For men with fertility problems, some doctors are prescribing a very conventional way to have a baby: more sex.
In a study of 118 Australian men with damaged sperm, doctors found that having sex every day for a week significantly reduced the amount of DNA damage in their patients’ sperm. Previous studies have linked better sperm quality to higher pregnancy rates.
Dr David Greening of Sydney IVF, a private fertility clinic in Australia, and colleagues looked at 118 men who had damaged sperm. Greening and colleagues told the men to have sex every day for a week. After seven days, the doctors found that in 81 percent of the men, there was a 12 percent decrease in the amount of damaged sperm.
Many fertility experts suggest men abstain from sex before their partners have in-vitro fertilization, to try to elevate their sperm counts.
Sperm quality can also be improved if men don’t smoke, drink moderately, exercise, or get more antioxidants.
Since concluding the study, Greening says he now instructs all couples seeking fertility advice to start by having more sex. “Some of the older men look a little concerned,” he said. “But the younger ones seem quite happy about it.”
Experts think sex helps reduce the DNA damage in sperm by getting it out of the body quickly; if sperm is in the body for too long, it has a higher chance of getting damaged.
Some experts said that while Greening’s research is promising, it doesn’t prove that daily sex for men with fertility problems will actually produce more babies.
Greening said he and his colleagues are still analyzing the study data to determine how many women got pregnant.
“Looking at sperm DNA is just one part of the puzzle,” said Bill Ledger, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Sheffield, who was not connected to the research. “Maybe this will improve pregnancy rates, but we still need to do more studies.”
Ledger said instructing couples with infertility problems to have more sex could stress their relationship. “This may add even more anxiety and do more harm than good,” he said. He said couples shouldn’t feel pressured to adjust their sex lives just for the sake of having a baby.
Greening said the study’s findings were ultimately very intuitive. “If you want to have a baby, our advice is to do it often.”
Botanical Name :lnula racemosa Family: Asteraceae Genus: Inula Species:I. racemosa Kingdom:Plantae Order: Asterales Family Name: Asteraceae Hindi Name: – puskarmul Sanskrit Names: Padma patra– As its leaves are like lotus petals Kashmira– As it generally grows in Kashmira area Kushthabheda– As its characteristics and actions are like Kushtha(Saussurea lappa)
Part Used : Stem, Root
Click to see the picture. Habitat : It grows in the hilly regions in the northwestern himalayas. Description:
Inula are members of the daisy family, seldom seen in gardens. This selection forms an imposing clump of coarse green leaves, best sited towards the back of a sunny border. Large, shaggy yellow daisies are produced in mid to late summer. Excellent for cutting. Nice at the waterside or in the meadow garden where it can act as a specimen plant. Combines especially well with late summer blooming ornamental grasses. Seed heads may be useful for dried arrangements.
plant low growing groundcovers in front to allow the entire plant to be seen. The basal leaves are 1 m (40″) long by 20-25 cm (8-10″) wide. The flowers are 2 m (6’6″) tall.
All Panicums will complement this plant as well as Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
Flowers: 200-250 cm (6-7′); bright yellow daisy-like flowers that are clustered along the stalk; blooms July through September; dries to a shiny bronze colour in early winter
Antianginal, digestant, appetizer, vasodilator, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. In ayurvedic practice, it is mainly used as an expectorant and bronchodilator. It has been used in the treatment of tuberculosis and topically in the treatment of skin diseases.
The rhizome is sweet, bitter and acrid in taste with a neutral potency and act as antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and mild diuretic. It is used in the treatment of contagious fevers, anginapectoris, heart disease and ischemic heart disease. It is also used in cough, hiccup, bronchial asthma, indigestion, flatulence, inanorexia and in fever. Externally, the paste of its roots is used effectively, in dressing the wounds and ulcers as the herb possesses antiseptic property. Also used to boost the appetite.
1.Its paste should be applied on the chest to reduse chest pain.
2.In dyspnoea with cough, 1 gm root powder of Pushkarmula should be taken with honey.
