From Time Magazine: A new study suggests a father's diet influences birth defects
A new study
in "Nature Communications" suggests that what fathers eat before conceiving a baby might play an important role in whether their children suffer from birth defects. Researchers from McGill University compared the health of mice from fathers that had a sufficient level of vitamin B9, also known as folate, in their diet to dads that had a deficit. (Here’s a list
of folate-rich foods for humans.) “We were very surprised to see that there was an almost 30% increase in birth defects in the offspring sired by fathers whose levels of folates were insufficient."
The "research is the latest addition to a growing body of evidence showing that men’s lifestyles
affect the quality of their sperm. (Women have long been advised to take folic acid to prevent miscarriage and birth defects.) Among the latest recommendations for men who plan on making babies in the near future: Don’t smoke
to protect the size and shape of your sperm. Keep a healthy weight
to prevent sperm DNA damage. Exercise
to boost your sperm count. Don’t drink
too much, and don’t wait too long to try to have children. Not only are men who try to reproduce after the age of 35 more likely to experience infertility, they have more random gene mutations that increase the risk of birth defects...."
All this attention on male fertility is a welcome trend in a world that has overwhelmingly focused on women. Until recently, men have only been cautioned to avoid wearing tight bicycle shorts and to stay out of the hot tub. Women have been the ones expected to meditate, eat perfectly organic food, do acupuncture, take supplements, exercise just the right amount and avoid alcohol. Considering men account for one-third of infertility cases let's start sharing the burden!
Read more: Sarah Elizabeth Richards: Men's Fertility Should Be Scrutinized Too | TIME.com
Speak to your doctor if you are on any of these medications and want to find a safe alternative.
- Anabolic Steroids / Testosterone Therapy can actually make men permanently sterile, cutting sperm count and quality
- Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft can alter libido and the ability to get an erection or ejaculate. These drugs may also damage sperm and make them unable to fertilize an egg.
- Antifungal medications can lower sperm count. Ketoconazole can inhibit the production of hormones.
- Blood pressure medications. Antihypertensives potassium-sparing diuretics can impact male fertility by diminishing the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. Calcium channel blockers, such as Plendil, Cardene, Procardia, Cardil, Cardizem, and Verapamil, can lower sperm count
- Chemotherapy drugs can lower sperm count. Talk to your doctor about any alkylating agents you may be taking, including cyclophosphamide, nitrogen mustard, and methotrexate
- Diuretics can cause dehydration and lead to low semen volume
- Epilepsy drugs like Carbamazepine and Valproate can lower sperm count and decrease testosterone
- Heart medications, ask your doctor
- Painkillers can inhibit prostaglandin release and delay ovulation, decrease libido and cause ejaculatory dysfunction
- Propecia. This can affect male reproductive hormones enough to weaken sperm production and function, especially in men with sperm counts that are low or borderline to begin with.
- Sulfasalazine, used to treat IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, can also reduce sperm count
- Tranquilizers can impact sperm count
- Ulcer medications for peptic ulcers: Cimetidine can lower sperm count in men and cause increased prolactin which impairs male fertility
- Urinary function drugs Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin) can lower sperm count.
- Viagra. At Queen’s University in Belfast Ireland researchers found that a single 100 milligram does of Viagra can prematurely activate the acrosome on the head of the sperm. It’s the little sack of enzymes that makes the outer membrane of the egg dissolve a little so that the sperm can penetrate the egg. If the acrosome pops off too soon, it won’t do its duty at the right time.
- Herbal Viagra. Avoid internet herbs that claim to be “herbal Viagra” as they treat the symptoms, not the root cause and won’t help
Coping with the holidays when you are facing infertility is very painful. Here is a list of coping tools:
1. Celebrate the Holidays
- Infertile couples sometimes deny themselves the right to a two-person celebration. You're entitled to celebrate the holidays and you should.
2. Make new, adult traditions
3. Find childfree forms of celebration
- Don't make the holidays child-centric
- Don't spend the holidays exactly like you did as a child. Select some special traditions from your past, but begin your own new adult traditions
- Do not do everything just the way you would if you had a child.
4. Do not shop at malls
- Plan something FUN you couldn’t do with a baby
- Enjoy a ski trip, a bike ride, a cruise, a nice hotel or inn, late night movies, sleeping late! Plan a vacation or a fun day trip, or a special concert or evening out.
5. It’s OK to say “No” to Holiday events
- Avoid Santa
- Shop at small boutiques
- Shop online
6. Decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions.
- You have permission to turn down invitations.
