ovarian reserve test

A new large-scale study has discovered a link between air pollution and declining ovarian reserves. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology looked at real-world data from over 1,300 Italian women. It was discovered that air pollution can have a negative impact on a woman’s fertility.

Here, we’ll look at what the study found and how patients can check their fertility with an ovarian reserve test.

Understanding the study into ovarian reserves

The study involved analysing hormone data for over 1,300 women in the Modena area in Italy. The data was taken from the year 2007 through until 2017. After compiling it into a large database, the measurements were extended to link hormone levels with residential and age information.

It is already known that a lot of environmental chemicals can disturb the physiology of hormones. The researchers were looking at one hormone in particular within this study – the Müllerian hormone (AMH). This hormone is produced by the ovaries and is known to be a reliable marker of ovarian reserve. It’s already known that smoking and age can influence AMH levels. However, this is the first time that environmental pollution has been found to also impact the hormone.

The environmental exposure assessment looked into nitrogen dioxide levels, alongside particle matter. It was discovered that environmental factors also played a role in AMH levels.

Although there is a link between air pollution and ovarian reserve, the largest link remains a patient’s age. The older a woman gets, the lower her ovarian reserve becomes. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of conception.

Should patients check their ovarian reserves?

Women who are worried about their ovarian reserves can have them checked. It’s well known that girls are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have.

By the time they reach puberty, girls have an average of 300,000 eggs. These develop and mature over a woman’s lifetime and each has a different number of eggs. As you age, the number of eggs you have in your supply diminishes at a staggering rate. Once the eggs run out, that’s when the menopause kicks in.

An ovarian reserve test will let you know how many eggs you roughly have left. This will in turn help to identify how well you’ll respond to fertility treatment. It can also reveal how much time you have left to use your remaining eggs. The test is especially important at determining whether or not drugs used to stimulate the ovaries would prove effective in those with a low reserve.

The test involves carrying out a transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test to measure the AMH levels. This is one of the most accurate tests to detect ovarian reserves. At SureScan, our fertility tests include an ovarian reserve test.

This latest research show that air pollution can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility. Therefore, those who live within high air pollution towns and cities might want to consider freezing their eggs. This would mean air pollution wouldn’t be able to stop the women getting pregnant later on in life if they choose to.

Call 07835 736627 to arrange a fertility health check at SureScan for more advice and tests.

fertility health checks

These days, you can find smartphone apps for just about everything, including fertility. For couples who are struggling to conceive, fertility apps are designed to help boost their chances by revealing when the woman is at her most fertile. However, do these apps actually work?

Here, we’ll explore fertility apps and what studies have so far shown in relation to their effectiveness.

The increasing popularity of fertility apps

In 2016, a study revealed there were almost 100 different smartphone apps which allowed women to track their menstrual cycles and fertility. It also discovered most of these apps had more than one million downloads. This just showed how popular fertility apps had become. Now, in 2019, the number of fertility apps available to smartphone users has increased further.

Being able to keep track of menstrual cycles and fertility via technology is extremely convenient for couples. There are some pretty advanced apps available too. The most advanced apps make use of STM, or Sympto-Thermal Method. This uses three different clues to accurately predict your fertility window. It monitors your period, cervical fluid and temperature.

The question is, are these apps actually useful? When you’re trying to conceive, you only have a very small window of opportunity each month. So, if these apps aren’t accurate, they could be jeopardising your chances. Let’s take a look at what the studies say in regard to fertility app effectiveness.

What do the studies show?

Up until recently, very few studies have been carried out into the effectiveness of fertility apps. However, Stanford University and EPFL’s Digital Epidemiology Lab have recently worked together to assess the effectiveness of two popular fertility apps.

They carried out a large-scale study into 200,000 users of Kindara and Sympto fertility apps. Both of these apps allow users to track their fertility using the advanced STM feature. They tracked a staggering 30 million days of data from 2.7 million menstrual cycles. It is the largest study of its kind.

