I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Surrogacy 101 has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 50 Surrogacy Blogs on the web.
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 10:41 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Cancer and Infertility, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Egg Freezing, Embryo Technology, Escrow Accounts, Fertility, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Pregnancy, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy 101, Surrogacy Blog, Top 50 Surrogacy Blogs, Traditional Surrogacy
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This is going to be a short post. If you are gay (or a single male) and are considering expanding your family via surrogacy, you need to have a full medical checkup first. If you are using your own sperm then you need a full Semen Analysis. Why? Because you don’t know how healthy your sperm is. A semen analysis measures three major factors of sperm health:
the number of sperm
the shape of the sperm
the movement of the sperm, also known as “sperm motility”
Doctors will often conduct two or three separate sperm analyses to get a good idea of sperm’s health. According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), the tests should be conducted at least seven days apart and over the course of two to three months. Sperm counts can vary on a daily basis.
Why go through all the work and expense of finding your egg donor, a gestational carrier or a traditional surrogate when you don’t know if you will also need a sperm donor or a little help with the egg fertilization? Look at your own health first and then move forward with the family building process.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Gay Dads, gestational surrogacy, Intended Fathers, Semen tests, Sperm health, Sperm testing, Surrogacy
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Wednesday I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Alice Domar speak on the topic of "Reducing the Burden of Care" at the Seattle Tacoma Area Reproductive Society’s meeting (STARS) in Seattle. What a great subject especially for those in the fertility field who have set out to help their patients and clients navigate the process of infertility treatments and, at the same time, maintaining a positive mind set. Dr. Domar introduced this great phone app that she helped design called FertiCalm. https://www.ferticalmapp.com This app can be used by women who need coping techniques in everyday situations. (Alice says they are currently working on an app just for men.)
Coping for Every Situation…Any time, Any Place, Anywhere. FertiCalm provides a variety of more than 500 custom coping options for over 50 specific situations which have the potential to cause distress throughout the family building journey located right on your phone.
Dr. Domar and Dr. Grill, the creators of this app, are reproductive psychologists with over 45 years combined experience, at two of the most prominent infertility centers in the US. They provide counseling for women, men and couples as they work to build their families and saw an unmet need. Many people don't have the time, money, or geographical access to see a therapist specially trained in infertility counseling. While FertiCalm is not substitute for treatment with a licensed therapist or psychologist, FertiCalm serves as a helpful resource for women in the exact moment they feel distress, whenever and wherever they are, by providing them with coping techniques for many common social scenarios faced by women on their family building journey.
Check it out and let everyone know what you think! Please leave feedback here, in the comments section!
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 09:20 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Cancer and Infertility, Current Affairs, Fertility, Healthy Living, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Pregnancy, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: coping techniques, Coping with infertility, Dr. Alice Domar, Dr. Elizabeth Grill, FertiCalm app, reproductive psychologists
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With egg and sperm donation, parents have the extra concern of what to tell their child regarding where they came from. This is not a simple birds and bees conversation yet it can be as simple as that. Parents often have unfounded fears that their child will reject them if they know the 'truth'.
Although there are papers, articles and books on this topic, in this post I would like to keep it as simple as possible. First and foremost accept yourself as your child’s parent! You are rising, nurturing, loving a human being whom you helped create. No little thought went into this very life changing decision. Acknowledge that you are the reason that your child even exists!
Secondly, remember that parents read books to their children starting at a very young age. When you chose your books like “I Love You This Much” or “Goodnight Moon” add in a couple of children’s books on egg donation such as “One More Giraffe” by Kim Noble or “Mom and Dad and the Journey They Had” by Molly Summer. Books like these will prepare your young child for future questions and answers regarding his or her origins. Talking about how different families are made and how what really matters, at the end of the day, is that children are loved and wanted. Reading books can set the ground work for honest communication as your child grows.
Third, I suggest that if you have fears that you can not seem to put to rest, contact a mental health professional in the field of third party reproduction. You will find several who help you find the words you need to explain to your child or children how they were created AND how much you love them.
If you have ever had a conversation with your child about surrogacy, egg or sperm donation and would like to share it with our readers please contact us with your story! Many Intended Parents would benefit from hearing your thoughts and suggestions!
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 09:30 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Books, Egg Donation, Embryo Technology, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (1)
Tags: Egg Donation, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy, Surrogacy books, Talking to Children about Egg Donation, Talking to Children about Sperm Donation, Telling Children about Surrogacy
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Implantation Failure is often a misunderstood area of IVF (in vitro fertilization). There are many couples and singles who are desperate to conceive a child and often turn to the Internet for answers where there is much misinformation and impossible promises by those wanting to take advantage of vulnerable patients.
There are several aspects that contribute to implantation failure and these issues could involve the uterus, the embryos, or the combination of how the embryos react to the uterus.
