The amount and type of fat in men's diets may affect the quality and concentration of sperm in their semen, according to a new small US study whose results need to be corroborated by a larger trial before we can say for sure whether this finding stacks up. But the researchers say in the meantime men already have much to gain by reducing the amount of saturated fat in their diet: we know too much of it is linked to poor health, and now it may also signify poorer fertility. The study, by Jill Attaman and colleagues, is published in the 14 March online issue of the journal Human Reproduction. Attaman was a clinical and research fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as an instructor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School when they did the study.
Treatment with vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroids in laboratory rats predisposed to developing the benign tumors, reported researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Uterine fibroids are the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Fibroids grow within and around the wall of the uterus. Thirty percent of women 25 to 44 years of age report fibroid-related symptoms, such as lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or painful menstrual periods. Uterine fibroids also are associated with infertility and such pregnancy complications as miscarriage or preterm labor. Other than surgical removal of the uterus, there are few treatment options for women experiencing severe fibroid-related symptoms and about 200, 000 U.S. women undergo the procedure each year.
Survivors of cancer in childhood have a higher risk of infertility in later life. This is the conclusion reached by Magdalena Balcerek and her co-authors in a study published in Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109 126-31). In a nationwide German survey on infertility after treatment for cancer in childhood and adolescence, the authors collected data from former pediatric oncology patients. Of the 2754 participants, 1476 had been treated for leukemia and 1278 for solid tumors. Altogether, 210 of these former patients had opted to have their fertility tested. Infertility was suspected in 30% of them. In one subgroup 23% of the responders stated that they and their partner had failed to conceive a child despite at least 24 months of unprotected intercourse, thus fulfilling the World Health Organization's definition of infertility.
US researchers have managed to isolate stem cells from the ovaries of reproductive age women and used them to make egg cells that appear to behave normally. The discovery, published online in Nature Medicine at the weekend, confirm the results of earlier studies that suggest women continue to produce new eggs in adulthood, and overturn the traditionally held view that they are born with a finite number of eggs that gradually deplete over their reproductive years. The hope is the study will lead to new ways to help infertile women. Study leader Dr Jonathan Tilly, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, and Chief of Research, in the Vincent Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, told the press they feel their study clearly shows that during her reproductive life, a woman's ovaries contain stem cells capable of making new eggs.
Pioneering work by a leading University of Nottingham scientist has helped reveal for the first time a vital process in the development of the early mammalian embryo. A team led by Professor of Tissue Engineering, Kevin Shakesheff, has created a new device in the form of a soft polymer bowl which mimics the soft tissue of the mammalian uterus in which the embryo implants. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. This new laboratory culture method has allowed scientists to see critical aspects of embryonic development that have never been seen in this way before. For the first time it has been possible to grow embryos outside the body of the mother, using a mouse model, for just long enough to observe in real time processes of growth during a crucial stage between the fourth and eighth days of development.