

It is the first study of its kind to measure whether workplace factors might affect a woman’s biological capacity to have a baby.

For the study, published in the journal ‘Occupational and Environmental Medicine’researchers looked at indicators of “ovarian reserve” in 473 women attending one fertility clinic.

The “reserve” refers to a woman’s number of remaining eggs and level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which rises as a woman ages and represents dwindling fertility.

The average age of participants was 35 and they had an average BMI of 23. They were quizzed about the jobs they did, as well as the level of physical exertion required for their roles and the hours and patterns worked.

Researchers discovered that while type of workload did not seem to make any difference to FSH levels, women with physically demanding jobs had a lower reserve of eggs than those whose work did not regularly require heavy lifting.

Among women going through IVF, those with physically demanding jobs had a lower total reserve of eggs and fewer mature eggs – representing reductions of nearly 9% and nearly 14.5%, respectively – when compared with those who didn’t do heavy lifting.

For women working evening, night or rotating shifts, their reserves were found to follow a similar pattern.

These women had fewer mature eggs, on average, than those working shifts within normal working hours. The difference was even greater among those specifically working evening and night shifts, possibly because of disruption to the body clock, researchers suggested.

Women who were overweight (BMI of 25 and above) and whose job was physically demanding, also had fewer mature eggs.

“These findings have clinical implications,” wrote the researchers. “As women with fewer mature oocytes [eggs] would have fewer eggs which are capable of developing into healthy embryos.”

They added that the results “suggest that occupational factors may be more specifically affecting oocyte production and quality, rather than accelerating ovarian ageing”.

Professor Geeta Nargund, medical director of Create Fertility, branded the findings as “very interesting”.

“It is well known that sleep disturbance can have negative impact on hormonal rhythms and metabolism, particularly with melatonin and cortisol levels,” she told The Huffington Post UK.

“An interaction between melatonin and follicle stimulating hormone has been previously reported.

“We need further large studies to confirm these findings before we can advise women if their night shifts have a potential negative impact on their egg quality and IVF outcome.”

» Find out more about Fertility Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Huffington Post article

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Is reflexology the new cure for infertility?

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An increasing number of women claim this popular type of foot massage has helped them conceive. Now a medical study has been launched to discover if the claims are true.

Reflexology, a traditional healing art dating from the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, involves manipulation of pressure points in the hands and feet and is often used to ease period pain, headaches, sinus and back problems as well as the effects of chemotherapy.

Practitioners claim the soles of the feet are like a mini map of the inside of the body and are linked to our inner organs and systems, including the fallopian tubes and ovaries. By massaging different points on the feet therapists claim they can unblock energy pathways in the body and so help the body to regain its natural balance and heal itself.

Some points on the foot are associated with a woman’s egg production and by manipulating these areas reflexologists claim they can correct the imbalances which can hamper pregnancy.

The latest research, a two year clinical trial at the IVF unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth,

is the brainchild of reflexologist Jane Holt. She approached the unit after 13 of the 23 women she treated with a range of fertility problems fell pregnant last year.

Beccy Wellington, 34, an auxiliary nurse, from Kingsbridge, in Devon, is convinced that her trip to see Jane in November 1999 resulted in the birth of her son Luke, who is now five months old.

‘We had been trying for a baby for just over a year and had begun to look at other ways that would help me conceive when someone recommended reflexology,’ she said.

‘I had four treatments and was pregnant within three weeks. I am convinced that the reflexology got my body in working order so I was ready to conceive. I also felt ten times better, more positive and a lot happier in myself.’

‘I went in there with an open mind, but was totally shocked to find myself pregnant so soon,’ she said. ‘I would definitely advise other women to try reflexology. It may not work for everyone, but it worked for me and it is worth trying.’

Jane Holt, a reflexologist for 12 years, claims one woman she helped had been trying to get pregnant for 20 years.

‘Infertility is a complex problem and I think that often what is needed is something that gives the system a bit of a kick start and that’s what reflexology can do,’ she said.

‘At least this gives women the option to try something else while they are going through hospital procedures and even if it works for some of them that’s a bonus.’

Cathy Shipton, who plays nurse Duffy in the BBC TV series Casualty, is also convinced that reflexology on the set of the show in Bristol helped her to become pregnant.

She had been trying to have a baby for four years, but four months after having twice weekly reflexology sessions she became pregnant.

In the new study, 150 volunteers will be offered reflexology rather than the fertility drug clomifene, which is usually used to induce ovulation. This drug works in about 70 per cent of patients, but the drug’s main drawback is it can increase the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy.

The volunteers will each receive eight treatments over a two to three month period. In order for the trial to be conducted in a scientific way, patients and hospital staff will not know whether true reflexology or a ‘dummy’ version has been given. Only the reflexologist will know who has had the real treatment.

One in seven couples suffers with infertility. Last year the Plymouth IVF unit saw over 900 patients. Thirty per cent of these were not producing eggs.