Dr. Michael Feinman is a renowned Reproductive Endocrinologist who has performed one of the first transvaginal ultrasound guided egg retrievals in America and the first in New York. He also developed one of the first anonymous egg donor programs in the world, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in 1987, and has been featured on the cover of the New York Times and ABC Evening News. Dr. Feinman is the medical director of HRC and has spent his career assisting his patients with their goals of building a family.
This website, IVF Implantation Failure Clinic will share just a little of how Dr. Feinman can assist you and will hopefully encourage you to call his offices and speak directly with him on how he can help you achieve the dream of having a family of your own no matter the issues you have faced in the past.
Time is ticking!!Join me for Infertility Busters for the Stressful Holiday Season Tele-Summit! Fertility Advise That Actually Works! Starting TODAY – Infertility Busters, so you can Create the family you want!
Just a quick reminder that I’m providing you with FREE access to a very special virtual event, Infertility Busters for the Stressful Holiday Season Tele-Summit!
22 of the world’s top Infertility experts are joining together to give you guidance that really work how to grow your family with mind/body/spirit balance this Holiday Season? Advice that is tested and true…and actually works!
I’m thrilled to be included in the panel and I can’t wait share the strategies and tips that have helped many of my clients grow their families. (I will be speaking on Surrogacy: Working with Family and Friends!)
Register Now by clicking HERE and you’ll get immediate access to an amazing bonus gift!!
There’s no cost to you and the tips you’ll receive would cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to secure on your own.
So don’t delay, grab your spot now.
P.S. Don’t miss out on amazing guidance that really works.
There are many reasons why you might be looking for an alternative way to create your family and Infertility Answers is designed to assist you in that very personal decision. If you are considering Gestational Surrogacy, Traditional Surrogacy, using an Egg or Sperm Donor or even Embryo Donation then we welcome you! Infertility Answers even has a section dedicated to pregnancy issues! As you read through this site you will find information that addresses these topics and so much more.
The Infertility Answers Mission...
... is to assist you, as Surrogate, Donor or Intended Parent, to learn all you can about Third Party Reproduction so an informed decision can be made. Perhaps you have been frustrated at your attempt to gain knowledge through agencies, clinics or attorneys. Having your basic questions answered here will help you ask the right questions when the time comes to put your Assisted Reproduction plan into action.
Tags: Egg Donation, Embryo Donation, Fertility, Infertility, Infertility Answers, Pregnancy, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy
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When infertility strikes, it can be a massive source of stress for couples, and many are too quick to assume it’s a female issue.
Alarmingly, the average sperm count for adult males has decreased by 50 percent since 1938 and is currently declining at a rate of 2 percent each year, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Stress, exposure to environmental toxins and diets deficient in key vitamins and minerals are likely to blame.
“It’s a fact that one in six couples will have difficulty conceiving, but many aren’t aware that almost half the time, it’s the male who is the cause of the problem,” said fertility expert, Dr. Amos Grunebaum. “When couples address this issue, it’s been my experience that the woman is the first to see a specialist to determine her fertility status. It’s a little more difficult to get the man on board with doing the same thing. Some men just don’t want to acknowledge that they may have a fertility problem. As such, they are more reluctant to get tested and I have seen a lot of men delay seeing a specialist or even avoid it completely.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Grunebaum can confirm these disturbing statistics as he has seen sperm counts decline in his 25+ years of practice.
“From my experience, low sperm count is one of the primary reasons that couples have a difficult time conceiving,” said Dr. Grunebaum, also a medical health advisor for Fairhaven Health (www.fairhavenhealth.com). “Quite simply, the fewer sperm a man produces, the lower the likelihood that one will successfully fertilize the egg.”
However, according to Dr. Grunebaum, there are a variety of ways men can help improve their reproductive health.
“A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E and Zinc can go a long way in improving sperm health. Exercising regularly plus limiting caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco intake can also help a great deal,” he added.
While low sperm count is known to be a major cause of infertility, for many men, visiting a doctor or clinic to have a sperm analysis done can be a daunting task.
“The testing process itself can be a little embarrassing and even more so when faced with the prospect of exposing their condition to the doctor, nurse or office staff,” he added.
Fortunately, there is now a way to test for low sperm count in the privacy of one’s own home. A new product from Fairhaven Health, the SpermCheck Fertility Test, accurately confirms if a man has a normal count (20 million per milliliter). The test can be completed in a matter of minutes and retails for around $35. Should the SpermCheck at-home test confirm a low count, it’s generally a good indicator that he should see a specialist to help further diagnose the problem.
