Posts Tagged ‘Fertility’

8 Ways to Super-Swimming Sperm

The You Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic — the authors of several best-selling health books, write about a sperm improvement plan in a recent syndicated column.

“Healthy sperm and a robust sperm count improve your odds that a single sperm will survive its ultra-marathon journey and meet an eligible egg,” they write.

To give your sperm a healthy “makeover” and improve your fertility, take these 8 steps for super-swimmer sperm:

1. Eat less (like none) of the bad fats and more of the good ones.

Eating lots of saturated fat — found in red meats, processed meats, full-fat dairy products and many snack foods and desserts — can reduce sperm counts by 38%, and slow the swimming ability of the remaining 62%.

But getting more omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon and wild trout means higher counts.

To get more omega-3s you can also take a supplement of 1,500 mg DHA (the most active omega-3) daily for 10 weeks, then cut back to 1,000 mg a day.

2. Hang out at the farm stand.

Filling up on fruit and veggies protects sperm quality and quantity by revving up your body’s defenses that keep them healthy.

3. Add vitamin D-3 and zinc.

Plenty of vitamin D-3 helps sperm swim better and faster.

Aim for 1,000 IU a day from a D-3 supplement.

Add 12 mg of zinc a day for a healthy sperm count and superior shape.

Great and healthy food sources of zinc include poultry, beans, cashews and no-fat, no-added-sugar yogurt.

4. Get that laptop off your lap and your phone out of your pocket.

Surfing the web or checking email with a Wi-Fi-connected laptop humming in your lap is bad news for sperms’ swimming skills and the precious DNA cargo they carry.

Phones may hamper male fertility, too.

5. Keep cool where it counts.

Sperm production needs temperatures cooler than the rest of your body, which is why hot tubs, a fever and even a desk job can torpedo your count.

Take stand-up breaks at work, let ’em breathe, and make the switch to boxers from briefs.

Tight skivvies can reduce sperm counts by up to 50 percent.

Cyclists, mix up your exercise routine, too.

6. Skip the drinks and smokes.

Smoking slashes your sperm count by 13-17% and triggers genetic abnormalities.

There’s evidence marijuana is also bad news.

More than one beer, glass of wine or cocktail a day also messes with sperm quality.

After two drinks, sperm get mixed up and travel in weird directions.

7. Stay trim for your swimmers.

Adding extra pounds subtracts from your sperm count and ups the number of abnormal sperm in your arsenal.

Why?

Obesity may alter hormone levels and heat up your testicles.

8. Don’t hold back in the bedroom.

Daily fun between the sheets improves sperm quality dramatically.

Compared to several days of abstinence, daily intimacy reduces DNA damage in sperm by about 30%.

Public Enemy #1 for Male Fertility: Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids, such as testosterone and its derivatives, are often taken by athletes to get “pumped.”

But these drugs have a unique side effect — they can shrink a man’s testicles and drastically reduce his fertility.

One of the more serious side effects of these poisonous chemicals is on male reproductive organs, says Marc Goldstein, MD, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery and surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Because of the high level of circulating testosterone caused by the steroids, the testicles no longer need to manufacture this hormone, so they being to shrink.

This reduces sperm production and may lead to both impotence and sterility,” says Dr. Goldstein.

In a new article posted on the American Fertility Association website, Stanton C. Honig, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery/Urology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, examines how anabolic steroids affect male fertility.

“The use of anabolic steroids historically has been used by athletes in major sports, such as weight lifting, baseball and football,” writes Dr. Honig, who is also a Staff Urologist at Yale New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, CT.

“Because these so-called ‘role models’ use these drugs, anabolic steroid use or abuse has filtered down and is being used by recreational weight lifters, college, and high school athletes.”

The good news is that in many cases this problem is reversible, Dr. Honig says.

Once performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as steroids are stopped, sperm production may start again and sperm will return in the ejaculate, usually in about 3 months.

However, for those who have used steroids for years, this may take up to 2 years.

Once steroids are stopped, medical therapy may help enhance the ability of a man’s body to restart sperm production.

What’s more, PEDs can also cause sexual dysfunction, Dr. Honig notes.

When testosterone levels crash, this may lead to tiredness, loss of energy, and loss of sex drive.

“The most important point here is if you want to have children at some point in your life, DON’T USE ANABOLIC STEROIDS!!!” Dr. Honig admonishes.

