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PCOS Defeated: 3 Tips To Getting Pregnant With PCOS

Problem skin is one of the unfortunate side-effects of PCOS and this really does have extraordinary power over how a woman feels about herself. Self-confidence can impact a woman’s fertility and ability to conceive.

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PCOS Defeated! Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Fertility can be a mercurial beast, one that seems to bestow a baby on one person while denying it to another. One of the most common inhibitors to getting pregnant with PCOS also know as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and it is a health problem that has left many women snapping their pregnancy testing sticks with frustration. It can lead to weight gain, hairiness, skin blemishes and mood swings thanks to the tides of hormones surging through the body.

It can also be beaten.

Feeling upset with the cards that nature has dealt is only fair, but how about taking the deck and reshuffling it instead? Our 3 experts look at some of the PCOS myths and ways that will help fight the symptoms of PCOS without you having to take medications or undergo excessive tests and more invasive methods of getting pregnant.

Dr Patalay

Getting pregnant with PCOS 1 – Light

Problem skin is one of the unfortunate side-effects of PCOS and this really does have extraordinary power over how a woman feels about herself. Self-confidence can impact a woman’s fertility and ability to conceive. Research has found that a negative mental state such as depression can really affect the body, causing problems such as elevated prolactin levels or thyroid dysfunction. It can even result in the abnormal regulation of luteinising hormone which regulates ovulation.

“Acne has an impact on self-esteem and confidence and can cause permanent scarring,” says Dr Rakesh Patalay, consultant dermatologist. “It is a common symptom of PCOS, a condition that affects 5-10% of women and their fertility. Although the cause of PCOS is not fully understood, it does increase the production of male hormones which interfere with function of the ovaries and can result in acne, obesity and infertility.”

Dr Patalay worked on a research team with leading dermatologist Dr Tony Chu to develop a form of light therapy that can help women beat their problem skin. The visible blue light can kill P.acnes (propionibacterium acnes) by exciting the porphyr molecules that this type of acne produces in large amounts.

This causes them to release radicals into the bacteria which destroy them. A combination of blue and red light is an effective and gentle treatment for acne and has been used to develop a home light therapy called Lumie Clear. It was devised thanks to research gathered in the clinical trial by Dr Chu at Hammersmith Hospital who found it was far more effective than certain creams. “Lumie Clear is not on prescription, it’s effective and it’s safe, even for women who have fallen pregnant,” adds Patalay.

Light therapy is also a great way to boost self-esteem if your PCOS is affecting the way you feel about yourself and your appearance. It can help clear up the acne that comes with this condition and, by default, could help you to relax and feel confi dent which will tell your body that it’s time to get happy and possibly even fall pregnant.

PCOS Busted

Dawn Simpson developed acne in her early thirties thanks to PCOS and decided to try out light therapy to get rid of it. “I’d suffered acne intermittently as a teen, but then in my early thirties it reemerged on my face and back. It made me very self-conscious of my spots, especially the ones on my back,” says Dawn. The way she dressed, the way she felt about herself and her self-esteem were all affected by her problem skin. She couldn’t bring herself to wear strappy tops in summer; instead she covered herself up in the hope that one of the skincare treatments she was using would eventually start working.

“Initially I tried treating my skin with budget products from supermarkets and then, when they didn’t work, I tried some high-end ones,” says Dawn. “A few helped for a little while, but they soon stopped being effective.”

A visit to the GP and some tests later, Dawn found out she had PCOS. The Dr placed her onto a variety of acne treatments that included topical retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics, but they were less than helpful.

“Nothing seemed to work and then I saw a tweet from a Lumie Clear user who said they were really happy with the results of the device so I decided to investigate for myself,” explains Dawn. “I started using it on a daily basis and soon saw improvements. I noticed a real difference in two weeks and the skin on my face looked and felt better, so much smoother and less inflamed.”

Dawn’s back cleared up, it started losing the redness, then the pain and spots began to fade. “Getting a diagnosis for my PCOS has been a long journey, but at least now I can use light therapy to clear up my acne,” she beams. “I am now fi nally looking forward to summer again and being able to wear my strappy tops!”
Dr Marilyn Glenville

PCOS Buster Number 2 – Diet

Food is such an important part of life. It celebrates occasions, it inspires culinary delights and it brings families closer together. It can also really affect how badly a person suffers from PCOS. Unfortunately, high sugar and refined carbohydrate diets only make the PCOS symptoms worse and periods can even become far more painful and drawn out.

