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Touched by the Stork - Fertility Information

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Genetic Abnormality Screening
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In a perfect world, genetic disorders would not exist. However, these abnormalities do exist and can often by transferred to children. To combat this from happening, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is used to genetically screen embryos for chromosomal abnormalities and remove those traits prior to uterine implantation. A new screening technique called Karyomapping may prove to be more efficient than PGD in screening for a larger variety of gene defects and chromosomal abnormalities.

Singularity Hub discussed some of the advantages to this new procedure. "Karyomapping can identify any one of the 15,000 genetic conditions we know of, and it can currently take as little as 3 days. The technique currently costs the same as traditional PGD (a few thousand dollars), but the price will likely drop soon, bringing it within reach for more and more families."

The long term effects of screening techniques such as Karyomapping or PGD have yet to be determined. It is possible that such screening may remove certain genetic traits from existence, such as Down Syndrome or even cancer. However, the ethical debate still exists on the extend that society should allow technology to alter natural conception.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sleep Deprivation and Fertility
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If you are dealing with the issue of infertility, don't lose sleep over it… literally. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can decrease a person's natural fertility. A proper 8 hours of sleep a night helps maintain proper hormone levels in the body. The hormone leptin plays a larger role in fertility, and a lack of sleep triggers your endocrine system to decrease the leptin levels.

"Because the endocrine system controls all of the hormones in your body, women are adversely impacted when it fails to produce the necessary hormones such as leptin, which is required for regulating your appetite and weight. If you are not sleeping adequately, your leptin levels will tend to decrease, which may cause irregular ovulation; as well as, irregular or decreased menstrual cycles" reports the Examiner.

Women and men are suggested to get a full 8 hours of sleep every night in order to ensure proper endocrine system functioning. This will increase overall health, stress level, and should regulate your ovulation cycles.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Changing Views on Age
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The public scrutiny of the "octamom" has put pressure for new regulations to restrict fertility clinics. One regulation under review is for the age of potential ART (assisted reproductive technology) patients. However, not all believe that giving fertility treatments to older women should be viewed as a negative. Women are remaining healthier longer due to changes in lifestyle, technology, and awareness.

"The 40- and 45-year-old of today is not the 40-year-old of the past. They're eating healthy, they are barely halfway through their life. It would be hard to say you shouldn't have a baby" says one physician to Mom Logic.

Although women are still healthier in their 40s than ever before, pregnancy still takes a toll on the body. Technology may allow for pregnancy later in life, but the human body is still limited on a natural level. These issues are all being addressed when creating new regulations for infertility treatments.

Monday, July 27, 2009
Paying for Donations
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There is currently a cap on the amount of money an egg or sperm donor can receive in Britain. As a result, there has become an egg shortage in the UK leading many women to travel abroad to receive fertility treatments. The chairman of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority is questioning the current policy and is calling for an increase in monetary reimbursement.

The concern is to keep women in the UK to address their fertility issues, where officials know safety regulations are in place. "My agenda is to try and keep assisted reproduction within our regulated area, not because I'm bossy, but out of concern for patient welfare" says the chairman to BBC News.

Another society chairman was quoted as saying the current price is an "insult to the time, effort, risk and long term implications donors take." The debate also calls for a larger reimbursement for egg donation, since the physical demands are much higher than that for sperm donation. The topic is currently under discussion and new policies may be drafted soon to help increase the supply for eggs and sperm.

Friday, July 24, 2009
Surrogacy Story
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Couples unable to conceive a child are sometimes left with little options after fertility procedures continually fail. For those who refuse to give up on having a child, one option that is readily available is surrogacy. The most popular type of surrogacy is gestational, where a fertilized embryo from the couple is implanted in a surrogate.

One surrogacy success story belongs to the Tamen family, who tried several rounds of IVF without success and decided to use a surrogate. After their surrogate had been impregnated, the couple realized that they too were pregnant. The Tamens now have 2 sons that they described to the New York Times as "being raised as twins cooked in different ovens."

The couple keeps in touch with their previous surrogate and the boys refer to her as their "Aunt." However, not all relationships like these continue past the day of delivery. Babies born to couples by a surrogate are released to the new parents immediately after birth. It is suggested that both parties have separate legal counsel prior to the surrogacy in order to ensure a smooth transition of money and the child.

