Fertility News

High-resolution 4D imaging of sperm cells moving at top speed could improve IVF treatments

High-resolution 4D imaging of sperm cells moving at top speed could improve IVF treatments

Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers have developed a safe and accurate 4D imaging method to identify sperm cells moving at a high speed.

The new technology could provide doctors with the ability to select the highest-quality sperm for injection into an egg during IVF treatment, potentially increasing a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby.

“The most common type of IVF today is intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which involves sperm selection by a clinical embryologist and injection into the woman’s egg. To that end, an effort is made to select the sperm cell that is most likely to create a healthy embryo.”, said the head researcher Prof. Shaked.

Under natural fertilization in the woman’s body, the fastest sperm to reach an egg is supposed to bear high-quality genetic material. Progressive movement allows this “best” sperm to overcome the veritable obstacle course of a woman’s reproductive system.

“But this ‘natural selection’ is not available to the embryologist, who selects a sperm and injects it into the egg,” Prof. Shaked says.

“Sperm cells not only move fast, but they are also mostly transparent under regular light microscopy, and cell staining is not allowed in human IVF. Existing imaging technology that can examine the quality of the sperm’s genetic material may cause embryonic damage, so that too is prohibited. In the absence of more precise criteria, sperm cells are selected primarily according to external characteristics and their motility while swimming in water in a dish, which is very different from the natural environment of a woman’s body”.

“In our study, we sought to develop an entirely new type of imaging technology that would provide as much information as possible about individual sperm cells, does not require cell staining to enhance contrast, and has the potential for enabling the selection of optimal sperm in fertilization treatments.”

The researchers chose light computed tomography (CT) technology for the unique task of sperm cell imaging.

“In a standard medical CT scan, the device rotates around the subject and sends out X-rays that produce multiple projections, ultimately creating a 3D image of the body,” says Prof. Shaked. “In the case of the sperm, instead of rotating the device around this tiny subject, we relied on a natural feature of the sperm itself: Its head is constantly rotating during the forward movement. We used weak light (and not X-rays), which does not damage the cell. We recorded a hologram of the sperm cell during ultrafast movement and identified various internal components according to their refractive index. This creates an accurate, highly dynamic 3D map of its contents without using cell staining.”

Using this technique, the researchers obtained a clear and accurate CT image of the sperm at very high resolution in four dimensions: three dimensions in the space at resolution of less than half a micron (one micron equals one millionth of a meter) and the exact time (motion) dimension of the second sub-millisecond.

“Our new development provides a comprehensive solution to many known problems of sperm imaging,” Prof. Shaked says. “We were able to create high-resolution imaging of the sperm head while it was moving fast, without the need for stains that could harm the embryo. The new technology can greatly improve the selection of sperm cells in vitro, potentially increasing the chance of pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby.

“To help diagnose male fertility problems, we intend to use our new technique to shed light on the relationship between the 3D movement, structure and contents of sperm and its ability to fertilize an egg and produce a viable pregnancy,” Prof. Shaked concludes. “We believe that such imaging capabilities will contribute to other medical applications, such as developing efficient biomimetic micro-robots to carry drugs within the body.”

Read more: http://www.eng.tau.ac.il/~omni/ScienceAdvances2020.pdf

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/15/eaay7619

What are your chances of having a second IVF baby after fertility treatment for the first?

What are your chances of having a second IVF baby after fertility treatment for the first?

Women have a good chance of having a second child with the help of fertility treatment after the birth of their first child born this way, according to the first study to investigate this, published today in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals.

Researchers in Australia calculated that after a woman successfully achieved a live birth using in vitro fertilisation (IVF), also known as assisted reproductive technology (ART), the chances of a second ART baby were between 51% and 88% after six cycles of treatment.

These calculations depended on whether or not previously frozen embryos were used or fresh embryos from a new ovarian stimulation cycle, and on assumptions made about the likely success rate for women who discontinued treatment.

The chances of a second ART baby decreased with increased maternal age.

Compared to women younger than 30 years, the likelihood of women aged 35-39 having a second ART-conceived baby reduced by 22% if they recommenced treatment with a frozen embryo from a previous cycle and by 50% if they recommenced treatment with a new cycle and a fresh embryo.

