Spire Yale Hospital

We are delighted to announce that Mr Philip Toon has joined our expanding team of consultants at RHG.

Mr Toon has been a consultant gynaecologist for over thirty years and has extensive experience in general gynaecology, fertility, oncology and colposcopy. Mr Toon’s practice will be based at the Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham and we look forward very much to welcoming him to our team. For more information please call us on 01925 202180 or email us at info@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk.

Ways To Support Your Pregnant Partner

Stress and pregnancy go hand in hand. While it has not been proven that stress can affect fertility, it has been found that the effects of stress on pregnancy can affect the health of the mother and the foetus during pregnancy.

Most mothers will confirm that the changes that happen to their bodies when pregnant for the first time, or even the second time, can be very disconcerting. So as the partner of someone expecting a baby, we thought you would want to know everything you can about pregnancy and what you can do to make things easier for her and the baby during the next 9 months.

We’ve written a brief pregnancy guide that will help point you in the right direction and help you support your pregnant partner.

What to expect while she’s expecting

Knowing that the first and final parts of the pregnancy are the most difficult will help you prepare yourself mentally, so you can respond in the most helpful ways possible.

The early weeks of pregnancy

You’ll have heard of the term morning sickness. But, the name is misleading, because morning sickness tends to last all day and involves vomiting and nausea prompted by certain tastes and smells.

During this period, your partner is likely to be low in energy and you’ll find that she needs much more sleep than usual. Morning sickness and low energy will usually last for up to 14 weeks, after which her energy levels will be closer to normal.

The later weeks of pregnancy

After 27 weeks and until she gives birth, her tiredness may return, and there’s a chance your partner could be, or become quite irritable.

Pregnancy guide for partners

Here’s what you can do to make her life easier and less stressful during the months of pregnancy.

Embrace the lifestyle changes

She’ll have to make numerous lifestyle changes to ensure she and the baby are as healthy as possible. Embracing these changes with her shows her that you fully support her. These changes include stopping smoking, stopping drinking and eating healthily.

Emotional support

Be available when she needs to talk or vent to somebody. Letting her share her experience with you will help her feel less isolated. Even when there is nothing that you can do to ease any of her aches and pains, having somebody to talk to can be very cathartic.

If there’s something that worries her about the health of the baby, take her to her doctor or midwife.

Do your research

Read as many baby and pregnancy books and blogs as you can. Two heads are always better than one, and when the big day comes, everything will be much less stressful if you know how to take over and let her rest after the birth.

Be there for check-ups, scans and classes

The parent who doesn’t carry the baby is sometimes left to feel like they are on the bench. But this can be avoided by being involved in absolutely everything. Tailored maternity packages can be great for giving you access to scans and tests whenever she needs reassurance, or in an emergency, and you’ll have more freedom over when they’re scheduled for. In some cases you can arrange home visits by private midwives, which takes away the stress of having to leave the house.

Help her relax

Run her a bath, give her a massage and reduce stress by not burdening her unnecessarily. If you see her trying to maintain her same levels of productivity despite her tiredness, let her know that you can take care of it.

Do things together

You’ll be squeezed for free time once the baby arrives, and this includes having time to yourselves. So, while you can, go on holiday, sleep late, and take spontaneous trips.

The Relationship Between Stress and Infertility

There is a relationship between stress and infertility, but it’s not what you think.

Women who are experiencing infertility report feelings of anxiety, depression, loss of control and isolation. Self-blame is also common, as are shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.

However, the relationship between stress and infertility has buried in it a common misconception – just because infertility causes stress doesn’t mean that stress causes infertility.

Can stress prevent you from getting pregnant?

Research testing the relationship between stress and infertility has found that infertility causes feelings of stress, but have failed to find conclusive evidence that stress causes infertility.

Researchers from The Ohio State University College of Medicine carried out a study examining the relationship between levels of stress hormones in saliva (cortisol and alpha-amylase) and chances of becoming pregnant.

The results, generally, told of a very slight relationship between the presence of alpha-amylase levels and chances of conception. They found that women with alpha-amylase levels in the top third were about a third less likely to fall pregnant compared to the women in the lowest third.

However, there were no differences between women in the middle third and the lowest third, and no significant associations between cortisol levels and likelihood of pregnancy.

So why is the idea that stress causes infertility so commonly found?

Psychology Today writes that self-blame and the stress-equals-infertility narrative is a way of letting a woman who blames herself feel like she can undo the problem. That she did it to herself by waiting too long, by having an abortion earlier in her life, for working too hard, or for worrying so much about being financially stable before having a child, that she’s worn her body out.

Professor Nardo believes that this kind of self-blame is unhealthy, especially when it’s been proven that worrying, or not worrying, is really very unlikely to change your chances of conceiving.

We do have a few suggestions for ways to help you cope with feelings of stress during the infertility journey, as although it might not necessarily help or hinder you from conceiving, looking after your own mental health is always key.

