Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Aspirin Helpful when Trying To Conceive?

Newswise — Although it is inexpensive, easy to obtain and poses little health risk, women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) cannot rely upon aspirin to help them become pregnant, according to a systematic review of nine studies.

Over-the-counter aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is typically used as a pain reliever. When taken daily, aspirin might lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes, and other blood flow problems. Although it has its benefits, aspirin might also cause serious side effects, such as kidney failure, bleeding problems and some kinds of strokes.

But how could it help couples conceive?

“It is thought by some that taking low-dose aspirin may improve blood flow to the uterus and therefore improve ovarian response to IVF treatment, so it may be of benefit to women who have previously responded poorly to IVF treatment,” said the review’s lead author Vanessa Poustie, Ph.D., at the Institute for Child Health at the University of Liverpool in England.

Previous research on the use of aspirin with assisted conception techniques such as IVF has been inconsistent. Some studies have shown that aspirin therapy improves pregnancy rates; others have indicated that it increases the risk of miscarriage.

In the current review, Poustie and colleagues examined data from 1,449 women undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to treat infertility.

The studies compared the pregnancy and birth rates of women taking low-dose aspirin (150 milligrams or less taken once per day) to women taking a placebo or no treatment. Two of the studies took place in the United States; other studies were conducted in Hong Kong, Iran and Finland.

The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

According to the review results, women taking aspirin while undergoing IVF or ICSI were not significantly more likely to become pregnant than women taking a placebo or no treatment.

In addition, no significant difference in live birth rates existed between the treatment and control groups, according to the two studies that examined this outcome.

“Despite a number of high-profile studies, there still remains insufficient evidence to be able to say whether low-dose aspirin can increase the chance of women undergoing IVF having a successful pregnancy,” Poustie said.

Poustie VJ, Dodd S, Drakeley AJ. Low-dose aspirin for in vitro fertilisation. (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit, independent organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health care interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. Visit for more information

Stacey's comment:

I have some questions with the use of aspirin and IVF especially when there is no evidence of clotting issues with the patients. The problems that can occur with long term aspirin use (and long term is realistic with how long some women go through IVF treatments) is it can lead to deadly gastrointestinal bleeding. Also one study where women took aspirin for 5 years or more were associated with a greater risk of breast cancer.

There are many natural supplements that can be used to assist with what aspirin is trying to do that are not assoicated with the possibly fatal side effects that aspirin can have.

In addition, the "success rate" in IVF does not appear to be improved at all with aspirin use. And when I say "success rate" (a phrase I think is detrimental to patients emotional well being, because if they are not "successful, then they think they are a "failure") I am referring to live birth rates. Pregnancy rates are often looked at with little mention of live birth rates. So if the very end result is not a healthy baby, should you take the chance of creating the potentially harmful side effects?

Monday, September 10, 2007

DHEA supplementation...helpful or detrimental to you fertility?

To understand whether DHEA supplementation is right for you its important to have an understanding of what is happening with this hormone and how it relates to other hormones and reproductive health.

DHEA is converted into a hormone called androstenedione which is a precursor to testosterone. In other words androstenedione then gets converted into testosterone and testosterone gets converted into estradiol mainly in the ovaries of a premenopausal female. Estradiol is the estrogen closely associated with fertility.

Okay enough science out of the way. Here is what to consider when considering DHEA supplementation. Since DHEA is close to the top of the hormone chain as you can see in the chain below, it can effect many hormones down the line.

Pregnenolone (this is only one of the pathways for the conversion of this hormone)
Androstenedione - > Estrone (estrogen in fat tissue)
Estradiol (ovaries)

So supplementation of DHEA could increase testosterone in some people which would be a good thing IF testosterone were low. 7 Keto DHEA is supposed to NOT increase testosterone but I have seen with saliva tests that testosterone did increase significantly in one patient who was taking the 7 Keto DHEA. Blood results did not reveal the high testosterone that was evident in the saliva tests. Normal for saliva results for testosterone would be 15-90 and this woman's was 1500.

If testosterone were already high supplementing with DHEA could be disastrous and account for some of the negative side effects of DHEA Supplementation. Therefore someone who has high levels of testosterone like in PCOS in my opinion is NOT likely to benefit from DHEA supplementation. You don't have to have PCO to have elevated testosterone in the tissues so its always good to get a baseline.

Also supplementing with DHEA may make no difference what so ever if DHEA is low because free cortisol is high. Cortisol is one of your stress hormones and it has an inverse relationship to DHEA. This means that if free cortisol is high, then DHEA is likely to be low. So getting cortisol down is the answer, not adding more DHEA. DHEA is not a nutrient, like a vitamin, its a hormone and therefore can be linked with the activity of other hormornes. When a vitamin or mineral is truly deficient in the body adding more in your diet or supplementation program could help. If you are deficient in Vit C taking more of it can help you, but if your body isn't utilising Vit C well enough because there is too much sugar in your diet, then you can take all the vitamin C you want, if your glucose levels aren't addressed, the supplement is not likely to help you.

Vitamins and minerals also effect the conversion of hormones from one to another and so does stress. These can range from the B vitamins, iron, folate, vitamin E, Vitamin A (in the form of betacarotene), zn, Vit C, Magnesium and others.

So until you know the levels of hormones present in the tissues (through saliva testing) I suggest to NOT take DHEA supplementation to try to improve your fertility. Saliva tests by the way, are accurate and used by governmental bodies and NASA in the United States to assess the health of the military and astronauts. Saliva tests look at not just what is floating around in the blood but what actually has gotten absorbed into the tissue. Conventional medicine does not use them often but these can be ordered by your naturopath or physician.

In my opinion before a person should start taking DHEA they should check the levels of DHEA, testosterone, estradiol, estrone, androstenedione and progesterone through saliva tests spread out over 2-4 weeks (1 day each of those weeks) to see if DHEA supplementation is going to hinder or help their situation. But keep in mind that supplementation with DHEA alone is unlikely the only factor that can improve your situation. A proper diet, a healthy gut along with supplementation program is essential as well. Addressing stress is also very important because stress can increase cortisol over time and actually accelerate the aging process of all your cells. Always remember that your eggs, ovaries, follicles, endometrial lining and semen and sperm are made up of cells.