“There are many benefits from determining early on if sperm count is a problem for you,” Dr. Grunebaum said. “The sooner an issue is pinpointed, the sooner proper treatment can be started. Treatments for male infertility typically include lifestyle changes, vitamin, mineral or herbal supplementation, prescription medication, or even surgical procedures. But before any of that can begin, the couple has to be able to communicate and agree to take action.”
About Dr. Amos Grunebaum
Dr. Grunebaum is a New York based physician who is double-board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy). He is recognized as one of New York's foremost Ob/Gyns as evidenced by his regular inclusion in Castle Connolly's "Top Doctors: New York." Dr. Grunebaum has helped formulate a number of products for Fairhaven Health, a leading manufacturer of products to help couples conceive.
We are so lucky to be able to offer the followers of LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting for NIAW a FREE Reproductive Wellness CD donated by Sara Rector MFT!! Scroll down for more information on this awesome give-a-way!
How you can WIN: You can "LIKE" our facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/LaMotheSurrogacyConsulting?ref=hl LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting and then comment and "Like" the item that you want to win. Although there are new items every day, you can enter to win each and everyone. The contest ends at midnight on April 27th and all winners will be notified by April 29th!
Sara Rector MFT is a Marriage Family Therapist who has personally experienced infertility. In the last 10 years she has been worked successfully with individuals, couples and groups experiencing infertility and has released a series of audio presentations designed to share her therapy program techniques, strategies, and insights with her listeners. Sara's CD and MP3 therapy programs are a convenient way to utilize Sara's infertility support therapies in the comfort of your own home.
You can learn more about these CD's here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36L0xH8Ysqg and the winner will be able to choose the one that best works for his/her situation. Please Like this post and name the CD that you would most like to win: Relationship Issues and Infertility, Transition To Ovum Donation, He Said She Said The Male & Female Experiences of Infertility, Healing Pregnancy Loss or How to Use the Power of Positive Intention Conception.
Tags: LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, National Infertility Awareness Week, NIAW, Reproductive Wellness CD, Sara Rector
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It has been a little over a year since I visited the Seattle Sperm Bank (SSB) and I was really impressed at the dedication and professionalism that they shared with me at that time. This year my visit showed me that the growth and community outreach had exceeded my expectations!
I met with Eric Kendall who is the Seattle Sperm Banks
Clinic Liaison (I first met Eric at this year's ASRM in San Diego) and Angelo
Allard who is the General Supervisor. I took my tour (as you can see from the photos) and I was let in on some of their ideas for future growth and expansion. One of the ideas that they are working on at this moment is something called the donor of the month. Basically you can buy one vial of sperm for IUI or IVF and get one free. The featured donor is one who has not donated as much as the others on the SSB data base. They are hoping to post the featured donor of the month 3 months in advance so that clients can plan to take advantage of the donor best suited for them.
Speaking of the amount of times a sperm donor can donate to the Seattle Sperm Bank (SSB) the answer is 25 families worldwide per donor and no more than 10 times in one area of 80,000 population or less.
Quite a few people I talked with before my tour asked about compensation. I think it's quite widely known that Egg Donors are reimbursed for their pain and suffering upwards to $10,000.00 +. Not so for Sperm Donors. After the physical exam a donor can start donating and will receive $60 for each
approved donation. SSB approves over 90% of the donations that their sperm donors deliver. $40 is paid in cash to the donor when delivering the sample. The remaining $20 are paid in cash when the sample has gone through the final approval. Of course there is a lot more testing before acceptance and you can go to their website and read all about it: https://www.seattlespermbank.com/become_a_sperm_donor.asp
Let's move on to something that
has been a HOT topic in the media lately: Open Identity Donors. At
the Seattle Sperm Bank, open identity donors have committed to at least one
contact with the child, when the child reaches the age of 18. The contact must
be initiated by the child; customer identities are confidential and are never
released to sperm donors. There is no requirement that the donor commit to any sort of long-lasting relationship with the child, although the donor and the
child may arrange to have further communication. All donors are required to go through a maturity evaluation by the sperm bank’s managing director and donor coordinator to ensure they understand the consequences of their decision to become an open identity donor.
Although prospective parents don’t get to meet a sperm donor before choosing to
use his donated sperm, there is a lot to learn about donors through profile
information. Often donors will list their reasons for donating along with
detailed information about themselves. At the Seattle Sperm Bank, they have
found that open identity donors are usually willing to provide more detailed
information such as baby photos and extended profile information to the sperm
bank. (By the way it a Washington State LAW that all donations be open
that we discussed was the issue of pediatric oncology patients who are of an
age where they could actually preserve their future fertility through freezing
and storing their sperm. This is something that SSB wants to do more of and is committed to reach out to local oncologists and share their program with their clients. (as you can see from the photos they do have the equipment !) This is just the tip of what the Seattle Sperm Bank has in store for the future! (A little bird mentioned an upcoming seminar....)