Factors that improved their chances of a successful second pregnancy included requiring only one cycle and a single embryo transfer to achieve a first live birth, and where infertility was caused by factors affecting the male partner.

Professor Georgina Chambers, director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), looked at data from 35,290 women who received ART treatment between 2009 and 2013 in Australia and New Zealand and had a live baby during this time. These women were followed for a further two years to 2015, providing between two and seven years of follow-up data, and live births up to October 2016 were included.

We calculated two measures: what is a woman’s chance of achieving a second live birth in a particular cycle of treatment if previous cycles have failed, for instance in cycle three if the first two cycles have failed; and what is the overall, or cumulative, chance of a woman achieving a live birth after a particular number of cycles, including all the previous cycles. For example, what is the overall chance of a woman having a baby after up to three cycles,” said Prof Chambers.

A cycle includes the stimulation of the ovaries to mature multiple eggs, the collection of eggs for fertilisation in the laboratory to create embryos, and then all embryo transfer procedures that use the embryos from the egg retrieval procedure. This can include fresh embryo transfers and frozen embryo transfers.

Prof Chambers and her colleagues calculated estimates of cumulative live birth rates (CLBR) for women who were trying for a second ART baby that took account not only of the women who continued treatment, but also those who discontinued treatment.

The conservative CLBR assumed that women who dropped out would have no chance of achieving a second live birth if they had continued treatment. The optimal CLBR assumed these women would have the same chance of a live birth in a particular cycle as women who had continued treatment. The range between the conservative and optimal estimates gives a realistic idea of success rates.

Just over 43% (15,325) of the 35,290 women, with an average (median) age of 36, returned for treatment to conceive a second child by December 2015.

Among these women, 73% used a frozen embryo from the egg retrieval cycle that had resulted in their first child, and for them the CLBR ranged from 61% (conservative estimate) to 88% (optimal estimate) after six cycles. Among the women who had a new stimulation cycle and used a fresh embryo, the CLBR ranged from 51% to 70%.

Overall, 43% of women who recommence treatment with one of the frozen embryos from a previous stimulation cycle will have a baby after their first embryo transfer procedure. Between 61% and 88% of these women will have a baby after six cycles,” said Prof Chambers. “Among those who recommence treatment with a new stimulation cycle and a fresh embryo transfer, 31% will have a baby after their first cycle and between 51% and 70% after six cycles.”

Although success rates declined with female age, the researchers found that after three cycles of treatment, the conservative and optimal CLBRs in women aged 40 to 44 years were 38% and 55% respectively in those that started with a frozen embryo, and 20% and 25% in those recommencing with a new stimulated cycle and fresh embryos.

Read more: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/advance-article/doi/10.1093/humrep/deaa030/5817569

Length of pregnancy alters the child’s DNA

Length of pregnancy alters the child’s DNA

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have mapped the relationship between length of pregnancy and chemical DNA changes in more than 6,000 newborn babies. For each week’s longer pregnancy, DNA methylation changes in thousands of genes were detected in the umbilical cord blood. The study is published in Genome Medicine.

Premature birth, that is before 37 consecutive weeks’ of pregnancy, is common. Between 5 and 10% of all children in the world are born prematurely.

Most children will develop and grow normally, but premature birth is also linked to respiratory and lung disease, eye problems and neurodevelopmental disorders.

This is especially true for children who are born very or extremely prematurely. During the fetal period, epigenetic processes, i.e., chemical modification of the DNA, are important for controlling development and growth. One such epigenetic factor is DNA methylation, which in turn affects the degree of gene activation and how much of a particular protein is formed.

“Our new findings indicate that these DNA changes may influence the development of fetal organs,” says Simon Kebede Merid, first author of the study and PhD student at Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset.

The majority of observed DNA methylations at birth tended not to persist into childhood, but in 17% the levels were completely stable from birth to adolescence. The levels that you are born with in certain genes thus track with age.

“Now we need to investigate whether the DNA changes are linked to the health problems of those born prematurely,” says Professor Erik Melén, at the Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset.

Epigenetics is a hot research topic that links genes, the environment and health. This work was done within the international Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics (PACE) consortium. The work represents contributions from 26 studies.

