INFERTILITY

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

New discovery may help women pause biological clock

New discovery may help women pause biological clock

From the moment a girl reaches puberty, her eggs begin maturing and gradually losing quality.

Genetic researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem helped discover a biological switch that delays egg aging without losing egg quality – in worms.

They’re hopeful this breakthrough may lead to a way for women to extend their fertility windows and maintain high egg quality into their 30s and 40s.

Hebrew University scientists Yonatan Tzur and Hanna Achache, along with Tzur’s lab team and an associate at Harvard Medical School, studied egg maturation in C. elegans (roundworms) and published their findings in the scientific journal Genetics.

They chose these tiny worms because they have been helpful in shedding light on human genetics. Roundworms contain the same number of genes as humans do and their eggs mature in about one day.

Tzur and his team monitored the changes in each of the worm’s 20,000 genes during egg formation and were able to pinpoint an exact gene (ogr-2) that controls the rhythm of egg maturation. Delving further, the team studied MAP Kinase (“MAPK”), the biochemical switch that turns egg development on and off.

When they removed the ogr-2 gene with CRISPR gene-editing technology, MAPK went into overdrive and the worms’ eggs aged very quickly.

“We tested the gene’s role by removing it from the worm’s gene sequence. Instantly, these ‘edited’ worms became less fertile and their eggs more closely resembled those of an older worm,” said Tzur.

These findings are significant because aging egg cells are the main cause of birth defects, miscarriages and infertility. As human eggs age, abnormalities develop.

While in-vitro fertilization (IVF) allows doctors to select the best eggs, women above the age of 35 have less chance of producing a healthy baby with their own eggs. For women 42 and older, those chances are close to zero.

These statistics, along with the fact that the average age of first-time mothers in the Western world is increasing sharply, means finding the key to slowing down egg maturation is crucial and has spurred scientists like Tzur to discover the mechanisms that control ovarian development and oocyte aging.

Though still in its early stages, the discovery could have two possible applications for humans. One is to gently increase the equivalent of ogr-2 in girls via a food additive. This may allow girls to maintain the high quality of young eggs until they’re ready to use them.

Another potential tactic would be to suppress MAPK during IVF cycles. This would help older eggs complete their development and improve women’s chances of having a healthy baby as they get older.

Source: https://www.israel21c.org/new-discovery-could-help-women-pause-the-biological-clock/

Levels of thyroid hormones affect chronic pain and severity of endometriosis

Levels of thyroid hormones affect chronic pain and severity of endometriosis

Endometriosis patients with thyroid dysfunction may have increased risk of more intense chronic pain and increased disease severity, a study suggests.

The underlying disease mechanism of endometriosis is still unclear.

Autoimmune thyroid disorders are associated with endometriosis, but the mechanism by which the two diseases are linked is unknown.

Each cell in the body carries protein markers called antigens that allow a cell to be identified as “self” or “non-self” by the immune system. In autoimmune thyroid disorders, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the thyroid gland. These diseases are characterized by the production of autoantibodies against thyroid-specific antigens, including the thyroid itself and the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor.

Now, researchers at the Université Paris Descartes looked at the relationship between endometriosis and autoimmune thyroid disorders, specifically at how thyroid disorders affect the progression of endometriosis.

They first found that both the levels of RNA and proteins involved in thyroid metabolism were altered in the biopsied endometrium of patients with endometriosis compared to healthy people. RNA molecules act as templates to make proteins, which perform key functions in the cell.

Moreover, in endometriotic cells, the amount of thyroid hormones was altered compared to that of control cells. The thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine) is converted into T3 (triiodothyronine), which is much more active than T4. In the endometriotic cells, T4 production was increased while that of T3 was reduced.

The thyroid-stimulating hormone regulates the production of T3 and T4. In vitro (lab) studies using cells from the endometrium of endometriotic patients and healthy controls showed that thyroid-stimulating hormone increased cells’ proliferation. But the researchers saw no differences in the increase of proliferation rate between endometriotic cells and control cells.

Mouse studies confirmed the data gained in vitro since endometriotic implants were found to be bigger when thyroid hormones increased. A retrospective analysis of endometriosis patients with or without a thyroid disorder revealed an increased chronic pelvic pain and disease score in endometriotic patients with a thyroid disorder.