“By making a few simple alterations to your diet, you’ll not only be able to reduce the severity of symptoms such as acne, weight gain and hirsutism, but you should see your body easing back into a more normal way of functioning in just a matter of months,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, PhD. “With luck it can be an end to all the complications you have had to endure with PCOS.”

Dr Glenville recommends a diet that switches to unrefined carbohydrates, oily fish and foods rich in omega 3 fats to encourage the body to become more sensitive to insulin. She also suggests cutting out all dairy foods for three months and eating more vegetables and pulses to improve SHBG protein levels which will help to bring the levels of male hormones under control.

“Never go more than three waking hours without food to keep your blood-sugar levels balanced and cut right back on, or cut out, alcohol for 12 weeks,” she adds. “Completely eliminate trans fats and cut down on saturated fats to counter the potentially damaging inflammatory processes PCOS causes in the body.”

Dr Glenville believes that by following her nutrition advice you can be well on your way to managing PCOS and possibly even reversing it.

“It may take time, but you will notice improvements in your weight, skin, hair and general health,” she says. “You might even start to ovulate once more as one of the most important changes of this natural approach is helping your body to start a normal, regular menstrual cycle. Research has shown that by the age of 35, women who have PCOS will have had as many successful pregnancies as those who don’t, even without fertility treatment.”

So, for anyone looking to beat PCOS, Dr Glenville has provided three super PCOS buster meals to help you kick it to the curb:

Breakfast: Porridge made with rolled oats and water with added nuts and raspberries
Lunch: Wholewheat pasta with nettle pesto
Supper: Poached salmon with cauliflower and spinach mash

Problem Busted

Michelle Thorne fell pregnant with her first child in the first month of trying and automatically assumed that the same would happen with her second. It was, in fact, the start of a long and difficult journey.

“After a year of trying I had a check-up with my Dr who said everything was fine!” she says. “A very long year later I gave in and sought the help of a fertility specialist who diagnosed my PCOS. While he was very reassuring, he did warn me that with PCOS and my advanced age – I had just turned 40 – I might be in for a bit of a journey.”

What Michelle didn’t know was that at that very appointment she was already pregnant, so early on that the Dr couldn’t even pick it up on the scan. “It was only two weeks later when he sent me for a blood test that we discovered I had fallen pregnant with what he called my ‘miracle baby’,” she smiles. “Given my PCOS and age he said that he very rarely saw such a positive outcome with no medical intervention.”

It was diet that forged the path to miraculous success. Michelle did plenty of research into what kind of a diet could help her to feel better and make her more fertile and set off to live the life of low sugar, low gluten and low dairy.

“I felt the results within about two weeks,” says Michelle. “My skin cleared, my energy levels picked up and my sugar levels were more balanced. I didn’t do anything fancy either, I made egg muffi ns for breakfast, ate a lot of salmon and salads for lunch and then meat or chicken with vegetables for dinner.”

When she craved pizza she had crackers with mozzarella and sliced tomato and she had loads of apples and fresh veggies around to snack on. One of her favourite recipes was sweet potato roasted in the oven with a teaspoon of butter and salt.
“The weight loss was lovely, 18 pounds, but what interested me the most was the change in my hormones,” concludes Michelle.
Jacqueline Hurst Acupuncture

PCOS Buster Number 3 – Acupuncture

Some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with PCOS are enlarged and enraptured follicles, ovulatory dysfunction and very long cycles. In 75% of cases, women experience blood sugar abnormalities and it can sometimes lead to thyroid issues. What acupuncture does is seek to balance the hormonal chaos that’s caused by PCOS and to bring the cycle back into normal parameters. “One of the most common manifestations that I see are the symptoms of ‘Dampness and Phlegm’ – this term is used in Chinese medicine to describe accumulations in the body,” explains Jacqueline Hurst, acupuncture practitioner and counsellor at fertility-support.co.uk.

