Male Infertility on the Rise Globally

This week in the news a report from France that tracked the sperm count of French men from 1989 through 2005 discovered what we have all suspected – decreasing sperm counts, leading to increasing male infertility issues. The startling piece of this is it may depict the falling sperm count for an entire country.

Throughout the years infertility “blame” was placed on the female and now we are discovering that this is just not the case nor has it been, as approximately 1/3 of infertility issues are related to the male. The study discovered that sperm count decreased by approximately 33.4%, while surprisingly sperm motility (how it moves) increased. There were over 26,000 men involved in the research study.

While it is still unclear from all the studies that have been completed across the globe on sperm quality over the years, the scientists are questioning what may be the cause. Some speculations are:

– Endocrine-disruptors: If you remember not too long ago endocrine disruptors were at the front of fertility news for disrupting our body’s reproductive systems in females and evidently males as well.

– Nutrition, Stress and Lifestyles: these three are always discussed when trying to conceive is the focus. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and a health lifestyle are sure ways to help improves chances.

If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, speak with your OB/GYN who can check the both of you out before making a decision on what you may need to do in order to conceive.

News Round-Up on the Recent Study:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57557287/french-scientists-warn-sperm-counts-falling-for-men/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20593467

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2243642/Male-infertility-soaring-So-doctors-blaming-woman-baby-FEMAIL-investigates.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

http://www.newser.com/story/158778/french-sperm-quality-takes-huge-hit.html

http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/34090

 

 

 

 

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Infertility In The News: Week of 11/18-11/25

Male Infertility:

Advice for Men Struggling with Infertility: http://mannfordeagle.com/online_features/health_and_wellness/advice-for-men-struggling-with-infertility/article_9cb3ae54-227e-5dce-a646-14d5ae5d252c.html

Sperm Length Linked to Men’s Fertility in U.S. News: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/11/15/sperms-length-linked-to-mens-fertility

Obese Teen Boys have Less Testosterone, Risk Infertility http://medicine.buffalo.edu/news_and_events/news.host.html/content/shared/smbs/news/2012/11/obese-teens-low-testosterone-205.detail.html

Infertility Awareness:

Womens’ Knowledge on Infertility: Interview with Barbara Collura by Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch on EmpowHER.com – http://www.empowher.com/infertility-fertility/content/women-s-knowledge-infertility-interview-barbara-collura

Bill & Giuliana Discuss Infertility Issues on Katie Couric’s Show: http://www.katiecouric.com/tag/infertility/

A Variety of Factors Can Create Difficulty in Couple’s Efforts to Conceive in Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-201211211730–tms–mayoclnctnmc-a20121122-20121122,0,2244916.story

Banned PCB’s Linked to Lower Fertility by Jennifer Corbett Dooren in The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324595904578117431728021550.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

New Network for Infertile Patients in Latin America: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-latam-network-aims-infertile-couples.html

UAE:

Sperm Loans: Banking Fertility Hopes for Emirati would-be parents. Published November 25th, 2012 on SyndiGate.info http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/abu-dhabi-fertility-loans-452546

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins PRIOR to Pregnancy

Most women know (or at least find out at their first ob/gyn . after conception) about the importance of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. What some women do not know is how beneficial taking a prenatal vitamin while trying to conceive really is to boost their efforts of prepping the body for a healthy pregnancy. While it is best to check with your physician before taking any type of supplement below is a brief list of important vitamins to look for on the nutritional facts label of any prenatal vitamins you are considering. The American Pregnancy Association encourages women to look at pregnancy as not a nine-month journey, but a year-long journey prepping the body at least 3 months prior to getting pregnant.

Vitamins vital to conception and pregnancy:

Folic Acid AND B12: greatly decreases the chances of a baby being born with neural tube defects by assisting with spinal development. Adding the additional B12 supplement further reduces the risk of NTD studies have shown (http://www.madeformums.com/mums-and-dads/new-research-recommends-combining-folic-acid-with-vitamin-b12-for-conception-and-pregnancy/24145.html).

DHA’s (Omega-3’s): extremely important at least 3-6 months before pregnancy to ensure depletion of the mother’s stored omega-3 fatty acids does not occur.