The study, “Role of thyroid dysimmunity and thyroid hormones in endometriosis” was published in the journal PNAS

Read more: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/24/11894

Laparoscopic surgery especially benefits endometriosis patients with pelvic pain

Laparoscopic surgery especially benefits endometriosis patients with pelvic pain

Patients with severe endometriosis and pelvic pain show the most pronounced improvements in quality of life within one year after undergoing laparoscopic surgery, a new study reports.

Laparoscopic surgery is the current gold standard to treat endometriosis. A small incision is made to allow a tool called a laparoscope, coupled with a small camera, to go inside the abdomen to guide the removal of endometriosis lesions.

Although surgery has the potential to reduce pain and improve patients’ quality of life, it is crucial to evaluate how surgery is affecting physical and mental health as well as patients’ social well-being.

Endometriosis often causes chronic pelvic pain, severe pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea), and pain during sex (dyspareunia). Other non-gynecologic symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Together, these symptoms have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life.

In order to investigate which factors led to changes in patients’ quality of life, a team of researchers analyzed 981 patients from five districts in the Auvergne region of France who underwent laparoscopic treatment between 2004 and 2012.

Enrolled participants, ages 15-50, had received laparoscopic surgery or been newly diagnosed with a histological confirmation of endometriosis.

The team compared quality of life prior to surgery and one year after surgery using the 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) questionnaire, data on presence or absence of specific symptoms, and intensity of pain. Improvement in quality of life was measured using effect size method (ES), in which a value of 0.8 or higher corresponds to a significant improvement.

The SF-36 consists of eight sections covering physical functioning, energy/fatigue, bodily pain, role limitations due to physical health, general health perception, social functioning, role limitations due to emotional problems, and emotional well-being. The lower the score in the questionnaire, the greater the disability.

In total, 44% of patients with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain had an improvement in quality of life equal to or above 0.8 ES compared to 23% of patients without pain who had similar ES scores.

Moreover, 47% of patients with stage 4 endometriosis had an ES score above 0.8, whereas only 26%, 31%, and 27.5% of patients in stage I, II, and III respectively had a similar improvement in quality of life.

Researchers observed that patients with chronic pelvic pain were more likely to improve their quality of life after surgery compared to those without it. Fertile patients also were more likely to improve quality of life compared to infertile patients.

Mental health of patients with chronic pelvic pain was also improved after surgery compared to patients without pain.

Similarly, patients with anxiety also showed better mental score compared to non-anxious patients.

Overall, researchers found that chronic pelvic pain was the most significant factor in predicting patients’ improvement in quality of life after surgery.

Patients presenting with severe endometriosis and who experience higher levels of pain are more likely to show improvement in [quality of life] after surgery,” researchers said.

[Chronic pelvic pain] is the most significant independent predictive factor for changes in QoL scores,” the study concluded.

The study, “Identification of predictive factors in endometriosis for improvement in patient quality of life,” was published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

Read more: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1553465019302274?via%3Dihub

 

Endometriosis diagnosis takes 7 to 12 years

Endometriosis diagnosis takes 7 to 12 years

Endometriosis may affect all aspects of a woman’s life, including sexual relations, social activities, emotional well-being and work productivity.

The disease is costly. Claims data show that average annual health care costs (medical and prescription) are more than three times higher for women with endometriosis compared to patients without endometriosis, even five years pre- and five years post-diagnosis. Τhe cost can increase in cases of greater severity of the disease, presence of pelvic pain and infertility.

However, endometriosis is still underfunded and under-researched, thus limiting scientific progress and the number of available diagnostic and treatment options, according to a new review study.

Aiming to address these concerns, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) brought together a group of researchers, clinicians, and patients as well as industry and government officials, who evaluated barriers affecting endometriosis diagnosis and treatment, reviewed current practice, and highlighted research priorities.