This tip is under the copyright of Positive Image and Stacey Roberts. It cannot be duplicated, copied or reproduced in any way without the expressed written consent of Stacey Roberts or Positive Image Publishing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obesity Link to Fertility Issues in Some Women

From Science News:
Report links obesity with infertility

Published: Aug. 24, 2007 at 12:05 AM
ADELAIDE, Australia, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- An Australian researcher says she has confirmed the link between obesity and infertility.

Cadence Minge from the Adelaide University Research Center for Reproductive Health said animal studies show that obese women whose eggs are damaged by high levels of fat and cholesterol have difficulty sustaining healthy embryos, The Age newspaper said Thursday.

"(Embryos) were much slower to divide and grow," Minge said. "And the way that the cells developed was also disturbed."

She found that some of the damage could be reversed using an anti-diabetic drug such as rosiglitazone, although the drug can have potentially serious side effects.

Minge said weight loss was a more effective way to restore fertility.

Stacey's comment:

It is great now that someone has confirmed why obesity can contribute to fertility issues. This protein is most likey effected secondary to the insulin resistance that a person who is obese is experiencing. Insulin resistance is also associated with leptin resistance and based on the book Mastering Leptin, leptin helps to regulate estrogen output in the ovary.

But please be caution regarding medication to control this. The medication that showed an improvement in mice (rosiglitazone otherwise known as Avandia), has been show to have serious side effects in humans increasing cardiovascular risk by up to 43% in people taking it to regulate diabetes. There have also been a few cases of liver failure.

Its important to remember that a quick fix usually isn't the best for your body and good old exercise and balanced eating plan are effective in improving fertility as well. A study by Dr. Anne Clarke, an IVF doctor in Australia showed this in women with PCO.

So if you find yourself experiencing fertility issues and are in the category of obese (Body Mass Index over 30) then it would be probably be beneficial to work with a naturopath, dietician, and or exercise specialist to addrss these issues.

We had one women who was on blood pressure medication and who had a BMI over 40, utilise our herbs and get on a regular exercise program and healthy eating plan. In one and a half years time she lost 80 pounds (37kilos), was able to get off her blood pressure medication, from which time her cycle improved drastically and 6 months later after a few missed conceptions (overdue cycles) she became pregnant naturally. Her husband experienced poor morphology as well and he improved this with a healthy eating plan and supplements.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sperm Injection Method or ICSI is said to be Gouging Patients with Unnecesary Costs

From the Associated Press:

Fertility Clinics Gouging Patients With Costly Technique (Wired News)
A sperm-injection method that is effective for one type of infertility problem is being used across the board, doing little except bloating the bill.

The technique referred to in the above statement found on the Associated press is a technique called ICSI. This technique involves injecting the sperm into the egg and basically removes natural selection completely from the process of trying to create a healthy embryo artificially.

Normally with IVF eggs are taken from the female and put in a petri dish along with about 100,000 sperm that were obtained by the male. Then after a certain amount of time hopefully a fertilisation takes place. Hopefully it is the healthiest and strongest of the sperm then that has fertilised the egg. This would simulate what happens when the sperm meets the egg following intercourse.

With ICSI however the IVF specialists take the sperm that they think looks the best and inserts it directly in the egg. This has been done in the past when there has been certain issues with the sperm requiring ICSI.

It appears that "The percentage of IVF cycles that used ICSI increased dramatically during the 10 year time span from 11 % of procedures to 57.5 percent of procedures while the percentage of diagnosis for male factor infertility remained steady." This is reported by Dr. Tarun Jain assistant professor of reporductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Chicago Illinois

He also adds "Further studies are needed to better understand the proper role of ICSI and and perhaps guidelines may be useful to determine what eh best indications are for the use of the technology in patients without male factor infertility".

It is also suggested that more studies need to be done regarding the possibility of assoicated risks such as genetic disorders and congenital anomalies when ICSI is used.

Stacey's comment:

I think the most important issue is that the patients involved should be explained what the procedures are and how they differ. Most patients that have had ICSI done without there being male factor fertility issues have said that their doctor told them the procedure was likely going to improve the chance for a fertilisation and have better pregnancy rates. Very few, if any, were given an explanation as to what the advantages and disadvantages were to the procedure and how it differed from a regular round of IVF.

This is especially important as patients are often having to pay out of pocket for their procedures (and complimentary programs) and adding ICSI in increases the bill.

Often times physicians will make the comment that taking herbs or supplements is just a waste of money but they don't often consider paying extra hundreds of dollars for a procedure that the patient is already paying thousands of dollars for as an issue.

At our clinic we strive to educate the patient so they can make decisions based on what they feel is best for their particular situation. It's important that they have all the facts to help them decide what procedures they feel comfortable with.

It isn't our place to make these decisions for the patient, but instead encourage them to do what they feel is best for themselves.

Can Plastics Negatively Impact Your Fertility?

Headlines in the Los Angeles Times this weekend reported information from a recent study about certain chemical compounds in certain widely used plastics can have a negative impact on the male and female reproductive system.

The article says:

"In an unusual effort targeting a single chemical, several dozen scientists on Thursday issued a strongly worded consensus statement warning that an estrogen-like compound in plastic is likely causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people.

The compound, bisphenol A or BPA, is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and has found its way into the bodies of most human beings.

Used to make hard plastic, BPA can seep from beverage containers and other materials. It is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles as well as other items, including large water cooler containers, sports bottles and microwave oven dishes, along with canned food liners and some dental sealants for children."

I have talked about the importance of minimising the use of plastics in your life to help you address your fertility issues. And this information just reiterates the fact that this is an important issue that each couple experiencing fertility issues should address.