And Dr. Goldstein agrees: “If you want to preserve your fertility, do not use anabolic steroids.”

In fact, testosterone has been successfully used as a contraceptive for men, he notes.

How Vitamin D Levels Relate to Fertility and Prostate Cancer

If you want to conceive a child, just take a holiday in the sun since sunlight boosts fertility in both men and women by increasing their levels of vitamin D.

That’s how the media interpreted the results of a recent systematic review of the connection between vitamin D and fertility.

The new findings, say the pundits, mean that some infertile couples may be undergoing unnecessary and costly fertility treatments when spending time in the sun could be their answer.

There are some hints that vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin,” can help balance sex hormones in women and improve sperm counts in men.

Other studies show some evidence supporting a role of vitamin D in prostate cancer.

However, the evidence for the role of vitamin D in both fertility and prostate cancer is mixed, at best.

For more on my interpretation of the data, check out the piece I wrote for the American Fertility Association.

Upgrading Fertility Status with Varicocele Repair

The most common identifiable cause of infertility in men is a varicocele.

Approximately one third of infertile men who have never fathered a child have a varicocele, and up to 80% of men who were once fertile, but are now infertile, also have a varicocele.

Varicoceles are abnormally enlarged veins draining the testicles.

They cause pooling of blood in the scrotum and a rise in testicular temperature.

Even one degree rise in temperature in the scrotum can have an adverse effect on sperm production and testosterone function.

The good news is that varicoceles are treatable, writes Marc Goldstein, MD, who is the Matthew P. Hardy Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Urology at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, and Surgeon-in-Chief, Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, in a blog for the American Fertility Association.

“Dozens of reports have been published demonstrating the benefit of varicocele surgery to improve sperm counts,” writes Dr. Goldstein, who is also co-author of the book A Baby at Last!.

“Yet, varicocele repair remains controversial, particularly for small varicoceles that can’t be seen or felt on a physical exam.

Studies have shown greater improvements in semen quality for repair of large varicoceles compared with smaller ones.”

Dr. Goldstein details how he developed a microsurgical technique of varicocele repair using an operating microscope.

This technique can help couples achieve a 43% pregnancy rate after 1 year.

Microsurgical varicocele repair also:

— decreases sperm fragmentation, or the breaking up of DNA strands into pieces

— may cost less than in vitro fertilization with a single sperm injection (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI)

— can induce sperm formation and help achieve pregnancy for couples in which the man has a zero sperm count (azoospermia) or a severely low sperm count and low sperm motility

— improve testosterone levels in two-thirds of men

“In conclusion, varicocele repair is a cost-effective treatment of infertility,” writes Dr. Goldstein.

“Men can upgrade to normal semen, which can allow for a natural pregnancy, or upgrade to semen of adequate quality for intrauterine insemination.

Men with azoospermia may produce ejaculated sperm adequate for ICSI.

Even if a man remains azoospermic, varicocele repair may enhance spermatogenesis allowing enough sperm production for ICSI.

Finally, microsurgical varicocelectomy will improve testosterone levels in a majority of men, which is a men’s health issue aside from fertility.”

The Case for the Only Child

Dedicated to all those parents who have had or may have to answer the question “When are you having another child?” the new book A Case for the Only Child has some great answers.

Social psychologist and multiple book author Susan Newman, PhD, has written the essential guide to parents of only one child.

The book debunks many myths, taking into account the changes in today’s nuclear family, including 2-family incomes, fertility issues such as women who have children into their 40s, and the economic reality of raising children.

“Most of us have been brainwashed into believing that children must have siblings, that the perfect family is comprised of mom, dad, and two children–the traditional family,” says Newman, who writes the Singleton blog for Psychology Today.

“Family is now exceedingly diverse with one-child emerging as the fastest growing family unit.”

Among the reasons for the increase in one-child families has to do with starting families later, the stress of needing to work, infertility, divorce, and single parents not waiting for Mr. Right.

Some of the myths Newman debunks:

Myth: Mothers of one are happiest
Second and third children don’t increase a father’s happiness and have a negative effect on a mother’s contentment.

Myth: Children affect a woman’s employment
The wage penalty for being a mother is 5% per child.

Myth: An only child fares poorly in the future without parents and siblings to lean on.
As singletons get older they become increasingly self-reliant because they have to be.

