As a woman ages, her eggs are more prone to genetic chromosomal abnormalities. These abnormalities may sometimes lead to increased age-related infertility, miscarriages and birth defects. The most common cause is age. When a woman is over 4o these chances are increased and it may be healthier for the child, and the mother, to use […]
Fertility treatments have vastly improved over the past few years, which are allowing women to conceive and have healthy children, some into their 50’s.
The human egg has two main compartments; the nucleus, which contains a person’s DNA (genome – repository of hereditary information) organized into 46 chromosomes of which 23 are inherited from the mother and 23 from the father; and the cytoplasm, which surrounds the nucleus and contains all of the components needed to maintain egg viability and support reproduction. One can visualize the nucleus as the yolk of a sunny-side up egg and the cytoplasm as the egg white. To prepare for fertilization by sperm, the egg discards one member of each of its 23 chromosome pairs (23 discarded) in order to present the correct number to the sperm, which carries 23 chromosomes, the result being a fertilized egg (embryo) containing the normal human complement of 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. Discarding one member of each of the 23 chromosome pairs requires a lot of energy
Egg quality decline is the most important cause of age-related infertility. Egg quality refers to the ability of the egg to create a chromosomally normal embryo. Each egg has 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. In order for the egg to prepare for fertilization, it must discard 23 chromosomes in order to make room for the 23 chromosomes brought by the sperm. Failure to correctly discard 23 chromosomes leads to a an embryo with the wrong number of chromosomes, medically referred to as aneuploidy.
There is no test for egg quality, but we know it to be closely correlated to age. For example women in their 20’s have a 20% chance of having a live birth with each month of timed intercourse, a rate that drops
After a recent conversation with a friend who asked me the probabilities of a breast cancer survivor having children post chemotherapy, I thought a lot this weekend about an article from 2008 in Women & Cancer magazine. For my friend, and all the women who are cancer survivors, I wanted to re-post this article and feature it as my blog topic this week.
The article is the journey one of my patients took as she faced breast cancer, and she chose to preserve her fertility via egg freezing. The article can also be found at CancerConsultants.com, after a Q&A about fertility options for women facing cancer.
I recently put together an answer to the question “What Are Fertility Drugs?,” for the Sharecare.com online health network hosted by Dr. OZ. I wanted to post my answer her on my blog too to help my own clients understand more about the differences between the various fertility medications they may be prescribed here in my own clinic and practice.
There are a variety of drugs used for fertility treatment. Some are used to produce more ovarian egg follicles. Some are also used to suppress the pituitary gland and prevent ovulation. Others are used to support the uterine lining and early pregnancy.
Read my detailed answer here. . .
Multiple pregnancies seem to be the topic of the day. Twins represent the majority of multiple pregnancies. The chance of having twins naturally is approximately 1%. Most twins are fraternal (non-identical) meaning that they each come from one egg. Fraternal twinning appears to have a genetic basis since twins tend to occur repetitively in certain families and have increased incidences in certain ethnic groups. Naturally occurring fraternal twins occur when a woman ovulates at least two eggs and both are fertilized. Usually, women ovulate one egg each month.
Identical twins are the result of a single embryo splitting into two embryos during the first 15 days of life. Identical twinning is thought to represent a random event rather than having a genetic or racial basis.
The data regarding the effects of moderate alcohol intake on fertility is inconclusive at this time. The largest prospective studies conducted in Europe indicate that high levels of alcohol consumption are associated with greater difficulty conceiving.
One small Danish study identified a slight delay in conception even with alcohol ingestion of 5 drinks or less per week. However, this research relies on self-reporting of alcohol consumption which may be inaccurate. In many cases, the studies do not fully account for other factors that could be affecting fertility.