On our website I have reprinted a "Smart Plastics Guide" which has helped many people make smart decision regarding plastic use in their every day lives. This can be found in the fertility tips section of our site about halfway down the page, once you log in.

You might remember the study that also showed the very real possibility of women being exposed to a common plastic while they were pregnant was correlated with deformities of the genitals of their newborn sons.

This is an often overlooked but very important issue regarding fertility and could be key to those dealing with "unexplained" fertility issues.

Remember to check out our website about Safe Plastic Use. Also when we find that patients are at risk of having excess estrogens in their tissues we do recommend specific testing to help these patients assess their situation. Ask your practitioner what they can do to assess this with you.Because not only does excess estrogens in the system affect fertility, excess estrogens accumulating in the body due to thyroid issues, adrenal issues, chemical exposure, and a variety of other possibilities, can lead to cancers, growths, tumors etc in the long or short term.

Make sure you are working with someone knowledgeable in this information to help you address this situation which could potentially be effecting your fertility and long term health.

We have many couples report to us that they felt that minimising the use of toxins such as these discussed today along with a good program including herbs formulated by professionals, supplements, and lifestyle changes and of course managing their stress levels had helped them become pregnant (both naturally and with reproductive procedures) within months of becoming really serious about incorporating these changes in their life.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

IRON Could be Key in Addressing Infertility or as we say Fertility issues

A Study by Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston reported that your iron levels may significantly impact your fertility. "The study examined data provided by more than 18,000 nurses participating in the Nurses' Health Study, zeroing in on 438 who reported having ovulation problems. Those who ate the most free iron (found in supplements, fortified foods, legumes, and grains) had the greatest protection against infertility." Ovulation disorders were more common in women who did not have adequate iron.

The study found that benefits DID NOT apply to women who got most of their iron from animal sources such as red meat and pork.
"These were very striking differences, suggesting that women should focus on getting their iron from supplements" the lead researcher suggested.

It would be a good idea to have your iron levels including Ferittin (which measures the iron stores in your blood) checked. This can let you know if you should supplement with iron BEFORE you become pregnant. Keep in mind though that if you are supplementing with iron and your iron levels are still low then more investigations need to be done. Low iron when on supplements can be an indication that your digestion is less than optimal or that you may be gluten intolerant or atleast sensitive to gluten in your diet.

Issues with gluten (Coeliac Disease in particular) have been shown to impact fertility.

Also when supplementing with iron to avoid constipation you may want to utilise a liquid iron source from your naturopath but atleast an iron supplement that contains other ingredients such as Vit C to help it get absorbed and decrease the chance of constipation.

And when you get the results back make sure you have someone review the levels to see if they are OPTIMAL, not just normal. There can be different ranges of "normals" depending on which lab your test was analysed at, so you will want to discuss your results with a doctor (who doesn't just consider what is "normal") and/or a naturopath/herbalist who deal with fertility issues often to make sure you are at the optimal levels.

In our ebook and CD set Fertility Secrets Revealed available in the books section at, we discuss other tests that can also be done and what results and issues are often missed because they are overlooked or considered "normal" but oftentimes are far from optimal. For many couples we have worked with, these overlooked areas were crucial points that needed to be addressed for the couple to create a viable pregnancy.

A birth announcement I received recently is a good example of this.
Dear Stacey,
Thank you for everything you have done for us. This is my second baby with your clinic. That in itself is amazing because before my first child was born, the doctors told me I was infertile. If we try for number 3, we will definitely be back!"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Can Herbs or other Complimentary Therapies actually decrease your fertility and your chances of becoming pregnant.

You may have heard about the following study that discussed the possibility of herbs and other complimentary therapies as having a negative impact on IVF outcomes. So as you can imagine, I was very interested in this study because we have certainly found this not to be the case.

Here is the study results:

Danish "Researchers found women who used complementary and alternative therapies (CATs) while undergoing fertility treatment were 30 per cent less likely to become pregnant than those who did not."

But here's the catch. This study took didn't look at one particular complimentary therapy, or even a specific herb or group of herbs. Here's what they considered:

"Dr Boivin recruited 818 women having IVF treatment at five Danish fertility clinics, 261 of whom were CAT (complimentary/Alternative therapy) users and 557 who were not.

Among users, 55 per cent went to reflexologists, half took herbal medicines, 19 per cent had acupuncture and seven per cent used homeopathy." (the fact that this adds up to more than 100% tells me that some of the patients were using multiple therapies)

I find this interesting because this study just lumped all of these together instead of looking at each treatment individually. This would be like taking patients who have used prescription synthetic drugs, massage therapy, and over the counter synthetic medications and lumping them all together disregarding dosages or treatment plans or duration and saying that they are all ineffective. Therefore in my opinion it was a poorly constructed review and doesn't reflect the truth of which of these therapies may be effective or not.

Then Dr. Bovin went on to say, ""It could also be that if someone is mixing and matching conventional and complimentary medicine that they are less committed and accurate in complying with the self injections and precise timings involved in IVF." I am not sure how or why she would make this statement. I find in my work with thousands of couples going through IVF, they NEVER miss their injections. To say that this group may be less consistent with their IVF protocol and that this is somehow related to their use of CAM therapies in my opinion, is inappropriate and is a big leap, especially without any direct proof from the patients themselves.

Why do so many look for the cause of less than optimal "success rates" in what the patients are doing or not doing. Could it be that some IVF drugs or protocols are just not effective for some patients. Where are the studies to ascertain which protocol is the best for a certain presentation. In this study I am sure that all of these patients didn't follow the same IVF protocol either because the results were from 3 different IVF clinics. With so many variables, how can they really know what effected the outcome?

One thing Dr Bovin did admit was " the study may simply have shown that those resorting to using such therapies (CAM therapies) had been having seeking medical help for fertility problems for longer and had worse prognosis." There is also no indication of how long the CAM group was having their complimentary therapy.