“Symptoms include tiredness and feeling sluggish after a meal, fibrocystic breasts, acne and being overweight. I also address stress levels with every treatment, helping the patient to relax and take time to concentrate on their own health and wellbeing.”

Hurst recommends that patients stimulate their pressure points when at home. To balance hormones, use the index finger to massage Spleen 6 which is found by placing the right hand on the inside side of the lower left leg. Rest your little finger on top of the ankle bone. There are a number of points that can be used, but these are best discussed with an acupuncturist to locate them properly.

“The benefits from acupuncture may take around 100 days or three cycles on a cellular level. However, many patients feel these much sooner,” says Hurst. “I provide weekly acupuncture treatments with the first one scheduled for the first day of a bleed so as to work with each stage of the cycle.”

Dietary changes and supplements are also highly recommended as part of an acupuncture routine with Hurst suggesting fi sh, a diet high in protein and nuts, beans and tofu. And her advice only serves to really underline the value of a good diet through the removal of sugar, trans fats, processed food and limited dairy.

“Shame, guilt and loss are very real emotions connected with fertility issues and I spend time with all my patients listening to their stories,” concludes Hurst. “I am also trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that looks at understanding the behaviours that result from negative thoughts about yourself. This helps enormously with improving low self-esteem.”

Problem Busted

Susan Jones (name changed) spent a lot of time researching PCOS and reading about how acupuncture could stimulate the nervous system and help with the symptoms of the condition. She felt it was an affordable, non-time consuming treatment with the potential to help her relax and possibly even conceive.

“I suffered irregular, light periods and had been trying to fall pregnant for a really long time,” says Susan. “I had acne and symptoms were consistent with PCOS and looking back I can defi nitely identify times of anxiety and depression. I think these were linked to both the PCOS and the fertility issues we faced.”

Acupuncture was the golden ticket for Susan as she now has her gorgeous four-month-old son and many of her PCOS symptoms have subsided.

“When you think of acupuncture you tend to think of huge needles and pain!” she laughs. “This really wasn’t the case. I found my sessions relaxing and completely pain-free. I used to fall asleep on the bed and would look forward to my sessions all day. An expensive nap, but far from uncomfortable or painful.”

Susan cannot recommend acupuncture enough: “I found it helped with PCOS symptoms and made me feel like I was actually doing something constructive to overcome it.”

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Detech your bedroom

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Detech Your Bedroom

Why charging your phone next to where you sleep could be harming your sperm.

“If you are trying for a baby and it doesn’t happen within a year you might want to think of whether it could be your mobile phone habit that is to blame,” says Professor Martha Dirnfeld, of the Technion University in Haifa which recently investigated whether mobile phone use can affect sperm quality. In the study, Israeli scientists monitored 106 men attending a fertility clinic for a year and results indicated that those who chatted on the phone for more than an hour daily were twice as likely to have low sperm quality as those who spoke for less than an hour.

The scientists’ findings were published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine and found that 47% of men who kept their phones within 50cm of their groin had sperm levels that were seriously affected, compared with just 11% of the general population.

The benefits of leaving your laptop and smartphone outside the bedroom have long been known: blue light before sleep suppresses melatonin production leaving you feeling exhausted, and answering work emails whilst in between the sheets can build a virtual wall between you and your partner. But aside from being an obvious passion killer, this new study also found that a man’s sperm count can be reduced by talking on a phone that is charging, or even keeping it close by on a bedside table at night.

The science behind the findings is alarmingly simple: heat and electromagnetic activity which emanate from a mobile phone are thought to ‘cook’ sperm, causing them to die. Also, men who used their phone as it charged were almost twice as likely to suffer problems, suggesting that the so-called urban myth of charging devices giving off stronger rays may actually have some substance to it..

Professor Gedis Grudzinskas, a fertility consultant at St George’s Hospital, London, comments: “Men need to think about their wellbeing and try to stop being addicted to their phones. If you wear a suit to work put the mobile in your chest pocket instead of close to your testes. It will reduce the risk of your sperm count dropping or dropping so much.”

However, some medical professionals are keen to prevent studies like this causing a mass hysteria. Dr Fiona Mathews, a biologist from the University of Exeter, has conducted her own studies in this field and acknowledges that whilst these rays seem to have a detrimental effect on sperm, there is still not sufficient evidence to prove that mobile phone radiation can render men infertile. “We have previously found that there are consistent patterns of mobile phone exposure being linked to reduced sperm quality,” says Dr Mathews.