I am very
impressed at how smoothly this operation is run and how SSB is always ready toshare their expertise with me.
( <<Yes that IS a real sample in the cup!)
If you want any more information please contact the Seattle Sperm Bank (also in conjunctionwith https://www.europeanspermbankusa.com) at 1-800-709-1223
Tags: Angelo Allard, Eric Kendall, Open Identity Donors, pediatric oncology patients, Seattle Sperm Bank, Sharon LaMothe, Sperm donation compensation, Sperm Donation in Seattle, Sperm Donors
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Infertility is a challenging and rewarding field of nursing, and one that is evolving rapidly and dramatically, requiring nurses and other healthcare practitioners to constantly remain current with the latest state-of–the ART technology. Those in practice, as well as nurses in transition, accept that this ever changing arena requires an ongoing commitment to pursue new information, techniques, and best practices. And, equal in priority, is the IVF nurse’s sensitivity to parents’ quest to create families and the fragility of early embryonic life.
The Annual REI Nursing Congress: Scientific & Therapeutic Approaches To Assisted Reproductive Technology (STARTARTSM) provides a unique and comprehensive educational opportunity, featuring critical updates on the latest advances in reproductive medicine, from procedures and protocols to psychosocial and legal issues. The goal of this Congress is to provide late-breaking information and cutting-edge techniques to improve ART outcomes - a goal that is matched by the IVF nurses’ skills, compassion, and caring that make this field so remarkable.
This activity is intended for the education of nurses, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals specializing in reproductive medicine and assisted reproductive technology. (It's great for surrogacy and egg donation agency owners too!)
During lunch on both Thursday, August 4 and Friday, August 5, participants will have the opportunity to join accredited sessions of interactive roundtable discussions. Topics will be posted at the meeting registration desk, where participants may sign up for discussions of issues of special interest. A moderator or faculty member will lead each group. (I am, once again, planning to lead a round table on the topic of Gestational Surrogacy.)
Register HERE https://www.123enroll.com/STARTART
I hope to see you there!!
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 07:32 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Embryo Technology, Fertility, Infertility, Male Factor, Medical, Pregnancy, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy, The Making of a Surrogacy Agency | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: Annual REI Nursing Congress: Scientific & Therapeutic Approaches To Assisted Reproductive Technology, Las Vegas, SMART ART, START ART
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|A common shipping container|
|New Sperm Samples|
|A frozen 'cane' with vial of sperm|
|One frozen vial on a 'cane'|
Tags: Egg Donation, Embryo Donation, Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, LaMothe Book Reviews, Sperm & Egg Donation: What Were You Thinking Considering IVF & Third-Party Reproduction, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy, Surrogacy and Embryo, Theresa M. Erickson, Traditional Surrogacy
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Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 02:00 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Books, Egg Donation, Fertility, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Medical, Pregnancy, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: Dr. WILLIAM SCHOOLCRAFT, Egg Donation, If at First You Don't Conceive: A Complete Guide to Infertility from One of the Nation's Leading Clinics Surrogacy, Infertility
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September 20 - 26, 2009
The PCEC organizes hundreds of free screening sites for men across the country each year during PCAW which, has resulted in nearly 4 million men being provided with early detection for prostate health isuues. Prostate cancer is nearly 100% survivable when detected in its earliest stages, men should "Choose to Know" their risk for the disease and "Know to Choose" treatment options, including watchful waiting after speaking with their doctor.
It seems now the age of the fathers (or the age of the sperm, depending on how you look at this) is under scrutiny. I have seen several research articles on the effects of male age factor on children. Below is one of many...your thoughts?
Progress Educational Trust
16 March 2009
A study by researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, appearing in the journal PLoS Medicine, has found that children of older fathers perform less well in a range of cognitive tests than children born to younger fathers.
The research, led by John McGrath, studied data from intelligence tests taken by 33,437 children born between 1959 and 1965 in the US. The tests focused on memory, learning and concentration skills in the children at the ages of eight months, four years and seven years. McGrath stated, 'the offspring of older fathers show subtle impairments on tests of neurocognitive ability during infancy and childhood'.
It was previously thought that the mother's age had more effect on a child's abilities and intelligence, but the data found that children born to older mothers did well on the tests. The researchers have concluded that as men age the cells that produce sperm are subject to genetic mutations, whereas the mother's eggs are formed while still in the womb, and are therefore protected from mutation until they are used.
Other recent studies have shown a link between fathers over the age of 35 and health problems in children, such as birth deformities, cancer, and conditions such as autism and schizophrenia. James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, has publicly speculated whether his age when he became a father to his son Rufus had a causal impact on Rufus' diagnosis of schizophrenia. Watson has commented that 'I worry that I was 42 with Rufus. I read that the frequency of schizophrenia goes up with the age of both parents'.
