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An update on how painkillers could negatively affect your unborn children and potential others to come
The questionable use of painkillers during pregnancy has already been recorded in multiple studies for their effect on infant fertility–typically, female fetuses. Guidelines suggest that paracetamol, more commonly known as acetaminophen, should be used as sparingly as possible and that ibuprofen shouldn’t be used at all during pregnancy.
However, researchers at the University of Edinburgh recently published a study that provides evidence that acetaminophen and ibuprofen should be avoided for their effect on male fetuses as well. Furthermore, the study suggested that acetaminophen and ibuprofen could affect human fetuses on a molecular level down to their DNA.
How do painkillers affect egg-producing cells?
Germ cells (not to be confused with germs) produce sperm and egg cells while in the womb. Researchers observed that treating ovaries with acetaminophen for one week lowered the percent of egg-producing cells by more than 40 percent. Even worse, ibuprofen nearly halved the number of egg-producing cells.
These percentages are particularly concerning because women are born with a set number of egg cells. If they are born with half the number of cells that could produce eggs, then they are at risk for early menopause.
How do painkillers affect sperm-producing cells?
For male fetus fertility experiments, researchers grafted mice with human fetal testicular tissue and exposed these tissues to painkillers. These grafts mimic how testes grow and function while developing in the womb. After a single day of treatment with human-equivalent doses of acetaminophen, the number of sperm-producing cells dropped by 17 percent. A week lowered the number to almost one-third fewer cells.
So women who take painkillers during pregnancy risk significantly reducing the number of eggs that their daughters will be born with as well as how much sperm their sons will be able to produce. Researchers suspect that the effect of painkillers on germ cells are caused by their effect on prostaglandins, which play major roles in both ovaries and testes because of their hormone-like properties.
How do painkillers affect DNA?
Painkillers mess with a fetus’ epigenetic marks. Epigenetic marks are like crossing guards in your DNA. While nearly all cells share the same DNA, epigenetic marks decide which genes are expressed in each cell. Altering epigenetic marks could affect small details such as hair color to more significant ones such as susceptibility to genetic diseases. Not only could painkillers affect your child but also generations of your progeny.
Think of this as an update on how painkillers could affect the development of your child during pregnancy. Dr. Rod Mitchell, who led the research at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, and other researchers still encourage women to follow basic guidelines by taking painkillers at minimum dosage only when necessary.
Kenya Moore is officially set to be a mother by the end of the year. The news was confirmed on a Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion show. However, rumors are already flying that the former beauty queen is using a surrogate.
- Journey to motherhood
- Theories for why Moore might be using a surrogate
- Looking ahead
Journey to motherhood
Last June, Moore married Marc Daly in a secret wedding on the island of Saint Lucia. Only a handful of friends and family were invited. None of the stars from the Real Housewives of Atlanta were present.
Shortly after the wedding news was released to the public, Moore discussed her desire to become pregnant in multiple interviews. Moore and her husband were even spotted at a fertility clinic in Barbados several weeks later. During the reunion show for Real Housewives, host Andy Cohen asked Moore if she was pregnant and if the baby’s name will be Twirl. Moore confirmed the first question and denied the second. She already has a dog named Twirl.
“We will definitely be welcoming a boy or girl in late this year,” she said. “I do not want to talk about the details. I am still just very nervous about everything, so I just want to get past a safe place….I want a healthy baby.”
Theories for why Moore might be using a surrogate
Some viewers believe Moore might be using a surrogate because she never used the word “pregnant” in her announcement.
One user commented on her Instagram account, saying, “You’re telling me this woman who has struggled with fertility as much as she has, has a surrogate but doesn’t know the due date.”
Another thought she may be using a surrogate, but reminded other commenters that there is nothing wrong with using a surrogate. “Omggg @thekenyamoore I’m so Freakinggggg Happy For You We All waited for this moment, nothing but blessings your way & a safe & healthy pregnancy & baby don’t believe she said that lol sounds like she may have a surrogate and there’s nothing wrong with that. Happy for her.”
“Live your best life!” Moore wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I’m living mine. It took me a long time to receive the blessing of having a family. I prayed for this life! God blessed me with this life and this new joy! I will always speak the truth. I will continue to grow, forgive my enemies, and help as many people I can by example not words.”
The happy couple is also about to reach their one-year anniversary.
Regardless of whether or not Moore used surrogacy, her baby news is exciting and certainly calls for a celebration.
