High-strain physical activity associated with greater risk of very early pregnancy loss

In women with a history of miscarriage, higher levels of physical activity were associated with a greater risk of subclinical, or very early, pregnancy loss, according to new research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Among women with confirmed pregnancy, physical activity and miscarriage risk were unrelated.

“Risk related to physical activity is different for pregnancy failure close to the time of implantation compared with that for later, clinical pregnancy loss,” writes lead author Lindsey Russo, a Ph.D. student working with senior author Brian Whitcomb, associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Their study, which sheds new light on the question of physical activity and very early pregnancy, was recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

There was roughly a two-fold higher risk of very early pregnancy loss for women who were highly active compared to those who were less active, the researchers said. Subclinical pregnancy loss can be difficult to detect because they may occur before a woman is even aware that she’s pregnant.

“We were able to address an interesting gap in the literature, where there has been conflicting evidence of whether physical activity can have a negative, beneficial or no effect on pregnancy. Determination of these very early pregnancy failures requires lab tests and daily specimen collection to identify pregnancies and losses. Few studies are able to do this” Whitcomb said.

The researchers say their study suggests that women who have lost a pregnancy may want to avoid high-strain activity in the earliest stage of a subsequent pregnancy, or around the time of trying to become pregnant.

“For women who are experiencing difficulty conceiving, our results are consistent with prior work that has also shown that high exercise strain during the implantation period may be related to increased risk of loss,” Whitcomb says.

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Study uncovers the role of DNA repair in preserving egg quality

A study out of Australia has uncovered the role DNA repair plays in preserving egg quality, offering hope for women whose eggs may be damaged through treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.

The study found that when the cell death pathway is inhibited in oocytes (eggs) these eggs are capable of repairing severe DNA damage sufficiently to produce healthy offspring.

By exposing female mice deficient in TAp63, a key regulator of cell death in eggs, to various doses of gamma irradiation, it was observed that the oocytes will rapidly repair the DNA damage to maintain oocyte quality and female fertility.

“Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, which makes them one of the longest living cells in the human body. This means that eggs are exposed to years of external and internal stressors that may damage the DNA and contribute to the reduced oocyte quality in women over 35 years of age. We have identified the DNA repair pathway that oocytes use … and confirmed that repair is efficient and accurate to prevent mutations in offspring generated from these eggs,” said researcher Karla Hutt.

With survival rates for many common cancers now exceeding 80 per cent, and an estimated population of 14 million female cancer survivors world-wide, there is a clear need to develop innovative approaches to protect the ovary from damage during anti-cancer treatment.

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Why infertility counseling can help you

Infertility is a medical condition much like other medical conditions – it affects all aspects of your life. It can create one of the most stressful life crises that an individual or couple has ever experienced and can affect your relationship with others, your perspective on life as well as how you feel about yourself. Feelings of grief, loss, guilt, shame, disappointment, anxiety, depression, isolation and dealing with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional turmoil for most people.

And now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, that emotional turmoil is greater than ever. The pandemic is causing stress and depression in many people, and only adding to that anxiety in those dealing with infertility.

That’s why infertility counseling can help. There are many different reasons for seeking infertility counseling that can include the following: how to cope with the stress, anxiety, grief or depression, how to communicate with your partner/spouse, how to choose the right medical treatment, how to begin exploring other family building options, how to respond to friends and family who may or may not know about your infertility journey or how to manage the day to day emotional stresses related to infertility.

Here are some signs that infertility counseling would be helpful to you:

  • Constant feelings of sadness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Depression
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Increased mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of interest in usual activities and relationships
  • Constant preoccupation with infertility
  • Marital/partner discord
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • A change in appetite, weight or sleep patterns
  • Thoughts about suicide or death
  • Difficulty with scheduled intercourse

We are happy to refer our patients to infertility counselors. To learn more, visit our web site.

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5-star reviews from our patients

“Extremely knowledgeable.”

“So thankful for not only his expertise but his compassion.”

“Exceeded our expectations.”

“Professionalism, knowledge, kindness and continuous support.”

“Always thorough, never rushed, and everyone at the office was gentle with us.”

These are just a few of the many kind things our patients have said about their care at RSCNJ. If you would like to see more reviews like these, just go to our web site. 

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All about third-party reproduction

What is third-party reproduction? That term refers to prospective parents or individuals who need the help of another person, whether it be a donor or gestational carrier to have a child.

LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples, single parents and those with certain infertility diagnoses can all benefit from our third-party reproduction services.

