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Women's Health Care

Q&A with Dr. Marjorie Dixon

Mediaplanet sat down with CEO, Founder and Medical Director at Anova Fertility, Dr. Marjorie Dixon, to discuss the importance of proactive family planning and how making informed choices today can provide peace of mind for your future! 

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What steps can individuals take if they want to ensure their fertility for the future but are not ready to have children right now?

In my conversations with patients at Anova Fertility, I emphasize the importance of looking ahead and making informed choices. Egg freezing stands out as a powerful option for those not yet ready to start a family. It’s about giving yourself the freedom to choose when you want to embark on the journey of parenthood. By freezing your eggs at a younger age, you’re essentially capturing your fertility at its peak, allowing you to plan your future without the ticking clock of biological constraints. This foresight can be especially empowering for women focused on their careers or personal development in their younger years. Alongside egg freezing, maintaining a balanced lifestyle is crucial. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and avoiding detrimental habits like smoking and excessive alcohol use are all part of nurturing your fertility. These proactive steps today are not just about good health; they’re about preserving your options for the future, so that when you’re ready, your fertility is too.

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At what age should individuals start thinking about fertility?

It’s important to start considering your fertility earlier than many realize, ideally in your early 20s. This is the prime time to become informed about your reproductive health. I often recommend connecting with your doctor for fertility assessments as a first step. In my practice, these assessments are akin to getting a ‘fertility report card’. They provide a comprehensive overview of your reproductive health, much like a diagnostic tool. Gaining this early insight is essential. It allows you to make informed decisions and effectively plan for your future, understanding the best timeframes and options available to you based on your individual fertility status.

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What lifestyle factors can impact fertility, and how can individuals mitigate these effects?

Your lifestyle choices today play a significant role in your fertility health. Smoking and excessive alcohol can negatively impact both men and women. We advocate for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, coupled with regular physical activity. These aren’t just good health tips; they’re fertility enhancing decisions.

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Are there any medical conditions that could affect fertility, and how can individuals address these concerns?

Certainly, there are several medical conditions that can influence fertility. In my work, I often see conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, but it’s also important to be aware of how other health issues can play a role. Conditions affecting the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands, as well as diabetes and certain medications for blood pressure or psychiatric conditions, can impact fertility. It’s crucial to address these health concerns through appropriate medical treatment. Along with lifestyle changes, this can significantly improve fertility outcomes. Our approach at Anova is to look at the whole picture, understanding that fertility is not just a single-issue matter but a complex interplay of various health factors.”

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What role does genetics play in fertility, and how can individuals assess their reproductive potential?

Genetics is a key player in your fertility story. It can guide us in choosing the most suitable fertility treatments, like IVF with pre-genetic testing. This is particularly helpful for couples with a history of hereditary diseases, as it allows us to select healthy embryos. Moreover, understanding your genetic background can offer insights into your fertility journey. For instance, the age your mother reached menopause can offer genetic clues about your own fertility. And if your family has a history of fertility challenges, this is something to be proactive about. This is why it’s so important that we use genetic testing to help paint a clearer picture of your fertility landscape.

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How can individuals balance career and family planning without compromising either?

In today’s world, achieving both a fulfilling career and a family is entirely possible. The key lies in strategic planning and understanding your biological timeline. For those with ovaries, it’s important to be aware that the number of eggs is finite and depletes over time. It’s crucial to be mindful of this timeline. This understanding empowers you to plan your life in a way that aligns with both your career goals and family aspirations. In my practice, I work closely to map out this timeline, providing clarity on when might be the best time to start a family, in harmony with their professional life. On the other hand, those with testes are on less of a time crunch in this regard, as they produce a new batch of sperm every three months. Recognizing these biological differences allows us to tailor family planning strategies to each person or couple’s unique situation. It’s essential for everyone, regardless of gender identity, to get assessed and understand their fertility health. With the right information and support, it’s possible to plan a future that includes both a fulfilling career and a family, making informed choices that reflect one’s personal and professional aspirations.

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What are the available options for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for those who may face challenges conceiving in the future?

These technologies embrace the vast kaleidoscope of individuals and family structures in Canada, providing pathways to parenthood that respect and celebrate this diversity. In recognizing the unique needs and dreams of each individual or couple, ART enables the creation of families in all their varied forms. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is a widely used technique, effective in various scenarios, not just for heterosexual couples but also for those facing male infertility issues, which can be specifically addressed with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). Egg freezing is another empowering option, suitable for anyone looking to preserve their fertility for future planning. Additionally, egg donation and surrogacy are invaluable, offering crucial support especially to the 2SLGBTQI+ community and others who might not be able to conceive through traditional means. These options are not exclusive to any one group; they’re here to support the broad and beautiful spectrum of people who make up the Canadian landscape, each seeking to fulfill their dream of parenthood.

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Are there any potential risks or side effects associated with fertility preservation procedures?

As with any medical procedure, fertility preservation does carry certain risks. A primary concern in such procedures, particularly egg retrieval, is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). However, it’s important to note that this risk can be effectively managed. Physicians are generally well-equipped to tailor medication protocols to each patient’s specific needs, significantly reducing the risk of OHSS. It’s essential for patients to have thorough discussions with their healthcare team about these risks and the entire treatment process beforehand. Being well-informed and understanding the procedure in detail is a critical aspect of patient care in fertility preservation.

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What role does emotional well-being play in fertility, and how can individuals cope with the emotional aspects of family planning?

Emotional well-being is fundamentally important in the fertility journey. Navigating this path, often stressful, requires acknowledging and addressing this stress. It’s essential to surround yourself with a supportive network, including friends, family, or mental health professionals. For those who are underrepresented or don’t typically see themselves reflected in healthcare, having care providers who understand and mirror their unique experiences and identities can be incredibly impactful. This can greatly enhance the comfort and effectiveness of the support received. Open communication, professional counseling, and self-care practices are also vital in managing the emotional challenges of fertility and family planning. Remember, caring for your emotional health is as crucial as attending to your physical health during this journey.

learn more by visiting anovafertility.com.

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