3 methods of fertility preservation we offer to help patients
Important News Update — During the week of June 22, 2017, the state of Connecticut became the first in the United States to sign a law that requires insurance coverage for fertility preservation for insured individuals diagnosed with cancer or other conditions in which fertility preservation is deemed medically necessary. Our Las Vegas IVF experts are excited about this positive development in the important field of fertility preservation.
We’ve been helping patients with fertility preservation for 30 years
Our Las Vegas IVF experts have a passion for fertility preservation, and we’ve been providing these services for 30 years. Fertility preservation is important for men, women or children who are having cancer treatment or other medical treatment with the potential to harm their fertility.
Three ways we can help with fertility preservation
We want patients to learn more about three cryopreservation methods we employ for fertility preservation. It’s so important to talk with your oncologist as soon as possible about this option.
- Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation
This is a fertility preservation procedure that allows us to freeze unfertilized eggs and store them for years or even decades. The process involves ovarian stimulation in order to produce ovarian follicles that contain eggs, followed by egg retrieval to obtain eggs to cryopreserve.
- Sperm freezing, or sperm cryopreservation
Men or teenagers provide a sperm sample and our Las Vegas IVF experts freeze and send the sperm to a facility that stores the semen samples for future use.
- Embryo freezing, or embryo cryopreservation
Men or women who are in a relationship may choose this option for fertility preservation. This process involves retrieving eggs from the female and fertilizing them with her partner’s sperm. The embryos our experts create are frozen and stored for future use. Women without a partner can seek donor sperm for this process.
Our Las Vegas IVF experts find fertility preservation to be very rewarding for both physicians and patients. It provides hope for a family after cancer. For more information, contact us.
Answers about aging and male fertility
More and more couples are delaying parenthood until their 30s, 40s and beyond, hoping to focus on other priorities and have a baby when the time is just right. But even as they’ve put off parenthood, many dads-to-be have asked our Las Vegas fertility specialists: What’s the relationship between aging and male fertility? Is there such a thing as “men-opause”?
Aging and male fertility issues
While most women know that their fertility declines over time, many men don’t realize that they have biological clocks, too. Through the decades, research studies have consistently drawn connections between aging and male fertility problems.
- One 1976 study found that men ages 45 and up took five times longer to get their partners pregnant than men younger than 25.
- In one 2000 study, conception within one year was 30% less likely for men older than 40 than men younger than 30.
- A 2004 study found that sperm volume, movement and structure decline as men age.
- In a 1995 study of couples undergoing IUI, the age of the male partner was the most significant factor contributing to probability of pregnancy.
Why does male fertility decline over time? According to research, one reason may be that sperm motility decreases with age. In other words, the sperm slow down, possibly due to an age-related decline in the function of the prostate and the epididymis, both of which play a vital role in sperm motility.
Studies have also noted an age-related decline in the number of normally shaped sperm, with a 4% to 18% decrease in normal shape over a 20-year period. And, sperm DNA fragmentation increases over time, which can also contribute to male factor infertility.
Find out his fertility status
If you want to find out more about aging and male fertility – including whether your partner’s sperm are affected – fertility testing can provide answers. If male factor problems are found in men who want to become dads late in life, advanced infertility treatment offers many options that may not have been possible a generation ago.
To learn more, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Las Vegas fertility experts.
How worried should you be about Zika virus and pregnancy?
As spring heats up and the mosquitoes come out, it’s time to start thinking about the risk of Zika virus. Zika can pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and may cause a birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other serious brain defects. Arming yourself with knowledge about Zika virus and pregnancy is the best way to protect yourself and your future family.
Pregnant women can contract the virus by being bitten by infected mosquitoes, or by having unprotected sex with someone who is infected. To help you stay safe, our Las Vegas fertility experts share the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Update on Zika virus and pregnancy
CDC recently issued guidelines for travel, prevention, testing and preconception counseling for pregnant women and couples who are trying to conceive. The agency also created a world map highlighting two areas: Zika active transmission areas, or “red areas,” and Zika cautionary areas, or “yellow areas.”
At this time, Nevada is not considered a risky area for Zika virus and pregnancy, as the only two U.S. states affected are Texas and Florida. If you are considering travel to an area where Zika virus has been reported, be sure to tell your Las Vegas fertility experts, and keep CDC guidelines in mind.
- If you are pregnant, do not travel to red areas, and consider postponing travel to yellow areas.
- If you are trying to conceive (or are a surrogate), avoid non-essential travel to red areas. If you must travel, follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- Women who are planning to conceive and have been exposed to Zika virus should wait at least eight weeks to try to conceive.
