Understanding Cervical Dysplasia



There are many conditions that can interfere with pregnancy, or with your ability to get pregnant. One of the conditions that many women are concerned about when it comes to getting pregnant and to pregnancy is cervical dysplasia. Understanding what exactly cervical dysplasia is and how it’s diagnosed will help you understand the implications in regard to pregnancy and getting pregnant.

Cervical dysplasia refers to a condition in which abnormal cells appear on the surface of the cervix.  Cervical dysplasia can be severe, moderate, or mild.  Cervical dysplasia is considered to be precancerous and, if it is left untreated, cervical dysplasia can often progress into cervical cancer.  It can take as long as ten years for cervical cancer to develop from cervical dysplasia.

Fortunately for most women who suffer from cervical dysplasia, it usually isn’t a concern when it comes to getting pregnant. If it’s treated properly and if it doesn’t become cancerous, it should not interfere with your ability to get pregnant at all.



There are other concerns with this condition, however. Having cervical dysplasia may put you at risk for a number of other conditions, such as some STDs or sexually transmitted infections. These kinds of conditions can, of course, interfere with your ability to become pregnant. Chlamydia, in particular, can affect your fertility. Because it is often symptomless, it’s a surprisingly common problem for fertility.

If you do become pregnant and have had cervical dysplasia, there are some things you need to be aware of, as well. In some cases, if you have had repeated biopsies due to cervical dysplasia, it will be possible for your cervix to be shortened by the cervical dysplasia.  Even this condition should not prevent you from getting pregnant; however, if you do become pregnant, you will want to discuss the situation with your health care provider.  It may be that you will need to have a cerclage during your pregnancy.  A cerclage refers to a procedure when a small stitch or suture is placed in your cervix to help it keep closed during pregnancy.

Ultimately, you need to talk with your doctor about your cervical dysplasia if you have concerns about becoming pregnant, or if you are already pregnant.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease



There are many things that can go wrong with a woman’s reproductive tract; there are many parts and there are many helpful and harmful fauna in the woman’s system. In addition to this, a woman’s overall level of health, including gastro-intestinal and digestive health, heart and cardio-vascular health, and the levels of vitamins and minerals that the woman has absorbed through her diet influence a woman’s reproductive system. Also, because a woman’s system is a somewhat “closed system” and all sexual activity pushes into the woman’s reproductive tract, women are especially at risk for infections and diseases of the genitals.

 

 

Antibiotics

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a disease of the upper genital tract, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. It can be caused by both aerobic (oxygen requiring) and anaerobic (non-oxygen-requiring) bacteria. Usually the bacteria involved are the ones that cause gonorrhea and Chlamydia. These are usually introduced into the woman’s reproductive system by unprotected sexual activity with a person infected with the disease. Infections of gonorrhea usually progress faster than Chlamydia, although a GP or OB/GYN can diagnose it more specifically.



Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease are fever, chills, abdominal and pelvic pain, and vaginal discharge or bleeding. There is a chance for complications with pelvic inflammatory disease (around one in four women with PID will experience complications), so if you have recently had unprotected sex and are experiencing these symptoms, it is best for you to see your doctor immediately. A potential complication of PID is tubo-ovarian abscess, a body of pus surrounding the upper genital tract that can rupture and potentially be fatal without proper treatment. Other complications include inflammation of the pelvis and the liver, chronic pelvic pain, and damage to the reproductive organs. Therefore, it is very important that PID is treated as quickly as it is diagnosed.

Treatment for PID usually includes broad-spectrum antibiotics taken orally for between 10 and 14 days, after which the disease is cured. If a woman is severely ill, she will be admitted into hospital and will likely be given antibiotics through IV.

Pelvic inflammatory disease may be misdiagnosed as a twisted or ruptured ovarian cyst, appendicitis, or complications of early pregnancy. If a doctor is unsure, she may take a blood sample, pregnancy test, or an ultrasound to determine what to diagnose. If the doctor is still unsure of the diagnosis, she may ask for a laparoscopic examination (in which a fiber-optic cable is inserted through a small hole in the navel in order to look inside a woman’s abdomen). The recovery from a laparoscopy is minimal, and the patient usually only receives two or three stitches.

It is important to prevent PID, so it is best to ensure to only have protected sex with people you trust (even better is sex in a monogamous relationship only)—never have sex without a condom or other barrier method.

The good news is that, with early enough diagnosis and treatment, PID is likely not to affect a woman’s long-term reproductive chances, and with broad-spectrum antibiotics, mortality is almost zero.