One of the most interesting findings from the study was that the majority of women don’t ovulate on days 14-15 of their cycle. This is when the average ovulation period is expected to begin. It also discovered that when tracked frequently, the apps did tend to provide fairly accurate results.

However, it is important for women to understand that these apps are not 100% accurate. They can, however, be used to provide valuable information to medical teams working with couple’s seeking fertility treatment.

The importance of fertility health checks

Although the evidence does suggest fertility apps can be useful, couples who are struggling to conceive, especially after over one year of trying, are encouraged to undergo a fertility health check. This will help to establish whether there are any issues that need to be addressed. If nothing else, a fertility health check will give you better peace of mind.

Overall, fertility apps are definitely worth investing in, particularly the more advanced versions. However, if you want the most accurate results, it’s much better to undergo fertility health checks; to arrange your appointment call 07835 736627.

menopause health check

The menopause can be tough at the best of times, but did you know complicated friendships could actually make it worse? A new study has revealed that menopausal women who are dealing with stressful friendships, experience exacerbated symptoms.

Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed and why it might be time to wave goodbye to those complicated friendships.

What did the study reveal?

A team of researchers from the University of Arizona analysed data from 11,000 women. They discovered a link between those who were experiencing a stressful time in their social life and increased menopausal symptoms.

Most notably, it was discovered that women who were experiencing a stressful relationship, had a reduction in their bone strength. They were particularly weak around the lower spine, hips and neck. This led the researchers to conclude that psychological stress can directly impact bone mineral density.

When enrolling onto the study, the women filled out a questionnaire which included information regarding their psychosocial stress in relation to the social environment. They were asked to rate their social strain, with answers ranging from 4 to 20. It was discovered that those who gave the highest social strain scores, had a more significant loss of bone mineral density.

How can the menopause affect friendships?

Of course, avoiding social stress when you’re going through the menopause isn’t easy. Due to the symptoms the change triggers in the body, friendships can become much harder to maintain.

Even the best of friendships can start to feel the strain when one person is going through the menopause. One of the largest reasons behind this is that the majority of menopausal women go through a lot of mood swings. This is especially true during the first couple of years after the change.

There is also a drop in the bonding hormone, known as Oxytocin. This crucial hormone helps us to strengthen as well as maintain relationships. As the levels of Oxytocin begin to drop, you start to become less inclined to bond with others.

There’s also a lack of sleep which can greatly contribute to social strain. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re automatically going to be more irritable and likely to snap at those closest to you.

These are just some of the ways the menopause can affect friendships. There’s no denying it is more difficult to sustain friendships when you’re going through the change. However, if you suspect the problem is more than just your hormones, you may need to rethink your friend’s involvement in your life.

If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from the menopause and that it is affecting your family relationships and friendships, the first step is to book a Menopause Health Check. Call 07835 736627 to arrange a consultation.

cause of endometriosis

Scientists have made an exciting new discovery in relation to the cause of endometriosis. Up until now, the exact cause of the condition has been relatively unknown. This had made it difficult for experts to develop a cure to help those with the condition.

Now, with this new potential cause identified, scientists are hopeful that it will pave the way for a cure.

New study reveals cause of endometriosis pain

Researchers from Edinburgh and Warwick Universities discovered that a white blood cell known as Macrophages, was responsible for the pain experienced during endometriosis. It was revealed that the pain occurred when these cells experienced changes caused by the condition.

The study was carried out on mice, as well as cells, with the aim to establish the mechanistic role of Macrophages, in terms of producing the pain associated with the condition. Through the research, it was discovered that these white blood cells produce increased IGF-1. They also discovered that by adding IGF-1 from these Macrophages into cells, helped to promote activation and growth of the cells.

The most interesting finding was that by blocking the IGF-1 cell receptor in mice, the pain could be reversed. This is one of the biggest revelations within endometriosis studies in recent times. The findings suggest that by blocking the IGF-1 cell receptor in women who have endometriosis, it could potentially stop, or at least reduce, the pain associated with the condition.