In the developed world the age at which both men and women are having children is increasing; in 1993, 23 per cent of births in England and Wales were to men aged 35 to 54 years old, but this had increased to 40 per cent by 2003. While genetic factors are considered important, the research team also took socioeconomic factors into account, with the potential for older fathers to provide better access to education and healthcare.
Dr Allen Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, took a sobering view, stating that 'the author's observation that most neurocognitive outcomes is also reduced in the children of older fathers provides a further piece of evidence to remind us that nature intended us to have our children earlier in our lives than we currently are'.
This study is the first to assess marijuana's effects on specific swimming behavior of sperm from marijuana smokers and to compare the results with sperm from men with confirmed fertility. Marijuana contains the cannabinoid drug THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is its primary psychoactive chemical, as well as other cannabinoids.
Results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in San Antonio.
"The bottom line is, the active ingredients in marijuana are doing something to sperm, and the numbers are in the direction toward infertility," said Lani J. Burkman, Ph.D., lead author on the study. Burkman is assistant professor of gynecology/obstetrics and urology and head of the Section on Andrology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. UB's andrology laboratory also carries out sophisticated diagnosis for infertile couples.
"We don't know exactly what is happening to change sperm functioning," said Burkman, "but we think it is one of two things: THC may be causing improper timing of sperm function by direct stimulation, or it may be bypassing natural inhibition mechanisms. Whatever the cause, the sperm are swimming too fast too early." This aberrant pattern has been connected to infertility in other studies, she noted.
Further research in the andrology laboratory showed that human sperm exposed to high levels of THC displayed abnormal changes in the sperm enzyme cap, called the acrosome. When researchers tested synthetic anandamide equivalents on human sperm, the normal vigorous swimming patterns were changed and the sperm showed reduced ability to attach to the egg before fertilization. Only about 10 laboratories in the U.S. perform this array of sperm function tests.
In the current study, Burkman received seminal fluid from 22 confirmed marijuana smokers and subjected the samples to a variety of tests. The volunteers reported smoking marijuana approximately 14 times a week, and for an average of 5.1 years.
Control numbers were obtained from 59 fertile men who had produced a pregnancy. All men abstained from sexual activity for two days before the lab analysis.
The samples from both groups were tested for volume, sperm-count-per-unit of seminal fluid, total sperm count, percent of sperm that was moving, velocity and sperm shape.
Results showed that both the volume of seminal fluid and the total number of sperm from marijuana smokers were significantly less than for fertile control men. Significant differences also appeared when HA and velocity, both before and after washing, were assessed, the study found.
"The sperm from marijuana smokers were moving too fast too early," said Burkman. "The timing was all wrong. These sperm will experience burnout before they reach the egg and would not be capable of fertilization."
Burkman noted that many men who smoke marijuana have fathered children. "The men who are most affected likely have naturally occurring borderline fertility potential, and THC from marijuana may push them over the edge into infertility," she said.
As to the question of whether fertility potential returns when smokers stop using marijuana: Burkman said the issue hasn't been studied well enough to provide a definitive answer.
"THC remains stored in fat for a long period, so the process may be quite slow. We can't say that everything will go back to normal. Most men who have borderline fertility are unaware of that fact. It's difficult to know who is at risk. I definitely would advise anyone trying to conceive not to smoke marijuana, and that would include women as well as men."
• Semen volume. This is the amount of semen you produce during ejaculation. Based on World Health Organization guidelines, 2-5 milliliters is considered normal.
• Sperm concentration. This measure, also called sperm count, is the number of sperm in a given amount of semen. Normal is more than 20 million sperm per milliliter.
• Sperm motility. This is the ability of the sperm to move. A normal result means at least 50 percent of the sperm can move forward.
• Sperm morphology. This is the shape of the sperm. Under one system of measurement, at least 30 percent of the sperm should have a normal shape.1 Under a different, stricter set of criteria for morphology, at least 14 percent of sperm must meet the standards to be considered sufficient.Even though a male whose semen is below normal on one or more of these tests may lower the chances of making his partner pregnant it doesn't mean that its impossible. Because semen analysis results can vary from one sample to another, the doctor may ask for at least 3 samples spaced a few weeks apart.Sharon LaMothe
Male Infertility And Diabetes Linked; Excess Sugars In The Body Have Direct Effect On Sperm Quality
Diabetes in men has a direct effect on fertility, a scientist told the 24th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Dr. Con Mallidis from Queen's University, Belfast, UK, said that, despite the prevailing view that it had little effect on male reproductive function, the Belfast group had shown that diabetes caused DNA damage in sperm.
The scientists studied semen samples from men with diabetes who were receiving insulin therapy. On initial routine microscopic examination the semen samples appeared normal, apart from a slight decrease in volume.
