Reproductive Functions

Following the news on October 20, 2018 when a 67-year-old woman gave birth to her first child through the In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) process, Dr. Taofeek Ogunfunmilayo of Atoke Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has urged women not to give up in their quest for children as age does not matter.

He said though the success rate of IVF declines with increase in age, as well as the complications following pregnancy, it is worth trying rather than give up on having children.

Ogunfunmilayo, who spoke with The Guardian at his medical facility, explained that there are possibilities of a successful IVF treatment and delivery at the age of 60, which could not be possible for natural conception, adding that there are risks involved during the pregnancy stage, which is being managed by the medical experts.

“It is a risk; there were some complications. She was admitted twice during the pregnancy stage on the basis of medical issues, which I cannot disclose, but thank God we were able to manage her throughout that period till she got well and then went home, till Saturday, October 20, which was the delivery date and we sectioned her, that is caesarian section for the delivery of her baby boy,” he said.

He said that age was no longer a barrier to getting pregnant when it comes to the issue of Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART), urging couples that are desirous of having children to go for IVF.

“No official age limit, a woman of 72 years delivered through IVF in India. Mama is 67 and she is probably the second oldest mum in the whole world, the first in Ogun State, the first in Nigeria and the first in the whole continent of Africa. There is a probability of repeating itself in Nigeria if people persist in their quest for having children through IVF.

“Anybody with infertility, instead of staying in one place, can make a trial and they may just be lucky to get pregnant and we are here to continue to manage them as soon as they get pregnant till delivery,” he said.

A lot of women suffer from midlife crisis. This is usually characterized with low libido and vaginal dryness. Problems like these can put sex on the backseat. It’s hardly surprising that most women lose their desire to have sex in the middle age. An excessively dry vagina can make intercourse extremely painful. Not just this, women going through this problem experience constant burning sensation in the vagina leaving them with little desire to have sex.

Lack of sex can eventually take a toll on your relationship. After all, your man needs to be satisfied sexually and if you are not able to do so, he might look for other alternatives.

Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of this problem naturally and safely.

Here are some simple ways to get rid of menopause or vaginal dryness:

1. Boost EstrogenEstrogen Production in Your Body

One of the main causes of vaginal dryness is a drop in the production of your female sex hormone estrogen. This is the hormone that keeps walls of your vagina thick and moist. A drop in its production post menopause makes vaginal walls thin dry.

Thus, by increasing estrogen production, you can get over this problem. One of the best ways to do so is with the help of foods that are known for their estrogen boosting effects. Soy and products are the best examples of such foods. Some of the others include flaxseed, sesame seeds, chickpeas, beans, peas etc.

Moreover, you must also include essential fats in your diet since your body needs such fats for the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Olives, olive oil, and fish like tuna, salmon etc. are the best sources of such fats.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration can also cause your vagina to get dry. If you want to alleviate vaginal dryness and enhance natural lubrication, you must drink plenty of water so as to keep your body well hydrated. At the same time, avoid drinks that have caffeine in them since they can also result in dehydration.

3. Try a Natural Lubricating Gel

One of the best and most effective ways to make sex fun again without worrying about issues like low libido and menopause dryness is by using a natural lubricating gel.

With rates of successful conceptions dropping rapidly across the western world, and expensive IVF treatments becoming increasingly more common, there has never been a better time to empower women in taking control of their circumstances by ensuring that their bodies are vibrant and healthy while trying to conceive. Here are top 3 takeaways for improving your chances of falling pregnant.

1. Reduce Stress

Stress can be a major influencing factor when it comes to conception. In fact, if you’re struggling to fall pregnant, you may have already received advice along the lines of, “Just let yourself relax and it will happen.” As condescending as this may feel, there may actually be some truth to it.

The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that is responsible for regulating emotions, appetite and the hormones that cause your ovaries to release eggs. If you’re stressed, there’s a chance that your ovulation will occur later than it should; or not at all. Therefore, if you’re currently planning intimate moments based on your ovulation cycle, you may be missing that window of opportunity.

