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Fertility 360

After Three Failed IVF Attempts Caprice Turned to Gestational Surrogacy To Start Her Family

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Gestational Surrogacy

After three failed attempts at IVF, former supermodel and now CEO of By Caprice products, Caprice Bourret’s hopes of having the children she so desperately wanted were fading fast when she made the difficult decision to pursue surrogacy.

But in an incredible turn of events, one month into her carrier’s pregnancy Caprice also fell pregnant and she now has two beautiful sons, Jax and Jett. She shares her amazing story with Fertility Road, advising couples in similarly tough circumstances to “never give up hope”.

Caprice is a woman trying to change negative connotations – it’s not a new stance. As a model, as a businesswoman and as a television personality she has done similar, but she would scarcely have believed you if two decades ago when she burst onto the fashion scene, you’d told her she would be pursuing such arguments with fertility the subject. But it’s an argument that deserves to be heard – her story is simple; it’s about supporting other women through infertility issues; in fact she has assisted nine ladies who now have beautiful, healthy children, who all nearly gave up after numerous unsuccessful attempts.

“I would have done anything. I would have moved to Alaska, I would have moved to Timbuktu.” Caprice may be well known in the UK for her extensive modelling career and highly successful By Caprice products business, but few people are aware of the struggle she went through to become a mother.

After three failed IVF attempts her hopes for children were fading fast until she and her partner Ty Comfort turned to gestational surrogacy, which yielded great results. One month after the successful implantation came the second miracle in Caprice’s fertility journey as she fell pregnant naturally. Wind forward and the native Californian now lives in London with her partner and two sons, who are now almost two: biological brothers born one month apart.

Like many women embarking on IVF, Caprice knows too well the stress and anxiety the process can cause. “It’s a tough road,” she says. “Emotionally, it’s very challenging and I think the worst part is those 10 days or two weeks waiting to see if the embryo took.”

For the 43-year-old, it appeared that her infertility issues were not down to the actual fertilisation of the egg but a uterine condition whereby the womb was apparently unable to support the fertilised embryo. “I went through three different attempts until the doctor said ‘Listen Cap, we’ve got a medical issue here and I can’t rectify it.’” At 40, she decided the only other viable option was to find a surrogate to carry her child to full term.

Despite her initial disappointment, it was of course IVF that made the surrogacy possible and Caprice is passionate about supporting other women going through the treatment. She extols the virtues of healthy eating and holistic techniques to support the process, stating: “I started really taking care of myself. Taking my vitamins, taking my folic acid and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, especially during the IVF, as this is a really important time to look after yourself.” She also found meditation to be helpful and is especially emphatic about using acupuncture to boost fertility, which appears to reduce stress, increase blood fl ow to reproductive organs and balance the endocrine system. In fact, a recent study from Tel Aviv University indicated that 65.5% of the group receiving acupuncture treatment were able to conceive compared to the 39.4% who did not receive the alternative treatment. “My acupuncture sessions cost me £35 each,” Caprice recalls. “IVF really takes its toll on your body physically and emotionally, so there’s a lot to consider and it’s good to look after yourself. I did absolutely everything.”

After deciding to take the route of gestational surrogacy, Caprice wasn’t about to leave anything to chance when it came to choosing the carrier of her child. “We wanted someone who was religious and had good morals, had their own children and was in a loving relationship,” she explains. “It would ideally be someone who was open to eating only organic foods during pregnancy and had never smoked, drank or taken drugs. We also wanted somebody who was happy… really happy and very nurturing, like your stereotypical mum. And you know what? We found her!” she smiles.

Naturally, it is vital when choosing a surrogate to find a woman who is able to cope with the emotional processes involved – something Caprice was very conscious of. “It was her first time being a surrogate but she had a great support system. Her kids were really excited about her doing it and emotionally she was and is a very solid lady.” The entrepreneur and her partner also decided to go through the process in Caprice’s homeland of America where there exist many agencies that assist in matching parents to surrogates; a vital element in making the process less daunting: “I found an agency that I really loved, they were quite nurturing and open. They sent us over a number of resumes and we shortlisted about four ladies who we met several times.”

Whilst gestational surrogacy is a viable option for many, there is an ambiguity about it from a legal standpoint. In the UK, the biological parents of the child have no legal rights until adoption papers are signed post-birth, meaning that in the event of the surrogate changing her mind she can legally keep the child, even if a contract has been signed and her expenses paid. “In the United States, not in all the states but some, the carrier could not just take off with our child, it is legally our child,” Caprice explains. Legal issues aside, there are extensive costs to consider with surrogacy and this was perhaps an easier option for Caprice than other women who may not be unable to finance the process. With all this in mind, she implores women to ensure they know what their rights are and avoid choosing a surrogate in a country that is unregulated. “Just don’t take that chance… you never know,” she warns.

