Archive for the ‘obgyn’ Category

MedTech Investor: Check Out the Assumptions of Our Minimum Viable Product Scenario

August 2, 2016

Warhol, Andy, Dollar Sign, 1981Some time back, I published here a blog post titled “The Ovulona is not another ovulation kit, my dear” in response to a Jennifer K. who had written: How is this different from the other ovulation kits on the market today? It seems very similar to products I have seen before. At the time, my blog posts were addressed to all the fertility info-seeking Jennifers (and Jeffreys, too) out there in the social networks but not particularly to the women’s healthcare technology investors.

Now it’s the latter I am reaching out to.

And I refer to Home Page of bioZhena’s Weblog to be reviewed in connection with the business assumptions. (Or Reproductive Health IQ Does Matter, a LinkedIn post.)

In the present post, we present the bioZhena Business Assumptions. This is to draw attention to the big picture that emerges even in the Minimum Viable Scenario (MVS), the detailed assumptions of which have been worked from bottom up (with due attention to the TAM, SAM and the SOM). bioZhena Corporation’s goal is to implement the Full Value Scenario that was constructed based on the MVS. More on this in the closing paragraph of this post.

Here is a summary of the MVS, the Minimum Viable Product Scenario:

SUMMARY OF MINIMUM VIABLE SCENARIO’S SERVICEABLE AVAILABLE MARKET IN THE U.S. ALONE

US Trying-To-Conceive (TTC) Serviceable Available Market $$ (at the TTC mean cost of $2,600 p.a.) is $21,320,000,000

US Trying-To-Conceive Serviceable Available Market $$ (at the TTC minimum cost of $200 p.a.) is $1,640,000,000

US Initial Off-Label Birth Control Serviceable Available Market (SAM) $$ is $82,492,000

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Projection: FIRST PRODUCT SALES IN MONTH 16 POST FUNDING (first product application already FDA-cleared)

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Summary Comparison of Minimum Viable Scenario (MVS) with Full Value Scenario (FVS)

FVS compared with MVSClick on the image for better legibility

(the URL is: https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/comparison-mvs-cf-fvs.pps )

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And now for the assumptions – with pictorial embellishments for dividers between the market segments.

Listing sources of market data (with some comments) followed by the resulting numerical USD market size assumptions.

‘Satyre et Bacchante’ by Jean-Jacques Pradier, marble, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille.

‘Satyre et Bacchante’ by Jean-Jacques Pradier, marble, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille.

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Birth Control (BC) Market

CDC 2014 survey: 61.7% of the 60.9 million US women ages 15-49 practice contraception (= 37.6 million contraceptors), and of these 48.1% use the most common methods (the pill, sterilization, condoms, and long-acting reversible contraceptives). That leaves 38.3% or 23.32 million non-contracepting women.

un.org Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide 2015 Report, Annex Table II: Number of US married or in-union women using contraception = 28,600,000. Number of US women who have an unmet need for family planning = 2,560,000. Worldwide number of women using contraception is 758,000,000 and the number of women who have an unmet need for family planning is 142,000,000 (these are median data as of 2015). Couples often desire to control not just the number of children, but also the timing. We address this desire or need by design.

Next, per Guttmacher Institute 2016 fact sheet, nearly half (45% or 2.8 million) of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. were unintended in 2011 (and 42% of those ended in abortion). Contraceptive failure rate plays a big role in this. Meaning that, for 2.8 million of the 37.6 million contracepting women, their method fails (and they seek a solution). 43 million US women were at risk of unintended pregnancy in 2008. (Public expenditures on unintended pregnancies nationwide were estimated to be $21.0 billion in 2010.)

For this Minimum Value Scenario, the conservative assessment of the number of US women in the birth control market is to choose between the 43 million at risk in 2008 and the 2.8 million of unintended pregnancies in 2011 plus the 2,560,000 who have an unmet need for family planning. We choose the latter, which is much smaller, i.e. 2,800,000 plus 2,560,000 = 5,360,000 as the number of US women in the family planning (BC) market segment for our Serviceable Available Market. Indisputably conservative.

US costs of personal birth control average $1,006/year (Health Aff (Millwood) 2015 and americanprogress.org 2012). Since average ACA saving was 20%, then 100% = $ 251.5 times 5 = $ 1,257.50.  So, $ 1,257.5 – $ 251.50 = $1,006. (ACA = Affordable Care Act.) Double-check the reasonableness via this tweet.

Hence Our Birth Control (BC) Numerical Assumptions For the Minimum Value Scenario Are:

Number of US Women in the family planning (BC) market is 5,360,000

US Serviceable Available Market (SAM) $$ is $5,392,160,000

Worldwide Number of Women in the family planning (BC) market is 758,000,000

Worldwide Total Available Market $$ is very large even with only the unmet-need number of 142,000,000 women

E.g. if the estimate is based on the above US cost average, TAM is $142,852,000,000

Oh joy  Found on poodlefuzz.tumblr.com

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Initial Off-Label BC Market Upon the Ovulona Launch Assumed At 1%

Commercial market research compendium reports: The Trying-To-Conceive (TTC) tests are utilized for the unauthorized off-label use of aiding women’s natural birth control practice.

Quote: “About Half Who Use Tests Do Not Want Pregnancy”.

(http://www.marketresearch.com/Packaged-Facts-v768/Home-Medical-Tests-143386/).

Here we assume only 1% of the 8,200,000 US Fertility-Impaired Women Ages 15-44 (see below the CDC data on the TTC market), which is 82,000 women, translating at the assumed mean annual BC cost of $1,006 into an off-label $82,492,000 SAM upon the Ovulona launch into the TTC Market. To reiterate, we assume that 1% of those in the market for a tech tool aiding conception are in fact in the market to help themselves to avoid pregnancy by fertility awareness and will be off-label Ovulona users as soon as the Ovulona becomes available in the marketplace.

This is a reasonable conservative assumption in view of the 69.5 million US Catholics (the largest religious body in the United States) comprising 22% of the population[1] as of 2015. The assumed 82,000 women represent a mere 0.1% of the Catholic population. See an example of unsolicited expression of interest in the Ovulona from a US Catholic. Ovulona market research with 5,000 US women revealed that 70% of those who would buy the Ovulona would switch from their present contraception method.

The assumed SAM number of $82,492,000  represents 30.5% (but read on) of the annual retail sales of ovulation prediction kits (OPKs or LH kits) in the U.S. as they were reported in 2008/2009 when OPKs outpaced the annual sales of home pregnancy tests. The NYT article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/business/media/02adco.html?_r=2 cited the annual OPK sales data of $270 million from IRI (Information Resources, Inc.). They derived it from in-store scanners at the retailer level for all of their major CPG clients (Consumer Packaged Goods companies) except for Wal-Mart. This info courtesy of Edward Saettone (via Linkedin Answers).

At annual growth rate of over 10% for personalized diagnostic tools (per PricewaterhouseCoopers), this suggests a SAM over $560,000,000 in 2016, and the assumed off-label SAM of $82,492,000 then represents ~15% of this documented and extrapolated figure for annual sales of OPKs in 2016. The SAM percentage (~15%) will be further reduced by the sales of the electronic ovulation predictor tests that have entered the market in the last decade or so.

For the worldwide assumption we take as base 6% of the worldwide number (758,000,000) minus the number in least developed countries (60,800,000) because: 1.  Only 6 per cent of married or in-union women worldwide used rhythm or withdrawal in 2015 (per un.org …/trendsContraceptiveUse2015Report.pdf), and 2. it is well known that especially this sub-population of women (and men) keep looking for a better tool to help them practice fertility awareness/natural family planning.  6% of 697,200,000 = 41,832,000.

Hence Our Numerical Assumptions For the Minimum Value Scenario Are:

Number of US Women off-label users upon device launch into the TTC Market segment (below) is 82,000

US Off-Label Serviceable Available Market $$ is $82,492,000

Worldwide Number of Women off-label users upon device launch is 41,832,000

Worldwide Total Available Market $$ is very large

E.g. if the estimate were based on the above US cost average, TAM is $42,082,992,000

 pregnant 2

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Trying-To-Conceive (TTC) Market

CDC PUBLIC HEALTH GRAND ROUNDS 2015, slide 36 titled “Impact of Lack of Insurance on Decision-Making”: Non-ART: $200 – $5,000 (and IVF: $10,000 – $15,000). Out-of-pocket costs can be substantial and impact patient decision-making and risk-taking – referring particularly to the IVF. (ART stands for Artificial Reproductive Technologies such as IVF, In Vitro Fertilization). We take $2,600 as the mean annual cost of TTC (Trying-To-Conceive, non-ART).

CDC Reproductive Health data last updated 2015: Number of US women ages 15-44 with impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term: 6.7 million or 10.9%. Number of US married women ages 15-44 who are infertile (unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex): 1.5 million or 6.0%. The sum of the primary and secondary infertility sufferers in the U.S. is 8.2 million women.

NIH Analysis of 277 Surveys 2012: Worldwide in 2010, 48.5 million couples were unable to have a child, of which 19.2 million couples were unable to have a first child (primary infertility), and 29.3 million couples were unable to have an additional child (secondary infertility, and the figure excludes China). Due to population growth, the number of couples suffering from infertility has increased since 1990, when 42.0 million couples were unable to have a child. Also, from WHO Evaluation Of Surveys 2004: More than 186 million ever-married women of reproductive age in developing countries were maintaining a “child wish”, translating into one in every four couples or 25%. We note this but opt for the NIH data, above.

Hence Our TTC Numerical Assumptions For the Minimum Value Scenario Are:

Number of US Fertility-Impaired Women Ages 15-44 is 8,200,000

US Serviceable Available Market $$ (at the TTC mean cost of $2,600 p.a.) is $21,320,000,000

US Serviceable Available Market $$ (at the TTC minimum cost of $200 p.a.) is $1,640,000,000

Worldwide Number of Women Who Are Unable to Have a Child is 48,500,000

Worldwide Total Available Market $$ is very large

E.g. if the estimate were based on the US non-ART cost average of $2,600 (see above), TAM is $126,100,000,000

Boatswain is piloting the Eagle to the dock

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In closing, the reader is reminded that the above are the Assumptions for the bioZhena Minimum Value Scenario (Minimum Viable Product Scenario), which scenario represents the proverbial “low hanging fruit”. This is because our core product’s first application has FDA 510k clearance for aiding conception & generating diagnostic menstrual profiles for physicians. Our goal is to pursue the Full Value Scenario of the bioZhena Business Plan because of the potential of the bioZhena technology – summarized in the single slide here (the URL is https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/single-slide-biozhena-technology-potential-on-white-background1.pps ). Aiming to go well beyond personal reproductive management (which is, admittedly, where it all started, as evident from the whole bioZhena’s Weblog and other web presence).

And for Investors – PPM at https://www.equitynet.com/profile.aspx

Might check out first  Home Page of bioZhena’s Weblog

bioZhena venture

July 9, 2015

A 2017 update.

Transforming Female Reproductive Health Management prt scr

Explore the few slides including the links in some of them: https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/new-mostly-narrated-slides-2017-03e2.pps

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bioZhena’s technology platform is bound to revolutionize women’s healthcare with diagnostic tools for women and their doctors & payers.

Empower women with clear menstrual cycle data vs. drugging healthy women & the iatrogenic consequences. That is the first (reproductive management) front, opened along with providing a superior (meaning: definitive) tool with which to tackle the ever-growing difficulty of getting pregnant when planned.

Also unprecedented and important for public health is our way of monitoring cervical health at home. This will work in the background of the primary process, not bothering the user unless a tissue aberration is detected consistently several months in a row. This way of screening, and its affordability, should significantly improve on the Pap smear screening test.

But perhaps – especially if you are a male reader – you may feel that a daily (or almost daily) insertion for the quick self-check is too much to expect of a woman keen on knowing her daily fertility status plus the additional benefits of the routine?

Then our next generation telemetric cervical ring iteration of the same smart sensor is the answer for you. She and her doctor will have a choice.

See the image of a slide and click it to view the slide:

Friendly Technology - with cervical ring & Ovulograph

https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/single-slide-friendly-tech-with-cervical-ring-ovulograph.pps

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My gynecology colleague would argue that the other major healthcare front is even more important, namely our way of providing to the women’s healthcare professionals access to the menstrual cycle vital sign longitudinal records, which she likened to the cardiologists’ ECG recordings but with the important advantage of being affordably and routinely generated by patients at home.

This other major front is providing to the healthcare system the means of obtaining a handle on the management of gynecologic and obstetric medical issues that require better diagnostic evidence for more effective and preventative therapies. In short, we are answering the call and challenge to “Improve the methods and criteria to assess ovulatory dysfunction” (per R.S. Legro MD, 2013).

Current modalities to diagnose preterm labor cannot detect the early biochemical changes of the cervix which result in dilation that leads to preterm births. Once the advanced signs of preterm labor are found, remedies to stop it are often futile and always costly for the healthcare system ($26B annually in USA alone), and frequently have adverse long-term consequences for the prematurely-born child and the family.

The bioZhena technology will alert the women-users and their healthcare providers on a timely basis to the onset of pregnancy-related conditions such as normal and preterm labor. And the detection of pregnancy, whether intended or unintended, is automatic with the primary routine use of the home-use smart sensor.

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And here is now the financial pro forma aspect of bioZhena’s breakthrough non-interventional approach to women’s healthcare.

5-year pro forma assuming $6M funding (Business Plan Summary Financial Projections)

Or

10-year projections:

Minimum Viable Product Scenario (MVS) and Full Value Scenario (FVS)

FVS compared with MVS

https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/comparison-mvs-cf-fvs.pps

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bioZhena’s pitch on EquityNet:

Women’s personal sex management for the Information Age.

Generating diagnostic vital-sign profiles for doctors and payers. This first app of proprietary cervical sensor has FDA clearance.

Income from it will support further breakthrough applications.

The gist of the bioZhena women’s healthcare breakthrough is this:

We monitor the brain – sex organs feedback loop.

Nobody else does.