If physicans are serious about finding out if complimentary medicines are effecting IVF results, its time that they follow their own protocols of how studies are done instead of lumping together programs for several hundred people and several hundred different treatments and protocol. Its time they get consistent and measure outcomes from one therapy administered by one or two practioners so the results can be measure and specific aspects of a person's situation be taken into consideration.

This would be the responsible way to handle the situation instead of publishing this information to scare people away from using natural remedies that have been around for 1000's of years that actually may be significantly improving their own patients situations.

If anyone knows a group of doctors that would be willing to work with us and create a reputable analysis of results with herbs, supplements and IVF, email me at

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coconut oil... Can it help you get pregnant?

Recently a member of our site sent along this question to me:

Member: I had recently read that coconut oil can help me get pregnant. Is this true?

Stacey's response:
Coconut oil is a good choice in oils as it is beneficial for your digestive system and some have reported it to have positive effects on thyroid function. (see put coconut oil in the search engine on that site)

Indirectly coconut oil can help fertility by helping you improve your overall health. Cooking with coconut oil is a good choice over less stable oils that can break down into transfats when heated. Trans Fat as you probably know can have a negative impact on overall health and therefore could effect fertility (Harvard Study)

So will coconut oil help you get pregnant? Most likely not on its own, but it certainly is a good step to help keep you moving in the right direction towards optimal health and therefore optimal fertility.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Laptops on your lap, not good for male fertility?

The study, released in December 2004, proposed that laptop computers can pose a long-term threat to the fertility of young men who use them by raising temperatures in the genital area that might slow or stop sperm formation.

Sources such as WebMD reported that researchers studied 29 healthy young men, 21 to 35, for two one-hour sessions in a climate-controlled room. After having their body temperatures taken and standing in the room for 15 minutes to adjust to the room's temperature, they sat down and were given working or nonworking laptop computers.

The researchers used two brands of computers, which weren't identified in the study. The men's scrotal temperature was recorded every three minutes. The temperature on the bottom of the working computers was also monitored. Scrotal temperature rose with the working and nonworking computers. However, the working laptops

produced a greater increase in scrotal temperature -- around a 5 degrees Fahrenheit increase. Participants without working laptops had a scrotal temperature increase of about 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some of the increase was attributed to the fact that thighs were held tightly together to balance the laptops. That can increase scrotal temperature, as well. While the researchers weren't concluding definitely that higher scrotal temperatures could cause reproductive problems, they did feel confident in concluding that putting the appropriately named "laptop" on a guy's lap can reduce sperm count. They coined a good expression for the condition: scrotal hyperthermia.

Stacey's comment:

This is one suggestion that we give men in our clinic, keep the laptops off your laps and its based on this and another study that showed a man actually burned his scrotum by keeping a lap top on his lap while it heated up. All I can say is "Ouch!"

The interesting thing also was that even in the non working laptops men's scrotal temperature increased by almost the same amount as in the working laptops.

Other things that have been shown to possibly effect motility are hot baths. However, the sperm's motility (its swimming ability) did return to its previous levels after a while. Certainly if you all ready have male fertility issues with sperm production and quality such as motility or abnormal forms of sperm, it would be good to avoid these activities all together.

Are these really Facts about your fertility?

Stacey's comment: I came across this article below and was pleasantly surprised at one of the comments, but also wanted to point out what were necessarily this doctor's opinions and not necessarily the facts: See below

Addressing fertility: The fact and fiction

June 27, 2007

Myth: Infertility is a female problem:

Doctor's comment: Fact: Women and men share near equal responsibility when it comes to infertility. Infertility is either a female or male problem in two-thirds of cases and a combined problem of the couple in one-third of cases. That is why it is important for both members of the couple to undergo medical evaluation to determine the cause and reduce unexplained cases.

Stacey's comment: This is nice to see for a change. Most women are being blamed for fertility issues especially when an IVF procedure doesn't create a viable pregnancy. The usual excuse is that your eggs are too old. But clearly this is not always the case. There are many variables, it could be the sperm, the endometrial lining, the procedure itself or the drugs didn't agree with that person.

When a person goes to the doctors office with high blood pressure and they try a medication and this medication doesn't work, you usually don't hear that there is something wrong with the patient and that is why the drug didn't produce the desired result. You usually hear that this drug just isn't right for you and they try another.

Doc comment: Myth: You're too stressed. Relax and you'll get pregnant.

Fact: Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. Although stress can sometimes affect hormone levels and quality of ovulation, emotions are not keeping you from getting pregnant. The stress and intense emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not its cause.

Stacey comment: At this point in time infertility is not officially classified as a disease, although drug companies would love it if it was because then no one else could touch it except doctors. And in a significant amount of cases there is no evidence that anything is wrong with the couple. This is called Unexplained Infertilty and there is no "disease" present, however there is certainly "dis-ease" in the body.

I think saying that emotions are not keeping a person from getting pregnant is a very vague statement. There are certain emotional states such as depression that have been linked with difficulty becoming pregnant. I agree that it is not about relaxing and you will become pregnant but I do think that even if stress did not contribute to fertility issues for some, it certainly can perpetuate it. This has been shown in clinical studies to be a strong possibility via studies done by Dr. Alice Domar at Boston IVF.

DOc comment: Myth: Be patient, you will get pregnant with time.

Fact: Infertility is a medical problem that usually requires treatment. If you are concerned for any reason about your ability to conceive, you should be evaluated by a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as possible especially if you, as a woman have one of more of the following factors present:

• Over the age of 35

• Have irregular cycles

• Experience painful menstrual periods

• Suffered several pregnancy losses

• Had a pelvic infection or abdominal surgery

Stacey's comment: I do think that if you are experiencing any of the above issues that you should seek assistance. However I do not believe that any of the above INCLUDING not being pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex should result in the diagnosis of infertility. If the woman is still creating eggs, and has a uterus, and the man is still making sperm no matter how long they have been trying there is still the potential to create an embryo and therefore in my mind they are still fertile. The term infertility in my opinion is inaccurate and in my opinion, shouldn't be utilised unless there are clearly no eggs or no sperm. Many times just receiving this diagnosis is a source a significant and unnecessary stress for the couple.

