Difficulty getting pregnant: why, what to do and when to seek fertility care

Motherhood is a very important aspect of life for many women and the greatest step in starting a family. However, many couples nowadays are facing difficulties despite their efforts. In this brief article we will discuss several tips for improving the odds at home and the cases where professional fertility care is advised.

1. Are you certain you are having problems?

Despite the answer seeming obvious, many couples are actually quick to panic and unnecessarily so. By the medical definition, infertility is diagnosed after at least one year of frequent attempts to achieve pregnancy, especially during the fertile days of the menstrual cycle (also read below). So, during the busy routine of current times in particular, it is important to take your time and make enough attempts prior to seeking further assistance.

2. Proper intercourse practices – maximize your fertility potential

It is vital to ensure optimal conditions to achieve pregnancy, therefore intercourse is advised during the fertile days of the menstrual cycle, namely on the day of ovulation, as well as on the day before and the day after, with up to five days before ovulation being considered fertile as well, though not to the same degree. In women with a stable menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs 14 days before menstruation, therefore menstruation journals and phone apps can assist with the timing. If you are experiencing instability, or are unsure, ovulation tests or a visit to your gynecologist will help you.

Regarding intercourse itself, it should take place every 1-3 days during the fertile period of the cycle and ejaculation must occur within the vagina. Different positions or resting afterwards don’t affect the odds and some lubricant agents have been shown to affect sperm motility, therefore instructions and side-effects must be checked prior to use, or avoided completely.

3. Impact of psychological factors: stress and depression

Years of medical research have proven the correlation of stress and depression with infertility, with 35-55% of women seeking fertility care exhibiting symptoms. Several activities may help in combating these symptoms, namely sequential muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, yoga exercises, hobbies and outdoors activities, in particular with your significant other and, as cliché as it might sound, positive thoughts, probably assisted by keeping a journal of positive experiences. Note that some methods might be less effective than others, which should not disappoint you or make you give up. You should find the activities that suite you. However, there might also be cases where professional help is required.

4. The importance of healthy diet and body weight

The cornerstone of combating any health problem, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, poultry, fish and with minimal saturated fats, red meat and sweets has been shown to significantly improve fertility potential in females and sperm quality in males. Dietary supplements, namely folic acid (400-500mcg daily) and less so omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and Vitamin D have been shown to positively impact fertility as well. Normal body weight, namely a BMI of 19 to 25 is also important, as extreme deviations to either side of the spectrum can lead to anovulation, unstable cycles, drop in oocyte quality and in endometrium receptivity, thus to an overall reduction of fertility potential. However, keep in mind that achieving normal weight must be a gradual process and that in extreme cases a nutrition specialist should be consulted.

5. Dropping bad habits

The usual suspects, namely alcohol and smoking are at play in infertility as well. Alcohol consumption should be limited to 1-2 alcohol units for women and 4 for men weekly, though ideally it should cease altogether, as it greatly diminishes fertility potential, especially in males, causing a drop in sperm quantity and quality. Smoking of conventional, as well as of more modern tobacco products also negatively impact fertility in both genders. Caffeine may also impact fertility, although to a lesser extent, with 1-2 coffees per day being a safe quantity.

6. Treating chronic ailments

Several common endocrine/metabolic diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid disease can impact fertility if not effectively treated. Consult your physician and ensure proper control for optimal fertility potential.

7. When to seek professional fertility care

In general, a young, healthy couple has a 25-30% chance to conceive within the first months of attempts and an 80% chance within the first year. If you have followed all the aforementioned tips and still were unsuccessful, then a fertility specialist might be the solution you need. Additionally, you should seek fertility care in the following cases:

  • When there is a genetic disease in your or your significant other’s family.
  • When you are under medication for chronic diseases, as many drugs affect fertility and alternative medication might not be available.
  • If you are 35 or older and have unsuccessfully tried for 6 months
  • If you are 40 or older, immediate fertility care is advised, since precious time should not be wasted beyond this age
  • When you have prominent symptoms associated with infertility, namely:
    • Females: unstable menstruation and or complete lack of it (amenorrhea), pain during intercourse, heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, intermenstrual bleeding (spotting), hormonal disorder symptoms (acne, increased face and body hair etc)
    • Males: testicular swelling or pain, impotence, loss of libido, ejaculation difficulties etc
  • If you have a personal history of autoimmune disorders or a family history of premature ovarian failure or recurrent miscarriage.
  • If you or your significant other have undergone chemotherapy and/or pelvic radiotherapy

Overall it is important to remember that up to 2 out of 10 couples are facing difficulties conceiving and that it not something to be guilty or shameful for. When all other alternatives fail, keep in mind that capable professionals are there to help you.