"But when we looked for DNA damage, we saw a very different picture," said Dr. Mallidis, adding that this is not part of a routine semen analysis. "Sperm RNA was significantly altered, and many of the changes we observed are in RNA transcripts involved in DNA repair. And comparison with a database of men of proven fertility confirmed our findings. Diabetics have a significant decrease in their ability to repair sperm DNA, and once this is damaged it cannot be restored."
Transcription is the synthesis of RNA under the direction of DNA, and is the first step towards gene expression, where the information from the gene becomes a product such as a protein translating the genetic information into a cellular function. If there are errors in transcription, there will also be errors in the function of the gene. "We were particularly interested to see a fourteen-fold decrease in the expression of a protein called ornithine decarboxylase, which is responsible for the production of spermine and spermidine, compounds responsible for cell growth that help stabilise the structure of DNA. We also found that spermatogenesis 20, a factor unique to the testis and whose function remains unknown, was greatly increased. Taken together, these factors indicate clearly that having diabetes has a direct influence on the health of semen."
Sperm DNA quality is known to be associated with decreased embryo quality, low embryo implantation rates, higher miscarriage rates, and some serious childhood diseases, in particular some childhood cancers. Over the years possible causes for sperm DNA fragmentation have been suggested but to date the exact mechanism for the damage remains unknown, say the scientists.
"We found a class of compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the male reproductive tract. These are formed as the result of glycation (the addition of sugar)," said Dr. Mallidis, "and accumulate during normal ageing. They are dependent on life style - diet, smoking etc - and in many diabetic complications are centrally implicated in DNA damage. We believe that they play a similar role in the male reproductive system."
The scientists intend to follow up their work by trying to determine how AGEs cause and contribute to DNA damage. They believe that they may have uncovered a new role for AGEs, and that their influence goes far beyond diabetes and its complications.
"We must now try to develop strategies to protect sperm, and to diminish the accumulation of AGEs," said Dr. Mallidis. Such strategies could involve changes in diet, disrupting a step in the formation of AGEs, or increasing the body's protection against AGEs, possibly through the use of dietary supplements.
"Finally, there is spermatogenesis 20. What does it do, how does it do it, under what circumstances and why? Why is it so greatly increased in diabetics? We need to find answers to all these questions," said Dr. Mallidis.
Researchers in France found that a male's fertility starts to decline as he enters his mid-30s and is significantly lower if he is over 40.
The study included more than 12,200 couples being treated for infertility at the Eylau Center for Assisted Reproduction in Paris. The women were given intrauterine inseminations, or IUIs, also known as artificial inseminations, where sperm is inserted into the uterus when the woman is ovulating. This type of treatment is typically given to couples if the woman has no fertility problems.
Scientists monitored more than 21,000 of these procedures between January 2002 and December 2006 and recorded rates of pregnancy, miscarriage and births.
If a woman was over 35, the rate of pregnancy was lower. This was expected: maternal age has been long been linked to a couple's rate of pregnancy and chances of miscarriage.
But the study also found that if the father was in his late 30s, the chances of a successful pregnancy went down. Ten percent of treatments led to pregnancy in fathers over 40.
Researchers said the problems were likely the result of DNA damage and fragmentation in sperm, which can lead to pregnancy failure and miscarriage.
Dr. Peter Schlegel, chairman of urology at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, works at the Male Center for Reproductive Medicine. He told ABC News it is possible that there is a link between DNA damage and age.
"As men get older, there is an increase in the risk of having that fragmented DNA," Schlegel explained.
The findings were presented today at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Barcelona, Spain, and represent the strongest evidence to date that age can affect male fertility.
Dr. Stephanie Belloc, who presented the study, said, "This research has important implications for couples wanting to start a family."
Belloc went on to report that although gynecologists have always placed emphasis on maternal age, now paternal age will increasingly become a factor in reproductive medicine.
The U.S. Census Bureau, which compiles national health statistics, does not publish data on the age of first-time fathers, according to Andy Hait of the Census Bureau, but a handful of reproductive studies show that the average ages of men having children is going up.
Schlegel told ABC News it is becoming increasingly common for males to be treated for infertility.
"Couples are older when they try to have children than they were in the past, so it's a more common situation for us to encounter," he said. Schlegel also said there is more research to be done on how male age affects embryos and birth defects.
Schlegel went on to say the relationship between age and male fertility is not a new concept but has been masked by the focus on the connection between female fertility and age.
"The changes in male fertility rates, as they relate to age, are not as dramatic as in female fertility rates -- which are massive and marked," said Schlegel, "but there is a clear link between age and male fertility."
