Hope to Lure Female Techies
Desperate to attract, and keep, tech-savvy female employees, two of the biggest guns in Silicon Valley, Apple and Facebook, have announced that they will now pick up the tab for employees to freeze their eggs for later fertilization rather than leave them having to choose between pursuing their career or leaving to start a family while they are young and highly fertile. Competition for highly qualified women is intense in the overwhelmingly male technology hotbed, and by paying for the procedure to the tune of $20,000 for egg freezing and storage, two of the biggest Valley players are offering a perk that may be beyond the price range of smaller tech operations and startups. Facebook's free-freezing program has already begun, and Apple's will be initiated in January.
Study Adds to Reasons to Avoid
A new study from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen finds that men whose diets are high in saturated fats have a 41 percent lower sperm count than men who consumed the least amount. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included about 700 Danish men who had their fitness levels checked for military service between 2008 and 2010. Semen was analyzed as part of a physical examination. Saturated fats, found in meats, whole-fat dairy products, and certain oils, are also associated with a higher cholesterol level and increased levels of chronic disease. To lower saturated fat, choose leaner cuts of meat, remove skin from poultry before eating, opt for lower fat versions of milk and cheese, and cook with unsaturated oils such as canola oil.
Childhood obesity may affect the timing of puberty and lead to reproductive difficulties, especially in females, finds an analysis published in Frontiers in Endocrinology. While extremes - anorexia and obesity - have been associated with reproductive problems, researchers are still learning about the effects of obesity on the endocrine system. Experts note that puberty appears to be starting earlier, especially in girls. The study indicates that, within the last decade, scientists have begun to uncover the molecular mechanisms that affect pubertal development. The issue is controversial and widely debated. Some studies indicate correlations between early puberty, metabolic disease, some cancers, depression and anxiety as well as delinquent behavior that may persist into adulthood.
Cut Fat; Increase Sperm Count
Fatty foods may result in low sperm quality, says a study that finds that men with a high fat diet had a 40% lower sperm count than men who eat healthier. From 12/06 to 8/10, researchers analyzed sperm samples from 99 men, surveyed eating habits and grouped them accordingly. Men in the group with the highest fat consumption had a 43% lower sperm count and 38% lower sperm concentration than those in the group that ate the least amount of fat. Researchers concluded that saturated fat is largely responsible for low sperm quality whereas men who ate “healthy fat” or omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and nuts, for example, had 2% more sperm than those who eschewed omega 3s. The study, led by Jill Attaman, Mass. Gen. and Harvard Med. Schl. is published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Thanks Gestational Carrier
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced the birth of their second daughter, Faith Margaret, who was brought into the world via a “gestational carrier,” a woman who carried the couple’s fertilized embryo to term. This is unlike surrogacy where the surrogate mother’s egg is used. Among the reasons a couple may choose a gestational carrier are that some women are born without a uterus but have healthy eggs; others may have a medical condition that could make pregnancy dangerous, says Dr. Alan Penzias, a fertility specialist in Boston who did not consult on the famous couple’s pregnancy. The process requires extensive genetic testing to ensure that the baby will be healthy and psychological testing to ensure that all parties can withstand the stresses of the unique situation.
Concern As Bags Wear and Tear
The Tampa Tribune reports that it has tested more than a dozen reusable grocery bags sold in Winn-Dixie and Publix stores and found elevated levels of lead, a toxin that can cause learning disabilities in children and fertility problems in adults. The lead appears to be in a form that is not easily extracted, so there is less concern about the metal leaching out into food when the bags are new. The concern is that as the bags wear down, the paint – where the lead is concentrated – can flake off. Publix officials are asking suppliers to find ways to make bags with less lead. Both stores state that the bags are safe, as they meet the current federal laws regarding lead content, but if customers have concerns, they can return the bags for a refund.
Lab Made Ovaries
The creation of an artificial ovary may offer hope to women who have had their fertility affected by chemotherapy or radiation. A process of 3-D tissue engineering has been applied to eggs removed prior to exposure to cancer treatments by researchers at Brown University and Woman & Infants Hospital in America. In lab tests, the false ovaries grew over the eggs to create an environment that enabled them to grow to full maturation, according to the study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. Scientists are also hopeful that their findings will lead them to better understand the function, maturation and health of ovaries.
Outwit, Outsmart, Outplay
Ovulating women unconsciously dress to impress, buying sexier clothes during peak fertility. However, the study, conducted at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, finds that women choose the more desirable clothing during ovulation not to attract men, but to outdo attractive, rival women. Kristina Durante, post-doctoral fellow, says, “If you look more desirable than your competition, you are more likely to stand out.” She theorizes that consumer behavior is influenced by hormonal factors, and that marketers can use the information to their advantage. For about 5 to 6 days every month, women may be especially likely to purchase products and services that enhance physical appearance, such as clothing, accessories, health supplements, and fitness products.
Want Your Eggs Fresh or Frozen?
Eggs fertilized after being removed from the donor or having been frozen six month or longer resulted in a similar pregnancy rates. A study at the Valencia Infertility Institute in Spain looked at over 500 women, who were either implanted with fresh or frozen eggs. All of the women and most of the doctors did not know how the egg was handled before implantation. Two and a half months later, 44 percent and 43 of women who were implanted with frozen and fresh eggs were pregnant, respectively. Eggs can be stored if a donor produces a lot and doctors could test eggs for diseases before implantation. One downside is that eggs would have to be stored in sterile conditions to prevent contamination. There was no follow up on the health of babies born from frozen eggs.
The Clock Is Ticking
"If this were men thinking about sex, it would never be correlated to trying to reproduce!"
- Hot Flash in the comments
Women have a heightened sex drive in response to their waning fertility and are more inclined to engage in a variety of sexual activities, find researchers from the University of Texas, Austin who grouped 827 participants into three categories, based on age. Women with low fertility, ages 27-45 were more likely to have thoughts about sexual activities, more frequent and intense sexual fantasies and more active sex lives than their younger counterparts, ages 18-26. "Our results suggest there is nothing special about the 30s, but that instead these behaviors manifest in all women with declining fertility. It may be more difficult to conceive past the age of 35, but our research suggests women's psychology will continue to motivate them to try until menopause," said researcher Judith Easton.