- If you are an egg donor or considering donating your eggs, delay travel to yellow and red areas until after your donation cycle has completed.
- Men who may have been exposed should wait at least six months after symptom onset or the end date of the last possible exposure.
If you don’t know, ask
Researchers do not yet know if there is any safe point during pregnancy to travel to a high-risk area, or how likely it is that your baby will be affected if you become infected. Your Las Vegas fertility experts stay continually updated on the latest information about Zika virus, and are happy to answer your questions and address your concerns. Please be sure to tell your fertility specialist if you think there’s a chance you may have been exposed, and talk to your doctor if you’re considering travel to any area where Zika virus is a threat. Ask us about freezing sperm, eggs or embryos prior to travel.
To find out more about Zika virus and pregnancy, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Las Vegas fertility experts.
Male fertility evaluation: Men experience fertility issues as well
When a couple is trying to conceive on their own, but it’s just not working, many women assume that the problem must be their eggs or reproductive system. But for nearly half of the couples our Nevada fertility doctors see, a male factor plays a role in their inability to get pregnant. That’s why male fertility evaluation is just as important as female fertility testing in a couple’s infertility workup.
While a sperm problem might be the sole cause of infertility in about 10% of cases, about 30% of the time, both partners have infertility issues. A thorough evaluation can provide the answers you need to get the right treatment for both of you.
Why a male fertility evaluation is important
As part of your initial fertility workup, expect your Nevada fertility doctors to order male fertility testing for your partner, in addition to your own tests. Together, these combined test results will create a complete picture of all available information to help your fertility specialist target a treatment plan that will be most effective for you and your partner.
To fertilize an egg, a man doesn’t just need to have “enough” sperm. The sperm also have to be normally shaped, able to swim in the correct direction, and not blocked by a structural problem that stops them from getting where they need to go. A semen analysis can provide many of these answers, but this first-line test is just one part of a complete male fertility evaluation.
Your partner will also be asked to provide a complete reproductive and medical history, including:
- Your attempts to conceive
- His past fertility status
- The effect of any childhood illnesses or developmental problems
- His sexual history, including any sexually transmitted diseases that could affect fertility
- His lifestyle, including smoking, drug and alcohol use
- Any past or ongoing exposure to injury, toxins or excessive heat
If a male fertility evaluation has abnormal results, he may need additional testing or a referral to a urologist for further evaluation.
Get answers, get the right treatment
To learn more about a male fertility evaluation as part of a comprehensive fertility workup, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Nevada fertility doctors.
Which Companies Offer the Best Fertility Benefits
Infertility can be expensive to treat, and unlike many other medical conditions, it’s not always covered by employer insurance plans. For couples that need assisted reproductive technology to have a baby, fertility benefits can mean the difference between fulfilling or giving up on their dreams.
Coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other advanced treatments is especially critical. The cost of medications, services and facilities in just one IVF cycle can often add up to a price tag that’s unattainable for many employees. Thankfully, many employers realize that one way to win employee loyalty is to provide insurance benefits that not only keep them healthy, but that help them grow their families.
Tech Firms Are Fertility Benefits Leaders
According to Fertility IQ’s “Best Companies To Work for as a Fertility Patient: 2016 – 2017 Rankings,” for 80% of patients, employers pay for either all or none of the cost of IVF treatment. But one industry – technology – is raising the bar for fertility benefits, providing better and more inclusive coverage than any other business sector.
While the study identified the best fertility benefits offered in a diverse range of industries, six companies in the top 10 have one thing in common: All are technology companies. Among the top 10, in order, are these tech leaders:
Overall, tech businesses’ fertility benefits are almost 35% better than peer companies in other industries, the study shows. And, tech companies don’t need to be large for their fertility benefits to have a huge impact on their employees’ families. Even some small, private technology companies offer fertility benefits that are on par with tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.
While the companies at the head of the pack, across all industries, don’t cap the cost of fertility treatment, many do limit benefits to individuals with an infertility diagnosis. This means that fertility benefits aren’t available to employees who need a fertility specialist because they are same-sex couples or wish to become single parents.
Some technology companies, however, break down such barriers by providing fertility treatment without any such restrictions. This is great news for gay employees who need IVF and a surrogate to have a baby, or for lesbian couples or single moms-to-be who need intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm. Intel, Apple, Facebook and Google were the leaders on this criterion. Some companies, such as Intel, also provide coverage for fertility preservation procedures such as egg freezing, as well as embryo freezing and storage.
