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June 2007 Archives

June 29, 2007

Have kids? Sure ... someday

A recent article brought light to a number of issues we encounter including:
• delaying parenthood
• the “right age” to have a baby
• misleading information on a woman’s biological clock

While there is no one ‘correct’ answer on the appropriate age to have a baby, it is important for couples to understand their options when considering building a family.

The most defining thing for a woman seeking to conceive is her age. A woman’s age is directly correlated to the age of her eggs and a woman is born with all the eggs she can conceive with. Older eggs are more difficult to achieve a pregnancy with and the success rates for carrying full term for older women are also diminished with age. However, for men, sperm have a lifecycle of 74 days, with another 20 days or so to get out through the ducts. Thus, every 90 days sperm regenerates. If sperm are negatively affected by environmental factors, men can wait for the next cycle of sperm to develop in order to maximize their fertility. Although age is not as significant a factor in men as it is in women, it does still play a role.

For a woman 35 years of older, I would encourage her to be aggressive in her therapy. If after six months of trying to conceive unsuccessfully, I would recommend that she seek professional care and evaluation.

Have kids? Sure ... someday
Not just careers, but complacency, delay the pregnant pause

By Jacqueline Stenson
Contributing editor
Updated: 5:15 a.m. PT June 6, 2007
Susan Laurent never thought she’d have trouble getting pregnant when she was ready, so she pursued her career, traveled and generally just enjoyed life.
“All along I thought I still had plenty of time,” says Laurent, 39, of Lyons, Colo., who works as a marketing vice president. “I’m healthy, active, don’t smoke, live in a great, low-stress part of the country, so I had no idea that simply waiting could possibly lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. I figured that 40 was too old for sure — with a higher risk of Down syndrome, et cetera — but I didn’t think that 36 could be too old as well.”
Like many women, Laurent had heard about Hollywood’s leading ladies such as Geena Davis and Jane Seymour, and other women, having kids well into their 40s and beyond, so she figured there was no hurry. But all the while, her biological clock was ticking away.
“I waited, but when the time came that my husband and I wanted to have kids, we were shocked to find out that we had to see a fertility specialist,” she says. “You think you’re safe in waiting, but myself and many of my friends who waited are now paying the price — emotionally and financially.”
Thanks to fertility drugs and intrauterine insemination, Laurent gave birth to her son, Conor, last summer, and she’s now trying for another child. But plenty of women who wait too long to take a “pregnant pause” from their careers — and all-around business as usual — aren’t so lucky.
Women have long been wrestling with how to balance work and family planning, and delaying having babies to build their careers or even those of their husbands. Statistics show that as more women have entered the workforce since the mid-1970s, the percentage of first births to women ages 30 and up have increased fourfold, according to the American Fertility Association (AFA), a patient and advocacy group. But fertility experts say there are some surprising other reasons why couples wait too long to try to start their families.
What's the rush?
Ironically, fertility treatments — their success and widespread availability over the last decade — seem to have lulled women like Laurent, and even their partners, into complacency. Many people know somebody who’s been on fertility drugs or undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF). Or they’ve heard about women having babies later in life, so they figure, what’s the rush?
But they don’t always hear that those movie stars or other newsmakers had to use IVF, another woman’s eggs and spend tens of thousands of dollars to have a baby, says Pamela Madsen, founder and executive director of the AFA.
Case in point: Frieda Birnbaum, the 60-year-old New Jersey woman who gave birth to twins in May. News reports discussed her use of IVF, notes Madsen, but nothing about the need for donor eggs or embryos, even though experts say it's highly unlikely that Birnbaum conceived with her own eggs.
“I think that people do misinterpret the stories they hear in the media and they think, ‘Oh, that woman just had a really good doctor,’” Madsen says.
The full article can be viewed at:

June 26, 2007

Health of babies not affected by embryo screening

I thought you might enjoy reading the latest information concerning the affects that using PGD may have on an embryo(s).
It is important to know that every medical procedure does involve risk. However, according to the latest study from Brussels' Free University, screening embryos for genetic disorders through PGD incurs no more risk than standard IVF.

Health of babies not affected by embryo screening
Medical Studies/Trials
Published: Monday, 18-Jun-2007

