How childhood stress can affect female fertility

Date:September 10, 2015

Source:Taylor & Francis

Summary:Can events you endured as a child really impact your ability to have children yourself? New research examines the mechanism by which adverse experiences in childhood impact female fertility. Researchers explore the hypothesis that negative experiences in childhood can result in menstrual cycle irregularities, which consequently impact fertility. They relate their hypothesis to life-history theory, which talks of balancing the preservation of one’s health and the production of offspring that will survive to reproduce themselves.

Can events you endured as a child really impact your ability to have children yourself? New research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology examines the mechanism by which adverse experiences in childhood impact female fertility. In their paper ‘Adverse childhood event experiences, fertility difficulties and menstrual cycle characteristics’, Marni B. Jacobs et al. explore the hypothesis that negative experiences in childhood can result in menstrual cycle irregularities, which consequently impact fertility. They relate their hypothesis to life-history theory, which talks of balancing the preservation of one’s health and the production of offspring that will survive to reproduce themselves, and theorize that “early life stressors may predispose an individual to adaptively suppress fertility when situations are less than optimal, leading to periods of fertility difficulties even following previous births.”

The study examined data from 774 women of reproductive age, 195 of whom were pregnant. It analysed fertility difficulties, menstrual cycle irregularities and adverse childhood experiences, through a mixture of in-person interviews and take-home questionnaires.

Following their research, the team came to the conclusion that those women who had experienced negative events at a young age — such as “abuse, neglect, household dysfunction or parental substance abuse” — were more likely to have faced fertility difficulties and abnormal absences of menstruation lasting three months or more, and also took a longer time to get pregnant. Their research also suggests that certain harmful events in childhood can potentially have a greater impact on fertility than others.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marni B. Jacobs, Renee D. Boynton-Jarrett, Emily W. Harville. Adverse childhood event experiences, fertility difficulties and menstrual cycle characteristics. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2015; 36 (2): 46 DOI: 10.3109/0167482X.2015.1026892

A Pack of Walnuts a Day Keeps the Fertility Specialist Away?

ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012) — A paper published Aug. 15 in Biology of Reproduction‘s Papers-in-Press reveals that eating 75 grams of walnuts a day improves the vitality, motility, and morphology of sperm in healthy men aged 21 to 35.

Approximately 70 million couples experience subfertility or infertility worldwide, with 30 to 50 percent of these cases attributable to the male partner. Some studies have suggested that human semen quality has declined in industrialized nations, possibly due to pollution, poor lifestyle habits, and/or an increasingly Western-style diet.

Dr. Wendie Robbins and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles decided to investigate whether increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are critical for sperm maturation and membrane function, would increase sperm quality in men consuming a Western-style diet.

The best sources of dietary PUFAs in a Western-style diet include fish and fish oil supplements, flax seed, and walnuts, the latter of which are rich sources of α-linolenic acid (ALA), a natural plant source of omega-3.

With support by the California Walnut Commission, Dr. Robbins’ team selected 117 healthy men between the ages of 21 and 35 who ate a Western-style diet and split them into two groups: one (58 men) who would avoid eating tree nuts and another (59 men) who would eat 75 grams of walnuts per day. Previous studies had indicated that 75 grams of walnuts would be a dose at which blood lipid levels would change, but at which healthy young men would not gain weight.

Before the experiment began and then again 12 weeks later, the men’s semen quality was analyzed according to conventional parameters of male fertility, including sperm concentration, vitality, motility, morphology, and chromosome abnormalities.

After 12 weeks, the team found no significant changes in body-mass index, body weight, or activity level in either group. The men consuming walnuts, however, had significantly increased levels of omega-6 and omega-3 (ALA) fatty acids and experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology. Those eating walnuts also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm following the walnut dietary intervention. The control group, on the other hand, experienced no changes.

Although this research indicates that eating 75 grams of walnuts per day can positively affect a young man’s sperm quality, it is still unknown whether the benefits would apply to young men with fertility problems and whether they would actually translate into increased fertility.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided bySociety for the Study of Reproduction. 


Journal Reference:

  1. Robbins WA, Xun L, FitzGerald LZ, Esguerra S, Henning SM, Carpenter CL. Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western-style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trialBiology of Reproduction, 2012; (in press) DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634
Citation:

Society for the Study of Reproduction (2012, August 15). A pack of walnuts a day keeps the fertility specialist away?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815151610.htm

Do Ovaries Continue to Produce Eggs During Adulthood?

ScienceDaily (July 26, 2012) — A compelling new genetic study tracing the origins of immature egg cells, or ‘oocytes’, from the embryonic period throughout adulthood adds new information to a growing controversy. The notion of a “biological clock” in women arises from the fact that oocytes progressively decline in number as females get older, along with a decades-old dogmatic view that oocytes cannot be renewed in mammals after birth.


 

After careful assessment of data from a recent study published in PLoS Genetics, scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Edinburgh argue that the findings support formation of new eggs during adult life; a topic that has been historically controversial and has sparked considerable debate in recent years.

Eggs are formed from progenitor germ cells that exit the mitotic cycle, thereby ending their ability to proliferate through cell division, and subsequently enter meiosis, a process unique to the formation of eggs and sperm which removes one half of the genetic material from each type of cell prior to fertilization.

While traditional thinking has held that female mammals are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, newer research has demonstrated that adult mouse and human ovaries contain a rare population of progenitor germ cells called oogonial stem cells capable of dividing and generating new oocytes. Using a powerful new genetic tool that traces the number of divisions a cell has undergone with age (its ‘depth’) Shapiro and colleagues counted the number of times progenitor germ cells divided before becoming oocytes; their study was published in PLoS Genetics in February this year.

If traditional thinking held true, all divisions would have occurred prior to birth, and thus all oocytes would exhibit the same depth regardless of age. However, the opposite was found — eggs showed a progressive increase in depth as the female mice grew older.

In their assessment of the work by Shapiro and colleagues — published recently in a PLoS Genetics Perspective article — reproductive biologists Dori Woods, Evelyn Telfer and Jonathan Tilly conclude that the most plausible explanation for these findings is that progenitor germ cells in ovaries continue to divide throughout reproductive life, resulting in production of new oocytes with greater depth as animals age.

Although these investigations were performed in mice, there is emerging evidence that oogonial stem cells are also present in the ovaries of reproductive-age women, and these cells possess the capacity, like their mouse counterparts, to generate new oocytes under certain experimental conditions. While more work is needed to settle the debate over the significance of oocyte renewal in adult mammals, Woods and colleagues emphasize that “the recent work of Shapiro and colleagues is one of the first reports to offer experimental data consistent with a role for postnatal oocyte renewal in contributing to the reserve of ovarian follicles available for use in adult females as they age.”

 

Journal Reference:

  1. Woods DC, Telfer EE, Tilly JL. Oocyte Family Trees: Old Branches or New Stems? PLOS Genet, 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002848

Citation:

Public Library of Science (2012, July 26). Do ovaries continue to produce eggs during adulthood?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/07/120726180259.htm