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National Infertility Awareness Week

National Infertility Awareness Week: 10 Myths About Pregnancy in Your 40s

We are acknowledging National Infertility Awareness Week and doing our part to share news, articles, information, products and services about infertility for our audience’s edification.
Next up: 
Heidi Hayes of Donor Egg Bank USA shares her personal journey with infertility and debunks myths about pursuing later motherhood.

Like many other young women, she had thoughts of motherhood in the back of her mind. But then she went off to college, and after that joined the Peace Corps. She ended up working in the Ecuadorian Andes. It was in Ecuador that she began thinking seriously about motherhood. “I loved the Ecuadorian focus on family,” she says. “It made me start thinking about having children of my own.”

After marrying the man of her dreams, they started to build a life together. Finally, it seemed to be the right time to start a family. “I thought I would get pregnant easily, but each month nothing happened.” She went to see a specialist, and she and her husband began a heartbreaking four-year journey through a maze of infertility treatments before adopting. Years later, she used donor eggs to have twins.

She didn’t consider freezing her eggs, as that wasn’t available at the time.

She went the donor egg route to conceive and shares some of the 10 myths about pregnancy in your 40s:
1.     Pregnancy is easy in your 40s and happens all the time. Once you hit 40, there is only a five percent chance you will get pregnant in any given month (compared to 20 percent at age 30). Pregnancy is possible, but women need to know the most valuable and irreversible factor impacting success is time. This is largely due to a steady decline in egg quality that begins when a woman is in her early 30s and then accelerates in the late 30s.
2.     Fertility issues are always with the woman. For men and women in their 20s, there is an equal chance of problems with infertility in either partner. For couples with a female partner in her late 30s or 40s, the chance of infertility due to egg quality rises dramatically.
3.     Celeb moms make it look easy. They are having kids at age 46! There is an endless stream of celebrity mothers who are having kids in their 40s. Halle Berry had her baby at 46, Kelly Preston at 47, and Geena Davis had twins at 48. While it is statistically unlikely that some older celebrities are having children without any assistance, it is important not to compare your experiences to others. Some celebrities share their experiences with infertility, but most do not.
4.     You can only have a baby using your own eggs. According to the respected medical journal, Fertility and Sterility, 40-year-old women treated for infertility have a 25 percent chance of achieving pregnancy using their own eggs. By age 43 that number drops to 10 percent, and by 44 it becomes 1.6 percent. For those who are unable to use their own eggs, the good news is that women can achieve pregnancy success using donor eggs regardless of her age.  Women at 40 using donor egg give birth at a rate of roughly 45 percent, a success rate higher than younger women using their own eggs. The high success rate for recipients using egg donation does not decline with age.
5.     The age of a man doesn’t matter when trying to conceive. Age matters for both men and women. A study in Nature found a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of Autism and Schizophrenia, which experts say may be one of the factors in the rise of autism diagnosis in recent years. The increase in medical problems with advancing male age is very small; the autism increase may be from 1 in 150 in the general population to 1 in 100 for men over 50.  As women age, the chances of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome increase. These abnormalities typically occur due to a decrease in the quality of the egg with aging.  A 25-year-old woman has a 1/1000 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. The chance is 1/30 in a 44-year-old using her own eggs.
6.     If you’re healthy, fit, and look great, having a baby won’t be a problem. You do yoga, run half marathons, eat organic and fit into a size six. But do your ovaries do yoga? The truth is that eating nutritiously and maintaining a healthy weight can boost fertility and help balance ovulatory disorders, but it does not affect your ovarian supply and the health of your eggs.
7.     If I’m starting menopause, I can’t have a baby. There is about a 10-year phase of perimenopause that precedes the complete cessation of menstrual function, known as menopause. The quality of a woman’s eggs during this time is significantly reduced and the chances of conceiving decline sharply.  The chance of a miscarriage, for those who do conceive, is significantly increased. For women beginning perimenopause, which includes the months or years preceding menopause, a pregnancy may still be possible. A pregnancy will depend on where your body is at in the perimenopausal process. To increase the chances of success and save time, both parties should undergo basic fertility testing.
8.     Older mothers are less likely to have twins. Surprisingly, older mothers have a higher likelihood of conceiving twins. As a woman ages, her follicle stimulating hormone increases. FSH develops eggs inside the ovaries prior to being released into the fallopian tubes. High FSH levels can cause two or more eggs to release, which can result in twins.
The likelihood of spontaneously conceived twins rises from 1/80 in a 25-year-old to 1/40 in a 42-year-old.  Higher FSH levels are also associated with declining fertility, which means follicles may work overtime and release more eggs to compensate for lowering fertility. Twin rates have also increased due to general fertility and IVF treatment and patients choosing to transfer multiple embryos. The latest data shows that twin rates are declining as many women choose to transfer one embryo.
9.     Your family has a fertile history, so you shouldn’t have any trouble. There is a genetic component to ovarian function and a correlation between your mother’s and grandmother’s ability to conceive at an older age. However, this is a very limited factor and cannot provide significant reassurance. Conversely, if there is a history of early menopause in your family this will raise the likelihood of a problem. Your fertility potential and egg supply is individual. If your grandmother had her last baby at 43 and your mother had infertility at 41, this does not make your chances of conception any higher or lower.
10. Having a baby with donor egg doesn’t make you the biological mom. The egg donor is a genetic donor who provides the egg cell and half of the DNA in the creation of each baby, but the woman who carries the pregnancy provides the biological environment to allow the embryo and baby to thrive. The woman who intends to parent is the true mother of the child.   Motherhood is a conscious choice, regardless of how a baby is conceived or born.
Author Bio: Heidi Hayes is a mother of three through adoption and donor egg. After her personal experiences with infertility and professional experience in the infertility industry, she now helps others achieve their dreams of having a family as the CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA, a national frozen donor egg bank.  