Get in touch with us via telephone, email, contact form and subscribe to our newsletter for weekly articles on fertility and other topics on female health.

7 Reasons To Introduce Office Plants In Your Workplace

A great way to bolster productivity and add some cheer to your office is by including some leafy friends around your workplace. Just like office snacks, office plants are a cost-effective way to brighten up your team’s workday and even improve productivity.

1. Office plants can improve the health of employees and reduce sick days

An immediate effect that office plants can have on employee well-being is the reduction of sick days taken. Plants naturally filter toxins from the rooms that they grow in and help freshen up the place. If your office has poor ventilation, then your team may be at risk of developing the “sick building syndrome” and believe us when we say – it is a real thing! Symptoms include headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and even flu-like symptoms. Although plants alone cannot fix all of the problems associated with this office phenomena, they can help relieve the burden just a little bit.

Try sprucing up your workplace with Peace Lilies, Devil’s Ivy, and Spider Plants, all common office plants that are known air purifiers and will help everyone in the office breathe a little easier.

2. Office plants can play a role in increasing productivity

Did you know that offices with zero decor are considered “the most toxic” spaces for humans? Dr. Chris Knight and his fellow psychologists at Exeter University say that employees perform better when household plants are added to their work spaces. In fact, after studying this concept for 10 years, the team concluded that workers are 15% more productive when there are houseplants and decor around. Reason? Employees who engage with their surroundings tend to achieve a greater output and have an easier time staying focused.

Consider setting up some communal office plants in places where people can see them from their desk. Eye-catching varieties like the Zebra Plant, Red-Edge Dracaena, or the Bamboo Palm are great for sprucing up common spaces.

3. Certain plants can boost creativity

Creative blocks are no joke. Whether you’re out of ideas or stuck on the same one for a little too long, office plants can provide inspiration. Bright colors and vibrant smells are key to making sure your leafy buddy has a positive impact on your creativity. It’s been widely recognized that stimulating our senses can open up the flow of ideas and taking the time to literally smell the flowers can help pull you out of your slump.

Try scrounging up some Hens and Chicks, Chamaedorea Elegans, or a Cypress Vine, as these plants are eye-catching and smell lovely.

4. Office plants can help absorb background noise

With open-concept offices dominating the workforce and the inarguable distractions employees experience when there’s too much noise, having plants in the office can help absorb some of the background office chatter. This is especially true if your work space has hard surfaces such as exposed concrete walls or floors, since there are no other means of absorbing the excess noise.

Positioning larger plant pots, around the edges and corners of a room is the best way to reap the benefits. Some of the taller plants include the ‘Anita’ Dragon Tree, Snake Plant, and the Weeping Fig.

5. Office plants can help reduce stress

Even if you love where you work, sometimes stress is unavoidable. Office plants have been shown to reduce stress levels in employees when introduced into the workplace. The UTS study conducted in 2010, found that offices that were spruced up with plants saw the following benefits:

  1. 37% reduction in anxiety.
  2. 44% reduction in office hostility.
  3. Reduced chronic fatigue by nearly 40%.
  4. 58% reduction in reported depression.

Since the color green can have a soothing effect, try picking up plants like the Pincushion Cactus, the Desert Gem, or Blue Barrel Cactus.

6. Plants can help attract talent

Did you know that nearly 50% of employees have no natural light in their place of work? In addition, one in five people said they have no natural elements in their office, whatsoever. That means that a lot of us are working in a dark, lifeless space, which if you ask me, doesn’t seem like an appealing place to be. That’s why there is an upward trend of potential employees taking the physical space into consideration when searching for new opportunities.

Impress candidates with natural decor or even go as far as evaluating if a living green wall is right for your office.

7. Office plants help reduce the use of energy

Turns out, when plants breathe they raise the humidity levels in the building, and enough of them can lower the temperature inside by 10°C (50°F) or more. One study showed that a single healthy tree can cool a building by the same amount as 20 air conditioning units working for 20 hours a day.

Try some larger species of indoor trees to max out this effect and reduce the use of your office AC. This may not be the all-in-all solution to reducing your energy use, but it can sure set the office on a more eco-friendly path.


These are just a few of the many ways that office plants help with workplace stress, productivity, creativity and overall health of your team. You don’t have to go all out right away, maybe pick up a few plants are easy to care for and go from there. Start building your collection of office plants and discover all the wonderful ways that they benefit your day.

