The Language of Infertility…Don’t Get Scared Now

Here’s another great blog post from Josh. We’re loving having an infertility point-of-view from the other side of the aisle!

There was a recent article released in the Huffington Post outlining 3 reasons why infertility is a hushed topic. It is a great article and I highly recommend that anyone struggling with infertility, and those that are not, give it a quick read.  As I read the article I couldn’t help but shake my head with approval and internally scream “YES!!!” and “Thank You!!”  This has been a topic that we have been speaking on for years now, and the information is starting to spread.

However, as I thought more on the article, I realized it only scratched the surface; 3 reasons why is it hushed? Only 3?  I think I can find 10 times that just scrolling through our twitter feed each night.  Just off hand, the words, stress, embarrassment, sperm capitation and fallopian tube come to mind.  How many men just cringed reading ‘sperm capitation’?  How many actually made it past fallopian tube?  I am sure less than you would think.  And therein lies the significant problem.

The Huffington Post article alludes to this topic, but doesn’t dive deeply into it; that’s what I am here for.Man Scratching Head

The language that is used in the fertility world is not for the faint of heart. We commonly speak of vaginal fluid, sperm, lubrication, and oh so many more.  A lot of men, including myself, for a long time, are not good at conversations that include this (I picture I lot of red faces and abrupt trips to Lowes to avoid the conversation).  This language is not in our everyday lexicon. Maybe it is because we think that it is not masculine to talk about this stuff, but I believe the opposite.  Speaking as a man, I would hope my wife would find it rather refreshing to hear me speak on this topic not fearful of embarrassment or shame.  This is life, guys, nothing is embarrassing about it.  Heck, maybe the ladies will find our new appreciation for technical terms sexy.

Here are some of the terms that we should not be afraid of and why:

Sperm – it’s life, without sperm you wouldn’t be here, nor would your partner.

Eggs – see sperm. Pretty important stuff.

Sperm Capacitation – sperm capacitation is a natural and essential process when a woman’s natural conception lubrication dissolves the immobilizing cholesterol from the sperm and creates an enzyme to allow the sperm to fertilize the ovum. That’s a lot of technical speak for a natural process required for a sperm to fertilize an egg.

Lubrication/ Vaginal fluid – important aspect to creating the a fertile environment for sperm travel. Visit http://www.keytoconceive.com/    for more information.

Sex – well, if I have to explain this one, we have a bigger issue to deal with.

Now, I know this conversation won’t be as easy as talking about football with your buddies, but just like in that conversation you know the ins and outs of a 3-4 defense, you need to know about reproduction and the factors that apply.

Thinking of Men this June

Following is a guest post from one of our great partners, Don’t Cook Your Balls.

Men are supermen, right? They are impervious to all danger and illness. At the top of his game, a man is a force to be reckoned with, a superhero in his own right. Able to move heavy objects, sprint at high speeds and burn midnight oil to get the job done. But life wears us all out. With time, late nights drinking with the guys aren’t so easy the next day. A stressful job and long commute makes him want to crash on the couch rather than hitting the gym. Sometimes it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep.

spermWhy care about men’s health?

As life takes its toll on a man’s body, he just deals with it. Silently, as a society we’ve created a gender gap in health. Men are more likely to die younger, deal with more illnesses and receive less medical treatment than women. They are also more likely to face their health in isolation as they have smaller support networks and are less likely to ask for help.

Men’s Health Month

Championed by the Men’s Health Network, a non-profit that “reaches men where they live, work, play and pray”, Men’s Health Month is a dedicated opportunity to build awareness about men’s health issues. Here are some of the events that will be happening:

  • It’s a Guy Thing Fertility Summit – Kristen Magnacca Darcy and Don’t Cook your Balls have teamed up to offer a free 5 day online summit dedicated to all the issues surrounding male fertility. It is designed to help couples struggling with male fertility issues to learn more about the condition and connect to key resources to support their journey. It will cover key topics such as testosterone and fertility, varicocele – treat or not to treat, advanced treatment options for azoospermia, tips and tricks to communicating with your wife, what to do when biology won’t cooperate.
  • The Drive for Men’s Health – Dr’s Jamin Brahmbhatt and Sijo Parekattil, are leaving the operating room behind and taking to the highway to spread the word about men’s health issues. The two urologists and robotic surgeons have planned the first even Drive for Men’s Health event, traveling from Central Florida to NYC in an all-electric Tesla vehicle. The purpose of the Drive For Men’s Health is to encourage men to make their health a priority. Throughout the drive, the physicians will broadcast live through Google Glass in order to discuss men’s health issues, as well as related partners and sponsors.