Offering fertility benefits to employees is an expensive proposition. For some large companies, it can add millions to the cost of the company’s insurance plans. But for workers who are struggling with infertility or need assisted reproductive technology to build a family, this coverage can literally make their dreams come true. In fact, the Fertility IQ study found that employees whose IVF was covered feel more loyal, and stay in their jobs longer, and 72% credit their jobs for helping them bring their child into the world.
Make the Most of Your Insurance
Regardless of your employer, our business office team will work closely with your insurer to make sure that you can get the most out of any available fertility benefits. To get started, contact our Nevada fertility center to schedule an appointment.
This Father’s Day, know the male infertility risk factors
While many men call up their dads to wish them a happy Father’s Day, they may be thinking ahead to a future Father’s Day of their own. Men often assume that when they want to have a baby with their partners, it will happen easily. But that’s not the case for many men. Understanding male infertility risk factors can help men know when to get help from a Nevada fertility specialist, so they can become dads when the time is right.
Understanding male infertility risk factors
Many men don’t realize it, but infertility isn’t just “a woman thing.” In about 40% of cases, a sperm problem is either the primary factor or a contributing factor.
What makes a man infertile? Typically, male infertility involves a problem with the quantity of sperm, the ability of sperm to penetrate an egg, or the ability of sperm to swim to the egg. Several male infertility risk factors can increase the chances of a man being diagnosed with infertility, including many that are out of your partner’s control.
- Surgery or trauma to the genitals or pelvic area
- Prior vasectomy
- Prostate disease
- Adult cases of the mumps
- Past exposure to toxins or harsh medications, such as chemotherapy
- Birth defects
- Exposure to DES, a synthetic hormone, in their own mothers’ wombs
- History of undescended testicles
- Advancing age
- Chronic illness, including sickle cell disease and CF
- Family history of male infertility
However, men may be able to mitigate certain other male infertility risk factors by making healthy lifestyle changes.
- Stop heavy drinking
- Quit smoking
- Don’t expose the testicles to heat sources, such as saunas or hot tubs and baths
- Lose weight through diet and exercise
Know your own risk
If you or your partner is worried about male infertility risk factors, you don’t have to wait to get answers. A semen analysis is a simple, easy test that can provide a lot of information about sperm quantity and health.
Don’t let another Father’s Day go by without the answers you need. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a Nevada fertility specialist.
Haley Payne remembers how she felt when people would ask that dreaded question, “When are you going to have children?” Before she had an IVF success story to tell, her discomfort was the same every time.
“This question needs to go away, forever,” she says.
For years, Haley struggled silently, watching her Facebook feed fill up with other people’s pregnancy announcements, birth announcements and baby photos. One in every eight women experiences infertility, and as one of them, the problem wasn’t that she wasn’t happy for her friends.
“I was sad for myself,” she remembers. “Sad for my husband. Sad for my parents and extended family, all of whom I felt I was letting down.”
IVF success story has a happy ending
Having experienced a devastating miscarriage, followed by three years of unexplained infertility, she had happily given up caffeine, gluten, immunotherapy, nail polish, lotion and even riding her bike. Then, in 2016, Haley and her husband turned to our Las Vegas fertility experts for help and entered the world of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“From January to May, my blood was drawn 34 times, about every four days, even on Saturdays and Sundays,” Haley recalls. “I was given one to three injections every night at 6 p.m. for weeks, by my mom, since my husband and I are both afraid of needles. For months, I was taking 17 oral medications per day, all of which had to be taken at various intervals. I received 74 vaginal suppositories. Oh, and I cannot forget the 48 hormone patches that spread across my stomach, two at a time. They left a lovely perimeter of lint upon removal, that only coconut oil would remove.”
But in return, Haley and her husband received the greatest gift. After what Haley’s obgyn called a “textbook pregnancy,” Hazel Charlotte was born at almost 41 weeks, in November 2016.
“It was an unbelievably wonderful experience,” Haley says.
She considers her IVF success story an “easy” case of overcoming infertility, in which IVF worked on the first try, with frozen embryos to use for future pregnancy attempts.
“So many couples have a different outcome,” she says. “My heart aches for those who have tried, exhausting themselves emotionally, physically and financially, but it did not result in a baby.”
Although her dream of motherhood is now a reality, Haley is still sometimes taken aback by other people’s insensitivity toward women struggling with infertility. Since getting pregnant, she’s encountered awkward and uncomfortable comments and questions, such as, “I would never do IVF,” and “Was your pregnancy planned?”
Shining a light
She hopes that by sharing her IVF success story, others who have never experienced infertility can better understand what many women are going through.