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National Infertility Awareness Week: Enter to Win FertilityBlend ($39.99)

For National Infertility Awareness Week, Daily Wellness, makers of FertilityBlend , the first nutritional product to synergistically combine key natural ingredients to prime the body for conception, is offering three Bellyitch readers a chance to win a bottle of its formulas (tailored to the different needs of men and women.)
According to the makers: 
FertilityBlend For Women and FertilityBlend For Men were developed based on published scientific literature on nutritional components that benefit fertility and have a safe history of usage. In studies conducted with Stanford University Medical School, each formula has shown excellent results in both efficacy and safety.
Key ingredients in FertilityBlend For Women: Chasteberry (natural herb that supports good hormone balance and normal ovulation);  L-arginine (amino acid that helps maintain healthy uterine lining) and Green tea, vitamin E, and selenium (antioxidants that help enhance reproductive health by repairing oxidative damage due to aging and environmental toxins)
Key ingredients in FertilityBlend For Men: L-carnitine (amino acid that has been shown to be critical to the formation of healthy sperm);Vitamins C and E, green tea and selenium (all potent antioxidants that help improve sperm counts and quality)
OPEN until April 30. US ONLY

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National Infertility Awareness Week: 7 Common Misconceptions Fertility Docs Hear

It’s  National Infertility Awareness Week and we will be sharing articles, resources and information all week about the fertility, infertility and for women and their spouses and partners who are trying to conceive.
First up, a national study released in Fertility & Sterility, infertility among reproductive-age U.S. women is widely misunderstood. While 40 percent were concerned about their ability to get pregnant, one-third didn’t understand the adverse effects of obesity on infertility and 40 percent weren’t familiar with the ovulatory cycle.
To combat this nationwide lack of awareness, Fertility Centers of Illinois is sharing the biggest misconceptions they hear from patients in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week on April 20-26, and hosting events to build infertility awareness.
“The individuals and couples that we see are educated, hard-working, and focused on to having a family. However, many have planned their lives with a vast misunderstanding about their fertility,” explains Dr. Angie Beltsos. “The more couples and individuals know earlier in their lives about the realities of fertility, the more effectively they can achieve their family dreams, often without our help.”
Here are the 7 most common misconceptions that the doctors at the Fertility Centers of Illinois hear from their patients:
1.    “He had kids in a previous marriage, his fertility is fine.” Paternal fertility decreases with age, particularly after age 40. A study found a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia, with fathers passing on as many as four times more genetic mutations when compared to mothers. With age, there is a decrease in the concentration of healthy, mobile sperm as well as semen volume.
2.    “My mom had a baby in her 40s and I have a child, I am fertile.” Previous fertility and genetic fertility history doesn’t ensure prevention of secondary infertility, which is defined as a couple with a child being unable to conceive again after a year. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 11 percent of couples experience secondary infertility.
3.    “Smoking doesn’t affect our chances of getting pregnant.” Smoking as few as five cigarettes per day is associated with lower fertility rates in males and females. The British Medical Association found smokers may have a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates up to 13 percent of infertility is due to smoking.
4.    “We always have sex right after ovulation.” Once ovulation is over, pregnancy is not possible. Ovulation, when an egg drops from the ovary into the fallopian tubes, occurs once a month roughly 7-10 days prior to a woman’s period. To become pregnant, a sperm must meet the egg during this 24-48 hour timeframe. Couples should have sex prior to and during ovulation as sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for 72 hours.
5.    “I know my biological clock is ticking, but my eggs are fine until 40.” Women are born with seven million eggs, which is reduced to 400,000 at puberty. In a woman’s lifetime approximately 400-500 eggs will ovulate. Ovarian reserve declines as a woman ages, with egg supply taking a rapid decline in the late 20s and again in the 30s, particularly after 35. Pregnancy rates in the early 30s are 15 percent, then decline to 10 percent after 35 and 5 percent over 40.
6.    “I am healthy, my age won’t affect my fertility.” Being healthy and fit can aid in pregnancy, but the age of your eggs is unaffected by your fitness and diet regimen. Age is the most critical component of fertility potential.
7.    “His weight or my weight doesn’t affect our chances or pregnancy.” Extra weight causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, and can make pregnancy more difficult to achieve. It is estimated that 70 percent of women with infertility are also obese. Losing 5-10 percent of body weight can boost fertility in men and women.

This week the center is hosting a series of events for patients and area residents for National Infertility Week. Check out some of the online resources HERE for yourself even if you do not live in Illinois.

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