New research has shown that babies born after pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are as healthy as those born after conventional IVF treatment.
PGD involves a cell being taken from an embryo at the eight-cell stage; it is done as a screen for genetic disorders and it is a new option for couples at risk of transmitting genetic diseases.
Instead of carrying out a prenatal diagnosis followed by a termination of pregnancy, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (where a sperm is injected directly into an egg) is performed, followed by genetic testing of the embryos and only unaffected embryos are subsequently transferred to the womb.
This latest study from Brussels' Free University has found that screening embryos for genetic disorders incurs no more risk than standard IVF.
The researchers examined the outcomes of 583 children born after pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and presented the results at a European Society of Human Genetics meeting.
PGD was first introduced in 1990 as an experimental procedure and there have been considerable concerns over the safety of the procedure because it is new and involves removing a cell from an embryo at around three days old.
Many critics oppose the idea of being able to screen out disorders and concerns have been voiced about the possible genetic risk to children born using assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF because of the manipulation of the egg and sperm during the process.
The process checks fertilised eggs for genetic disorders so that an unaffected embryo can be implanted into the mother's womb, as with conventional IVF.
Around the world researchers have been tracking the progress of PGD babies to monitor the long-term consequences and the Belgian study looked at 563 of the 583 PGD babies which were live births.
These babies were found to have a comparable birth weight to those born after conventional IVF treatment alone, and another fertility procedure called ICSI - where sperm is injected directly into an egg.
At two months, and again at two years of age, the children appeared to be equally healthy and the rate of birth defects or malformations was comparable between the groups.
Lead researcher Professor Ingeborg Liebaers, from the Research Centre for Reproductive Genetics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, says they were encouraged to find that the major malformation rate was no higher than that which is found in children born after conventional IVF and ICSI.
However Professor Liebaers says the perinatal death rate was higher than in IVF and ICSI babies and this demanded further investigation.
The authors say as most of these deaths were multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets, that may be an important factor.
Although experts say they were confident at the outset that PGD would not cause any abnormalities they say they are nevertheless reassured by the results.
But they also say it will take several more decades before the longer-term outcomes are clear as the oldest PGD children are only just approaching 17 years of age.
PGD is a relatively rare procedure, used in less than 200 of the 40,000 cycles of IVF carried out in the UK each year.
Professor Liebaers says they will be carrying out further follow-up as these children grow older.

June 21, 2007

HD Free with PGD – One Patient’s Story

To the Coastal Fertility team, every baby is a miracle baby. And we take particular joy in our ability to help those couples with hereditary genetic diseases reduce the likelihood of passing along those diseases to their children – or breaking the transference cycle once and for all. Using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), we’ve been able to identify embryos with genetic markers for diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Hemophilia and recently, Huntington’s Disease (HD)—a debilitating brain disorder for which there is currently no cure. The excerpt below was written as a firsthand account by HD carrier and Coastal Fertility patient-turned advocate, Stacy Brookhyser. It offers an insightful look at the journey Stacy and her husband Mitch navigated on the way to building their beautiful family…

“This is the story of my battle with HD. I am a WARRIOR and I will do what I can to fight this terrible disease. I want to be a mother. I believe that it is my responsibility, even before I have children, to be a good mother and protect my children. That is why I chose to take on this challenge. This is my story of hope. Hope for my mother, hope for me, hope for my children, and hope for a cure.

When I was a child my maternal grandmother, Jayne, had HD and rode in a wheelchair. Gramps used to joke with her and make her laugh about it. Their home had stability bars installed everywhere and a ramp up the front steps, but it didn’t matter… she was my Grandma Jayne and that’s all that was important to me. My family knew that HD was genetic and that we could all possibly have the affected gene. There was no controlling the genetics of it in the 1970’s. But I absolutely agree with my parents’ decision to go ahead and have children…”

To read more of Stacy’s inspiring story, please visit:


June 4, 2007

Study Finds Link Between Viagra and Infertility

I wanted to share an article with my readers about the highly popular prescription drug Viagra. Although these studies are in the early stages, I would like to make you aware of the potential risks.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sex drug link to infertility
June 01, 2007 12:00

VIAGRA may be championed by men who have had their sex lives improved, but the downside is it may harm male fertility, a new study has found.
Laboratory studies conducted at Queen's University Belfast, UK suggest that taking the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may adversely affect sperm function and possibly male fertility.

Recreational users of Viagra need to be informed of the drug's potentially harmful effects on sperm function, the investigators say.

In their experiments, Dr. David R. J. Glenn and colleagues observed that exposure of cultured sperm to Viagra, compared to no exposure, led to a "sustained enhancement of motility," both in numbers of progressively motile sperm and their velocity.

However, exposure to Viagra - at concentrations equivalent to the average maximum total blood concentration present 30 minutes after a single oral dose of 100 milligrams - also caused a premature "acrosome reaction."
Acrosomes are structures that cover the head of the sperm and contain a variety of enzymes that help the sperm penetrate the outer membrane of the egg.

That Viagra may induce early activation of the acrosome reaction has "important clinical implications because sperm that acrosome-react before contact with the oocyte are incapable of fertilization," the researchers note in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

"Given that the majority of sperm acrosome react on exposure to (Viagra), the drug may cause significant impairment to their fertilizing potential," they write.

This is a concern, Glenn and colleagues say, given that Viagra and other like-drugs are widely available on the Internet and are increasingly being used "recreationally" by young healthy men of reproductive age as sexual enhancers - not just by older men who have erectile dysfunction.

From Fertility and Sterility, May 2007.

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Dr. Werlin's Fertility World in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the previous archive.

July 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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