The results of the study were published within the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. Further studies will need to be carried out on humans to determine whether this could be a viable treatment of the condition.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is known to be a lifelong condition which causes sometimes excruciating pain. It causes tissue, which is similar in structure to the lining of the womb, to develop in places such as the ovaries and the womb.

The condition is thought to affect 1 in 10 women in the UK, most common in those aged 30 and 40 years old. Common symptoms include pain, inflammation and potential fertility issues. Periods can be particularly painful, and as of yet, there is no cure available. However, there are some treatment options which may help to reduce the symptoms.

What current endometriosis treatment options are available?

Women who are suffering from endometriosis may not yet have access to a cure, but there are some effective treatments available.

If there is a build-up of scar tissue or lesions, they can be potentially removed via surgery. There are also effective hormonal treatments which can help to reduce some of the symptoms of the condition. However, these can present numerous side effects, so this is something patients need to be aware of. If there are issues with fertility, you can also book a consultation with a fertility expert to find out what your options are to increase your chances of conceiving.

Although it will take a number of years for any form of cure to be produced from this recent research, it still provides hope to the millions of sufferers of endometriosis.

junk food and male fertility

A study from Harvard University has revealed that junk food diets could affect male fertility. Even young men who are otherwise fit and healthy have been discovered to have a lower sperm count if they eat a largely junk food diet.

This means young men in their peak of fertility could find it difficult to conceive naturally. Here, we’ll look at the study and its findings and how making small lifestyle changes could help boost fertility.

Understanding the study

In the most recent study, sperm samples were taken from around 3,000 men, averaging an age of 19. All of the men were taking a medical exam before going on to join the Danish armed forces.

Diet surveys helped to separate the men into four different categories. It discovered that those who ate a balanced diet including lean meats, fruit, vegetables and fish, had the healthiest number of sperm. The next healthiest group were vegetarians, followed by men who ate a Scandinavian diet consisting of whole grains, dairy, processed meats and cold fish.

These results suggest that those eating a diet rich in antioxidants have much healthier fertility levels. Previous studies have shown that red meats and processed foods increase antioxidant stress, and that is known to be bad news for sperm.

It was the largest study of its kind to look at the impact of diet on fertility. Young men don’t tend to think about their fertility as they assume there wouldn’t be a problem. So, understanding the effects diet can have on the quality and quantity of their sperm is crucial for those who plan to have children later in life.

Other factors which can impact male fertility

It isn’t just diet which can negatively impact male fertility. Other lifestyle factors can also play a role. Alcohol, smoking, drug use, weight, depression and emotional stress can all play havoc on a man’s fertility.

Excessive alcohol amounts can lower the levels of testosterone, leading to a decrease in sperm production, as well as potentially cause erectile dysfunction. Emotional stress can also interfere with the hormones responsible for producing sperm. So, if young men adopt a poor diet, drink excessive levels of alcohol, smoke and are overweight, all of these factors combined can have a significant impact on fertility.

Lifestyle changes which can help boost fertility

If men want to avoid developing fertility issues at a young age, they are going to need to adopt a few healthy lifestyle choices. As sperm reproduce every three months, making changes to the lifestyle can produce fast results.

Ensuring you are eating a healthy diet, that you exercise regularly and limit your alcohol intake will all help to improve your fertility levels. However, there could be many other non-lifestyle factors which can also reduce male fertility. Therefore, it is important to undergo a consultation with a fertility specialist if you are concerned there may be an issue with your fertility.

air pollution and early menopause

A new study has identified air pollution as a potential trigger for early menopause. It was also discovered that air pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions and cancer.

The study, published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was presented at the annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting. So, how can air pollution potentially trigger early menopause? Below, we’ll look at what the recent study found and how it could also impact male fertility.