3.Daily intake of pushkarmula provides you a healthy heart
Inula racemosa root powder was investigated in patients with proven ischaemic heart disease. The powder prevented ST-segment depression and T-wave inversion as observed in the post-exercise electrocardiogram. This indicates that one of the constituents of Inula racemosa may have adrenergic beta-blocking activity.
Inula racemosa exhibites antiperoxidative, hypoglycaemic and cortisol lowering activities, it is suggested that its extracts may potentially regulate diabetes mellitus.
Inula racemosa possesses potent antiallergic properties.
The herb Inula racemosa was shown to help lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn leads lower blood sugar levels.
Useful part: Roots
Some Useful combinations of Pushkara moola:
Pushkaradi choorna; Pushkar guggulu
Effect on Tridosha (Three bio humors):
Pushkara mool pacifies Vata and Kapha bio homors i.e. it is useful in management of diseases with Kapha/ Vata origin or both.
Actions according to Ayurveda:
Kasa-shwashara- Pushkarmool is useful in cough and respiratory discomfort
Hikka nigrahana- Pushkarmool alleviates hicough
Parshwa shoola hara- Pushkarmool helps in pain in thorax region
Shophaghna- Pushkarmool is useful in all edematous conditions
Pandunashanam- Pushkarmool is useful in Anemia and its complications
Ardit vinashanam- Pushkarmool is useful in conditions involving nervous system specially the facial paralysis
Hrich chhulaghna- Pushkarmool alleviates pain in heart region
Parts used: roots
Properties and uses:
The roots are bitter, acrid, thennogenic, aromatic, stimulant, antiseptic, deodorant, anodyne, antiinflammatory, digestive, canninative, stomachic, cardiotonic, expectorant, bronchodilator, diuretic, uterine stimulant, aphrodisiac, sudorific, emmenagogue, resolvent, febrifuge and tonic.
They are useful in vitiated conditions of kapha and vata, foul ulcers and wounds, hemicrania, cardiodynia, hepatalgia, splenalgia, arthralgia, inflammations, anorexia, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, cardiac debility, hiccough, cough, cardiac and bronchial asthma, bronchitis, strangury, nephropathy, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, skin diseases, cerebropathy, pneumonosis, emaciation, anaemia, fever and general debility.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
It’s difficult to believe but true that despite our 1.2 billion population in India, many of our young adults have difficulty in producing children. They may be called “sterile, infertile or sub fertile”. But before a couple is labelled “infertile”, they should have had at least 12 months of regular contraception-free intercourse.
Worldwide, infertility affects 7-10 per cent of the population. Although women actually produce the babies, if the reasons for the infertility are investigated the woman is at fault in a third of the cases; in a third it is the man and in the remainder either both are responsible or no real cause can be found.
Before embarking on a planned pregnancy, the woman should have had immunisations for measles, mumps rubella (MMR) and hepatitis B (3 doses). She should also start folic acid supplements (5mg/day). Children born with physical or mental defects because these basic facts were forgotten are a human tragedy. Both partners need to keep their body mass index (BMI, or weight in kilograms divided by height in metre squared) at around 23 and be physically active for around 40 minutes a day. They also need to treat any existing underlying disease like diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid problems.
Studies show that caffeine (found in tea, coffee and cola drinks) affects fertility. Women who drink alcohol can produce babies with “foetal alcohol syndrome”. It also reduces the sperm count in men. Smoking affects the quality of the sperms and inhaled passive smoke is bad for the growing baby. Sperm counts may be reduced by inhaling hazardous chemicals in the work place or by working in high temperatures.
Women ovulate cyclically and the egg is released 14 days before the next period. For a woman to conceive, intercourse must take place around this time and the sperm count must be optimal. Initially, if a menstrual calendar is maintained, the fertile days can be calculated. A semen analysis for sperm count is a non-invasive simple test. Also, after intercourse lie down, don’t douche, and avoid lubricants and cleansing agents.
If these simple methods fail in a couple where the woman menstruates regularly and the man has a normal sperm count, a visit to a reproductive medical unit is warranted. Further investigations to establish the patency of the tubes and quality of the sperm may be needed. Depending on the problem, medication or surgical correction of a specific defect may be needed.
