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New Study Shows Diet & Lifestyle Habits Greatly Impact Sperm Health


When a couple experiences fertility struggles, it is almost always the woman who is focused on, but a new study shows that men may be just as much of a factor in failed conception. The new study shows that what a man drinks and eats, as well as certain lifestyle habits affect the couples ability to conceive, implantation success, and pregnancy rate.

The study, published by Fertility and Sterility, 11/10/2011, observed 250 men, who with their female partners were to undergo intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The doctors evaluated their sperm samples prior to ICSI to determine the sperm health, count and motility. The outcomes of each of the IVF procedures were also observed. The men filled out daily questionnaires on how much they consumed alcoholic beverages, details of everything they ate, and how often they smoked cigarettes. Their body mass index (BMI) was also noted.

About 3/4 of the couple’s ISCI resulted in successful fertilization. Of all the couples, just under 4 out of 10 IVF’s resulted in pregnancy.

Results of the Study

Diet and Lifestyle Impacts on Sperm Health

Negative Findings

  • Men who are overweight to obese (high BMI) have slower sperm and lower concentration of sperm.
  • Men who drink alcohol regularly also have lower sperm motility and concentration.
  • Smokers had poor sperm motility.
  • Both alcohol and coffee consumption showed a reduced chance of fertilization.
  • Men who ate red meat had lowered had lower implantation and pregnancy rates.
  • Men who were on a weight loss diet had lowered implantation and pregnancy rates.

Positive Findings

  • Men who ate more whole grain cereals (wheat, barley, oats) had high sperm concentration and motility.
  • Consumption of fresh fruit gave sperm a boost in speed and agility.
  • Men who consumed more healthy meals a day had better overall rates in all areas.

It is Important to Eat a Nutrient Dense Fertility Diet!

Time and time again we have stressed the importance of eating a nutrient dense fertility dietfor both partners! This study shows the importance for the male partner to eat well for healthy fertility. Diet changes alone make the greatest positive impact on our health, including the very sperm that will make up your future child! Both men and women should evaluate both their diet and lifestyle habits and make changes now and stick to them long-term. It takes around 76 days from the time of sperm production to ejaculation in normal men. It is best to implement healthy diet and lifestyle changes at least 3 months prior to beginning to try and conceive, or prior to going for IUI or IVF.

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in General | Comments Off on

8 Ways To Help A Marriage Through Infertility


ComfortInfertility may cause stress not only individually, but to a marriage as well. Making sure to have the support for yourself and your marriage is important during your fertility journey.

Yes, it can be stressful, when you are busy with tests, fertility charting, timed intercourse, and medical procedures, a couple could stop connecting deeply like they once did. So what can you do to help your marriage through infertility?

1. Communication

When there is no communication with one another, one partner may be assuming what the other partner is thinking and feeling. Assumptions are not the same as actually taking time to communicate what is being experienced and felt. How can one know what the other is going through if there is no communication?

I know, every expert out there is constantly giving advice to communicate, but for good reason. Why? It works. The catch is that both partners have to be willing to make each conversation full of a healthy dose of give and take. This means when your partner is speaking, listen. I know it can be challenging, but it is truly helpful if the listener can hold their tongue until their partner is done speaking. Take time to truly listen to what your partner has to say. Sometimes all a person needs is to be heard and for feelings to be acknowledged.

Listening Practice
It is very healing to be truly heard by the person you are sharing your heart with. Listening can be very challenging, but it is an invaluable tool for good communication. When you are the listener, hear what your partner is saying, acknowledge them by saying “Okay, I hear you, yeah.” Then wait until they are done speaking and ask them some questions, and acknowledge how they feel. “How did/does that make you feel?” “I hear what you are saying.” “Thank you for sharing that with me.” “That must be very difficult for you.” “Is there something I can do to help you through this?”

Try to always use positive words and questions. Avoid the blame game. Listening deeply is something that needs to be cultivated, over time. Be a good listener.

2. Counseling

Counseling can be couples infertility therapy! Communication makes a world of difference for couples facing infertility. Counseling provides a time and safe space in which to communicate. Counselors are great at guiding couples through healthy communication skills. For most anyone going through a stressful time, their rationality and patience often goes out-the-window. Working through infertility by finding a good counselor is one of the best gifts for strengthening a marriage. A good counselor can be a foundational pillar of strength for couples facing infertility challenges.