What ‘eating clean’ actually means for your fruits and veggies
You could still eat fruits and vegetables! It’s just that maybe you should consider organic options for some of them. Fruits and vegetables are nutritionally vital to our diets, but the pesticides involved with their growth can lead to fertility issues for both men and women.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association links the top 14 pesticide-heavy produce with a drop in fertility. Women who reported eating 2.2 servings of these fruits and vegetables were 26 percent less likely to get pregnant than women who ate half as much.
Where can I find typical pesticide concentrations for conventional fruits and veggies?
The Environmental Working Group just released the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which summarizes the results of tests done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Highlights of the guide include the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.”
What are the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”?
The “Dirty Dozen” are the top 12 fruits and vegetables ridden by pesticides. Each crop listed in the Dirty Dozen contained multiple pesticide residues on each sample. For example, nearly all strawberry samples had some trace of pesticides.
The “Clean Fifteen” are exactly what they sound like–the top 15 fruits and vegetables with the least pesticides. For example, fewer than 1 percent of avocados were found to have any pesticide residues. Good news for those millennials and their avocado toast.
What should we do?
The Shopper’s Guide is meant to educate the public on the concentrations of pesticides in their common fruits and vegetables. You don’t need to go full-on organic, but consider organic options for your favorite fruits and vegetables that have high pesticide ratings.
Though pesticides are known to have negative effects on our health, complicated procedures and relationships between lawmakers and companies make ridding our foods of toxic substances to be an uphill battle. What we can do on an individual level is limit our exposure to these substances by making informed decisions on what to put in our bodies.
In March, two major losses of clinic-stored frozen eggs raised concerns and doubts for women’s health professionals and those considering cryopreservation.
At the University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland, Ohio, over 4,000 frozen eggs were compromised because of an alarm on the storage tank that had been turned off. Had the alarm been functioning properly, it would’ve alerted the staff about the rising temperature in the tank. Days after the Cleveland incident, another mishap happened at Pacific Fertility Center in San Fransisco, California, where a tank’s temperature rose as a result of decreased liquid nitrogen levels. Similarly, thousands of eggs were potentially compromised, but some tissue was saved.
What is cryopreservation?
Cryopreservation has become a popular choice for women planning to have children later in life. Some employers even offer to cover some of the costly procedure for their workers. According to Time magazine, the number of women who have chosen to freeze their eggs has risen from about 900 to 76,000 since 2009.
These procedures are some women’s only chances of getting pregnant. Cryopreservation also costs thousands of dollars; not only from the procedure itself but also from the annual storage fees and the in vitro fertilization that will inevitably be needed when the eggs are used.
With the recent news and costs of cryopreservation in mind, we suggest doing your research before committing to freezing your eggs.
What risks are there to cryopreservation?
Margaret Swain, a lawyer and director of the Assisted Reproductive Technology practice at the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction, urges prospective patients to first do their research.
“Some risks may simply be inherent to the process and may not be an indication of error,” Swain says. Some of the possible pitfalls in cryopreservation include:
- Low-quality eggs
- Low-quality embryos or ones that don’t develop properly
- Losing embryos and eggs during the necessary pre-fertilization and pre-transfer warming processes
Cryopreservation is an aggressive process that only high-quality eggs and embryos could survive. Even with a successful cryopreservation process, chances for a successful pregnancy are low. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, only about 44 percent of women under 35 who relied on in vitro fertilization with frozen eggs were able to achieve a successful pregnancy within a year. For women over 42, the success rate drops to 24.4 percent.
Aside from tank-related issues, human error could also account for mislabelled eggs and embryos, and possible power outages.
What should I ask my clinic?
If you’re still considering cryopreservation, here are some basic questions you should ask your potential clinic:
- What is the clinic’s policy on labelling tissue? What are the fail safes and emergency plans for mishaps?
- Does the clinic let patients know when their materials are being transferred to another tank or somehow damaged?
- Is the clinic a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology? The society has a set of standards that better ensure your materials’ safety.
- Does the clinic follow the guidelines laid out in the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act of 1992? More confirmation that they’ll take care of your things.
- What is the clinic’s success rate? You could check through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
About 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. suffer from fertility problems. Researchers are trying to improve the success rate of fertility treatments and cut their cost to make life better for those who can’t have children. The next generation of fertility treatments will hopefully have the power to change the game for couples struggling with infertility.
Traditionally, the IVF approach was essentially a beauty contest. Doctors selected embryos for implantation based off of their morphology.
Today, embryos are genetically screened by clinicians to check whether chromosomes are normal.