Understanding the early menopause study

The recent study carried out by Italian researchers looked into the effects exhaust fumes can have on female fertility. Blood tests were taken from 1,318 women from the northern region of Italy, in order to test for the anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). This reveals how many eggs a woman has left.

The researchers also looked into microscopic pollution particles and NO2 levels in the region the women lived. It was discovered that the women who had the lowest egg count, also lived in areas with the highest levels of air pollution. This means that women who live in a high pollution environment, are approximately 3.2% more likely to have a low amount of eggs.

The research was generated from over 10 years, providing an accurate picture of how pollution can impact fertility. It revealed that pollution, including smoke from cigarettes, adversely affected women’s ovary reserves. Another important finding of the research was that none of the areas included in the study exceeded safe pollution levels imposed by EU rules.

How air pollution can impact male and female fertility

The new findings reveal a disturbing link between air pollution and a woman’s fertility. Not only can it shorten a woman’s fertility cycle, but it can also trigger early menopause. It isn’t just outside air pollution which can negatively impact fertility. Other recent research has also revealed that indoor air pollution can be even more damaging to our health than outdoor pollution.

It isn’t just women who are exposed to the fertility troubles which can come from air pollution. Men’s sperm has also been found to reduce in quality when exposed to air pollution. So, if couples are living in high pollution areas, it could pose a lot of problems for them when they choose to try and conceive.

Testing for early menopause

Going through early menopause can be devastating for women. However, there are still ways to have a family if it does occur. The recent study highlights the importance of testing for early menopause for those living in high pollution areas.

A menopause health check such as the one offered by SureScan can be undertaken once a year. It includes a blood pressure check, a pelvic and abdominal exam, thyroid function tests, blood tests and a cervical smear amongst many other checks. This provides an accurate picture of whether you are at risk of going through early menopause.

Those living in high pollution areas are currently unaware of the risks to their fertility. While we already know the negative impact cigarette smoke and other pollutants can have on our health, very little awareness has been provided on how it can impact fertility until now.

male fertility check

A new study has revealed that male fertility drastically drops once you’re in your 50s. Researchers in the UK discovered that men’s chances of having a baby via IVF when they are in their 50s drops by a third compared to men in their mid-thirties.

The study also revealed that not only does fertility drop for men once they get older, but their sperm also contained more mutations, increasing the risk of having a child with a development disorder.

Here, we’ll look at what the research revealed and what men can do to determine their fertility.

What did the recent male fertility study find?

The new study carried out by the University College of London and the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health revealed a few interesting facts surrounding men’s fertility in their 50s.

They looked at records taken from almost 5000 IVF cycles which took part over the past nine years. It was discovered that half of the men who were under 35 years of age, were able to get their partners pregnant. For those aged 41-45, the male fertility rate fell to 35.1%, and by 51 years of age, it fell further to 30.5%.

There have been previous studies carried out which have looked into declining male fertility which occurs naturally through age. However, this is the first to really look into how it affects those going down the IVF route.

The study also revealed men in their 50s had the same kind of high-risk pregnancy rates as women. The sperm’s quality diminishes over time, with more abnormalities present for men in their 50s. This means the risk of having a child with a developmental disorder such as autism also increases with a man’s age.

Older celebrity father’s fuelling myth men can have babies at any age

It is a common belief that men can father children well into their sixties and seventies. This is largely fuelled by older celebrity fathers such as Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger. However, while it is certainly possible for older men to father a child, the chances do diminish quite rapidly after the age of 45.

Experts are now calling for more education to be given to younger men. They need to know about the risks of having a child later in life, as well as the difficulties it can present.

The tests men can have to determine their fertility

For men who are worried about their fertility chances, there are a number of male fertility tests which can be carried out, as well as measures that can be taken to improve their chances of becoming a father later in life.

Semen analysis is the most popular fertility test available. This looks into sperm count, as well as sperm quality and motility. It’s a very quick, painless test which can prove crucial at determining your fertility.