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See the illustration below. Grasp the significance: The market offers you anything other than what’s needed, which is the monitoring of the feedback brain – ovary interactions.

“To mitigate the startup investment risk, the first app is an already FDA-cleared electronic fertility monitor for women at home…

Our electronic technology platform is bound to revolutionize women’s healthcare with diagnostic tools for women and their doctors & payers.

… will provide for non-interventional reproductive management, aiding conception and natural birth control without hormones, and automatically detecting pregnancy – planned or accidental. …

We will offer early detection of cervical cancer and other STDs as a built-in screen performed innocuously in the privacy of one’s home – automatically in the background of the primary monitoring…

Ovulona™ tracks the female reproductive cycle via the end-organ effect of the brain-ovary feedback loop on the uterine cervix. Numerous benefits ensue…”

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For a fuller description of the project, go to https://www.equitynet.com/c/biozhena-corporation

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HPG slide 4 screen shot from 5 slide show

This is a screen shot of slide 4 from a 5-slide set https://lnkd.in/ed9yXUX

– one of the materials provided in the EquityNet posting.

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Contra Nescience Contra Insouciance (SM 2015)

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And yours truly bioZhena founder seeks a well-matched management partner of either gender.

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Serious health consequences of delaying pregnancy, and the need for prevention of impaired fertility also known as subfertility and infertility

January 2, 2013

Simply put: We must talk prevention versus treatment of this health condition, which is not inevitable. On the present large scale, impaired fertility is anthropogenic – where anthropogenic means “caused or produced by humans”. When trying to conceive, it is highly advisable not to delay baby making beyond the optimal age of early 20s, and in any case to practice “focused intercourse”. In that connection (with said focus), “anthropogenic” acquires a positive connotation – even if my introduction is no longer exactly simply put!

Absolute Must: Focus on Fertile Window

The said focus on focused intercourse is an absolute must, and you save yourself a lot of grief that way because there can be no conception outside of the fertile window, whether subfertile or not. This should really be in your mind and in your heart when you are trying to conceive. And if you are, unfortunately, past the optimal age of early twenties, just try and don’t delay pregnancy any longer – for a good reason (or rather for several good reasons)!

To expand on this, let the scene be set by excerpts from a review in a medical journal written already 10 years ago by a consultant in reproductive medicine (director of an assisted conception unit in London): “ABC of subfertility. Extent of the problem”, BMJ 2003 August 23; 327(7412): 434–436 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC188498/).

QUOTE: One in six couples [17%] have an unwanted delay in conception. Roughly half of these couples will conceive either spontaneously or with relatively simple advice or treatment.

Most couples presenting with a fertility problem do not have absolute infertility (that is, no chance of conception), but rather relative subfertility with a reduced chance of conception… so that only 4% remain involuntarily childless. As each couple has a substantial chance of conceiving without treatment, relating the potential benefit of treatment to their chances of conceiving naturally is important…  END QUOTE.

Encouraging (isn’t it?)

This is rather encouraging, isn’t it? The cited reproductive medicine specialist states further that spontaneous conception has about a 30% conception rate in the first month of trying, and the chance then falls steadily to about 5% by the end of the first year. Such statistical pronouncements are just that. The following citation is unarguably meaningful – and we do not gloss over the “timing of intercourse during the natural cycle”.

“The likelihood of spontaneous conception is affected by [= is dependent on] age, previous pregnancy, duration of subfertility, timing of intercourse during the natural cycle, extremes of body mass, and [any] pathology present. A reasonably high spontaneous pregnancy rate still occurs even after the first year of trying. A strong association exists between subfertility and increasing female age. The reduction in fertility is greatest in women in their late 30s and early 40s. For women aged 35-39 years the chance of conceiving spontaneously is about half that of women aged 19-26 years.” QUOTE UNQUOTE.

These things have been covered in the various earlier posts of this blog, with appropriate emphasis on said timing of intercourse during the natural menstrual cycle. That’s because, even if you did have a previous pregnancy and you do NOT have an extreme body mass and/or a pathology causing the difficulty to get pregnant, you (and anyone else) can only conceive during the short fertile period, the so-called fertile window.

… but: “Be a young mother!”

And, I go again as far as urging you, “Be a young mother!” As I said, this earnest recommendation is for a good reason. Because, in addition to what I have told you about before (e.g. in https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/the-perils-of-ivf-of-arts-of-giving-birth-at-old-age-part-2/ ), now see and grasp this:

Serious health consequences of delayed conception are beginning to appear in medical literature; that is, serious consequences for the mother, for the would-be mum.

For example, in a paper titled “Subfertility and risk of later life maternal cardiovascular disease” published in Hum. Reprod. 2012 Feb;27(2):568-75 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22131387). The authors gave this background: “Subfertility shares common pathways with cardiovascular disease (CVD), including polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS], obesity and thyroid disorders. Women with prior no or just one pregnancy are at an increased risk of incident CVD when compared with women with two pregnancies.”

They concluded that subfertility among women who eventually have a childbirth is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As if we all did not know that even without subfertility adding to it, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women [see http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Gender_matters_Heart_disease_risk_in_women.htm or literally millions of other web pages].

Anderle - Bestia triumphans II

Jiří Anderle / Jiri Anderle
Bestia triumphans II
lept, měkký kryt / etching, vernis mou
1984, opus 271, 65 x 95,5 cm
http://www.galerieart.cz/prodej_anderle_2.htm
For the “triumphant beast” and Giordano Bruno’s story see http://twitpic.com/8r5lyi

More reasons to prevent subfertility

But there is not just the cardiovascular risk, as if that were not enough! Concerns about cancer risk in connection with subfertility have been raised in medical literature already about a decade ago, such as in the paper “Cancer risk associated with subfertility and ovulation induction: a review” – published in Cancer Causes Control 2000 Apr;11(4):319-44 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10843444).

However, there “the only consistent association observed is an increased risk of endometrial cancer for women with subfertility due to hormonal disorders. While positive findings in some studies on fertility drugs and ovarian cancer risk have aroused serious concern, the associations observed in most of these reports appear to be due to bias or chance rather than being causal.”

So, as always, more investigations are needed but the health concern does not go away. The paper concluded: “To discriminate between the possible carcinogenic effects of various ovulation induction regimens, subfertility disorders, and reproductive characteristics associated with subfertility, future studies should include large populations of subfertile women with sufficient follow-up time.”

Well, the truth is that my purpose – and the purpose of bioZhena Corporation – is to make the population of subfertile women as small as possible, by helping every one of you to determine in every menstrual cycle the very narrow fertile window for your focused intercourse, the fundamental requirement for getting pregnant.

This fundamental requirement you already know, I trust. If not, explore the bioZhena’s Weblog for clarification (you can use Table of Contents at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/table-of-contents-links-to-biozhena-posts/ or try searching the blog by means of the widget in the margin on the home page, shown as Search bioZhena’s Weblog – enter keyword, hit Enter). It is frustrating that one of my recent blog pieces had to be on the subject of only the best that you can do for your fertility awareness in the absence of the Ovulona™ – because our Ovulona is not yet available to you due to our lack of financing (see https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/end-of-the-year-and-trying-to-get-pregnant/ ).

Anthropogenic, iatrogenic

Meanwhile, here is another medical-literature paper, this time about cancer risk of drugs that the healthcare industry uses to help women get pregnant – after helping women to prevent pregnancy with another (the big P) drug, the anthropogenic cause of what experts have called the epidemic of impaired fertility: “Ovulation inducing agents and cancer risk: review of literature” published in Curr Drug Saf. 2011 Sep 1;6(4):250-8 (find the abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129320).

The authors give the following summary: “Over the past decades, the use of ovulation inducing drugs has been increasing. A possible causal link between fertility treatments (especially [the widely used] clomiphene citrate and gonadotrophins) and various types of malignancies, including cancers of female reproductive system, thyroid cancer and melanoma, has been postulated. The majority of the available studies on this subject suffer from methodological limitations, including the small number of outcomes, short and incomplete follow-up, and inability to control for potential confounders.

Concerning ovarian cancer, while early studies led to the suggestion of an association between ovulation inducing agents and increased risk of malignancies, the majority of data do not support a causal link.

An increased risk was recently observed in women giving birth after in vitro fertilization (IVF), but it appeared to be consequential to the infertile status rather than the effect of fertility drugs. More controversial are the results concerning breast cancer with some investigations suggesting an increased risk after exposure to ovulation inducing agents, especially clomiphene citrate, whereas others not supporting this concept. A possible trend towards an increased risk has been reported by some authors for endometrial cancer.

Altogether, current data should be thus regarded as a signal for the need of further studies rather than being definitive in them.” END QUOTE.

After introduction of the anti-conception Pill

I must emphasize and impress on you the fact that subfertility and infertility became a societal problem of increasingly large proportions only after the introduction of the anti-conception Pill. “After 3 and up to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced.” The S crypts of the endocervical canal are needed for conception.

To further cite Professor Erik Odeblad : “Complications arising from the use of the Pill are very frequent. Infertility after its use for 7-15 years is a very serious problem. S crypts are very sensitive to normal and cyclical stimulation by natural estrogens, and the Pill causes atrophy of these crypts. Fertility is impaired since the movement of sperm cells up the canal is reduced. Treatment is difficult.”

You can find more on this in my earlier post, Difficult to conceive – Google evidence that pregnancy complications and trying-to-conceive concerns shot up after the Pill launch in 1960s. (Regardless of what contraceptive proponents tell you.)

MARINA RICHTEROVÁ - Golgota, Hommage a P. Bruegel, 1998 and The Juliet, 2000

MARINA RICHTEROVÁ – Golgota, Hommage a P. Bruegel, 1998 and The Juliet, 2000

(Picture from https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/the-perils-of-ivf-of-arts-of-giving-birth-at-old-age-part-2/marina-richterova-golgota-hommage-a-p-bruegel-1998-and-the-juliet-2000/ )

Ignored. Now, the consequences

I am reminded of an insight expressed on the floor of the US Congress after the Pill made a big impact on society in the 1960s. In 1970, Dr. Hugh J. Davies of Johns Hopkins University told the US Senate in the Nelson Hearings about the contraceptive Pill: “Never before in history have so many people taken such powerful medication with so little information as to its actual and potential risks. …With the introduction of such active ingredients, we are actually setting up a massive endocrinological experiment with millions of healthy women.”

Well, decades later we are reaping the consequences of the massive experiment. Said millions of healthy women are not quite so healthy, are they? It is high time to fix this man-made problem.

In an earlier post I wrote: Iatrogenic medicine kicking Hippocrates where it hurts the most. Was it in the blog piece last-linked above?

How baby-making late in life evolved into subfertility and infertility, difficult conception, too long TTC

December 28, 2012

Way back, in the pre-contraceptive Pill days, the difficulty to become pregnant was not a widespread phenomenon, and mums were  younger than many are nowadays. If you want to see graphical proof of how the phenomenon came about in the previous century, review the attached paper Google evidence of increasing prevalence of subfertility. Should you not be a subfertility or infertility sufferer, and therefore not familiar with the acronym, TTC stands for Trying To Conceive.

The evolution of subfertility and infertility (as a big-time societal phenomenon) in the U.S. can be summarized based on data from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005074.html#ixzz2GBMSkUKy  [Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc.] as follows.

In 1940, births to mothers over 29 years old (30 to 49) were apparently almost as numerous as births to mums of the optimal fertility age 20-24: The ratio of 30-49 years old to the optimal-age group was 0.91 [here referred to as ratio a) =  data for 30–34 plus 35–39 plus 40–44 plus 45–49, this sum divided by data for 20–24], and the number of births in the most fertile age group of mums represented 31% of all births in the U.S.

In case you did not check out the above-linked attachment https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/google-evidence-of-increasing-prevalence-of-subfertility.pdf : The high number of 1940 births to older mothers [high ratio a)] is not so surprising in view of the growing number of books on subfertility and infertility in the 1940s, as seen in the respective Google Ngrams shown here and discussed in the attached PDF paper.

Ngram 3: infertility and contraception

Ngram 3: infertility and contraception

In the present analysis of the historical birth rates, the age group of 25-29 is considered kind of neutral (neither optimal nor too old) whereas the 30-34 years old group is included among the too old ages for optimal fertility. This inclusion could be disputed – if we did not face the subfertility/infertility phenomenon, in which age is a significant factor. In any case, excluding the 30-34 age group from the aged-motherhood definition only delays the trend reversal – observed below in 1980 – by a decade.

I interject here a citation from the post referenced and linked at the end of this post, so that you’ll be well aware of the link between conception difficulties and advancing age, and of the adverse effect of the use of the Pill.

QUOTE: People have a hard time accepting that getting pregnant is not as easy as expected, when they finally decide to want a baby – usually way too late, and after her use of the Pill. The drug makes healthy young women in their best years to postpone family- and baby-making, it damages their cervical S-crypts thus causing difficulty to conceive and, by encouraging promiscuous sex life, it has caused an enormous increase in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases that also lead to infertility. Not just a double whammy, a triple whammy on womankind.  Sad, sad, sad. … Advanced age of the would-be Mum works against her on account of the Mother Nature’s Probabilistic Rules and Regulations of Baby-Making… END QUOTE.

An obgyn’s article on female subfertility in the Lancet invokes “two main factors that determine subfertility: duration of childlessness and age of the woman”. It is not likely that an obgyn would be as critical of the Pill as yours truly, although there have been exceptions. No further comment on this is needed or offered in this blog post. Instead, I share that another medical article from Britain reported that “the incidence of infertility was 0.9 couples per 1000 general population. The average age of women was 31 years, and the average time attempting conception was 18 months… At 12 months, 27% of all couples in the study achieved a pregnancy spontaneously and a further 9% with treatment.”