Negative stress isn’t the only type of stress that can affect ovulation; positive stress such as the stress associated with a wedding or planning a vacation can also result in a similar outcome. Naturally, these situations vary from woman to woman, with some finding that even a minor disruption in their routine can change their cycle, while others can experience high levels of stress without noticing any effect at all. While stress may impact the time at which you ovulate, it generally won’t diminish your overall chances of falling pregnant. If you know how to identify where you are in your cycle, there’s still a good chance of successful conception.

2. Increase Your Intake Of Good Fats

Worryingly, most supermarket shelves these days are littered with “97% Fat-Free” and “Reduced Fat” products which are the antithesis of a wholesome, natural fertility diet. Marketing and misinformation are the driving forces behind our society’s collective ignorance in this area, and yet good quality fats are one of the most fundamental factors in preparing your body for pregnancy. A Harvard University Nurses’ Health study found that the more low-fat products a woman consumed, the less likely she was to fall pregnant; while women who consumed full-fat foods increased their chances noticeably. In 2010, a similar Dutch study showed that women who consume a Mediterranean-style diet (naturally high in good quality fats) increase their chances of falling pregnant by up to 40%.

Good fats are essential in creating hormones that maintain the function of a female’s reproductive system. When women start consuming a low-fat diet, their estrogen levels drop which has the potential to severely disrupt their menstrual cycle.

As you might be aware, not all fats are created equal, and therefore it is important to select the right types of fats to incorporate into your diet. Avoid any processed fats and aim for products that are available in their natural state such as eggs, whole dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and carefully sourced fish products.

3. Eliminating Chemical Intake

Thanks to our species’ apparent desire to pollute whatever natural landscapes we enter, synthetic chemicals can be found in almost every environment – the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. Reducing your body’s intake of chemicals involves much more than just “going organic” or throwing out the aerosol deodorant; it’s a full-scale lifestyle change and one that can dramatically affect your chances of falling pregnant.

Let’s start with the obvious – eating organic food. If a woman is consuming fruits and veggies that are covered in pesticides, meat products that have been pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, and heavily processed snack foods; their body is not going to be the pristine environment in which a new life should be nurtured. Eating local, organic produce and free range, grass fed meats is an excellent way to start reducing the amount of toxicity in your body in preparation for falling pregnant.

The water that you consume can also have a substantial impact on your wellbeing and the overall level of toxicity in your body. Most tap water in the U.S. contains chlorine, chloramine (the nastier version of chlorine) and fluoride – none of which are great for your health. Most bottled water, on the other hand, is full of BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical which is definitely not something you want infiltrating your reproductive system. The best option for clean water is either carefully sourced spring water in BPA-free bottles or a good quality filter for your tap.

The final stage of decreasing your chemical intake is to scrutinize the body care products, cleaning products, and other general household products that you’re using. Today, most of these products are a toxic cocktail of synthetic compounds which we have been told to rub into our skin and apply to our home environment without a second thought for the impact it might be having on our bodies. You can find natural alternatives to all of these products in most health food stores and online.

Trying to fall pregnant can be a nerve-racking experience for many couples and at the end of the day, you need to make choices that feel right for you. Being a parent is the most rewarding thing you will ever experience, so enjoy the journey and cherish every moment!

A gynaecologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Dr Omuku Samuel, has said women at menopause can still bear children with the aid of Invitro- Fertilisation.

Samuel in Yenagoa on Wednesday explained that the oestrogen of such women that were lost could be regenerated medically to keep them healthy and strong to bear children again.

She said, “The IVF process is not difficult. It is normally carried out with the help of doctors.

The process is by joining the female and male sperms together; this can help the persons to have many kids as they want.

Menopause does not start suddenly, it occurs gradually and it can take up to five years before it can be noticed.

Menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55 in a woman. Yes, there are some components that make the woman look younger like the oestrogen hormones.

Once a woman lacks such component, her breast and vagina become dry.

It is the oestrogen that maintains the woman’s private part; signs of menopause include waist and back pain, heat and hot flashes.

I am advising women with menopause not to lose hope because IVF can make them reproduce children again.”

If you have been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for more than six months, before you embark on an invasive medical procedure and spend thousands of naira for assisted reproductive technology, ensure that your thyroid is functioning at its optimum.

