Monthly Archives: January 2018


How to Prepare for Your Upcoming IVF Treatment

Woman ExercisingI encourage my patients to be mentally and physically prepared for their upcoming IVF treatment, regardless of my recommended protocol:

Mental and physical readiness can mean all the difference in IVF pregnancy success.

  1. Eating a well-balanced diet will increase your chances of IVF success. You should begin improving your nutritional habits at least 3 months before your embryo transfer. Good nutrition enhances the health of your reproductive organs and ensures a quality blood supply to the uterus. Why is this important? Good nutritional habits you develop now will be easy to carry over into your pregnancy.
  2. Take a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement containing vitamins A, B, D, and C complex. Your supplement should include zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron, and co-enzyme Q10 which all play a vital role in fertilization and implantation. That’s not all. Ask your fertility specialist to prescribe a folic acid supplement to fend off neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  3. Reduce your alcohol intake because studies show that women over 30 who drank seven or more alcoholic beverages a week were twice as likely not to conceive. Cutting out alcohol altogether while you try for a baby is the best plan because, once you conceive, your cravings for a drink will be diminished. If you don’t abstain completely from alcohol, opt for only three glasses of red wine per week – sorry, no chardonnay.
  4. Watch your BMI and get good sleep. A healthy adult Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. A 2016 review of studies shows that not getting enough sleep leads women to consume an average of 385 more calories the next day. Too much body weight can make women less fertile. Seek help from a dietician and an exercise coach to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy BMI while you are trying to get pregnant. Remember: Your revamped diet and physical fitness regimen will help you to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  5. Avoid Caffeine in coffee, tea, and soda because it can have an adverse effect on female fertility. It’s best to cut caffeine out altogether to boost your fertility level and prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Drinking more than 300 mg of caffeine per day – 2 to 3 cups of coffee – has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
  6. Exercise increases blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs and brings in fresh blood to cells. Exercise helps to oxygenate the blood. New studies have shown that both online yoga and in-person yoga help to increase the chances of a successful IVF pregnancy by up to 26 percent. This is because yoga is proven to reduce stress and anxiety in IVF patients. Fertility Yoga regimens include a series of poses and postures designed to improve fertility.
  7. Acupuncture for Fertility has been proven by studies to increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant by up to 50 percent! National Institutes of Health research has shown a direct correlation between acupuncture and pregnancy. New Hope Fertility Center has recently launched an in-house acupuncture service as an integral part of our all-encompassing infertility treatment options.

IVF Treatment Doctor

To schedule your initial consultation with Dr. John Zhang at New Hope Fertility Center, click the icon below – or – call 917.525.5496.

How Sleep Increases Fertility

10899214 - beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroomI recommend women in their prime childbearing years (25 to 35) get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night during a work week. The National Sleep Foundation has found through studies that sleep has a powerful influence on a woman’s reproductive hormonal system.

Sleep Deprivation: BMI – Mood – Stress

Sleep deprivation adversely affects your BMI, your mood, and your stress level. Your Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) level is directly affected by lack of sleep. Your FSH level should ideally be at its highest level just before you ovulate.

Women averaging 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night had a 20 percent higher FSH level than those who go 6 or fewer hours – regardless of age, BMI, mood, or stress level.

Sleep and BMI

A healthy adult Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. Look: A 2016 review of studies shows that not getting enough sleep leads women to consume an average of 385 more calories the next day.

Here’s the real story about women who don’t get enough sleep.

  • They gain weight
  • The make less healthy food choices
  • They eat foods higher in fat
  • They eat low protein foods

Over a five year period, women can gain 2.1 BMI points for every hour of sleep they lose. Why is this important? A two pound weight gain can easily throw a woman off of her healthy BMI.

The takeaway. Sleep is an important moderator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism. Sleep loss alters metabolic and endocrine alterations.Read more: How Sleep Increases Fertility

How ICSI Technology Enhances IVF Egg Fertilization

11255204 - human sperm and egg lifeICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – is a specialized egg fertilization technique used during the IVF process. Look: ICSI bypasses a number of common reproductive conditions preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. A single sperm cell is injected directly into an egg under the guidance of a microscope. ICSI has revolutionized the treatment of male-factor infertility.

Why is ICSI important?

  • ICSI is used to maximize the rate of egg fertilization
  • ICSI lessens the chances of sperm not being able to penetrate the wall of the egg

ICSI is recommended for most couples undergoing IVF – especially these candidates:

  • Unexplained infertility – known as idiopathic infertility – when the cause cannot be pinpointed
  • Male-factor infertility – a man’s sperm is not able to fertilize a woman’s egg
  • Combined female- and male-factor infertility

Today, ICSI is routinely recommended to improve fertilization in all IVF cases – regardless of diagnosis.

Sperm Retrieval for ICSI

When a man has a low sperm count and/or motility, a semen sample is collected through masturbation. The semen sample is processed in a special solution to obtain optimum ICSI results.

When a man is suffering from azoospermia – no sperm in ejaculate – sperm is microsurgically retrieved from the testicle or epididymis. This is commonly known as testicular sperm retrieval. Microsurgery to remove sperm from the testicles or epididymis can be performed under local or general anesthesia and requires short recovery periods.