Doc comment: Myth: If you are over 35, you are more likely to be infertile.

Fact: Fertility does decrease over time, but if you and your partner are healthy, don't have any of the risks and if you are have regular periods, you don't need an infertility evaluation just because you are 35. A couple is considered to be infertile if they have not conceived after 12 months of unprotected intercourse if the female is under the age of 35, the couple has not conceived after six months of unprotected intercourse if the female is over the age of 35 or the female is incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Stacey's comment: Hallelujah! It is great to hear this from a doctor. Over 35 is not a death sentence like many believe!

Doctor who commented: Zvi Binor, M.D. is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist with Rush-Copley Center for Reproductive Health.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PCOS new finding!

Well, not really.

A recent article in the weekend paper touted a new discovery about PCOS. The article stated that it appears that Metformin and addressing your lifestyle can actually improve fertility in women with PCOS.

This isn't quite earth shattering news. Most doctors have been using Metformin, a drug commonly prescribed for diabetes to treat PCOS for years. It appears to help women with PCOS by helping to regulate glucose metabolism in these women. When this is address this helps regulate insulin levels in the body.

What they don't mention is that a natural remedy has been shown to be just as effective as Metformin. Ironically both studies have appeared in the same journal, Diabetes Care.

The natural remedy is vinegar. When subjects took apple cidar vinegar before meals showed the effects on glucose were just as good as antidiabetic medications such as metformin. And since metformin has been shown to cause digestive upset, nausea, and depletion of folic acid, the vinegar is a welcome substitute. Some people do not like the taste of vinegar straight so using this in salads would be an excellent choice as well, OR look for apple cider vinegar tablets which are available at some health food shops.

Our PCOS ebook has many other tips to help you address the issues of PCOS and in some women even reverse PCO completely to improve their fertility. This is available in the books section of

Do Men's supplements Cause Prostate Cancer and What does the Prostate have to do with Male Fertility

In a recent article printed in Australia and New Zealand, it was inferred that taking too many multi vitmins may lead to problems with the prostate. You might be asking why do I include this information in a blog about fertility? Well the prostate contributes significantly to fertility.

Consider the following: Prostate gland
The prostate contributes about 60% of the seminal fluid. The fluid is discharged into the urethra during ejaculation to help neutralise the acidic fluids in the male urethra and the female vagina. This function is important because acids can have an adverse effect on sperm and, at higher concentrations, can kill them.

Therefore prostate health is important in not just male fertility but the couples fertility.

Back to the article on multi vitamins and prostate health. After reading more information on this "study" it seems as though there was no mention of lifestyle factors including diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, what multivitamins the men were taking and when they started taking them. For example if the men started taking the multivitamins after they were diagnosed with cancer but didn't address lifestyle changes the data simply goes to show what we always say, supplements are only that "supplements" to a healthy diet and lifestyle. The fact that the study didn't show a link with localised prostate cancer or early prostate cancer is what raises a red flag.

There are studies that show for example that selenium could have the prospensity to prevent prostate issues, but if cancer was already an issue, starting to take selenium didn't necessarily contribute to improving the situation after the cancer was discovered.

So always be cautious reading the headlines so you don't let information that can be misinterpreted in the media effect the health benefits that you are creating by following a healthy balanced diet and appropriate supplementation program using high quality pharmaceutical grade supplements. We have seen male fertility improve when addressing these issues.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Smoking and Fertility issues

Most people understand that smoking can effect their fertility. I just wanted to add a bit of information discussed by IVF specialist Dr. David Carnovale MD who said when a woman smokes this can decrease the chances of an IVF procedure working by 50%. Now most times the odds that IVF will work aren't the best anyway, so to further decrease this by 50% is really an issue.

Also keep in mind Dr. Carnovale MD says that men who smoke are likely to be effecting the quality, shape and production of sperm as well.

With the cost of IVF being what it is, it's very important that a couple addresses all issues that could impact the results.

However it is important that if you are going to plan to quit smoking that you make sure you have a good look at your eating plan right now. Adjust your eating plan to be as healthy as you can be to decrease your chances of significant weight gain when you do quit.

Sex Drug Linked to Infertility

Sex drug link to infertility

June 02, 2007 12:00

Article from: ReutersFont size: + -
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VIAGRA may be championed by men who have had their sex lives improved, but the downside is it may harm male fertility, a new study has found.

Laboratory studies conducted at Queen's University Belfast, UK suggest that taking the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may adversely affect sperm function and possibly male fertility.

Recreational users of Viagra need to be informed of the drug's potentially harmful effects on sperm function, the investigators say.

From Fertility and Sterility, May 2007.

Stacey's comment:
This isn't really a shock to me as I have been talking to my patients utilising these types of drugs to help them create an erection about this possibility for many years.

What I usually talk to these gentlemen about is that what is important is finding out why there may be a problem in the first place. This is about trying to identify and address the probable causes of what may be causing the difficulty in the first place.

Keep in mind, any medications have the potential to effect the health of the sperm including over the counter medications as well so its important to review medications with your doctor and work with them to help create the best health possible to improve your fertility. Regarding over the counter medications, there is usually a natural choice so discuss this with your naturopath and/or herbalist for the best choices.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Vitamin B linked to improved fertility

Research has found the eating foods rich in vitamin B6 can more than doulbe the chances of becoming pregnant.

Women who have plenty of B6 in their diet are half as likely to miscarry in early pregnancy.

It is though that B6 levels found in high levels in foods such as

yellow fin tuna
turkey breast
beef tenderloin
kidney beans
sunflower seeds
brown rice
and more...

US researchers looked at how levels of B6 affected the reproductive health of more than 300 young chinese women trying to have a baby. Scientists measured levels of vitamins in the women's blood and checked hormone levels daily for a year.