For a thorough list of Essential Vitamins and Nutrients (found on the American Pregnancy Association website):

http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/nutrientsvitaminspregnancy.html

Polychlorinated Biphenyls Can Hurt Fertility Study Finds

Despite being banned in the late 1970’s PCB’s are still very much in our daily lives. The use of PCB’s has been banned in products produced after 1979, but many products may not have been disposed of properly and leak into the environment. Today most of the exposure occurs in the kitchen. High fat foods absorb the chemicals that have been leaked. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)provides the following list of what contains PCB’s (complete list found on http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/tsd/pcbs/pubs/about.htm):

  • Transformers and capacitors
  • Other electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, reclosers, bushings, and electromagnets
  • Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
  • Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
  • Fluorescent light ballasts
  • Cable insulation
  • Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork
  • Adhesives and tapes
  • Oil-based paint
  • Caulking
  • Plastics
  • Carbonless copy paper
  • Floor finish

It has been known for years that these harmful PCB’s can cause cancer and other health issues on the body’s systems. Most recently a study completed by the National Institute of Health on PCB’s and their effects on reproductive health. The study was published in the Environmental Health Perspectives and it included 501 couples that were trying to conceive during 2005-2009. The couples supplied blood tests to determine the level of chemical at the beginning of the study, kept a menstruation log and results of all home pregnancy tests completed during the study. This continued over the years of the study and researchers discovered that as the chemical levels in the couple’s increased their ability to conceive decreased (study states 18-21% in females and 17-29% in males). While there is no way to completely avoid exposure to these chemicals, one can avoid eating processed foods, microwave foods in plastic containers and foods that have been exposed to pesticides.

You can read all about the research study here: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/11/14/environmental-chemicals-may-hurt-chances-of-pregnancy

Knowing Maternal Menopause Age is Important for Your Fertility

While we may have cringed listening to our mothers discuss the “birds and the bees” during puberty another conversation with our mothers or grandmothers later in life is just as important. Finding out when your mother started menopause is crucial in understanding your ovarian reserve and the rate at which it will start to decrease.

A research study completed at the Fertility Clinic of Copenhagen University Hospital determined that indeed hereditary factors (menopausal age of mother/grandmother) are a strong indicator to when a female’s fertility will start to decline. The study involved approximately 527 women and looked at the following:

-Markers of Ovarian Reserve (AMH- Anti-Mullerian Hormone)

-Antral Follicle Count (AFC)

-The age of onset of natural maternal menopause

What the researchers discovered was that if your mother and/or grandmother started menopause early (defined as 45 years of age or younger), a female’s ovarian reserve will decrease earlier than those whose mothers/grandmothers hit menopause later in life (delayed decrease).

 

To read the full study completed by Janne G. Bentzen, M.D., Ph.D., from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues: http://www.pri-med.com/pmo/MedicalNewsDetail.aspx?id=7311&topic=mc-topic::KA8A584VY

 

 

In the News Round-Up: Egg Freezing

There has been a lot of press regarding the ASRM’s discussion about Human Egg-Freezing. Below is a round-up of what we have found online in the past weeks that are quite helpful:

 

 

Emotional Stress During Infertility Treatments- New Study

A new study completed in four European countries that had the highest numbers of assisted reproductive treatments solidified what many women undergoing treatments has felt/known for a long time: struggling with trying to conceive places a large amount of emotional stress on the woman.

The study was completed in France, Germany, Italy & Spain, then published in Human Reproduction, Vol. 27, No.4 pg. 1073-1079, titled  Understanding the perceptions of an emotional barriers to infertility treatment: a survey in four European countries.

445 women all between the ages of 18-44 with noted difficulties in trying to conceive were included in the study. Some of the women had treatments (in the last two years), some had not received any form of treatment and the rest were currently undergoing treatments. The researchers studied/analyzed the physical and psychological stress suffered by the participants during ovary stimulation.

Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and anger are many emotions that women go through while struggling with trying to get pregnant. Many of the patients felt that the crumbling of their relationship with their partner was the biggest cause of stress while undergoing treatments. A large number also felt high levels of anxiety about the impending injections they were about to have.

Not surprisingly, 68% of the participants never felt that they would have problems with trying to get pregnant. Honestly, what woman wants to go into trying to have a baby thinking that it will never happen the natural way, what a way to start an exciting process.

Many of the women also waited at least two years before going to see someone about issues they were having with getting pregnant. Our OB/Gyn recommends visiting a physician after 6 months of trying naturally to alert them that there may be some issues, as well as to have some tests on both the female and male ran. Many physicians will still have the couple continue to try naturally for another 6 months (resulting in a full year of trying to conceive naturally) before referring them for other treatments.