It may even be a good idea to get individual counseling to help each partner to work through their unique perspectives and issues. Do an online search for therapists and counselors who specialize in infertility. Your doctor may even have someone they think is great and can set up a referral appointment for you. There is no shame in asking for help!

3. Be Honest

I know it can be cliche, but honesty is the best policy. Be completely honest about the current situation. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Let your partner know exactly how you are feeling and what you are going through. Your partner needs to hear the truth to be able to support you the best way they know how. Don’t forget the street runs both ways, so encourage your partner to be honest with you, without being judgemental of what they have to say. If honesty in a conversation hurts feelings, ask to take a break and come back to that conversation at a later time. Never avoid the truth of your feelings and experiences!

4. Take out the trash

This means let go of all the negative thoughts and feelings surrounding the situation, your body, your partner and life in general. Negativity breeds negativity and resentment can drag a person down. Pent up negative thoughts and feelings may fester and make the situation worse! Resentment can be a ticking time bomb.

No one is asking you to feel great each moment of the day, because yes, infertility may be stressful, but remember, where you are at is temporary. Hormones are raging and some of that may be due to medications. Take it day-by-day and do what you can to shift perspective to something uplifting. Force yourself to go for a walk, choose to see the beauty in each day. Have a stress management practice. Say a positive affirmation when a negative thought comes to mind. Letting resentment go is a daily practice. Be compassionate with yourself and your partner. This too shall pass.

5. Be Open to Spontaneity

Sex can easily become mechanical with all the charting, timing and reporting back to doctors. Women feel a sense of urgency to get the timing down. Men tend to feel used when sex becomes planned. It can seem like spontaneity no longer exists and the passionate times once shared are a thing of the past. So how can making love be more passionate? Be creative. Yep, I am going to say it, try other sexual activities with each other that has nothing to do with making a baby. Are there other playful sexual activities both of you would enjoy? Try those out. They may be just as fulfilling and more passionate than you expected. Surprise each other. Make it fun.

Spontaneity can’t be planned, but it can be worked into your weekly routine. Be spontaneous about other activities as well; date nights, surprise lunch date, go for a walk, take a road trip, go for a weekend outing.

6. Touch More

Don’t forget you are a team, a team that loves one another. Touch doesn’t have to equal intercourse, though sometimes it should. Touch simply means give a hug, hold each other, hold hands, give a massage, spoon in bed. Allow yourself to receive these kinds of touch if they are offered or asked of you by your partner. Touch connects you and research has shown it is a powerful source of healing.

7. Keep Other Dreams Alive

Dust off old dreams, hobbies and interests that have been set aside while trying to get pregnant. Set new goals, come up with new interests and make plans to go do them. The goal is to stay busy and not just focus on trying to get pregnant. Trying to conceive is but one aspect of your life and doesn’t make up all of who you are. Both partners need to get out and do things that interest them. It is easy to get caught up with the situation at hand, staying busy helps to keep the mind focused on other important parts of life. Do something that makes you happy every single day – you deserve it!

8. Be a Beacon of Hope for One Another

If your partner is feeling down and out, raise that person up. Show them that you love them in some way. Give them hope to keep moving forward. A great way to support one another is to share this experience together. This challenge can deepen your relationship, especially if you go to appointments together, eat well together, and exercise together. Including each other in this experience may bring about a deeper understanding of what the other is going through and shows one another there is a continued commitment to the relationship.

You are each others rock, you are a team and teammates stick together. Refuse to give up on each other. Remember your commitment to one another. Those vows shared on your wedding day still stand today and every day from here on out.