“Unfortunately, there is not yet any direct evidence available to link mobile phone use with complete infertility. All we can say at the moment is that mobile phone exposure reduces sperm quality and it would therefore be reasonable to infer that, for men who are already on the borderline of infertility, phone exposure could further reduce the chances of pregnancy.”

So why not follow the lead of James Bond actor Daniel Craig, who though known for his high-tech gadgets on screen, once suggested that the secret to his happy marriage with Rachel Weisz is their bedroom ban on technology. He told The New York Times: “There’s nothing technological allowed in the bedroom. If the iPad goes to bed, it’s a killer. We have a ban on it.”

Of course this doesn’t mean we need to ditch mobile phones all together, but it is important to be aware of our addiction to tech. So what else can we do to minimise mobile disruption? When at work or home it’s worth making sure men take their phones out of their pockets and keep them on the desk or table. Before bed consider a device curfew; not only will this have a positive effect on your mental health but will encourage intimacy between you and your partner. Lastly, buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and keep your charging smartphone away from the bed. All these are small lifestyle changes, but ones that could have a profound effect on both your relationship and your fertility journey.

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Fertility 360

Do This ONE Thing to Improve Your Fertility Immediately

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Do This ONE Thing to Improve Your Fertility Immediately

Why is Earth the only planet in our solar system that supports life forms?

Quite simply…water.  No other planet has it.

Drinking water is essential for optimal health.  And you probably think you get plenty of fluids every day.

Yet, up to 75 percent of Americans may be in a chronic state of dehydration, according to research.

Many people understand the importance of drinking enough water but they don’t overcome the perceived inconvenience to make it part of their routine.

The problem is that allowing yourself to become dehydrated causes more inconvenience because it can be a significant contributing factor to your fertility issues.  Something as simple as drinking enough water can be the turning point for you.

Staying hydrated is critical when trying to get pregnant.  You can survive weeks without food. But as little as a few hours without water.  For example, a child left in a hot car or an athlete exercising hard in hot weather can dehydrate, overheat and die in a period of a few hours.

50-70% of your body weight is water.  Your blood is 85% water, your muscles 80%, your brain 75% and even your bones are 25% water, which indicates how important water is for your health.

Water keeps all of your organs and cells functioning properly including the reproductive cells (egg, sperm) and reproductive organs (brain, ovaries, uterus, testes, thyroid).  It also naturally flushes out toxins in the body.

For men, semen production and semen volume can be reduced by not drinking enough water.   If semen is thicker due to dehydration, sperm may have trouble swimming.

For the fetus, staying hydrated is critical for fetal development.  Water helps carry nutrients to the placenta and is an important part of all aspects of development from the time of fertilization. Without water, a developing baby cannot survive, increasing the risk of miscarriage.

For women, dehydration can affect…

  • …which leads to dehydration interfering with or preventing ovulation
  • The cervical mucus, which is important in transporting the sperm to the fallopian tubes for egg fertilization.  Having little to no cervical mucus can be an indication that you’re dehydrated. You should see 2-3 days of egg white, stretchy cervical mucus around ovulation.  Without enough water, the cervical mucus that balances vaginal pH also becomes too acidic, harming the sperm.
  • Implantation –  Water is necessary for cell division and metabolism. The cells of the uterine wall must be healthy for the embryo to implant.

 

How much water to drink?

Because people are busy throughout the day, using thirst as a guide is unreliable.

A general rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces of water.

But more accurately, use your urine as a guide.

The color should be pale yellow like lemonade.  If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are probably not drinking enough water.  If it is colorless, you are drinking too much water which can cause salts & other electrolytes in your body to become too diluted.

A healthy person urinates on average about 7-8 times a day.  If you haven’t urinated in many hours, that’s an indication that you’re not drinking enough.  Time your water intake so that needing to go to the bathroom doesn’t cause you to wake up at night.

Make sure you start your day with a large glass of water to rehydrate.  You breathe out a small amount of water every time you exhale as you’re sleeping.  If you sweat at night, you’re also losing water.