Coping with Infertility

Seek professional help

The internet can be quicksand with its contradictory messages and anecdotes and. As you’ll probably have experienced by now, the internet can amplify worries when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Without the right tests and checks by a fertility expert, you’ll drive yourself up the wall trying to work out what the problem is, and in the process, waste time worrying about your fertility while a real expert could have helped you find and fix the problem.

First visit your GP to see if there is anything obvious that is stopping you from conceiving. Chances are they will give you a referral for a fertility assessment and then to a dedicated clinic who will talk you through treatments such as IVF, ICSI, ovulation induction and IUI.

Consider your options

If you have not sat down and seriously considered the possibility that you might not be able to conceive naturally, we’d say you should do this sooner rather than later. Worrying about something you don’t have much control over without planning how to deal with it could negatively impact your mental health.

If you’ve spent a long time trying to conceive naturally, seeking help from a fertility clinic like Reproductive Health Group could provide you with an alternative route to pursue, rather than continuing in the hopes that lower stress levels might increase your chances.

Whichever stage you are at, you’ll feel less stressed if you know what your options are and where to go from there.

Christmas Photo Competition

Would you like to win dinner for two at Browns Restaurant, The Mere Resort & Spa, Knutsford?

We are running our annual Christmas Photo Competition and it couldn’t be easier to enter. Simply upload a Christmas themed photo to any of our social media pages to enter and we will select our favourite photo as the winner on Christmas Eve.

You can visit our social media pages via the links below.

Ways To Manage Stress When Pregnant

It’s normal to feel stressed during pregnancy. There are so many things that can make us feel overwhelmed. Anything that puts high demands on a person can be considered a stressor, and pregnancy is no exception.

Constant feelings of stress and worry can colour the whole experience of pregnancy negatively, and if left unchecked, cause concerns for the baby and the mother’s health. If you are experiencing this kind of stress, we suggest you visit your GP as soon as possible.

The stress we are concerned with managing, is the kind that takes away from the joy of pregnancy. This is, after all, a time like no other, so why not make it worth remembering?

Stress can be used by our minds as a way of signalling when something in our lifestyle needs to change or that we’ve taken on too much, so it’s normal to be stressed while pregnant. The key is to take stock and manage it before it turns into an endless cycle of worry.

For these milder forms of stress and keeping a cycle of worry and negative thinking at bay, we have a few useful suggestions.

What causes stress during pregnancy?

Sometimes, there isn’t any one thing that causes stress during pregnancy. But most of the time stress and worries are related to very real things, often the same things that worry us when we’re not pregnant, such as a lack of time and money. Anyone who’s been through a pregnancy knows that a new born baby will stretch these resources even further.

The trick is to prepare as much as you can for the arrival of the baby by making changes and preparing where you can. Where you can’t change things, trying to change your thought processes to see things more positively, or at least see the silver lining in negatives, can help you to avoid negative spirals.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery or a bit of self-care to be able to turn negative thoughts around. Small things like making time for ourselves or budgeting can alter our perception of a situation enough to turn it from a negative experience to something more positive.

How to relieve stress during pregnancy

Most of what we suggest here are relaxation techniques, punctuated by preparatory steps that will give you some peace of mind during pregnancy.

Take time out to focus on yourself and your baby

Your body will be making significant changes to accommodate your baby. Taking the time to recognise and accept this will help you process these changes, rather than letting them affect your mood subconsciously. Most people will refer to this as mindfulness practice, and countless pregnant women will vouch for it.

Other complimentary therapies and relaxation techniques such as massage and aromatherapy will also help your mind slow down enough for you to notice the things that are getting you bogged down.

Sleep when you’re tired

You’ll feel a significant drop in your energy levels during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. You’ll find yourself needing to sleep much more than usual. When you can, we recommend trying to sleep, and spending as much time doing so to help you maintain your energy levels.

Let others help

During pregnancy your body will need all the rest it can get. Fighting the need to go to sleep to keep the rest of your responsibilities ticking over is a stressor. However, one way to address this is by letting your partner take on more of your shared responsibilities and asking your family or friends for help.

Face any money worries

Make a list of everything you’ll need and prioritise them. Decide what you can afford to buy and consider your options for getting the things you can’t.

You might find that you won’t have the financial flexibility to buy everything brand new. But there will be lots of things you can get from friends and family, or buy second hand, like car seats, cribs and strollers.

Having a baby shower and making a list of things you need is another way of letting friends and family help you provide things like clothes, bottles, sterilisers and nappies. All of which are undoubtedly essential and can reduce stress caused by finances.

Prepare for birth and your baby’s early days

This is fun when doing it with your partner, your mum, sister or another expecting person. Meeting up regularly to discuss what you have learned about the stages of development of your baby will help you prepare mentally and get you excited about their arrival.

Do this by joining antenatal and postnatal care classes, reading everything you can, and speaking to your own mother, doctor, midwife and other expecting mums about what it’ll be like.