No-one could have predicted what happened next in Caprice and Ty’s path to parenthood. One month into the pregnancy of her surrogate, Caprice herself fell pregnant naturally, to her amazement. “It was the most incredible news and we couldn’t believe it had happened. And from the very moment we found out, I loved being pregnant. I loved every single second of it and if my body could, I would have 10 more.” Inevitably this turn of events piqued press interest, despite the couple doing their best to keep the situation private. “A national newspaper came to us saying they were going to print the story and I said ‘well it’s not entirely true’ but they insisted,” says Caprice, “so after talking to my entire family we decided that we would share it because if the story is going to be printed it better be right. To us it’s such a great story anyway; it’s an inspirational story!” she laughs. “Yes, it is a very personal journey but I’m really happy to share it with people because we were so blessed, and I want people to have hope. I want people to know there are options out there and I want people to know that these options worked for me. I want them to remember too that Mother Nature can step in at any point and surprise us!”

After such a long wait the birth of their first son was especially moving for Caprice and Ty. “With my first child, I was eight months pregnant in the 40 hospital room holding my carrier’s hand and I saw my son come out. I cut the umbilical cord and it was the most… I can’t even put it into words! It was probably one of the happiest days of my life. The whole room broke down crying, and I just stripped off all my clothes, I didn’t care who was watching or who was in the room. I put my firstborn son to my chest and I didn’t let him go.”

One month later her second son was born by Caesarean section. A complication saw the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, hence the move away from a natural birth. Caprice says her only thought was “you know what, I’ve come this far, I’m not going to take any chances.”

Reflecting on her miraculous experience, Caprice is full of gratitude for her children. “This is one of those things in life where you get complacent and you forget to appreciate; you forget to thank the higher power of God or whatever you believe in, but when I had my two baby boys, from the day they were both born and to this very day, I thank God every single day. It sounds a bit cheesy but it’s so true. I went through so much and both were miracles, literally miracles.”

The couple decided not to reveal to the press which of their sons was born via the surrogate but Caprice says that she will tell the boys when the time is right. “When they’re old enough to understand, you better believe I’m going to be loud and proud about it. But they should be the first ones to know and it’s none of anyone else’s business – it’s irrelevant to the whole world because both of them are biologically mine.”

Ty and Caprice have also decided to maintain a strong, constant and positive relationship with the woman who carried their son, keeping up a regular correspondence and visiting her when they are in the States. “She’s such a lovely, lovely lady and she’s still a very big part of our life; whenever we go to see her my sons call her ‘aunty’.”

Understandably, Caprice feels incredibly blessed and is passionate about supporting other women who are struggling with infertility. She blames a lot of this struggle on the pressures we now face in the modern world, and the diffi cult balance between having children earlier and working hard to build a secure life for your family. “It’s such a natural thing for us ladies to want to have children and if we’re having a hard time doing it we’ve got to know about these options, especially in today’s world. We’re mumpreneurs, we’re working now and it’s very expensive out there! You need to be two-income families. Sometimes we don’t really get going in our careers until our mid-thirties and that’s when things start to get a little bit more diffi cult, but ultimately we work so hard so we can be responsible and give a proper upbringing to these children.”

During IVF treatment, Caprice believes the most important thing is to keep as well and calm as possible even though she freely admits it can be hard to stay positive. She insists too that, ultimately, the experience made her not only stronger as a woman but also served to strengthen the bond between her and Ty. “For my relationship I needed to stay positive. You can’t go down into that little rabbit hole and stay there because the longer you stay hidden away the harder it is to get out.”

Caprice believes everybody needs to talk more openly about fertility issues, not just couples who are trying to have children. She admits her experience was made all the more stressful because it felt like the whole world was watching, but is determined that her story inspires people and, ultimately, provides hope.

“We need to support each other! It is hard on us emotionally and we need to be open about this; we need to talk about this; we need to be proud of our stories and help those women going through it. The more people who speak about it, the more I think we’ll see success stories because these women need support. I needed support! I mean, I thought it was a taboo, I wasn’t telling anyone. I was telling my mum and Ty’s parents and that’s it!”

Away from fertility, Caprice has enjoyed and continues to forge an incredible career. She’s appeared on the cover of over 250 magazine covers including Vogue, Sports Illustrated and Esquire, she’s acted in films and onstage in London’s West End and has created a hugely successful business. But she confesses that motherhood is her most fulfi lling role and the only thing that makes her truly happy. It’s no wonder then that she has become a beacon of hope for those who are considering fertility treatment. “I would recommend anyone to go down the IVF route and when you are going through it, be open about it and supportive and loving towards other people.” She says there is still a long way to go in the process of destigmatising fertility treatment, and will keep supporting and talking and hoping to make a difference.

By being open about her personal experience and offering support, Caprice hopes she can lift the taboo regarding IVF and gestational surrogacy and make a significant and positive difference. She may just achieve that…

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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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