Fertility ART and Science Blog

This is an informational blog designed to provide you with information about fertility treatment and topics related to the field of reproductive endocrinology. You can use the search box or click through the topics you find listed on the left hand side of this page to read more. We welcome your input, so please feel free to give us your ideas on subjects you would like to read about.  Contact Us.

 

Another Painful Period…Or A Problem? Understanding Endometriosis

Monday, 25, March 2013

Fertility Centers of Illinois focuses on building awareness during National Endometriosis Awareness Month in March

For some women, painful periods are a part of life.  But many women experiencing painful periods do not know their pain is signaling a larger health issue.

Approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide are diagnosed with the chronic disease endometriosis. Many women do not know they have endometriosis because in most cases they can only be diagnosed through surgery.  

The cause of endometriosis remains unknown, and a permanent cure may be difficult. Building awareness of this disease is critical in aiding effective diagnoses, pain management and infertility treatment for women.

What is endometriosis?

Every month during menstruation, a woman sheds the endometrial lining in her uterus. When the endometrium tissue normally found in the uterus grows outside the uterus or in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis.

Each month, endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Endometrial tissue in other parts of the body follows the same pattern, causing period-like symptoms such as cramps and discomfort. Without the ability to drain through the uterus as it would during menstruation, the endometrial tissue is released into the body, causing pain, inflammation, and scar tissue.

Endometrial growths have been found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity and between the vagina and rectum. In rare cases, growths have been found in other parts of the body.

Endometriosis affects the body in many different ways. For some, fertility, bowel function, gynecological health and quality of life are disrupted.

What are symptoms of endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis vary greatly from patient to patient, with some exhibiting no symptoms, and others experiencing the full gamut. For those without symptoms, the endometrial tissue grows in areas without nerve endings that activate pain signals.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include painful menstruation, pain during sexual activity, and painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation. Endometriosis may also cause fatigue, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, recurrent yeast infections, chemical sensitivities, and allergies.

For many women, infertility is also a common symptom. Scarring and adhesions from endometriosis can restrict movement of the ovaries, change the position of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, as well as block the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also increase production of prostaglandins, the hormones that affect fertility.

Roughly 35 to 50 percent of women diagnosed with endometriosis also have infertility, with endometriosis being one of the top three causes of infertility.

How is endometriosis treated?

Endometrial tissue only forms in women with active ovarian hormone production, restricting diagnoses to women of reproductive age. By regulating hormone production with medication or birth control, symptoms can be greatly reduced, minimalizing scarring and adhesions.

To improve fertility, doctors can surgically remove adhesions and scar tissue in the female reproductive system. Surgical options are not always necessary to achieve pregnancy, however.  Stimulation of the ovaries with fertility medications and in vitro fertilization will often overcome the impact of endometriosis on fertility. IVF allows doctors to bypass any damaged tissue due to endometriosis. Using medications such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH–A) can help improve pregnancy rates as well.

Not all individuals with endometriosis are infertile. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of women with endometriosis conceive. While this is a painful disease, it is also a very common and treatable disease.

Women with endometriosis should take comfort in knowing that modern medicine allows for treatment of endometriosis symptoms and the infertility that may result. We have helped hundreds of women overcome endometriosis and have the family of their dreams.

Angeline Beltsos, M.D.
Reproductive Endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois

 

Valentine’s Day While Trying to Conceive: Keeping the Romance Sizzling

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Fertility Centers of Illinois Shares 8 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship When Trying to Get Pregnant

Trying to have a baby can be, well, trying.

For couples trying to conceive, staying up-to-date on monitoring ovulation, charting basal body temperatures, and timing intimacy can take a steamy bedroom setting into the cold.

For couples pursuing fertility treatment, it is very common for emotional and physical intimacy to decrease. Going through fertility treatment can be emotional, grueling, and exhausting for couples. Life’s everyday challenges can cause any couple to hit bumps in the road. When infertility is added to the mix, couples may feel overwhelmed with how to overcome this challenge as a strong, balanced unit.

“Treatment can take couples through a rollercoaster of emotion,” explains Dr. Jane Nani of Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Couples find great help in speaking with a counselor, and often find their relationships are stronger at the end of the journey.”

It is important for couples to understand they are not alone. Working together equally during the entire process – learning about infertility, supporting each other, and making treatment decisions – will strengthen your relationship.

With a little creativity, couples can make a swift u-turn back to the romance they once had.

1. Recall Your Most Romantic Moments

What was it that made you fall in love? What were the most “swoon-worthy” moments? Close your eyes and imagine those moments all over again, but don’t keep them to yourself. Write a love note to your partner recalling the reasons and events that made you fall for him or her, and seal it with a kiss.

2. Get Your Heart Pumping

Working out decreases stress, improves health and increases happiness. Go for a walk or hike together, or try a new physical activity together. Partner Yoga at Pulling Down the Moon on February 15th is a perfect opportunity – couples of any experience level will learn how to stretch and breathe away stress, while reconnecting the body and mind – together. Learn more or register on their website.

3. Set A Fun Goal Together

Want to have a weekly date night for the next month? Have you always wanted to ballroom dance? Want to finish a 5k in the summer? Want to start a couple’s food and entertainment blog? Studies show that the more couples invest time in doing fun things together, the happier they are in the long-term. In the name of science and happiness, pick a fun goal that you can work towards together, and focus on achieving it.

4. Mum’s the Word on Trying to Conceive

Taking a break from infertility talk can give you the strength to revisit treatment with new resolve and optimism. What you are going through as a couple can be tough, and everyone deserves a break. Make a 48-hour rule to take a break from infertility, and focus on fun instead.

5. Get Out of Town

Changing your environment can shift your mental outlook, allowing the head space you need to gain perspective, release stress, and have fun. Take the weekend to ski in the Rocky Mountains, drink wine in Napa Valley, sit on the beach in Mexico, or surf the waves in Florida. Kick back, relax, and focus only on enjoying each moment together.

6. Love Me Tender

See where your partner is truly at and what they need, both in life and in the treatment process. Infertility can affect your partner’s self-esteem and depending on the diagnosis, can make a man or women feel “defective” or “incomplete.” Discuss where you're at, what you need, and how you can help each other. If treatment has caused challenges, being tender and attentive can help put a relationship back in balance.