Professor Melén’s group also contributed to the first PACE paper which showed that mother’s smoking during pregnancy changes DNA in newborns and lead two PACE studies showing effects of air pollution. Links to diseases such as asthma, allergy, obesity and even aging have also been shown.

“We hope that our new findings will contribute valuable knowledge about fetal development, and in the long term new opportunities for better care of premature babies to avoid complications and adverse health effects,” says Erik Melén.

HPV vaccination does not negatively impact fertility

HPV vaccination does not negatively impact fertility

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is used to prevent sexually transmitted HPV infections and cervical cancers. People who are not vaccinated and contract HPV may experience future fertility problems associated with the infection.

The vaccine currently approved by the FDA has been extensively tested and demonstrated to be both safe and effective with limited side effects.

However, a recent research study has reignited historical public concern regarding HPV vaccination and the risk of primary ovarian insufficiency and infertility in women.

There are more than 100 HPV types that are transmitted sexually or via any skin-to-skin contact in the genital area. Low-risk HPVs mainly cause wart formation on the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, whereas high-risk HPVs, especially HPV 16 and HPV 18, are associated with HPV-related cancers.

These viruses mainly affect the squamous cells that form the inner surface of various genital organs, causing a variety of HPV-related cancers, such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.

How effective is HPV vaccination?

There is one HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, which is currently approved for use in the United States and licenced in 2014. Previously an earlier version of Gardasil was licenced and another vaccine called Cervarix. Presently, FDA-approved HPV vaccination provides protection against infections caused by 2 low-risk and 7 high-risk HPVs. The vaccine consists of 2 shots that are given 6 to 12 months apart.

HPV-EMVOLIASMOS-VACCINE-EMBOLIASMOS

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccine should be given to both boys and girls at the age of 11 or 12 years; however, the vaccine can also be given at the age of 9 years. The vaccine is most effective if it is given to someone before they become sexually active, whereas the vaccine may not be effective if given after getting the infection.

Does HPV vaccination cause infertility?

After the initial approval of the HPV vaccine in 2006 by the FDA, there was public concern regarding the safety of the vaccine with a particular focus on whether it could cause primary ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.

To add to this concern, in 2014 a medical case report from Australia was published reporting three cases of unexplained premature ovarian failure in adolescent girls where an adverse reaction to Gardasil (HPV4) vaccination was hypothesized as a possible explanation.

The author of a recent study analyzing the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data on 8 million American women reported a correlation between women who had not had the vaccine and pregnancy.

At least 60% of women who did not receive HPV vaccine becoming pregnant at least once during the survey period (2007 – 2014), whereas only 35% of women who received the vaccine became pregnant.

While the authors concluded that in an age group of 25 – 29 years, HPV vaccinated women are less likely to become pregnant than women who are not vaccinated they have been roundly criticized for not taking into account the vaccine coverage in the respective age groups during the study period.

Critics of the research have also pointed out that if the vaccine does affect fertility then a similar correlation would have been observed in other countries with good HPV vaccine coverage like Australia and the United Kingdom.

According to the data collected by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database, there were three reports of primary ovarian insufficiency out of 29 million doses of the Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine distributed in the United States between December 2014 and December 2017.

All three were determined to be hearsay reports, meaning there was not enough information to confirm a medical diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency.

The authors of a recent study looking at 200,000 young women who received various adolescent vaccines including HPV vaccine found no correlation between HPV vaccination and increased risk of primary ovarian insufficiency.

The researchers calculated that among 58,871 young women who received the HPV vaccine, only one woman showed the symptoms of primary ovarian insufficiency, suggesting that HPV vaccine is unlikely to affect fertility in young women.

 

HPV-VACCINATIO-EMBOLIO

Particularly in men, HPV negatively affects various sperm parameters, including motility. The virus can also increase trophoblastic cell death and decrease the implantation of trophoblastic cells in the uterus.

These factors can potentially increase the risk of miscarriage, premature membrane rupture, or spontaneous premature delivery.

In women undergoing intrauterine insemination, infection with HPV is associated with a lower pregnancy rate. In these circumstances, it can be considered that a vaccine designed to prevent HPV infection should improve someone’s chances of having a successful pregnancy.