The hospital has already pioneered the use of acupuncture – the insertion of fine needles into the body to unblock energy channels – in pregnancy and routinely offers it to women who might benefit.

Dr Jonathan Lord, clinical lecturer in reproductive medicine at the hospital, is co-ordinating the new trial.

‘At the moment there is no evidence to say whether reflexology works or not,’ he said. ‘Although there are several reports of patients in whom it has worked, this is not sufficient evidence to enable it to be routinely recommended.’

by ANDREA PERRY, Mail Online

Find out more about Reflexology for infertility at The Surrey Park Clinic

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Every woman ‘needs fertility MoT at 25 to boost chances of getting pregnant and avoiding miscarriages’

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Millions of women with a painful womb condition should be monitored much more closely in pregnancy because they are at a higher risk of losing their babies, doctors said last night.

They spoke out after a major study showed that endometriosis, which affects around one in ten women, raises the odds of a host of complications in pregnancy. These range from miscarriages and premature birth to potentially deadly haemorrhages. But watching these women more closely could reduce the danger – and save their life and that of their baby.

Endometriosis occurs when cells normally found in the womb lining attach themselves to other parts of the pelvic area, causing scarring, inflammation and pain. It was known to cause fertility problems, but it had been thought that once a woman did conceive, the condition was unlikely to put her pregnancy at risk. However, the issue had not been thoroughly researched. Now, Aberdeen University researchers have trawled through 30 years of medical records in Scotland, allowing them to compare pregnancies of women who have endometriosis with those of women without the condition.

CERVICAL CANCER ALERT FOR OVER-50S

Women over 50 are putting their lives at risk by failing to go for smear tests, researchers warn. Many wrongly believe they are immune to cervical cancer as they think it is only caused by casual sex. But experts say the virus that causes the illness can lie dormant for 20 years and it can then be another ten to 15 years before tumours appear.

There are 3,100 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK a year, of which a third are in women over 50. Older women are much more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage tumours, which are inoperable, and death rates are twice as high. Scientists say this is because they fail to attend smear tests, which pick up the first signs of the cancer.

A report by the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust shows that 81.6 per cent of 50 to 54-year-olds attended a test, dropping to 74.8 per cent of 55 to 59-year-olds and just 73.2 per cent of 60 to 64-year-olds. Women over 55 put off appointments by an average of four years.

The analysis of more than 15,000 pregnant women showed that those with endometriosis were 76 per cent more likely to miscarry. They also had almost triple the chance of suffering an ectopic pregnancy – when the embryo implants outside the womb and the baby is lost.

Women with endometriosis also have a higher risk of complications later in pregnancy such as giving birth prematurely and haemorrhaging, which can be fatal, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference in Lisbon heard.

It is thought that the complications happen because endometriosis damages the development of the placenta – the lifeline between mother and unborn child. Doctors suggested women with endometriosis should give birth in hospitals with specialist neonatal units so that expert help is on hand.

Researcher Lucky Saraswat, a consultant gynaecologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said that miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies sadly can’t be prevented – so in these cases the baby cannot be saved.

But if doctors know that women with endometriosis are more at risk, they can monitor them more closely and admit them to a specialist unit at the first sign of trouble – limiting the dangers to the mother. Catching a haemorrhage early can save the life of both the mother and child. Dr Saraswat said: ‘These findings should be used to counsel women with endometriosis and inform them.

‘At the moment, once they are diagnosed with endometriosis, we talk about infertility but we do not talk about what happens once they get pregnant.

‘These finds can also be taken into account when planning antenatal care for these women.’

‘And often the person who waited until 39 to try is a successful career woman, who passed her school exams, went to university, got a good job and climbed up the career ladder and suddenly she can’t have something that everyone else can.’

As many as one in six couples suffers infertility. Almost 40,000 British women have fertility treatment each year, paying up to $15,000 per course, with 12,500 babies born with the help of IVF. Several fertility blood tests already exist, including one developed by Professor Ledger.

They typically use hormone levels to gauge a woman’s ‘ovarian reserve’ – the number of healthy eggs she has left. But critics question how well they work and fear a ‘good’ result could lull women into a false sense of security. Other doctors argue schoolchildren should be taught about fertility during sex education classes. Mark Hamilton, former chairman of the British Fertility Society, said there was ‘widespread misapprehension’ about the success rate of IVF. By the time a woman is in her mid 40s, it can be as low as 5 per cent.

Dr Hamilton, of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, said: ‘Sexual health messages focus entirely on the avoidance of sex but this should be coupled with promotion of fertility awareness.

There is a patchy understanding about fertility among the general public, even among those who are well-read and highly educated.’

Tony Rutherford, the present chair of the BFS, said: ‘If a woman leaves it late – by which I mean 36 – she is taking a gamble.

‘There is a public health duty for us to ensure that men and women are informed about their fertility potential. At the moment, that’s not the case.’

By Fiona Macrae, The Daily Mail

 

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