7. Recreate A Movie Moment

Kiss under a full moon, hold hands as the sun sets, embrace in the middle of a rain storm, watch the clouds while holding hands during a picnic lunch. Who says that romantic movie moments can only star John Cusack or Ryan Reynolds? Make your own!

8. Double Date

Spend some time with another couple -- preferably one without children. Go on a double date, and spend the evening having fun together, discussing current events, upcoming travel plans, and the latest in entertainment.

# # #

2013 Fertility Roadmap: Successfully Navigate The Path to Parenthood 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

F ertility Centers of Illinois Shares 10 Tips to Help Couples Conceive in the New Year

Every New Year marks new beginnings, new goals, and a fresh start. For some, the goal of parenthood is on their list for 2013.

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

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

Below are 10 fertility-boosting tips from Dr. Chris Sipe:

1.     Map Out a Blueprint

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

2.     Know Your Fertility Short-Cuts

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

3.     Combine the East and West for a Balanced Approach

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

4.     Keep the Bedroom Fertility-Friendly

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

 5.     Work Towards a Fertility-Friendly Weight

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

6.     Nourish Your Body

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

7.     Feed Your Fertility

A Harvard study found that women who maintained a whole food, primarily plant-based diet were able to increase their fertility six-fold. Men aren’t off the hook either – high fat diets have been found to decrease sperm count.


Fill your refrigerator and pantry with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables while avoiding thick cuts of meat and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and cookies. If navigating a new dietary world seems a bit overwhelming, consult the help of a nutritionist or dietitian. There are also programs available such as FirstLine Therapy for Fertility that can guide you through a fertility-rich diet while assisting in weight loss.

8.     Ask Questions, Lots of Questions


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

9.     Have One Glass of Wine

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

10.     Rest Up for the Ride

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

Infertility affects more couples than you might think.

Monday, 4 September 2012

Approximately 15 percent of all couples are affected by infertility, or roughly 7 million people. That number is expected to grow to 7.7 million by 2025.

Why the increase?

Dr. Meike Uhler of Fertility Centers of Illinois, who has treated hundreds of couples with infertility, says that answers point to a variety of reasons.

“Women are waiting to have children, and delayed childbearing can present a host of infertility issues,” she explains. “There are also excellent contraception options for women, which makes deferring parenthood much easier. The increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. has also increased the prevalence of infertility issues.”

If couples have been trying without success, there are some basic infertility facts that are good to know.

5 Infertility Facts: 

  1. Women and men experience infertility equally (yes, really!)
  2. Age is the biggest factor with infertility for women and men
  3. Ovulation is the most prevalent infertility issue for women
  4. If you have been trying for one year and are under 35, or trying for 6 months and over the age of 35, you may have infertility issues
  5. Stress affects fertility levels for both women and men

Did infertility fact #5 make you nervous? You’re not alone. The process of infertility treatment can be exhausting. The testing, multiple appointments, potential financial stressors, taking time off work, and the constant inquiries from family and friends are all stress factors.

Take a deep breath, we have some good news.

In a Harvard study, 55 percent of women who participated in mind and body programs got pregnant, compared to 20 percent who did not. Natural treatment can provide the relief and fertility boost you are looking for.

To learn more about understanding infertility, this YouTube video can help answer some of your questions and explain what men and women can expect in an initial consultation.

To learn more about natural treatment options can boost fertility, read more in Part Two.

Part Two: Boosting Fertility Through Natural Treatment 

Monday, 10 September 2012

If the stress of trying to conceive is bringing you down, natural treatment options can give you a boost. Fertility Centers of Illinois works in conjunction with Eastern Healing to offer a wide array of options.

Not only can natural treatment options decrease stress – they can help you get pregnant. In a Harvard study, 55 percent of women who participated in mind and body programs got pregnant, compared to 20 percent who did not.

5 Benefits of Natural Treatment: 

  1. Increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  2. Strengthens uterine lining
  3. Equalizes stress hormones
  4. Improves sperm count, motility and morphology
  5. Encourages relaxation, mental clarity and mindfulness  

Peter Harvey, owner of Eastern Healing, has helped countless couples boost their fertility and decrease stress during infertility treatment. 

“Building a family is exciting, but the stress that results from infertility treatment can take a toll on couples,” he says.  “Most of my patients don’t even realize they have underlying low-level anxiety problems, which can be easily helped through a variety of options.”

Natural treatment options can come in many forms:

Acupuncture

Not only is acupuncture known to increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, it can also thicken uterine lining. Acupuncture can also decrease pelvic pain and provide relief from bloating. For those who become pregnant, acupuncture can lessen symptoms of nausea.  Relaxation and normalization of stress hormones are also proven benefits of acupuncture.

Chinese Diet Therapy

Changing diet can boost energy and wellbeing, and also help cut down extra weight. Research shows that a 5 percent decrease in weight loss for those who are overweight can help regulate menstrual cycles, aid in ovulation, and decrease the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy. Chinese Dietary Therapy includes the use of a variety of new inclusions in dietary patterns as well as the elimination of some foods that are more prevalent in Western diets. Among the additions might be herbal teas and non-processed fruits and vegetables. The exclusions are foods like refined sugar and flour as well as highly processed foods or foods with high sodium content.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

While patients are never given herbal supplements leading up to or during an IVF cycle, these supplements can lessen the stress and symptoms associated with fertility treatment. Herbalists conduct a comprehensive exam then prescribe a formula. Herbalists consider 400 herbs that can come in the form of flowers, roots, or berries, when prescribing a formula. Formulas can come in the form of a tea, pills, tincture, granules or topical solutions such as lotions and poultices.

Meditation & Breathing Techniques

Utilizing calming breathing techniques calms down the sympathetic nervous system and increases blood flow to the uterus. Even small amounts of meditation, such as 10 minutes per day, gives the mind space and provides clarity, calm, and mindfulness.

Massage

Tui Na massage dates back 4700 years, making it the forefather of all forms of massage and body work that exist today. Unlike other forms of massage, Tui Na treats specific internal illnesses, making it the most effective form of massage for infertility.

