chances of conception

For many couples, trying to conceive can prove to be a stressful and frustrating process. Contrary to popular belief, it can actually take up to a year to fall pregnant. However, there are tools out there which can help make conceiving that little bit easier.

A new fertility app promising to improve the chances of conception is currently under development. The question is, could apps and tools like this really improve your chances of getting pregnant? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the new app and how it works.

What is the new fertility app?

The new fertility app is being developed by experts from the prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital in America. It is being designed to help identify when a woman is ovulating, and the researchers claim it could be 100% accurate.

Compared to current methods offered to test ovulation such as a clinical blood test or body temperature measurement, this new app would prove to be much more cost-effective, as well as accurate. It would be much easier for users to understand too compared to current methods.

How does it work?

The smartphone-based test analyses the woman’s saliva to establish whether or not she is ovulating. Current saliva tests aren’t always accurate, but this new test works in a manner that provides an accuracy of 100%.

To use it, the saliva is smeared over a glass slide. It is then placed into an optical device which has been 3D printed. This is then placed over a smartphone camera, before an AI app analyses the sample to check for what is referred to as ‘ferning’.

Ferning is where, as the saliva dries, it crystallises and starts to look like a fern. This shows that a woman is ovulating, but to the untrained eye it can be easy to miss. So, the use of the smartphone app increases accuracy, producing more reliable, easy to understand readings.

The app developed by the team of researchers has been trained using more than 1500 images of non-ovulating and ovulating samples.

Could it be key to improving your chances of conception?

Initial findings show that this new app could significantly improve a couple’s chance of conceiving. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this is only true if the couple don’t have any underlying fertility issues.

Monitoring ovulation is crucial when you’re trying to conceive. It enables you to try to get pregnant during optimal times. So, for couples just starting out trying for a baby, it could definitely increase their chances of success.

Further testing required to establish the app’s effectiveness

Although this new test is an exciting development, further testing is required to establish how effective it really is. Current studies have been carried out on a somewhat small scale. So, larger-scale research will be required before it can be introduced into the mainstream.

While the new test is unlikely to hit the market anytime soon, there are current ovulation tests available. If you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year without success, however, it could point to a fertility issue. If you’re concerned about your fertility, book a consultation with a specialist to identify whether or not there is an underlying issue which needs to be addressed.

gynaecological scan

Let’s face it, undergoing a gynaecological exam isn’t something you’d consider to be a fun experience! However, they can prove extremely useful at diagnosing potential issues early, including fertility and health problems. Here, we’ll look at what a gynaecological exam consists of and why you might need one.

What is a gynaecological exam?

A gynaecological exam typically consists of two different scans including a transabdominal scan and a transvaginal scan. Both are carried out to detect any potential gynaecological problems.

The transabdominal scan is performed through the tummy, while the transvaginal scan gets closer to the organs to give a much clearer picture of what’s going on inside. Both scans are quick and straightforward, and you’ll be provided with the results right after the scans have been carried out if you do it privately.

Why might you need a gynaecological scan?

Gynaecological scans can be carried out for all age groups. You’ll typically need one if you experience any of the symptoms below:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Palpable mass within the pelvis/abdomen

These are just some of the symptoms which may lead you to require a gynaecological scan. Your doctor may refer you for the scan, or if you’re concerned you aren’t receiving an accurate diagnosis, you can choose to undergo a private gynaecological scan at specialist clinics such as SureScan.

What can the gynaecological scan detect?

Gynaecological exams can detect a wide range of potential health issues including fibroids, ovarian cysts and pelvic complex masses or suspected ovarian cancers.

Fibroids are fairly common, and they’re said to affect around 30% to 40% of women. Causing heavy bleeding, these benign growths have the potential to grow large enough to compress nearby organs. The majority of fibroids, however, don’t cause any issues and don’t even require treatment. They typically only need to be treated if they cause heavy bleeding, leading to debilitation or anaemia, or if they become too large that they place pressure onto the surrounding organs.

