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Man Made Sperm!
a blog by Robyn Nazar, RN, BSN, April 5, 2011
It's only the beginning of April, and yet, fertility researchers have already given us much to talk about. Here are the fertility headline highlights of 2011 thus far.
Sperm Made Out of Testicular Tissue Could Cure Male Infertility
After more than a century of trying, researchers in Japan accomplished what everyone thought was impossible: man made sperm. The scientists used testicular tissue to create not only viable sperm, but sperm that were able to fertilize a female egg and produce healthy fertile offspring. Although this accomplishment was achieved in mice sperm, the scientists believe that it can be replicated for other mammalian species, including humans. If this happens, then this could be the gateway to finding the cure for male infertility.
Medical Clowns May Double Your Chances with IVF
Laughter is apparently the best medicine. In an unusual study of more than 200 women undergoing fertility treatments in Israel, researchers discovered that spending just 15 minutes with a Medical Clown immediately after fertility treatment nearly doubled the chances of a successful pregnancy. The researchers believe the laughter reduced stress in women while they waited for the embryos to settle after treatment and thus contributed to better outcomes.
Laptops Cause Male Infertility
This one was bad news for every man who likes to sit on the couch, bed, train or any other surface that lacks table space for his laptop. Italian researchers announced in February that the warmth of a computer sitting on your lap can raise the temperature of a man's testicles by 4 degrees in one hour, which is more than enough to impair sperm production and cause problems with fertility.
Excess Weight, Ethnicity Proved to Decrease Fertility
In a study published by the Journal of Fertility and Sterility of more than 32,000 women who underwent fertility treatments, researchers found that women who were overweight were 20 percent more likely to fail their fertility treatment than thin women. Furthermore, both overweight and thin women of either black, Hispanic or Asian ethnic decent were overall less likely than white women to have a successful fertility treatment. Researchers believe that this discrepancy occurs in overweight women as a result of inflammation and hormonal shifts caused by excess weight. However, it is not yet known why this occurs among different ethnicities.
Antioxidants May Improve Male Fertility, Decreases Female Fertility
Good for Men! In a study published in January, a New Zealand research team found that antioxidants, such as vitamin E and zinc, could help improve male fertility by reducing oxidative stress on sperm cells in men. Oxidative stress is believed to cause up to 80 percent of cases of decreased male fertility.
Bad for Women! Contrary to previous beliefs, antioxidants may actually be harmful to female fertility. Shortly after release of the study showing the benefits of antioxidants on sperm, another study from Israel came out that found high levels of antioxidants actually significantly reduced egg quantities in female mice. The study's author believes that the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of the antioxidants may hinder normal ovulation, causing decreased fertility in women. In fact, he reports his team may now look at antioxidants as an alternative form contraception.
Women Find New Use for IVF Treatments: Giving Birth To Their Grandchildren
Demonstrating just how far we have come in fertility medicine, physicians are making it possible for post-menopause grandmothers to give birth to their own grandchildren. Two great examples:
Judy Arnold, age 51, is pregnant with her first grandchild due to be born in April. Her own daughter, Katie, was born without a uterus, making pregnancy impossible. Katie asked her mother to be a surrogate for the embryos created by her own eggs and husband's sperm.
Kristine Casey, age 61, gave birth in February to her first grandson, Finnean. She was the surrogate carrier for her daughter and son-in-law who had been unsuccessful in their own efforts to have a baby.