Posts Tagged ‘ fertility ’

Fewer Women Seeking Infertility Help, Data Shows

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Despite improving science and public awareness campaigns around fertility issues and ways to treat them, fewer women are seeking help when they are having trouble becoming or remaining pregnant, according to an analysis of federal data.  In fact, the analysis shows, the number of women who are seeking help for infertility or recurrent miscarriages is actually on the decline.  More from the Detroit Free Press:

“There’s always been this perception these things are on the rise when the data have never supported that,” says Anjani Chandra, lead author of the report, out Wednesday from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Findings are based on a survey of 22,682 men and women, ages 15-44, conducted from 2006 to 2010, but much of the focus is on ages 25-44, because that’s when the report says “infertility service use may be more prevalent.”

In that age group, 17% of women had ever used any infertility service, which the report says is “a significant decrease from 20% in 1995.” Among childless women of those ages who have current fertility problems, the drop from 56% in 1982 to 38% most recently is “significantly less” than in 1982.

Kurt Barnhart, president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, says the report confirms what he already knows.

“Fertility services are underutilized and not reaching everybody,” says Barnhart, an OB-GYN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Image: Negative pregnancy test, via Shutterstock

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Bacon, Processed Meats May Harm Sperm, Study Finds

Friday, October 18th, 2013

A diet heavy in bacon and other processed meats may raise a man’s risk of having poor sperm and semen quality, whereas a diet rich in fish could boost male fertility, according to a new study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.  More from CNN:

Myriam Afeiche, research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and her colleagues looked at how types of meat could be associated with semen quality. They took samples from 156 men at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in Boston and had the men answer a questionnaire about their eating habits.

What does semen have to look like to be considered high-quality? The researchers considered four main parameters:

The concentration of sperm is one part of it. So is motility, or how fast the sperm move. The shape of the sperm also matters, as does the total sperm count – that’s the concentration multiplied by volume.

The researchers did not look at individual kinds of processed meat, so this study won’t tell you if bacon could be more sperm-stunting than hamburgers, or vice versa. But higher intake of processed meat appeared to be related to a lower percent of “morphologically normal” – or well-shaped – sperm.

Regarding fish, it seemed that men who ate more dark meat fish – such as salmon, bluefish and tuna – had higher total sperm count; more white meat fish – such as cod and halibut – was associated with normally-shaped sperm.

The researchers only looked at associations, not causes. It is unclear whether processed meat actually causes changes in sperm, or if it does, how that would happen. It’s possible men who eat more processed meat have an unhealthier diet overall, which could affect their semen. Same goes for fish intake and sperm; researchers don’t know what about fish may benefit the littler swimmers.

“There might be something else going on, but we’re not sure what it is,” Afeiche said.

Trying to get pregnant? Find out if you are maximizing your fertility, or predict your due date.

Image: Bacon, via Shutterstock

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Fertility Concerns Becoming Less Common Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

A new body of research is revealing how survivors of childhood cancer may struggle less with infertility than they may have expected.  Earlier assessment of fertility hormones is key to success, researchers say, because radiation and chemotherapy often ages the reproductive organs, including the ovaries, more quickly than normal aging would.  But fertility is within reach for many who have been through cancer treatment as children. The New York Times has more:

Last month, a large study in The Lancet Oncology found that about two thirds of female survivors who sought out fertility treatments as adults ultimately became pregnant — a rate of success that mirrored the rate among other infertile women. Other recent studies have found that many men who experience low sperm counts after pediatric cancer, a side effect in two thirds of boys who receive chemotherapy, can undergo procedures that harvest viable sperm, allowing them to father their own children. Doctors say that while there is no doubt that childhood cancer increases the likelihood of infertility, the ovaries and testes of young cancer patients may be more resilient than they had previously thought.

“When we see cancer survivors as adults, depending on how late they are in their reproductive years, radiation and chemotherapy tends to have a pretty suppressive effect on their future fertility,” said Dr. Hal C. Danzer, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Southern California Reproductive Center. “But this speaks to the fact that the ovaries and sperm production are more resilient in young individuals. It’s very encouraging.”

But if fertility treatment is to be successful, time is of the essence. Normally, for example, women under 35 are encouraged to attempt getting pregnant for at least a year before seeing a fertility specialist. For those with a history of cancer, however, the new message should be, “Don’t wait,” said Dr. Lisa R. Diller, the chief medical officer of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

“The ovaries after childhood cancer have taken a hit, and they are almost aging more quickly than someone of the same chronological age without cancer,” said Dr. Diller, the lead author of the Lancet study. “In the setting of having had childhood cancer, if a woman is 25 and has been trying to conceive for six months, then I would say see a specialist.”

Typically, childhood survivors tend not to address fertility issues until they are in a relationship and their treatment is many years behind them, said Dr. Aarati D. Didwania, the director of the STAR survivorship program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University.