- You don’t need to invent an excuse, just say “I’m so sorry we won’t make it.”
- Be selective about what you attend.
- Avoid the pregos, babies, and toddlers.
- Arrive late, leave early.
- Stay in a hotel or friend’s house instead of a house full of babies
- Avoid Christmas morning with children. Arrive after the gift opening.
- Attend midnight mass instead of family-oriented morning services.
- Do not feel guilty about not participating in all the traditional family events. You are going through a painful time, and you need to concentrate on getting through the holidays.
7. Communicate to people ahead of time who might say things that hurt
- Sometimes it even helps to rehearse your answers
- Consider having your husband/partner send the extended family an email telling them about your situation, in as little or as much detail as you want. Perhaps just say that “We’ve been going through infertility. We are getting expert help, but it is very painful and we don’t want to talk about it so please don’t ask.”
8. Change your expectations
- You may be surprised and receive more moral support than you thought
- If they don’t know, they can't know the depth of pain they’ve triggered when they ask you insensitive questions
- They don’t understand how stressful, expensive, and time-consuming testing and treatment can be
- Don’t lose your mind when they tell you to “relax, and it will happen” or their friend adopted a child and then got pregnant the next month. Just remember if they haven't experienced it, they have NO idea
- Send your husband/partner this coping list
- Send your family and friends this article about Infertility Etiquette from Resolve.org (http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family--friends/infertility-etiquette.html)
9. Feel what you are feeling
- Rather than tell yourself you "should" be happy, tell yourself, “I should expect to feel rotten during the holidays. So if I have even a little fun, that's a miracle, a gift!”
- Ironically, allowing your grief to surface instead of pushing it down may free your energies for some genuine celebration
- When you are alone and do not have to put on a smiling face, let yourself be the way you really feel -- whether it's sad, depressed or angry.
10. Be a friend to yourself
11. Spend time alone as a couple.
- What would you say to your best friend if she were in your shoes?
- Instead of berating yourself for these feelings, give yourself the extra love and compassion you would show your best friend
- Give yourself some special treats. Figure out what your treat is: a hot bath, skiing, or watching your favorite romantic comedy. Do what feels good.
12. Staying tuned in to your needs and your partner's needs
- Plan some purely fun romantic date time, either out or at home. Chances are you need to reconnect after all the stress and scheduled sex!
- Find a way to connect with your partner, some activity that says “Baby or no baby, we love each other and we're a family in our own right.”
13. Cheer up someone worse off than you
- Set aside time to specifically to share your feelings with a partner or loved one.
- Infertility is a major life crisis and you are entitled to your feelings.
- Share your feelings with each other. He needs to get his feelings out too, but in a different way than you do. Remember you are likely each other's best comfort.
14. Focus on doing the things you love
- Volunteer somewhere. Help the homeless, military families, the elderly or the sick. Helping someone else has a remarkable positive impact on your mood.
- Don’t neglect your hobbies and passions because infertility has taken over every waking moment.
- Don’t expect your husband to give up his hobbies. Encourage him to do things he loves. But don't be a martyr, plan something fun for yourself. A girls night out? A mani-pedi? Don't expect someone to plan it for you!
15. Schedule activities with friends who do not have children or with your infertility buddies16. Consider getting a pet
17. Take comfort in the knowledge that holiday blues are time limited18. Go online to find support
- Their unconditional love might just help.
- Visit Resolve.org to find empathy from women going through the same thing, and to find local support groups.
Sources: Resolve.org and many others
Eat Brussels sprouts: Vegetable helps boost fertility in both men and women according to the Daily Mail.
9% of babies are conceived in December - more than any other month.
This is partly down to the parties and increased alcohol consumption.
Expert says may also be because we eat more Brussels sprouts at this time.
Sprouts are high in folic acid which boosts fertility and reduces miscarriage and birth defect risk.
Brussels sprouts also contain a phytonutrient called di-indolylmethane, which helps women absorb balanced levels of the hormone estrogen. In fact, it binds to environmental oestrogens, like pesticides and hormones in meat and dairy products, and helps rid the body of excess hormones – this boosts fertility. The vegetable is also thought to lower cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Read more at: The Daily Mail
From the Huffington Post:
Having difficulty conceiving? Obsessed? Emotionally fragile? Always sad? Angry? Don't worry, it's all normal!
According to infertility counselor Erica Berman, typically, women are more upset about infertility than men. Men on the other hand often become more concerned about their wives than about the infertility itself.
