Have you ever wondered what happens in an infertility lab? How RSCNJ’s scientists take eggs and sperm and create an embryo? Recently, Scott Kratka, senior embryologist at RSCNJ, spoke with the nonprofit group Creating a Family to describe a typical IVF procedure.
This fascinating interview is available as a podcast, and you can find it at the Creating a Family website. Give it a listen, and tell us what you think.
Having children is perhaps the biggest decision anyone makes in life. Everyone has different goals for having or not having children. To help sort out those goals, consider creating a reproductive life plan.
The Centers for Disease Control suggest you first think about your personal goals for school, for your career, and for other important aspects of your life. Then, think about how having children fits in with those goals. In addition, think about when you want to become pregnant. This can help ensure that you and your partner are healthy and ready when you choose to have a baby.
The CDC suggests you include as many details as possible in your plan. You may find it helpful to write your plan down. To help, the CDC has posted a reproductive life plan worksheet on its website.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have been looking into the physiological and biochemical factors that differentiate fertile sperm from infertile sperm. And they may have found a clue that could lead to diagnostic testing and treatments for male infertility.
The scientists presented their work, which investigated proteins known as ion channels that are crucial for sperm fertility, at the annual Biophysical Society Meeting this past February. They found a strong correlation between one of these proteins and certain types of hormones that control sperm cell function.
“At this time, 80 percent of male infertility cases can’t be diagnosed or treated,” said Melissa Miller, a postdoctoral fellow who presented the team’s findings at the meeting. Further work on this biochemical process could “give us a novel biomarker for male fertility that could be immediately used in the clinic as a way to quickly assess sperm fertilization potential,” she continued.
This is research worth keeping an eye on.
Adhesions are bands of scar-like tissue. Normally, internal tissues and organs have slippery surfaces so they can shift easily as the body moves.
Adhesions cause tissues and organs to stick together. They can occur anywhere in the body. But they often form after surgery on the abdomen.
Adhesions can sometimes cause infertility in women by preventing fertilized eggs from reaching the uterus.
These are the typical symptoms:
• Severe abdominal pain or cramping
• An inability to pass gas
If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Forgive our impertinence, but we’re not joking. Research has verified that there has been a global decline in human sperm counts over the past few decades, and a decline in fertility rates in the industrialized world. And one of the causes of this may just be your “tighty whities.”
A researcher writing in the Scottish Medical Journal says that, according to anecdotal literature, it is likely that sperm quality is higher in men who wear Scottish kilts (without underwear) compared to men who wear tight pants and underpants.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. In many mammals, including humans, healthy sperm production requires the temperature of the scrotum to be 3 degrees Celcius lower than the body temperature. Therefore, men who wear clothing that keeps that area too warm may be lowering their sperm quality.
Since kilts aren’t really an option, at least consider this information the next time you have to choose between boxers and briefs.
A common cause of infertility is uterine fibroids. Unfortunately, many women with fibroids have no symptoms. So it’s important for all women to know their risks and to recognize the signs that might indicate they have the condition.
Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumors in women of childbearing age, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Fibroids are made of muscle cells and other tissues that grow in and around the wall of the uterus. The cause of fibroids is unknown. Risk factors include being African American or being overweight.
If you do have symptoms, they may include:
• Heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods
• Feeling “full” in the lower abdomen
• Urinating often
• Pain during sex
• Lower back pain
• Reproductive problems, such as infertility, multiple miscarriages or early labor
Your health care provider may find fibroids during a gynecological exam or by using imaging tests. Treatment includes drugs that can slow or stop their growth, or surgery. If you have no symptoms, you may not even need treatment. Many women with fibroids can get pregnant naturally. For those who cannot, infertility treatments may help.
If you have any questions, please post them here or contact our office for a free consultation.
If you made quitting smoking one of your New Year’s resolutions, good for you! Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of disease in the United States. Many people are trying e-cigarettes to help them quit. But beware. The jury is still out on whether these are safe.
An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that turns nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into a vapor that can be inhaled. The problem lies in those flavorings and chemicals; no one knows if they are harmful. Currently, only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes (such as smoking cessation) are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has filed a request to regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates tobacco products—cigarettes, cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco—but that is still in the future.
Meanwhile, the attorneys general of 40 states have agreed that electronic cigarettes should be regulated and sent a letter to the FDA in September requesting oversight of the products. They contend that, among other issues, the health effects of e-cigarettes have not been well studied, especially in children.
We recommend talking to your doctor about other, safer ways to quit smoking. Until we know more about e-cigarettes, it’s best to stay away.
The chemical BPA (bisphenol A), found in many plastics, has been linked to a lot of health problems. Here’s another one specifically for pregnant women. A study in mice has found that exposing male fetuses to BPA could lead to a later-life higher risk of prostate cancer.
The researchers, from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), have investigated pregnancy exposure to BPA “because the chemical, which mimics the hormone estrogen, has been linked to several kinds of cancer, including prostate cancer, in rodent models.”
Dr. Gail Prins, the study’s director, says “Our research provides the first direct evidence that exposure to BPA during development, at the levels we see in our day-to-day lives, increases the risk for prostate cancer in human prostate tissue.”
To be safe, the FDA says you should:
• Avoid plastic containers that have recycle codes 3 or 7 on them (some may be made with BPA).
• Never use plastic bottles for hot liquids.
• Discard scratched bottles.
It has long been understood that any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful to the growing fetus. Now, scientists have seen how drinking alcohol in pregnancy can lead to heart defects at the baby’s birth.
They found a way to image the very early development of the embryonic heart and found that “even one episode of heavy drinking” could lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a collection of congenital (present at birth) defects, including problems with the heart.
“Alcohol-induced congenital heart defects are frequently among the most life-threatening and require surgical correction in newborns,” the team of Case Western Reserve University scientists says.
Remember, the best amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant is none at all.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and if someone special gives you chocolate, don’t be afraid to indulge. Several scientific studies suggest that eating chocolate during your pregnancy may actually be good for both you and your developing baby.
A study conducted at Yale University found that women who had eaten five or more servings of chocolate a week in their third trimester were 40 percent less likely to develop pre-eclampsia than those who had eaten the sweet less than once a week, according to pregnancy.org. Earlier research has suggested that chocolate is good for the heart, in part by reducing blood pressure. And a study done in Finland found that babies born to women who ate chocolate daily during pregnancy were more active and “positively reactive,” which relates to such responsive actions as smiling and laughter. Finally, the babies of stressed women who regularly ate chocolate showed less fear of new situations than babies of stressed women who avoided the treat.
Dark chocolate appears to be the most healthful. Of course, overindulgence is not recommended; chocolate does have a lot of calories, after all. But in moderation, those sweets from your sweet are perfectly okay to eat when pregnant.