Gynaecological scans can also detect ovarian cysts. These fluid-filled sacs form within the ovaries and there are numerous types which can develop. Most of the time these cysts are benign, but there is a small chance they could be malignant. Cysts are very common and most of the time they are harmless, especially if you’re diagnosed with follicle cysts which tend to go away by themselves within one to three months.

Finally, gynaecological scans are crucial in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. While it is rare, early detection of ovarian cancer greatly increases survival rates. For example, if the cancer is caught during Stage 1, the success rate of treatment is around 90%. Regular gynaecological exams can, therefore, help to detect ovarian cancer quickly, enabling patients to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Overall, gynaecological scans should be carried out for any woman experiencing abdominal and gynaecological issues. Going for regular scans ensures that any potential problems are picked up early, giving the treatments more chance to work. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from an abdominal health issue, book a scan with SureScan today.

male fertility

When it comes to fertility treatment, the main focus is usually placed upon the woman. However, the reality is that over half of the troubles couples have when it comes to conceiving, lie with the man.

It has been well documented in recent years that sperm counts are dramatically falling, and men can suffer just the same emotional trauma as women when they are dealing with fertility issues.  So, why is the industry still focused predominantly on females when male fertility is the most common issue faced by couples today?

Here, we’ll look at the problem of male fertility and the options men have to check for any issues.

How men are treated within the fertility sector

One of the main issues faced by men when they seek fertility advice and treatment is that they are seen by women specialists. If a man is diagnosed with fertility issues, they are referred to a women’s reproductive health specialist. After semen analysis has been carried out and it has been determined the fertility issues are down to the male partner, again the focus is placed entirely upon the female and how the issues are affecting her.

Obviously, the woman should be supported during the process, but so should the male partner. Many men feel like they are side-lined from fertility treatments such as IVF, with many clinicians barely even recognising they are there at all.

The truth is, fertility treatment and diagnosis are tough on both partners, yet many specialists do tend to ignore the feelings and needs of the male partner.

Better testing is required

It’s not just the emotional support aspects of male infertility which needs to be addressed. The sperm analysis testing carried out by the NHS is also very much out of date. The gynaecologist’s male patients are referred to, don’t tend to carry out physical examinations to check for potential testicular issues. They also don’t look into whether any lifestyle factors might be contributing towards male infertility.

Finally, further tests aren’t carried out to look for sperm defects like DNA damage, which could result in miscarriage and infertility. So, while the sperm analysis testing that is done will help to identify possible issues, it certainly isn’t the only method that should be used.

The benefits of a fertility health check

Although current testing for male infertility isn’t as intensive as it could be, there are still benefits to undergoing a fertility health check. Not all fertility clinics ignore the male partner’s feelings and problems, so finding one which focuses on supporting both partners is possible.

At SureScan, we know how taxing fertility issues can be on both partners. We offer sperm analysis testing and do our best to identify the root cause of the problem. From diagnosis through to treatment, we’ll ensure you feel supported every step of the way.

Overall, more certainly needs to be done to address the issues with how men are treated throughout the fertility process. New, more accurate tests are currently being developed, such as the CAP score method, but clinicians also need to better understand the toll fertility issues can take on male partners in order to provide better emotional support.

fertility health check

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time but you’ve so far been unsuccessful, it’s understandable you might be worried about your fertility. It’s actually really normal for it to take a while to conceive, but if it’s taking longer than a year, it could be a sign that something is wrong and it’s time to book a fertility health check.

So, who should you see if you’re concerned about conceiving? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the signs to watch out for and where you should turn if you feel there is a problem.

How long does it take to get pregnant?

How long it takes to actually conceive will depend upon numerous factors. For a healthy woman under the age of 35, it typically takes around a year to conceive. If after this time you still haven’t gotten pregnant, that’s when fertility issues are diagnosed.

However, if you’re under 35 and you have signs of infertility, it’s a good idea to seek help earlier. Some of the main risk factors to watch out for include a history of ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Women over the age of 35 should visit the doctor after six months of trying. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem, but your chance of conceiving reduces the older that you get. So, it’s a good idea to seek help as quickly as possible in case there is an issue that can be picked up on early.