The Case for the Only Child is chock-full of facts and statistics to show the reasons for the rapid rise in singletons.

It shows the reader how to deal with pressure from friends, relatives, and strangers to have a second child, and relates how it feels to be an only child through personal stories.

All told, this is a fascinating book that can help you decide for yourself how to best plan your family and raise a single child.

Hormone Levels May Predict a Woman’s Future Fertility

A combination of a woman’s age and the blood levels of a specific hormone may be able to predict her future fertility.

“Women often postpone having children until their career has been well established.

However they may find that it is difficult to get pregnant at this time.

It could therefore be very useful for women to know beforehand up to which age they remain fertile,” write Dutch researchers in a study published online May 26 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

In general, a woman’s fertility ends about 10 years before she goes into menopause.

Now Dutch researchers say they can use a woman’s age and her blood levels of anti-muellerian hormone (AMH) to predict the end of her fertility.

AMH is a hormone produced by the follicles in the ovary.

A higher AMH level indicates a higher number of follicles and eggs in the ovaries.

As a woman gets older and the number of eggs in her ovaries decreases, the AMH levels also start to decrease.

So AMH levels can be used to help predict a woman’s ovarian reserve, that is, the number of eggs she still has available to become fertilized.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, followed 257 healthy woman, ages 21 to 46, for 11 years.

The Dutch researchers were able to link AMH levels to the point when 48 of the women entered menopause.

Based on this information, they built a model using age and AMH levels to predict when an individual woman would enter menopause.

They are working on standardizing an assay so this can be translated into clinical practice.

For example, if a woman receives a prediction that she will become infertile at an early age, she may choose to have her eggs harvested and frozen.

This would give her a good chance of having children later on if it turns out that she has a reduced egg count.

The AMH test is still considered experimental because the cutoff values have not been standardized in many countries, notes Zev Rosenwaks, MD, director of Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

The Weill Cornell fertility center has been using the AMH test for several years.

AMH levels can also be used to predict a woman’s response to ovarian stimulation in in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles, he says.

Dr. Rosenwaks determines which woman will have a higher or lower response by measuring her AMH levels at any time during her menstrual cycle.

This allows him to choose a high or low follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) dosage even before the woman begins her treatment.

“FSH levels along with AMH concentrations can help a couple decide on whether to proceed with IVF, particularly if their previous IVF cycles have failed,” says Dr. Rosenwaks.

However, no hormonal marker of ovarian reserve is an absolute determinant of success or failure with IVF, he points out.

Future Dads: Keep Your Cell Phone Out of Your Front Pocket

If you plan to father a child, don’t keep it in your pocket – your cell phone, that is.

The reason: the number of hours you use your cell phone each day may affect your sperm profile and future fertility.

A new study by a team of international researchers led by those at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, adds to the evidence that men who have been diagnosed with poor sperm quality and who are trying to have children should limit their cell phone use.

The researchers found puzzling results.

While cell phone use led to an increase in the level of testosterone circulating in the body, it also led to lower levels of luteinizing hormone, which is a key reproductive hormone secreted by the pituitary.

Previously, Cleveland Clinic researchers have noted an association between cell phone use and sperm quality.

The more hours men from an infertility clinic spent on their cell phones each day, the lower their sperm count and the greater their percentage of abnormal sperm.

Men who used their cell phone for more than four hours a day had the lowest average sperm counts and the greatest percentage of abnormal sperm.

The effect of cell phones on sperm parameters may be due to the electromagnetic radiation the devices emit or to the heat they generate.

The Canadian researchers believe electromagnetic radiation may block the conversion of circulating testosterone to the more active, potent form of testosterone associated with sperm production and fertility.

While there is a strong association of cell phone use with decreased semen quality, this does not prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Further studies will be necessary to identify the mechanism involved in the reduction of sperm quality due to cell phones.

The Cleveland Clinic researchers are doing a follow-up study in a large group of men that also takes into account other lifestyle habits and occupational exposures that might affect sperm quality.

In the meantime, Marc Goldstein, MD, Director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at Weill Cornell Medical College says, “there may not be conclusive evidence but I recommend that a man not keep a live cell phone in his front pants pocket.”

Buying Fertility Treatments in Bulk

The mounting cost of getting pregnant has led some fertility clinics and doctors to join forces and offer bulk discounts on in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.