Here are the 1940 US birth statistics data from the referenced infoplease.com source:

Year

Total

Under 15

15–19

20–24

25–29

30–34

35–39

40–44

45–49

1940

2,558,647

3,865

332,667

799,537

693,268

431,468

222,015

68,269

7,558

And this is the calculation for the present analysis of the data:

a) 729,310/799,537 = 0.912

(ratio a is the sum of births to age groups from age 30 to age 49 divided by births to age group 20 – 24)

b) 799,537/2,558,647 =  0.312

(ratio b is births to age group 20 – 24 divided by total births in 1940)

By 1950 and 1960, the trend was good because ratio a) declined from 0.91 to 0.86 and then to 0.80 while the number of optimally aged young mothers rose slightly to 32% and then to 33.5%. These pre-Pill years were good years from this perspective, and the trend continued – even after the contraceptive Pill was introduced (in the 1960s), at least initially.

In 1970, there was a drop in the total number of births from the total of 1960 (4,257,850 births) and a dramatic drop in the number of births by aged mothers [ratio a) was 0.47] – and the births by the most fertile age group were up to 38% of all births. As though the contraceptive Pill worked in this sense (but only if we do not look at the significantly increased births by underage girls, especially the under 15)… Here is the 1970 data from the above source:

Year

Total

Under 15

15–19

20–24

25–29

30–34

35–39

40–44

45–49

1970

3,731,386

11,752

644,708

1,418,874

994,904

427,806

180,244

49,952

3,146

Unfortunately, in 1980 – that’s some 20 years after the Pill was introduced – the trend started to reverse while the total births continued to drop (and underage births dropped, too): Ratio a) of the number of aged mothers’ births to the most fertile age group’s births rose to 0.58 and births by the most fertile 20-24 year old mums represented now only 34% of total US births. The bad trend toward older-age motherhood continued.

By 1990, there were even more births to aging mothers than births to the most fertile age group, with ratio a) standing at 1.15 and the number of births to mothers of the optimal age group having dropped to a mere 26%.

The bad trend continued so that in 2000 advanced-age mothers exceeded the optimal-age group with ratio a) at 1.45, and with the optimally aged mums at 25% of total births. The trend continued further so that in 2009 advanced-age mothers exceeded the optimally aged mums by a factor of 1.53 [= ratio a)] and the optimal age group’s births dropped to 24% of total births. Data for 2009 are the most recent available data.

Tamara de Lempicka Quattrocento, 1937

Tamara de Lempicka Quattrocento, 1937

Is the difference between way back and now the reason for one other elevated readership statistic here on bioZhena’s Weblog? It is intriguing to see that during the months of the highest numbers of US births/deliveries (late summer and autumn, well before the year-end Holiday Season), a highly viewed post this year was the one published around the time of Mother’s Day: Why too many young and not so young ladies could NOT receive flowers on Mothers’ Day. Why so many trying-to-conceive, why so much infertility = https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/why-too-many-young-and-not-so-young-ladies-could-not-receive-flowers-on-mothers-day-why-so-many-trying-to-conceive-why-so-much-infertility/ Say thank you to the social and medical advances of the twentieth century – primarily those of chemical birth control, the Pill.

What do you think of all this?

End of the year, and trying to get pregnant

December 14, 2012

The best you can do for your fertility awareness and natural family planning in the absence of the Ovulona™ when you want to conceive a pregnancy. (Not valid for pregnancy avoidance.)

Now, at the end of the year, …

"...Josef Lada did far more than illustrate the Hasek's Good Soldier Svejk novel, and his idealized paintings of carol singers and family gatherings are, for many in this country, an enduring symbol of Czech Christmas." http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/josef-ladas-paintings-an-enduring-symbol-of-czech-christmas/pictures/obrazy/lada-josef/vanoce.jpg

“…Josef Lada did far more than illustrate the Hasek’s Good Soldier Svejk novel, and his idealized paintings of carol singers and family gatherings are, for many in this country, an enduring symbol of Czech Christmas.” http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/josef-ladas-paintings-an-enduring-symbol-of-czech-christmas/pictures/obrazy/lada-josef/vanoce.jpg

…the stat counters monitoring the visits to the posts of bioZhena’s Weblog show something that I want to share with you. Namely: The most visited blog posts at this time of the year are those addressing the issues involved in trying to conceive (the flip side of natural birth control). Those blog articles exhibit distinctly higher viewing statistics than the stats of the posts on other topics of reproductive health – whereby some of those topics exhibit a different seasonality of increased interest.

If you wish to put this in context and review the situation out there, outside of bioZhena’s Weblog, read the attached paper Google evidence of increasing prevalence of subfertility.

A couple of examples of the bioZhena’s Weblog titles most visited at this time of the year:

The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors = https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-fallacy-of-ovulation-calculators-calendars-and-circulating-hormone-detectors/ Don’t let them lead you by the nose with likely this and probable that! You need to know for sure.

Critique of birth control efficacies in NFP as published by Marquette University researchers = https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/critique-of-birth-control-efficacies-in-nfp-as-published-by-marquette-university-researchers/ Comments on a report of two studies http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/cmr_winter-spring09.pdf – they report on what we will call peri-ovulation methodologies.

Some women email me, while some “like” certain Ovulona pages or bioZhena’s Weblog posts.

Citing from one such email: “I am a 41 year old nulliparous woman in good health (with a few minor issues). I have been TTC for 1 year without success and came across Ovulona by accident during a Google search for how to optimise my fertility.”  TTC stands for Trying To Conceive, a standard acronym in the community of sub-fertility sufferers. Or even infertility sufferers – those who have not conceived while trying for longer than a year. (Re: Medical definitions of sub-fertility and infertility.) Nulliparous means no children, medical adjective for women having no previous births.

You know, my dear reader, that the optimal age for conception and motherhood is 20 to 24 years, after which fertility starts declining, and it drops a lot after 35 years of age. Should this be news to you, read The perils of IVF, of ARTs, of giving birth at old maternal age . “About epigenetic evidence that should make you think twice+ before you contemplate In Vitro Fertilization and think that having a baby can wait. The bottom line? Be a young mother!”

And from another reader’s email: “Please let me know if there is any way to buy an Ovulona or to use one for trial purposes.”

In response, I can only explain – apologetically, suppressing frustration – that we do not have any Ovulona units available because we have not yet manufactured the marketable product, due to lack of capital. Then, attempting a little more positive note, I remind the would-be Mums about what some experts call “focused intercourse” – that is focusing on trying to hit the fertile window. In the absence of the Ovulona, this must be done preferably with more than one of the several available methods (several, because they are unreliable, inaccurate – don’t rely on any one of them alone). And I urge you to also avoid stress…

Although the old imperfect methods (including instrumental monitoring of urine samples and/or of the BBT) give only inaccurate estimates, they should help to focus on the right time when the probability of conception exists. Outside of the fertile window you don’t have a chance to conceive.

Here is to illustrate two such imperfect methods in comparison with ours (where our Ovulona not only anticipates but also detects ovulation, which detection is all important): https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/cervix-uteri-and-seven-or-eight-related-things/marquette-comparison-with-lh-kit-and-peak-mucus-2/ .

In this record of a 42-years old woman, our device detected delayed ovulation on cycle day 17, while two other methods estimated ovulation from day 16 to day 18. This lack of precision and accuracy is not at all good for natural birth control and/or for trying to achieve fetal gender pre-selection (= trying to conceive either a boy or a girl). But, with such inaccurate methods, which are available now before we bring the Ovulona into the market, you can see here that you might be fortunate and hit on at least a part of the fertile window. In this example, the LH-indicated days 16 and 17 were fertile days because the sperm are viable for about 3 days. Perhaps even day 18 may have been a fertile day, if the ovum (egg) lived long enough, and depending on when exactly on day 17 the detected ovulation occurred. Such uncertainties will be removed by properly designed experiments with the Ovulona.

In this record of a 42-years old woman, our device detected delayed ovulation on cycle day 17, while two other methods estimated ovulation from day 16 to day 18. This lack of precision and accuracy is not at all good for natural birth control and/or for trying to achieve fetal gender pre-selection (= trying to conceive specifically a boy or specifically a girl). But, with such inaccurate methods, which are available now before we bring the Ovulona into the market, you can see here that you might be fortunate and hit on at least a part of the fertile window. In this example (because of the ovulation delay), the LH-indicated days 16 and 17 were fertile days because the sperm are viable for about 3 days. Perhaps even day 18 may have been a fertile day, if the ovum (egg) lived long enough, and depending on when exactly on day 17 the detected ovulation occurred (morning or evening?). Such uncertainties will be removed by properly designed experiments with the properly designed Ovulona.

This record from a comparative study shows how the old ovulation prediction methods are unreliable, because the two used here predicted ovulation for 3 different days – but the record may also serve to illustrate for you that (and how) you may be lucky and hit at least one of the fertile days. Here, in this record, ovulation was detected – not merely anticipated – by the Ovulona prototype. It was detected on the day of the second urinary LH indication, which is here one day before the esoteric Peak mucus of NFP aficionados; they did not use the BBT in this study. None of the old techniques detects ovulation: they predict it or, in the case of the BBT, indicate that ovulation has occurred.

There are only 3 days in each menstrual cycle during which pregnancy can occur, and it will if you are fortunate. The 3 fertile days are the day of ovulation plus the two days immediately before ovulation.

I’ll now write a long sentence full of the word “trying”, with several connotations. Repeat after me (and grasp what follows): Trying to determine the 3 days of the fertile window without the Ovulona is pretty much impossible, but trying for it – or at least some of it – is better than trying completely in the dark.

That’s because the 3-day fertile window varies, it does not stay put on certain days of the menstrual cycle from one cycle to the next. Check out this earlier bioZhena post for evidence that this is so. See evidence generated by other experts years or rather decades ago – when they hoped that microcomputer-assisted basal body temperature [BBT] monitoring would solve the problem.

From a graph such as the one above, it is evident that to determine the fertile days before ovulation is more difficult than estimating the last fertile day, which is the day of ovulation. This difficulty is a well recognized fact, and it’s not a matter of whether ovulation is or is not delayed by stress of one kind or another. The stress-caused delay (or even complete suppression) of ovulation is one of the things that complicate management of reproductive life.

Now for the encouragement: Maybe, the idea of not being completely at the mercy of chance when trying to conceive a baby, might even help you to be less stressed out about it at a time when celebrating the end of the year (and looking back and looking forward – along with all that Christmas rush) leads to an increased level of stress anyway.

Josef Lada’s idyllic take on Christmas activities in the countryside and in the city, that is to say, in Czechoslovak towns of his day. There, a fish meal on Christmas Eve was and still is one of the traditions, although the country is now two (and good friends). The fishy thing was apparently based on the belief that fish scales symbolize the prospect of money next year to the eater. Maybe some of us should not have turned our nose up about this fish thing… Then the capital for the Ovulona might not have been so slow in coming! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Josef Lada’s idyllic take on Christmas activities in the countryside and in the city, that is to say, in Czechoslovak towns of his day. There, a fish meal on Christmas Eve was and still is one of the traditions, although the country is now two (and good friends). The fishy thing was apparently based on the belief that fish scales symbolize the prospect of money next year to the eater. Maybe some of us should not have turned our nose up about this fish thing… Then the capital for the Ovulona might not have been so slow coming! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Perhaps the focus idea may help you not to be stressed out about the thing which is supposed to be pleasurable and not a chore. Suppose that between now and some time in January/February (in the course of the long winter evenings, “za dlouhych zimnich veceru”) you’ll get your focusing organized. You surely will get over the holidays, too… Then, with a bit of happiness, relaxation and luck, come next October you will have the kind of happiness you wish for! And you’ll thus contribute to the birth/delivery statistics for October…

Josef Lada's calendar illustration for October (c. 1940s)

Josef Lada’s calendar illustration for October (c. 1940s)

In this picture, Josef Lada illustrated, long time ago, the characteristics of the month of October. Among them is the rut of the elk, which had given the month its name in the artist’s language. Way back, in those days – the pre-contraceptive Pill days, years and centuries – the difficulty to become pregnant was not a widespread phenomenon, and Mums were  younger than many are nowadays.

The evolution of subfertility and infertility (as a big-time societal phenomenon) in the U.S. is summarized based on data from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005074.html#ixzz2GBMSkUKy  [Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc.] in the next post.

What is the mechanism of stress and how does it affect reproduction. An update. And: Be a young mother!

May 28, 2012

Ovulona™-related published scientific findings by others about disruption of fertility, about PCOS or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, how stress suppresses ovulation, about the hypothalamic amenorrhea of stress and postpartum blues/depression, about a CRH placental clock which determines the length of gestation and the timing of parturition and delivery, and the role of CRH in premature labor. How old age affects folliculogenesis as a stressor. Even how acute stress may induce ovulation in women.

This is an update in May 2012 on scientific literature reviewed in biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/27/   For an easier read (as opposed to the excerpts from scientific papers) you may want to go to Stress and Your Fertility at http://natural-fertility-info.com/stress-and-your-fertility.html but Hethir’s article does not refer to the Ovulona™. It simply tells you that stress has a negative effect on your chances of getting pregnant.

Unlike in the 2007 blog post, in the present update I share the complete abstracts of publications, pointing out in the abstracts certain details by bold font highlighting. On occasion I also point out in bold italics after the given abstract how the paper relates to the bioZhena project and the Ovulona™ personal monitor.

First, here is a summary of my comments on the relationship of given papers to the bioZhena project, along with some details excerpted from the abstracts. Search result item numbers are indicated – so you can correlate this summary with the full abstracts and references shown below.

Item 16:

This paper is suggestive of the prospective diagnostically beneficial use of the Ovulona™ in the management of PCOS [Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome], expected to be possible due to PCOS-caused alteration of the cyclic profile (detected via the exocervix, as the cervix monitors the integrated effects of all the hormones).

… effect is mediated by the hypothalamus, as evidenced by similar LH release in response to exogenous GnRH. This may represent the physiological condition that underlies ovarian follicular cysts.

Item 22.-related:

By emphasizing the critical timing of stress, this paper points by implication at the importance of routine Ovulona monitoring of Folliculogenesis In Vivo™, particularly  for assisting women who have difficulty to conceive but also for those practicing natural birth control. In either case, detecting any delay of ovulation is crucial.