How can you tell if you have fertility issues?

The only way to really tell if you have fertility issues, is to visit a doctor or fertility specialist. However, there are a few signs and risk factors you can watch out for.

Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids could be a contributing factor if you’re failing to conceive. Uterine fibroids are actually really common, with most women having fibroid growths on their uterus. However, most of the time they don’t cause any issues with fertility. Ovarian cysts can also block conception and could need surgery to be removed.

Other potential risk factors include if you suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome or if you have any scar tissue or adhesions within the fallopian tubes. Of course, the problem may not even lie with you at all. Male infertility accounts for more than half of infertile cases. So, if you are concerned that you or your partner are experiencing fertility issues, where should you turn?

Undergoing a fertility health check

If you are concerned you or your partner are experiencing fertility issues, you can undergo a fertility health check. This is typically offered to couples who have been trying to conceive for over a year without success. However, if you have any of the risk factors mentioned earlier, you can request a fertility health check after six months.

The health check can consist of a consultation, physical examination, an ultrasound scan and blood tests.

So, if you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year and you aren’t experiencing any success, a fertility health check can help to diagnose the issue. Contact SureScan today to book a fertility health check with one of our fertility specialists.

sperm analysis

Recent studies have revealed that male infertility accounts for more than half of the fertility issues experienced by couples trying to conceive. Therefore, if you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success, sperm analysis may prove useful in identifying the issue.

Understandably, it can be daunting going for a fertility check-up. So, to help ease your worries, below you’ll discover everything you need to know about sperm analysis and the type of issues it looks out for.

What is the purpose of sperm analysis?

There are numerous reasons a sperm analysis may be provided, but it’s most commonly carried out for males experiencing fertility issues. It’s estimated that around 2% of men experience problems with their sperm including a low sperm count, poor mobility and issues with the size and shape of the sperm.

A sperm analysis is used to identify whether any of these problems are contributing to a couple’s difficulty in conceiving.

What type of things does it look out for?

Sperm analysis will assess the amount of sperm contained within every 1 millimetre of semen, its ability to move correctly, and its shape and size. From the results, it’s possible to establish whether the man’s sperm is the cause of a couple’s fertility issues.

Collecting a sperm sample at home

While sperm samples may sometimes be collected within the fertility clinic or doctors, patients may be required to collect a sample at home. If you do need to collect a sample at home, you’ll need to ensure it is kept at room temperature and delivered to the clinic shortly afterwards.

You may be required to follow a few guidelines prior to collecting the sample too. For example, you may need to avoid masturbating or having sex for a few days prior to the test. You’ll also need to avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, as well as avoid taking marijuana before the test.

If you’re taking any medications or supplements, you’ll need to tell the specialist before giving your sample. Finally, if you’re feeling unwell or overly stressed, you’ll also want to avoid giving a sample until you’re better.

For most accurate results, you may need to provide two to three sperm samples in two-week intervals. This is because your sperm profile can actually fluctuate on a daily basis, so an average may need to be taken from a few separate samples.

What if you have abnormal results?

If your sperm analysis samples come back as abnormal, it doesn’t mean you are permanently infertile. Instead, it simply highlights potential problems which could be causing your fertility issues.

After abnormal results come back, you’ll usually need to undergo further testing to establish the exact cause of the problem. Then, once that has been identified, treatment will be suggested to resolve the fertility issues present.

Overall, it’s understandable to be apprehensive about undergoing a semen analysis. However, the process is quick, painless and can help to provide peace of mind, as well as set you on the right treatment path to resolve any fertility issues that you may have.

early menopause

A new study has revealed that the onset of early menopause isn’t related to the amount of exercise you do. The study, published within the Human Reproduction journal, is the largest of its kind to answer the question of whether or not physical activity is a risk factor for the menopause.

Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed and what factors are known to link to early menopause.

Understanding the study

The study, carried out by the University of Massachusetts, analysed the data of a staggering 107,275 women. It revealed that there was no correlation between natural early menopause and the level of exercise conducted.