Bottom line of the study: Women struggling with trying to conceive suffer a tremendous amount of stress and other emotions. Having a strong support group may help ease some of those emotions.

To read more about the study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003111151.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Ffertility+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Health+%26+Medicine+News+–+Fertility%29

You got pregnant how? Old Tales Passed Down

We have all heard them at one point or another in our lives whether it be from a neighbor, doctor or that zany relative on your mother’s side. Those tips or “tales” passed down through generations on how “so and so” got pregnant from touching a statue, having sex during a certain moon phase or by using egg whites. Wives tales were the oral version of storytelling for tips (many uncertified) on certain topics- mainly how to get pregnant or puberty. However they are also used to keep children from doing “bad” things. Every culture seems to have different tips but we all have the end goal of getting pregnant in mind. No matter what you believe, some of these could be a lot of fun! As always, please consult with a physician before trying anything that could be dangerous.

Tales on How to Get Pregnant:

-Stand on your head after sex.

-Do an upside-down bicycle after sex.

-Have sex standing up.

-Have sex during the full moon.

-Throw your under on your roof, retrieve on the night of a new moon. Glamour magazine posted an article this month about 4 Weird Ways to Get Pregnant, the article can be read here: http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2012/09/4-really-weird-ways-to-get-pre.html. A tribe in Africa’s Congo Region had this tale on how to get pregnant.

– The same article discussed eating blueberry jam straight from the jar.

-Drink grapefruit juice (Popular British tale)

-Having your husband not wear socks in bed while trying to conceive.

-Visit the Ripley’s Believe or Not! Fertility statues: You can read all about the legend here: http://www.ripleys.com/weird/the-legend-of-the-fertility-statues/

-Eat wild yams to conceive twins (Popular African tale-Yoruba Tribe)

Tips on Conceiving Boys:

-Pack your partner’s male region in ice, the theory is that sperm that carry female chromosomes prefer warmer temperatures, while “boy-makers” prefer cold.

-Eat more salt at least three months of pre-conception. For a girl, it is said to eat more sweets.

Tips on Conceiving Girls:

-Put a wooden spoon and a pair of scissors under your bed.

How to tell if it’s a boy or girl after conception:

– Take a ring suspended on a string and dangle it over your pregnant belly. Old wive’s tales say that if the ring swings from side to side it is a little girl, if it circles the belly then it’s a boy!

-Women who have acne during pregnancy are said to be carrying boys.

The best way for trying to conceive is Fertility Awareness. Recently the news was full of articles stating findings that showed women really just do not understand their fertility. In you are new to tracking your ovulation or just trying to understand your fertility the American Pregnancy Association is a great place to start as well.

Senate Committee Passes Expanded Fertility Treatment Benefits for Our Veterans

Great news to our military families! A Senate Committee has passed the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash).

This Act will provide the below benefits to our veterans and their families. Specifically tailored for our veterans who suffered traumatic injuries that left them at a disadvantage or completely unable to have children due to injuries to their reproductive organs or spinal injuries.

  • Enhanced treatment options to now include Assisted Reproductive Technologies (including artificial insemination and surrogacy!)
  • Childcare for Vets seeking counseling at VA’s Vet Centers
  • Continued Funding for Research
  • Treatment for spouses

To read more detailed information about the Act: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/fff168a9-0aaf-45f4-aba9-22692d29a846/Women%20Veterans%20Health%20Care%20Improvement%20Act%20of%202012%20-%20One%20Page%20Summary.pdf

Ovarian Tissue Transplant Explained

Business Insider has a 30 part series called Game Changers that explores advancements in health, technology, etc. Today’s specifically focused on “How Ovarian Tissue Transplants Work” while the article on Friday discussed the overall meaning to fertility of the treatment. Ovarian Tissue Transplants have been studied in great detail to help find ways to preserve fertility for those facing various types of cancer and would have to go through chemotherapy treatments. The results have been quite remarkable with 22 patients having successful live births from the procedure. There may be two markets that emerge from having Ovarian Tissue Transplant treatments available: those undergoing cancer treatment who wish to preserve their fertility for the later ability to have children and those young women who wish to preserve their fertility for later in life. The studies are still very much in the experimental stage and long-term issues are still unknown, but the idea that such a treatment being available in the future to preserve fertility or extend it is quite exciting!

To read more on the series on Ovarian Tissue Transplants: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-ovarian-tissue-transplants-could-change-fertility-2012-8