Source: www.hoppier.com/

The journey of spermatozoa to achieve fertilisation naturally versus IUI

Fertilisation is a complex series of events, beginning with the activation of the oocyte by the spermatozoon and resulting in the development of a diploid organism.

Everything starts after ejaculation, when the seminal plasma is deposited into the vagina and millions of spermatozoa start their long journey to reach the oocyte. Before moving into the uterus, spermatozoa will be exposed to the acidic environment of the vaginal fluid and many hostile leukocytes. Another barrier is the presence of the immunoglobulins IgG and IgA in the vagina and the cervical mucus respectively.

In the field of assisted reproduction, the intrauterine insemination technique bypasses the vagina and the cervix. More specific, the semen sample that has previously been washed and concentrated is placed directly in the uterus with the use of an intra-uterine catheter.

The next challenge is for the spermatozoa to traverse the uterus, where under endocrine control, uterine contractions mediate their transport. The last stop of this journey is the fallopian tube, a friendly environment which can host the spermatozoa for up to 3-5 days (time that spermatozoa can remain viable in the female reproductive tract) until ovulation.

At the end of this challenge only few spermatozoa (around 200) will approach the oocyte.

Water is important!

Fifteen benefits of drinking water

  1. It lubricates the joints
  2. It forms saliva and mucus
  3. It delivers oxygen throughout the body
  4. It boosts skin health and beauty
  5. It cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
  6. It regulates body temperature
  7. The digestive system depends on it
  8. It flushes body waste
  9. It helps maintain blood pressure
  10. The airways need it
  11. It makes minerals and nutrients accessible
  12. It prevents kidney damage
  13. It boosts performance during exercise
  14. Weight loss
  15. It reduces the chance of a hangover

Tips to reduce water waste

  1. Turn off the tap while washing your face, brushing your teeth and shaving
  2. Fix leaks
  3. Avoid mid-day plant and lawn watering
  4. Shorten your showers
  5. Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when full

Sources: www.medicalnewstoday.com

How to Prepare Your Older Children for a New Baby

A new baby brings joys and challenges to a family. You’re excited, but you may also be nervous about how your older children will react to the newborn.

All sorts of questions come up: How should we tell our older children that they are going to have a baby brother or sister? Will they be jealous of the new baby? How can we help them get along?

Children of different ages will react differently to a new baby.

Knowing what to expect from each age group will make it easier to handle the changes in your family.

Toddlers – Ages 1 To 2 Years

Children of this age will not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. However, let your child hear you talk about the “new baby” and feel your excitement. She may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on her and she will feel excited too.

Keep in mind, you may not be able to satisfy the needs of both children all the time—especially not by yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, look to your partner, other relatives, and friends for support and an extra set of arms.

  • Look at picture books about a new baby. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like “sister,” “brother,” and “new baby”.
  • When the new baby arrives, try to do something special for your older child. Reassure her that she is still loved. Some ideas include giving her a special gift, letting her spend some time alone with dad, grandma, or another special adult, or taking her someplace special.

Preschoolers – Ages 2 To 4 Years

At this age, your child is still very attached to you and does not yet understand how to share you with others. Your child also may be very sensitive to change and may feel threatened by the idea of a new family member. Here are some suggestions that may help ease your preschooler into being a big brother or big sister.

  • Wait a while before telling your preschooler about the baby. Explain it to your child when you start buying nursery furniture or baby clothes or if he starts asking about mom’s growing “stomach.” Picture books for preschoolers can be very helpful. So can sibling classes (ask your hospital if it offers them). Try to tell your child before he hears about the new baby from someone else.
  • Be honest. Explain that the baby will be cute and cuddly but will also cry and take a lot of your time and attention. Also, make sure that your older child knows that it may be a while before he can play with the new baby. Reassure your child that you will love him just as much after the baby is born as you do now.
  • Involve your preschooler in planning for the baby. This will make him less jealous. Let him shop with you for baby items. Show him his own baby pictures. If you are going to use some of his old baby things, let him play with them a bit before you get them ready for the new baby. Buy your child (boy or girl) a doll so he can take care of “his” baby.
  • Time major changes in your child’s routine. If you can, finish toilet training or switching from a crib to a bed before the baby arrives. If that is not possible, put them off until after the baby is settled in at home. Otherwise, your child may feel overwhelmed by trying to learn new things on top of all the changes caused by the new baby.
  • Expect your child to regress a little. For example, your toilet-trained child might suddenly start having “accidents,” or he might want to take a bottle. This is normal and is your older child’s way of making sure he still has your love and attention. Instead of telling him to act his age, let him have the attention he needs. Praise him when he acts more grown-up.
  • Prepare your child for when you are in the hospital. He may be confused when you leave for the hospital. Explain that you will be back with the new baby in a few days.
  • Set aside special time for your older child. Read, play games, listen to music, or simply talk together. Show him that you love him and want to do things with him. Also, make him feel a part of things by having him cuddle next to you when you feed the baby.
  • Ask family and friends to spend a little time with your older child when they come to see the new baby. This will help him feel special and not left out of all the excitement. They might also give him a small gift when they bring gifts for the baby.
  • Have your older child spend time with dad. A new baby presents a great opportunity for fathers to spend time alone with older children.

