Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eating a balanced portion of protein-rich foods such as red meat, seafood and nuts could improve fertility in women

Research at the University of Adelaide identified a link between a natural antioxidant called 'selenium' found in high-protein foods, and healthy ovarian follicles responsible for egg production in women.

PHD student Melanie Ceko, who made the discovery in a joint research project, said selenium has been known to have many health benefits, but it has never been linked to women's fertility.

"We've known for some time that selenium is important to men's fertility, but until now no-one has researched how this element could be involved in healthy reproduction in women," Ceko said.

Initial research conducted at the Australian Synchrotron pinpointed the exact place selenium is located in the ovary, then turned their attention to the selenoprotein known as GPX1.

"It was there that we noticed the element selenium plays an important role. GPX1 is quite heavily influenced by your dietary intake of selenium so if you weren't eating enough selenium in your food it's quite likely that your GPX1 levels would drop down," Ceko said.

"It could mean that follicle which would otherwise go on to release an egg is missing out on that essential protein formation that it needs there."

While selenium deficiency is not usually a problem in Western diets people who avoid certain food groups or eat food mainly grown on selenium-deficient soils are most at risk.

Ceko warns however that further research is needed to better understand how selenium levels can be optimised for women trying to conceive.

"Too much selenium can also be toxic, so it isn't just a case of taking multiple supplements," she said.

Written by Cathryn Kempe

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Laughing, Clowns Can Help Fertility Treatments Succeed

According to one study by researchers from Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, laughing can improve the chances of becoming pregnant via IVF. In the study, over 100 women watched a clown while undergoing the procedure, while a separate sample of 100 women having the same treatment didn’t. Of those who were visited by the clown, 36 percent became pregnant, compared to only 20 percent of the other sample.
It sounds like a hackneyed phrase, but it’s true: Laughter is the best medicine. After all, scientists have discovered that laughing can act as a natural form of pain relief, protect you against heart attacks, and even help regulate your blood sugar levels. In short, turn that frown upside down or else your body will fall apart.

However, if one piece of research from Israel is to be believed (and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t), laughing can also increase your chances of becoming pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Conducted at Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, 100 women undergoing IVF treatment were visited by a trick-performing clown, a surefire way to get people who aren’t coulrophobics laughing. In order to provide a reliable way of measuring the effects, a further 100 women underwent the procedure, only without the clown in the room.

The results were pretty impressive. Of the 100 women who were visited by the clown, 36 percent became pregnant. Of the clown-less sample, only 20.2 percent were successfully impregnated. Most importantly, these results still stand when factors such as age, type of infertility, and the number of embryos implanted were taken into account.

The researcher responsible for the study, Dr. Shevach Friedler, explained that this outcome indicates that the success of IVF is somehow affected by stress. As the patients were focusing on the clown and their no-doubt hilarious antics, they were laughing, and so weren’t freaking themselves out over the procedure they were undergoing. As one participant explained, “He walked in and as much as I felt pain everything just faded. He really relieved all the pressure and it was very useful for me.”

So, will squeaky noses and juggling balls become part of the future medical kit for delivering IVF? Maybe it’ll start in Israel. Their prestigious University of Haifa recently started offering a serious degree in “medical clowning” which—alongside nursing, developmental psychology, and physical medicine—offers classes in improvisational comedy, juggling, and the history of clowning. One thing is certain though: That frat house must be the funniest place on campus.