Those with the highest B6 levels were 2.2 times more likely to conceived than those with the lowest levels.

The women were also half as likely to miscarry in the first six weeks of pregnancy. This was reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Stacey's comment,

Keep in mind that if you are feeling very tired, experiencing anemia, have low moods frequently and having difficulty conceiving increasing your B6 level intake through the foods mentioned above may help to improve the levels in the system. The health of your stomach and digestive system is extremely important in order for these nutrients to be absorbed.

So if you are taking any over the counter medication, any prescribed medications, drinking alcohol, smoking, utilising any recreational drugs, or under a lot of stress, its important to also work to improve your digestion. Make sure you talk to your naturopath about the use of digestive enzymes or probiotics to help ensure the the absorption of nutrients including supplements that contain B6.

Not all supplements are created equal so if you are taking supplements then make sure they are pharmaceutical grade, i.e. there is a guarantee that they have been tested to ensure absorption and Good Manufacturing Practices. Otherwise there is no way of knowing whether the quality is good enough and whether the supplement is actually getting absorbed by the body.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Treatment for Recurrent Miscarriage

Case study in Sydney Australia leads to birth of healthy baby girl after 19 miscarriages. Dr. Gavin Sacks (who has an excellent reputation from the patients that I have spoken to about him) in Sydney Australia at IVF Australia used a treatment utilising steroid treatment to reduce the high level of natural killer cells that had been found in her system. After 11 years the patient gave birth to a baby girl.

Tests can be done to determine if you have high levels of natural killer cells. I suggest speaking to your physician regarding this if you have had 3 miscarriages or more.

More studies however do need to be done to confirm that it was indeed the treatment that helped create the viable pregnancy or if she and her husband would have created a viable pregnancy without the treatment.

To learn more about what you can do naturally to address recurrent miscarriages you can see our ebook on Recurrent Miscarriage title, When Pregnancy Means Pain and Devastation: Your Guide to Creating a Viable Pregnancy at in the books section.

Also keep in mind that studies are showing that even the belief in a treatment and the person administering the treatment can improve your chances that it will that the treatment will be effective. This doesn't just have to do with miscarriages, but with any treatment for any condition. So make sure that you are working with practitioners that you are comfortable and confident with. And always remember to trust and believe in the amazing capabilities of your body as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Natural Vaginal Lubricant

Lately in the news there has been some talk about how vaginal lubricants used during intercourse could possibly be killing the sperm and thereby limiting chances of a conception. After reading and researching some of the more popular lubricants I can see why.

So I wanted to share a gentle vaginal lubricant recipe with you. This is from an author who I find to be quite exceptional in her life's work. Aviva Romm has been a midwife and herbalist for 20 years, homeschooled her four children and is now a 2nd year medical student at Yale University school of medicine. She has a series of books on that I would recommend you have a look at.

In one of her books she describes this recipe for a gentle vaginal lubricant:

4 tablespoons cocoa butter
4 tablespoons coconut oil (if you don't know where to find this, and you have checked with your health food shop, email me at and I can give you a few places in the US and Australia)
2 tablespoons almond oil
10 drops of Sandalwood essential oil
10 drops of vanilla essential oil

the Sandalwood and vanilla are highly aphrodisiac scents but are not absolutely necessary for this formula to be used

Combine ingredients, store in a glass jar, and apply as needed.

HOpe this helps

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Are organic foods any better than "normal" foods?

REcently a few doctors in an article printed in the Gold Coast bulletin made the bold statement that organic foods are no better than regular store bought foods and are more expensive. In essence they were saying there was no evidence to support paying extra for the organic food. They said there was no research that said organic was more nutritious.

Well, they should have said no research that we know of because this 2004 study is an eye opener.

Researchers at Rutgers University, intrigued by the idea that organic foods are "better", decided to shop
around for some answers. From the supermarket shelves, they purchased snap beans, cabbage, lettuce,
tomatoes and spinach. Then they bought equivalent organically grown vegetables at a health food store.
The research team analyzed the mineral content of their purchases. In every case, organic products were
superior to the non-organic produce, often by huge percentages.
Variations in Mineral Content in Vegetables Firman E. Baer Report, Rutgers University

So there you have it, this study clearly shows the increased nutrient value of organic foods. If you can buy them, I would say go for it.

Keep in mind though that unfortunately organic produce isn't completely free of pesticides and of course the nutrient value is likely to vary from soil to soil, so its still good to wash your fruits and vegetables even if they are organic and buy from a store that gets their supply from a variety of different suppliers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

PCOS Study and tips

Imperial College London

New project to analyze why Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and insulin resistance are so closely linked
Understanding the link between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance is the aim of a new project announced today, funded by the charity WellBeing of Women.

It is known that women with PCOS have a 3-fold increase in their risk of developing type-2 diabetes, where the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly. Insulin resistance is an important factor in the condition, which is the most common female hormone disorder. PCOS affects between 5 and 10 per cent of women and is a major cause of infertility.

The new £97K project aims to identify a defective point on the insulin signalling pathway in women with PCOS. The researchers, from Imperial College London, hope this will enable the development of new therapies which target this part of the pathway, to counter the insulin resistance and the fertility problems that PCOS can cause.

Insulin is released from cells in the pancreas after eating and it signals insulin-sensitive tissues (such as fat and muscle) to take up glucose, keeping glucose levels in the bloodstream normal. In people with insulin resistance, normal amounts of insulin are not adequate to produce a normal glucose response, meaning that levels of insulin in the bloodstream need to be higher to achieve normal blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance (and/or the compensatory excess of insulin in the bloodstream), may contribute to abnormalities in function of the ovaries that lead to many of the symptoms of PCOS. These include irregular periods, or no periods at all; fertility problems; weight gain; acne; and excessive hair growth (hirsutism).