The Attain IVF network includes 40 fertility clinics and 190 fertility doctors across the country.

The network offers a program that provides you with multiple IVF cycles for a single, discounted fee that costs about 30-40% less than the same exact treatment plan if you were to pay for it on a cycle-by-cycle basis.

The idea is paying upfront for a few cycles offers peace of mind and takes the stress out of subsequent tries.

With a good fertility work-up, most couples take home a baby after 1 or 2 cycles, but some couples need 3 or more cycles of IVF.

Attain IVF may be particularly appealing to couples who recognize they may have trouble getting pregnant.

This includes couples where the woman is over age 35, when her egg quality is in decline.

This may also include women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, who usually require higher doses of drugs to stimulate egg production and often have their IVF cycles canceled because of overstimulation of the ovaries.

And, of course, this concept may work for couples who can not afford to continue to pay for more than 1 IVF cycle.

On the other hand, younger couples with a single, known fertility problem probably don’t need to enroll in Attain IVF.

A 28-year-old woman who has endometriosis with a partner who has no male factor infertility has a good chance of becoming pregnant with a single IVF cycle.

No one size fits all medical treatments, including IVF.

It comes down to a question of how risk aversive you are, and your particular fertility problem.

Excerpt from A Baby at Last!

A Baby at Last! coverYour very own consultation with the world’s leading fertility doctors!

If you can’t get to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell for a consultation with Dr. Rosenwaks and Dr. Goldstein, this book is your chance. A Baby At Last! puts the doctors’ expertise down on paper and offers all the information you need on the latest fertility treatments in order to make informed decisions. In this comprehensive, practical, and up-to-date handbook for diagnosing and treating infertility in both men and women, you’ll get invaluable advice on:

  • When to seek help: you may not need to wait at all
  • Finding the right doctors, and the tough questions you need to ask
  • What tests to have: tests for him and her, when to have them, and why.
  • Whether or not you’re a candidate for advanced treatments, including  IVF,  ICSI, and beyond

Covering everything from the latest technologies to the emotional hurdles associated with infertility, Drs. Rosenwaks and Goldstein share the knowledge and expertise that makes the pregnancy success rates for Weill Cornell patients among the highest in the world. Here as never before is a book that can help you, too, bring home a baby at last!

Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., is the Director of The Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Marc Goldstein, M.D., is the Director of The Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Professor of Urology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Mark Fuerst is a health and medical writer and the co-author of ten books, including The Couple’s Guide to Fertility.

Welcome!

NY Resident magazine book review

Welcome to my new blog. My current news is the positive responses I’ve been getting regarding my latest book, A Baby At Last!

A very favorable review ran in this month’s issue of the Resident magazine.

A Couples’ Guide to Getting Pregnant

“Everyone seems to know someone who has a fertility problem…”  That’s the start of  A Baby At Last!: The Couples’ Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant—from Cutting-Edge Treatments to Common Sense Wisdom by Mark L. Fuerst, Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., and Marc Goldstein, M.D.

This book is for every couple seeking a solution to fertility problems. It conveys the knowledge that you are not alone and much can be done. You’ll learn when to seek help, how to find doctors and ask the right questions, what tests are worth having and why. The book covers up-to-date therapies and provides support for the emotional rollercoaster of fertility treatments.

Céline Dion’s many failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization were heartbreaking but in October 2010 the 42-year-old singer gave birth to twin boys. She said, “When I think about Dr. Rosenwaks and the extraordinary talent and intelligence that allows him to combine nature and genius to create new life, I am in awe and forever grateful for his talent.”

“Sugar” Ray Leonard, six-time world boxing champion, said, “One of my toughest fights was to father children with my loving wife, Bernadette. After two failed surgeries, I found Dr. Goldstein. My greatest victories are my Olympic gold medal, my world titles, and my family, the last one with thanks due to Dr. Goldstein.”

Mark L. Fuerst’s writing talents shine. Publishers Weekly said, “The text is reader-friendly and accentuated with informative ‘Take Home Messages’ that will help couples expand their knowledge and foster fertility success.”

About the Authors

Mark L. Fuerst is a health and medical writer and coauthor of ten books including The Couple’s Guide to Fertility. His many articles on fertility have appeared in major magazines.

Zev Rosenwaks, M.D. and Marc Goldstein, M.D. are fertility experts at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, a leading pioneer in treating infertility.

By Dorri Olds