You Will Get Through This – Acceptance

Challenges can be overcome. Be gentle with yourself. Continue to work to accept where you are both at, and what you have been through before making plans for the next step. When couples have not fully processed and accepted all aspects of where they are currently at, they may not ready to move on to the next step…whether that be trying naturally again, IVF, adoption or even choosing to be child-free. Choosing to stand by one another may greatly help any challenge to be overcome. In the end the marriage may be even be stronger than before. The relationship you have with your partner is the foundation for your family, no matter how large or small that family is. You will get through this. Where you are at today is not where you will be forever. Take it one day at a time.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow”. – Mary Anne Radmacher

1. Davis, Rebecca. Marriage Makeover: “Can Our Marriage Survive Infertility?” http://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/advice/marriage-infertility
2. Beall, Amy. How to Keep Your Marriage Strong Throughout Fertility Treatments http://www.babyzone.com/getting-pregnant/infertility/marriage-and-fertility-treatments_67174

HART, Cape Town Fertility Clinic is moving

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in General | Comments Off on HART, Cape Town Fertility Clinic is moving


Posted by on Apr 9, 2017 in General | Comments Off on

Fertility After Age 40 – IVF in the 40s

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At age 40 and above women have reduced fertility potential as compared to that seen in younger women. They also have substantially lower success rates with fertility treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF).

There is nothing special about “40” as far as an age is concerned. However, perhaps because we have five fingers on our hands we tend to think in fives and tens. Therefore, it seems sometimes that for women the ages 35 and 40 are a big deal.

When couples are trying on their own to get pregnant the fertility issue that reduces chances for success is related to the quality of the eggs. With treatments such as IVF, the issue that holds back success potential is both egg quality and egg quantity.

Age Limits for IVF Treatments

  • Most US IVF clinics have an upper age limit for allowing IVF treatment using “own eggs”of somewhere between 42 and 45 years of age.
  • Donor eggs are commonly used until about age 49 – some programs will still do it after age 50

More on age limits for in vitro fertilization

How Does Egg Quality Affect Fertility and IVF?

The quality of the egg is the most critical factor involved in determining the quality of the embryo. With IVF treatment we hope to get multiple embryos so we can choose the best ones from a group for transfer back to the uterus.

A big part of the “egg quality” equation involves the chromosomal status of the egg. The rate of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs (and therefore also in embryos) increases significantly with advancing female age. At age 30 about 30% of eggs are chromosomally abnormal. By age 40 about 60% are abnormal and by 44 years old 90% are abnormal.

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can be used to test embryos for chromosomally normalcy (euploidy) prior to transferring them to the uterus. Embryos that have normal chromosomal analysis after PGS have a very high potential for implantation and live birth.

How Does Egg Quantity Affect Fertility and IVF Success Rates?

The quantity of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovaries is often referred to as “ovarian reserve”.

The quantity of remaining eggs probably does not have a large impact on natural fertility (trying to get pregnant “naturally”). However, when going through a fertility treatment such as IVF, the quantity of eggs remaining influences response to ovarian stimulating medications.

In Vitro Fertilization Success Rate Statistics by Female Age – and After Age 40

  • The charts below illustrate the rate of live births per embryo transfer procedure by the age of the recipient of the embryos.
  • The data shows the impact of advancing female age on IVF success.
  • Although these age and fertility statistics are specifically about IVF success, there is a similar loss in fertility potential with aging in the general “normal fertile” population.

The graphs below are from the 2013 ART Success Rates report published by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a US government agency. This report was generated from national data from 467 clinics and over 190,000 IVF cycles.

Fertility drops with female age
The green line shows IVF success rates using the infertile woman’s own eggs
The blue line shows success rates using donor eggs

The graph above illustrates infertility increasing with advancing female age.

  • The decline in live birth success rates by female age beginning at about age 30
  • This curve becomes steeper (egg quantity and egg quality decreases faster) starting at about age 38
  • At age 44 and above there are almost never babies born from IVF using a woman’s own eggs
  • The success rate using eggs over age 44 is about 2% per attempt.

Another point shown here is that there not a substantial decline in success by age of the recipient woman with donor egg IVF.