Yoga

Taking time to build a yoga practice releases tension and stress, strengthens the body, encourages hormone production and increases blood flow. Specific poses, such as the lotus pose, child’s pose, reclining hero and seated forward bend can specifically help boost fertility by targeting specific parts of the body or calming the body and mind.

Natural treatment options and medical treatment options are detailed in this YouTube video.

For more information visit: http://www.fcionline.com/ or www.easternhealing.org.

Nearly $75,000 Raised for Cade Foundation and Couples with Infertility

 

In Palatine on June 23rd, over 400 people came together in support of overcoming infertility and raised nearly $75,000 at the Cade Foundation Race for the Family event. The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation awards grants up to $10,000 to couples struggling with infertility.

 The race was hosted by Fertility Centers of Illinois with the strong support of Dr. Eve Feinberg. Dr. Feinberg helped plan, organize and fundraise for the event. Through her efforts she raised the third largest amount of funding for the Cade Foundation.

“We are grateful to have joined hands with the Cade Foundation and made a difference in the local infertility community,” explains Dr. Eve Feinberg. “Being a part of a large practice like Fertility Centers of Illinois allows us to give back and impact the community in a bigger way.”

Special event attendees included Little Ms. Illinois, Cade Foundation co-founders Dr. Tinina Cade and Dr. Camille Hammond, 2012 Indiana Cade Foundation grant recipients Sarah and Joe Jones, and 2009 Cade Foundation grant recipients Nick and Stacie Vetor.

Marijke Moritch, who has struggled with infertility since 2008, was the lucky raffle winner of a free IVF cycle.

"Because our insurance doesn't cover any of the cost, like so many women struggling with infertility, it was truly a blessing to have this cycle gifted to us," says Marijke. "After surviving a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy and struggling through infertility, this gives us hope. We pray that we will be blessed with a child and are so thankful that the CADE event created an opportunity for us to truly and openly share our struggles with our family and friends."

Countless children and adults enjoyed Savannah’s Playground, an area of the event where attendees play, listen to live music, and learn about child safety. Savannah’s playground was built in honor of a little girl taken from her parents too soon. The Savannah Grant, awarded through the Cade Foundation, also helps couples struggling with infertility.

For all attendees, race results can be viewed here:

http://www.illraceforthefamily.com/volunteer/

For more information visit:

www.fcionline.com

www.ilraceforthefamily.com

www.cadefoundation.org

Fertility Centers of Ilinois and the Cade Foundation are grateful to have shared this event with the community. Thank you for your support and we look forward to hosting another Cade Foundation Race for the Family in 2013!

 # # #

 

Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation's leading fertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years.  FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 10 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world.  FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Naperville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Orland Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs. For more information visit www.fcionline.com

The Tinina Q Cade Foundation (Cade Foundation) is a 501c3 tax exempt non profit organization that was started in 2005 to provide information support and financial assistance to help needy infertile families OVERCOME infertility. The foundation was named after founders’ (Drs. Jason and Camille Hammond) mother, Dr. Tinina Cade.  Dr. Cade carried and delivered the couples triplets following 5 years of infertility for the Hammonds. She delivered her grand-triplets at 55 years old, making her the oldest woman to deliver triplets at that point. The Hammonds started the Cade Foundation to provide a vehicle through which families who had already “overcome” infertility could support families who were still on the infertility journey.  Another important focus of the Foundation was to provide financial support that would assist needy infertile families with costs of domestic adoption and fertility treatment.  To date, the Cade Foundation has hosted hundreds of outreach events throughout the US and provided 31 families with financial support for adoption and fertility treatment nationwide.  There are currently 21 Cade Foundation babies! www.cadefoundation.org

 

Want to become a mother? 5 ways to make sure it happens. 

Tuesday, 1, May, 2012 

In honor of Mother’s Day, Fertility Centers of Illinois shares must-know tips for future and aspiring mothers-to-be

This Mother’s Day approximately 85.4 million mothers will be celebrated. But with nearly 157 million women in the United States, there are many other women who will aim to become a mother now or in the future. Dr. Angeline Beltsos, medical director and reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, is sharing a five step guide to help women in their motherhood goals. 

“I see women who work very hard to accomplish successful careers, higher education and secure financial futures, but have not put any time into planning a family,” Dr. Beltsos explains. “Planning for a family is just like any other life goal. There are simple, basic steps women can take now to safeguard their future families.”

 5 Steps to Motherhood: 

1.     Plan for a family.

Put time and thought into planning a family as you would any other life goal. If you have a partner, discuss a timeline as to when you would like to have a family and begin trying to conceive. If you don’t have a partner, you might consider options like taking steps to preserve your fertility by freezing your eggs to ensure future fertility options. This is particularly important for women approaching their later childbearing years as ovarian reserve declines rapidly after 35.

2.     Monitor your period.

Ovulatory issues account for the largest amount of female infertility problems. It is important for women to experience regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Menstrual cycles are typically 28 days, with some ranging from 23-35 days. Ovulation is a 12 to 24 hour window during which an egg is released. Assess ovulation by keeping a calendar of your cycles, monitoring your basal body temperature or using an ovulation predictor kit. If you are experiencing issues with irregular ovulation or menstrual cycles, visit a physician for more detailed evaluation

3.     Take prenatal vitamins.

Regardless of whether or not you are actively trying to conceive, prenatal vitamins can boost your current health and aid in future conception. Prenatal vitamins not only reduce risk for some birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight baby, they supply the body with a healthy dose of folic acid, which aids in fetal development.

4.     Do basic fertility testing.

A basic fertility check up can assess your fertility potential and ovarian function. Women take two blood tests and undergo an ultrasound evaluation for basic fertility testing, while men undergo a semen analysis. All results should be evaluated by reproductive endocrinology professionals and explained in detail. At Fertility Centers of Illinois we offer a Fertility Awareness Check-up for only $90, which is then credited towards future treatment, if necessary.

5.     Make annual doctor visits a priority.

Your annual check up is critical in assessing your health and conception potential. Be sure to schedule an annual appointment and stay up-to-date on STD tests and pap smears. Catching a problem early on can ensure for fewer potential problems in the future.

