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Tag Archive: fertility

Drug Found to Prevent the Damaging Effects of Chemotherapy to Fertility

It is already known that standard chemotherapies have a negative impact on women’s fertility; which is why some of those who have to undergo chemotherapy choose to have their eggs preserved prior to treatment. A positive development regarding this has come to light as a drug that is currently being used to slow down tumor growth was also found to be capable of protecting the ovaries from the damaging effects of chemotherapy.

ChemotherapyHappy News

In a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers shared that the ovaries of mice given the drug prior to being exposed to chemotherapeutic compounds were protected from expected damage.

The research team led by scientists from NYU Langone Medical Center found that the drug everolimus protected ovaries from the effects of cyclophosphamide – a chemotherapeutic agent usually used in the treatment of breast cancer but was also known to cause the depletion of egg cells needed to achieve conception.

After their treatment, female mice that were treated with chemotherapy and everolimus were found to be able to produce twice as many offspring as mice that were only given chemotherapy.

The study authors say that studies with strong results with an already available drug (such as this) may have a speedier process of applying for permission to test in premenopausal human cancer patients.

Clinical Significance Abound

Kara Goldman, MD, the study’s author and NYU Langone reproductive endocrinologist said that their findings with the use of everolimus may represent a cancer treatment that does not affect fertility in the future. She added that this can be used to complement the freezing of embryos and eggs that are doubtless valued methods but have quite a few cons such as being too expensive, too time consuming, not protective of ovarian function, and is less effective with age.

Goldman entered into research fellowship after a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology because she wanted to identify drugs that can address the gap she sees in her practice as a fertility specialist. She added that patients need more options and should not have to face devastating life choices wherein they have to choose between preserving their ability to have children in the future and getting treated for cancer.

A Positive Beacon for Those with Ovarian Issues

Goldman’s current study revolves around the ovaries, the female reproductive organ with a limited supply of eggs that give rise to a baby. Although women begin puberty with around 300,000 primordial follicles that can develop into egg cells, fertility specialists realized that women who’ve undergone chemotherapy treatments have a markedly reduced ability to conceive because the treatment shrinks ovarian reserves.

The research team expressed their commitment in answering questions as to whether their findings will be applicable in general fertility. They do acknowledge that a medication that can protect and extend ovarian function would be valuable not just for cancer patients but also for women who have other health conditions that cause irreversible depletion of their ovarian reserve.

Oral Contraceptives Pose a Threat to Healthy Women?

A recently published study shared that the most common combined oral contraceptive pill pose a negative impact on the quality of life of women who use the said pills; although it does not cause an increase in depressive symptoms.

The above findings were published in the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility earlier this year. The data was collected from a major randomized placebo-controlled study conducted by the collaborative efforts of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet researchers and the Stockholm School of Economics.

Oral ContraceptivesNew OCP Study Sheds Light on Important Issue

Karolinska Institutet Department of Women’s and Children’s Health professor Angelica Lindén Hirschberg stated that we know very little as to how oral contraceptive pills truly affect women’s health, despite the fact that women users of contraceptive pills around the world number at around 100 million (some males on hormone therapy also use them). She also shared that the current scientific base regarding the effect of contraceptive pills on depression and quality of life is very limited. Due to this, the professor thinks that there is a great need for studies wherein the use of oral contraceptives is compared to placebos to ascertain what other effects it may have on women’s health and fertility.

In light of the above, professor Lindén Hirschberg led a study together with the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics associate professor Niklas Zethraeus, Stockholm School of Economics’ Anna Dreber Almenberg, and the University of Zürich Eva Ranehill to gather necessary data. The research team gathered their study’s data from a group of 340 healthy women belonging to the 18 to 35 years old age group. The women were treated randomly for over 3 months with placebos (pills that have no effect) or contraceptive pills that contain a combination of levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol, the most common form of combined OCP in the world and in Sweden. The lead researchers and the women were kept unaware as to which treatment was given to each woman.

Findings Could Mean More

Women who were given OCPs estimated that their quality of life is lower than women who were treated with placebos. It appears that the contraceptives negatively affected both the general quality of life and aspects of it such as the women’s well-being and mood. It is to be noted that no marked increase in depressive symptoms was seen.