Previous studies have shown conflicting results, with some suggesting exercise may be linked o the menopause, and others suggesting it doesn’t. However, all previous studies have been carried out on a much smaller scale. So, this latest study provides the most compelling results, taking into account the sheer number of women analysed.

The data was taken from female nurses in America who joined the Nurses’ Health Study II in 1989 and it followed them through to 2011. By the end of the study, 2786 women had experienced the early menopause before turning 45. After assessing their physical activity levels, it was determined that exercise didn’t seem to have any impact on the age the women entered the early menopause.

What the study did reveal, is that the risk of early menopause is typically determined by environmental factors. For example, a higher intake of Vitamin D and Calcium, lowers the risk, while being underweight and smoking increased the risk.

Researchers stress exercise is still important

While the amount of exercise you do won’t impact your chances of going through the early menopause, the researchers still stress that regular physical activity is important. This is because keeping active greatly reduces the risk of numerous diseases.

Once you do enter into the menopause, your risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart disease does increase. Exercise is known to reduce the risk of these conditions, so it isn’t something which should be ignored. It’s also generally better for your overall health if you exercise regularly too.

What factors can trigger early menopause?

So, now it’s been established that lower levels of exercise don’t appear to trigger early menopause, what factors could cause its onset? There are several known causes which could lead to early menopause including:

  • Genetics
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Lifestyle factors

If your mother or grandmother went through early menopause, it is more likely that you will too. However, genetics isn’t the only potential trigger. If you suffer from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease, your risk also increases. Then there are lifestyle factors such as smoking and body mass index which can contribute to early menopause.

As you can see, there are several known risk factors associated with early menopause. However, thanks to this latest study, exercise levels can be ruled out as a potential link. Just remember, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise as it’s still important for overall general health and it could even help to reduce the symptoms of early menopause if it does occur.

male fertility test

Androvia LifeSciences has developed a brand-new test which is capable of measuring male infertility. Up until now, current methods have been unable to explain over half of male infertility cases. So, could this new test prove evolutionary in the detection of male fertility troubles?

Here, we’ll look at how the new test works and why it could change the male infertility sector forever.

What is the new male fertility test?

The new fertility health check, known as the Cap-Score, is designed to analyse the changes within a sperm cell which allow it to fertilise the egg. This provides much more advanced results compared to current tests and helps experts to more accurately diagnose male fertility issues.

Prolific doctor Alexander Travis, who was responsible for developing the test, was the first to recognise the ganglioside GM1 as a useful biomarker for the capacitation of sperm cells. Previous studies had already shown that the Cap-Score could differentiate between samples from men seeking help with fertility and fertile men. It also managed to detect between males who failed at intrauterine insemination and those who succeeded.

Cap-Score male fertility test study proves promising

The most recent Cap-Score study collected 208 semen samples from men who were undergoing medical evaluations regarding their fertility. As well as carrying out traditional semen analysis, the scientists tested the samples, arranging them into groups dependent upon their CAP-Score. Out of the 208 men, 91 reported clinical outcomes.

It was discovered through the study, that men who had a normal score, were 2.78 more likely to succeed at pregnancy than those with a low score. They also had a 4.23 increased chance of success for their first attempt using IUI. More interestingly, it discovered there was no relationship found between male fertility and factors such as sperm concentration and mobility which are typically assessed in traditional methods.

That wasn’t the end of the research either. The researchers then collected additional clinical outcomes and Cap-Scores from an additional five urology and fertility clinics. They used data from a further 124 men to develop a curve which translated a Cap-Score into the likelihood of achieving a pregnancy.

How does it compare to current testing?

The new Cap-Score testing is much more accurate at identifying the likelihood of achieving pregnancy than any current tests on the market. It is still designed to be used alongside traditional testing, but it offers a more definitive and clearer picture of a male’s fertility issues.