 

Building Awareness During Endometriosis Awareness Month

Thursday, 22, March, 2012 

Spotlighting the Connection Between Infertility and Endometriosis

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women in the U.S. and millions across the globe. Approximately 35 to 50 percent of women with infertility also have endometriosis. Building awareness of this disease is critical in aiding effective diagnoses and infertility treatment.

Each month when women menstruate, they shed the endometrial lining found in their uterus. When the endometrial tissue normally found in the uterus grows outside the uterus and in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis.

Endometrial growths have been found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity and between the vagina and rectum. While rare, growths have also been found in the arm, thigh and lung. Each month, endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Without the ability to drain from the body as it would in normal menstruation, inflammation and pain result.

Endometriosis affects fertility, bowel function, gynecological health and most importantly, quality of life. The cause of endometriosis remains unknown, as does a permanent cure. Research continues to focus on establishing the underlying cause, genetic patterns and refined treatment options.

Doctors are now able to alleviate symptoms as well as increase fertility once a diagnosis has been determined.

Common symptoms:

  • Painful menstruation
  • Pain during sexual activity
  • Painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation and diarrhea
  • Recurrent yeast infections
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Allergies

Scarring and adhesions from endometriosis can restrict movement of the ovaries, change the position of the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as block the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also increase production of prostaglandins, hormones that affect fertility.

To improve fertility, doctors can surgically remove adhesions and scar tissue in the female reproductive system. Surgical options are not always necessary to achieve pregnancy, however.  Stimulation of the ovaries with fertility medications and in vitro fertilization will often overcome the impact of endometriosis on fertility.  IVF allows doctors to bypass any damaged tissue due to endometriosis.

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of women with endometriosis conceive and not all individuals with endometriosis are infertile.  I have treated hundreds of patients who have overcome infertility due to endometriosis and have had happy, healthy children. Rest assured, many of us in the field of reproductive medicine are working tirelessly to increase success rates through scientific study and further advancement in technique.

John J. Rapisarda, M.D.

Reproductive Endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois

 

Genetic Screening to Prevent Disease & Aid in Healthy Pregnancy

Wednesday, 14, March 2012

When trying to conceive, it is every couple’s dream to have a healthy, happy baby. For couples predisposed to genetic disease or other risk factors, there may be a possibility of having a baby born with a genetic abnormality.

Some couples may learn that a specific genetic disease is in their family bloodline, which may be passed on. Other couples may be at a higher risk of genetic abnormality due to advanced maternal age. If couples experience recurrent miscarriage or difficulty in carrying a baby to full term, genetic abnormalities may also be a factor. If gone undetected, a genetic abnormality can result in the birth of a child with physical problems, developmental delay or mental retardation. According to the March of Dimes, there are 120,000 babies born per year with a birth defect, largely due to a genetic abnormality.

Advancements in scientific capabilities are now available to help couples grow a healthy family successfully. New technology at Fertility Centers of Illinois called Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) allow couples to screen embryos for chromosomal abnormalities or detect embryos affected by potentially fatal conditions before In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). PGS screens for chromosomal abnormalities while PGD can detect a disease if the related single genes are known to be present in the couple. When screening for chromosomal abnormalities, like Down Syndrome, the 23 pairs of chromosomes are analyzed, looking for extra copies or missing copies of individual chromosomes. If a specific disease linked to a single gene is present in the family, or the couple each carry a recessive gene for a disease, like cystic fibrosis, affected embryos can be distinguished from the others and only the normal or carrier embryos transferred.  There are thousands of hereditary diseases that can be detected using current PGD technology. Combining PGS and PGD is also possible. Once embryos have been screened, doctors select the best quality embryo or embryos to use during IVF, optimizing a couple’s success.

PGS is a procedure that has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. Cutting-edge scientific capabilities now allow for the screening of all chromosomal pairs, unlike previous screening methods. Chromosomal abnormalities account for 90 percent of pregnancy losses. Fertility treatment methods like PGS can prevent the trauma of losing a pregnancy while providing couples with the most advanced treatment methods available. Many of my patients have successfully used PGS during their family planning in order to increase the chance of a normal baby and to avoid genetic disease. To learn more about PGS, watch a brief video explaining the process and procedure capabilities.

 As couples plan for their future families, it is important to take all options into consideration. It is my goal to empower couples with the knowledge to make an informed decision with which they are comfortable. Above all, at Fertility Centers of Illinois we are dedicated to helping our patients successfully become parents.

Edward L. Marut, MD
Medical Director, Fertility Centers of Illinois     

 

FCI’s Dr. Ed Marut talks to Fertility Authority about take-home sperm count tests

Thursday, 23, February, 2012

Checking Your Sperm at Home

SpermCheck Fertility — the first FDA-approved at-home screening test to check sperm count — is now available online through national drugstore chains and will be hitting the store shelves in April. SpermChek is an over-the-counter test to determine whether men have a normal sperm count.

So, if you're having trouble conceiving, should you rush right out and buy the $39.95 test for you or your partner? Not so fast, caution fertility doctors. You need to understand what SpermChek actually tests. Using the at-home test is not the same as having a true semen analysis performed in a laboratory.

"The test is purely a quantitative one that looks at the concentration of sperm and neglects the two other major aspects of a good semen analysis, which are the motility, the movement characteristics, and then the morphology, which is the microscopic appearance of the sperm," says Ed Marut, M.D., a fertility doctor and medical director of Fertility Centers of Illinois.

What SpermChek Actually Tests

SpermChek tests a man's sperm count and only sperm count. In approximately 10 minutes, the test will indicate if the sperm count is within "normal" range (at or above 20 million sperm per milliliter) or low, which would indicate the individual or couple should visit the doctor for a true semen analysis. A man who tests positive for 20 million or more per milliliter of semen sees a reddish line in his test results.

The average human ejaculate contains about 180 million sperm, which is 66 million per milliliter, according to Dr. Marut. He points out that, actually, the 20 million sperm per millileter parameter is actually an old cut-off, and the new one is lower. "It's been updated by the World Health Organization to a 15 million cut-off, so that means that if someone has 17 or 18 million [sperm], they're going to read that it's negative or abnormal, and they're going to unnecessarily — especially if this is early in the course of things — go in and get checked when it may not really be appropriate."

