Can Vitamin D make you more fertile?

fertility-vitamin-DIn recent years, Vitamin D has become the all the rage in medical research. It seems everybody these days is deficient in Vitamin D and a whole range of medical conditions from cancer to osteoporosis to reproductive issues have been potentially linked to insufficient Vitamin D.  A recent study, which was in agreement several other previous studies, showed that women doing IVF with higher Vitamin D levels actually had significantly higher pregnancy rates than those who did not. While it is not clear at this time whether Vitamin D deficiency actually causes infertility or even whether supplementation will help couples conceive, it does suggest that maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels may contribute to good reproductive health.

Lesley Brown, the unsung heroine of IVF

Being that is National Infertility Awareness Month, this week seemed like an appropriate time to share this story. I recently attended a lecture given by one of pioneers in our field and one my personal mentors, Dr. Eli Adashi. The story he shared with the audience moved me and reminded us of our patients’ suffering and why we do what we do. In the history books, when one looks at the breakthroughs in medical infertility treatment, the birth of the first IVF baby does and will stand out as one of the great milestones. The protagonists in the story that everyone knows are, Drs. Steptoe and Edwards, the brilliant gynecologist and scientist team, and of course, baby Louise Brown herself. But the popular narrative leaves out perhaps the most important character in this drama, Lesley Brown, the patient herself.  Lesley was a reserved woman who never wanted attention but her delivery was one of the most famous events of the 20th century. She put up with repetitive surgeries and painful medical procedures knowing there was little chance they would work.  When she did IVF with Drs. Steptoe and Edwards, she was basically (and knowingly) a human guinea pig.  Nobody had any idea as to whether it could work, whether it was safe and if it did whether her child would turn out normal. On top of that she had to put up with moral outrage (and occasionally harassment) of those who opposed the very idea behind IVF. Without her bravery and perseverance, millions of couples would remain childless and millions of babies would never have had a chance at life. Lesley Brown passed away quietly in 2012 but the legacy she left has brought both hope and joy to millions.

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Lesley Brown, the unsung heroine of IVF with her daughter Louise

Couples are waiting to attempt pregnancy. Can we stem the tide?

Pregnant womanIt is well established that the risk of infertility and the success rates for fertility treatments such as IVF decline with age. Yet, spurred on by reports of reproductive miracles, and the complexities of modern life, young women commonly chose to delay childbearing.  Researchers from Australia looked at online educational brochures as a way of educating women of reproductive age about the realities of reproductive aging. It turns out that the women who viewed these brochures  changed their minds and decided that they would prefer to have their children at a younger age.  Whether it is possible to make this actually happen in the real world, and whether it is possible to get the word out to enough women, remains to be seen, but it is a potential starting point.

Do human embryos like music? Maybe

For many years, people would talk to their plants to try to make them to grow better. In a new twist on this same idea, IVF researchers in Spain fertilized eggs (using ICSI) and cultured half of the eggs with music and half without.  It turns out that the eggs exposed to music were more likely to fertilize.  Click here for more.