The researchers are hoping these results will enable specialists to introduce the new testing to personalise a patient’s journey into fatherhood. More targeted treatments will be able to be provided, saving couples time, money and emotional distress. Urologists are also going to be using the method to assess how different treatment plans, such as surgery and nutritional supplements, will affect male fertility.

The CAP-Score method has already started to be implanted into fertility clinics across America. However, it’s likely to take longer to reach across the pond. For the time being, traditional sperm analysis tests will continue to be used to identify male infertility.

menopause symptoms

There are a lot of unpleasant side effects associated with the menopause, and anxiety and forgetfulness are just two of them. These menopause symptoms have long been affecting menopausal women and they can be really difficult to deal with.

Now, a new study carried out on rats has revealed that these nasty side effects could be caused by low oestrogen levels. So, could this aid in the development of new menopausal treatments? Here, you’ll discover more about the study and how these symptoms can be treated if you are menopausal.

What did the menopause study reveal?

Researchers from a Brazilian university and Georgetown University in the US discovered the link between low oestrogen and menopausal anxiety and forgetfulness. The study involved female rats which didn’t have ovaries, and it assessed anxiety and short-term recognition through standardised testing.

It showed that the menopausal rats had a higher level of anxiety and reduced recognition compared to non-menopausal rats of the same age. This suggests that hormonal imbalances do contribute to the anxiety and forgetfulness menopausal women experience.

Memory problems worse during the lead up to the menopause

Other studies carried out over the years have also revealed a link between memory loss and the menopause. One study revealed that those who were in the early perimenopausal stage, specifically within the year leading up to the menopause, had more issues with memory and forgetfulness than at any other time.

Interestingly, studies have also shown that these memory problems do tend to improve over time. It was long believed hormones were the culprit, but until this recent study, there was no real confirmation that the drop in oestrogen was linked to the memory loss experienced.

Can these menopause symptoms be prevented?

It may not be possible to fully prevent symptoms such as anxiety and forgetfulness, but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk. Ensuring you eat a balanced diet, for example, can help to boost brain function and regulate the mood.

Ensuring you’re getting plenty of rest is also key. As you enter towards the menopause, you may find you have extra difficulty sleeping. So, it’s a good idea to ramp up your exercise and focus more on lowering your stress levels.

How to treat menopausal anxiety and forgetfulness

For many women, the memory loss and anxiety they experience due to the menopause is very mild. However, if it does start to affect your everyday life, there are things you can do. Pay a visit to your doctor and they may suggest starting menopausal hormone therapy. This will help to replace the oestrogen lost, which should naturally improve the symptoms.

However, it’s important to remember that long-term use of oestrogen treatments can increase your risk of other illnesses including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. The risk is small, but it’s still worth being aware of the potential risks involved.

Overall, this recent study does confirm the anxiety and forgetfulness experienced during the menopause, is down to low oestrogen levels. While you may not be able to prevent these menopause symptoms, there are ways to treat it and the majority of women do see improvements over time.

Baby Monitoring Method

A UK university has developed a new method for checking baby’s heartbeat in the womb. Designed to take away the stress and provide a more accurate result, this new method can even be used in the patient’s home, rather than having to go into hospital.

So, what is this new method and how will it compare to traditional testing? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know.

Understanding this new baby monitoring method

The new baby monitoring method was developed by Dr Elizabeth Rendon-Morales at the University of Sussex. The sensor can potentially be used to detect congenital heart-related conditions, as well as help to identify a need for medical intervention during pregnancy.

What’s most impressive is the sensor can be used at home, eliminating the need for expectant mothers to actually visit a hospital. It’s been described as the biggest development within the sector in 40 years.

With the use of Electric Potential Sensing (EPS) technology, Rendon-Morales created the electrometer amplifier prototype. It works by being placed onto the skin on the abdomen, allowing for non-invasive utero-foetal electrocardiogram monitoring.

It’s a huge step forward for home-device monitoring and can provide peace of mind through fast results. This will also benefit health service providers, allowing for resource optimisation.

How does it compare to traditional baby monitoring method?