Conservative medical treatments are usually tried for periods varying from 6 months to a year. If they fail, assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques are started.
In IUI (intrauterine insemination) the woman is scanned during her most fertile period to determine ovulation. Healthy treated sperms from her partner are then inserted into the uterus. The technique is used when the sperm count is low, the motility unsatisfactory or if donor sperm is being used.
In IVF (in vitro fertilisation) the eggs are harvested and fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then placed in the uterus. This is used in cases where the fallopian tubes are blocked, the fertility unexplained or when several attempts with the other forms of ART have failed. It can result in multiple pregnancies. Some clinics offer “natural cycle IVF”. This involves collecting and fertilising the one egg released during the normal monthly cycle. It avoids the side effects of fertility drugs and multiple pregnancies are less likely.
Donor eggs from other women can be used if the woman has no eggs of her own, or if she is over 40 and the eggs are of poor quality. Sperm from donors can be used if the husband has a low count (oligospermia) or no sperms (azoospermia). Surrogate mothers can be hired to carry the baby to term.
There is no right time to seek medical help, but if sexual intercourse at least three times a week without contraception for a year has been unsuccessful, it is probably time for proactive action. If, however, the woman has periods at intervals less than 21 days or more than 90 days, the flow is unpredictable (if it starts it does not stop and if it stops it does not start) or if there has been pelvic infection in the past, an evaluation should be done at the earliest. In men, if the testes are not felt in the scrotum, or there is a hydrocoele (swelling) or a past prostate infection, investigation and treatment should be started sooner.
Men attending a fertility clinic who were exposed to more than 30 minutes per week of ‘wet heat’ through hot baths, Jacuzzis or hot tubs, were recruited to the study.
After three to six months of staying out of the bath, just under half the men showed dramatic five-fold improvement in sperm count.
Sperm motility increased from 12% to 34% in the men who responded to cutting out baths.
Five of the six men who showed no improvement were chronic smokers, which the researchers said could have influenced the lack of response.
Sperm are known to develop best in cool surroundings which is why the testicles are situated outside the man’s body within the scrotum.
Study leader, Dr Paul Turek, director of the UCSF Male Reproductive Health Center said: “These activities can be comfortably added to that list of lifestyle recommendations and ‘things to avoid’ as men attempt to conceive.”
He added that if men could improve their fertility through avoiding hot baths, couples may be able to avoid IVF or choose less invasive treatment.
“Couples really prefer having kids at home and not with technology. This is a way to help them do that.”
According to Dr Turek, the only other published study looking at the link between hot baths and fertility was done in 1965.
After exposing men to ‘wet heat’ for 30 minutes on alternating days, researchers found a temporary decline in sperm production but did not look at sperm quality before and after the study.
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield said it seemed intuitive that hot baths could contribute to reduced numbers of sperm but it was unclear whether it actually contributed to fertility.
“Ideally, this study needs to be repeated with a much larger number of patients, and with a clearly defined control group, before we can be certain that hot baths are a genuine risk factor for male sub-fertility
“Changes in sperm quality are one thing, but it is pregnancies that matter.
“However, it would do no harm for men who are concerned about their fertility to take a shower instead of a bath.”
IVF or in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the woman’s womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.
IVF was developed in the 1970s. The first Britishtest tube baby was Louise Brown, who was born in 1978.Some 30,000 test tube babies have been born in the UK since then.
There are several different techniques, but the main process involves the women taking fertility drugs to help her produce more eggs.The eggs are then harvested and fertilised in the laboratory.
The woman is given hormone drugs to prepare her womb to receive the fertilised eggs. The fertilised eggs are placed inside the womb and a normal pregnancy follows.
