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Infertility Resources & Support

Preconception Health

How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting Pregnant?

How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting Pregnant?

Struggling with fertility can be a complex and emotionally challenging journey for many. Understanding what influences reproductive health and using that knowledge to make informed lifestyle choices can help increase your chances of conceiving.

There are many effective strategies to boost your fertility and increase the chances of conception for those trying to start or expand their families. From lifestyle adjustments to medical insights, we'll cover a range of tips for both men and women aimed at optimizing your reproductive health and improving the likelihood of pregnancy.

Improving Fertility Tips for Men

A man relaxing in a chair next to a window to relieve stress

Optimizing sperm health is essential for increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Here are some detailed strategies to enhance male fertility and improve sperm quality:

  • Prioritize Nutrient-Rich Foods: A well-balanced diet is important for overall health, including reproductive function. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. These nutrient-rich foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support sperm production and motility.
  • Focus on Antioxidants: Antioxidants help protect sperm from oxidative stress and DNA damage that naturally occurs as you age. Include foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers), vitamin E (found in nuts, seeds, and leafy greens), and selenium (found in Brazil nuts, fish, and eggs) in your diet.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity can negatively impact sperm quality and fertility. Aim to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet. This can improve hormone levels, sperm count, and motility, and in turn, increase the likelihood of conception.
  • Avoid Harmful Substances: Habits like smoking, alcohol consumption, and recreational drug use can have detrimental effects on sperm health. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly improve sperm quality and reproductive function. Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants can also damage sperm health, so it’s important to take steps to avoid or mitigate their impact through protective measures.
  • Practice Stress Management: Chronic stress can affect hormone levels and sperm production. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine. Engaging in your hobbies, spending time outdoors, and prioritizing relaxation can also help alleviate stress and support overall well-being.
  • Consider Supplements: In some cases, taking supplements may be beneficial for improving sperm health. Talk to your doctor about options such as folate supplements, which can help improve sperm count and motility.
  • Maintain Testicular Health: Taking care of your testicular health is essential for optimal sperm production. Avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures, such as hot baths, saunas, or tight-fitting underwear, which can impair sperm production. Practice good hygiene and conduct regular self-examinations to detect any abnormalities or changes in your testicles.

Improving Fertility Tips for Women

A woman uses her phone to track her menstrual cycle

Women play a pivotal role in the conception process, and maintaining your reproductive health is essential for increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Here are some ways you can take care of your body to help your journey:

  • Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight: A healthy weight is important when you are trying to conceive, as both obesity and being underweight can negatively impact your fertility. Aim to achieve a balanced weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Consult with a doctor or registered dietitian to develop a personalized plan that supports hormonal balance and fertility.
  • Focus on Balanced Nutrition: Sticking to a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients is important for supporting your reproductive health. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. Incorporate foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, leafy greens, and nuts, to protect your eggs from oxidative damage and support your overall fertility.
  • Monitor and Track Menstrual Cycles: Understanding your menstrual cycle and identifying the fertile window can help optimize the timing for conception. Utilize methods like body temperature charting, ovulation predictor kits, or smartphone apps to track ovulation and figure out your most fertile days. Having unprotected sex during this fertile window maximizes your chances of successful conception.
  • Manage Stress Levels: Chronic stress can impact your fertility by affecting hormonal balance and ovulation, making it more difficult to conceive. Finding stress-reduction techniques you can use in your daily routine, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, can help lower your baseline stress levels. Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation and emotional well-being.
  • Support Hormonal Balance: Hormonal imbalances can interfere with ovulation and the regularity of your period, affecting fertility. Consider lifestyle changes that support hormonal balance, such as limiting exposure to chemicals – such as BPAs, phthalates, and parabens – found in certain plastics, cosmetics, and household products. Consult with a healthcare provider to address any underlying hormonal issues and explore treatment options if necessary.
  • Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol Intake: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact fertility and reduce the chances of successful conception. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can improve reproductive health and support hormonal balance. Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke is also important.

By implementing these strategies and making positive lifestyle changes, you can boost your reproductive health and increase your chances of successful conception. Remember that optimizing fertility is a collaborative effort between partners, and open communication and support are key throughout the fertility journey.

Emotional Well-Being During Infertility: Supportive Strategies and Resources

A woman hugs her loved ones for support

Coping with fertility struggles can be emotionally taxing for individuals and couples alike. The journey to parenthood is often filled with uncertainty, disappointment, and stress, making it essential to prioritize emotional well-being and seek support during this time.

  • Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings: It's normal to experience a range of emotions when facing fertility challenges, including sadness, frustration, anger, and anxiety. Allow yourself to acknowledge and validate these feelings without judgment. Recognize that it's okay to grieve the loss of the vision you had for starting or expanding your family.
  • Communicate Openly with Your Loved Ones: Open communication is essential for navigating the challenges of infertility if you are navigating it with a partner. Share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns with your partner openly and honestly. Create a safe space where you can express your emotions without fear of judgment or criticism. Together, you can support each other through the ups and downs of the fertility journey.
  • Seek Support from Friends and Family: Lean on your support network of friends and family members. Share your journey with trusted loved ones who can offer emotional support, encouragement, and a listening ear. Having a supportive network can provide comfort and strength during difficult times.
  • Join Support Groups or Online Communities: Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can be incredibly empowering. Consider joining a local support group for individuals or couples dealing with infertility, or participate in online communities and forums where you can share experiences, ask questions, and offer support to others. Connecting with peers who understand the challenges firsthand can provide validation, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
  • Consider Professional Counseling: Seeking support from a qualified therapist or counselor who specializes in infertility can be invaluable. Therapy offers a safe and confidential space to explore your emotions, learn coping strategies, and develop resilience in the face of adversity. A trained therapist can help you navigate the complexities of infertility, process difficult emotions, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Practice Self-Care and Stress Management: Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is crucial during the fertility journey. Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, whether it's practicing yoga, spending time in nature, indulging in hobbies, or pampering yourself with a massage or spa day.
  • Stay Informed and Advocate for Yourself: Educate yourself about infertility, treatment options, and reproductive health. Empower yourself with knowledge so that you can make informed decisions and advocate for your needs and preferences. Being proactive in your healthcare and treatment decisions can help you feel more in control and empowered during the fertility journey.

Coping with infertility will have its ups and downs, and it's okay to seek support and assistance along the way when you need it. Navigating fertility challenges requires patience, resilience, and a comprehensive approach that addresses both physical and emotional aspects of reproductive health. By understanding the factors that influence fertility and making informed lifestyle choices, you can increase your chances of conception and realize your dream of starting or expanding your family.  

If you are facing challenges conceiving, know that you are not alone. At RGI, our compassionate staff and state-of-the-art care are here to support you on your journey to parenthood. With personalized treatment plans and expert guidance, you can overcome obstacles and embark on the path to building your family with confidence and optimism.

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Fertility Treatments

Male Fertility

Do I Need To Do IUI Before IVF?

Explore the journey to parenthood with RGI's expert guidance on choosing between IUI and IVF treatments. Understand the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision for your unique situation. Start your path to parenthood with confidence.

Navigating the journey to parenthood can sometimes lead us down unexpected paths. At RGI, our team is here to help guide you through your options so you can move forward with confidence.

Two common procedures you may have heard of are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). But should you try IUI before moving on to IVF? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, as fertility treatment varies significantly from one couple to another. The choice between IUI and IVF depends on a variety of factors, including the specific fertility issue you are facing, age, medical history, and financial considerations. By understanding the factors influencing where you start your journey, and in consultation with a fertility specialist, you can make the decision that best suits your unique situation.

Understanding IUI and IVF

What is IUI?  

Intrauterine insemination (IUI),involves taking sperm and placing it directly into the uterus. On the day of the IUI, the sperm is typically washed and concentrated to include a dense volume of mobile sperm. Ideally, this is done just prior to ovulation and helps increase chances of fertilization by making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg.

IUI is helpful for those with mild male factor infertility such as mildly low sperm counts or motility but may also be recommended in conjunction with oral medications such as clomid or letrozole (Femara) for patients or couples with unexplained infertility, anovulation and PCOS. It is used as a first-line treatment for many couples who have been unsuccessful in becoming pregnant on their own.  

image showing in vitro fertilization -- an egg fertilized with sperm in a lab

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a treatment in which eggs are fertilized with sperm outside of the body in a laboratory setting before being transferred to the uterus. First, eggs must be retrieved from the ovaries. This is done by stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs using a series of injectable medications, followed by an egg retrieval procedure performed under anesthesia. Once the eggs are retrieved, they are placed with a sperm sample in a lab to facilitate successful fertilization and embryo formation. Then, an embryo is transferred into the uterus.

The entire process can take around three months and is a good first choice for people who have issues with their fallopian tubes, poor sperm quality, unexplained infertility, severe endometriosis, and more.

IUI is often considered a less invasive and less expensive option when compared to IVF and may be recommended as a first step in fertility treatment for certain conditions. Per cycle, IUI is typically lower chance of success than IVF. IVF may be recommended directly in cases of more severe infertility issues.