We break third-party reproduction into four categories:

  • Donor sperm recipients. Donor sperm can help couples with male-factor infertility, single women and LGBTQIA+ individuals achieve pregnancy. Sperm donors may be anonymous or someone the sperm recipient knows.
  • Egg donor recipients. When a woman can’t get pregnant using her own eggs or doesn’t want to risk passing along a genetic disorder to her child, she can receive eggs donated by another woman, fertilize them via IVF, and greatly improve her chances of pregnancy.
  • Gestational carriers. A gestational carrier (surrogate) is needed when a woman cannot carry a healthy pregnancy to term or for same sex male couples who wish to build their family.
  • LGBTQIA+ family building. LGBTQIA+ couples and individuals often need reproductive services to build their family. These include testing, a gestational carrier, and donations of eggs, sperm or embryos.

To learn more about our third-party reproductive services, please go to our web site.

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Researchers use nanotechnology to develop new treatment for endometriosis

Scientists have developed a precise, nanotechnology-based treatment to alleviate the pain and fertility problems associated with endometriosis, a common gynecological condition in women of childbearing age.

Research led by Oleh Taratula of the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy and Ov Slayden of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University used photo-responsive nanoparticles loaded with dye to find and remove the lesions associated with the disorder. The findings were published today in the journal Small.

The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus, and endometriosis occurs when endometrium-like tissue forms lesions outside of the uterine cavity – usually involving the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. On rare occasions, endometrial tissue may spread beyond the pelvic organs. Roughly 10% of childbearing-age women will experience endometriosis, and 35% to 50% of women with pelvic pain and or infertility suffer from the disorder.

There’s no cure, although surgical removal of the lesions can improve fertility. The downside, however, is that the lesions come back about half the time, and more than one-quarter of endometriosis surgery patients need three or more operations because it’s hard to find all of the diseased tissue that needs to be removed.

Taratula and Slayden, in a collaboration that also included OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, used tiny – less than 100 nanometers in size – polymeric materials packed with a dye that can generate both a fluorescence signal and cell-killing heat under near-infrared light. For doctors, that means it can be both an imaging tool and a lesion-removal technique.

“We believe that our developed strategy can eventually shift the current paradigm for endometriosis detection and treatment,” Taratula said.

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COVID-19 unlikely to be transmitted through semen, study shows

COVID-19 is unlikely to be spread through semen, according to University of Utah Health scientists who participated in an international study of Chinese men who recently had the disease. The researchers found no evidence of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the semen or testes of the men.

The study was not comprehensive enough to fully rule out the possibility that the disease could be sexually transmitted. However, the chances of it occurring, based on this limited finding, appear to be remote.

The study appears in Fertility & Sterility, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. The international team of researchers from China and the United States launched the study in response to concerns that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could be sexually transmitted like Ebola, Zika and other emerging viral pathogens. To find out, they collected semen samples from 34 Chinese men one month (on average) after they were diagnosed with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. Laboratory tests did not detect SARS-CoV-2 in any of the semen samples.

But just because the virus wasn’t present in the existing semen didn’t necessary rule out that it hadn’t entered the testes where sperm cells are formed.

“If the virus is in the testes but not the sperm it can’t be sexually transmitted,” says Jingtao Guo, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scientist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah who also co-authored the study. “But if it is in the testes, it can cause long-term damage to semen and sperm production.”

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Chances of having a second IVF baby after fertility treatment for the first child ‘favorable,’ says new report

Women have a good chance of having a second child with the help of fertility treatment after their first was child born this way, research out of Australia has shown.

Specifically, the study found that after a live birth using IVF, also known as assisted reproductive technology (ART), a woman’s chances of a second ART baby were between 51% and 88% after six cycles of treatment.

The study analyzed data from over 35,000 women and was published in the journal Human Reproduction. It’s the first published report that explored the chances of achieving a second IVF baby after a first IVF child. While the study presents population estimates and every couple is different, the researchers hope the new evidence can be used to counsel patients.

Dr. Christos Venetis, fertility clinician, Director of Clinical Research at IVFAustralia and a clinical academic from the research team, says, “As the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of non-urgent ART services are gradually being lifted in many countries, … many people are considering expanding their family through ART. This study can provide reassurance that – in most cases – the chance of them having a second baby through ART is quite favorable.”

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‘So thankful for Dr. Ziegler’s expertise and compassion’

A patient of ours offers her thoughts about the care she received at RSCNJ:

“Dr. Ziegler is extremely knowledgeable about what he does and provides comfort and reassurance during each visit and meeting with him. I am so thankful for not only his expertise but his compassion through difficult times. He personally called when things were not going right and quickly got me in so we could find a solution (which we did!). My husband and I cannot say enough wonderful things about our time at RSCNJ and with Dr. Ziegler. Highly recommend for anyone going through a difficult time conceiving and want someone who will treat them with care and importance.”

Thanks to her, and to all our patients who post their reviews of our care, which you can find on our web site.

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New podcast covers reciprocal IVF for lesbian couples

Same sex female partners who want to have a baby have a number of treatment options to help them conceive. In our latest podcast, Dr. William Ziegler discusses these options and the varying ways female partners can proceed.

Listen to the podcast here.

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