The effects of stress on reproduction depend on the critical timing of stress, the genetic predisposition to stress, and the type of stress. The effect of stress on reproduction is also influenced by the duration of the responses induced by various stressors. Prolonged or chronic stress usually results in inhibition of reproduction, while the effects of transient or acute stress in certain cases is stimulatory…

Item 43:

This paper is related to our finding of delayed ovulation in some of the experimental subjects of two pilot studies of Ovulona™ prototypes – an important and unique feature of the Ovulona monitor, considering our way of life, full as it is of stress and not only stress of the psychological kind.

… findings support the hypothesis that stress-like increments in plasma cortisol [= increasing amounts of cortisol in blood] interfere with the follicular phase by suppressing the development of high frequency LH pulses, which compromises timely expression of the preovulatory estradiol rise and LH and FSH surges.

Item 67:

Again, the listed paper is related to the PCOS problem, as is the next publication.

A follicle becomes cystic when it fails to ovulate and persists on the ovary. Secretion of GnRH/LH from the hypothalamus-pituitary is aberrant, which is attributed to insensitivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary to the positive feedback effect of oestrogens. Altered metabolite and hormone concentrations may influence follicle growth and cyst development.

You will see below, in the full abstracts of the papers, that the reported experiments could not be performed with human subjects, and the last two abstracts selected from the veterinary literature search state the following.

Item 101:

Imposition of an experimental stressor suppresses GnRH/LH pulse frequency and amplitude. It is not yet clear whether delays in the surge are caused by interruption of the oestradiol signal-reading phase, the signal transmission phase or GnRH surge release. [Note: oestradiol is British spelling of estradiol, the most predominant form of estrogen.]

Item 102:

Glucocorticoids are vital to many aspects of normal brain development, but fetal exposure to superabundant glucocorticoids can result in life-long effects on neuroendocrine function. … Precise levels of glucocorticoids are required for proper gonadal function; where the balance is disrupted, so is fertility.

What follows now is an analogous summary of the subsequent search on human (as opposed to animal) female fertility and stress.

Reviewing the few full abstracts with references, below, is highly recommended.

Item 3:

… These effects are responsible for the “hypothalamic” amenorrhea of stress, which is observed in anxiety and depression, malnutrition, eating disorders and chronic excessive exercise, and the hypogonadism of the Cushing syndrome. … Reproductive corticotropin-releasing hormone is regulating [those] reproductive functions [that have] an inflammatory component, such as ovulation, luteolysis, decidualization, implantation, and early maternal tolerance. … Postpartum, this hypercortisolism is followed by a transient adrenal suppression, which may explain the blues/depression and increased autoimmune phenomena observed during this period.

Item 3.-related:

Acute stress may induce ovulation in women. … acute-stress-induced release of LH is found under relatively high plasma levels of estradiol. … Women may be induced to ovulate at any point of the menstrual cycle or even during periods of amenorrhea associated with pregnancy and lactation if exposed to an appropriate acute stressor under a right estradiol environment.

Item related to the above:

The stress system has suppressive effects on female and male reproductive function. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), the principal regulator of stress, has been identified in the female and male reproductive system. … It has been suggested that there is a “CRH placental clock” which determines the length of gestation and the timing of parturition and delivery. … animal studies to elucidate the role of CRH in… premature labor.

Two literature search results – whereby I consider old age to be a stressor – are noted (with only certain excerpts from the abstracts) at the end of the post, consistent with the previously proposed motto: Be a young mother!

Hints for why – WHY TO BE A YOUNG MOTHER (besides coping more easily with other stressors) – cited from said two papers:

#1. Impaired folliculogenesis and ovulation in older reproductive-age women.

#2. Women in their 20s and 30s should be counselled about the age-related risk of infertility when other reproductive health issues, such as sexual health or contraception, are addressed as part of their primary well-woman care. Reproductive-age women should be aware that natural fertility and assisted reproductive technology success (except with egg donation) is significantly lower for women in their late 30s and 40s. Women should be informed that the risk of spontaneous pregnancy loss and chromosomal abnormalities increases with age. END OF QUOTE.

Literature search was initially performed as Related Articles for http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=Link&LinkName=pubmed_pubmed&from_uid=10844239  = What is stress, and how does it affect reproduction?

Dobson H, Smith RF. Anim Reprod Sci. 2000 Jul 2;60-61:743-52. Review.

PMID: 10844239 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Related citations

Selecting articles more recent than 2000 (search result numbers indicated). Most of these articles – in the initial search – are reports about animal models. (The reported work is obviously also for the benefit of agribusiness – for its reproduction-dependent profitability.)

16.

An alteration in the hypothalamic action of estradiol due to lack of progesterone exposure can cause follicular cysts in cattle.

PMID: 12021048 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Article

Related citations

Biol Reprod. 2002 Jun;66(6):1689-95.

An alteration in the hypothalamic action of estradiol due to lack of progesterone exposure can cause follicular cysts in cattle.

Gümen A, Wiltbank MC.

Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.

Abstract

Many mammals, including cattle, can develop ovarian follicular cysts, but the physiological mechanisms leading to this condition remain undefined. We hypothesized that follicular cysts can develop because estradiol will induce a GnRH/LH surge on one occasion but progesterone exposure is required before another GnRH/LH surge can be induced by estradiol. In experiment 1, 14 cows were synchronized with an intravaginal progesterone insert (IPI) for 7 days, and prostaglandin F(2alpha) was given on the day of IPI removal. Estradiol benzoate (EB; 5 mg i.m.) was given 3 days before IPI removal to induce atresia of follicles. Cows were given a second EB treatment 1 day after IPI removal to induce a GnRH/LH surge in the absence of an ovulatory follicle. All cows had an LH surge following the second EB treatment, and 10 of 14 cows developed a large-follicle anovulatory condition (LFAC) that resembled follicular cysts. These LFAC cows were given a third EB treatment 15 days later, and none of the cows had an LH surge or ovulation. Cows were then either not treated (control, n = 5) or treated for 7 days with an IPI (n = 5) starting 7 days after the third EB injection. Cows were treated for a fourth time with 5 mg of EB 12 h after IPI removal. All IPI-treated, but no control, cows had an LH surge and ovulated in response to the estradiol challenge. In experiment 2, cows were induced to LFAC as in experiment 1 and were then randomly assigned to one of four treatments 1) IPI + EB, 2) IPI + GnRH (100 microg), 3) control + EB, and 4) control + GnRH. Control and IPI-treated cows had a similar LH surge and ovulation when treated with GnRH. In contrast, only IPI-treated cows had an LH surge following EB treatment. Thus, an initial GnRH/LH surge can be induced with high estradiol, but estradiol induction of a subsequent GnRH/LH surge requires exposure to progesterone. This effect is mediated by the hypothalamus, as evidenced by similar LH release in response to exogenous GnRH. This may represent the physiological condition that underlies ovarian follicular cysts.

This paper is suggestive of the prospective diagnostically beneficial use of the Ovulona™ in the management of PCOS [Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome] due to PCOS-caused distortion of the cyclic profile.

Sue Coe - Feed Lot, 1991, stone lithograph

Sue Coe – Feed Lot, 1991, stone lithograph
http://www.graphicwitness.org/coe/feedlot.jpg

22.-related (found as a related article of a related article)

Acta Vet Scand. 2008 Dec 10;50:48.

Stress and its influence on reproduction in pigs: a review.

Einarsson S, Brandt Y, Lundeheim N, Madej A.

PMID: 19077201 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free PMC Article

Division of Reproduction, Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7054, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden. stig.einarsson@kv.slu.se

Abstract

The manifestations of stress, defined as a biological response to an event that the individual perceives as a threat to its homeostasis, are commonly linked to enhanced activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the activation of the sympathetic adreno-medullary (SA) system. Activation of the HPA system results in the secretion of peptides from the hypothalamus, principally corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and beta-endorphin. ACTH induces the secretion of corticosteroids from the adrenal cortex, which can be seen in pigs exposed to acute physical and/or psychological stressors. The present paper is a review of studies on the influence of stressors on reproduction in pigs. The effects of stress on reproduction depend on the critical timing of stress, the genetic predisposition to stress, and the type of stress. The effect of stress on reproduction is also influenced by the duration of the responses induced by various stressors. Prolonged or chronic stress usually results in inhibition of reproduction, while the effects of transient or acute stress in certain cases is stimulatory (e.g. anoestrus), but in most cases is of impairment for reproduction. Most sensitive of the reproductive process are ovulation, expression of sexual behaviour and implantation of the embryo, since they are directly controlled by the neuroendocrine system.

This paper suggests the importance of routine monitoring of Folliculogenesis In Vivo™ for assisting women who have difficulty to conceive.

43.

Endocrine basis for disruptive effects of cortisol on preovulatory events.

PMID: 15625239 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Article

Related citations

Endocrinology. 2005 Apr;146(4):2107-15. Epub 2004 Dec 29.

Endocrine basis for disruptive effects of cortisol on preovulatory events.

Breen KM, Billings HJ, Wagenmaker ER, Wessinger EW, Karsch FJ.

Reproductive Sciences Program, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls Building, Room 1101 SW, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0404, USA. breenk@umich.edu

Abstract

Stress activates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis leading to enhanced glucocorticoid secretion and concurrently inhibits gonadotropin secretion and disrupts ovarian cyclicity. Here we tested the hypothesis that stress-like concentrations of cortisol interfere with follicular phase endocrine events of the ewe by suppressing pulsatile LH secretion, which is essential for subsequent steps in the preovulatory sequence. Cortisol was infused during the early to midfollicular phase, elevating plasma cortisol concentrations to one third, one half, or the maximal value induced by isolation, a commonly used model of psychosocial stress. All cortisol treatments compromised at least some aspect of reproductive hormone secretion in follicular phase ewes. First, cortisol significantly suppressed LH pulse frequency by as much as 35%, thus attenuating the high frequency LH pulses typical of the preovulatory period. Second, cortisol interfered with timely generation of the follicular phase estradiol rise, either preventing it or delaying the estradiol peak by as much as 20 h. Third, cortisol delayed or blocked the preovulatory LH and FSH surges. Collectively, our findings support the hypothesis that stress-like increments in plasma cortisol interfere with the follicular phase by suppressing the development of high frequency LH pulses, which compromises timely expression of the preovulatory estradiol rise and LH and FSH surges. Moreover, the suppression of LH pulse frequency provides indirect evidence that cortisol acts centrally to suppress pulsatile GnRH secretion in follicular-phase ewes.

This paper is related to our finding of delayed ovulation in some of the experimental subjects of two pilot studies of Ovulona™ prototypes.

Steroids

67.

Aetiology and pathogenesis of cystic ovarian follicles in dairy cattle: a review.

Vanholder T, Opsomer G, de Kruif A.

Reprod Nutr Dev. 2006 Mar-Apr;46(2):105-19. Epub 2006 Apr 6. Review.

PMID: 16597418 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Article

Related citations

Reprod Nutr Dev. 2006 Mar-Apr;46(2):105-19. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Aetiology and pathogenesis of cystic ovarian follicles in dairy cattle: a review.

Vanholder T, Opsomer G, de Kruif A.

Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.

Abstract

Cystic ovarian follicles (COF) are an important ovarian dysfunction and a major cause of reproductive failure in dairy cattle. Due to the complexity of the disorder and the heterogeneity of the clinical signs, a clear definition is lacking. A follicle becomes cystic when it fails to ovulate and persists on the ovary. Despite an abundance of literature on the subject, the exact pathogenesis of COF is unclear. It is generally accepted that disruption of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis, by endogenous and/or exogenous factors, causes cyst formation. Secretion of GnRH/LH from the hypothalamus-pituitary is aberrant, which is attributed to insensitivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary to the positive feedback effect of oestrogens. In addition, several factors can influence GnRH/LH release at the hypothalamo-pituitary level. At the ovarian level, cellular and molecular changes in the growing follicle may contribute to anovulation and cyst formation, but studying follicular changes prior to cyst formation remains extremely difficult. Differences in receptor expression between COF and dominant follicles may be an indication of the pathways involved in cyst formation. The genotypic and phenotypic link of COF with milk yield may be attributed to negative energy balance and the associated metabolic and hormonal adaptations. Altered metabolite and hormone concentrations may influence follicle growth and cyst development, both at the level of the hypothalamus-pituitary and the ovarian level.

Again, the paper is related to the PCOS problem, as is the next publication.

67.-related (found as a related article)

Formation of follicular cysts in cattle and therapeutic effects of controlled internal drug release. [J Reprod Dev. 2006]

J Reprod Dev. 2006 Feb;52(1):1-11.

Formation of follicular cysts in cattle and therapeutic effects of controlled internal drug release.

Todoroki J, Kaneko H.

Kimotsuki Livestock Hygiene Service Center, Kanoya, Kagoshima, Japan.

Abstract

Follicular cysts in cattle result from excessive growth of the dominant follicle without ovulation and still constitute a major reproductive disorder in this species. One key hormonal characteristic of cows with follicular cysts is the lack of an LH surge, although they have increased plasma estradiol concentrations. Another is a relatively high level of pulsatile secretion of LH that promotes continued growth of the dominant follicle. These LH characteristics seem to result from a functional abnormality in the feedback regulation of LH secretion by estradiol. Treatment with controlled internal drug release devices that increase circulating progesterone levels is effective in resolving follicular cystic conditions by 1) lowering pulsatile LH secretion and 2) restoring the ability of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis to generate an LH surge in response to an increase in circulating estradiol.

PMID: 16538030 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free full text

101.

Effects of stress on reproduction in ewes.

Dobson H, Fergani C, Routly JE, Smith RF.

Anim Reprod Sci. 2012 Feb;130(3-4):135-40. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

PMID: 22325927 [PubMed – in process]

Related citations

Anim Reprod Sci. 2012 Feb;130(3-4):135-40. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Effects of stress on reproduction in ewes.

Dobson H, Fergani C, Routly JE, Smith RF.