A 2017 study, published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, showed little overall association between HPV vaccination and the chances of conceiving for men and women — except among women with a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

STIs are associated with lower fertility, but vaccinated women with an STI history had about the same chance of becoming as unvaccinated women who had never had an STI.

The study found no adverse effects of HPV vaccination on fertility and indicated that it may, in fact, protect fertility among individuals who have had other STIs. Our study should reassure those who are hesitant to vaccinate due to fertility concerns.” Kathryn McInerney, BUSPH Doctoral Student & Lead Author of the study

Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and their Danish colleagues monitored HPV-vaccinated girls via patient data registries in order to examine the incidence of a wide range of diseases and thus determine if there were any serious adverse effects of the vaccine.

Their results showed no significant increase in the examined diseases in the vaccinated girls relative to their unvaccinated peers. The 2103 study, published in the BMJ, included almost a million Swedish and Danish girls born between 1988 and 2000 and compared roughly 300,000 girls who had been HPV vaccinated with 700,000 who had not.

You could see our study as part of a societal alarm system, and as such it did not alert us to any signs that HPV vaccination carries a risk of serious adverse events” said Dr Lisen Arnheim-Dahlström, Associate Professor, Karolinska Institute.

There is currently no reliable evidence that links current or previous HPV vaccines with fertility-related problems. However, given the questions raised by the case reports and recent academic controversy around the way large systematic reviews of HPV vaccine safety are conducted, it is clear that further research is needed to conclusively establish whether there are any grounds to associate HPV vaccination with any reduction in male or female fertility.

It is important to remember that a lot of studies on vaccine outcome reported that HPV vaccine is both safe and highly effective in preventing cancer-causing infections.

With more than 12 years of HPV vaccine safety monitoring and research from the United States and other countries, we have robust data showing the HPV vaccines are safe.

With regard to concerns about HPV vaccination and fertility in women, CDC and FDA have not found any convincing evidence that HPV vaccines cause primary ovarian insufficiency (POI).

Also known as “premature menopause,” POI is a condition in which a woman’s ovaries stop functioning before age 40. Causes of POI include genetics, chemicals in the environment, cancer treatments, smoking cigarettes, autoimmune disorders, and some viral infections.

A 2018 study from CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink that included nearly 200,000 women did not find an increased risk of POI following HPV vaccination.

 

 

Source: https://www.news-medical.net/health/HPV-Vaccination-and-Fertility.aspx

Ten-year storage of eggs, sperm and embryos may be extended in the UK

Ten-year storage of eggs, sperm and embryos may be extended in the UK

The period of time for which eggs, sperm and embryos can be frozen could be extended, as the UK government calls for views on the current 10-year limit.

It said women’s choices on when to have children were being restricted, despite advances in freezing technology.

Only the eggs of people whose fertility may be affected by disease can be kept for longer – up to 55 years.

Current law generally permits frozen eggs, sperm and embryos to be stored for a maximum of ten years, after which patients must choose either to attempt a pregnancy, destroy the frozen material, or transfer it overseas for fertility treatment abroad.

The regulator said the time was right to consider a “more appropriate” storage limit, so the government has now launched a consultation on the current law.

It will also consider the safety and quality of eggs, embryos and sperm stored for more than 10 years and any additional demand for storage facilities that could result.

“Although this could affect any one of us, I am particularly concerned by the impact of the current law on women’s reproductive choices,” said Caroline Dinenage, a minister in the Department of Health. “A time limit can often mean women are faced with the heart-breaking decision to destroy their frozen eggs or feel pressured to have a child before they are ready.”

A fertility charity has previously said women were being pushed to delay egg freezing later and later, because of the 10-year storage limit.

The number of women choosing to freeze their eggs has more than tripled in the last five years. There were 1,462 egg freezing cycles in 2017 compared with 410 in 2012, and four out of five of these women are freezing their eggs for non-medical reasons, data suggests.

A much smaller number are freezing eggs before having unrelated medical treatment, such as to combat cancer.

For women freezing their eggs, the viability of eggs is at its highest in a woman’s early twenties, therefore eggs frozen at this time will have the best chance of leading to a successful pregnancy.