A longer term concern is that insulin resistance also predisposes people to diabetes. In some patients the pancreas is unable, in the long-term, to produce enough insulin to compensate for the resistance of the tissues to insulin action. Consequently, blood sugar levels rise. What is not known is why PCOS and insulin resistance are so closely related.

Stacey's comment

I am glad they are looking into the mechanisms that the insulin resistance that women with polycystic ovaries experience effects the ovary and its production of hormones. And I also hope that they look at and investigate the actual cause of the insulin resistance which in most cases of polycystic ovaries is diet. Now there are a small number of women that do not seem to have a poor diet when it comes to dealing with PCO but the majority of women that we see, whether lean or overweight with PCO really need to focus on their diet.

Eliminating high glycemic foods is the first step and adding in foods that are rich in antioxidants and minerals is very important as well. Eliminating trans fat from fried foods, processed foods, biscuits, muffins, and other processed foods is also very important to help regulate ovulation.

Adding good healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, avocadoes and an appropriate amount of low mercury fish is also helpful. Keep in mind that ALL carbohydrates eaten turn into glucose (sugar) in the body. This doesn't mean that all carbohydrates have to be eliminated, but it does mean that making sure you are eating low glycemic carbs is extremely important.

Some women may have to eliminate carbs for a short period of time to improve their situation but the natural therapist that you are working with should give you some excellent guidelines regarding diet.

Balancing proteins, low glycemic carbs and good fats is very important to improve PCO and we have even had women who have eliminated the mulitiple follicles on the ovaries and improve ovulation by following our program. OUr PCO ebook at (books section) has helped many women become pregnant even without utilising our herbs.

A nice health glucose balancing drink that many of our patients diagnosed with PCO enjoy is green tea with a cinnamon stick and a drop of licorice. And recently spearmint tea has been linked with helping to address excessive hair growth as well.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Proof of the importance of the Mind Body connection regarding fertility

Mind Body Institute Treatment of 'Unexplained Infertility' Focuses on Stress Reduction With Impressive Results

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Debra Sussman tried to
have a baby for years. After trying on their own, she and her husband
sought medical intervention. They went through several years of advanced
fertility treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and countless
"It was heartbreaking," says Sussman. "It affected my entire life -- my
work, my relationships, finances and identity ... I felt completely
isolated and broken."
Sussman learned of the program at the Mind Body Institute at UCLA
Medical Plaza. The program is dedicated to helping women deal with
infertility by teaching relaxation techniques, positive reinforcement, and
cognitive restructuring to alleviate stress associated with infertility.
Today Sussman has a healthy baby girl and is the Executive Director of
the Mind Body Institute where she helps many other women through the
challenge of infertility. The Institute has served infertile patients in
Los Angeles since 1999 at UCLA Medical Plaza in Westwood and at its new
clinic in Newport Beach since January.
The 10-week program meets for 2-1/2 hours once a week, blending lecture
and hands-on experience through group support and yoga by alleviating the
psychological and physical symptoms of stress associated with infertility.
The program is modeled after The Harvard Medical School's infertility
program and is medically endorsed by doctors dedicated to encouraging a
more comprehensive approach to women's fertility issues. According to
research studies, infertility patients who attend a Mind Body program
decrease anxiety, depression and achieve a 55 percent increase in
conception rates.

Stacey's Comment
For the last 2 years I have been sending tips to those seeking support while dealing with their fertility issues. Many of these tips deal with the the emotional aspects of fertility issues. We receive countless emails from both our patients and those who are not our patients but have read the tips thanking me for supporting them through a difficult time.

Our Fertile Mind Fertile Body workshops boast a similiar "success rate" to what is listed in the above article. 60% of the participants of our lst year workshops have gone on to have a viable pregnancy within 3 to 7 months of attending. I utilise different techniques than the ones described above but my aim is the same, giving couples the support they need to improve their emotional health and subsequently their physiological health as well.

THe one on one counseling sessions I have conducted with individuals have also yielded fantastic results when all recommendations are followed.

So it is great to hear that in the US there are other clinics that are conducting workshops and have support groups for couples dealing with fertility issues. If you would like more information about our programs here in Australia (soon to be in America as well) please contact for more information. This could be the one piece of the puzzle not yet addressed that may make the difference.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Alternative deep tissue massage to aid fertility

San Rafael, CA (PRWEB) March 5, 2007 -- When Marin County Maya Abdominal Massage therapist Lina Erwin lays her hands on a client's abdomen and feels for the position of the uterus, she is carrying on a healing tradition that has been handed down from mentor to student in Central America for hundreds of years.
Long before Western medicine became the norm, the women of Central America utilized this form of massage to help with infertility, menstruation, and menopause. For women who wish to avoid surgery or drugs, Maya Abdominal Massage is a viable and safe alternative

This non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical healing alternative has been used in what are now Guatemala and Belize to help women's health challenges as widespread as infertility, chronic miscarriages, difficult menopause, prolapsed uterus, varicose veins of the legs, recurrent vaginal infections, and depression linked to PMS. Her new clinic, Traditional Maya Massage (, just opened in downtown San Rafael.

When Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage are practiced by trained practitioners such as Erwin, who has lived in Costa Rica and studied in Belize, it has been estimated that approximately 30 percent of woman who have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant eventually conceive after a succession of Maya Abdominal Massage treatments. This compares favorably with in-vitro fertilization success rates, which are 37% among women younger than 35 years and 28% for those aged 36-39 years.

"Long before Western medicine became the norm, the women of Central America utilized this form of massage to help with infertility, menstruation, and menopause. For women who wish to avoid surgery or drugs, Maya Abdominal Massage is a viable and safe alternative," said Erwin. "My clients also feel heartened that I teach them self care so they can maintain their health without having to continue seeing me."

Stacey's comment
I would recommend this type of treatment for anyone who has had an abdominal surgery such as laparoscopy, C-Section, appendectomy, etc to help address scar tissue that may be impeding the function of the ovaries.

Also if you are older and FSH levels are higher there is a possibility that this type of technique could stimulate improved blood flow to areas such as the ovaries.