School of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Wirral, United Kingdom. hdobson@liv.ac.uk

Abstract

Stressors, such as poor body condition, adverse temperatures or even common management procedures (e.g., transport or shearing) suppress normal oestrus behaviour and reduce ewe fertility. All these events are co-ordinated by endocrine interactions, which are disrupted in stressful situations. This disruption is usually temporary in adult ewes, so that, when prevailing conditions improve, normal fertility would resume. Imposition of an experimental stressor (shearing, transport, isolation from other sheep, injection of endotoxin or insulin or cortisol infusion) suppresses GnRH/LH pulse frequency and amplitude. Part of the cause is at the pituitary, but effects on GnRH/LH pulse frequency and the GnRH/LH surge are mediated via the hypothalamus. It is not yet clear whether delays in the surge are caused by interruption of the oestradiol signal-reading phase, the signal transmission phase or GnRH surge release. Stressors also delay the onset of behaviour, sometimes distancing this from the onset of the pre-ovulatory LH surge. This could have deleterious consequences for fertility.

CAPT. AJIT VADAKAYIL's two images of stressed out women

CAPT. AJIT VADAKAYIL’s two images of stressed out women
Via Google search on “stressed woman in modern art painting”
These two images are from Ship Captain Ajit Vadakayil
http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.com/2011/02/modern-abstract-art-and-picasso-capt.html
Original sources:
Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso (1937)
http://www.inminds.com/weeping-woman-picasso-1937.html
and
untitled file saved as AASHIK+1+001.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NijqSqXo2Tw/TVkVQkpCmII/AAAAAAAADcU/rzleByUNJfg/s1600/AASHIK+1+001.jpg

102.

Glucocorticoids, stress, and fertility.

Whirledge S, Cidlowski JA.

Minerva Endocrinol. 2010 Jun;35(2):109-25. Review.

PMID: 20595939 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Minerva Endocrinol. 2010 Jun;35(2):109-25.

Glucocorticoids, stress, and fertility.

Whirledge S, Cidlowski JA.

Laboratory of Signal Transduction, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health/DHHS, Research Triangle Park, Durham, NC 27709, USA.

Abstract

Modifications of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and associated changes in circulating levels of glucocorticoids form a key component of the response of an organism to stressful challenges. Increased levels of glucocorticoids promote gluconeogenesis, mobilization of amino acids, and stimulation of fat breakdown to maintain circulating levels of glucose necessary to mount a stress response. In addition to profound changes in the physiology and function of multiple tissues, stress and elevated glucocorticoids can also inhibit reproduction, a logical effect for the survival of self. Precise levels of glucocorticoids are required for proper gonadal function; where the balance is disrupted, so is fertility. Glucocorticoids affect gonadal function at multiple levels in hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis: 1) the hypothalamus (to decrease the synthesis and release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone [GnRH]); 2) the pituitary gland (to inhibit the synthesis and release of luteinizing hormone [LH] and follicle stimulating hormone [FSH]); 3) the testis/ovary (to modulate steroidogenesis and/or gametogenesis directly). Furthermore, maternal exposure to prenatal stress or exogenous glucocorticoids can lead to permanent modification of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal function and stress-related behaviors in offspring. Glucocorticoids are vital to many aspects of normal brain development, but fetal exposure to superabundant glucocorticoids can result in life-long effects on neuroendocrine function. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms believed to mediate glucocorticoid inhibition of reproductive functions and the anatomical sites at which these effects take place.

At this point, let’s change the search tactics, by looking at Related Citations for this last one, which is clearly about human (as opposed to animal) female fertility and stress: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&DbFrom=pubmed&Cmd=Link&LinkName=pubmed_pubmed&IdsFromResult=20595939

3.

Stress and the female reproductive system.

Kalantaridou SN, Makrigiannakis A, Zoumakis E, Chrousos GP.

J Reprod Immunol. 2004 Jun;62(1-2):61-8. Review.

PMID: 15288182 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

J Reprod Immunol. 2004 Jun;62(1-2):61-8.

Stress and the female reproductive system.

Kalantaridou SN, Makrigiannakis A, Zoumakis E, Chrousos GP.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, University of Ioannina, School of Medicine, Panepistimiou Avenue, 45500 Ioannina, Greece.

Abstract

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, when activated by stress, exerts an inhibitory effect on the female reproductive system. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) inhibits hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion, and glucocorticoids inhibit pituitary luteinizing hormone and ovarian estrogen and progesterone secretion. These effects are responsible for the “hypothalamic” amenorrhea of stress, which is observed in anxiety and depression, malnutrition, eating disorders and chronic excessive exercise, and the hypogonadism of the Cushing syndrome. In addition, corticotropin-releasing hormone and its receptors have been identified in most female reproductive tissues, including the ovary, uterus, and placenta. Furthermore, corticotropin-releasing hormone is secreted in peripheral inflammatory sites where it exerts inflammatory actions. Reproductive corticotropin-releasing hormone is regulating [those] reproductive functions [that have] an inflammatory component, such as ovulation, luteolysis, decidualization, implantation, and early maternal tolerance. Placental CRH participates in the physiology of pregnancy and the onset of labor. Circulating placental CRH is responsible for the physiologic hypercortisolism of the latter half of pregnancy. Postpartum, this hypercortisolism is followed by a transient adrenal suppression, which may explain the blues/depression and increased autoimmune phenomena observed during this period.

3.-related (found as Cited by 7 PubMed Central articles)

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2010 May 26;8:53.

Acute stress may induce ovulation in women.

Tarín JJ, Hamatani T, Cano A.

Department of Functional Biology and Physical Anthropology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Valencia, Burjassot, Valencia 46100, Spain. tarinjj@uv.es

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This study aims to gather information either supporting or rejecting the hypothesis that acute stress may induce ovulation in women. The formulation of this hypothesis is based on 2 facts: 1) estrogen-primed postmenopausal or ovariectomized women display an adrenal-progesterone-induced ovulatory-like luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in response to exogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) administration; and 2) women display multiple follicular waves during an interovulatory interval, and likely during pregnancy and lactation. Thus, acute stress may induce ovulation in women displaying appropriate serum levels of estradiol and one or more follicles large enough to respond to a non-midcycle LH surge.

METHODS:

A literature search using the PubMed database was performed to identify articles up to January 2010 focusing mainly on women as well as on rats and rhesus monkeys as animal models of interaction between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes.

RESULTS:

Whereas the HPA axis exhibits positive responses in practically all phases of the ovarian cycle, acute-stress-induced release of LH is found under relatively high plasma levels of estradiol. However, there are studies suggesting that several types of acute stress may exert different effects on pituitary LH release and the steroid environment may modulate in a different way (inhibiting or stimulating) the pattern of response of the HPG axis elicited by acute stressors.

CONCLUSION:

Women may be induced to ovulate at any point of the menstrual cycle or even during periods of amenorrhea associated with pregnancy and lactation if exposed to an appropriate acute stressor under a right estradiol environment.

PMID: 20504303 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID: PMC2890612

Free PMC Article

The above-related (found via their Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Dec;1092:310-8 abstract titled “Reproductive” corticotropin-releasing hormone).

J Reprod Immunol. 2010 May;85(1):33-9.

Corticotropin-releasing hormone, stress and human reproduction: an update.

Kalantaridou SN, Zoumakis E, Makrigiannakis A, Lavasidis LG, Vrekoussis T, Chrousos GP.

Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ioannina Medical School, Ioannina, Greece. Sophia_Kalantaridou@hotmail.com

Abstract

The stress system has suppressive effects on female and male reproductive function. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), the principal regulator of stress, has been identified in the female and male reproductive system. Reproductive CRH participates in various reproductive functions that have an inflammatory component, where it serves as an autocrine and paracrine modulator. These include ovarian and endometrial CRH, which may participate in the regulation of steroidogenesis and the inflammatory processes of the ovary (ovulation and luteolysis) and the endometrium (decidualization and blastocyst implantation) and placental CRH, which is secreted mostly during the latter half of pregnancy and is responsible for the onset of labor. It has been suggested that there is a “CRH placental clock” which determines the length of gestation and the timing of parturition and delivery. The potential use of CRH-antagonists is presently under intense investigation. CRH-R1 antagonists have been used in animal studies to elucidate the role of CRH in blastocyst implantation and invasion, early fetal immunotolerance and premature labor. The present review article focuses on the potential roles of CRH on the physiology and pathophysiology of reproduction and highlights its participation in crucial steps of pregnancy, such as implantation, fetal immune tolerance, parturition and fetal programming of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 20412987 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

NOTA BENE or NOTE WELL: Chancy search result #1 (in our book, old age is a stressor):

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Nov;88(11):5502-9.

Impaired folliculogenesis and ovulation in older reproductive aged women.

Santoro N et al.

… to test the hypothesis that older reproductive age [ORA >or= 45 yr old] women ovulate at a smaller follicle diameter and are more likely to produce multiple follicles during their menstrual cycle compared with mid-reproductive age [MRA 22-34 yr old] women. … ORA women were twice as likely to have multiple follicles as younger women. … grossly abnormal hormonal patterns were observed in some of the ORA women’s cycles. Other cycles demonstrated a failure of folliculogenesis. ORA women ovulated at a smaller mean follicle diameter … than younger women.

NOTA BENE or NOTE WELL: Chancy search result #2 (old age being a stressor):

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2011 Nov;33(11):1165-75.

Advanced reproductive age and fertility.

Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee; Family Physicians Advisory Committee; Maternal-Fetal Medicine Committee; Executive and Council of the Society of Obstetricians, Liu K, Case A.

Recommendations (excerpted from Abstract):

1. Women in their 20s and 30s should be counselled about the age-related risk of infertility when other reproductive health issues, such as sexual health or contraception, are addressed as part of their primary well-woman care. Reproductive-age women should be aware that natural fertility and assisted reproductive technology success (except with egg donation) is significantly lower for women in their late 30s and 40s.

2. Because of the decline in fertility and the increased time to conception that occurs after the age of 35, women > 35 years of age should be referred for infertility work-up after 6 months of trying to conceive.

5. Pregnancy rates for controlled ovarian hyperstimulation are low for women > 40 years of age.

6. The only effective treatment for ovarian aging is oocyte donation. A woman with decreased ovarian reserve should be offered oocyte donation as an option, as pregnancy rates associated with this treatment are significantly higher than those associated with controlled ovarian hyperstimulation or in vitro fertilization with a woman’s own eggs.

7. Women should be informed that the risk of spontaneous pregnancy loss and chromosomal abnormalities increases with age. Women should be counselled about and offered appropriate prenatal screening once pregnancy is established.

8. Pre-conception counselling regarding the risks of pregnancy with advanced maternal age, promotion of optimal health and weight, and screening for concurrent medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes should be considered for women > age 40.

9. Advanced paternal age appears to be associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and increased frequency of some autosomal dominant conditions, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia. Men > age 40 and their partners should be counselled about these potential risks when they are seeking pregnancy, although the risks remain small.

Durer's Wife Agnes by Albrecht Durer, about 1494

Durer’s Wife Agnes by Albrecht Durer, about 1494
http://www.albrecht-durer.org/Durer%27s-Wife-Agnes.html

Although this literature search update is not necessarily complete, the blog post has grown long enough, so we better stop here. Enough food for thought for now… Don’t let all this stress you out! Just keep in mind: Be a young mother!

Oh, and do tell Uncle Rockefeller that Auntie Katharine (McCormick) made a little Big Mistake when she put her bets on chemistry and Cousin Margaret’s “magic pill”. Or is it the other Uncle that you are barbecuing with in Omaha, this Memorial Day?

The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors

February 13, 2012

Don’t let them lead you by the nose with likely this and probable that! You need to know for sure.

When it comes to the crucial timing of ovulation, it is astonishing to see the fallacies and delusions propagated on the web – and that this includes even certain generally respected mainstream sources. How they declare, for example: If you’re trying to get pregnant, use this tool to find out when you likely ovulate and are most fertile.

Never mind that “most fertile” makes absolutely no sense because there is no such thing as a little fertile, more fertile and most fertile!

Ladies (and teenage young ladies included!), you either are fertile today or you are not: You either can conceive today or not.

It is either or.

You either are fertile today or you are not. It is not a little bit fertile, or more fertile, or most fertile. Like, you cannot be a little bit pregnant… you either are, or you are not.

Besides which, if you want to conceive a pregnancy, you must know with certainty that ovulation happens when you try to conceive – not merely that it is likely to happen. Unless you are reproductively ill or menopausal, it is always likely to happen at some point but the mere likelihood is not very helpful. Conception absolutely requires ovulation so that the released (ovulated) egg has a chance to be fertilized.

You must have a way of detecting ovulation at home and, based on that instrumentally recorded information, we will also help you with the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD), because that is how it works. Not the LMP (Last Menstrual Period) but the date of the conceptive ovulation — that’s the ovulation with which you became pregnant because your ovulated egg became fertilized. The date of ovulation is the date from which the EDD must be computed.

Ovulation caught on camera

Ovulation caught on camera by Dr. Donnez – impressive but not a practical method of detecting ovulation

Fast forward to the principle that’s behind the take-home message of this post and that’s systematically arrived at by the end of this post:

Briefly: Tracking systemic effects (hormones in circulation) is not good enough for fertility status determination, especially if the purpose is pregnancy avoidance.

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To be blunt about the language of “likely ovulate” and “most fertile”: Such language simply reflects their inability to be definitive about it – and they therefore resort to guesstimating ovulation, calling it a calculation.

Numerous websites proffer their ovulation calculators when you search online for “ovulation”. A free, printable ovulation calendar and ovulation calculator to help you…, ovulation calculator can help you find the best time to conceive (as if there was some worse time when to conceive!), a calculator to generate your ovulation calendar and determine the best time…, our free Ovulation Calendar helps you predict your most fertile time of the month (ovulation) so that you can achieve pregnancy. Etc.

Notably and significantly, they do NOT promote this for natural (behavioral) pregnancy avoidance (birth control) but only as a tool for assisting conception – as if these were not the two sides of the same coin. They do not because they would get into trouble if they did.

