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Fertility 360

Donor Management: How Do We Find Your Perfect Match?

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Find Perfect Egg Donor

As we await the news on IVF Spain’s second couple we asked their team to tell us how they find the perfect egg donors.

Women’s role change and their personal and professional development are important achievements in our current society, but it is common that they lead to a delay in motherhood and all the disadvantages it entails. The prevalence of infertility due to late motherhood is gradually increasing and the need to resort to egg donation treatments is becoming ever more commonplace.

Thanks to events like the Fertility Show, in which we participate every year, we have had the chance to meet many couples interested in egg donation as the solution to their fertility issues.

Egg donation is the most requested treatment by international patients in Spain, and especially in our clinic. In IVF Spain we consider the patient the centre of our work and motivation, so we strive every day to offer a useful, evidence-based and high-quality information to them.

We believe that any person or couple that decides to undergo a fertility treatment must have access to clear and accurate information that helps them choose according to their own needs. Therefore, we have decided to dedicate this article to explaining one of the most relevant and doubt-generating aspects of egg donation: the donor selection.
Due to numerous causes (a woman’s age, early menopause, genetic disease, ovarian resection, cancer treatment), the ovaries can lose their ability to produce good quality eggs or any eggs at all. In these cases, egg donation can help achieve pregnancy successfully and safely.

In fact, this treatment consists of a perfected in vitro treatment with the additional difference of using eggs from a donor; the sperm sample can be that of the male partner’s or also a donor’s. Among the treatment’s resulting embryos, and by means of advanced embryo selection techniques, the best embryo will be chosen to be transferred to the patient’s womb. If it implants successfully, a normal pregnancy will follow.

The main appeal of Spain as a destination for a fertility treatment is that it is a global leader in medicine in general, and in assisted reproduction in particular.
Another reason for foreign couples to show interest in Spain is that the donor system here, and our awareness-raising campaigns for the recruitment of donors means very short or no waiting lists, as opposed to the long waiting lists in other countries, especially in the UK.

Another key aspect of egg donation in Spain is that it is totally anonymous. In Spain the patient is not allowed to know the name of the donor, or see her picture and choose according to it, or have access to any information that would make it possible to identify her. The anonymity protection system is made so that the donor is not traceable by anyone except for the donor selection team. Still, the donor’s medical history will always remain in possession of the fertility clinic in question for the biological child to be able to access it in case of ever needing medical attention.

Since the responsibility of choosing the donor lies in the fertility clinics, the Spanish law strongly regulates the donor selection to guarantee the maximum possible phenotypical similarity between the donor and the patients and, of course, excellent health standards.

In IVF Spain we have an excellent egg donation program that relies on a pool of over 500 donors, in which all phenotypes are represented (Caucasian, Nordic, Mediterranean, West Asian, East Asian, etc).

This way we make sure that the donor and the patient share the maximum similarity in their physical traits during the donor selection process.

To be considered as a potential egg donor in Spain women must be within a range of 18-35 years of age. In IVF Spain we accept donors of 18 to 30 years of age.

In accordance with the Spanish law, we perform numerous medical tests to the aspiring donors, the results of which must be excellent in order to accept them as donors. IVF Spain takes the medical study one step further including a psychological evaluation and a genetic study.

The genetic study consists of an in-depth study of the patient’s medical history to evaluate the risk of suffering and/or transmitting hereditary diseases, a chromosome analysis to detect any possible alterations (which would be transmitted to the embryos), and a carrier map able to detect more than 300 monogenic diseases.

In our clinic the donor selection process for a concrete couple starts with a form that the patients complete, which consists of two parts.

On the first part, both patients fill out a questionnaire about the most important aspects of their own physical appearance. On the second part they give a priority number to each trait of a list of 5, which represent important aspects that the donor could share with the patients, including the blood group. For some couples, coinciding blood groups are not important because they plan to tell their future child that he or she was conceived through an egg donation treatment. For other couples the said coincidence is crucial, since they prefer not to share any information about the treatment with the child and maybe even with their families.

The form also has a section for the patients to add any possible personal preferences about the donor. Also, we request the patients to provide us a representative picture of them in which they like themselves and they are reflecting a personal trait that they like about themselves.

We take these pictures into account when choosing the final donor.

As mentioned, the law states that the chosen donor must be as physically similar to the patients as possible. Apart from that, IVF Spain guarantees a match for at least 3 of the 5 traits of the form’s list, although normally a complete match of the 5 traits plus the extras is achieved, thanks to the size and diversity of our donor pool.

