Health Watch: What women should know about infertility

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Infertility - the inability to conceive after months, and sometimes years, of trying - affects more than 7 million people in the United States. Studies have shown that a woman's likelihood of conceiving declines as she ages, but women concerned about their fertility are not powerless.

April 25 through May 1 is National Infertility Awareness Week. If you're thinking about having a baby, even if your plans are for several years down the road, now is a good time to evaluate your fertility.

Here are some facts you should know about this issue that affects about 12 percent of childbearing-age women in the United States.

- You can't reverse the natural effect of aging on your fertility, but there are certain factors you can control, including not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling stress, getting plenty of exercise, eating a healthful diet and following an overall healthful lifestyle. Likewise, encourage your partner to follow a healthy lifestyle, which can affect the count and quality of his sperm.

- It is possible to get an accurate perspective on your current fertility potential. The First Response Fertility Test for Women measures the level of follicle stimulating hormone in your urine on the third day of your cycle. Knowing this information allows a woman to start a dialogue with her doctor sooner.

- Infertility is not just a woman's problem. In 35 percent of infertility cases, the problem is related to the woman; in 35 percent of cases, to the man; and in 20 percent of cases, both partners have a problem. And 10 percent of infertility cases simply can't be explained at all.

- In vitro fertilization is not the only treatment for infertility - in fact it's not even the most common. About 85 percent to 90 percent of infertility cases can be treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. IVF and similar treatments are needed in fewer than 3 percent of cases.

- Even with the natural loss of fertility that comes with age, most women will still have tens of thousands of eggs at age 30, and thousands still at age 40.

-- ARA

New research: Mild exercise helps critically ill

A new report from critical care experts at Johns Hopkins shows that curtailing use of sedatives in patients in the intensive care unit of hospitals not only allows patients to exercise, but also speeds up ICU recovery times by as much as two to three days.

Previous research has shown that mild exercise is known to reduce muscle weakness linked to long periods of bed rest, as well as reduce bouts of delirium and hallucination.

Mild exercise, the experts say, with sessions varying from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, should be performed by patients under the careful guidance of specially trained physical and occupational therapists and can include any combination of either leg or arm movements while laying flat in bed, sitting up or standing, or even walking slowly in the corridors of the ICU.

-- Johns Hopkins

Did You Know?

Scientists have found that the same mechanisms that drive people into drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat. -- Scripps Research Institute

Health Tip: Do you need dietary supplements?

If you're generally healthy and eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and fish, you likely don't need dietary supplements.

But they may be appropriate if you:

- Don't eat well or consume fewer than 1,600 calories a day.

- Are a vegetarian and don't complement your diet appropriately.

- Are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breast-feeding.

- Are a postmenopausal woman.

- Have a medical condition that affects how your body absorbs, uses or excretes nutrients.

Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about which supplements might be appropriate for you. Be sure to ask about possible side effects and interactions with other medications.

-- Mayo Clinic,

Number to Know: 12,000

Each year, approximately 12,000 men and women sustain and survive spinal cord injuries. Automobile crashes are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, and males are most often affected. -- Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Children’s Health: Early obesity diagnosis

Obesity can be detected in infants as young as 6 months, according to a new study.

By analyzing the electronic medical records of babies seen for routine “well-child” visits to a pediatric clinic, the investigators found that about 16 percent of 6-month-olds fit the study's criterion for obesity — a weight-for-length ratio that put them in the top 5 percent of all babies in their age group.

Further analysis of the records indicated that obese 2-year-olds were much more likely to have been obese at 6 months than 2-year-olds who were not obese.

The obese babies' medical records showed that clinicians rarely addressed the issue at either 6-month or 24-month visits.

-- University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Senior Health: Sleep apnea tied to stroke risk

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men, according to a new study.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the upper airway is intermittently narrowed or blocked, disrupting sleep and breathing during sleep.

Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study report that the risk of stroke appears in men with mild sleep apnea and increases with the severity of sleep apnea. In women, however, the increased risk of stroke was significant only with severe levels of sleep apnea.

-- National Institutes of Health

GateHouse News Service