A common approach relies on detecting, in a woman’s urine, the luteinizing hormone (LH) that typically surges on the ovulation day. The LH surge (sharp narrow peak in LH concentration) occurs a few hours before ovulation. Because that is really too late for anticipating ovulation, a related but more sophisticated fertility monitor additionally detects also a metabolite of estrogen, i.e., another hormone, which anticipates the LH surge by about a day.

The worst flaw of systemic hormone monitoring

Fundamentally the most serious detriment is the fact that ovulation as such is not detected by said fertility device or any other such available in the marketplace. Ovulation is merely assumed to occur some hours after the LH surge – but the surge of the LH hormone is merely a trigger signal sent by the brain to the ovary. It says, “ovary, let go of the ovum in our dominant follicle”, but it does not say that the ovary in fact did (or does).

This is a fundamental flaw because ovulation is known to fail to occur in approximately 20% of the follicles. Those follicles, triggered by the LH, undergo the cyclic event of follicle rupture but, despite the rupture, the egg does not come out – there is no ovulation.

Human ovulation caught on camera

In 20% of LH-triggered cases, the egg is not released so ovulation, as photographed here by Dr. Donnez, does not occur

Ovulation also fails to occur with another type of follicles, the so-called luteinized unruptured follicles. Yet, the LH surge can be seen in either case, and is therefore a false indicator.

Furthermore, when stress causes a delay or absence of ovulation despite the LH surge signal (signal from the brain to the ovary), this cannot be detected and handled by the urinary hormone-based approach. As you can imagine, with our stressful lifestyle and environment, this is a very serious flaw that results in many disappointments.

George Condo - Field of Figures

George Condo – Field of Figures sold for $450,000 at Skarstedt Gallery’s booth Published: June 14, 2011

Since, unlike our Ovulona™ Smart Sensor™ technology, their method depends on biochemical reagents and since the supply of the reagents is limited, their product’s user has to estimate on which day of her menstrual cycle she should start using the hormone-monitoring device when peeing into a cup. She does the estimating based on her previous menstrual cycle(s) as though the length and the timing of the present menstrual cycle were the same as in her previous cycle(s). Alas, that’s not so. Because of the variable lengths of successive cycles in most women, this is a weak feature in their design (even though they are getting away with it).

A key practical problem of the referenced 2-hormone device (the Clearblue® Fertility Monitor) is that the monitored urinary concentration of the estrogen metabolite E3G peaks only about 12 to 24 hours prior to the LH surge. This is not early enough to serve as a marker of the beginning of the fertile phase.

Fertile day 1 not identified

Their research or marketing literature may claim that “a sustained rise in E3G can be used to identify the start of the fertile phase”, referring to the slow gradual increase that eventually becomes the peak of E3G concentration. However, the idea to use an ill-defined rise – rather than the peak in the cyclic profile of the estrogen metabolite – is not a viable solution to the fertile window problem.

Even if the ill-defined E3G rise in the urine were correlated with a clearly defined stage of the egg development towards ovulation, a serious problem is that the rate of the E3G rise differs from cycle to cycle, as do the blood concentrations of E3G. The initially slow increase of the E3G concentration in the urine proceeds at different rates in different cycles, not only at different rates in different women. The E3G rise cannot be predictably associated with the beginning of the fertile period, and it cannot serve as a marker.

Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonad Feedback Loop

Schematic diagram of interaction between the LH and FSH hormone-generating glands in the brain (hypothalamus and pituitary) and those of the ovary (female gonad) generating estrogen and progesterone

The reasons are as follows:

1. Estrogen is known to have both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on LH secretion and, to be effective as a stimulant, it must rise to its peak levels (> 150 to 200 pg/ml) and must remain elevated for at least 36 hours [J. Hotchkiss and E. Knobil in E.Y. Adashi, J.A. Rock and Z. Rosenwaks, editors: Reproductive Endocrinology, Surgery and Technology, Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1996].

In fact, the E3G rise indicates something else:

2. The E3G profile does not reflect the local interplay of estrogen with progesterone because it only reflects clearance of one of at least 10 metabolites of estrogen from peripheral blood circulation into the urine, after oxidative conversion in the liver.

Whatever the rate of this clearance process in the given woman in the given menstrual cycle, there are “local mechanisms due to which the quantification of ovarian steroids in peripheral blood or in urine is rendered interesting but of little value in predicting the genital end-organ effect” [C.J. Verco, in A.M. Siegler, editor: The Fallopian Tube. Basic Studies and Clinical Contributions, Futura Publishing Company, 1986].

The decades old problem is fundamental

This makes for the same basic flaw as that suffered by other monitors of peripheral hormones whether the hormone be progesterone (BBT monitoring) or estrogen (conductivity of saliva or of vaginal fluids).

Thus, the 2-hormone approach is in the end as inaccurate as the other LH-detecting techniques (the OPKs, Ovulation Predictor Kits). Therefore, like the other hormone monitoring methods, it cannot be approved and proffered for pregnancy avoidance since the failure rate would be unacceptably high. In fact, a law suit ensued in England, when the original developer company did sell the LH-and-estrogen monitor as a “contraceptive system”, and a number of unintended pregnancies resulted to the users.

The fundamental point is this: The effects of the local and acute regulatory mechanisms (as referenced under 2 above) remain undetected by the old techniques that work with the peripheral biomarker variables.

Ovarian vein-to-artery exchange of steroids, prostaglandins and other bioactive substances is a local transfer mechanism which enables local regulation of ovarian, tubal and uterine functions. The local, as opposed to peripheral, blood concentrations of the steroid hormones are also believed to work with the innervation of the female genital tract (the cervix in particular).

The effects of these local and acute regulatory mechanisms remain undetected by the old so-called prior art techniques that work with peripheral biomarker variables. In contrast, our Ovulona™ detects them – via the cervix, the natural monitor of the female reproductive system.

Gustav Klimt - Medicine mural (complete view)

Gustav Klimt – Medicine mural – Klimt’s primary subject was the female body

The flawed assumption of similar timing of menstrual cyclic events from one cycle to another has been a problem for the BBT and the BBT thermometers. Since the late sixties, the microprocessor technology has been applied by a number of people to the well-tried basal body temperature [BBT] approach to family planning that was originally hoped to work for pregnancy avoidance.

Smart phone apps with the BBT?

The BBT approach is no longer recognized as medically valid even if it may be acceptable to some of the older physicians, and to the younger buyers of an expensive microcomputerized BBT monitor offered from Europe and/or to the users of one of the more recent smart phone apps based on BBT monitoring.

This is because the so-called basal body temperature is a systemic variable that reflects, among other things, progesterone rise in peripheral blood after ovulation, usually one or two days later.  It is a very indirect and non-specific biomarker. Even though in some women in some cycles a little-understood dip in the temperature graph may apparently be observed one day before the temperature rise, it is clear that the BBT method is of little value due to its lack of predictive capability and due to its fundamental unreliability. The BBT-rise data is known to have a large error bar since the rise can occur from 3 days before to 3 days after ovulation.

For a more detailed critique of the BBT monitoring approach and a rebuttal of a particular European product, peruse Critique of BBT monitoring – DuoFertility rebuttal.

Briefly: Tracking systemic effects (hormones in circulation) is not good enough for fertility status determination, especially if the purpose is pregnancy avoidance.

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Purveyors of the old “prior art” technologies get away with it because of the high demand for any help with the serious and growing problem of sub-fertility, more commonly called trying-to-conceive or difficult getting pregnant. When the purveyors publish anecdotal evidence of “efficacy” in the form of thank-you letters from women who did achieve pregnancy, we should keep in mind that the women received help in focusing on trying to hit the fertile period regardless of whether the given technology actually did work or not. If any of the “prior art” did work reliably, it would be used as a pregnancy-avoidance tool, which is not the case.

Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (also called An Allegory of Venus and Cupid and A Triumph of Venus) is an allegorical painting by the Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino. It is now in the National Gallery, London. Artist     Agnolo Bronzino Year     circa 1545 Type     Oil on wood Dimensions     146 cm × 116 cm (57 in × 46 in) Location     National Gallery, London Its meaning, however, remains elusive. Cupid, along with his mother (Venus) and the nude putto, to the right, are all posed in a typical Mannerist figura serpentinata form. The two central figures are easily identified by their attributes as Venus and Cupid. For example, she holds the golden apple she won in the Judgement of Paris, while he sports the characteristic wings and quiver. Both figures are nude, illuminated in a radiant white light. Cupid fondles his mother's bare breast and kisses her lips. The bearded, bald figure to the upper right of the scene is believed to be Time, in view of the hourglass behind him.[2] He sweeps his arm forcefully out to his right. Again, it is difficult to interpret his gesture with any certainty The old woman rending her hair (see detail at right) has been called Jealousy—though some believe her to represent the ravaging effects of syphilis[2] (result of unwise intercourse).

Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (also called An Allegory of Venus and Cupid and A Triumph of Venus) is an allegorical painting by the Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino – circa 1545.  The bearded bald figure to the upper right is believed to be Time…

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Now go see about “Instant detection of pregnancy and of Early Pregnancy Loss, EPL – the adversary of Trying To Conceive, TTC – especially after age 25″ at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/instant-detection-of-pregnancy-and-of-early-pregnancy-loss-epl-the-adversary-of-trying-to-conceive-ttc-especially-after-age-25/

And should you be an investor and/or wish to find out more, check out  Home Page of bioZhena’s Weblog

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Stress and fertility: How stress affects the inherently narrow fertile window

February 2, 2012

This blog post appears as the third result in Google search on “bioZhena” (without the quote marks). The complete title is:

Stress and fertility

How stress affects the inherently narrow fertile window

To read the whole post, click on either of the antique-book images or on Reblogged from bioZhena’s Weblog:

Before you go there, here is a little update. New research into stress and fertility was published since I wrote the blog post in December 2007, and here is a summary of an article titled “Stress puts double whammy on reproductive system, fertility” (see http://esciencenews.com/articles/2009/06/15/stress.puts.double.whammy.reproductive.system.fertility ).

 

QUOTE: The new research shows that stress also increases brain levels of a reproductive hormone named gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone, or GnIH, discovered nine years ago in birds and known to be present in humans and other mammals. This small protein hormone, a so-called RFamide-related peptide (RFRP), puts the brakes on reproduction by directly inhibiting GnRH.

The common thread appears to be the glucocorticoid stress hormones, which not only suppress GnRH but boost the suppressor GnIH – a double whammy for the reproductive system. END QUOTE

 

Unlike any other fertility monitoring technology, bioZhena’s Ovulona™ is a Smart Sensor™ in vivo monitor of folliculogenesis. Unlike any other fertility monitor, the Ovulona is basically involved with the always-present stress responses – through monitoring certain end-organ effects on folliculogenesis. The other techniques monitor only this or that circulating hormone – not good enough. The end-organ effect(s) is what counts.

 

Again, to read the whole post, click on either of the antique-book images or on Reblogged from bioZhena’s Weblog

 

For a 2012 update go to What is the mechanism of stress and how does it affect reproduction. An update. And: Be a young mother! (Ovulona™-related published scientific findings by others about disruption of fertility, about PCOS or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, how stress suppresses ovulation, about the hypothalamic amenorrhea of stress and postpartum blues/depression, about a CRH placental clock which determines the length of gestation and the timing of parturition and delivery, and the role of CRH in premature labor. How old age affects folliculogenesis as a stressor. Even how acute stress may induce ovulation in women.)

bioZhena's Weblog

How stress affects the inherently narrow fertile window

Stress can do unwanted things to a woman and her menstrual cycle. In a nutshell, stress can make a woman completely infertile in this menstrual cycle (e.g., LPD, see below), or it can change the position of her fertile window (the time of ovulation included) within the menstrual cycle. Any of this can cause problems and lead to more stress…

The medical term is stress response, and it refers to the overall reaction of the organism to any adverse stimulus, whether it be of physical, mental or emotional kind, internal or external. The purpose is to adapt to challenge, and this goes on all the time. (C’est la vie! Real life is a never-ending series of stress responses.) Should the compensating reaction of the organism be inadequate or inappropriate, a pathological disorder may result.

The HPA axis, the immune system and the…

View original post 1,035 more words

Why screen for cervical cancer (and for the other STIs, sexually transmitted infections)?

July 29, 2011

Why all women need to screen for cervical tissue health, whether or not they accept that Nature is powerful (only  virgins don’t need to)

I will tell you why screening for this sexually transmitted infection (STI) is much needed, if you promise that you will not shoot the messenger. Exaggerating? Not really, if or when you realize that chances are that you yourself are already infected.

Is it so serious?

I say that because “current evidence suggests that at least 50 percent of sexually active women have been infected with one or more types of HPV”. Most people with HPV have no symptoms. When the infection is present, symptoms may or may not include genital warts.

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. That is the virus that causes cervical cancer, and goes slowly about it, which is both good and bad. Good because the disease can be treated before it kills, and bad because it may take so long before it raises its ugly head that it can come completely unexpected in the mature middle age and even later. That is why vigilance (meaning, screening for it) throughout one’s lifetime is well worth it – unless you are a fatalist.

Collage of drevoryt woodcuts Dekameron, Ceský dekameron, Bakchanálie by Zdenek Mézl 1980

Collage of drevoryt woodcuts Dekameron, Ceský dekameron, Bakchanálie by Zdenek Mézl 1980     Links:      http://www.ikup.cz/item.php?id=600279&lan=EN        http://www.galerieart.cz/mezl_cesky_dekameron_I.JPG              http://www.galerieart.cz/prodej_mezl_staroveke_baje.htm

“Furthermore, the potential risk of infection from non-penetrative sexual contact remains undetermined, including the possible association between oral-penile contact and oral HPV, which is associated with oral cancer.” You can read this online in the peer-reviewed scientific publication Am. J. Epidemiol. (2003) 157(3): 218226. The experts give a reference (ref. 3) for the 50%+ statistic, and elsewhere the Medical Institute for Sexual Health writes http://www.medinstitute.org/public/92.cfm  : “About half of all sexually active 18- to 22-year-old women are infected with it (ref. 10 = J Infect Dis. 2001;183(11):1554-1564)”.