Even more importantly, a positive test result could give a couple a false since of security because it would not necessarily mean a man is fertile. Why? SpermChek does not take into account the other important sperm parameters: sperm motility (sperm movement) and sperm morphology (sperm shape and appearance). "Someone who has a normal count, but a low motility and/or a low morphology, may be quite infertile or sub fertile and would be mislead by this test that they were actually OK."

There's More to Sperm than Just Count

So what are motility and morphology?

First, a man's sperm need to be the right shape — morphology. A healthy sperm has an oval head and a long tail that can propel the sperm forward effectively. Sperm with poor morphology could have a small, large, misshapen, crooked or tapered head, which affect their ability to fertilize an egg. Sperm with tails that are doubled, curled or kinked can also have trouble fertilizing an egg. Fertile men tend to have a normal shape and structure to at least 14 percent of their sperm. A normal shape and structure to only 4 percent is considered the lower limit of fertilizing capacity.

Morphology can affect motility. To successfully conceive a child, a man's sperm must have the ability to propel itself and move forward. Sperm that don't move or are slow are unable to reach the egg for fertilization. To be considered fertile, a man must have at least 40 percent of their sperm exhibiting healthy motility.

Dr. Marut says motility and morphology can be more important than count. "I would personally rather see someone whose count was somewhat low but with good motility and good morphology than the other way around," he says. "Let's say someone has 10 million sperm, but it's 60 percent motile, and morphology is, say 15 to 20 percent, which is normal. That person, No. 1, may be able to get their partner pregnant without doing anything, and No. 2, if they're not [getting pregnant], doing inseminations is going to concentrate that sperm and deliver a higher number of those good sperm closer to where the egg ought to be."

Should You Try It at Home?

The developers of SpermChek say the at-home test was created to meet the needs of couples who are considering and just planning on starting a family, those currently having trouble conceiving and even those men who are just curious about their sperm count. And it may be a step in the right direction for the man who is extremely reluctant about seeing the fertility doctor to have has semen analyzed.

But Dr. Marut says if patients are having trouble conceiving, a true semen analysis would be much more beneficial and give them much more information — and it may be covered by insurance. "It's not a functional test like a woman using an ovulation detection kit," he says. "If a guy has a test that says he's normal, all he knows is that he's making enough sperm to trigger the test. It still doesn't tell him that he's fertile. This is really not a fertility test."

http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/checking-your-sperm-home

 

FCI’s Dr. Edward Marut talks to Fertility Authority about ICSI and IVF

Wednesday, 22, February 2012

IVF and ICSI

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a laboratory technique used with in vitro fertilizaton (IVF). The technique involves injecting a single living sperm directly into the center of woman's egg. "By using ICSI, we're doing everything we can to maximize the fertilization rate and embryo quality that develops," says Edward Marut, M.D., a fertility doctor and medical director of Fertility Centers of Illinois.

ICSI was first developed in the 1990s in order to help couples who had severe male factor infertility or who had failed to achieve fertilization in a previous attempt at IVF.

The ICSI Procedure

In conventional IVF, after a woman's eggs are retrieved, they are left in a petri dish with sperm in order to achieve natural fertilization.

ICSI takes place in the IVF lab. Just like with conventional IVF, the female undergoes ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs, and her eggs are retrieved and incubated in the IVF lab. Then, the semen sample is prepared in the centrifuge — the sperm cells are spun through a special medium to separate live sperm from most of the dead sperm and debris. The embryologist then selects a single live sperm, which is injected directly into the egg with a small needle.

Who Should Use ICSI?

ICSI is most often used in cases of male factor infertility. The procedure can achieve fertilization when the man has low sperm count, or poor sperm morphology (shape) or motility (movement), or the sperm have trouble attaching to the egg. It can also be used when a blockage in the man's reproductive tract keeps the sperm from getting out, in which case a testicular biopsy is performed, and testicular sperm are used.

Patients may also choose to undergo ICSI when the male partner has variable sperm counts, there is unexplained infertility, or the couple has failed previous attempts at IVF. In fact, some fertility clinics use ICSI for all fertilizations.

"We started doing ICSI in the early 90s, and we first started doing it only in the situations where there was significant male factor," Dr. Marut says. "Then once we started learning how that was working, we found that men with severe male factor doing ICSI, they had better results than men who had normal sperm doing regular IVF. So we started moving the more normal semen quality to the ICSI side, and we found not only did we get a better result than with conventional IVF, but we also got better quality embryos and avoided the unexplained failed fertilization, where everything looked great — sperm looked great, eggs looked great — and nothing happens. Then it's too late. So we've been using ICSI for all couples since then."

Is ICSI Safe?

The same risks that are associated with IVF are associated with IVF and ICSI. In addition, ICSI has been linked to an increased risk for imprinting defects, a phenomenon in which certain genes function differently depending on whether they involve a particular chromosome passed on by the father or by the mother, such as Angelman's Syndrome. There is some evidence that the imprinting errors already exist in the parents and are not due to ICSI or embryo culture.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, certain conditions that have been associated with the use of ICSI, including Angelman's Syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, hypospadias and sex chromosome abnormalities — are thought to occur in less than 1 percent of children conceived using the technique. 


 
12 New Year's Resolutions for 2012:  What You Didn't Know You Should Do For Fertility

Wednesday, 21, December 2011

With the start of a new year there are always well-intended resolutions to follow. Why not add some little-known fertility boosting resolutions to your list?

Dr. Kevin Lederer of Fertility Centers of Illinois has detailed 12 New Year’s resolutions for couples to add to their 2012 checklist. Some you may already know, others you may not. Take a look and see what works for you. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

1.  Cut out trans-fats, but not for your heart

Everyone knows that trans-fats are not heart-healthy, but did you know that they are associated with a higher risk of infertility? Trans-fats can cause ovulation problems and have been linked with a higher risk of endometriosis.

2.  Both of you should take folic acid

It has long been known that women should take folic acid while trying to conceive and during pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects, but folic acid is now known to be an important supplement in male fertility. Researchers at the University of California found that men had a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm when their diet was low in folic acid.

3.  Laugh every day

The lower your stress levels, the better your conception odds. Laughter increases endorphins and neurotransmitters while also reducing stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine and growth hormone. Make it a point to bellow a big-hearted laugh every single day.