Obstructive Azoospermia (no sperm in semen) can be corrected by the surgical removal of sperm directly from the testis or epididymis of the testicle.

  • Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA)
  • Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESE)
  • Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESA)

Non-Obstructive Azoospermia (sperm count with impaired sperm) may be caused by hormonal problems, testicular failure, varicocele, or varicose veins in the testicles. Non-Obstructive Azoospermia can be corrected through TESE – testicular sperm extraction. TESE is a surgical technique using fine needle aspiration performed with local anesthesia.Read more: How ICSI Technology Enhances IVF Egg Fertilization

Discover Needle-Free IVF at New Hope Fertility Center

25085067 - portrait of happy mother and babyWe are proud to offer our patients a new, simple and convenient IVF treatment protocol. Look: Needle-Free IVF! This revolutionary IVF protocol eliminates the fear, pain, and anxiety many patients experience with needles. Our Needle-Free IVF protocol stimulates a woman’s ovaries into producing multiple egg follicles through the use of oral fertility medications. The best part? Hormone levels are measured through urine and saliva tests during a Needle-Free IVF cycle.

Needle-Free IVF Benefits

Through Needle-Free IVF, patients are able to administer hormone stimulation in a less-invasive manner.

  • No shots
  • No needles
  • No injections
  • No blood draws

Needle-Free IVF Protocol

Why Needle-Free IVF is patient-friendly.

  • Improves patient safety
  • Improves patient compliance with medication regimen
  • Reduces possibility of error in medication administration
  • Eliminates the risk of accidental needle sticks

Needle-Free IVF Fertility Medications

Depending on the woman’s medical needs, an oral fertility medication – typically Clomid – is prescribed to gently stimulate her ovaries into producing multiple eggs. Synarel is delivered nasally 36 hours prior to surgical egg retrieval.

  • Clomid or Femara to stimulate egg production
  • Synarel to trigger ovulation
  • Oral progesterone tablets
  • Vaginal progesterone suppositories

Read more: Discover Needle-Free IVF at New Hope Fertility Center

How In Vitro Maturation (IVF/M) Helps to Increase IVF Pregnancy Success Rates

timearticle2IVF in conjunction with egg maturation in a laboratory setting (IVF/M) increases a woman’s chances of using at least some of her immature eggs for in vitro fertilization and transfer. Look: Through In Vitro Maturation (IVF/M or IVM) technology, Dr. John Zhang is able to retrieve and bring some of your immature eggs to maturation in vitro. Why does this make a difference? Typically in past conventional IVF procedures, only mature eggs were surgically retrieved to be fertilized in vitro.

IVF/M

A Conventional IVF procedure requires a woman to undergo multiple hormone injections to help produce 10 to 15 egg follicles as they reach maturity while they are still in her ovaries. In addition, the patient must endure multiple, regular ultrasounds and blood tests during a one month fresh IVF cycle.

The IVF/M procedure matures a woman’s eggs in vitro – in the laboratory – after they have been surgically retrieved in an immature stage. Here’s the deal: IVF/M requires fewer fertility medications and only a couple of ultrasound and blood tests during a typical one month cycle.

IVF/M cycle fertility medications are typically available in pill and suppository form. The best part? Because fertility medications are scaled back through the IVF/M process, the patient’s cost is reduced.Read more: How In Vitro Maturation (IVF/M) Helps to Increase IVF Pregnancy Success Rates

How AMH Plays a Key Role in Predicting a Woman’s Fertility

42592719 - happy pregnancy sitting on sofa at home in bedroomMeasuring a woman’s AMH level – Anti-Mullerian Hormone – is crucial to achieving a successful pregnancy through a fresh IVF transfer, as well as for an optimal egg freezing cycle. Why does this matter? AMH testing measure a woman’s ovarian reserve. A woman’s ovarian reserve determines the chances for conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby using her own eggs. That’s not all. A recent study has found that fertile women having a low AMH level became pregnant less frequently than those with a higher AMH level.

A Woman’s AMH Level Decreases With Age

As a woman ages – post-35 – the count of her egg follicle (ovarian) reserve decreases. Did you know? Obese women have low AMH levels and poor ovarian reserves.

Bottom Line: As shown in the chart below, older women have lower AMH levels than their younger counterparts.

Age                             10th Percentile                     50th Percentile

18 – 24                       1.10                                        3.60

25 – 29                       1.10                                        3.20

30 – 34                       .52                                           2.10

35 – 39                       .20                                           1.50

40 – 41                       .10                                             .80

42 +                            .09                                             .50

Because women with lower AMH levels have less of an ovarian reserve than women with high AMH levels, AMH testing is key to predicting how a woman will respond to fertility medications. Here’s the deal: AMH testing helps Dr. Zhang predict your fertility level – that is – your chances of a successful pregnancy.

Women having low AMH levels do not respond well to fertility medications. These women are classified as poor responders because their bodies to not produce a sufficient number of high quality eggs using fertility medications.Read more: How AMH Plays a Key Role in Predicting a Woman’s Fertility