However, under the current law, these frozen eggs would need to be either used or discarded in a woman’s early to mid-thirties, before she may be ready to become pregnant. The most common age for freezing eggs is now 38.

Sally Cheshire, who chairs the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said the regulator had heard the voices of patients and doctors.

“While any change to the 10-year storage limit would be a matter for Parliament, as it requires a change in law, we believe the time is right to consider what a more appropriate storage limit could be that recognises both changes in science and in the way women are considering their fertility,” she said.

The announcement of the consultation follows the launch of the #ExtendTheLimit campaign, begun by the Progress Educational Trust (PET).

The consultation is available until 5 May 2020.

Progesterone could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year in the UK

Progesterone could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year in the UK

Giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage could lead to 8,450 more babies being born each year, according to a new study.

The results of the research show the advantages of giving a course of self-administered twice daily progesterone pessaries to women from when they first present with early pregnancy bleeding up until 16 weeks of pregnancy to prevent miscarriage.

Progesterone is a hormone that is naturally secreted by the ovaries and placenta in early pregnancy and is vital to the attainment and maintenance of healthy pregnancies.

Researchers are calling for progesterone to be offered as standard in the NHS for women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage, after their growing body of research has found it can increase women’s chances of having a baby and it is is both cost-effective.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and examines the findings of two major clinical trials – PROMISE and PRISM – led by the University of Birmingham and Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research.

PROMISE studied 836 women with unexplained recurrent miscarriages at 45 hospitals in the UK and the Netherlands and found a 3% higher live birth rate with progesterone.

PRISM studied 4,153 women with early pregnancy bleeding at 48 hospitals in the UK and found there was a 5% increase in the number of babies born to those who were given progesterone who had previously had one or more miscarriages, compared to those given a placebo.

The benefit was even greater for the women who had previous ‘recurrent miscarriages’ (three or more miscarriages) – with a 15% increase in the live birth rate in the progesterone group compared to the placebo group.

A different study, published in BJOG: an international Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, evaluates the economics of the PRISM trial and concludes that progesterone is cost-effective, costing on average £204 per pregnancy.

Dr Pat O’Brien, Consultant Obstetrician and Vice President of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Miscarriage can be a devastating loss for women, their partners and families. We, therefore, welcome the findings from these well-researched trials which support the use of progesterone among women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage.

This treatment offers an increased chance of a successful birth and appears to be cost-effective for the NHS, so we hope NICE will consider this important research in their next update of the guidance.

For women with no prior history of miscarriage, there does not appear to be much benefit of the treatment, and women with concerns about their pregnancy should contact their midwife or early pregnancy unit for care and support. Reassuringly, most women who have had a miscarriage will have a successful pregnancy and birth in the future.”

Dr Adam Devall, Senior Clinical Trial Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Manager of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said: “Between 20 and 25 % of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, which has a major clinical and psychological impact on women and their families.

The role of first-trimester progesterone supplementation in the treatment of pregnancies at high risk of miscarriage is a long-standing research question that has been debated in the medical literature for over 60 years.

Thus far, policymakers have been unable to make evidence-based recommendations on the use of progesterone supplementation to improve outcomes.

The PRISM and PROMISE Trials found a small but positive treatment effect, dependent on the number of previous miscarriages.

We believe that the dual risk factors of early pregnancy bleeding and a history of one or more previous miscarriages identify high-risk women in whom progesterone is of benefit. The question is, how should this affect clinical practice?”

Source: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/progesterone-could-prevent-8450-miscarriages-a-year-finds-new-research/

Diet has rapid effects on sperm quality

Diet has rapid effects on sperm quality

Diet can influence sperm quality after just a few weeks. This is the conclusion of a study by researchers at Linköping University, in which healthy young men were fed a diet rich in sugar.

The study reinforces the link between nutrition and male reproduction and could have important implications for those undergoing fertility treatment. The study, which has been published in PLOS Biology, gives new insight into the function of sperm, and may in the long term contribute to new diagnostic methods to measure sperm quality.

Sperm quality can be harmed by several environmental and lifestyle factors, of which obesity and related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, are well-known risk factors for poor sperm quality.