4.  If you get a cold or cough, opt for Robitussin or Mucinex

Cold and cough products contain Guaifenesin, which is found in medications such as Robitussin or Mucinex. Guaifenesin loosens and thins mucus at the source of your sickness, as well as in your cervix. Thinner cervical mucus can help sperm get where they need to go. If you get sick, get strategic!

5.  Have sex in the morning, not at night

Just as you time sexual activity with your ovulation, time it with his peak fertility as well. Research shows that the male sperm count is highest in the morning, so clear your morning agenda and postpone the pancakes.

6.  Get a fertility check-up

If you’ve been trying to conceive or are looking to begin, a fertility check-up can provide insight on your family planning goals. Many clinics offer affordable check-ups for couples starting their family planning. FCI offers a fertility check-up for only $90, which provides basic testing for couples and can be credited towards future treatment.

7.  Stop Smoking

Cutting out cigarettes is an obvious health advantage, but many couples don’t realize how harmful cigarettes can be. A report by the British Medical Association showed that smokers may have up to a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (a.k.a. fertility) rate.  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has estimated that up to 13% of infertility may be caused by tobacco use.  The effect is dose dependent on the number of cigarettes smoked per day.   Smoking as few as 5 cigarettes per day has been associated with lower fertility rates in males and females.

8.  Limit Alcohol, but don’t cut it out

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

9.  Maintain a healthy weight and get active, but don’t overdo it

This will vary from person to person based on their body and current exercise regimen. Being physically active and at a healthy weight is crucial in maintaining health and optimal fertility as weight gain can lead to ovulation problems and difficulty in getting pregnant.  It has been found that even a 15% decrease in body mass index can have a beneficial impact on fertility. Conversely, going from a couch potato to marathon training may disrupt your menstrual cycle and complicate embryo implantation during in vitro fertilization.  Get active and train for a 10k, join a morning boot camp or take up yoga.

10.  Get a laptop fan, keep cell phones in the back pocket, and limit bicycle time

A recent study by Fertility and Sterility found that the heat created from laptops can affect sperm motility and cause DNA damage. Cell phone emissions can also cause sperm damage, so keep phones in the back pocket and put a fan under your laptop. Men should also be careful of putting too much time on the bike. Overheating the testes can reduce sperm count.

11.  Don’t burn the candle at both ends

When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, there can be disastrous side effects, whether you are trying to conceive or not. Research shows that the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of sleep. No matter what, be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

12.  Stick to a healthy eating pattern and cut carbs

It’s easy to fall into an eating pattern that is less than ideal, such as skipping breakfast, opting for an unhealthy lunch, eating a late dinner and taking in too much sugar, fat and starchy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can lead to the production of ovarian hormones which can interfere in ovulation, causing particular harm to women with PCOS or ovulatory problems. Eat fresh fruits and veggies and snack regularly to keep your body nourished and running at top fertile speed. 

 

Ensuring a Baby after Breast Cancer

Monday, 28, November 2011

After an entire month of pink engulfed the nation this past October, women are well aware that breast cancer is a health threat worthy of recognition. It’s crucial that women perform monthly exams, complete annual mammograms starting at 40 (unless they are high risk and need to start earlier) and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

But did you know that cancer treatment can also destroy a woman’s reproductive potential?

A study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine showed that less than half of cancer patients are told about risks to their fertility – or about fertility preservation options. More than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. No matter how you do the math, this means that many women go into cancer treatment without knowing how it can affect their ability to have children in the future.

Overcoming breast cancer only to find out you cannot have a biological child is devastating.

Advancements in fertility technology give patients the ability to preserve their fertility prior to cancer treatment. To ensure the option of biological children in the future, women can freeze their eggs or embryos, also known as cryopreservation. After two weeks of medication and monitoring, the patient undergoes egg retrieval. Eggs can be fast-frozen after retrieval using a state-of-the-art method called vitrification, or they can be used to create embryos which are cryopreserved. Frozen embryos are a more successful option should the patient have a partner at the time of treatment.

FCI patient, and breast cancer survivor, Ursula Rotman has firsthand experience on the subject. While breastfeeding her baby, she found a lump. Further testing revealed triple negative breast cancer. Devastated at the possibility of being unable to have another biological child, Ursula had an egg retrieval and froze the resulting viable embryo.

Over the course of the next six months, Ursula then underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and took Lupron to reduce potential ovarian damage during chemotherapy. Now cancer free and feeling great, Ursula hopes to conceive again in the future.

“My husband and I were about to start trying for another baby when I found the lump,” she says. “For me, the possibility of losing my fertility was more devastating than being diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing that I had preserved my fertility is what kept me going.”

Ursula’s physician, FCI reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Edward Marut says that it is crucial for women to be made aware of these options immediately in order to allow enough time to pursue treatment.

“Cancer diagnosis is a traumatic experience, but to learn that you cannot pursue a biological child after surviving cancer causes additional trauma that can be avoided,” says Dr. Marut. “As with any diagnosis, patients must be given all of their options so they can choose what works best for their personal needs and goals.”

To help women navigate this difficult terrain, FCI has created the Fast-track Fertility Preservation Program, enabling women to fast freeze their eggs or embryos with the benefit of a discounted rate for treatment and medications.

For more information on FCI’s Fertility Preservation Program visit: http://fcionline.com/fertility/fertility-planning/cancer-treatment.

 


Fertility Centers of Illinois Launches In House Egg Donor Program

Friday, 19 February 2010

We are excited to announce that the Fertility Centers of Illinois has officially launched an Egg Donor Program, making us the only in house program in Chicago offering third party reproduction options, fertility treatment, fertility counseling and more in one place.

Why Our Program Is Different

While most programs require appointments at various locations such as an Egg Donation office, fertility clinic, psychiatrist office and medical testing facility, we provide all services in one place, as well as 10 clinic locations to choose from. This allows intended parents and donors to move through the process quickly and conveniently without the involvement of an outside agency.

Dr. Jane Nani of FCI serves as the Director of the Egg Donor Program, and works very closely with both donors and couples during the entire screening and donation process. All donor psychological evaluations and fertility counseling services for couples are provided by FCI Psychologist, Dr. Marie Davidson. Dr. Davidson has worked in the area of fertility counseling for more than 18 years.