There is also a company called Clear Passage located in various clinics throughout the US that has correlated similiar deep tissue techniques to unblocking tubes and increased fertility in a certain percentage of individuals that they see. YOu can contact them at

Friday, March 02, 2007

Can Ice Cream/Dairy really help you get pregnant?

Recently data from the famous Nurse's Health Study has revealed that women who ate more low fat dairy foods per day were twice as likely to have trouble conceiving due to problems with ovulation. And women who ate at least one fatty dairy food per day were 27% less likely to have ovulation problems which effect fertility.

This lead the press to jump to the conclusion that ice cream can help to improve your fertility. Well, this is a big jump, and though I am a fan of the occasional ice cream myself, its very important to realise a few things before loading your diet up with high fat dairy on a regular basis to improve your fertility.

I suggest that you consider:

1) Dairy is really irrelevant in this situation. The real pertinent information is high fat versus low fat. Low fat foods, because they are low fat and also because they tend to have more sugar added to them for taste, tend to be high glycemic. Eating high glycemic foods on a regular basis can effect your glucose levels, insulin levels and subsequently your reproductive hormone levels as well. So it is likely the increased consumption of high glycemic foods is effecting ovulation. This is typical in the person who has the diagnosis, Polycystic ovaries. Both lean and overweight women with polycystic ovaries tend to have difficulties with ovulation and also tend to have insulin resistance which is usually the result of eating foods that are high glycemic over a long period of time.

So have 1-3 servings of foods that have good fats in them like avocados, nuts, seeds, fish (though be aware of mercury levels here) and good natural yogurts that are normally higher in fat will keep the glycemic load down and lessen the chance of developing insulin resistance or excess insulin in your system, which again can effect your reproductive health.

2) Statistics say that only 1/3 or women with fertility issues have problems relating to ovulation. The finding in this review related to ovulation issues.

3)This is not about increasing dairy. Most dairy has little health benefits due to the way that it is processed. Many nutrients are taken out and only some are added back in to make the foods more "healthy". Milk is not the best source of calcium either because calcium needs other nutrients not all found in milk to help it get absorbed. Green leafy vegetables are your best source of calcium. And supplements taken to help with Calcium should include magnesium, Vitamin D and boron to help ensure absorption of Calcium into the body. Also remember that calcium CITRATE is the most absorbable form of calcium and this should be most of the calcium in any calcium supplement (along with the other nutrients mentioned) for optimal absorption, if the stomach and gut health is good.

4) Remember to stay away from "diet food" that tout low fat because most will have added sugar and low fat tends to mean high glycemic unless you are talking about meats which are more lean with less fat. All protein is low glycemic.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Antioxidant Study

I am always amazed at what negative topics come out in the press about supplements. You and I both know I think that the media is not often 100% reliable (this is clearly shown in our FERTILITY SECRETS CD SET now available from our website), but unfortunately the media is where most people get their information about supplements, foods, and really anything these days.

A recent report spoke of Antioxidants not prolonging life and in some cases may even be related to increased mortality. This is simply more propaganda to keep the public from purchasing something that can be very good for them.

The reasons this review may have come up with this conclusion are many.

1) when reviewing studies it is never clear what type of supplements are used. Were they pharmaceutical grade? This guarantees that the supplements have been tested to make sure they get absorbed in the body. Most supplement companies do not do this testing because it is expensive. So if the antioxidants were not pharmaceutical grade it is no wonder that results would be mixed.

2) The supplements studied were too diverse. They were looking at antioxidants across the board and this is like looking at how effective IVF is around the world, instead of at each centre. There are too many variables at each centre to give an effective measure. I know just from seeing out patients that each centre and each doctor in the centre uses different protocols.

One thing I do agree with in the article I read was that antioxidants should be taken in from your food sources first and "supplements" should do just that..."supplement" a healthy diet. And when you consider that some organic foods will have up to 88% more nutrients than their regular store bought counterparts, it is very important to consider buying organic whenever you possibly can.

3) I have never read a study where people's digestion was considered before they take the supplements, and participants with poor digestion as far as I can tell are not ruled out of these studies. If you aren't digesting your foods properly, they are less likely to get absorbed into the system and less likely to make any difference. So purchasing supplements that are pharmaceutical grade (guaranteed to be tested to ensure they get absorbed) is your best investment regarding supplements. Store bought supplements rarely have this guarantee.

So before you believe everything you read in the media about antioxidants or other supplements be skeptical and ask your natural healthcare practitioner for more information or to do the research from reliable sources for you.

Should you take Fish Oil in preconception and while pregnant

There has been a few controversial articles about how fish oil does not improve moods and shouldn't not be taken during pregnancy or preconception secondary to the Vit A content in fish oil.

There are many studies that show fish oil works well with antidepressants and on its own to help regulate moods. It can also be used in children to help with symptoms consistent with ADD/ADHD and others. So why would this study review come up with these results. My opinion is most likely because the large number of studies varied in the type of fish oil that they used. Off the shelf fish oil is likely cheaper but may not be quite as effective as brands that are processed to assure the quality of the fish oil. Its also very important to make sure the fish oil that you use is free of all mercury. IF it says Mercury tested then it is unlikely that this company will have removed all the toxins like mercury from the fish oil. It will have what the government considers "safe levels" of mercury in it.
When dealing with trying to create a healthy pregnancy, you do not want to expose yourself to any more mercury than you have to, since elevated mercury can be related to miscarriage.

In addition the "warning" about Vitamin A would only be for Cod Liver Oils but even then according to research about Vitamin A reported by the Weston A Price Foundation in Washington DC it is only the Cod Liver oil that contains SYNTHETIC vitamin A that could potentially cause a problem. So make sure that you speak to your natural health practitioner about the best brands of Fish oil for you.

And with Fish Oil, you get what you pay for. Our fish oil retails at $29.30 today. These are guaranteed to have all toxins removed and do not contain Vitamin A.