The researchers emphasize that caution must be applied to the interpretation of the study’s results since changes observed were relatively small. Despite this, they also stated that the negative effect of the use of OCPs in individual women may be of clinical importance.

Clinical Application

Niklas Zethraeus stated that the negative effect shared by some women may be a contributing factor to the irregular use or low compliance of use of OCPs in some women. Zethraeus further added that these findings should be taken into consideration when prescribing various forms of contraceptives and specific OCPs.

It is to be noted that the findings of the study are only applicable to the specific OCP combination of ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel – the most common OCP combination prescribed in most countries due to a relatively lower risk of physiological combinations among other OCPs. Other OCP combinations have a different risk profile and possible side effects.

Sperm Swimming Conditions in the Uterus Sways Huge Role in Fertility

We’ve been taught that conception hinges on the ability of the sperm to reach and fertilize an egg, but a recent study conducted by researchers at the Washington State University says that the uterus may be playing a bigger role all along.

Fertility - Fertilization ProcessAn Insightful Breakthrough

In a study conducted on female mice, researchers found out that the uterus of the female mice is able to alter and break down semen into a less gel-like and more watery consistency, making it a more favorable environment for sperm to swim faster and easier.

The results of this study indicate that there is more interaction between the female reproductive tract and semen than previously thought. This data is expected to change how fertility treatments are planned and implemented in the future.

It is to be noted that prior to the findings of this research coming to light, scientists previously thought that enzymes from the prostate gland are what’s responsible for breaking down semen.

The study was initiated when Wipawee Winuthayanon, an assistant professor at the Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences reported in the journal PLOS Genetics that the prostate gland enzyme that breaks down semen is also produced by female mice when induced with the use of estrogen. In addition to this, researchers also observed that semen failed to liquefy in the uterus of female mice that lacked the gene to produce the enzyme.

Fertility EvaluationReal Evidence at Last

WSU researchers claimed that the observations documented in their study provided the first real evidence that the female reproductive tract and semen interact in a positive way to impact fertility. Their research highlights the relative roles of secretions produced from both the male and female reproductive tracts that impact the physical alteration that semen has to undergo to facilitate the sperm swimming up to meet and fertilize an egg.

Exciting Possibilities

Researchers stated that the information in the study will advance research on sperm liquefaction inside the female reproductive tract, an area of study that needs further exploration. They said that further advancements could lead to the development of tools used to diagnose unexplained cases of infertility and further innovation in non-invasive contraception technologies.

The importance of the data garnered from the study supports the fact that for the sperm to reach the egg in a mammalian anatomy, it should be as efficient as possible in traveling to the egg. In other words, a sperm that is swimming in a less viscous liquid will be able to swim faster and easier because of lesser resistance as compared to it swimming in a thick fluid. Finding out that the female and male reproductive systems are aiding each other to make the sperm’s path as easy as possible for fertilization to occur is, indeed, a breakthrough.

The study was performed by Shuai Li, WSU postdoctoral research associate, Marleny Garcia, WSU honors student, and Rachel L. Gewiss, WSU research assistant.

Your Fertility Diet & Conceiving

                  Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular intercourse (at least twice a week). In the United States, 10.9% of women aged 15-44 have impaired fertility. There are many states that offer minimal or no insurance coverage for fertility treatments, this can be an expensive ordeal. Many turn to claims that supplements, complementary medicine and other measures to aid them. There have also been discussions on how diet and nutrition can aid fertility.canstockphoto45557864

                  It was found that patients who are overweight (Body Mass Index (BMI) > 35kg/m2) or underweight (BMI<19kg/m2) took a longer time to conceive compared to women who are in the normal weight range (19-35kg/m2). It is then recommended that women who are overweight or obese to lose weight and women who are underweight to gain weight to reach the normal weight range so fertility can be improved. Women with higher BMI who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) also have less successful pregnancy rates when compared to those in the normal range. Although obesity does not affect men and the conception rates for their partners, it was found that the rates of having a live birth (a baby that is alive at delivery) is lower compared to couples with male partners of normal BMI.

                  The optimal diet for fertility is still mostly unknown but dietary modifications have been shown to improve infertility that is caused by ovulation problems. The consumption of chicken or turkey was associated with a higher rate of infertility due to ovulatory issues while the consumption of processed meats and fish was not associated with a greater rate of infertility. The intake of foods rich in vegetable protein showed a decreased risk of ovulatory disorder but it was not significant enough to be recommended to all patients.