There are many more great Men’s Health events happening throughout the country. Check out the official Men’s Health Month calendar to learn more.

Get Involved

Recent studies show that a man’s fertility can be a good indicator of his future health. Nearly all the health risks associated with chronic disease and early death — such as obesity, smoking, poor diet, high stress, lack of exercise and the like — have also been shown to impair sperm production. As our small part to raise awareness around this important issue, Don’t Cook your Balls is sponsoring a campaign to raise money and awareness for Men’s Health.

You can help! By simply posting a picture to facebook, twitter or instagram, you can raise awareness about men’s health issues AND raise money to support free health screenings for men.

What to do

  1. Take a picture: of something that is bad for your testicular health (smoking, tight pants, hottubs, a donut, you get the idea) with the phase “don’t cook your balls” somewhere in the picture
  2. Post the picture to facebook, twitter or instagram with the hashtag #dontcookyourballs
  3. Ask friends to like, share and retweet

During the month of June, for every picture posted that is tagged with #dontcookyourballs, $0.50 will be donated to the Men’s Health Network to support free health screenings for men. Posts with the most likes, favorites and retweets will be awarded weekly prizes, while the most popular post of the month will receive a grand prize.

Hard Habit to Break

No Smoking SignWhile they don’t seem that detrimental, many of our daily bad habits can have far-reaching negative affects, especially on fertility. If you’re struggling to conceive or thinking about trying to conceive in the future, it’s worth the work to try and break your bad habits as soon as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of conception. An article in the Huffington Post outlined some of the most common bad habits that can have a negative effect on fertility:

Stress–A recent study by the Ohio State University provided the scientific data to back what we already knew–stress can cause infertility.

Being Overweight or Underweight–even a little extra weight can cause hormone shifts that affect ovulation and semen production and being underweight can mean irregular periods.

Smoking–this bad habit is not only bad for your overall health, it can cause major fertility issues and pregnancy issues if you continue to smoke once you do conceive.

Caffeine–too much caffeine, whether through coffee, pop or tea, can inhibit your chances of conception, so cut back if you can.

Using the Wrong Lubricant–most lubricants are actually spermicidal and kill any chances of conception. This is where ToConceive can help! Our ToConceive product is a gel that certainly has lubricant properties to it and feels like other lubricants, but it is much more.  Our product stimulates a woman’s body to increase the production of transudate, a natural lubrication that dissolves the immobilizing cholesterol from the sperm and creates an enzyme to allow the sperm to fertilize the ovum. This process can only be achieved with transudate and is called Sperm Capacitation. This essential capacitation step is inadequate or missing in many couples due to the women’s limited production of transudate.

 

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Don’t Forget….March Madness is now Maternity Madness!

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ToConceive wants to help those couples TTC to get a slam dunk and achieve their dream of pregnancy. We’re offering $15 off any 1-bottle order or $25 off any 3-bottle order till April 7.

Visit our website http://www.keytoconceive.com and enter promo code save15off1 or save25off3 at checkout to receive your $15 or $25 off and win one for your home team!

New advancements in IVF and sperm capacitation

Here at Key to Conceive, we talk a lot of about sperm capacitation because it’s such an important part in the conception process. I thought it would be a good idea to review sperm capacitation because it is so important. Also, recently, researchers have made more discoveries on the importance of sperm capacitation. (You can read all about the new discoveries here.)

sperm-capacitationMany people understand that a woman needs to ovulate to release an egg and that a man’s sperm must fertilize that egg, but in between those steps, sperm capacitation must occur for the sperm to have the capacity to penetrate and fertilize the mature egg. Key to Conceive wants to educate people on the importance of the sperm capacitation step.