Many women don’t realise that good thyroid function is necessary for fertility, the ability to conceive and to maintain a pregnancy.  A low or hyper-functioning thyroid gland can prevent you from achieving that much desired pregnancy. While there are many and varied reasons for infertility, suboptimal thyroid function may be that “missing link” – especially for those with no specific reproductive problems.

A full thyroid evaluation is essential and it should be done as soon as possible for any woman who wants to get pregnant, especially if she has any of the following:

The thyroid gland is located near the front of the throat, just below the voice box and just above the collar bones. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of the body’s metabolism, blood calcium levels, energy production, fat metabolism, oxygen utilisation, balance of other hormones and weight maintenance.

If the pituitary gland is the headmaster of all endocrine glands that produce all hormones, the thyroid gland is like the deputy headmaster.

Hormones involved with thyroid function include Thyroid-Releasing Hormone from the hypothalamus in the brain, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone. The latter in turn stimulates the thyroid gland to produce Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine.

Much of T4 is converted to T3 (the active form) in the liver. Thyroid hormones are synthesised from iodine and the amino acid Tyrosine (from protein), and the conversion to the active form is reliant on the trace mineral selenium.

Healthy thyroid function can be affected by exposure to environmental toxins – electromagnetic radiation, chemicals and pesticides, heavy metals like mercury, lead and fluoride.

Other factors that disrupt normal thyroid functions include genetic susceptibility, high levels of stress, nutrient deficiencies, eating the wrong type of food, auto-immune disorders, infections and other hormone imbalances, such as estrogen dominance and high prolactin levels.

How does hypothyroidism affect fertility?

Anovulatory cycles – In this case the person is having a menstrual cycle but not releasing an egg (ovulating).  This makes pregnancy impossible.

Luteal phase problems – A person with a short second half of the menstrual cycle who gets a fertilised egg after intercourse will discover that such fertilised egg cannot implant securely and ends up leaving the body at the same time that menstruation would occur (very early miscarriage) and is often mistaken as a regular period.

High prolactin levels – due to elevated levels of Thyroid-Releasing Hormone and low levels of Thyroxine resulting in irregular ovulation or no ovulation.

Other hormonal imbalances – reduced sex hormone binding globulin, estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, all of which interfere with proper reproductive hormone balance.

A new study supports the notion that thyroid disorders can cause significant reproductive problems for women.

The report’s authors believe that testing for thyroid disease should be considered for women who have fertility problems and repeated early pregnancy loss.

Hypothyroidism is also associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovarian disease, a condition that causes cysts on the ovaries and inhibits pregnancy.

The research, published in The Obstetrician and Gynecologist, found that 2.3 per cent of women with fertility problems had an overactive thyroid compared with 1.5 per cent of those in the general population. The condition is also linked with menstrual irregularity, the researchers said.

Abnormalities in thyroid function can have an adverse effect on reproductive health and result in reduced rates of conception, increased miscarriage risk and adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes,” said study co-author Amanda Jefferys in a news release.

She is a researcher from the Bristol Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol, England. We have noticed a strong link between hypo- and hyperthyroidism and infertility as well as adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes for over two decades.

Consequently, routine screening of the general population for thyroid dysfunction at the start of pregnancy and especially when seeking fertility treatment or struggling with miscarriage, it is highly recommended by experts.

The thyroid produces hormones that play key roles in growth and development. According to the British researchers, changes in thyroid function can have a major effect on reproductive function before, during and after conception.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) affects about 0.5 per cent of women of reproductive age. In children and teens, the condition is associated with a delay in reaching sexual maturity, according to published reports.

In adult women, hypothyroidism is linked with menstrual problems and a lack of ovulation in some cases.

The researchers also noted that thyroid disease is associated with an increased risk of problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, preeclampsia, poor fetal growth, premature birth and stillbirth.

The thyroid evaluation can be done in any good laboratory and then interpreted by a doctor or better still an endocrinologist. There are  also new techniques using bio-energetic testing to determine whether the thyroid gland is stressed or weak at the preclinical state before it becomes pathological.

Finally, a good diet with iodide salt and good multivitamin supplement can provide a protection for the thyroid function.