School-Aged Children – Ages 5 and above

Children older than 5 years are usually not as threatened by a new baby as younger children are. However, they may resent the attention the new baby gets. To prepare your school-aged child for a new baby,

  • Tell your child what is happening in language she can understand. Explain what having a new baby means and what changes may affect her—both the good and the not so good.
  • Have your older child help get things ready for the new baby by fixing up the baby’s room, picking out clothes, or buying diapers.
  • If possible, have your older child come to the hospital soon after the baby is born so she feels part of the growing family.
  • When you bring the new baby home, make your older child feel that she has a role to play in caring for the baby. Tell her she can hold the baby, although she must ask you first. Praise her when she is gentle and loving toward the baby.
  • Do not overlook your older child’s needs and activities. Let her know how much you love her. Make an effort to spend some time alone with her each day; use that as a chance to remind her how special she is.

Source www.healthychildren.org

Dr. Elias Tsakos at the conference “Pandemic COVID-19 threat or opportunity?”

The medical director of Embryoclinic Dr. Elias Tsakos participates in the conference on “Pandemic COVID-19 threat or opportunity?”, held in Thessaloniki (September 17-19, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), with an extremely interesting speech:

👉 Greece as a global destination for FERTILITY medical tourism in the era of COVID-19
📌 Saturday 18/09 & time 17.10-18.34, KEDEA AUTh Building – Amphitheater I

➡ Get the full program of the conference here: https://websites.auth.gr/pandemicconference/schedule/

FREE webinar: Patients with recurrent miscarriages – Success Stories

Are you struggling with miscarriages?
Join us TOMORROW for this FREE webinar with Dr Elias Tsakos MD, FRCOG, Medical Director of EmbryoClinic who will be talking about patients’ success stories after recurrent miscarriages.

We will be LIVE TOMORROW (Tuesday, September 14th, 2021) at 7 PM (UK time), hosted by #myIVFanswers.
Register here: https://www.embryoclinic.eu/webinars/



Did you miss it? You can watch the webinar here:

Everyday chemicals contribute to air pollution mortality

  • Air pollution is responsible for the deaths of around 7 million people each year — and 91% of the global population is exposed to air that exceeds the limits on pollution levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Fine particulate matter is a key source of air pollution. This can be directly produced or indirectly produced when other pollutants react to chemicals in the atmosphere.
  • In a new study, researchers highlight another type of pollutant, called anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (ASOAs), which also react with other pollutants.
  • The researchers show that ASOAs are likely to significantly contribute to mortality associated with air pollution.

In a new study, a team of scientists has shown that an under-researched type of pollution, ASOAs, make a significant contribution to air pollution mortality.

For the researchers, their findings, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, highlight the need for greater focus on these types of aerosols and the need for further research into how, when, and where they react with other pollutants to cause air pollution.

Fine particulate matter

According to the WHO, about 7 million people die each year due to air pollution. The organization also reports that over 90% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the WHO’s safety standards for air pollution.

Researchers have found that fine particulate matter is a leading cause of this pollution — and that deaths due to fine particulate matter have increased from 3.5 million per year in 1990 to 4.2 million per year in 2015.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fine particulate matter can be caused directly or indirectly. Some direct sources of fine particulate matter include fires and construction sites.

Indirect sources include chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which can be emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce fine particulate matter.

Strong correlation

The researchers found a strong correlation between the production of ASOAs and volatile organic compounds, which react in the atmosphere to create fine particulate matter.
Using the models, the researchers estimate that ASOAs cause between 340,000 and 900,000 premature deaths each year. According to Dr. Nault, “[That is] more than [10] times as many deaths as previously estimated.”

While regulations on air pollution emission have increased over time, ASOAs have seen relatively little regulation.

Source www.medicalnewstoday.com