“My hope is to bring awareness and some sensitivity to this whole baby-making deal,” she says. “It’s just tough, whether it is IVF, adoption, planned or unplanned. I hope my story sheds a little light on the pain someone you know might be going through.”
Learn more about IVF
Reproductive Medicine Is More Than IVF
Because stories about “test tube babies” and IVF have been making headlines for decades, many people have come to associate reproductive medicine with in vitro fertilization. But, as patients at our Nevada fertility center quickly learn, IVF is just one of many options that reproductive endocrinologists have in their toolbox to help their patients become parents.
In fact, according to ASRM: “While vital for some patients, in vitro fertilization and similar treatments account for less than 3% of infertility services.”
Most couples and individuals who want a baby start out trying to conceive on their own, and when it seems like it is taking too long, they schedule a visit with an OBGYN. That’s a great place to start, especially for healthy, young people who aren’t in a hurry to have a baby. But for couples who have been trying longer, who are older, who are part of a same-sex couple, who have known fertility-related medical issues, or who have exhausted first-line treatment with an OBGYN, the next step is a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist.
Reproductive Medicine: Not “One Size Fits All”
Only a reproductive endocrinologist has the training, resources and experience to perform the most advanced reproductive medicine procedures. And while IVF is one of the most well-known of these, it’s not always the best treatment option for everyone.
Many patients come to our Nevada fertility center expecting to need IVF, but are happy to learn that other treatment options may be worth trying first. Which treatment is right for you depends on your diagnosis, which is why our fertility specialists perform a thorough assessment of each patient’s medical history, followed by a physical exam for the female partner and other tests for both the male and female partner.
This comprehensive approach to diagnosis gives your fertility specialist all the necessary information to determine which treatment approach is most likely to help you achieve pregnancy. For example:
- If you’re not ovulating regularly, fertility medications may be all you need to produce more eggs and conceive naturally.
- If you can ovulate with medication, but your partner has a male factor, intrauterine insemination may help his sperm or donor sperm reach your eggs.
- If tests discover blocked fallopian tubes, or if you are diagnosed with low ovarian reserve or severe male factor infertility, IVF may be right for you.
- If your partner’s sperm are alive but unable to swim to the egg, or there is a very low sperm count, IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can help achieve fertilization.
- For older women or those with severely diminished egg supply, IVF with donor eggs can achieve pregnancy at almost any age.
- For women with uterine issues or gay male couples, IVF with a gestational carrier (surrogate) can be utilized.
Beyond Diagnosis and Treatment
In addition to helping patients overcome infertility, reproductive medicine provides advanced family-building options for men and women of all genders. Our fertility specialists help single men, women and LGBT couples achieve pregnancy with donor gametes and/or surrogacy. Through the Donor Branch of FCLV, we work with generous egg donors who wish to give the gift of life and help others become parents.
We also provide fertility preservation through egg and sperm freezing, helping women and men ensure that their genetic material will be available in the future, whenever they are ready to become moms and dads. And, for patients concerned about chromosomal abnormalities or passing heritable diseases down to their children, we can arrange for genetic screening or diagnosis of embryos to increase the odds of a healthy baby.
Whatever your path to parenthood, the advanced reproductive medicine services at our Nevada fertility center can help you achieve your dreams. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.
We protest the protest against access to Las Vegas surrogacy
Our fertility center recently presented at a surrogacy conference in Madrid, Spain, where protesters had gathered outside. We understand that third-party reproduction is a complex issue, and one that only those who need it to build their families can truly understand and appreciate.
The fertility treatment combines egg and sperm in the IVF lab, and then relies on the generosity of a third person, a surrogate, to carry the baby to term. For many men and women, including same-sex couples and women with insurmountable health conditions, this is the only way to build a family.
Our Las Vegas surrogacy firm fills an international void
Surrogacy is illegal in Spain – and other countries countries like France, Japan, Germany and China – so the Surrofair 2017 conference was held as a beacon of hope for anyone struggling to have a child and interested in traveling to the U.S for surrogacy services. An article about the protest stated that international adoptions can take up to eight years. This path to parenthood is an alternative to that long wait.
“We have attended this surrogacy fair twice, and received an email the week before the conference alerting us that the location had to be moved,” says Shiva Price, The Fertility Center of Las Vegas’ vice president of global operations. “We were saddened to hear that a large feminist protest group was equating surrogacy with female trafficking.”
Many of the protesters’ concerns were based off of misinformation, equating surrogacy with the “sale of children” and accusing agencies of targeting women who are financially destitute. In reality, only women who pass strict medical, psychological, social and financial screening can become surrogates in the United States.