  • The age of the eggs is very important
  • The age of the uterus carrying the embryos is not important

See details of Dr. Sherbahn’s research on recipient age and egg donation success

In Vitro Fertilization Success Statistics from the CDC for Age 40 and Over

IVF success by age CDC graph
Circled in red on this graph for USA national average 2013 IVF live birth rates
Under age 35: Live birth rate per cycle of 40%
Age 41 to 42: Live birth rate of 11%
Age 43 to 44: Live birth rate of 5%

IVF success rates at age 40 and over
This graph from the CDC zooms in on national average IVF statistics for women over age 40 for 2013
The IVF live birth percentage rate per cycle for each age is circled in red
Age 40: Live birth rate of 17%
Age 43: Live birth rate of 6%
Age over 44: Live birth rate of 2%

Age Limits for In Vitro Fertilization

All clinics have some upper age limit after which they will not perform in vitro fertilization with the woman’s own eggs.

IVF age limits are not the same at every program

  • The age limit is usually between 42 and 45 at most programs in the US
  • Our age limit for IVF using own eggs is 45 (no IVF with own eggs after the 46th birthday)
  • Most IVF clinics allow a woman to be a recipient of donor eggs through about age 50

Dark, low quality egg
A dark, low quality egg with an irregular shape from a 41 year old The egg is the ovoid structure in the center surrounded by hundreds of ovarian cumulus cells

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Dietary Recommendations for Fertility Patients

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in General | Comments Off on Dietary Recommendations for Fertility Patients

Diet plays such an important role in health that it has always been my first question and answer when clients ask me how to heal this, or help with that. When it comes to fertility and pregnancy it is of the utmost importance to eat a healthy whole food diet. Everything you eat and drink has an impact on your health and the health of your baby. Pre-conception nutrition is important not only to make sure you are prepared for a healthy pregnancy, but to also avoid many fertility issues. Here are some of my top tips on eating a healthy fertility diet…

  1. Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables a day as you can – at least 5 servings of veggies and 3-4 servings of fruit. General serving size is one small peach or 1/2C of veggies. Here are some ideas to get enough fruits and veggies into your diet daily:
  • Eat fruits as snacks in between meals
  • Eat a large salad as one of your meals
  • Make sure 50% of your plate is veggies
  • Eat a dark leafy green with dinner
  • Drink fertility smoothies
  • Drink fresh vegetable juices daily
  1. If you eat animal protein focus more on cold water fish instead of beef or chicken. Fish are abundant in omega 3 fatty acids which are essential in a fertility and pregnancy diet. If you are vegetarian in addition to eating beans and lentils daily add some nuts to get Omega 3 daily.
  2. Eat 1 heaping teaspoon of ground seed or 1T of seed oil (such as hemp or flax) a day. This will assure that you are eating some essential fatty acids every day. Seeds high in Omega 3 are: flax, hemp, pumpkin, walnut. Seeds high in Omega 6 are: sunflower and sesame.
  3. Eat 3-4 serving of WHOLE grains a day. Quinoa, millet, oats and rice are some of my favorites. Amongst many things, whole grains supply B vitamins and fiber which are both essential for a healthy fertility and pregnancy diet. Try to mix it up and eat a wide variety of while grains and avoid processed grains.
  4. Drink 8 glasses of clean water a day (reverse osmosis or spring water being the best). Avoid bottled water as the plastics leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals into the water). One tip is to start the day with a quart of water with lemon in it and drink as much as you can upon rising and finish the rest in the next half an hour. That will take care of half of your water for the day and help the body to gently cleanse itself in the morning.
  5. Avoid food that is burnt, fried, browned, has hydrogenated oils, saturated animal fats and microwaved foods. These types of cooking and ingredients can cause the body to create free radicals which can negatively affect cell DNA. The key to healthy ova (egg) and sperm is intact DNA. If the DNA has been impaired by free radical damage is one cause of miscarriages, blight ovum and inability to get pregnant.
  6. Avoid sugar and sweeteners in all forms – white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Sugar negatively effects the blood sugar levels which can effect hormonal balance and ovulation. A great alternative is stevia.
  7. Avoid alcohol on a daily basis and keep the coffee down to one cup or even better quit all together..
  8. Take a whole food multivitamin DAILY. When trying to conceive or in preparation it is best to use a whole food prenatal multivitamin that contains folic acid, iron, zinc, b12, and vitamin C… nutrients that are necessary for a healthy pregnancy before you are even pregnant ( eg DS 24).
  9. Drink a fresh juice or make a smoothie daily. Juices and smoothies are a great way to get a huge amount of nutrients in an easy to assimilate form.