                  Although there is limited evidence, current data showed that a high fertility diet consists of:

  1. Avoid trans-fat: this is a type of fat that clogs arteries and threatens fertility.
  2. Greater intake of monounsaturated fat: it helps improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reduce inflammation, both are good for fertility. Take more vegetable oil, nuts, seeds and cold water fish such as salmon and sardines.canstockphoto45942965
  3. Turn to vegerable protein: replacing meat with plant based protein such as soybeans, tofu, beans, peas or nuts can help improve fertility.
  4. Increased consumption of high-fiber, low glycemic carbohydrates: choose slow digesting carbohydrates that are rich in fiber such as whole grains, and vegetables. This improves fertility by controlling blood sugar and insulin levels.
  5. Intake of high-fat dairy products: whole milk instead of skim milk was found to improve fertility. Choose a small dish of ice cream of full fat yoghurt every day.
  6. High non-heme iron intake which are mostly plant based: this can be obtained from whole-grain cereals, spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and beets.
  7. Taking extra folic acid: helps with nutrition for a healthy pregnancy.
  8. Hydration: water is the best for hydration. Coffee and tea can be consumed in moderation. Sugared sodas should be avoided.

References:

  • Chavarro JE, Willett WC, Skerrett PJ. Follow the fertility diet? Harvard Mental Health Letter. Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/follow-fertility-diet. Accessed 2/1/2017.
  • Collins GG, Rossi BV. The impact of lifestyle modifications, diet, and vitamin supplementation on natural fertility. Fertility Research and Practice. 2015;1:11.

 

What is Ovulation Induction? Info from a Los Angeles Fertility Center

                  Ovulation induction is the process to stimulate ovulation (production and release of eggs from a woman) by medication. This is used for women who have difficulty conceiving as their ovaries do not release eggs. Medications can be used to either cause ovulation in a patient who does not ovulate regularly or to cause multiple eggs to be developed and Ovulation Induction Los Angelesreleased. There is approximately 25% of infertile women who have problems with ovulation. By helping these women to ovulate regularly, it increases their chances of pregnancy. These medications are called “fertility drugs” and may also improve the endometrium (lining of the womb or uterus) which is required for pregnancy.

                  Ovulation induction can help women who have irregular periods as they are likely to have ovulatory dysfunction by helping them to have regular ovulation. Some ovulation problems include: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – a hormonal condition which causes the eggs to not be released, ovaries that do not respond to hormones that help the maturation and release of the egg (luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)), thyroid problems, eating disorders, extreme weight gain and weight loss.

                  Before fertility drugs are given to patients, doctors often use a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to make sure that the fallopian tubes (tubes for the fertilized egg to travel into the womb for implantation) are unblocked. Patients who have a blocked tube may have an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus) and can be dangerous. Many women are suitable candidates for ovulation induction. Women who have ovulation issues and those with unexplained infertility can be treated to increase the number of eggs released. A possible complication that may occur is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

Some of the commonly used fertility drugs includes:

  1. Clomiphene Citrate: this medication is commonly used to stimulate the maturation and release of eggs. The standard dose is 50-100 milligrams (mg) every day for 5 consecutive days. Treatment starts usually on the second to fifth day after menstruation begins. Chances of success depends on the age of the patient, health condition and quality of the semen. Theclomiphene chance of twins is 6-10% and chance of triplets is 1% or less.
  2. Aromatase inhibitors: Used to temporarily decrease estrogen levels in the body which leads to the body producing more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH is used to help in the production and maturation of eggs. Drugs in this class include letrozole and anastrozole. Studies show that pregnancy rates are similar to Clomiphene Citrate.
  3. Other drugs that can be used are insulin sensitizing drugs – Metformin, gonadotropins, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), bromocriptine or cabergoline, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and GnRH Analogs.

Long term studies have not found any association of increased birth defects with clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins. There is also no evidence associating an increased ovarian risk with clomiphene citrate, gonadotropins or aromatase inhibitors.

Pacific Reproductive Center offers expertise with helping women reach their fertility goals. This includes ovulation induction and additional treatments that have been shown to work well. PRC has fertility clinics in Los Angeles metro including Torrance, Glendale, Corona and Irvine. Call today!

 

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