Lack of sperm means some UK couples can't get treatment
|Dr Kirsty Horsey|
Progress Educational Trust
30 June 2008
The number of recorded sperm donations in the UK has fallen to the lowest level since anonymity was removed from donors in April 2005, say officials. Figures published in the Times newspaper show that there was a decline of about 20 per cent in the number of treatments in the year between 2005 and 2006. In 2005, 2,727 women were treated using donated sperm, whereas in 2006 it was only 2,107. The data also show that there was a concurrent decline in egg donation, including on 'egg-sharing' schemes: the number of treatments on these, where women receive discounted IVF in return for a proportion of their eggs, which are then used to treat other women, fell by 40 per cent. Some clinicians worry that if patients cannot get the treatment they need in the UK, they will travel abroad for it.
Following a change to the law that came into force on 1 April 2005, people conceived using donated egg, sperm or embryos in the UK will now be able to ask for identifying information about the donor when they reach the age of 18. Since this change to the law came into effect, many have considered it to be a reason behind a shortage of donors, although others, such as the National Gamete Donation Trust suggest there may be other reasons, such as lack of awareness.
Speaking on the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4 last week, Dr Allan Pacey, an andrologist and secretary of the British Fertility Society (BFS), said there are some logical reasons for the latest figures. He explained that the number of men donating sperm had recently remained about constant - but added that the men concerned might be putting more conditions on the use of their sperm than previously. While fewer men are donating to sperm banks, for use by potentially recipient, the actual number of men donating sperm has risen slightly. But many of these 'new' donors are men donating specifically to a single friend or couple. When donating to a sperm bank, a man's sperm may be used to treat up to 10 different women - but if donors put their own restrictions on who can be treated then this will inevitably mean that a rise in the number of donors does not equate to a rise in the number of people being treated using donated sperm. 'After the change, men were more reluctant to allow a greater number of women to receive treatment', he explained, adding: 'Couples are bringing a friend of the family as their own donor and that donor is only giving the donation specifically to them'.
Dr Evan Harris MP said that 'the Government and the HFEA have been saying everything is fine, but it isn't. There was no good reason for removing anonymity, which has led to a catastrophic drop in the number of patients treated by donor insemination'. He added that 'there was always a huge risk that this would happen, diminishing the capacity of both the NHS and private clinics to treat infertility. There are probably now thousands of untreated couples who may be forced abroad, or into the unregulated sector'.
By LUKE SALKELD
Last updated at 08:16 20 March 2008
Her father couldn't be there when she was born. And he won't be able to watch her grow up.
But Jaimie-Rose Roberts, born four years after his death, will still be a Daddy's girl.
James Roberts, who died from cancer at 33, had always dreamed of adding to his family.
As he battled his illness, he and his wife Lisa, who already had a son together, decided to have his sperm frozen to ensure they could have more children after his treatment.
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Joy: Lisa Roberts proudly hugs Jaimie-Rose, conceived through her dead husband's frozen sperm
Last week, Mrs Roberts fulfilled their dream on her own after a course of IVF treatment that doctors had warned had only a 20 per cent chance of working.
"She's amazing," she said as she held her week-old daughter in her arms.
"I hope James is looking down on us with a smile on his face.
"I wish he was here to see her because I know he would be so happy.
"She's just beautiful.
"I can't believe that something so lovely can come from something so tragic."
The couple's son, Cameron, is now seven.
He is delighted to be a big brother and suggested his little sister's name as a tribute to their father.
Lisa and James Roberts had been married for six years when he was diagnosed with a cancerous leg tumour.
They were warned that treatment would leave him infertile so he had his sperm frozen for future use and signed over ownership to his wife.
"He was really pleased about the medical technology to store his sperm for us to have more babies in the future," Mrs Roberts said.
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Together: Lisa and husband James Roberts
"James always wanted a family - he always wanted children, he loved children.
"We had been trying for three years before Cameron. He was so excited when he was born.
"He was a great dad and a great husband."
Sadly, Mr Roberts's tumour spread despite the chemotherapy treatment and he died in hospital with his wife by his side in October 2004.
Mrs Roberts concentrated on bringing up their son at the family home in Chepstow, Gwent, and waited more than two years until she felt strong enough to go through with the IVF treatment.
"I suddenly felt it was the right time," she explained.
"I used our savings of more than £4,000 to cover the cost because I couldn't think of anything in the world better to spend it on - I know James would have approved."
Doctors told her that only one of the ten resulting embryos was viable, dramatically cutting her chance of becoming pregnant.
"They told me not to hold out much hope, saying there was just a 20 per cent of me getting pregnant.
'But it was amazing. It worked straight away - something inside me knew it always would. I had a feeling it would be fine.
"I took lots of pregnancy tests which were all positive before I could believe I was having James's child. Cameron came to the scans with me - taking the role James had when I was expecting him. We read all the baby books together."
Jaimie-Rose was born a week ago by caesarean section weighing in a healthy 6lb15oz and is back at home with her mother and brother.