Diabetes and Fertility



 

Diabetes can be a challenging condition to live with. Being a healthy person with diabetes means that you have to make careful choices. Diabetes hinders a body’s ability to process and metabolize sugars. Diabetics need to watch their sugar levels and insulin levels very carefully. Often, people with diabetes need to test their blood sugar levels once or more per day in order to know whether they are metabolizing sugar properly. If the blood sugar level is too high, the person needs a shot of insulin; if the sugar level is too low, the person needs some carbohydrates.

In general, the best diet for people living with diabetes is one that is low in carbohydrates, since the body has difficulty processing them, and high in protein and fat, since they take much longer to digest and also help digest the sugars in carbs. Eating regularly, helps maintain stable blood sugars, as does regular light exercise. A large part of healthy living as a diabetic involves proactive health choices.

There are many things that a diabetic cannot do like a person without diabetes can. Fortunately, conceiving and carrying a child does not fall into that category. A woman with diabetes can likely conceive just as easily as a woman without diabetes, as long as she takes precautions and talks to her doctor before trying to conceive.

A woman with Type 1 diabetes will likely need to modify her insulin routine. She will likely not be able to go without insulin, and it would be unsafe for her to do so, but after she becomes pregnant her insulin needs will likely increase and she will need to monitor her blood sugar levels even more closely.



Type 2 diabetics may try to go off insulin through careful diet and exercise in order to improve chances of conception.

A man with diabetes will also need to control his blood sugar levels as well, in order to maintain healthy sperm levels and motility, and to avoid genetic abnormalities. It is important to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol if a person is diabetic.

There are risks of uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy as well. If a woman’s blood sugar levels are not well managed, there are risks to the baby and the new mom. One of the main risks is pre-eclampsia: high blood pressure and a high risk of preterm labor or stress on the baby. Preterm labor carries with it a host of other risks such as a NICU stay for baby, underdeveloped heart or lungs, and challenges with breastfeeding.

Women with uncontrolled diabetes also risk having a very large baby, again risking preterm labor or C-section delivery if the doctors feel that the baby is too large to be delivered vaginally. Variable blood sugar levels may prevent the baby from getting adequate nutrition from the mother’s blood through the placenta.

So, on the whole, diabetes should not interfere with a woman or man living a normal, healthy life and being able to conceive and raise children, as long as the person is aware of the risks and appropriate precautions to take.

All About Artificial Insemination



Artificial insemination is something that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Insemination simply refers to sperm entering the vagina, so artificial insemination means that the sperm is introduced into the vagina through artificial means. Believe it or not, artificial insemination is not only practiced in humans: it is a common practice in cattle breeding. Bull semen is collected in an “artificial vagina,”  and is introduced into the cow’s vagina in order to produce calves. This is much easier for cattle breeders to selectively breed for certain traits, as well as to avoid intermixing the bull with the cows (as bulls are known to be incredibly volatile creatures, and can get extremely violent around females).

How is it done? Semen is collected from the male, and then a fertility technician examines the sperm. He chooses the best, most healthy sperm and cleans them, then inserts them into the vagina using a needleless syringe, or potentially a syringe with a tube attached to it, in order to insert the sperm farther into the vagina. The sperm need to be cleaned because without the act of sexual intercourse and the accompanying semen, the woman`s body would likely have an allergic reaction to the sperm and would reject them.

Artificial insemination can be a huge help to couples who are having a hard time conceiving. There are a few causes of infertility for which artificial insemination can be quite helpful. The first cause is if there are issues with the male partner’s sperm count or sperm motility. Obviously, inserting the sperm far into the vagina would help combat that as a cause for infertility. It can also be helpful if the man has issues with ejaculation, such as retrograde ejaculation (where the semen is ejaculated into the man’s urinary bladder rather than through his penis). The next cause is an issue with the woman`s cervix being inhospitable to semen during sex, or preventing the semen from getting through into the uterus. The best option for a couple trying to conceive using artificial insemination is if there is no male partner. The women (or single woman) would choose sperm from a sperm bank or from a sperm donor, and would use that sperm to inseminate her. The last option for success in artificial insemination is if the cause for infertility is unidentified. Artificial insemination is far less invasive and less costly than in-vitro fertilization.



Artificial insemination can be a successful solution for many couples who struggle with infertility—it is said to increase the success for a couple (with one of the above reasons for infertility) in conceiving by double. It can be emotionally challenging for the partners to go through something like this, and those emotional implications needs to be seriously considered before the couple goes through this procedure. The huge advantage is that it does not involve hormone shots for either partner, and the procedures are outpatient procedures. The next option for an infertile couple is in-vitro insemination, which can be extremely difficult and challenging for a couple, so artificial insemination can be a great help!

 

Fertility Drugs and Childhood Leukemia



It can be immensely stressful and hugely challenging for a couple to go through a period of infertility when they want a child so badly. It can feel like they will never be able to conceive a child and that they will not be able to make their dreams of having a family come true. Fertility drugs like Clomid or other hormone drugs may seem like the perfect solution to the challenge of infertility.