"Women experiencing infertility often become completely fixated on conceiving. It is the first thing they think about when they get up in the morning and the last thing they think about before they go to bed at night. They often have difficulty concentrating at work and difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping. They are often tearful and moody. They can experience intense jealously and resentment towards others who are pregnant or have children. Often they withdraw socially to escape these unpleasant feelings. Women struggling with infertility sometimes lose pleasure and interest in the activities they once enjoyed and can start exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The men supporting these women are often surprised and unprepared for their reaction. They often assume it is a sign that something is wrong with their partner. They worry that the woman they married will never reappear. They often don't understand why their partner is so upset about something that is totally beyond her control. They don't understand why she can't be happy for others' successes. To try to 'fix' the problem as best they can, many men will simply try to reassure their partners that it will all be OK. But in reality, he cannot know that this is true and these types of statements end up making women feel even more emotionally isolated. They assume that their husbands' less extreme reaction is because they are less invested in having a child."
The financial burden of infertility can damage relationships. Particularly when couples are not aligned about how many times to try, and how much to spend.
Sex timed for ovulation and infertility treatments can destroy intimacy.
Men and women handle the stress differently. Men get upset too, but show it in different ways. Often they bury their own feelings out of fear of burdening their wives who already seem so fragile. What's important is to accept how your partner is feeling and to be there for your partner. You need to talk about it.
Here is what the experts recommend:
1. Set up a time to talk. Ask what you can do to help. Both men and women sometimes have no idea what their partner needs or wants from them. ASK! On the flip side, when telling your partner what you need, be specific. Don't just say, "Be more supportive." Explain exactly what being supportive means to you.
2. Get outside help. There are counsellors out there, specifically trained to assist people dealing with infertility.
3. Connect with others. Sometimes couples can feel incredibly isolated when they are struggling to conceive, especially if none of their family or friends have dealt with infertility. There are both in-person and online support groups designed to allow people facing infertility to connect with others going through the same thing. Look at Resolve.org
4. Practice self-compassion. Acknowledge that what you are going through, as a couple, is very difficult. Be kind to yourself and to each other. Be patient and forgiving with yourself and your partner as you move through this journey. Even if you do not share your partner's feelings about infertility, you can still stay close and connected. And that, in the end, will help you get through it more than anything.
Excerpted from The Huffington Post
click to read the full article
Some experts think that wild yams contain a substance that may help stimulate ovulation. In fact, populations that eat a lot of wild yams have a high rate of twins, such as the often cited Yaruba tribe in Nigeria. There is an ongoing debate over yams between natural/Chinese practitioners and western medicine.
Yams contain phytoestrogens and a form of natural progesterone (dioscin). Endometriosis and fibroids, both major infertility problems, are linked to estrogen dominance. It is believed that the phytoestrogens and progesterone-like properties in yams can help regulate the estrogen-progesterone balance. In theory the natural progesterone in yams can help extend the luteal phase in women whose corpus luteum doesn’t produce enough progesterone causing early menstruation.
Still, there's no scientific evidence that wild yam increases estrogen level in the body and doctors at the University of Maryland have stated that the human body lacks the enzymes to convert wild yam into usable progesterone.
But herbalists believe that wild yam taken in the first two weeks of a menstrual cycle
improves fertility by converting diosgenin into two other hormones essential for ovulation, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Some natural practitioners believe that the phytoestrogens in yams can counteract the effects of estrogen on the cervical fluid and make it too sticky for transport of sperm. They can also thin the endometrial lining, similarly to Clomid. So according to believers, yams should only be eaten in the first half of the menstrual cycle, from menstruation until ovulation. After ovulation, don’t eat lots of yams.
Also note that “true” wild yams are usually found in markets that specialize in African or Caribbean foods or health food stores, not in your average supermarket.
Sources: The Tao of Fertility, FertileHeart
, University of Maryland
Why have Spic and Span, Scrubbing Bubbles, Easy Off Oven Cleaner and Mop & Glo all been banned in Europe?
They are so toxic that they disrupt the hormone system, are toxic to aquatic life, irritate and inflame the lungs and cause damage to unborn children.
The European Environment Agency released a study in 2012 that many household products, cleaners, cosmetics, and food contain "endocrine-disrupting chemicals” that affect the hormone system and contribute to "significant increases in cancers, diabetes and obesity, [and] falling fertility." Avoid Cleaners with Heavy Fragrances, and Air Fresheners.