In terms of planning ahead, men can also have their sperm frozen for up to 15 years. That way, when they are in their 50s, they can use sperm from their 30s to fertilise their partner’s eggs.

Overall, this new study proves vital at highlighting the problems men face with fertility as they get older. More awareness needs to be provided so that men can start to make preparations if needed if they do want to wait to start a family. Those who are worried about their fertility can book a consultation with a fertility specialist and undergo tests to help diagnose any potential issues.

4D ultrasound scan shows effects of smoking on unborn babies

Researchers have recently released graphic ultrasound images of babies in the womb who are exposed to cigarette smoke. Taken as part of a small study into the effects smoking has on babies in the womb, the images have already caused a media stir.

The Daily Telegraph ran a story in response to the images, entitled ‘Unborn Baby Shown Grimacing in Womb as Mother Smokes’. This clever but misleading headline has understandably caused outrage, so what’s the real story behind the images?

Here, we’ll look at what the ultrasound scans revealed and the discoveries made by researchers when carrying out the small study.

Understanding the ultrasound scan study

The study was carried out by the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, along with the universities of Lancaster and Durham. It was a very small study, involving just four smokers. They also looked at images from 16 non-smokers to compare them and results were published within the Acta Paediatrica medical journal.

The research was carried out to observe whether subtle foetal movements could be detected via ultrasound scans. It also aimed to see whether there were any clear differences in movements in unborn babies of smokers. The recordings were assessed to specifically see how many times the baby’s touched their faces and moved their mouths.

The results showed that unborn babies of smokers who average 14 cigarettes a day, moved their mouths more than babies of non-smokers.

Smoking may cause delay in development of central nervous system

This pilot study, although small, does suggest that unborn babies of smokers could have a delay in their central nervous system development. They were found to not only move their mouths and touch their face more but to also do it for longer in the womb too.

Typically, babies start to touch their face and move their mouths less often as the pregnancy progresses. However, the babies of smokers continued to do so for much longer than babies of non-smokers.

A larger study now needs to be carried out to look into other specific factors which may contribute to the central nervous system development delay. As it was such a small-scale study, further, more intensive research needs to be done to discover the true link between smoking and foetal development.

Researchers hope images will help women struggling to quit

While the initial headline that babies are shown grimacing may have been exaggerated, researchers are hoping the images will help women who are struggling to quit smoking.

It can be difficult to quit smoking but seeing its effects on unborn babies could give women the additional motivation they need. While the actual effects smoking has on babies in the womb isn’t yet fully understood, it is known that it has a lot of potentially serious complications for baby’s health.

It is estimated that 12% of pregnant women within the UK currently smoke. Researchers are hoping the results of this study will also help to highlight the need to provide pregnant women with additional support to help them quit.

Private Women's Health Clinic

Scientists working towards a better understanding of endometriosis have recently reported progress into the potential causes of the condition.

As of yet, there is no cure for this painful, chronic condition. It is also unknown why it occurs in some women and not others. Those who do suffer with it, report excruciating pain, often requiring surgical intervention. It can also negatively impact almost every aspect of a patient’s life, particularly their relationships as it can lead to painful sexual intercourse.

The new findings present hope that the cause of endometriosis could be discovered in the not too distant future.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is diagnosed when the endometrial tissue which is usually present inside a woman’s uterus, also begins to grow on the outside. It can potentially fuse organs together, and most commonly affects the fallopian tubes, ovaries and bladder. It is thought to affect approximately 10% to 15% of all women of reproductive age, though exact figures aren’t known.

Pain is the most common symptom associated with the condition. This can occur mostly around the time during a woman’s period, or it could be present on a daily basis. Some women find it is painful when they use the toilet, while others experience pain during or after sex.

Other potential symptoms include difficulty conceiving, depression and potentially heavier periods.