Multidisciplinary approaches addressing all patient needs and greater disease awareness are needed to improve care, diagnosis and development of treatments for people with endometriosis, showed the resutls of the research “Assessing Research Gaps and Unmet Needs in Endometriosis,” which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

According to the expert group, the current lack of knowledge and awareness about the causes of endometriosis contributes to the significant delays (7 to 12 years) from first experiencing symptoms to diagnosis. These delays are even worse for women with pelvic pain and for younger women, and may cause physical and emotional damage, as well as increase costs associated with the disease.

Another contributing factor is that the current gold standard for diagnosis requires surgery (laparoscopy), warranting the development of accurate, noninvasive and less costly diagnostic tools, such as biomarkers. Also, current guidelines only recommend assessing endometrial lesions, despite reports of a questionable association between the number of lesions and disease severity, symptoms and impact on women’s quality of life.

Campaigns to educate patients, healthcare providers, and the public may also help achieve more timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment, the team noted.

Additional barriers are difficulties with insurance coverage, and the stigma around menstrual issues and society’s normalization of women’s pain, which may make patients reluctant to discuss symptoms or seek care.

“In addition, women who do bring up their symptoms may fall victim to the well-documented clinical gender bias that has resulted in some women’s pain being dismissed or inadequately treated,” Rebecca Nebel, PhD, the study’s senior author and director of scientific programs at SWHR, said.

Standardized screenings, such as those used in cases of potential violence against women, could be used as a model in endometriosis, the experts said.

Other barriers are related to healthcare providers, as women need to make an average of seven visits to their primary provider before being referred to specialists, and often are misdiagnosed.

As for current practice in treatment, most medical and surgical approaches — including hysterectomy and uterus removal — focus on managing pain and associated symptoms by suppressing or removing endometrial lesions, but may not be effective.

Physical therapy, acupuncture, and yoga are examples of non pharmacological strategies that may help ease pain. Mental health professionals may help treat depression and grieving associated with endometriosis, while also providing coping and relaxation strategies.

Available medical therapies may induce side effects such as bone loss, hot flashes, and weight gain. Also, many cannot be used when women are trying to get pregnant, often forcing them to decide on whether to minimize pain or time their attempts to conceive while off medication.

Overall, “future treatments and care should shift toward a patient-centric, multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the patient as a whole, rather than one symptom at a time,” the experts said.

Centers of expertise taking an interdisciplinary approach with experts in “laparoscopy, medical management, pain education, physical therapy, and psychological care” may help implement treatment strategies “that address all the needs of the patient, including quality-of-life issues,” the team stated.

Read more: https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(19)30385-0/pdf

https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(19)30385-0/fulltext

Source: https://endometriosisnews.com/2019/02/28/multidisciplinary-approach-awareness-will-most-benefit-endometriosis-patients-experts-say/

Early life sexual and physical abuse dramatically increases risk of endometriosis

Early life sexual and physical abuse dramatically increases risk of endometriosis

By I.Soussis MD

A prospective cohort study found that women reporting severe and/or chronic abuse of multiple types during childhood and adolescence had a 79% higher risk of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis.

Severe abuse was defined as being kicked, bitten, punched or physically attacked more than once, or choked or burned ever, whereas severe sexual abuse was considered forced sexual activity during both childhood and adolescence.

“We saw stronger associations among women whose endometriosis was most likely diagnosed as a result of pelvic pain symptoms,” said lead author Holly Harris, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

Previous studies led by members of Dr. Harris’ research team had shown a connection between early life abuse and both uterine fibroids and hypertension. “Given recent links found between endometriosis and hypertension, one of the next logical steps was to examine the association between abuse and risk of endometriosis,” Dr. Harris told Contemporary OB/GYN.

For the study, which appeared in the journal Human Reproduction, data were collected from 60,595 premenopausal women from 1989 to 2013 as part of the Nurses’ Health Survey II cohort.

Participants completed a questionnaire on exposure to violence.

A total of 3,394 cases of endometriosis were diagnosed during 24 years of follow-up.

Overall, 34% of study participants reported moderate or severe physical abuse during early life and 11% of study participants reported forced sex, while 14% of women diagnosed with endometriosis had severe sexual abuse history.

“It is extremely important for readers, clinicians and women with or those who care about women with endometriosis to understand that these results absolutely do not imply that all women who have endometriosis have been abused,” Dr. Harris said. “Abuse in early childhood and adolescence is common among both women with and without endometriosis.”