Barry Behr, director of the IVF Laboratory at Stanford University, says there are some downsides to this strategy. Behr believes pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) is overused, especially among young people. This is due to a desperate quest for information.
Another issue is that there is only a 50/50 chance an embryo will attach to the lining of the uterus. Behr says, “The field has realized all the attention is on how many eggs there are without recognizing fully the role of the endometrium lining the uterus. But if you try to plant an apple seed in the sand, it’s not going to grow.”
With this knowledge, clinicians are looking to switch up their process for selecting embryos. Now, they can use an endometrium receptivity assay (ERA) to look for molecular signatures that indicate when the timing is right for implantation in the uterus. This method currently requires a biopsy, but researchers are working on less- or non-invasive methods.
Researchers have been working on different IVF methods in hopes of making the treatment less expensive. One of those treatments is the vaginal incubation of embryos, which is about half as expensive as regular IVF.
Clinicians are also researching how genetics plays a part in the success of fertility treatments.
IVG is a process in which scientists are attempting to take adult human cells and turn them into artificial eggs or sperm. You can read more deeply about it in this article.
IVG is a potentially huge step in changing how infertility is approached. If it were to become possible in humans in the future, it would mean LGBTQ families and infertile men and women would be able to have their own genetic offspring.
Who said that fertility struggles were only for us common folk?
Even celebrities have their share of fertility issues. Recently, Brittany Aldean, lifestyle blogger and makeup artist, revealed her journey to pregnancy on the Babes and Babies podcast. She successfully gave birth to her son Memphis last December; but she and her husband, country singer Jason Aldean, struggled for about a year and a half before she got pregnant with the use of in vitro fertilization.
“The IVF was probably harder than the actual pregnancy, for me, because it was just such a roller coaster and so difficult,” Aldean says. The “roller coaster” of whether or not she would be able to get pregnant weighed heavily on her mind during the process. During her journey, she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a disease associated with infertility. Despite the discouraging diagnosis, Aldean put on her “game face” and kept trying.
“We were thinking about all the options, which is sad because you want to be able to carry your own child,” Aldean laments. She and her husband once considered a surrogate. Fortunately, with her persistence, Aldean eventually became pregnant, which she enthusiastically described as “the most exciting thing ever.”
With the successful birth of their son, the Aldeans are already considering their second child together. For women diagnosed with endometriosis and or struggling to conceive, Aldean’s story encourages persistence and hope for success.
Nanotech, artificial intelligence, wearables and biological engineering continue to change the way women today can conceive. Women who go the non-traditional route to have babies are consistently being featured in the news, from Kim Kardashian’s decision to use a surrogate to Senator Tammy Duckworth undergoing multiple rounds of IVF. Read on to see how these cutting-edge technologies have changed the fertility game.
- Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics
- Three-person embryos
- Uterus and penis transplants
Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics
Celmatix uses big data to treat infertility. Located in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, the company provides a web-based data analytics platform called Polaris to help optimize patient management and counseling. With Polaris, physicians are able to identify patients who are ready to start treatment, give patients access to data-driven personalized reports, and simplify communication across their clinical support team.
Life Whisperer is an AI program used to find embryos that will start a viable pregnancy. Using artificial intelligence, the company hopes to improve outcomes for couples attempting to conceive. Because finding the right embryo tends to be a manual and imprecise process, Life Whisperer aims to address this issue by using AI-driven image analysis.
Using three-person IVF, an embryo would be created with nuclear DNA from a woman with defective mitochondria, her partner’s DNA, and the healthy mitochondrial DNA from an egg donor. The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently advised its government to make this technique legal in order to prevent children from obtaining mitochondrial disease. In the past, three-person embryos have been used to reverse the biological clock of older women.
A start-up company called Darwin Life is currently offering to “rejuvenate” eggs from women using Spindle Nuclear Transfer. According to Darwin Life’s website, it is a method of cloning. This procedure is currently illegal in the U.S.
Uterus and penis transplants
With the help of physicians at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, a woman born without a uterus recently gave birth to a baby of her own. The new mother received a uterus under a clinical trial being conducted at Baylor, thus allowing her to give birth.
Penile transplantations have begun to show promise, as the girlfriend of the first successful penis transplant recipient became pregnant back in 2015. Because there is a severe shortage of available donor organs, scientists have been attempting to grow a patient’s own organs. Organs such as the urinary bladder, urethra, and vagina have successfully been grown from a patient’s cells and transplanted before.
With the advent of advanced technologies emerging onto the market, couples are given a better chance than ever to start a family of their own. Hopefully, there will never again be a couple who has no hope of conceiving.