"It was Cameron who suggested calling her Jaimie after their daddy. He was adamant about it,' Mrs Roberts said.
"He's been fantastic and so supportive. He is so proud of his little sister - knowing that she is also from his daddy."
Mrs Roberts is not the first widow to become pregnant using her late husband's frozen sperm. Because her husband gave his permission, however, she avoided the legal anguish of the Diane Blood case.
Mrs Blood's husband Stephen was unable to give his consent for the procedure before he died of meningitis in 1995. She eventually won a lengthy legal battle and has since had two sons.
Before male soldiers head to war zones, some are taking an extra precaution: They freeze their sperm.
Staff Sgt. Clifton Brown, of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, served in Iraq in 2003-2004 and left in April for Kuwait. Before leaving for Kuwait, he went to CNY Fertility Center in Syracuse and banked his sperm.
He would have done it before going to Iraq, if he had known what he knows now, he said in an email from Kuwait.
Brown is one of at least 56 soldiers who have banked sperm at the CNY Fertility Center since 2005, said Dr. Robert Kiltz, who runs the center. They are motivated by a range of concerns: the risks of dying, losing fertility or encountering toxins that could alter their DNA. Others have pre-existing fertility issues or don't want to delay plans for a family.
Read the rest of the story here: War-bound soldiers are banking their sperm
Illustration: Mark Matcho for Newsweek
By Karen Springen
Like many couples, Brian Delaney, 35, and his wife, Daniela, 34, turned to in vitro fertilization after failing to conceive on their own. But after five attempts and an investment of $150,000, IVF failed them as well. Then Brian saw a male-infertility specialist, Columbia University’s Dr. Harry Fisch, who discovered that Brian’s low sperm production could be corrected through microsurgery. Three months later, Daniela was pregnant. Last November she delivered a baby boy, Harrison.
Long overlooked, male infertility has become a fruitful field of research. Doctors now know that, when a couple fails to conceive, the problem lies with the man as often as with the woman. And as the Delaneys learned, recent advances have dramatically improved experts’ understanding of how to diagnose, treat and prevent the condition. “Anything that makes the body unhealthy—a disease, toxins, excessive alcohol—will hurt fertility,” says UCSF urologist Paul Turek. “But most of these things that hurt fertility are reversible.” Some tips for men:
Prune your prescriptions. Among the commonly prescribed medicines that can affect fertility or libido are SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, beta blockers for hypertension, alpha blockers like Flomax (used to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate), the stomach-ulcer drug Tagamet and pain medications like morphine and oxycodone.
Men who are trying to conceive should also avoid using anabolic steroids and testosterone creams and injections because they shut down the body’s production of testosterone and sperm. “The body loves it, but the testicles hate it,” says Turek. “They say, ‘Well, there’s plenty of testosterone. I don’t need to make testosterone or sperm myself’.”
Have more sex. It sounds obvious, but some busy couples don’t make enough time for it. During ovulation—about 10 to 18 days after a woman’s period starts—couples should have sex every other day to “optimize sperm motility,” says Fisch, who is also the author of “The Male Biological Clock.” After five days without sex, a man has a higher volume of fluid, which dilutes the concentration of sperm and makes them less active.
Stay fit. Doctors are seeing more men with obesity-caused infertility. Fat converts testosterone to estrogen, and obese men (or those with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches) are more prone to erectile dysfunction. Men with type 2 diabetes, often associated with obesity, are more prone to low testosterone levels, which negatively affect libido and sperm production.
Doctors can prescribe anti-estrogens like Clomid, used to increase egg production in women, to stimulate testosterone production and, in many men, sperm production.
Stay cool. Heat can damage sperm cells, so stay out of hot tubs, avoid putting your laptop on your lap and don’t sit for long periods of time with your legs crossed or pressed together, says Dr. Peter Schlegel, chairman of urology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. There’s also some evidence linking cell-phone radiation with altered sperm cells in men, so don’t “live on the cell phone,” and keep the device in your jacket or holstered to your belt rather than in your front pants pocket, he says.
See a urologist. “Even those men who we considered to be sterile in the past, we almost always can treat them now,” says Schlegel. Urologists can provide treatments such as vasectomy reversals and outpatient microsurgery for conditions like blocked ducts, scarring from STDs and varicoceles, a type of varicose vein.
Men who want to boost their fertility should also quit smoking, cut back on alcohol, avoid illegal drugs (especially marijuana) and exercise regularly. “Anything that improves medical health is likely to improve sperm,” says University of Illinois at Chicago andrologist Craig Niederberger. Then be patient. “In the world today, people want to act too quickly. ‘We tried for two months, we didn’t get pregnant, we want IVF’,” says urologist Robert Oates, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Boston University School of Medicine. Sometimes “try, try again” comes with its own rewards.