Synthetic fragrances in cleaning products are often bonded by chemicals call phthalates which are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity. Fragrances in nature disperse quickly; phthalates bond the fragrance to the clothing so you keep smelling it (particularly in highly toxic Dryer Sheets.) Natural odor-removers such as baking soda and fresh air are good alternatives.Use Only All Natural, Biodegradable Laundry Detergents & Fabric Softeners.
Alkyl phenoxy ethoxylates (APEs) are surfactants, or agents that cause water surface tension to break more easily, and they’re common in laundry detergents and fabric softeners. In animal studies, APEs have been associated with reduced sperm count and testicular size
Because they’re not readily biodegradable, APEs enter the water system after they’re washed out of your laundry. And while the effect on humans is not yet proven, it’s worth noting that one member of the APE family of chemicals, nonoxyl-9, is used as a spermicide.Use Non-Toxic, Unscented, Dye-Free, Biodegradable Cleaners.
The solvents found in many glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, hard-surface cleaners, and oven cleaners contain EGBE, or 2-butoxyethanol, which evidence links to fertility problems in lab animals. Studies in China, where fertility is very closely monitored, show links to decreased fertility in women with high exposure to these chemicals.Try Vinegar & Baking Soda.
Try this all-purpose cleaner: Mix two cups of white vinegar and two cups of water. If you want a scent you can add a few drops of essential oil. To boost the cleaning power for tough jobs, microwave the mixture in a glass container until barely hot. Experiment with Baking Soda as a paste and a scrub. Real Simple
has homemade cleaner recipes using vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon and other natural ingredients.
, Environmental Working Group Cleaners Hall of Shame
Are you feeling stressed and worried about getting pregnant?
Are you tired of hearing “just relax” but you are confused about the best way to relax?
You know intuitively that there is some truth to the stress-infertility connection, but how do you fit it into your life?
Try listening to a Free audio relaxation program on your computer or smartphone for a few minute each day. Perhaps just before you go to sleep.
It can help you deeply relax and allow your body to return to its natural hormonal balance enhancing your fertility.
Circle + Bloom:
Download free at: http://www.circlebloom.com/fertilityfree/
and it will automatically launch into your iTunes. Note that the introduction/sales pitch runs until about the 4:58 minute mark, then the relaxation program begins.
Free Meditation Oasis Podcasts: http://www.meditationoasis.com/podcast/listen-to-podcast/
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Valuable article on the impacts of stress on your fertility, adrenal system, and PCOS. Read link below, courtesy of the great PCOSDiva.com! Some recommendations include:
1) Yoga, meditation, breathing, and mindfulness activities are restorative to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Practice daily for best results.
2) Going to bed by 10pm is ideal: Cortisol reaches its lowest point at 11 pm, and melatonin begins to peak at 1 am. A 10pm bedtime allows deep sleep to set in, prevents a second wind, and promotes a healthy balance of melatonin and neurotransmitters. High quality sleep is crucial to adrenal health.
3) Reduce sugar and high glycemic carbs, as ups and downs in blood sugar stress your adrenals.
4) Eat whole, natural foods, and eliminate processed foods. Include high quality sources of protein and fiber to help regulate your insulin.
5) Eat breakfast by 10am.
6) Include high quality salt, such as Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt in your diet.
7) Minimize caffeine.
See a counselor or psychologist who can help you to learn the tools to manage stress.
9) Learn to say “no”. Know your limits, and enforce them to protect yourself from stressful situations. For example, if you are struggling with infertility and baby showers stress you, you can excuse yourself from the event.
10) Adrenal tonics: many herbs and vitamins can help reduce stress. These can include Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, hawthorn, vitamin C, and B vitamins.
Read more at: http://www.pcosdiva.com
Women with asthma seem to experience delays in getting pregnant, Danish researchers report.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease and may well be affecting not only bronchial tubes but also Fallopian tubes.
This theory is supported by the fact that when women were treated for asthma, their ability to get pregnant improved.
1,000 women with asthma were studied. More of these women had a harder time getting pregnant than women without asthma (27 percent versus 21.6 percent), the researchers found.
Delayed pregnancy was significantly longer among women whose asthma was not treated compared with women whose asthma was being treated (30.5 percent of the untreated asthma group versus 23.8 percent of those receiving treatment), the researchers said.
Overall, however, women with asthma ultimately had the same average number of children as women without asthma.
If you have asthma and unexplained infertility, make sure you get treated!