September is PCOS Awareness Month

PCOS Awareness Month is a federally designated event. The aim of PCOS Awareness Month is to help improve the lives of those affected by PCOS and to help them to overcome their symptoms as well as prevent and reduce their risks for life-threatening related conditions.

PCOS Challenge: The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association is the sponsoring organization for PCOS Awareness Month and offers supporting resources, information and events. It is the largest nonprofit support and advocacy organization for people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) globally. We touch the lives of individuals with PCOS and their supporters each year through television and radio programming, online and offline support groups, grants, education, awareness and advocacy initiative.

Learn how you can help spread awareness about PCOS at PCOSAwarenessMonth.org. And learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments for PCOS at our web page.

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British study debunks fears over COVID-19 vaccines

The proliferation of misinformation, especially on social media platforms, about COVID-19 vaccines’ harmful effect on the fertility of women has prompted a new study that found no evidence that these allegations were true.

The study was conducted by the British Fertility Society (BFS), in collaboration with the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS), and concluded that there was “absolutely no evidence” and no theoretical reason why any of the COVID-19 vaccines would affect the fertility of women and men.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the study also advised people of reproductive age to get vaccinated. This group includes those who are trying to have a baby and those who are thinking of having a baby in the near future.

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Dr. Martinez ‘never gave up on me’

Our patient Hetal has this to say about her time at RSCNJ

“Excellent facility. Very knowledgeable staff. They really help you with everything. Dr. Martinez and his team gave us excellent treatment with all our needs. Thank you so much for being there. The best part was the doctor never gave up on me.”

Thank you Hetal. And thanks to everyone who posts reviews of our care and service, which you can read here.

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Fertility organization encourages women of color

When Stacey Edwards-Dunn, of Jacksonville, Florida, struggled with her own infertility, she decided to help break through the topic that many Black women consider taboo. ”I started Fertility for Colored Girls, because I struggled with infertility,” Edwards-Dunn told a Jacksonville news station.

Fertility “was not an issue or concern spoken about in the African American community. Because the myth is that Black women, and couples in particular, do not struggle with infertility. That we’re hyper fertile,” she said.

Edwards-Dunn decided to create an organization called Fertility for Colored Girls. “The purpose of our organization is to raise awareness, provide education, increase access and encourage women of color to access fertility care,” she said.

According to its web site, the goal of the organization are:

  • To provide holistic fertility and reproductive health education that informs about causes of infertility, encourages healing and meets the needs of the mind, body and spirit of African American women.
  • To empower African American women to achieve their dreams of becoming parents and deal with the challenges of infertility by providing holistic education, emotional support and financial assistance for infertility treatments such as IVF, donor eggs or surrogacy and domestic adoption.
  • To increase public awareness of the challenges of infertility and reproductive health care disparities specific to African American Women and other women of color via advocacy, partnerships and education.
  • To help those experiencing infertility gain a sense of hope, peace and strength via prayer, ritual and support.
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Study: marijuana can cause infertility in men

As more states legalize marijuana, a new study by a Tulane University researcher has a warning for would-be dads. Smoking weed regularly may harm a man’s fertility.

Researchers from Tulane and the University of Washington found a connection between low semen volume and damaged sperm among men who smoked marijuana. But the side effects weren’t all bad. The study also found that men who smoked marijuana were more likely to have sperm that swam faster.

The findings were published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Urology.

“This is one of the first studies that show a decline in sperm quality in current and past marijuana smokers, compared to non-smokers,” said Dr. Omer A. Raheem, lead author on the study and assistant professor of urology at Tulane University School of Medicine. “This is significant because it adds to the evolving evidence of the potential negative impacts of marijuana on human reproduction.”

Raheem added, “It’s unclear if the sperm changes that take place due to marijuana use are reversible and if there’s a specific amount of time required to achieve sperm recovery following the discontinuation of marijuana smoking. Much more research and randomized studies are needed to gain a full understanding of the relationship between marijuana and male reproductive health.”

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New data should encourage pregnant women to get Covid vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its recommendations encouraging pregnant women to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The CDC noted that new data found no increase in the risk of miscarriage among women who were immunized during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Earlier research has also found no increased risk of miscarriage data for those vaccinated later in pregnancy.