“A lot of young women will come in and say, ‘I’m married, we’ve been trying for six months, is this related to my treatment?’ ” she said.

Traditionally, the fertility discussion has involved finding out which cancer therapies patients received and what their hormonal status is like, so doctors can estimate their likelihood of being infertile. Then they can talk about their options, Dr. Didwania said, and whether they need to resort to things like surrogacy, using donor eggs and sperm, or adoption.

But the new goal in the field of cancer fertility, or oncofertility, is to be as proactive as possible, said Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff, chief of the division of fertility preservation at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Oncologists are increasingly making a point of bringing up the subject of fertility at the time of diagnosis, discussing options like freezing eggs, sperm and embryos before treatment. In younger patients who have not gone through puberty, some fertility clinics offer the option of freezing ovarian and testicular tissue, which can be reimplanted when patients get older.

Studies show that up to two thirds of young patients are now counseled about fertility before starting their cancer treatment.

“Today 80 percent of kids will survive,” Dr. Woodruff said. “Now that patients are thriving and have decades of life ahead of them, fertility is a high priority for them.”

Image: Pregnant couple, via Shutterstock

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Antioxidants, Supplements Not Found to Increase Fertility

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Women who take vitamin supplements, including antioxidants in hopes of increasing their chances of conceiving a baby may not experience the boost they are hoping for, according to a major new review of 28 different scientific studies.  More from The Huffington Post:

Women seeking treatment for infertility sometimes take dietary supplements and antioxidants — vitamin C, vitamin E, melatonin, or combination supplements, among others — in the hopes of boosting fertility. But the new Cochrane review, published Sunday, found little evidence supporting efficacy of the supplements.

“I don’t think the results were surprising in the sense that there are no national organizations or guidelines that recommend routine use of antioxidant supplements for fertility,” said Dr. Wendy Vitek, head of the fertility preservation program at the University of Rochester’s Strong Fertility Center, who did not work on the new review.

“But I definitely have women ask me about supplements,” Vitek said. “I think there are a lot of feelings of self-blame with infertility, and women are looking to gain some sense of being proactive and of potentially controlling a very uncontrollable situation.”

Antioxidants, found in many fruits and vegetables, can also be taken in pill form. Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals damage cells and their ability to function. According to background provided in the Cochrane review, oxidative stress can be brought on by many of the same conditions that contribute to infertility, such as ovulatory disorders and endometriosis.

“It is thought that the free radical ‘scavenging’ effects of antioxidants would help to repair any oxidative stress occurring in the female reproductive process,” lead researcher Marian Showell, with the University of Auckland’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, told The Huffington Post. “This has not been disproven by this review. We just didn’t have high enough quality evidence to prove or disprove it.”

All told, the studies included in the review included more than 3,500 women who were attending fertility clinics.

Image: Woman taking vitamins, via Shutterstock

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Pregnancy Possible for Many Childhood Cancer Survivors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Women who had cancer as girls are often concerned that they will experience diminished or lost fertility, but a new study conducted by researchers from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center offers hopeful news–though it took female cancer survivors longer to get pregnant than sisters who had not had cancer, two-thirds of the cancer survivors did eventually become pregnant.  More from Reuters:

“The main message counters what some people have thought, which is if you had cancer you won’t be able to get pregnant or have children,” said Dr. Lisa Diller, the study’s senior author, from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Historically, childhood cancer survivors have been counseled that they may be unable to get pregnant because cancer-fighting chemotherapy and radiation can damage their ovaries.

For the new study, Diller and her colleagues used data from questionnaires in an ongoing study of 3,531 cancer survivors and 1,366 of their sisters between the ages of 18 and 39 years old.

The survivors were all diagnosed before age 21 with cancer at one of 26 medical centers in the U.S. or Canada from 1970 through 1986. The women had all been cancer free for at least five years.

Compared to their sisters, cancer survivors were more likely to be clinically infertile, which means they had been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than a year.

Thirteen percent of survivors were clinically infertile, compared to 10 percent of their sisters.

Still, 64 percent of the 455 clinically infertile survivors eventually got pregnant.

That pregnancy rate is similar to what has been observed in clinically infertile women without a history of cancer, Richard Anderson, a professor of clinical reproductive science at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, writes in an editorial accompanying the new study in the journal Lancet Oncology….

….But Dr. Mitchell Rosen, director of the University of California, San Francisco Fertility Preservation Center, cautions that the new study cannot predict how childhood cancer survivors’ fertility will change as they get into their late 30s or their 40s.

Rosen, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health that getting pregnant gets harder about 10 years before women go through menopause and childhood cancer survivors tend to go through early menopause.

That means childhood cancer survivors’ fertility problems may be amplified in their late thirties and early forties, compared to women without a history of cancer.

Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock

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