Sperm capacitation is essential for several reasons. First, a woman’s natural conception lubrication dissolves the immobilizing cholesterol from the sperm and creates an enzyme that allows the sperm to fertilize the ovum. A woman produces that natural conception lubrication when she becomes sexually aroused. When used regularly, ToConceive also helps a woman produce her own natural lubrication to aid in the capacitation process. Secondly, sperm capacitation selects out immature and abnormal sperm that lack capacitation. The process also selects out sperm coated with anti-sperm antibodies or strips off those antibodies to allow for proper capacitation. Sperm capacitation works to allow only the fittest sperm to fertilize.

Unexplained Infertility

While researching the topic of unexplained infertility, I stumbled across an interesting article on advancedfertility.com. To illustrate all of the things that “must happen perfectly in order to get pregnant and have a baby,”  they made an oversimplified list of the science involved in a successful conception.

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What must happen for a successful conception:

  • The hormones that stimulate egg development must be made in the brain and pituitary and be released properly
  • The egg must be of sufficient quality and be chromosomally normal
  • The egg must develop to maturity
  • The brain must release a sufficient surge of the LH hormone to stimulate final maturation of the egg
  • The follicle (eggs develop in structures called follicles in the ovaries) must rupture and release the follicular fluid and the egg
  • The tube must “pick up” the egg
  • The sperm must survive their brief visit in the vagina, enter the cervical mucous, swim to the fallopian tube and “find” the egg
  • The sperm must be able to get through the cumulus cells around the egg and bind the shell (zona pellucida) of the egg
  • The sperm must undergo a biochemical reaction and release their DNA package (23 chromosomes) into the egg
  • The fertilized egg must be able to divide
  • The early embryo must continue to divide and develop normally
  • After 3 days, the tube should have transported the embryo down into the uterus
  • The embryo must continue to develop and expand into a blastocyst
  • The blastocyst must hatch out of its shell
  • The endometrial lining of the uterus must be properly developed and receptive
  • The hatched blastocyst must attach to the endometrial lining and “implant”
  • Many more miracles in early embryonic and fetal development must then follow…

A weak link anywhere in this chain will cause failure to conceive

The above list is very oversimplified, but the point is made. There are literally hundreds of molecular and biochemical events that have to happen perfectly in order to have a pregnancy develop.

(from http://www.advancedfertility.com)

Wow! The way I see it is that those suffering with unexplained infertility should not be considered “unfortunate,” but that each time a baby is successfully conceived should be considered a miracle! This reminds me of my college biology class. I remember being completely blown away by the many “miracles” that have to occur in order or a baby to be conceived, carried through pregnancy and then delivered. Among other things, it definitely strengthened my faith in my Creator God!

All of this to say, there are many factors involved in conception and pregnancy, and if any one of them does not function properly, infertility occurs. Unexplained infertility simply means that the doctor cannot find that “weak link” that is not properly functioning. During his studies and through years of experience, Dr. Thompson, founder of ToConceive, found that sexual arousal and inadequate normal vaginal lubrication are probably main causes of unexplained infertility. This is because of the lack of optimum sperm support and the lack of adequate sperm capacitation necessary for ovum fertilization. ToConceive is a natural and inexpensive product that is designed to do just that- increase the female’s sexual arousal and aid the body in producing an adequate supply of vaginal lubrication.  It also aids in male subfertility issues (oftentimes also unexplained) as it capacitates the sperm to allow it to fertilize the ovum. Before heading down the road to IVF, why not give it a try and see if your diagnosis of unexplained infertility can be cured!

For a much more in-depth explanation of the science behind conception, please visit http://www.keytoconceive.com.

Overusing IVF: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Since its creation in 1978, in-vitro fertilization has helped millions of couples achieve the dream of having children. Initially, scientists created IVF to help women with tubal disorders conceive and over the years, doctors started using it to treat other infertility problems like male subfertility, endometriosis and even unexplained infertility.

But too much of a good thing may turn out to be a bad thing. Dr. Esme I. Kamphuis of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and his team recently released a study that looked at the potential overtreatment of IVF.