Either way, let’s watch out for the killer disease, which fortunately is curable – if caught early. If not caught early (that is, if not detected, diagnosed and treated), The Ravisher wins.

Cervical cancer causes about the same number of deaths as HIV/AIDS every year [two references for this statement are cited in the above Medical Institute article http://www.medinstitute.org/public/92.cfm ].

Young Woman Attacked By Death (or The Ravisher) - Albrecht Durer

Young Woman Attacked By Death (or The Ravisher) – Albrecht Durer

Get this! The most common STI. Both young and mature women in danger

Get this: The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world, and it is the most important cause of cervical cancer, a major killer of women worldwide (the second biggest).

Another horrible statistic is that, according to a CDC study, one in four (26 percent) young women, girls between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States – or 3.2 million teenage girls – are now infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Those are human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, and trichomoniasis. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080312084645.htm .

A bad news for the mature women, who are past their best years for birthing, is this: “Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been shown to be the precursor of cervical cancer in over 99% of the cases. … Although women aged 40 and above are not specifically considered high risk for HPV infection, many women are testing positive in this age group and are facing the impact of an HPV diagnosis that implicates a sexually transmitted disease and is known to be a precursor to cervical cancer.” So is written in J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2010 Feb; 22(2):92-100, in a paper titled “The human papillomavirus in women over 40: implications for practice and recommendations for screening”.

The Plague by Arnold Böcklin, 1898

Arnold Böcklin, The Plague, 1898

Pap smear test. Important. But problematic

While the Pap smear diagnostic screening has significantly improved the situation over the many years since its introduction (first published by the inventor, Dr. Georgios Nicholas Papanikolaou late in the decade of “the swinging 1920s” but only recognized in the 1940s), at least 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States, accounting for at least 4,000 deaths. Statistics cited from J Sch Nurs. 2007 Dec; 23(6):310-4.

As commented in June 2011 at http://to.ly/aCD3 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8554793/Women-making-excuses-to-avoid-cervical-cancer-smear-tests.html ), #Cervical #cancer “smear tests are invasive, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and often are badly diagnosed”. Another reader concluded: “De-stigmatize cervical  cancer and do some work to make the test less unpleasant – more #women will go” (will go to get the expensive test at a clinic, hoping for a negative result – and for not getting an unexpected huge bill, whether insured or uninsured in the U.S.).

Additional to the advantage of an objective electronic test over the subjective evaluation of a Pap smear: Is there a better way to avoid stigmatization than testing for cervical health in the privacy of one’s home, and in so doing making the test incomparably less off-putting, painless and perfectly affordable for anyone?

Similar to what the Pap smear can do, our tissue biosensing technique should detect the pre-cancerous tissue aberration called squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL) or dysplasia, which is the earliest form of pre-cancerous lesion recognizable by a pathologist. Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcinoma_in_situ .

Unlike the pathologist’s subjective assessment of the Pap smear sample, our in vivo monitoring method provides for an objective electronic evaluation.

In countries like India, the cervical cancer prevalence statistics are much worse, an order of magnitude higher. A big problem is that, among the general population, “knowledge about the relationship of HPV to cervical cancer is low even in the United States and the United Kingdom”. [Rapose A., Human papillomavirus and genital cancer. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2009;75:236-44.] So therefore, we are trying to do something about that.

Screening is really necessary. Here is why

There are two main reasons why screening for cervical cancer is and will continue to be necessary.

1. One is that the recently introduced HPV vaccines are far from perfect, and they explicitly require continued screening. Even the most expert proponents of HPV vaccination, and not just the vaccine manufacturers, say and write that.

Antonín Procházka, Milenci s knihou, litografie/lithograph, 1941

Antonín Procházka, Milenci s knihou, litografie/lithograph, 1941

2. Then there is the other reason for the necessity of continued cervical cancer vigilance. It is that, contrary to the oft trumpeted exclamations, the classic “invention of a certain doctor Condom” does not make for safe sex, because it (the condom) only reduces, and certainly does not eliminate, not only the chances of becoming pregnant but also the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. These are medico-scientifically proven facts.

The condom and similar barriers do not completely and reliably eliminate the chances of pregnancy if you happen to have sex during the mere three fertile days of your menstrual cycle (when you are outside of the fertile window, pregnancy simply cannot occur). And, condoms and similar barriers do not completely eliminate – they only reduce – the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections including HPV.

Sources, evidence – cervix is vulnerable

For sources of this statement of fact, see for example the already referenced http://www.medinstitute.org/public/92.cfm : “Each year, there are about 19 million new infections; half of these are in people under 25 (ref. 2). Many of these STIs have no cure. Untreated STIs can cause infertility, cancer and even death.” In that article is also where you see the references for the statements that “If you use condoms every time you have vaginal sex, you can cut your chance of getting HPV by up to half (references 6,7,8,9)… In women, cervical cancer causes about the same number of deaths as HIV/AIDS every year (refs. 12,13).”

Note this: Evidence shows that HPV is contracted if sex is had at too early an age and/or if sex is had promiscuously as a one night stand entertainment, or even too early into a relationship.

The cervix is particularly vulnerable to infection between the first menstruation and the age of sixteen because there are still many undifferentiated cells at the surface of the cervix, which is therefore  susceptible to HPV infection [http://www.mendeley.com/research/early-first-intercourse-risk-factor-cervical-cancer/]. As cancer is a disease of failure of regulation of tissue growth, HPV causes these cells to transform into cancer cells by altering the genes which regulate cell growth and differentiation.

Edgar Degas - Young Spartans Exercising, circa 1860

Edgar Degas – Young Spartans Exercising, circa 1860

An interesting story associated with the Degas painting includes “that the work could encompass a variety of meanings”, and that the fully dressed onlookers in the background are the youths’ mothers with Lycurgus, the legendary lawgiver of Sparta, who established the military-oriented reformation of Spartan society in accordance with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.

Reflecting on research findings

This blog post is not some exercise in moralizing. I am merely reporting or reflecting on medico-scientific findings. The above-referenced epidemiologists, Winer et al. [Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:218-26], evaluated young college women in Washington State and found that the risk factors for acquiring a new HPV infection included:

  • sex with a new person in the previous 5-8 months,
  • smoking, and
  • use of oral contraceptives.
  • Always using condoms did not provide protection according to this study.

The experts concluded that “in this population of female university students, the risk of infection associated with new partner acquisition is independent of prior sexual experience”, and that a “…finding suggests that an increased risk of incident HPV infection is more strongly associated with sex with a new partner than with sex with ongoing partners.” Thus written.

Peter Paul Rubens - The Union of Earth and Water, c. 1618

Peter Paul Rubens – The Union of Earth and Water, c. 1618                                  For the sake of appropriate symbolism, her name should be Aphrodite or Venus, of course, the promiscuous  goddess of love, beauty and sexuality!

The authors wrote (and here we cite selected notions to reinforce the mentioned ones).

QUOTE:

  • We detected a significant association between current smoking and incident HPV infection…
  • We also observed a significant association between current oral contraceptive use and incident HPV infection.
  • Having known a new partner for less than 8 months before vaginal intercourse was associated with an increased risk of HPV infection.
  • Reporting a new sex partner who has had one or more or an unknown number of prior female sex partners was also a significant predictor of incident HPV infection.
  • [Data] seems to suggest that the better and longer a woman knows her partner before intercourse, the less her risk of becoming infected with HPV.
  • Consistent with previous studies (4, 7, 11, 17, 29, 30), we observed no protective effect associated with condom use. … Since HPV is transmitted presumably through skin-to-skin contact, condoms may not protect against HPV because the virus can be transmitted through non-penetrative sexual contact.
  • Although vaginal intercourse is clearly the predominant mode of genital HPV transmission … any type of non-penetrative sexual contact was associated with an increased risk of HPV infection in virgins.
  • At 24 months, the cumulative incidence of first-time infection was 32.3%… [FYI: That’s 32% of the 603 young women studied between September 1990 and September 1997 by interview and a standardized pelvic examination every 4 months, including HPV DNA analysis from separate cervical and vulvovaginal swab specimens.]
  • Smoking, oral contraceptive use, and report of a new male sex partner –in particular, one known for less than 8 months before sex occurred or one reporting other partners– were predictive of incident infection. Always using male condoms with a new partner was not protective.
  • The data show that the incidence of HPV associated with acquisition of a new sex partner is high and that non-penetrative sexual contact is a plausible route of transmission in virgins.
  • HPV infections are highly prevalent, and current evidence suggests that at least 50 percent of sexually active women have been infected with one or more types (3).

In conclusion, the present study showed that the incidence of genital HPV associated with acquisition of a new sex partner is high, and that risk of infection is especially high if a partner has been known for less than 8 months and if a partner reports having had sex with other partners.

END OF QUOTES

[from Winer et al., that’s Rachel L. Winer, Shu-Kuang Lee, James P. Hughes, Diane E. Adam, Nancy B. Kiviat and Laura A. Koutsky, in Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:218-26, “Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection: Incidence and Risk Factors in a Cohort of Female University Students”. Let’s also reference http://www.google.com/search?q=Koutsky+LA%2C+Kiviat+NB.+Human+papillomavirus+infections.+In%3A+Holmes+KK%2C+Mardh+PA%2C+Sparling+PF%2C+et+al%2C+eds.+Sexually+transmitted+diseases.+3rd+ed.+New+York%2C+NY%3A+McGraw-Hill%2C+1999%3A347%E2%80%9360.+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a].

Conclusion: Nature is powerful. Nature regulates

My conclusion for you is no preaching but an observation that all this is because Nature is powerful. As simple as that.

In terms of a clarification, or rather a rationalization of the reported findings, since you have an inkling about tissue rejection problems in organ transplantation (you’ve heard about that, haven’t you), I can draw a parallel for you. Think of the meeting of the male and female flesh as a short-lived tissue implant. If the two tissues don’t know each other, if the female has not known the male for sufficiently long, there is a natural reaction, which the cited experts have found manifested as HPV infection (a hint at how that happens: a stranger’s DNA attacks the recipient).

And what’s all this about that Nature is powerful? Well, it is simply to keep in mind that there are some natural laws and principles, such as the one about action and reaction. And, it’s about that Nature regulates

So, there will be a reaction to too much of a good thing (or a bad thing, any thing). I don’t want to get into this too much except to recall that, since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, there has been an enormous increase in the incidence of sexually transmitted infections. Had Georgios (“Pap”) not invented his test in “the swinging ‘20s”, someone would have had to do it in the “revolutionary ‘60s”

As it was, Mrs. Sanger had persuaded her wealthy-widow investor friend that this particular “magic bullet”, her idea of a “magic pill”, was the right approach to reproductive management. Thanks to the Pap, the Western world was sort of ready for the consequences of the Pill at least in terms of the ensuing epidemic of STDs, if not of the epidemic of infertility and of other as yet poorly recognized consequences of this fooling with Mother Nature (à la Ms. Sanger and Mrs. McCormick – “as easy to take as an aspirin”).

The fact is that “while an estimated 1 in 4 Americans will get an STD (sexually transmitted disease) in their lifetime,4 … the United States continues to have the highest STD rates of any country in the industrialized world.2 No effective national program for STD prevention exists… and the American public remains generally unaware of the risk for STDs and the importance of prevention and screening” (per the Kaiser Family Foundation and American Social Health Association).

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition writes:

“By age 24, at least one in three sexually active people are estimated to have had an STD. Teenage girls are especially vulnerable to contracting gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can more easily infect the immature cervix.”

Perhaps you have gathered, from the various bioZhena’s Weblog articles and from our other web information, that we propose to do something about it – about making possible private screening at home for early warning devoid of the problems associated with the Pap smear test.

Oskar Kokoschka, Rejected lover, 1966

Oskar Kokoschka, Rejected lover, 1966

Originally, I intended to illustrate these concluding thoughts with a painting by the grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian or Lucien, who passed away the other day (a painting of a sad woman’s face showing from under a bed cover, with a clothed man – guess who – standing hands in pockets and just staring at her – it’s #5 in http://pul.se/muse_Cleveland-Cleveland-OH-caroline-blackwood-2LYALDu533r,d5oww4DQguiE).

But then, Oskar’s more colorful impressionist image seems, well, more colorful, and less realistic… as paintings go.

Saint Nicholas Day, his legend, and our modern day’s prematurity, EDD calculation, gestational age, problem with LMP

December 8, 2010

Could high prevalence of prematurity be a consequence of motherhood not being the top job held by society in high esteem? A modern paradox.

December 5 is the eve of St. Nicholas Day, the patron Saint of many people, cities and countries – including the largest one [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas#Deeds_and_miracles_attributed_to_Saint_Nicholas ]. St. Nicholas is remembered and celebrated in similar ways in some countries, rewarding well-behaved children but not the misbehaving ones… Which is why St. Nicholas, known as Svaty Mikulas, visits the children at home, in certain parts of Central Europe, in the evening along with an Angel and a Devil (Cert). The Saint asks the parents about the kids’ conduct…

Josef Lada_Mikulas, andel a cert

Josef Lada - Mikulas doma

Josef Lada – Mikulas doma

I share with you a depiction of the tradition drawn by Josef Lada in the troubled 1930s, an idyllic tradition of an industrial people, which they keep to this day…

Besides numerous miracles, this most popular of Saints was and is reputed for gift-giving (hence the commercialized Santa Claus transformation morphing St. Nicholas  with a Western or Northern European Father Christmas later on in the month of December).

There are numerous legends about Saint Nicholas’ miracles and his deeds of help. Perhaps the most famous one is about the three daughters of an impoverished man who could not afford a proper dowry for them, dowry being an ancient habit, the original purpose of which “was to provide ‘seed money’ or property for the establishment of a new household” – and we are now talking about the 300s CE [Christian Era].

The saint Bishop of Myrna saved the girls from the fate of slavery and prostitution by secretly dropping “three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man’s house”, which gift made the young girls “eligible” again. It is also said that he dropped the gift down the chimney where stockings were hanging “over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking”. That’s beside the point because we are not discussing Santa of Christmas, but rather we are remembering St. Nicolas of December 6.

