Posts Tagged ‘ conception ’

High Cholesterol May Impact Fertility

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Couples–both women and men–who both have high cholesterol levels may find their fertility impacted, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.  More from HealthDay News:

When both the prospective mom and dad had high cholesterol levels, it took longer to conceive compared to those with lower cholesterol levels. The study also found the highest cholesterol levels among the couples who didn’t achieve pregnancy during the year-long study.

“This is the first time that cholesterol levels have been identified as a factor in pregnancy along with known factors, such as age and weight,” said lead researcher Enrique Schisterman, senior investigator and chief of the epidemiology branch at the U.S. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in the body’s blood vessels, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Genetics and your family history play a role in your cholesterol levels, but so too, do diet and exercise, the institute says.

Schisterman noted that when both the man and the woman have high cholesterol it takes much longer to conceive.

“If the woman has high cholesterol and the man has normal cholesterol, then it takes longer, but not as long as when both have high cholesterol,” Schisterman said.

“When only the man has high cholesterol and the woman has normal levels, it doesn’t seem to have an effect,” he added.

Schisterman noted that while this study shows an association between cholesterol levels and time to conception, what isn’t known is whether high cholesterol causes the delay.

It’s also not clear if taking drugs to lower cholesterol would shorten the time to conception. “We don’t know that yet. Our study was not designed to see the effect of statins,” he said. Statins are medications used to lower cholesterol levels.

Also, it’s possible that diet and exercise, which are known to lower cholesterol, might also reduce the time to conception, Schisterman said.

“Having a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining normal cholesterol levels will help couples become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child,” he said.

Image: Cholesterol, via Shutterstock

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Scientists Discover Protein that Links Sperm to Egg

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The protein mechanism that allows a sperm and egg to connect to each other and fertilize to become an embryo has been identified by British scientists.  More from Reuters:

Fertilization takes place when an egg cell and a sperm cell recognize one another and fuse to form an embryo. But how they recognize each other in order to hook up had remained a mystery.

Researchers said on Wednesday they have identified a protein on the egg cell’s surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join.

This protein, dubbed Juno in honor of the ancient Roman goddess of fertility and marriage, and its counterpart in sperm, named Izumo after a Japanese marriage shrine, are essential for reproduction in mammals including people, they said.

This new understanding of the role of these two proteins could help improve the treatment of infertility and guide the development of new contraceptives, the researchers said.

“By identifying this interaction between Juno and Izumo, we now know the identity of the receptor proteins found on the surface of our father’s sperm and our mother’s egg that must interact at the moment at which we were conceived,” said Gavin Wright of the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature.

The researchers are now screening infertile women to try to determine whether problems with the Juno receptor are to blame.

“It is remarkable that about 20 percent of infertility cases have an unexplained cause,” said Enrica Bianchi of the Sanger Institute, another of the researchers.

“We are now asking whether Juno is involved in these cases of unexplained infertility,” Bianchi added.

Wright said that if defects in the Juno receptor are in fact implicated in human infertility, a simple, non-invasive genetic screening test could be developed to identify affected women.

“This then would allow us to guide the fertility treatment,” Wright said, letting affected women proceed directly to a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection involving direct injection of sperm into an egg obtained from in vitro fertilization.

Image: Sperm and egg, via Shutterstock

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