IVF Spain works with a custom-made highly-specialised donor selection software that, after we introduce the patients’ data, generates a list of compatible donors in descending order of similarity. The human donor selection team then chooses the best donor among the list’s top 3, considering more subtle characteristics.

The selection is also done according to the donors’ biological availability, that is to say that each donor is ‘rested’ over a number of cycles. This means the collection of high quality and perfectly matured eggs is guaranteed, and we can avoid “overstimulation”, or an excessive pre-stimulation that would lead to the collection of a higher number of lower quality eggs.

In our clinic we advocate for “fresh” fertilisations and embryo transfers, since experimental data have shown a 10% decrease in the pregnancy rate when performing fertilisations with previously cryopreserved eggs or sperm, in comparison with using fresh samples. So, once the donor has been chosen and her availability has been confirmed, the donor’s ovarian stimulation and the patient’s endometrial preparation are synchronised.

This way, patients come to our clinic in Spain twice: the first time for a few hours for the consultation, physical exploration, performing of tests and design of the treatment strategy; and the second time, for around 10 days for the donor’s egg collection and immediate fertilisation with the male patient’s fresh sperm sample, in order to transfer a fresh embryo in blastocyst stage (around 5 days later) to the female patient’s womb.

The donors’ stimulations are performed in the same way and with the same medication as those of our own patients undergoing IVF with their own eggs. They are planned and cared for down to detail, personalised according to each donor’s hormonal response, and conducted so that the eggs’ maturation in each case is optimal.

All the treatment’s steps are taken optimally in accordance with the scientific community’s most advanced and recent knowledge. Thanks to this our success rates are well above the European average and among the highest in the world.

In IVF Spain we are aware of the strong emotional stress caused by going through a fertility treatment that may end up failing. For this reason, in our clinic we develop strategies for each concrete case, offering an individualised attention and personalising each step of the treatment in order to offer the maximum success chance in each cycle.

For more information click here to visit the IVF Spain website.

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Fertility 360

NEWS: Get access to adult photos of the Cryos sperm donors

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Adult Cryos Sperm Donors Photos

Viewing adult photos of Cryos sperm donors is now a reality. Visit dk.cryosinternational.com today and get access to the new feature.

At Cryos it is now possible to access adult photos of sperm donors on our website, thus adding another dimension to your search for the perfect donor.

The unique chance to see both childhood and adult photos of your sperm donor, provides you with a more comprehensive idea of who your sperm donor is and moreover of the features of your future child. We hope that this extra dimension will upgrade your experience making your decision of a sperm donor easier.

The 5-6 adult photos are taken by a professional photographer and are a part of the donors extended profile where you also have access to childhood photos, an audio recording of the donor’s voice, a handwritten message, an emotional intelligence profile, and finally our staff impressions of the donor, amongst other exclusive features.

The adult photos require special access on our website. Visit our website and find out more and get access to this new feature now.

Please note that the person in the photos is a model and not a Cryos donor.
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Fertility 360

Fertility And Sex: Why Her Orgasm Matters

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Why her orgasm matters

For many couples, trying to conceive can make sex feel less fun and more pressured. Instead of being an intimate and enjoyable experience, baby-making sex can start to seem like a finely choreographed routine. Often, the female orgasm is one of the first things to go, but the maleorgasm is not the only orgasm that matters when it comes to fertility.

Before I dive into discussing the potential benefits of the female orgasm for fertility, it’s important to note that reaching climax is not technically essential for conception. If you never, or rarely, achieve orgasm, don’t worry, you can still get pregnant! Around 1 in 10 women don’t experience orgasm, ever. What’s more, the exact nature of the female orgasm remains somewhat elusive. Some experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation, some through vaginal intercourse, some through both, and others through something else entirely, or not at all.

Even without reaching orgasm, sexual arousal is itself beneficial to fertility. Like an orgasm, arousal is, first and foremost, a good indication that sex is enjoyable. Sexual arousal and climax causes significant changes in your levels of neurotransmitters including noradrenaline, oxytocin, prolactin, dopamine, and serotonin. These ‘reward’ neurohormones help you bond to a sexual partner and make it more likely that you’ll have sex more often, thereby increasing your chances of conception.