There was a 2012 study that showed that the use of Clomid could be linked to a higher likelihood that the child conceived will get childhood leukemia. Headlines across the internet screamed “Fertility Drugs More than Double Chance of Leukemia.” That is a scary thing for a woman contemplating Clomid therapy to read. So what is the best way to approach this?

This study concluded that kids conceived to parents using certain hormone drugs for infertility were 2.6 times more likely than kids conceived without such drugs, to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); the most common type of childhood leukemia. The bad news keeps coming; there is an increase by 2.3 times in the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This is rough stuff. Leukemia is one of the scariest diagnoses a parent can hear for his or her child, and the thought that a parent could be doing something that would increase that chance is almost unbearable.

So where does that leave you, a couple trying to conceive a child and worried about using Clomid? As with everything else, it is up to you. As a parent (or a parent-to-be), you will likely encounter all sorts of things that will be linked with different cancers and diseases in retrospect.



There is a 2010 study that looked at a potential connection between fertility treatments and infant leukemia, which included the ALL diagnoses in infants. This study found no correlation or causation between the drugs and leukemia.

Between these two studies, it seems clear that more study is definitely needed in order to confidently state whether there is or is not a connection between Clomid and childhood leukemia. News websites love stories about childhood cancers, since they know these stories will be hugely popular, and will be clicked on by thousands of concerned parents.

In addition, to put these numbers into perspective, the chance of a child being diagnosed with childhood or infant leukemia is so small that for a child to have a risk of 2.6 times the normal risk is still extremely small. If you have a child who was conceived using Clomid, your best bet is to talk to your doctor about your concerns and about the potential risk your child faces.

If you have been infertile and are not sure about whether or not this should change your mind about using Clomid or hormone therapy, keep in mind that these drugs are still widely prescribed. Therefore, it seems clear that the medical community has not adopted the results of the 2012 study as a reason to stop prescribing these drugs. Each mother-to-be should make the decision for herself whether she will take on this potential risk for her child. There are risks inherent in every decision, and parenthood is a constant challenge to make the best decisions possible.

Does Smoking Have A Negative Impact on Fertility?



Smoking woman

There is no question as to whether smoking affects a person’s health. By now, everyone knows about the wrinkly, sallow skin, yellow fingernails and teeth, and constant cough. Not to mention the increased risk of lung cancer, and the other cancers as well. Emphysema is another chronic condition linked to smoking. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the newest in the cachet of smokers’ diagnoses—it is a long-term disease of the lungs with symptoms like a chronic cough, coughing up mucus, and constantly being short of breath.

And that’s just what smoking does to your body; imagine what it would do to your child-to-be. That is, if you can conceive one while you smoke. It is all bad news when it comes to smoking when you are trying to conceive. Smoking affects all areas of a person’s overall well-being and all areas of a person’s reproductive health.

Smoking is proven to reduce sperm count by around 17%, which can have a major impact on fertility. It is also linked with a reduction in sperm motility as well as a reduction in normal, healthy sperm. This means that smoking could be potentially linked to an increased risk of birth defects. Sperm motility (movement) is important in order for the sperm to be able to travel up the vagina into the cervix in order to fertilize the egg.

Overall, smokers have a much harder time conceiving, and they can take up to twice as long as non-smokers can to successfully conceive. Smoking reduces blood flow to all the cells in the body, including all the reproductive organs in the body.



Smoking can affect a woman’s hormone balance, and can be associated with menstrual cycle challenges. The woman’s eggs may not be as strong as they would otherwise, and her uterine lining may not be as nourishing to a fertilized egg. If both parents smoke, that means that there is an increased risk of both the sperm and the egg being damaged.

Smoking is known to be linked to lower birth rate and higher rate of miscarriage, as well as a higher stillbirth rate. Lastly, it has been associated with a much higher risk for preterm labor. Preterm labor, in turn, comes with its own host of challenges to the baby: risk of failure to thrive and low birth rate, as well as the chance for underdeveloped heart and lungs in the baby. Most premature babies have to spend some time in the NICU, which has a negative impact on the chances of developing a successful breastfeeding relationship.

If a woman who is trying to conceive is exposed to second-hand smoke, her chances of conceiving are affected much the same as if she were a smoker. Second-hand smoke can also be tremendously damaging to a fetus, so pregnant women should avoid being around smoke. There are huge risks to the fetus in utero if its mother is around second-hand smoke.

If you or your partner is a smoker and you are thinking of trying to conceive, it is best for everyone if you both quit for your own health, for your ability to conceive, and for the health of your future child.