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Getting Pregnant (part 2) : Treatments for Infertility, Assisted Reproductive Technologies

- 9 Bad Habits That Can Cause Miscarriage
- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

Lifestyle Issues

Your partner’s lifestyle choices and changes may increase your chances of pregnancy. They may provide your growing baby a healthy start in life when you do get pregnant.

Fertility Food Facts

Foods Beneficial to Fertility

• Grains and seeds

• Nuts, such as cashews and almonds

• Chocolate

• Vitamin-C-rich organic fruits and vegetables, grown without pesticides

• Dark, green, leafy vegetables

• Total of 6 to 8 ounces a day of chicken, meat or fish, including red meat and cooked oysters (but keep total weekly fish intake to 12 ounces or less)

• Calcium-rich foods, such as yogurt, cheese and milk

• Fortified breakfast cereals

Foods that May Contribute to Infertility

• Chips, cookies and crackers made with partially hydrogenated oils

• Fruits and vegetables commercially grown with pesticides

• Fried foods

• High-meat diet

Use of tobacco products can affect sperm production. Smoking one or two packs of cigarettes a day may cause sperm to move slowly and be misshapen. Second-hand and third-hand smoke can also affect a man’s fertility.

Smoking marijuana can damage sperm and lower the number of sperm produced. It takes up to several months to rid the body of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), even after a person quits smoking marijuana.

Alcohol use can lower testosterone levels and contribute to erectile dysfunction. One study showed men who reported drinking heavily around the time of conception increased their partner’s risk of miscarriage. Alcohol can cause chromosomal abnormalities in sperm cells.

A man who is too thin or too heavy may have a lower sperm count. Men who are too thin may be malnourished. Men who are too heavy may have lower testosterone levels.

Long-term exposure to solvents in water-based paint has been shown to affect a man’s sperm. The culprit is glycol ether. Use of anabolic steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may slow or reduce sperm production. Even antibiotics can affect sperm production.

Limit time in the hot tub. The scrotum is a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body, so soaking a long time in hot spa water may affect sperm.

Medical Problems

About 10% of American men who are trying to achieve a pregnancy with their partner experience some sort of fertility problem. However, many men don’t know they have a problem.

A low sperm count may be caused by infection, hormone problems, certain medications or undescended testicles. Your partner’s doctor can explore these conditions with him.

One of the most common situations is a varicocele, a collection of enlarged veins in the scrotum that leads to lower sperm production. Another problem is an obstruction in the ducts that carry sperm from the testes. Often, both of these can be taken care of with microsurgical techniques. Taking care of these problems can improve a man’s sperm count and increase your chances of achieving pregnancy as a couple.

3. Treatments for Infertility

If your doctor suggests a fertility workup for you and your partner, it helps to understand what’s involved. For your partner, a physical and semen analysis may be done and a detailed medical history may be taken.

More is involved in testing you. You are asked for a detailed medical history, and you will probably have a pelvic exam. Blood work may be done to check hormone levels. A vaginal ultrasound to examine your ovaries and uterus may also be done. If your doctor wants to check your Fallopian tubes, a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) may be performed.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

A test that may be done before pregnancy is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It’s a type of genetic test and is often done if a woman has in-vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF, an embryo is created outside the womb (in vitro) by mixing together an egg and a sperm, then the resulting embryo is implanted in the woman’s uterus.

With PGD, a few cells from the embryo are removed and tested before the embryo is implanted. The test is done to identify genes responsible for some severe hereditary diseases. The technique has been used to diagnose various disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle-cell disease and Turner syndrome.

The goal with PGD is to select healthy embryos for implantation to avoid serious genetic disease. Using this test, a normal embryo can be implanted in the uterus.

After test results are back for you both, you meet with your doctor to discuss results. Then together with your doctor, you examine options for care and/or treatment, if it is necessary for either of you.

4. Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) can often help a couple achieve pregnancy. ART account for more births today and include the following techniques:

• ovarian stimulation

• superovulation

• in-vitro fertilization

Ovarian stimulation is used to stimulate ovaries to produce an egg. Several different medications are used for this purpose. One of the more common ones is clomiphene (Clomid); it is used most often in women who aren’t ovulating and may result in controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. The chance of twin fetuses is somewhat less with clomiphene than with other fertility medicine, but an increased chance still exists.

A complication that may occur is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It is usually mild but can be severe. Ovaries become enlarged and the abdomen becomes distended. Severity can range from moderate discomfort to life-threatening ovarian enlargement and fluid shifts.

The use of fertility drugs can result in superovulation, which results in multiple eggs and increases the chance of multiple pregnancies. A large percentage of births resulting from assisted-reproductive techniques are multiples.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process in which eggs are placed in a medium and sperm are added for fertilization. The zygote produced is then placed inside the uterus in an attempt to result in pregnancy.

Assisted-reproductive techniques account for nearly 65% of all multiple births today. Twins are more common if more than one embryo is inserted. This results when several fertilized eggs are inserted into a woman’s uterus in hopes at least one will implant. Today, many experts recommend transferring only one embryo because it improves the live-birth rate and decreases costs.

Fertility treatments are expensive and can cost up to $15,000 for each attempt at conception. Often, fertility treatments are not covered by health insurance.

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