Researchers discovered that women who currently suffer from asthma and are on intermittent reliever treatment with short-acting beta-agonists experience reduced fertility. However, there is no loss of fertility for women who formerly had asthma or for those on asthma preventer medications.
- Research methods
- Results and Conclusion
- Further text and advice
Participants were healthy women who had not yet given birth. They were recruited to the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study between November 2004 and February 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand, Adelaide, Australia, Cork, Ireland, and Manchester and London in the United Kingdom. Women were asked if they were diagnosed with asthma by a physician. They were divided into groups based on asthma symptoms and asthma medication use and were then classified as either having former asthma or current asthma. Women with current asthma were divided again over where they used intermittent reliever medications only or they had additional reliever medications.
19.7% of the 5,617 women who participated in the study reported doctor-diagnosed asthma. 656 were considered current asthmatics and 450 were former asthmatics.
Results and Conclusion
The study, conducted by Luke E. Grześkowiak from the University of Adelaide, found that while asthma, in general, is associated with reduced fertility, women who currently have asthma and are taking intermittent reliever treatment with SABAs are impacted the most. For women with asthma who are trying to get pregnant, preconception management in asthma will be important in optimizing pregnancy outcomes.
Information on the relationship between asthma and fertility is quite sparse, as is data on asthma medication use.
Further Text and Advice
The authors wrote that “These findings support appropriate management of asthma with ICS preventer medications to ensure optimal asthma control. Women with asthma planning a pregnancy should be encouraged to continue taking their preventer medications.”
Before making any decisions regarding your treatment for asthma, discuss your concerns with your doctor first.
Delaware legislatures have proposed a new bill that covers a multitude of fertility treatments such as:
- Intrauterine insemination
- Assisted hatching
- Cryopreservation and thawing of eggs, sperm and embryos
- Cryopreservation of ovarian and testicular tissue
- Embryo biopsy
- Consultation and diagnostic testing
- Fresh and frozen embryo transfers
- Six completed egg retrievals per lifetime with an unlimited number of embryo transfers
- In vitro fertilization
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
- Ovulation induction
- Storage of oocytes, embryos and tissue
- Medical and lab services
It is no secret that fertility treatments can really break the bank. This bill goes to vote this week and it requires insurers to cover the treatments listed above for women with infertility problems.
The National Infertility Association estimates that 19,538 women in Delaware struggle with infertility. Infertility is equally as tragic to the couple as it is to their savings. Women have had to make tremendous sacrifices so that they could utilize modern day technologies to bear children. It’s not a surprise to see couples putting off buying houses or moving back in with in-laws to make up for the financial stress and cost of living.
If this bill passes, Delaware will be the 16th state to cover fertility treatments to this extent. Unfortunately, the bill hasn’t set specifications or limits on treatment, ultimately leaving it up to insurance’s discretion.
How do you qualify for coverage?
First, you need an official diagnosis of infertility. Your OBGYN needs to verify that you cannot bear children on your own. It also requires the Delawarean to try, with “reasonable effort,” less costly treatments, though there are some exceptions. The bill states that before IVF services are covered, the insurance company can require no more than three treatment cycles of ovulation induction. It also states that, if IVF is deemed medically necessary, no cycles of ovulation induction or intrauterine inseminations will be required.
The vote is set for this week, and this could be a true lifesaver for those struggling with infertility.
For those of you who don’t know, osteoporosis is a bone disease that can affect bone density and cause fractures. It isn’t a disease that is commonly tested in young women, but you are at a higher risk if you have experienced eating disorders, arthritis or excessive steroid use.
So what are the risks?
Osteoporosis puts women at risk for fractures, back pain and loss of height. When trying to get pregnant, all of those symptoms can be amplified. However, the main concern with osteoporosis during pregnancy is the delivery. Your OBGYN may recommend a cesarean section because of the risk of fracturing your pelvis and spine with a natural birth. Be aware of even post delivery risks and monitor your symptoms because the possibility of bone fracture is still high 8 to 12 weeks post-delivery. It is important to work closely with your OBGYN so that they could properly address your specific needs.
Is it safe?
Like we mentioned earlier, every case is different. However, communicating with your doctor, and taking calcium and vitamin D supplements can help guarantee a safer pregnancy.
What if you experience fractures?
Fracturing can cause a lot of inconveniences and limit your mobility. If you experience fractures at any point during this pregnancy, utilize your support system. Physical and occupational therapy can also be helpful in regaining strength and improving posture.