The traditional method of monitoring the baby’s heartbeat is the classic ultrasound scan. While this is also a non-invasive method, many pregnant women do find the scan both stressful and uncomfortable.

There is also the chance that health service providers will not be able to differentiate the baby’s heartbeat from the mother’s heartbeat with ultrasound scanning. This new test, on the other hand, successfully isolates the baby’s heartbeat for more accurate results.

With the traditional tests, a gel also needs to be applied to the abdomen, whereas with this new test, no gel is required. This also makes the method more accurate as the gel can sometimes produce an inaccurate reading.

The hope is that the new technology will be able to help health care practitioners determine earlier on whether a baby needs to be delivered quickly. It will be able to accurately monitor when the baby’s heartbeat drops and doesn’t recover quickly.

What pregnancy scans are currently available?

While the new testing isn’t currently available, existing tests are still typically very accurate. As well as the standard testing available on the NHS, women can also choose to have private scans throughout the pregnancy. These scans include:

Early pregnancy scan
Reassurance scans
Viability scan

The early pregnancy scan can be carried out after six weeks into the pregnancy and it’s largely used on women with a high-risk pregnancy. A reassurance scan also monitors the baby’s heartbeat to double check that everything is going as planned. Then finally there’s the viability scan which can be provided to couple’s who have experienced fertility issues and miscarriages in the past. This looks into whether the pregnancy is developing as it should.

Overall, this new sensor test is going to revolutionise the baby monitoring method sector. Being able to monitor the baby’s heartbeat in the home will really help to ease the stress and discomfort felt during traditional testing.

placenta complications

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has updated its guidelines to suggest that early diagnosis is essential for reducing placenta complications.

Conditions such as placenta accrete and placenta praevia are often only diagnosed upon delivery, increasing the risk of neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity. Both conditions have become a lot more common in recent years, highlighting the need for early detection and treatment.

Here, we’ll look at why placenta complications are becoming more prevalent and the new guidelines that have been introduced.

Why are placenta complications on the rise?

Placenta complications are said to be on the rise due to an increase in both the use of assisted reproductivity technology and caesarean births. Many women are unaware of the risks a caesarean birth presents in terms of placenta complications. However, with each subsequent caesarean procedure, the risks of both placenta praevia and placenta accrete are increased further.

The new guidelines introduced by RCOG highlight the need for healthcare professionals to inform their patients of the risks involved with both fertility treatment such as IVF and caesarean births.

Understanding the complications

Placenta praevia occurs when the placenta attaches itself to the lower womb. It can potentially end up covering the entire neck of the womb and cause heavy bleeding throughout the pregnancy or during labour. It is typically checked for at around 20-weeks into the pregnancy, and if detected a caesarean birth is often recommended.

Placenta accrete is a lot less common and the risk of developing the condition is increased with each caesarean birth. It can affect anything from 1 in 300 pregnant women, to 1 in 2000, depending upon prior caesarean history. With this condition, the placenta either invades or sticks to the womb muscle, as well as nearby organs such as the bladder. If the condition isn’t picked up until the birth, heavy bleeding can occur leading to an emergency hysterectomy. If it is picked up prior to the birth, the healthcare provider may recommend giving birth earlier.

New guidelines also released to address Vasa praevia

The guidelines regarding Vasa praevia have also been updated. This rarer condition occurs in between 1 in 1200 up to 1 in 5000 pregnancies. The blood vessels leading from the placenta to baby pass extremely closely to the cervix. This can cause them to tear once the waters have broken. If this occurs, it can pose a high risk to the baby.

Like placenta praevia, this condition could be detected at the routine 20-week scan. Known risk factors for the condition include abnormal umbilical cord or placenta development, multiple pregnancies and a low-lying placenta. If the condition is diagnosed, a planned caesarean is usually advised between weeks 34-36. If it isn’t detected prior to the birth, an emergency caesarean will usually be carried out.

As placenta complications can be dangerous to both mother and baby, early detection is crucial. These new guidelines will help healthcare providers to better discuss the risks and options available to patients considering a caesarean birth and work towards diagnosing the conditions early.