Second, orgasm and arousal have a range of physiological effects that might aid conception, which I’ll discuss in a moment. And, third, sexual arousal and orgasms for everyone can help sperm-producing partners avoid feeling like they’re being used just for their sperm. In fact, some studies show that male partners who engage in cunnilingus prior to vaginal intercourse have greater sexual arousal and produce more semen!

HOW ORGASMS ENHANCE FERTILITY

The female orgasm can help relieve stress, and promote healthy circulation and balance in the body. Stress is a key cause of diminished libido and may also reduce the chances of conception by raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Conversely, good sex can help raise levels of oxytocin and the other neurohormones mentioned above. These help you to relax and bond to your partner.

Published in 1967, the author even went as far as suggesting that the increase in these hormones after orgasm help support conception by temporarily incapacitating you. Put simply, this ‘poleax’ effect means you’ll feel so relaxed that you’ll stay lying down, which may increase your chance of conceiving. Whether staying supine does make conception more likely is still under debate, but I’m all for promoting relaxation, so if this theory provides added motivation, go for it!

CERVICAL TENTING

There is some suggestion that orgasm affects the shape and function of the cervix. These effects, which may include cervical ‘tenting could enhance the likelihood of conception by promoting the movement of sperm into the uterus and beyond. If you are curious as to what your cervix looks like during different stages of your cycle, check out these photos.

THE ‘UP-SUCK’ THEORY

One of the main ways in which female orgasm has been linked to fertility is something called the ‘upsuck’ theory (or, sometimes, the ‘insuck’ theory). This theory proposes that the female orgasm causes uterine and vaginal contractions that actively draw semen up into the uterus and towards the fallopian tubes, thereby increasing the chances of an egg being fertilized.

Scientific evidence to support this theory is rather inconsistent, but there’s certainly no harm in trying! One proposed underlying mechanism of this theory is oxytocin-mediated uterine peristalsis, i.e. the same mechanism that causes uterine contractions during labour could be partially responsible for increasing the likelihood of conception. Indeed, some research has found higher pregnancy rates in women shown to experience this ‘insuck’ phenomenon.

SPERM RETENTION AND FERTILITY

More recently, one small study found that orgasm may increase sperm retention. This study involved women using a syringe to insert a sperm simulant (lube) prior to external stimulation to orgasm. As such, the study’s findings may be especially applicable to anyone undergoing artificial insemination (IUI).

The take-away: Chances are that if you orgasm 1 minute before or up to 45 minutes after insemination (whether artificial or otherwise), you will probably retain more sperm, which may increase your chance of conceiving.

IN CONCLUSION

To sum up, the female orgasm might enhance fertility in a variety of ways, but it isn’t essential to conception.

The take home message is that orgasm and sexual arousal itself have many benefits to fertility, partner relationships and stress relief. Don’t worry though, if you have a low libido, conception can still happen even in the absence of arousal and orgasm!

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Fertility 360

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age across the world, and results in irregular or absent periods, acne, excess body hair and weight gain. It is also a major cause of infertility and yet is frequently misdiagnosed and often missed completely.

PCOS gets its name because under an ultrasound scan, the ovaries can look like a bunch of grapes, each one covered in what look like multiple cysts. In fact, these aren’t cysts at all, but are small, undeveloped follicles.

Symptoms

Not every woman with PCOS will get the same symptoms, but common signs to look out for include:

  • Few or no periods
  • Excess hair on the face or breasts or inside of the legs or around the nipples
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Scalp hair thinning or loss (male pattern baldness)
  • Skin tags (known as acrochordons)
  • Skin discolouration (known as acanthosis nigricans) where the skin looks ‘dirty’ on the arms, around the neck and under the breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Weight gain especially around the middle of the body
  • Difficulty in losing weight
  • Cravings and binges
  • Irregular or no ovulation
  • Difficulty in becoming pregnant
  • Recurrent miscarriages

PCOS creates a vicious cycle of hormone imbalances, which has huge knock-on effects throughout the rest of your body. With PCOS, the problem often starts with the ovaries, which are unable to produce the hormones they should, and in the correct proportions. But linked to this is the very common problem of insulin resistance. Women with PCOS very often have difficulties with blood sugar levels which can cause weight gain and the excess insulin can stimulate your ovaries to produce yet more testosterone. Half of all women with PCOS do not have any problems with their weight, yet they can still have higher insulin levels than normal.

How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosed?