In fact, says Price, the majority of the cost of surrogacy covers medical treatment and legal costs. The surrogate receives reimbursement for travel expenses and a nominal reward for her time and commitment that does not amount to a life-changing sum. Most women decide to become surrogates because they know someone who has struggled with infertility and they want to help give another couple the ultimate gift of a family.
Putting a face on surrogacy
One of our Las Vegas surrogacy patients shared her story of overcoming cancer only to be left infertile by the disease. For her, third-party reproduction was the only way.
She had this to say to the protesters in Spain: “I am fighting to be a mom, and I don’t care whether it’s a right or not. It is my dream.”
If you are considering traveling to the U.S. for surrogacy, please contact us to arrange for a free Skype consultation with Dr. Bruce Shapiro who is fluent in Spanish, or Dr. Carrie Bedient. Our Las Vegas surrogacy center has served the global community since 1988.
When Brianne and Will Luckman got married in 2011, the young couple was looking forward to building a family. At just 24 years old, Brianne had made up her mind to have five kids before she turned 30. Little did the couple know then that PCOS and male factors would make their journey to parenthood harder than they expected.
After Brianne had a miscarriage around Christmas 2012, she learned she had a thyroid issue. Still trying to conceive, the young couple moved from Minnesota to North Carolina, following Will’s career with the U.S. Army. There, Army base physicians told Brianne she was too young to see a fertility specialist. It wasn’t until they moved to Alaska in 2012 that an Army base doctor referred her to a fertility specialist.
From the specialist, Brianne and Will learned that Brianne had insulin resistance related to polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. They tried three rounds of Clomid, but Brianne still didn’t get pregnant. Eventually, a semen analysis was ordered, revealing that although the quantity and shape of Will’s sperm was excellent, the sperm had motility problems.
“It was a miracle we had gotten pregnant in 2012,” Brianne says.
Overcoming PCOS and male factor infertility
Realizing that they needed assisted reproductive technology to overcome PCOS and other complex fertility challenges, they started saving money while Brianne dived into research about infertility treatments and the best fertility centers. That’s how she found our Las Vegas fertility center and Bruce Shapiro, M.D.
“Nobody was doing IVF in Alaska, and I wanted a fertility center with good results that did assisted hatching,” she says. “Dr. Shapiro’s name kept coming up.”
The couple traveled to Las Vegas, where Dr. Shapiro recommended in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which is often an effective treatment for patients with PCOS. With Will deployed, Brianne gave herself every injection, often using Skype to call her sister for support and motivation. Will was able to join Brianne in Las Vegas for the egg retrieval and fertilization, then he flew back to Alaska and left for deployment four days later.
“I had 22 eggs retrieved in November 2014, but only five of them fertilized, and only two embryos made it to blast stage,” Brianne recalls. “During that time, Will was still trying to come to terms with the idea that we were not able to have babies naturally.”
In May 2015, the couple was ready to move ahead with the transfer. Will was still deployed, so Brianne flew back to Las Vegas with a friend. The single embryo transfer was successful, and after a difficult birth ending in an emergency c-section and a long hospital stay, they finally got to bring their son, Owen, home. He is now 13 months old.
“We sure hit the jackpot with him,” she says. “He’s such a happy boy.”
Knowledge is power
After spending years with undiagnosed PCOS, Brianne’s advice to other women going through infertility: Go to a specialist and get testing for both yourself and your partner, and learn about your options.
“It’s going to be a whirlwind, with a lot of medical terms thrown at you,” she says. “Don’t take the internet too seriously, but do your due diligence. Reach out to other people. Ask your doctor anything and everything. Think critically, and be prepared for loss, but go into it with a positive train of thought that this is going to work.”
Brianne also emphasizes the importance of couples keeping the lines of communication open.
“Talk about how you’re feeling and what’s going on inside,” she says. “Tell your partner what you need from them, and be open to what he is going through as well. It’s not easy on either of you, so you want to be sure you’re attending to each other’s emotional needs.”
Now a busy, 27-year-old mom, Brianne will soon return to Las Vegas to transfer the couple’s remaining embryo, hoping that Owen will soon have a brother or sister.
At The Fertility Center of Las Vegas, we help resolve barriers to conception, while also offering peace of mind. Owen’s parents had access to assisted hatching and ICSI at no extra fee because we include services that help us to provide the best care and access to the best success rates. We also offer unlimited embryo transfers for up to one year or until live birth. To learn more about options for overcoming PCOS and infertility, contact our Las Vegas fertility center.