Gentle exercise

You’ve probably heard this one before, and for good reason. Exercise is a tried and trusted stress reliever and endorphin booster. We would recommend light exercise like pregnancy yoga and swimming if you are new to exercise. Swimming is a great light exercise to do whilst pregnant as it places very little strain on the joints.

Ask for advice

The internet can be full of worrying advice so if there’s something about your physical or mental health that bothers you or something you are uncertain about, speak to your doctor. Women who have had IVF or any other fertility treatments should speak to someone from their clinic. If there’s something specific that worries you, healthcare professionals will be able to do the tests or checks that will help settle any worries you might have.

New North Wales Clinic

We are delighted to announce that we will soon be opening a new clinic in North Wales. This is an exciting new development for RHG and also the people of North Wales seeking fertility treatment & women’s health care. More details will follow soon.

RHG are seeking an accredited counsellor

RHG are seeking an accredited counsellor for weekly sessions at our comprehensive state of the art IVF clinic in Cheshire (just off junction 11, M56).

All IVF treatments available, we also offer surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation.

Genetic counsellor already in post.

Enquiries welcome to Luciano Nardo, Clinical Director and Person Responsible (LNardo@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk)

Egg Freezing Cycle Offer

We are delighted to announce that you can save 10% on all Egg Freezing cycles completed before the 31st December 2018. For more details about this limited time offer, please call us on 01925 202180, email us at info@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk or contact us here.

Common Questions about Sperm Freezing

What is the sperm freezing process?

The sperm freezing process is a much simpler procedure than freezing a woman’s eggs.

Firstly, the man is screened for serious infectious diseases such as HIV, HTLV and Hepatitis B/C. Afterwards he will need to provide written and informed permission for his semen to be stored by the fertility clinic, and specify for how long.

At the clinic, he’ll be asked to produce a fresh sample of semen which is then frozen with a cryoprotectant such as glycerol to protect it from damage during freezing, in a process called semen cryopreservation. The sample is then cooled, frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen.

There is no limit to how long sperm can be stored for and the longest recording of cryopreserved semen is 24 years.

Why would I consider freezing my sperm?

There are a few reasons a man may want to freeze his sperm.

Medical treatments such as chemotherapy can affect the quality of a man’s sperm and cause infertility. Men who are aware of future treatments or procedures such as chemotherapy or a vasectomy may want to preserve their fertility by freezing their sperm.

Men who know they have a low sperm count or sperm that is deteriorating in quality can freeze their sperm before the quality deteriorates further.

Men who are transitioning from one gender to another, may also want to freeze their sperm for possible future use.

What causes male infertility or a low deteriorating sperm count in men?

Low sperm count, or oligozoospermia, is where a man produces less than 25 million sperm per millilitre of semen. It is relatively common. Low sperm count can make conceiving more difficult and is thought to be a factor in 1 in every 3 couples who are struggling to conceive.

Less common is the more serious azoospermia, which means there is no sperm in the semen and is normally caused by genetic issues, infections, or trauma.

Environmental Causes

Prolonged exposure to industrial chemicals such as benzenes, herbicides, paint materials and lead may contribute to a deteriorating sperm count. This is also the case with exposure to heavy metals.

High levels of radiation or X-rays can cause permanent damage to male fertility, as can overheating the testicles. Overheating can be caused by lots of seemingly innocuous activities, like wearing overly tight clothing, working in front of hot cookers, or working in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

Lifestyle Causes

Emotional stress or severe depression may stint the production of hormones that produce sperm. Alcohol, drugs such as steroids and cocaine, tobacco smoking, excessive weight, and occupation may also affect the health and wellbeing of a man, and in turn hinder his body’s ability to produce sperm.

Other risk factors may include medications, previous trauma to the testicles, cancer medications, celiac disease, chromosome defects, undescended testicles, hormone imbalances and infections.

A low sperm count can be caused by several factors, and while there’s many listed above, it is by no means an exhaustive list, which is why speaking to a medical professional is crucial for information specific to your situation.

If you are considering sperm freezing, please speak to one of our team for information about sperm freezing costs and further information about the process.

Professor Luciano Nardo visits Cheadle Hulme School

Thanks to the team at Cheadle Hulme School for inviting RHG’s Clinical Director, Professor Luciano Nardo, to meet with some of their sixth form students who are hoping to move on to further studies in medicine.

Reproductive medicine is an ever-evolving field where the ethical and legal issues can occasionally be challenging and Professor Nardo and the students addressed some of these issues during their discussion session, such as debating the cases for and against setting limits on the ages at which women can receive IVF treatment.

At RHG we maintain a keen interest in education and really value these links that we have with some of the most prestigious teaching institutions in the region. We are looking forward very much to welcoming the students from Cheadle Hulme for their visit to our centre in the near future when they will spend a day in our clinic and laboratory learning more about some of the latest technology in the field of IVF and reproductive medicine and surgery.