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Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
If you’re trying to get pregnant, consider this new piece of research.
According to a small study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, aluminum exposure may be the cause of male infertility that has been on the rise over the past several decades.
After analyzing the semen of 62 donors, scientists from the universities of Lyon and Saint-Etienne in France and Keele in the United Kingdom found that “the higher the aluminum, the lower the sperm count,” a news release states.
“There has been a significant decline in male fertility, including sperm count, throughout the developed world over the past several decades and previous research has linked this to environmental factors such as endocrine disruptors,” study leader, Professor Christopher Exley said in a news release.
Unfortunately, the study doesn’t explain exactly how men are coming into contact with these high levels of aluminum—or what could be done to prevent such exposure.
Dealing with infertility issues? Read up on some common causes and how to cope if it’s something that’s affecting you and your partner.
Photo of sperm courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, October 6th, 2014
Women hoping to get pregnant aren’t the only 0nes who should cut back on alcohol consumption, new research suggests.
According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal men who drank alcohol “moderately”—that’s five or more drinks a week—were found to have poorer sperm quality than those who drank less.
“Quality” was defined in the study as total sperm count and sperm size, among other factors.
The study looked at roughly 1,200 Danish men ages 18-28 who, besides their sperm quality, were otherwise considered healthy.
Drinking alcohol in the preceding week before the men were tested was also linked to changes in their reproductive hormone levels—testosterone levels rose while sex hormone binding globuline (SBHG) fell.
Researchers are wary to say just yet that alcohol consumption causes poor sperm quality because this is the first study of its kind. The findings could also show that men who naturally have lower sperm quality are more likely to drink more.
But, they left the bottom line at this: “It remains to be seen whether semen quality is restored if alcohol intake is reduced, but young men should be advised that high habitual alcohol intake may affect not only their general health, but also their reproductive health.”
Trying to get pregnant? Give our ovulation predictor a try.
Photo of cocktail courtesy of Shutterstock.
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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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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
A group of common chemicals called endocrine disruptors are being connected to fertility problems in men, as CNN reports:
Researchers found endocrine disruptors can interfere with human sperm’s ability to move, navigate and/or penetrate an egg. Their study results were published Monday in EMBO reports.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with your endocrine system – the system in your body that regulates hormones. These hormones control everything from your metabolism to your sleep cycle to your reproductive system, so messing with them can cause serious issues.
Scientists have a long list of potential endocrine disruptors, including bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, dioxin, mercury and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). They can be natural or man-made and are virtually “omnipresent,” the study authors write, in our food and in common household and personal care products.
This isn’t the first time scientists have linked these chemicals with fertility issues in humans. For example, in 2010, a study of Chinese factory workers found exposure to BPA can reduce sperm counts. More recent studies have shown BPA and chemicals called phthalates can hinder a couple’s ability to conceive and carry a healthy baby to full term.
Scientists in Germany and Denmark tested 96 endocrine disrupting chemicals on human sperm – both individually and in various combinations. Around one-third of the chemicals had a negative effect.
The researchers found these endocrine disruptors increased the amount of calcium found in sperm cells – although BPA was found to have no effect. Calcium ions control many of the essential functions of sperm, study author Dr. Timo Strunker explains, including the flagellum – the tail that propels sperm forward. So changing the calcium level in a sperm cell can impact its motility, or swimming ability.
Image: Sperm, via Shutterstock
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BPA, endocrine disruptors, fertility, infertility, male factor infertility, sperm, sperm quality, toxic chemicals | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Pregnancy, Safety
Thursday, May 1st, 2014
The multibillion dollar fertility industry tracks data on success rates and other measures of its work with women who are struggling to conceive a child, but the data–which tends not to get regulatory enforcement from the CDC and other agencies–may be difficult to decipher. More from The New York Times:
This is a multibillion-dollar industry, and there is financial pressure for clinics to claim frequent success. “Clinics are competing with each other based on pregnancy and live birthrates,” said Dr. Vitaly Kushnir, a reproductive endocrinologist in New York who researches success rates. The clinics do not want give out negative data that might drive away patients.
Nationally, the data suggest that a 38- to 40-year-old woman using her own unfrozen eggs has on average a 21.6 percent chance per cycle of having a baby by means of assisted reproductive technology. The average treatment cost per cycle rings in at $12,400, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
A cycle, which can take on average from 60 to 90 days from the time of the initial consultation, typically starts with hormone injections, followed by egg retrieval, fertilization and then embryo transfer. But the national success rate does not distinguish between pregnancies occurring in the first cycle or a second, fifth or later cycle. The number of cycles needed to achieve a successful pregnancy makes a big difference to would-be parents in terms of money, time and emotional strain.
The clinics also are not required to report babies born full-term or not, or those born with birth defects. “The outcome data should be included to reflect the most important goals and measures of success in I.V.F. — a healthy baby and healthy mother,” said Dr. Kushnir. Moreover, success rates at individual clinics may vary widely, depending in part on the populations they serve. Some clinics have been known to turn away women who may be difficult cases — older women or those with existing medical conditions, for example — to avoid depressing their success rates.
To potential patients browsing online, it may not be clear how these clinics define success. “Someone might think the success rate is the number of live births, when really the clinic is reporting the number of clinical pregnancies,” said Jim Hawkins, a law professor at the University of Houston who has studied the claims made on the websites of fertility clinics.
Dr. Kushnir and other researchers have pushed for more public information on the health of babies and mother after I.V.F. At the moment, potential patients can check reported success rates online, with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the C.D.C., which separates the data by pregnancy and live births.
Image: Pregnancy test, via Shutterstock
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