A new study published in the online edition of Fertility and Sterility has concluded that half of men taking SSRIs could have damaged sperm and compromised fertility. The study, conducted by the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, followed 35 healthy male volunteers who took paroxetine (Paxil) for five weeks. At the end of the five weeks, sperm samples were taken from the men and examined to determine whether there were any missing pieces of genetic code in the sperm DNA. Their findings? That the percentage of men with abnormal DNA fragmentation jumped from less than 10% at the beginning of the study to 50% afterward.
We had been married for eight years. We had been trying to get pregnant for six of those years and between IVF and ICSI had gone through five fertility cycles. We knew we could get pregnant but we didn't know if we could stay pregnant. We had spent over $200,000, and all we had to show for it was a glossy photo of four egg cells. That photo still sits in the drawer of the night table besides out bed, buried there. We're unable to look at it—or dispose of it. Other friends who were on the IVF merry-go-round and got pregnant, had their children. Some had their second child while we waited and tried again. Every couple who had a child swore by their doctor, their method, their technique—success was its own affirmation.
Amy had been referred to a Beverly Hills fertility doctor, who was so reassuring that I took him to calling him Dr. Mellow. His office had a wall of photos of smiling babies, as if to say, "This will be you." We sat in his waiting room holding hands. We believed. We didn't know we had just taken our seats inside the Hope Factory. Once inside, the possibility of getting pregnant never ended. If one technique failed, you tried another, and kept trying. There seemed to be an infinite supply of hope.
Without referring you to the many, many, medical sites, books and journals I immediately consulted on the subject, there is some belief that a certain vein that traverses one or both testicles can, in one way or another, affect the quality of sperm production. Operating on it may, or may not, improve sperm quality. In my case, a double varocelectomy was recommended.
I suppose everyone remembers their first time. I certainly do. I put on some mood music, dimmed the lights and proceeded to romance myself. Eager to please the laboratory (and myself), I marshaled my forces to climax, and then promptly fumbled the collection. Most of my contribution missed the container.
Thankfully, if science has it's way, men may soon have their own version of a birth control pill. Hooray! Researchers at the University of Iowa have identified a gene—CATSPER 1—that is needed in order for fertilization to occur. CATSPER 1 affects the sperm's ability to maneuver it's way into the egg. When the gene is absent, sperm just sort of bump into one another but never seal the deal. Scientists figured this out after studying groups of men in Iran who were infertile. Researchers are now hard at work trying to dream up a way to mass produce an FDA-approved contraception that binds to the CATSPER 1 gene, thus making babies impossible. Right now, the team is apprehensive that the contraceptive may not be "effective, safe and reversible."
It is said that women who play the Aboriginal didgeridoo are said to go barren. This could be bad news for Nicole Kidman as she played the wooden instrument while promoting Australia on German TV. Not good. We'll see if even the fertility waters of Kununurra can salvage this womb.
She's been an TV show host, an infomercial pitch-gal, a Playmate, and an internet icon. But now Cindy Margolis wants to be known as a spokeswoman for infertility. She has written a new book with the focus on her problems conceiving and how these pitfalls can be avoided.
A recent study came out showing that women with a Body Mass Index above 29 or in the obese range have problems becoming pregnant. Many scientists have a problem with BMI but this thing appears to have some strong correlation. Another reason to lose a little weight or another thing to feel badly about?