Study links low sperm count to other health problems

A man’s semen count is a marker of his general health, according to the largest study to date evaluating semen quality, reproductive function and metabolic risk in men referred for fertility evaluation.

“Our study clearly shows that low sperm count by itself is associated with metabolic alterations, cardiovascular risk and low bone mass,” said the study’s lead investigator, Alberto Ferlin, M.D., Ph.D. “Infertile men are likely to have important co-existing health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives,” said Ferlin, who is also president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine. “Fertility evaluation gives men the unique opportunity for health assessment and disease prevention.”

Ferlin and his colleagues found that about half the men had low sperm counts and were 1.2 times more likely than those with normal sperm counts to have greater body fat (bigger waistline and higher body mass index, or BMI); higher blood pressure (systolic, or top reading), “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides; and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol. They also had a higher frequency of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of these and other metabolic risk factors that increase the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the investigators reported. A measure of insulin resistance, another problem that can lead to diabetes, also was higher in men with low sperm counts.

The bottom line, Ferlin stressed, is that treatment of male infertility should not focus only on having a child when diagnostic testing finds other health risks, such as overweight, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “Men of couples having difficulties achieving pregnancy should be correctly diagnosed and followed up by their fertility specialists and primary care doctor because they could have an increased chance of morbidity and mortality,” he said.

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Slightly underactive thyroid may affect women’s fertility

New research suggests that a slightly underactive thyroid may affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant, even when the gland is functioning at the low end of the normal range, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study found women who have unexplained infertility were nearly twice as likely to have higher levels of a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland than women who did not conceive due to known issues with their male partner’s sperm count. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain and tells the thyroid gland to produce more hormones when needed. Elevated TSH levels can be a sign that the thyroid gland is underactive.

Unexplained infertility occurs when couples are unable to get pregnant despite months of trying and a medical evaluation shows no reason for their infertility. About 10 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty becoming or staying pregnant, according to the Office of Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Between 10 percent and 30 percent of affected couples have unexplained infertility, according to the JCEM study.

“Since we now know from our study that there is an association between TSH levels at the high end of the normal range and unexplained infertility, it is possible that a high-normal TSH level may negatively impact women who are trying to get pregnant,” said the study’s senior author, Pouneh K. Fazeli, M.D., M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. “This could open up new avenues for possible treatments. The next step will be to see if lowering TSH levels will help this group conceive.”

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Common allergy drugs may impair male fertility

The weather may not reveal it lately, but spring is definitely coming. For many, that means spring allergies are on the horizon. A new study, however, warns that antihistamines, a common allergy treatment, may contribute to male infertility.

The study, published in the journal Reproduction, looked at animal studies that investigated associations between histamines and fertility over the past four decades. It found that antihistamines seem to interfere with the production of sex hormones in the testicles, leading to misshapen and poor-swimming sperm, or a low sperm count.

You can read more about this at Medical News Today. If you have questions, talk to your doctor.

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Are you ready for National Infertility Awareness Week?

Every year, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association sponsors National Infertility Awareness Week. This year, NIAW is April 22-28. We will be posting information about NIAW in the coming days and weeks, and we are asking you to help raise awareness.

How? Start by downloading RESOLVE’s sharable social media graphics. RESOLVE has created a variety of images and banners for you to use any way you choose. Whether you are a professional, a patient or simply want to support someone you know with infertility, this is an easy way to let people know that you support the infertility community during NIAW and help educate the public on this disease.

  • Change your Facebook banner to one of these images.
  • Add one or several images to your social feed.
  • Get creative! Some images have room for you to add your own thing!

You can find images at this RESOLVE web page. RESOLVE says, “Hashtag #NIAW as much as possible—let’s make this movement trend!”

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Professional, sincere, informative—highly recommended!

Here are two recent reviews we’d like to share:

“Very professional and sincere. Highly recommended.”

“Very informative. Low pressure to make decisions. Highly recommend.”

Thanks to these patients and to everyone who posts positive reviews of our services, which you can read here.

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New podcast discusses premature ovarian insufficiency

Women generally experience a reduction in fertility when they enter their 40’s. However, if a woman has POI, treatment might be necessary to help with some of the symptoms.

Dr. Virginia Mensah discusses premature ovarian insufficiency and treatment options available to younger women experiencing this issue in our latest podcast. You can listen to it by clicking here.

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Knowledgeable, empathetic, terrific

Here are three recent reviews from our wonderful patients.

“Dr. Mensah is extremely knowledgeable, approachable and comforting. All of our options were clearly explained in detail.”

“Everyone was terrific. We are so blessed to have found Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey. They treat you like family.”

“Nothing but wonderful things to say about this practice and everyone there. They make you feel so comfortable and are extremely empathetic to your feelings.”

You can read more reviews like this at our web site.

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New research extends egg health

Women have been told for years that if they don’t have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University has identified a drug that extends egg viability in worms, even when taken midway through the fertile window. This could theoretically extend women’s fertility by three to six years. The study appears in the journal Current Biology.

“One of the most important characteristics of aging is the loss of reproductive ability in mid-adulthood,” said researcher Coleen Murphy, a professor of molecular biology at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. “As early as the mid-30s, women start to experience declines in fertility, increased rates of miscarriage and maternal age-related birth defects. All of these problems are thought to be caused by declining egg quality, rather than a lack of eggs.”

When she reviewed the literature on aging and on reproductive health about a decade ago, she discovered that this particular question—how to maintain egg quality with age—had been overlooked. In her research, her team identified a key protein in old, poor-quality worm oocytes (unfertilized eggs) called cathepsin B. When they administered a cathepsin B inhibitor midway through the fertile window—on day 3 of the worms’ adulthood, the equivalent of a woman in her early 30s—they successfully extended egg viability beyond the normal span. Worms who did not receive the treatment had abnormally small, misshapen eggs by day 7 of adulthood. Worms who did receive the inhibitor still had healthy, properly shaped eggs on day 7.

The cathepsin B inhibitor is nowhere near ready for testing in humans yet, Murphy said. “That’s not our area,” she said. “We wanted to say: This is something that could work. The idea that you could do something mid-reproduction to improve the rest of reproduction — for me, that’s a game changer.”

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Two great grades

Two of our patients recently posted these nice reviews.

“All the staff at Reproductive Science Center were fabulous. They were always positive and supportive through every step of the process. Thank you for a wonderful experience!”

“We are beyond thrilled with everyone at RSC!”

To read more about what people are saying about us, click here.

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A day to celebrate doctors

March 30 is designated National Doctors Day. This day was established to recognize physicians, their work and their contributions to society and the community.

Doctors Day was first observed on March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. Dr. Charles B. Almond’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond, wanted to have a day to honor physicians. On this first day, supporters mailed greeting cards and placed flowers on the graves of deceased doctors. The red carnation is the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.

On National Doctors Day, we say “thank you” to our physicians for all that they do for us and our loved ones.

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