We see that diet influences the motility of the sperm, and we can link the changes to specific molecules in them. Our study has revealed rapid effects that are noticeable after one to two weeks”, says Anita Öst, senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, and head of the study.

In the study, 15 non-smoking men aged 20-27 followed a specific diet for two weeks. In the first week they ate a healthy diet as recommended by the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. During the second week, the men ate an extra 375g of sugar per day, which is equivalent to about 3.5 litres of sugary drinks or 450 grammes of confectionery.

The sperm quality and other indicators of the participants’ health were investigated at the start of the study, after the first week (during which they ate a healthy diet), and after the second week (when the participants had additionally consumed large amounts of sugar).

At the beginning of the study, one third of the men had low sperm motility. Motility is one of several factors that influence sperm quality. The researchers were surprised to discover that the sperm motility of all participants became normal during the study.

The study shows that sperm motility can be changed in a short period, and seems to be closely coupled to diet. This has important clinical implications. But we can’t say whether it was the sugar that caused the effect, since it may be a component of the basic healthly diet that has a positive effect on the sperm”, says Anita Öst.

The researchers found that the small RNA fragments, which are linked to sperm motility, also changed. Τhey discovered that tsRNA levels were increased in some of the men after they had eaten a high sugar diet for a week.

They are now planning to continue the work and investigate whether there is a link between male fertility and the RNA fragments in sperm. They will also determine whether the RNA code can be used for new diagnostic methods to measure sperm quality during in vitro fertilisation (IVF). 

Read more: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000559

Source: https://liu.se/en/news-item/kosten-har-direkt-paverkan-pa-hur-pigga-spermierna-ar

Hungary to provide free IVF to boost population

Hungary to provide free IVF to boost population

Hungary will provide free in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment to couples at state-run clinics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced.

He said fertility was of “strategic importance”. Last month his government took over Hungary’s fertility clinics.

Mr Orban, a right-wing nationalist, has long advocated a “procreation over immigration” approach to deal with demographic decline.

The country’s population has been falling steadily for four decades.

Mr Orban described details of his fertility policy on Thursday, after bringing six fertility clinics under state control in December.

Free IVF treatment will be offered from 1 February, but it is not clear who exactly will be entitled to it.

Mr Orban also said the government was considering an income tax exemption for women who have three children or more. Starting this month, those with at least four children have been exempt.

“If we want Hungarian children instead of immigrants, and if the Hungarian economy can generate the necessary funding, then the only solution is to spend as much of the funds as possible on supporting families and raising children,” the prime minister said.

Mr Orban – who has been prime minister since 2010 – has based his campaigns on opposition to immigration.

In September last year, he told an international summit on demography that while other European leaders believed immigration was the solution to falling population numbers, he rejected this.

The prime minister then echoed the far-right “great replacement” theory, which claims that white European populations are being gradually replaced by people of non-European descent.

“If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future, and we take this as given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others,” Mr Orban told the conference at the time.

“There are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population for ideological or other reasons.”

With an estimated birth rate of 1.48 per woman, Hungary is just one of many Eastern European countries facing demographic decline – due to both low birth rates and the emigration of working-age people to other EU nations.

Some of these countries have implemented their own policies to encourage birth rates to increase. Poland, for example, pays parents 500 zloty (£100) a month per child.

Croatia, which assumed presidency of the EU last week, said last year that population growth in the EU would be “a ­key question” for them.

“Demography needs to be put in the focus of EU policies in order to preserve the development of all member states,” Croatian minister Vesna Bedekovic told a European Economic and Social Committee conference in November.

“The birth rate currently stands at 1.59 on average… This is why Croatia has recognised demographic revitalisation as a key question for its further development.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51061499

Male fertility got no boost from zinc, folic acid in study

Male fertility got no boost from zinc, folic acid in study

A rigorous U.S. government-led study found that zinc and folic acid supplements don’t boost men’s fertility, despite claims that they do.

The mineral and the vitamin are important for sperm production and are found in many common foods. Previous studies on whether over-the-counter supplements might boost sperm health have had conflicting results.

There were a few small trials that showed a benefit, but we needed some definitive evidence that this would work,” said lead author Enrique Schisterman, a researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed it didn’t.