The term in vitro, from the Latin root meaning in glass, is used, because early biological experiments involving cultivation of tissues outside the living organism from which they came, were carried out in glass containers such as beakers, test tubes, or petri dishes. Today, the term in vitro is used to refer to any biological procedure that is performed outside the organism it would normally be occurring in, to distinguish it from an in vivo procedure, where the tissue remains insided the living organism within which it is normally found. A colloquial term for babies conceived as the result of IVF, test tube babies, refers to the tube-shaped containers of glass or plastic resin, called test tubes, that are commonly used in chemistry labs and biology labs. However in vitro fertilization is usually performed in the shallower containers called petri dishes. (Petri-dishes may also be made of plastic resins.) However, the IVF method of Autologous Endometrial Coculture is actually performed on organic material, but is yet called in vitro.
Around 6,000 babies a year are born in the UK to otherwise infertile couples as a result of in vitro fertilisation.
But the techniques used often arouse huge controversy and some say the process can falsely raise would-be parents’ hopes since it only has a success rate of around 15%.
There have also been cases of fertilised eggs being mixed up in the laboratory and the wrong embryo being transferred to the woman, leading to fears about how the process is carried out.
New techniques coming on stream:
One of the biggest and most controversial advances in IVF in recent years has been the introduction of a technique called ICSI – intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
This works by injecting a single sperm directly into an egg.
Some people fear the technique could increase the risk of genetic defects that make the donor infertile being passed on to babies.
ICSI was introduced during the 1990s, but new advances are helping men with a very low sperm count to benefit from it.
These include operations to search for sperm which can be retrieved and injected into an egg.
For example, it can test whether there are any blockages in a woman’s fallopian tubes that could harm her chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Other doctors at the hospital are pioneering a technique that could mean an end to hormone treatments and the painful retrieval of eggs from infertile women.
The technique involves collecting thousands of immature eggs from the ovary and developing them in the laboratory.
It works by removing a bit of the skin of the ovary which masks the place where immature eggs develop.
It takes five months to grow there properly and lots of nourishment.
The eggs can be frozen so that they can be used whenever the woman wants.
Again, the technique is controversial because it means a woman could store the eggs and use them at any age.
It is likely to be available in the next 10 years, say doctors at the hospital.
Dr Ian Findlay is also developing a test that can check for 10 genetic abnormalities in one go before a fertilised egg is placed in the womb. He said: “This could lead to a dramatic reduction in miscarriages as the vast majority of miscarriages are due to abnormalities.”
The politics of IVF
IVF is only successful in 15% of cases and a recent report from the College of Health shows that success rates vary widely across the country.
Only 18% of IVF treatment is funded by the NHS and waiting times can differ greatly.
It can cost up to £2,000 per cycle for a couple to go private.
Most couples have three cycles at an average cost of £3,420.
One way of getting free treatment is for women to donate their eggs to other infertile couples.
Opponents of IVF argue that it falsely raises would-be parents’ hopes that they will be able to have a baby when the chances are not that high.
They also argue that it can be a traumatic experience to go through repeated IVF attempts, only to find that the woman does not get pregnant.
Another possible drawback is the fact that IVF treatment increases the chance of having multiple births which the couple may not have planned for.
One to two per cent of pregnant women give birth to more than one child, but with fertility treatment the odds are raised to 25%.
Most of the babies born are twins, but bigger births are on the rise.
Many doctors are worried that they are being put under increasing pressure to use more of the fertility drugs to produce more eggs and so increase the chance of the woman getting pregnant.
Some believe fertility drugs could cause ovarian cancer.
Liz Tiberis, author of ‘No Time to Die’, believes her ovarian cancer was the result of nine attempts at IVF.
But fertility doctors say the link has not been proven.
One area of controversy involves the processes clinics have for ensuring mix-ups do not occur over embryos.
This follows a US case where one woman wrongly received the fertilised egg of another.
Fertility experts say procedures in the UK are very tight and there is unlikely to be the same mix-up here.
But the Medical Protection Society recently reported the case of an expert who transferred three embryos from one woman into another by mistake.
However, he realised his error in time.
Calls have been made for procedures for matching eggs with mothers to be tightened, for example, by stipulating that doctors have to do a DNA test before implantation goes ahead rather than relying on written records.