The decision between starting with IUI or going directly to IVF depends on various factors:

  • Age: As fertility declines with age, especially for women over 35, some may opt for IVF directly to increase their chances of success in a shorter timeframe.
  • Medical History: Certain medical conditions may make IVF a better first choice. IVF may be best for those with damaged, blocked, or absent fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, or people with severe male factor infertility.
  • Previous Treatments: Couples who have already undergone several unsuccessful IUI cycles may choose to move on to IVF.
  • Ideal Family Size: IVF may be recommended sooner if you plan to have multiple children. This offers more time, opportunities for multiple IVF cycles if needed, and control over the timing of pregnancies.
  • Personal Preferences: Your decision might also be influenced by personal preferences, including concerns about the invasiveness of procedures, and the emotional and physical toll.
  • Financial Considerations: Starting with IUI may be a preference for some couples due to the higher cost of IVF treatments. Some insurance companies might also require a couple to attempt pregnancy with IUI before covering IVF treatments.

The Pros and Cons of Starting with IUI vs. IVF

When considering fertility treatments, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option. IUI and IVF each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The Pros of IUI:

Less invasive: IUI is less invasive than IVF, involving a simple procedure where sperm is inserted directly into the uterus. This makes it a less physically demanding process, with few side effects.

More affordable: Generally, IUI is significantly less expensive than IVF – with the cost of a single cycle ending at around $1,000 – making it a more accessible first option for many couples.  

Shorter treatment cycle: IUI cycles are typically shorter and less complicated than IVF cycles, often requiring less medication and monitoring. IUI cycles align with your natural menstrual cycle, so it generally takes two to four weeks from start to finish. With IVF, patients can expect a six to twelve-week process from the start of treatment to the pregnancy test.

The Cons of IUI:

Lower Success Rates: IUI generally has lower success rates per cycle compared to IVF, especially in cases of severe infertility issues. The success rate for IUI is around 7-20% per cycle and is more effective in people under 35.

Multiple Cycles May Be Needed: Many couples may require several IUI attempts before achieving pregnancy, which can increase the overall cost and emotional strain.

Limited Effectiveness for Certain Conditions: IUI may not be effective for all types of infertility, such as significant tubal damage or severe male factor infertility.

The Pros of IVF:  

Higher Success Rates: IVF typically offers higher success rates per cycle, especially for women over the age of 35 or those with certain types of infertility. IVF has a 70% chance of success when the embryo is genetically normal.

Treatment for a Wide Range of Fertility Issues: IVF can be effective for a variety of infertility diagnoses, including blocked fallopian tubes, severe male factor infertility, and severe endometriosis.

Genetic Screening: IVF allows for the option of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which can identify embryos with genetic abnormalities before transfer, reducing the risk of genetic disorders and increasing the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

The Cons of IVF:

More Invasive: During IVF, patients will undergo a few different treatments; including injectable medications, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer. Injectable medications will need to be self-administered typically for 10-12 days. The egg retrieval is a more invasive procedure (done under anesthesia). The embryo transfer is similar to an IUI however done in a procedure room with close proximity to the lab.

Emotionally and Physically Taxing: The steps involved in IVF can cause a few different side effects, including nausea fatigue, injection site reactions, mood swings and emotional changes, abdominal cramping, vaginal bleeding, and bloating. The process can also be long and emotionally taxing, especially if multiple cycles are needed to achieve pregnancy.

Higher Costs: The cost of IVF is significantly more per cycle than IUI. This can make it less accessible for some couples without insurance coverage or financial resources. One cycle of IVF can run anywhere between $12,000-15,000, with additional costs for medications, testing, and other necessary procedures.

doctor explaining iui vs ivf to patient

Who Might Benefit from Starting with IUI?

  • Couples with unexplained infertility who have been trying to conceive for at least a year.
  • Cases of mild male factor infertility, such as slightly low sperm count or motility. In these cases, sperm count and motility are likely to compromise the sperm’s ability to reach and fertilize the egg, in which case IUI can be a simple solution.
  • People with conditions that affect the cervix and prevent sperm from easily entering the uterus. In these cases, the sperm cannot reach the egg, and this issue is bypassed through IUI.
  • Couples using donor sperm, including single women, gay or trans couples, or heterosexual couples with severe male infertility.
  • People with mild endometriosis who may have endometrial tissue obstructing the sperm’s path to the uterus or pelvic inflammation. IUI places the sperm directly into the uterus, thus bypassing these issues.
  • People with ovulatory disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). IUI can be used in conjunction with medications such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole (Femara) to stimulate ovulation and increase the chances of timing insemination correctly.