Setting the New Industry Standard in Donor Selection

All donor applicants undergo an extensive screening process that far exceeds the requirements of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) prior to being entered in the donor database, a crucial step not practiced by other agencies until the intended parents have selected an egg donor. This saves intended parents time, stress, money and the inconvenience of starting from scratch should a donor be found to have screening complications which prevent moving forward.

Donors are first asked to fill out an application to be considered. Should they pass the application, they are asked to complete a full day of screening which involves a psychological evaluation, genetic testing for fragile X and cystic fibrosis, a physical and gynecological exam, STD testing, an Ultrasound to determine ovarian potential and the requirement of a current pap smear within 24 months.

Making Fertility Treatment Affordable for Everyone

In an effort to help all patients afford treatment and significantly boost their chance of pregnancy success, Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) offers the Attain IVF Refund Program; a unique treatment option designed to increase the odds of a baby for Infertility patients by offering an affordable course-of-treatment approach. The program promises patients pursuing a child via egg donation a baby or 100% of their money back.

For more info on the FCI Egg Donor Program go to www.fcidonor.com or call 877/ 324-4483 to schedule an appointment today.

 

My Two Dads: Gay Fatherhood This Father’s Day

Monday, 14 June 2010

Over 64.3 million fathers will be honored and celebrated on June 19th for the support, guidance, love and commitment to enriching their children’s lives. In honor of this special annual day, we wanted to acknowledge all of the fathers out there!

We also wanted to showcase a very small, special segment of gay fathers, estimated at 1.5-3 million. Gay fatherhood is has grown in current times, with Fertility Centers of Illinois seeing a 25% increase in the number of gay and lesbian patients over the past few years, and the Family Law division of The American Bar Association estimating there are currently 4 million gay and lesbian parents raising 8-10 million children throughout the country.

ER Doctor Matt Kippenhan and Psychiatrist Flavio Arana met in medical school, and knew they always wanted to have children. After 15 years of partnership, investigating several different parenting options such as adoption and surrogacy, and multiple rounds of fertility treatment, Matt and Flavio are delighted to celebrate this coming Father’s Day with their 2 _ year old son, Kaiyen.

“We cannot put into words how much it means to have Kaiyen in our lives,” says Matt. “Every day with him is a gift, and becoming parents was a dream come true. We hope to grow our family further in the future.”

We support patients of all backgrounds, and feel grateful that we can help patients such as Matt and Flavio become parents. FCI has guided many gay and lesbian couples through the fertility process in an attempt to achieve their parenting dreams. To learn more about gay parenting, check out the interesting info and statistics below.

Relevant Statistics:
Gay and lesbian parents are raising 4% (65,500) of all adopted children in the U.S.
An estimated 3% (14,100) foster children are living with lesbian or gay parents within the U. S.
An estimated two million GLB people are interested in adopting.
There were an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 gay and lesbian biological parents in 1976.

On behalf of everyone here at FCI, we celebrate and honor ALL fathers for this coming Father’s Day. Thank you for all that you do! A very happy Father’s Day to all, we hope you enjoy it!

 


Celebrating the Choice Mom This Mother’s Day

Friday, 07 May 2010

On Sunday, May 9th over 82.5 million mothers in the United States will be honored for being the wonderful mothers that they are, and their unconditional love, devotion and guidance will be celebrated with family and friends everywhere.

In recognition of the special day, this year we are spotlighting a new and unique kind of mother: the Choice Mom. Otherwise referred to as single mothers by choice, these modern day moms are courageous and unique women who - either through adoption or sperm donation - choose to take on the sole responsibility of parenthood and become the nurturer, provider, and complete parenting unit for a child. We recognize this undertaking deserves both acknowledgement and recognition, and are paying special homage to the Choice Mom this Mother’s Day.

Dr. Maria Fournier, former FCI patient and new Choice Mom, is ecstatic and forever grateful for her nine month old son John Nicholas. Maria explains that she knew she could always get married, but that she wouldn’t always be able to have a baby. “I treasure every minute that I have with my son, and my first Mother’s Day as a new Mom will be a very special day for me and my entire family,” she adds.

To learn more about the new trend of Choice Motherhood, see below for some interesting info and statistics. Interestingly enough, at FCI we have seen the number of single women pursuing fertility treatment to either begin or build their families, triple over the last decade.

  • There are 13.7 million single moms and dads currently raising their children in the U.S.
  • Mothers represent 82.6% of all custodial parents
  • The typical Choice Mother is in her 30’s or 40’s, makes $40,000-$60,000+ annually and has a post-graduate degree
  • FCI physicians have noted a significant trend of single women seeking fertility treatment at a younger age (under 35) than ever before

On behalf of everyone here at FCI, we celebrate and honor all mothers, including choice moms, everywhere this coming Mother’s Day. Thank you for all that you do and Happy Mother’s Day to all!

 


Celebrations! FCI Patient Becomes the First in Midwest to Give Birth Using the Latest Genetic Screening & IVF Technology

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

FCI is thrilled to announce the healthy birth of the first IVF baby in Chicago and the Midwest, born using the most advanced genetic screening techniques available, developed to help prevent disease and abnormalities in unborns. This exciting birth (although every single healthy birth is simply wonderful) represents a major industry breakthrough and highlights the potential of this new technology to further help infertile couples and all of our patients fulfill their family building dreams.

Referred to as Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) and Microarray Analysis, these new techniques are the most cutting-edge and advanced form of genetic screening or to be extra technical, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) available. Here’s a bit more background to help you further understand the process and its use: prior to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), all embryos undergo a thorough screening of all 23 chromosomes to detect any abnormalities that may potentially result in miscarriage, health complications or genetic disease. Once unhealthy embryos are identified through the screening process, the most viable embryos are selected for IVF transfer. Previous methods only tested 9-12 chromosomes, leaving a large chance of genetic abnormality going undetected. Impressed? Read on for more info on how this process made the parenting dreams of one FCI patient come true…

After trying numerous fertility treatments without success, Kathleen Hayes, one of FCI’s latest success stories and mother of the first baby born, underwent screening amid concerns of the prevalence of genetic abnormalities in pregnancies in women of her age. Like most women past the age of 40, Kathleen did not want to risk an unhealthy pregnancy, nor lose valuable time in the IVF process and thus decided to pursue these advanced PGD techniques and did so with great success. As Kathleen explains, “Given my age, I knew a successful pregnancy was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. This process allowed the opportunity to find the most viable, healthy eggs to use, while saving valuable time, emotion and energy in the process. I am over the moon with my healthy and happy new baby.”