This update now urges pregnant women be immunized, which is in accordance with the guidance offered by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical specialty groups.

“At this time, the benefits of vaccination, and the known risks of Covid during pregnancy and the high rates of transmission right now, outweigh any theoretical risks of the vaccine,” said Sascha R. Ellington, an epidemiologist who leads the emergency preparedness response team in the division of reproductive health at the CDC.

Having Covid-19 during a pregnancy has been linked to severe illness, including admission to intensive care and needing mechanical ventilation, and to preterm birth and death.

Read the new CDC guidelines here. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our office for more information.

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Male fertility is declining – environmental toxins could be a reason

Dr. Ryan P. Smith, an associate professor of urology at the University of Virginia, recently wrote a piece for the online magazine the Conversation about declines in male fertility.

“For men, the cornerstone of the fertility evaluation is semen analysis, and there are a number of ways to assess sperm. Sperm count – the total number of sperm a man produces – and sperm concentration – number of sperm per milliliter of semen – are common measures, but they aren’t the best predictors of fertility. A more accurate measure looks at the total motile sperm count, which evaluates the fraction of sperm that are able to swim and move.”

The science is consistent: Men today produce fewer sperm than in the past, and the sperm are less healthy,” he continues. “The question, then, is what could be causing this decline in fertility.”

His theory: environmental toxins. “Scientists have known for years that, at least in animal models, environmental toxic exposure can alter hormonal balance and throw off reproduction.”

Read his article here.

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Embryo research could help develop better infertility treatments

A research group focused on embryos has begun its work in Finland, comprehensively surveying for the first time the short RNA molecules that regulate genome function during embryonic development. Information gained from human ova and embryos helps to understand problems occurring during pregnancy and develop increasingly effective infertility treatments.

“For the first time, we have identified short non-coding RNA molecules in ova at different stages of maturity, in fertilized ova and in early embryos with the help of sequencing, as well as determined their editing on the molecular level in embryos. This is an important milestone on the path to a better understanding of embryonic development,” says Sanna Vuoristo, PhD, from the University of Helsinki, who heads the embryo research group.

Information gained on human ova and embryos helps to better understand the causes of early miscarriages or complications related to pregnancy. Moreover, knowledge generated by basic research promotes the development of better and more accurate techniques for preimplantation genetic testing, making it possible to improve the outcome of infertility treatments. Research involving embryos can help advance understanding of how stem cells derived from embryos can be differentiated into other cell types.

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Genes linked to longer reproductive lifespan in women

The age at which women go through menopause is critical for fertility and impacts healthy aging in women, but reproductive aging has been difficult for scientists to study and insights into the underlying biology are limited.

Now, scientists have identified nearly 300 gene variations that influence reproductive lifespan in women. Additionally, in mice, they have successfully manipulated several key genes associated with these variants to extend their reproductive lifespan.

Their findings, published in Nature, substantially increase our knowledge of the reproductive aging process, as well as providing ways to improve the prediction of which women might reach menopause earlier than others.

Co-author Dr Katherine Ruth, of the University of Exeter, said: “We hope our work will help provide new possibilities to help women plan for the future. By finding many more of the genetic causes of variability in the timing of menopause, we have shown that we can start to predict which women might have earlier menopause and therefore struggle to get pregnant naturally. And because we are born with our genetic variations, we could offer this advice to young women.”

Co-author Dr John Perry, of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, a senior author on the paper, said: “This research is incredibly exciting. Although there’s still a long way to go, by combining genetic analysis in humans with studies in mice, plus examining when these genes are switched on in human eggs, we now know a lot more about human reproductive aging. It also gives us insights into how to help avoid some health problems that are linked to the timing of menopause.”

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WSJ: ‘The Business Case for More Fertility-Related Benefits and Support’

“Infertility affects 15% of couples across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. But employees struggling with infertility rarely feel supported in the workplace. We believe that there is a strong business case for organizations to change that perception – both with more fertility benefits and by encouraging bosses to accommodate employees undergoing what is often a fraught, emotional and physically demanding process.”

So begins a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, written by an expert in human resources management and a doctor of reproductive science. They conducted in-depth interviews with 80 men and women, 10 workplace managers and 10 fertility counselors about a range of issues related to fertility treatment and work.

You can read more about their work at the Wall Street Journal web site.

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