While IVF can help couples achieve pregnancy, it also comes with negative side effects. In a 2012 study, researchers from UCLA found that IVF has a higher risk of birth defects. The IVF process circumnavigates the genetic natural selection process that prevents eggs with defects from fertilizing. IVF often leads to multiples, which can cause issues like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes in the mom. The University of Amsterdam study also referenced studies that showed long-term negative effects in IVF children including high blood pressure, high glucose levels and more heart problems.

test tubesThe study did not discredit the effectiveness of IVF for it’s original purpose—tubal blockage and several male factor infertility. It did, however, draw attention to the use of IVF for other subfertility issues, especially unexplained fertility, which can often be solved using other methods. As the study states, “[IVF’s] early pioneers persevered in opposition to scientific, societal, and religious dogma. [But] similar determination is needed in attempts to evaluate the extension of IVF to new indications.”

Nearly 30 percent of couples face unexplained infertility and for these couples, more effective infertility treatments exist that don’t come with the risks of IVF. Sometimes, no treatment at all is needed. Numerous studies published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health have found that between 10 and 20 percent of women who attempt IVF, whether they are successful or not, conceive all on their own within three to four years.

Not only can IVF be risky, it’s also extremely expensive and out of reach for many couples. One IVF cycle can cost between $15,000 and $20,000 and most insurance companies do not include IVF as a covered procedure. Couples are going into debt trying to achieve the dream of pregnancy.

If not IVF, then what for couples facing unexplained infertility or other types of infertility? Couples have other options before jumping straight to IVF. One option is simply to wait it out for a few years. For couples wanting a baby now, that is easier said than done. Women can also become educated on how their bodies work. In the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Mary Lee Barron explored how out-of-tune women are with their bodies and how basic reproductive education can help women conceive easier. Along with education, apps like Kindara help women track their periods, basal body temperatures, sexual activity and cervical mucus and show them how to use that data to determine their most fertile times.

Another option is ToConceive, which helps a woman create her own natural conception lubrication, which is the key to conceiving. Natural conception lubrication is necessary for sperm capacitation, the key process that prepares the sperm to fertilize the egg. Without suitable natural conception lubrication, the sperm cannot be capacitated. Without sperm capacitation, the sperm cannot reach the egg or properly fertilize it and pregnancy cannot occur. Often with unexplained infertility, a woman is not producing enough of her own natural conception lubrication and the sperm is not being properly capacitated, which is why they cannot get pregnant.

Before jumping straight to IVF, couples can use education, fertility apps and products like ToConceive as a first step in a step-therapy program of infertility treatments. Unlike IVF, these solutions have no ill side effects, are easy to use and effective for many couples experiencing unexplained infertility. Additionally, they are a fraction of the cost. ToConceive, for example, costs just $39.95 for a one-month supply, compared to thousands for IVF.

For some couples, other step-therapy methods for infertility still may not help and in those cases, IVF is an excellent solution. But couples don’t need to go directly to IVF; other easier and less expensive options exist. IVF is a viable option for many couples, but it’s not the answer for all couples. As the University of Amsterdam study states, “we need to evaluate which couples have a reasonable chance of natural conception” and look for other more effective,  less invasive and less expensive methods to help them achieve pregnancy.

Sources:

http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g252

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251768.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/your-money/meeting-the-cost-of-conceiving.html?_r=0

www.pubmed.gov/10731540

www.pubmed.gov/18765012

www.pubmed.gov/8636613

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780444?nlid=30327_901&src=wnl_edit_medp_obgy&spon=16

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More Than Just a Lubricant

natural-conception-lubrication-bottlesThe ToConceive product is a gel that certainly has lubricant properties to it and feels like other lubricants, but it is much more.  Our product stimulates a woman’s body to increase the production of transudate, a natural lubrication that dissolves the immobilizing cholesterol from the sperm and creates an enzyme to allow the sperm to fertilize the ovum. This process can only be achieved with transudate and is called Sperm Capacitation. This essential capacitation step is inadequate or missing in many couples due to the women’s limited production of transudate. In 2010 the Nobel Prize in Medicine for In Vitro Fertilization emphasized the importance of Sperm Capacitation for successful conception.

Learn more about ToConceive and sperm capacitation at http://www.keytoconceive.com.