Who Might Benefit from Starting with IVF?

  • People over the age of 35, especially those over 40, may opt for IVF due to the higher success rates per cycle. This is crucial given the declining egg quality and quantity with age.
  • People with very low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormal morphology. In this case, IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is recommended.
  • People with blocked or severely damaged fallopian tubes will need to begin with IVF, as the process of IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes entirely. Without functional fallopian tubes, the egg will not be able to travel to the uterus on its own.
  • People with severe endometriosis where the quality of eggs or the ability of sperm to reach the egg is affected.
  • Couples with a risk of passing on genetic disorders can benefit from preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to ensure healthy embryos. If this is desired, IVF is recommended.

doctor explaining fertility treatments to patient

How Do I Decide What Treatment Is Best for Me?

Deciding how you approach your treatment can be confusing; we recommend a thorough discussion about which is best for your specific situation with your fertility specialist. Some couples may start with IUI due to its less invasive nature and lower cost, while others might opt for IVF directly to potentially shorten their journey to parenthood.

At RGI, we’re committed to guiding you through every step of your fertility journey with compassion, expertise, and the latest reproductive technology. Whether it’s IUI, IVF, or another path to parenthood, we’re here to support you through your decision-making process.  

Ready to discuss your fertility options? Contact us today to speak with one of our specialists. Together, we can build your path to parenthood.

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Fertility Treatments

How Does Letrozole Boost Fertility Success?

Learn how letrozole can boost fertility, its success rates, side effects, and when it's needed in fertility treatment.

Infertility is a common struggle for many people who want to build a family. Worldwide, about 1 in 6 people deal with infertility. Luckily, there are many ways to treat infertility, including a medication called letrozole. But how, exactly, does letrozole work?

woman taking letrozole to help boost fertility

How Does Letrozole Work?

Some people experience infertility because of ovulation problems. Letrozole boosts fertility by promoting ovulation. It does so by suppressing estrogen production in the body, which ultimately leads to increased follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. This stimulates follicle growth and egg development, increasing the chances of ovulation.

When is Letrozole Needed in Fertility Treatment?

Ovulation problems stem from different causes, such as Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Therefore, letrozole may be recommended for those with PCOS, unexplained infertility, or low egg count.

Letrozole is also commonly used as part of an intrauterine insemination (IUI) During IUI, sperm is inseminated into the uterus around the time of ovulation. Letrozole is often used during  IUI to stimulate ovulation and thus increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

Success Rates and Evidence of Letrozole

Success rates vary from person to person, depending on the root cause of infertility and your unique situation. Evidence suggests that letrozole is more effective than other medications in people with PCOS, and studies show that letrozole appears to help treat infertility stemming from endometriosis or unexplained causes.

Other Fertility Medication Options

Clomiphene is another medication that's commonly used to promote ovulation. According to research, letrozole is more effective than clomiphene for PCOS patients. Letrozole may also cause fewer side effects than clomiphene. Some people may not respond to clomiphene, making letrozole a good alternative.

Gonadotropins are hormonal medications given by injection and sometimes used during an IUI or IVF cycle. Gonadotropins include FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH), two hormones that stimulate follicle production and egg release in the ovaries. Sometimes, gonadotropins may be used alongside letrozole during fertility treatments.

Letrozole is an oral medication, which can make it easier to take than an injection. Some research suggests letrozole may also come with a lower risk of multiples than other medications.

woman understanding the risks and side effects of letrozole

Risks and Side Effects of Letrozole

Like any medication, there are potential risks and side effects when taking letrozole.

While taking letrozole, you may experience:

• trouble sleeping

• hot flashes or night sweats

• breast tenderness

• fatigue

• dizziness

• stomach upset

• spotting

• headaches

Don't hesitate to call your doctor if you have side effects that are severe, persistent, or concerning while taking letrozole.

Getting Started with Letrozole for Fertility

It's worth being evaluated by a caring fertility specialist before pursuing any fertility treatment. They can assess you to determine what might be causing your infertility and then decide on an appropriate treatment plan, which may include an oral medication like letrozole. A fertility specialist can advise whether IUI or IVF may be right for you and discuss your treatment options.

Helping You Every Step of the Way On Your Fertility Journey

Reproductive Gynecology & Infertility is committed to compassionate, personalized fertility care. We offer various advanced fertility care options to provide each person with the highest quality care possible. If you are having trouble conceiving or have questions about letrozole or other fertility treatments, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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