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HeyReprotech's June roundup
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Presentations from ESHRE
COVID infections cause a long-lasting drop in semen quality
Men who'd been infected with COVID, even mildly, had lower sperm concentrations and fewer sperm that could swim, and the problems persisted, according to Rocio Nunez-Calonge, a scientific advisor at the Scientific Reproduction Unit in Madrid, Spain. It takes about 78 days for new sperm to be produced, but the researchers found that at the 100-day mark, there was no improvement in sperm quality. Half of the men had total sperm counts that were at least 57 percent lower after COVID, compared to before. "We had assumed that semen quality would improve once new sperm were being generated, but this was not the case," said Nunez-Calonge in a press release. "We do not know how long it might take for semen quality to be restored, and it may be the case that COVID has caused permanent damage, even in men who suffered only a mild infection."
An AI tool beat a seasoned embryologist when searching for viable sperm in testicular tissue from men with no sperm in their semen
About one percent of men have no sperm in their semen. But thanks to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), they can still fertilize an egg if viable sperm can be found. But finding it can take a human embryologist around six hours of agonizing search time. Dale Goss at the University Technology Sydney, in Australia, proposed that an experimental AI tool, "SpermSearch," might be faster. Goss pitted the tool against a top-ranked embryologist, and found the tool was both faster and more accurate. "The embryologist found 560 sperm, the AI found 611," said the press release. "The algorithm identified sperm for each area of droplet that it viewed in less than a 1000th of the time..." This is just a proof of concept, the researchers told the meeting, and it's now time for a clinical trial.
When women who froze their eggs come back for treatment, they don't always use what's in the freezer
Of 843 women who electively froze their eggs between 2009 and 2019 at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Brussels, Belgium, 231 (27 percent) returned for treatment by May 2022. Interestingly, more than half (52 percent) of those who returned did not use their frozen eggs: fifty of them did IUI and 71 of them did fresh IVF. Of the 110 who did use their frozen eggs, 59 percent did not have babies. The research was presented by Ezgi Darici, from the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel.
Is five days in the petri dish better than three?
1202 women from 21 fertility centres were randomly assigned to one of two groups: three days of embryo culture or five days. Researchers found there was no difference in the cumulative live birth rate (that is, how many babies are born after you transfer any embryos created after a single round of egg retrieval). There was also no difference in how much time that took. But age did matter: women 36 or older fared better with the longer culture (52 percent cumulative live birth rate versus 43 percent), reported Simone Cornelisse, at Radboud University Medical Center, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Fast facts about fertility trends in Europe
Single embryo transfer accounted for 57.6 percent of all IVF cycles in Europe in 2020, up from 55.4 percent in 2019. More than two-thirds of IVF cycles (69.9 percent) included ICSI, a trend that has been ongoing since 2002. 60,521 cycles used donated eggs. Preimplantation genetic testing was used in 47,793 cycles in 2020. In vitro maturation, where eggs are matured outside the body, was used in 344 cases.
Eloise Hendy. " ‘You always feel like you’ve done something wrong’: Why UK surrogacy laws need a ‘real overhaul’." The Independent. 02 May 2023.
Elizabeth Anne Brown. "Your DNA Can Now Be Pulled From Thin Air. Privacy Experts Are Worried." The New York Times. 15 May 2023.
Kate Muir. "The pill’s effects on women can be devastating. We need better information, now." The Guardian. 11 June 2023.
Holly Burns. "Yearning to Be a Father, but Still Waiting." The New York Times. 14 Jun 2023.
Hannah Devlin. "Synthetic human embryos created in groundbreaking advance." The Guardian. 14 June 2023.
Amy Dockser Marcus. "Two Children Learn the Truth About Their Donor Father and Build a New Family." Wall Street Journal. 16 Jun 2023.
Alice Mann. "Why I don’t regret the £14,000 I spent freezing my eggs... even though it didn’t result in a much longed-for baby." The Daily Mail. 22 June 2023.
Shannon McCoy Cohn. "Below the Belt: The Last Health Taboo." PBS.
I have not seen this film yet, but here's the IMDb summary: "Endometriosis affects one in nine women, but patients are often dismissed, discounted and disbelieved. There is no known cure for this disease, and it often takes years to be diagnosed." Follows four personal stories.
Aida Guajardo. "The Surrogacy." Netflix. 2023.
A true soap opera, complete with a killing, a kidnapping, false imprisonment, a secret deal, a pregnancy, birth, lies, abandonment, an accidental death — and that was just episode one. There are 23 more.
Aditya Thayi. "King of Clones." Netflix. 2023.
25-28 Jun - European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in-person - ESHRE
08 July - interdisciplinary postgraduate network dedicated to the study of reproduction, free, in-person and online conference - Broadly Conceived Conference
22 Jul - DNA Angels in person meetups - Meet and Greet
Universite du Quebec en Outaouais - Experience of sperm or egg donors who have been contacted by a donor offspring
University of Kent - Egg freezing for social reasons
Institute for Women's Health, University College London - Let's talk menopause
Toronto Metropolitan University and University of Waterloo - Elective egg freezing in Canada: Towards appropriate legislation governing consent
University College London - Patient and public involvement group on male subfertility and long-term health
Leeds Beckett University - The online sperm donation project
University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa and Toronto Metropolitan University - Ova obscura: Egg donors in Canada
University of Leicester - Children's voices in surrogacy law
University of Ottawa - Surrogacy laws in Canada: Exploring intended parents' experiences and perspectives
University of Birmingham - Survey of LGBTQ+ parents