Understanding the new findings

The new study, published within the Biology of Reproduction journal, was carried out to aid with fertility treatments. Those suffering from endometriosis can experience significant difficulties in getting pregnant. A major challenge presented, is that women need to inform the physician about the day of their menstrual cycle prior to undergoing treatment. The study showed that the dates given and the actual dates are often totally different.

They took endometrium samples from approximately 80 different women. It was discovered that the day the women reported, and the day revealed by the molecular profile of the samples was frequently incompatible. The study therefore allows researchers to assign an exact date of the tissue samples taken to aid in future research.

A beREADY tool was used in the study, which is an advanced molecular tool which helps to provide clinics with relevant information to choose the best day for embryo implantation.

Could a breakthrough into the causes of endometriosis come soon?

Researchers are hopeful that a breakthrough will be made into identifying the causes of endometriosis soon. Technology is continually advancing, allowing scientists to be much more precise in their research. They will be able to eliminate potential side factors, making it simpler to identify any casual changes which occur within the condition.

Overall, endometriosis can have a devastating impact on a woman’s life. Not only does it cause chronic pain, but it can also lead to issues with fertility. However, it is worth noting that having endometriosis does not automatically mean you’ll have trouble conceiving. The condition does affect each woman differently, with some experiencing very few, minor symptoms.

Contact the SureScan Private Women’s Health Clinic on 0121 308 7774 or email info@​surescan-womenshealth.co.uk for more advice.

menopause health check

A new initiative from the Scottish National Parliament (SNP), could soon see employees being provided with menopause training. Plans to introduce the initiative come after a recent survey from the SNP discovered almost a third of respondents felt the menopause was treated negatively, or as a joke within the workplace.

While some women don’t experience any real negative effects of the menopause, for others it can be debilitating. The initiative hopes to raise awareness of the condition and how it can impact women in the workplace, along with educating employers about how they can help during this transitional phase.

Debate likely to prove promising for working women

The new initiative is currently only in the debate stage. So, there is a possibility it may not be implemented. However, initial interest and support for the topic do prove promising.

With statistics revealing that three out of four women going through the menopause experience symptoms, it shows just how prevalent the issue is. There are currently 3.5 million women aged 50 and over in the workplace due to our ageing population. Women have been calling for changes for years, so would certainly welcome the new initiative.

CIPD also offering free guide to menopause at work

It’s not just the SNP who are campaigning for more awareness of the menopause at work. The CIPD is now offering free guidance on how to manage the menopause in the workplace. They too carried out research into how the condition affects women at work. Around 59% of respondents claimed it had a negative impact on their work.

In its free guidance, the CIPD reveals how having the option to work flexible hours can help, along with fans to help ease hot flushes; a common symptom associated with the menopause.

How can the menopause impact women in the workplace?

Studies have revealed that the menopause largely causes three main issues for women going through the menopause at work.

An inability to concentrate is one of the leading symptoms, impacting performance. Over half of women also experience increased levels of stress, as well as being more impatient with both colleagues and clients.

Almost a third of the women who responded in the CIPD research, claimed they have had to take sick days due to menopausal symptoms. However, only a quarter of them felt able to disclose the real reason behind their absence to their employer. Most simply don’t feel comfortable talking about the menopause at work, either due to embarrassment or because of how the condition is widely viewed.

This is where the new SNP initiative could prove useful for Scottish employees. Spreading awareness of the impact the menopause can have on women at work is crucial to ensuring employees get the support they need. The more support they are given by their employers, the less of an impact it’s going to have on their work.

Although it will only benefit those in Scotland initially, the initiative would likely be adopted by other parts of the UK is it proved to be a success. The menopause may be a natural condition, but it can have devastating consequences on a woman’s life.

If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms, a consultation with our consultation gynaecologist can be invaluable. We provide a comprehensive medical examination and provide tests of hormone and nutrition levels as well as any necessary scans and also can give you advice on lifestyle changes and HRT. Call 0121 308 7774 to book a Menopause Health Check today.