Water bottles

Storing your water in the appropriate water containers is important.  Glass and stainless steel water containers are best.

DO NOT USE plastic bottles!  Even if they’re BPA-free.

BPA (bisphenol-A) mimics estrogen, and therefore can have estrogenic effects in the body causing infertility including low sperm quality.  BPA increases aneuploidy, a defect consisting of abnormal loss or gain of chromosomes, which could lead to miscarriages or disorders such as Down Syndrome.

Plastics, including BPA-free materials, leach chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies.  Conditions that are known to release these harmful chemicals are heat, putting them in a microwave or dishwasher, or leaving a plastic water bottle in a hot car.  Microwaving the containers or placing hot liquids or food into them releases BPA 55 times more rapidly! But even normal contact with food or water was enough for these chemicals to leach into the food and the water because they are unstable.  Some of the chemicals that are in the BPA-free plastics actually have been found to have greater estrogenic activity than BPA itself.

Water quality

Many people rely on drinking bottled water regularly.  The problem is that you don’t know how long they’ve been in the plastic bottle and what conditions they have been stored in.

Instead, purify your tap water using the best water filtration system you can afford, preferably one with reverse osmosis (RO).

Unfortunately, an effective water filtration system also removes beneficial minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese).  Because RO water doesn’t have enough minerals, when it is consumed, it also leaches minerals from the body and your food if you cook with RO water. It’s because water wants to bind to everything, and it will take the minerals where it can — like from your body or your food.  This means that the minerals in food and vitamins are being urinated away.

Less minerals consumed plus more minerals being excreted equals serious negative side effects and big health problems, including fertility issues.

A simple solution is to add trace minerals to filtered water.

Here are some easy tips to ensure you’re drinking enough water

  • Have a bottle with you constantly and make it a habit to take a sip whenever you have down time.
  • Use an app to track your water intake.>
  • Set recurring water break reminders on your phone.
  • Buy a bottle with pre-marked timed intervals. You can also make your own stickers to add to your favorite clear bottle.  All you have to do is come up with your own timed drinking goals and write the times on the bottle.

Optimal fertility starts with the basics – water being the most critical ingredient to life.  Make it a daily habit to drink enough for your reproductive needs.

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Fertility 360

Study Points To Fertility As A Leading Economic Indicator

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Study Points To Fertility As A Leading Economic Indicator

Many research studies have shown that when the economy does well, people have more babies, and when the economy does poorly, they give birth less.

New research from the University of Notre Dame, however, discovers something unique — people appear to stop conceiving babies several months before recessions begin.

The study, “Is Fertility a Leading Economic Indicator?” was published Feb. 26 in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working paper series. It is coauthored by Notre Dame economics professors Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman, and Steven Lugauer from the University of Kentucky.

The team compared conceptions to other well-known economic indicators — such as consumer confidence and durables purchases — over the past 30 years and found that conceptions fall at the same time or even before other indicators whenever a recession is about to start.

“We show that for the last three recessions, conceptions predicted the downturn just as well as traditional economic indicators did,” Buckles says.

The team examined data on more than 100 million births spanning decades in the United States. Unlike most studies that use data aggregated up to the year level, the NBER paper focuses on the timing of births within the year using monthly or quarterly data, which allowed the researchers to study changes occurring months before a recession — changes that papers using annual data would miss.

“Once you examine monthly or quarterly data, the pattern becomes obvious,” Hungerman says. “We show the existence and magnitude of this pattern before the Great Recession, and it’s striking since that recession was famously hard to predict. None of the experts saw it coming, and in its first few months, many business leaders were convinced the economy was doing OK — even as the number of conceptions plummeted and had been falling for a while.

“While the cyclicality of fertility has been studied before, the possibility that conceptions change months before recessions begin has not been shown before,” he says. “In fact, some well-known studies have even declared that the pattern we find shouldn’t exist.”

“One way to think about this,” Buckles says, “is that the decision to have a child often reflects one’s level of optimism about the future.”

The study also shows conceptions are slow to rebound when recessions end. The Great Recession famously had a “jobless recovery.” This study finds it also had a “babyless recovery.”

The paper is available online at http://www.nber.org/papers/w24355.


Also published on Medium.

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