The associations between abuse and endometriosis were stronger in women presenting without infertility. This group was also more likely to report pelvic pain.

“Sadly, childhood abuse is real, is a major public health issue, and can have long-lasting impacts on health,” Dr. Harris said. “In addition, for women with pelvic pain with or without endometriosis, it is important that they know that these symptoms are not normal.”

When these women raise concerns about their pain with clinicians, they should not be dismissed, no matter their age or history, according to Dr. Harris. “There is a growing body of evidence that pain sensitization can result from a physiologic response to the stress and trauma of abuse,” she said. “This occurs not only among women with endometriosis but also among women with other pain conditions.”

 

Read more: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article-abstract/33/9/1657/5055017?redirectedFrom=fulltext

 

Source: http://www.contemporaryobgyn.net/endometriosis/does-abuse-affect-risk-endometriosis?rememberme=1&elq_mid=4894&elq_cid=607376&GUID=69980457-AFA5-43B0-B217-28D67525EA6C

Discovery promises early diagnosis of endometriosis

Discovery promises early diagnosis of endometriosis

By I.Soussis, MD, MSc, FRCOG, Fertility Specialist

 

Scientists from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research announced an experimental, rapid and non-invasive way to diagnose endometriosis, which may lead to earlier and more effective treatments for this disorder that affects approximately 176 million women globally.

The scientists found that a particular feature of cells found in menstrual blood suggests that a patient has endometriosis, according to findings published in Molecular Medicine.

The simple test uses menstrual blood and takes only a few days to report. This is a dramatic improvement over current diagnostic methods that rely on laparoscopy, which patients try to avoid, delaying diagnosis typically five to 10 years from the onset of symptoms.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which the endometrium grows outside the uterus, typically in the abdominal cavity or on internal organs. Patients often experience significant pain and discomfort during their period or intercourse.  Endometriosis may also lead to infertility or hysterectomy.

Researchers at the Feinstein Institute established the Research Out-Smarts Endometriosis (ROSE) program to study the genetic basis of endometriosis and what is occurring at the cellular level in this disease. As part of ROSE, healthy women and others with endometriosis, provide peripheral and menstrual blood samples which are stored in a biobank so that they can be analysed in current and future research studies.

The recently-published study focused on the role of stromal fibroblasts, a type of stem cell found in menstrual blood, and the immune system. Professors Christine N.Metz, PhD and Peter K.Gregersen, MD, along with Laura A. Warren, an MD-PhD student at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell have led this research effort.

“The cause of endometriosis is not known. One theory is retrograde menstruation, which is where menstrual blood containing uterine tissue is transported into the abdominal cavity instead of out of the body. Almost all women experience retrograde menstruation, but we’re unsure why in some women this endometrial tissue latches on to the abdominal wall and internal organs and grows causing endometriosis,” said Dr. Metz. “In this study, we found that the stem cells in the menstrual blood of women with endometriosis are very different from those of healthy women and we are learning from these differences to develop a novel non-invasive diagnostic test.”

Metz and her colleagues observed that the menstrual blood of endometriosis patients contained a significantly smaller number of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells compared with healthy participants. In addition to this decrease, they observed that endometriosis patients’ stem cells showed impaired decidualization, a process that prepares the uterus for embryo implantation.

“Instead of having to undergo surgery to accurately diagnose endometriosis, these findings will enable us to develop a rapid test for endometriosis based on menstrual blood, which can be easily collected. This will allow medical professionals to know if someone is at risk of developing endometriosis and start treatment sooner, and it will help them monitor patients’ responses to treatment,” said Dr. Gregersen. “Endometriosis is a chronic, complex condition and improved understanding of this disease through studying menstrual blood is likely to drive personalization of new therapies.”

 

You can read the data published in Molecular Medicine, here:

https://molmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10020-018-0009-6.

Source: https://www.feinsteininstitute.org/2018/03/feinstein-institute-discovery-promises-improved-diagnosis-understanding-endometriosis/

Image credit: http://healthizmo.com/endometriosis-what-you-need-to-know

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