On behalf of everyone at FCI, we wish Kathleen, and her new bundle of joy the very best on their journey as a family!

Here’s some eye opening statistics to show you just how important and useful this new technology is:

  • Research shows that genetic abnormalities and pregnancy complications increase greatly with age
  • There is a 1 in 100 chance a child will be born with Down Syndrome and a 35% chance of miscarriage with a mother at age 40
  • Of the 4 million babies born each year in the U.S, 3-4% are born with a genetic disease or major birth defect
  • 1% of babies born each year will have a genetic abnormality causing physical problems and mental retardation
  • More than 20% of infant deaths are caused by birth defects or genetic conditions
  • Advanced genetic screening technology tests embryos for hundreds of genetic diseases
  • 1 in 5 women has her first child after age 35

We currently have almost 100 cases using these new technologies, with early results proving promising towards successful births. To learn more about the latest genetic screening technologies, please call 877-324-4483.

 


The MLB Drug Scandal: How Steroids and Other Drugs Hurt Male Fertility

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The drug scandal surrounding some of baseball’s greats including Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Alexander Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and more - has sparked discussions about the short and long term effects these drugs will have on their overall health. What has not been addressed and is often not known is how much these illegal drugs, as well as everyday prescriptions such as Paxil, can damage male fertility. 

How Drugs Can Harm Male Infertility:

  • Certain drugs can cause the following: impotence, erectile dysfunction, ejaculation difficulty, low sperm count and function, changed Hormone patterns, low libido, disruption of the pituitary gland and its Stimulation of the Testicles, toxic effects on the testes and decreased overall fertility.
  • However, these effects can begin to reverse immediately once drug use has stopped.
  • It will take 12 months for sperm count and function to return to normal after abusing Anabolic Steroids.

Medications That Hurt Male Fertility Include:

  • Anabolic Steroids; Paroxetine (trade names Seroxat and Paxil); Antibiotics containing Nitrofurans and Macrolides; Sulfasalazine, found in anti-diarrheal medication; Ketoconazole, found in anti-fungal medication; Labetalol (trade names Trandate and Normodyne); Marijuana; Nicotine.

Quick Tips for Preserving Male Fertility

  • Keep the laptop off your lap
  • Restrain from lengthy bike rides
  • Limit use of saunas, hot tubs and hot showers
  • Stay cool - the optimal temperature for the scrotum is 95 degrees F, whereas normal body temperature is around 98 degrees F
  • Avoid smoking - nicotine can damage sperm DNA and cause birth defects
  • Limit alcohol intake as excessive drinking may cause impotence


At FCI we encourage an open dialogue regarding medication in order for fertility treatment to be as effective as possible. If you have any questions as to whether your current medications may affect fertility treatment, call us at877-324-4483  to discuss.

 


Simple Saliva Test To Detect and Prevent 100+ Genetic Diseases Now Available In Illinois

Wednesday, 03 February 2010

Rare genetic diseases like those seen in the new Harrison Ford movie "Extraordinary Measures" can now be detected prior to pregnancy and prevented by performing a simple saliva test that is covered by many insurers. The movie centers on the real-life efforts of a Connecticut family working to find a cure for a rare genetic disease named Pompe, which affects two of the family’s three children. Unfortunately, the condition was not detected until after their children were born. 

The good news is that couples can now take a Universal Genetic Test prior to pregnancy, in order to determine whether their unborn may be at risk for developing more than 100 life-threatening genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs, spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Test results are received after two weeks, then discussed and reviewed carefully with the patient’s physician. Should there be a risk for genetic disease, couples can work with a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) to screen their embryos prior to IVF through the Embryo screening technique called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). The most advanced PGD technique, called Microarray, allows all 24 chromosomes to be tested for abnormalities or genetic disease, providing advanced capabilities in selecting only healthy, viable embryos for transfer during IVF. 

This Universal Genetic Test was invented by scientists from Stanford and Harvard and brought to the public via a Stanford startup named Counsyl. The test is now offered by physicians at more than 100 prestigious medical centers across the country, and has attracted the support of doctors from the nation’s largest hospitals, prominent academics from Yale, Harvard, and UCLA, as well as religious leaders and families with genetic disease. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Universal Genetic Test and how it can assist in your family planning, contact FCI at  877-324-4483.

 


Advanced Fertility Testing Now Screens All 24 Chromosomes for Abnormalities

Friday, 29 January 2010

We are proud to announce that FCI is one of the first centers in the U.S and the first in Illinois to offer a new and more advanced method of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), a cutting-edge fertility technology used in conjunction with IVF that screens embryos for abnormalities and genetic disorders prior to Implantation

Called Microarray, this new technology is far more thorough and accurate than previous methods of testing, and provides more advanced capabilities in detecting chromosomal abnormalities that may interfere with Embryo implantation, result in pregnancy loss, or the birth of a child with physical problems or developmental delays. 

Now screening all 24 chromosomes (xy) and providing more rapid results, Microarray can be used on both fresh and frozen embryos. Previous PGD techniques could only test a maximum of 9 – 12 chromosomes, which left 12 or more untested. This limited testing may have led to 1 in 4 cases of Aneuploidy (a specific chromosome abnormality) to be missed. Sadly, if an embryo with such abnormalities was transferred during In Vitro Fertilization, it may be unlikely to create a healthy, full-term pregnancy. 

Some genetic conditions that are screened for and reduced using PGD technology include Down Syndrome, Turners Syndrome and Kleinfelters Syndrome. Candidates for PGD testing include those experiencing recurrent miscarriage, previous unsuccessful IVF cycles, unexplained Infertility Male Factor Infertility, or women of advanced maternal age.

If you are interested in learning more about Microarray, call FCI to make an appointment at  877-324-4483.  We will continue to stay on top of the latest fertility technology to provide you with the most advanced options possible!