Schisterman called the results disappointing. Supplements cost about $60 a month compared with tens of thousands of dollars many couples spend on invasive medical treatment for infertility.

People who go through fertility treatment are really, really desperate to find something that works,” he said.

The institute paid for the study, which involved almost 2,400 men planning fertility treatments with their partners at four U.S. clinics.

The researchers avoided using over-the-counter supplements, which aren’t strictly regulated and may contain ingredients other than those listed on the label. Instead they created tablets that combined 5 milligrams of folic acid, similar to previous studies, and 30 mgs of zinc, a lower dose than in some studies to avoid potential side effects.

Half the men studied swallowed one tablet daily for six months; the other men took dummy pills. Several semen tests were performed during the study.

Over 18 months of follow-up, 820 babies were born, about equal numbers in each group. Sperm quality also was similar in both groups.

Sperm DNA changes linked with infertility were slightly more common in the supplement users and those men had more digestive side effects, which have been linked previously with zinc pills.

Infertility affects at least 50 million couples worldwide. It’s usually defined as not being able to conceive after a year of trying. Male infertility including low sperm counts or poor-quality sperm contributes to about 1 in 3 cases. Research suggests sperm counts in western countries have been declining for decades, for unknown reasons.

Read more: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2758450?guestAccessKey=47179784-451b-4342-aadd-5f74ea3f79b1&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=010720

A diet low in fat and high in egg whites could be the key to boosting male fertility

A diet low in fat and high in egg whites could be the key to boosting male fertility

There is a direct link between a man’s diet and testosterone, according to research by scientists at the University of South Australia and Flinders University.

The research showed that what men eat could affect their fundamental male sex hormone.

The study is the first to identify that a diet high in any type of fat – including healthy mono-saturated fats such as olive oil – negatively impacts testosterone production over as little as five hours, yet one supplemented with egg whites, and to a lesser extent whey protein, can positively affect serum testosterone.

Globally, infertility affects 15 per cent of couples, with the World Health Organization estimating that up to 25 per cent of couples in developing countries are affected. While the causes are many and varied, 20-30 per cent of the problems are attributed to male factors alone.

Lead researcher, Dr Karma Pearce, says the preliminary findings present controversial insights over the shorter five-hour term about the link between testosterone and ‘healthy’ monounsaturated fat, which is popularly considered to be a component of a healthy diet, including the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

There’s an assumption that ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats perform as they’re described – but what’s surprising, is that it wasn’t the type of fat that mattered at all, as an equal amount of the good and bad fats significantly supressed testosterone production,” Dr Pearce says.

While the researchers acknowledge they have tested individual nutrients and the effects may be different in the context of whole food dietary patterns, their earlier work has shown that ‘Western diets’ typified by fast food dietary pattern produced a 25 per cent decrease in serum testosterone within an hour of eating, with levels remaining suppressed below fasting baseline for up to four hours.

In this study we also found that consuming albumen – the protein in egg whites – increased testosterone levels, and did so by four-fold relative to fasting, while albumin, combined with the bad saturated fat somewhat ameliorated the effect of the bad fats on testosterone levels, providing another diet-based influencer of testosterone levels.”

The study tested eight diet protocols (meals comprising polyunsaturated fat; monounsaturated fat; refined carbohydrate (orange juice); whey; egg white; and mixed meals of polyunsaturated fat and refined carbohydrate; polyunsaturated fat and egg white; refined carbohydrate (orange juice) and egg white) with four blood tests/hormone analyses taken before eating and at every hour afterwards for five hours.

Dr Pearce says the study is one step in a series of work needed to support and enhance fertility.

While the study only analyses the impact of various dietary macronutrients on testosterone production, not sperm quality, the researchers believe the study results suggest at least the potential for diet to negatively impact on sperm production and fertility. The findings are extremely promising for couples trying to start a family.

It’s important to note that it’s still early days and more research needs to be done, particularly at looking at the effect of these nutrients in the context of whole food dietary patterns over the longer-term,” Dr Pearce says.

Read more: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/12/3059

Source:

https://www.unisa.edu.au/Media-Centre/Releases/2019/fewer-fats-over-the-festive-season-may-be-the-perfect-formula-for-mens-fertility/

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