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Shedding the Light on Infertility
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It has been hypothesized that the sun controls almost every aspect of life. In many ways this is true, but does the sun have control over fertility as well? Dr. Abraham Mayerson of Boston State Hospital believes so. He is studying the relationship between infertility and a lack of ultraviolet light.

According to the Examiner, he found that an increase in ultraviolet light led to a 120 percent increase in male hormone levels. Men were found to have higher testosterone levels in the summer as well when the sunlight and ultraviolet light are strongest. Dr. Mayerson researched recent birth trends, historical data, and observed animal behavior to draw his conclusions about sunlight and fertility.

Other doctors also see a relationship between ultraviolet light and fertility. According to the Examiner, doctors in Boston often prescribe light therapy to couples dealing with infertility. Couples using the therapy have been shown to have a higher rate of conception, so they report. Perhaps it may help those dealing with infertility to spend some extra time in the sun this summer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A Beating Heart
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A recent study may help determine the likelihood that a mother will miscarry. Researchers examined embryo heart rates and the direct relationship to miscarriages. Slow embryo heart rates have always been a sign of concern for mothers. Now scientists are getting closer to distinguishing the boundary between healthy and dangerous heartbeat counts as it relates to pregnancy.

The study leaders told Reuters, "This study was carried out to see if embryonic heart rate could be an added marker for potential viability...or, conversely, for potential miscarriage." In the study group, slower embryonic heart rates were seen to directly relate to higher rate of miscarriage.

Fetal heart rate above 130 beats per minute had a 92% chance of successfully being carried to full term. As the number of beats per minute increased, so did the success rate for a full-term pregnancy. Women undergoing fertility treatments, such as IVF, should be aware of this relationship and closely monitor fetal heart rate as a signal of success or failure of the procedure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Reproductive Tourism
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A new study conducted by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology has found that the Czech Republic is the most popular country for women looking to undergo ART (assisted reproductive technology) procedures. They have termed this as "reproductive tourism" and found that over 20,000 women travel across the globe each year for fertility procedures.

"The country boasts with very good results in the sphere; high-quality treatment is accessible and cheaper compared to other EU countries" says the study leader to a Czech new source.

Women choose the Czech Republic for a variety of reasons. Czech law is more lenient than other European countries in regards to fertility, leading to cheaper procedures and a larger number of available clinics. Also, Czech law also allows for egg donation where many other countries do not. Women looking to undergo these procedures travel outside their own country to conceive and then return home give birth. Reproductive tourism is a growing trend, causing many societies to take notice of the increased demand for these ART procedures.

Monday, July 20, 2009
Lifestyle Changes for Women
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Women attempting to get pregnant have a variety of natural resources available to them to help increase fertility. A simple lifestyle change may be the causal factor leading to a successful pregnancy. The Examiner helps define some natural lifestyle changes suggested for women actively seeking pregnancy.

The first suggestion is to limit the caffeine and alcohol intake. Both these factors decrease fertility in men and women. Women are also told to stop smoking, as this decreases fertility and can possibly damage your chances of carrying a baby to full term. Watching one's diet is also very important. Vitamin E helps boost the body's natural fertility systems as well as herbal supplements. Women are also warned to look at the labels on their prescriptions. Many women do not realize that current prescriptions may hinder their ability to conceive.

As a behavioral change, women should decrease their stress level as well. Acupuncture, yoga, and exercise are all activities that may help. If these natural changes do not increase fertility after a year, women are suggested to visit a physician for more information on alternative procedures.

Friday, July 17, 2009
How Old Is Too Old?
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As mentioned in my previous blog, the oldest living mother to undergo IVF died two years after giving birth at age 67. The age limit for a woman to undergo IVF is around 50 at most clinics, but is that age even too old? The medical community is in disagreement over this issue as more women are waiting until they are older to get pregnant.

"Women are waiting longer on average to begin having children in the last 20-30 years due to careers, education and other opportunities not traditionally available to women. As a result, more women are finding that natural conception has become increasingly difficult" reports the Examiner.

Women over 30 begin to experience a natural decline in their own fertility. When attempting natural conception at later ages, women experience difficulties and often turn to alternative forms of fertility treatments. Although pregnancy at 67 is a rarity, many researchers are concerned about society's trend to rely on science to conceive. Women putting off a family until later years are putting themselves at risk of not being able to conceive at all. Just as their fertility decreases, the success rate of IVF also decreases with age. These are important factors for women to consider when planning for a future family.

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