The most widely accepted criteria for the diagnosis of PCOS says that you should have two out of these three problems:

  • Infrequent or no ovulation
  • Signs (either physical appearance – hirsutism or acne – or blood tests) of high levels of male hormones
  • Polycystic ovaries as seen on an ultrasound scan

The Seven Nutritional Steps to beat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Good nutrition is the foundation of your health and you should never underestimate how powerful it can be. It is the fuel that provides you with the energy to live your life and it gives your body the nutrients it needs to produce your hormones in the correct balance. The better the supply of those nutrients, the more healthily your body will function.

The fundamental aim of my nutritional approach to PCOS is to target a number of areas simultaneously so that you get the maximum effect in the minimum amount of time.

Here’s how:

  1. Switch to unrefined carbohydrates (eaten with protein) and never go more than 3 hours without food to keep your blood sugar levels balanced
  2. Eat oily fish and foods rich in Omega 3s to help your body to become more sensitive to insulin so it can overcome insulin resistance
  3. Cut out all dairy products for 3 months to bring levels of male hormones under control
  4. Eat more vegetables and pulses to which helps control male hormones
  5. Cut right back on or cut out alcohol for 12 weeks to allow your liver function to improve
  6. Cut down on caffeine to give your adrenal glands a rest
  7. Cut down on saturated fats and eliminate trans fats to help control the potentially damaging inflammatory processes PCOS causes in the body

PCOS Symptons

Best Supplements for PCOS

The use of certain vitamins and minerals can be extremely useful in helping to correct Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, along with a good diet.

Chromium

Chromium helps to encourage the formation of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is required to make insulin more efficient. A deficiency of chromium can lead to insulin resistance.  It also helps to control cravings and reduces hunger. Can help to reduce insulin resistance associated with PCOS

B vitamins

The B vitamins are very important in helping to control the symptoms of PCOS. Vitamin B2 helps to burn fat, sugar and protein into energy. B3 is a component of GTF which is released every time blood sugar rises, and vitamin B3 helps to keep the levels in balance. Vitamin B5 has been shown to help with weight loss and B6 is also important for maintaining hormone balance and, together with B2 and B3, is necessary for normal thyroid function.

Zinc

Zinc helps with PCOS as it plays a crucial role in the production of your reproductive hormones and also regulates your blood sugar.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral for dealing with PCOS because there is a strong link between magnesium levels and insulin resistance – the higher your magnesium levels the more sensitive you are likely to be to insulin.

Co-Enzyme Q10

Co-Q10 is a substance that your body produces in nearly every cell.  It helps to balance your blood sugar and lowering both glucose and insulin.

Alpha lipoic acid

This powerful antioxidant helps to regulate your blood sugar levels because it releases energy by burning glucose and it also helps to make you more insulin sensitive. It also has an effect on weight loss because if the glucose is being used for energy, your body releases less insulin and you then store less fat.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids taken in supplement form have been found to reduce testosterone levels in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Amino Acids

Certain amino acids can be very helpful for PCOS as they can improve your insulin sensitivity and also can have an effect on weight loss.

N-Acetyl cysteine

In women with PCOS this amino acid helps reduce insulin levels and makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Study using NAC in women who were clomiphene resistant and had ovarian drilling.  After ovarian drilling, the women given NAC compared to a placebo showed a significantly higher increase in both ovulation and pregnancy rates and lower incidence of miscarriage.

Arginine

Arginine can be helpful in reversing insulin resistance. In one study, a combination of both arginine and N-acetyl cysteine were given to women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  The two amino acids help to improve blood sugar and insulin control and also increased the number of menstrual cycles and ovulation with one women becoming pregnant on the second month.

Carnitine

Carnitine helps your body break down fat to release energy and can help improve insulin sensitivity.

Tyrosine

Tyrosine is helpful for women with PCOS who are overweight as it helps to suppress the appetite and burn off fat.

Glutamine

This amino acid is useful for helping with sugar cravings as it can be converted to sugar for energy and so takes away the need to eat something sweet.  It also helps to build and maintain muscle which is important for fat burning.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs include three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are important in PCOS because they help to balance blood sugar and having good levels of these BCAAs can have a beneficial effect on your body weight

Inositol

A study used inositol (2,000mg) in combination with NAC (600mg), a significant increase in ovulation rates.

Having a good diet, regular exercise, controlling stress and taking key nutrients will help in getting your hormones back in balance and reducing the negative symptoms associated with PCOS.

More information can be found on www.naturalhealthpractice.com

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