Jan_Steen_Het_Sint_Nicolaasfeest, The Feast of St. Nicholas

Jan_Steen_Het_Sint_Nicolaasfeest,                               The Feast of St. Nicholas

In those times many, many centuries ago, the chief purpose of young women’s life was motherhood, naturally within a marriage, hence the said dowry habit. In our times, many things have changed, including, unfortunately, young women’s attitude towards motherhood. Well, not just young women’s attitude…

Motherhood must be held in high esteem to reverse the trend reflected by an outcry in tweeter-sphere that’s a part of life nowadays: “I never felt marginalized as a woman until I became a mother”. Now this is very sad. Sad for society since the opposite should be the case.

Motherhood is the most important “job” in the world, and this is not some cute old-fashioned thought. Women bear enormous responsibility for the health of the nation, of humankind. Society should pamper them. Meaning: Society should be organized based on the recognition of Mother Nature’s design, which design – with the optimal years for motherhood in the early twenties – does not go away only because nowadays we can do all kinds of things – including octuplet pregnancies at grandmotherly age.

One consequence of the referenced changes is the currently common delays in getting married, and especially delays in bringing children into the world, starting a family. In other words, the unfortunate consequence is motherhood in later years of life than Nature intended. And then there are other consequences. Among them, prematurity.

Lou Beach, Preggers

Lou Beach, Preggers

@DrJenGunter not too long ago tweeted on prematurity, the most common cause of infant morbidity and mortality in the U.S.: “I just wrote a book on prematurity. Personal and professional experience”. See The Preemie Primer: A Complete Guide for Parents of Premature Babies–from Birth through the Toddler Years and Beyond [Paperback], Jennifer Gunter MD (Author) at http://www.amazon.com/Preemie-Primer-Complete-Premature-Babies/dp/0738213934/

Here is a citation [from http://www.preemieprimer.com/ ]:

My son Victor has dystonic cerebral palsy. He weighed 843 g at birth and had a grade 2 IVH. The bleed resolved in the NICU without hydrocephalus.

He is seven years old now. He is very stiff and is so shaky on a bicycle that we have given up trying for now. He couldn’t stand on one foot until he was 5. It took a very long time for him to get the hang of swimming and at the age of seven he is by no means a fish, but I feel if he were to fall in a pool he could keep his head above water. His digestive tract is very affected, but we have figured out ways to minimize these issues. It took countless hours of OT and thousands of hours of him practicing, but his writing is beautiful and God know where he gets his spelling ability from. He hopscotches like a pro. He is reading a grade level ahead. All without a CT scan or an MRI.

Based on his exam and his problem areas I am sure his cerebellum is a mess. In fact, I wonder if I would have pushed him so hard if I had seen a brain scan before we left the NICU?

“What we know about prematurity” is reviewed by the March of Dimes Campaign at http://www.marchofdimes.com/Mission/prematurity_indepth.html .

Today more than 1,400 babies in the United States (1 in 8 [= 12.5%]) will be born prematurely. Many will be too small and too sick to go home. Instead, they face weeks or even months in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). These babies face an increased risk of serious medical complications and death; however, most, eventually, will go home. … In fact, the rate of premature birth increased by more than 20 percent between 1990 and 2006. … The rate fell to 12.3 percent in 2008 from 12.7 in 2007, a small but statistically significant decrease.

Why women deliver early? In nearly 40 percent of premature births, the cause is unknown. However, researchers have made some progress in learning the causes of prematurity. Studies suggest that there may be four main routes leading to spontaneous premature labor.”

Štyrský, Marriage

Štyrský, Marriage

Do refer to the referenced article for more about the four main causes:

  1. Infections and/or inflammation.
  2. Maternal or fetal stress.
  3. Bleeding.
  4. Stretching.

And then there is this: These four routes are not the only things to consider. Other factors, such as multiple pregnancy, inductions and cesarean sections, can also play a role. (Mostly man-made factors, we note. I say “mostly” because some multiple pregnancies happen also to women who did not get pregnant through the Artificial Reproductive Technologies… )

Prematurity is bad for infant, parents, and public health. We at bioZhena propose to contribute to the reduction of its prevalence, by making the FOLLICULOGENESIS IN VIVO™ [FIV™] technology available for routine use by women and their physicians. As a particular example, in relation to the referenced other factors, we propose to make it possible to compute the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) based on the expectant mothers’ folliculogenesis data.

The idea is to get away from the gestation calculation popularized about 200 years ago in 1812 by a Dr. Naegele, for whom the 40 weeks or 10 lunar months rule of obstetrics is named. This rule of 280-day gestation assumes that the mother ovulates on day 14 of a 28 day menstrual cycle, which the readers of bioZhena’s Weblog know that it is an unrealistic assumption.

America in 1812, the time of Dr. Naegele’s 200 years of fame

America in 1812, the time of Dr. Naegele’s 200 years of fame

Napoleon & carabiniers_in_front_of_Moscow_1812

Napoleon & carabiniers_in_front_of_Moscow_1812

Allegedly*, it was Dr. Hermanni Boerhaave, in his time a highly respected academic physician, botanist and chemist, who read in the Bible that pregnancy should last 10 lunar months. He is said to have formulated – in the 1700s – a way of calculating the expected date of delivery (EDD).

Thus, expectant mothers get EDD today based on the myth of the baroque-era Boerhaave … Yet, already Aristotle taught that “the human fetus is expelled … at any period of pregnancy …; moreover, when the birth takes place in the eighth month, it is possible for the infant to live.”

The gist of the bioZhena hypothesis is this: The EDD can be projected quite well from ultrasonic measurements of the unborn baby’s head and body size, but for a more convenient, affordable and consequently more practical solution, we propose to seek a correlation between the Ovulona FIV™ attributes such as cycle length and the EDD/EDC. Importantly, this will be done by using the date of insemination, which will be easily – electronically – recorded by the user of the Ovulona™ as an integral part of the routine.

Trying to be fair or considerate to the women’s healthcare classics, I report an obgyn.net paper at http://www.obgyn.net/fetal-monitoring/fetal-monitoring.asp?page=cotm/9807/cotm_9807 . It is titled “’Back to the Future’ for Hermaani Boerhaave, or, ‘A rational way to generate ultrasound scan charts for estimating the date of delivery’” by Dr David J R Hutchon, Consultant Obstetrician, Memorial Hospital, Darlington, England. This is about the ultrasound approach, and he comments that: QUOTE “the approach mimics, in modern terms, the method originally formulated by Boerhaave. … If Boerhaave had had an ultrasound scanner, his paper might have read something like, ‘It is proved by numerous observations that 99 out of 100 births occur 22 weeks (at 18 weeks gestation) after the biparietal diameter of the fetus is 40mm’ (Fig 1).”

Besides his Figure 1, I also share Mr Hutchon’s (a British medical doctor, when Consultant, becomes Mr again) Fig. 2, “Regression analysis showing line fit plot. The number of days between scan and delivery has been converted to conventional gestation by subtracting from 280. The lower and upper dotted lines represent delivery at 42 and 37 weeks respectively.” QUOTE UNQUOTE.

Gestation age vs. crown rump length by DJR Hutchon

Gestation age vs. crown rump length by DJR Hutchon

Gestation vs. biparietal diameter by Hutchon

Gestation vs. biparietal diameter by Hutchon

Biparietal diameter is the (outer – inner) measurement of the fetal skull echo. Crown-rump length (CRL) is the measurement of the length of human embryos and fetuses from the top of the head (crown) to the bottom of the buttocks (rump). In humans, the fetal stage of prenatal development starts at the beginning of the 11th week in gestational age, which is the 9th week after fertilization. These are the Wikipedia reported definitions. The two weeks between 9 and 11 assume the “regular” length of the menstrual cycle, which is a theoretical assumption that could very likely be incorrect in practice, in the given woman and in the given last cycle of hers (because regularity is a myth, too). Well, look at the scatter in the data points, it’s telling.

In addition to the convenience, affordability and practicality of the bioZhena approach, do not overlook the feature that the data will be personal to the given woman, and the measurement will not refer to LMP. It will not rely on the woman’s recollection of her last menstrual period (instead, it will refer to the last electronically recorded intercourse); and it will not subject the baby to unnecessary ultrasound radiation.

For more on the topic, try under Gestation in the Alphabet of bioZhena https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/aaee-the-alphabet-of-biozhena.pdf (or https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/ ). See also the discussion under Parturition, where we express the expectation that parturition management will be revolutionized by the introduction of the Ovulona into obstetric and gynecological practice.

Anderle - Pasek 06

Anderle – Pasek 06

Summary Definitions [quoted from http://www.righthealth.com/topic/Fetal_Age ]:

Gestation is the period of time between conception and birth, during which the fetus grows and develops inside the mother’s womb.

Gestational age is the time measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual cycle [LMP] to the current date. It is measured in weeks. A normal pregnancy can range from 38 to 42 weeks.

Infants born before 37 weeks are considered premature. Infants born after 42 weeks are considered postmature. (Note: 42 x 7 = 294).

Especially with the challenged menstrual cycles that are particularly irregular in length, referencing the LMP in the reckoning can easily introduce a significant error. Perhaps that is why the above summary definition of normalcy is 38 to 42 weeks but prematurity is “before 37 weeks”? (A week here, a week there…) Read also the earlier post https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/about-the-edd-andor-edc-issue-and-a-request-for-input-from-readers/ .

Tomáš Císarovský  - Kukátko

Tomáš Císarovský – Kukátko

280 may have been in the Bible, but it ain’t necessarily right. We’ll see whether 266 is, and whether it is a worldwide constant, which is doubtful. If for no other reason, global constancy is doubtful because it was reported from India that “Mean gestational age at the onset of labour for women native to the area of study was 272 days (standard deviation 9 days). Pregnancies beyond a duration of 280 days showed significantly increased perinatal morbidity.” (Referencing the above righthealth.com definitions, we see 294 – 280 = 14. A week here, a couple of weeks there…)

Well, 272 – 14 = 258. Not 266, and that number is of interest because per Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence, ”a gestation period of thirty-eight weeks (266 days) is calculated for women who are pregnant by a procedure such as in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination that allows them to know their exact date of conception” (article Gestation Period and Gestational Age).

And then you have the oprah.com article, which asks, “Will the labor start naturally on time, or will the baby be so late that induction or Caesarean section is necessary?”: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Is-Pregnancy-Really-40-Weeks-Long . While debating the validity of the word “necessary” is not the point here, the author there refers to data from studies that concluded greater than 280 days due dates (288 days in one study), of which one study was in Sweden.

A hypothesis can be that hot climates may lead to lower gestation periods than cold climates. This would be a hypothesis based on two data points and a common sense for “the babies taking longer when it’s cold outside”… We’ll want to compare, say, data from Inuits and Lapps on the one hand with data from equatorial Africa and Philippines and/or Indonesia on the other. Logically, we’ll control for factors known or suspected as being involved, such as those four main causes listed above – and age, parity and other factors already explored by people such as Mittendorf in the 1980s.

Kupka - Creation de l homme

Kupka – Creation de l homme

The idea is that routine use of the Ovulona will provide for an equivalent of the above-referenced 38-week (266 days) calculation, which is available to the women receiving IVF or artificial insemination. The data will be personal and the geography of the birth will be noted (as well as ethnicity), with data sooner or later coming from all corners of the world.

Capturing and working with the fertilization date should, by and of itself, be an improvement over the current way of EDD/EDC assessment. An improvement over the paradox of modern obstetrics and gynecology handling the most important aspect of reproduction by means of some biblical myth, and having become more and more interventionist probably at least in part because of that myth. Reference a recent tweet: Maternity Care In America Rife With Systematic Failures l Being #Pregnant http://su.pr/2j91wY “most people don’t know normal birth”. This refers to the medical staff.

That these thoughts are sensible, and that the chief problem is the LMP, is supported by ultrasound studies such as “Gestational age and induction of labour for prolonged pregnancy” by Jason Gardosi, Tracey Vanner, and Andy Francis (Perinatal Research, Audit and Monitoring, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK) in British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, July 1997, Vol. 104, pp. 792-797 – [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.1997.tb12022.x/pdf].

Citing from this study of more than 24.5 thousand pregnancies: Menstrual dates [LMP data] systematically overestimated gestational age at term when compared with scan dates… suggesting that most pregnancies which are considered ‘prolonged’ according to menstrual dates are in fact mis-dated. The median gestational age for induced labours was 286 days by last menstrual period but only 280 days by scan, and most (71.5%) inductions done post-term (> 294 days) according to menstrual dates were not post-term if scan dates alone are used to calculate the gestational age.“

This study was a retrospective analysis of computer files of 24,675 pregnancies delivered in a teaching hospital between 1988 and 1995.

Here is their graphical summary of distribution of deliveries as a function of gestational ages by ultrasound scan dates.

Deliveries vs. gestational ages by ultrasound scan dates

Deliveries vs. gestational ages by ultrasound scan dates

Their most explicit statement in support of our conviction and plan is this citation: “Even if the date of the last menstrual period is recalled with accuracy, delay in ovulation can result in over-estimation of the true gestational age, which results in an apparent prolongation of pregnancy.” The authors also cite a 1972 paper in American Journal of Obstetric and Gynecology in support of the just cited statement.

The Gardosi et al. paper concluded: Regardless of obstetric and maternal views of the advantages and disadvantages of routine induction policies, our results suggest that most post-date inductions are unwarranted on the basis of gestational age. The incidence of prolonged pregnancies can be considerably reduced by establishing dates by ultrasound alone.

Needless to say, a similar graph for deliveries in India would show the spontaneous labor peak earlier (272 days by one study in tropical Manipal) while a Scandinavian graph would be shifted in the opposite direction; both were referenced above.

I’ll be darned if the introduction of the Ovulona into the gestation arena should not bring some order and peace (as opposed to the mess and anxieties of today). As I wrote in the conclusion of the related January 11, 2008 article: It is perfectly realistic a vision that, in future, an expectant mother’s EDD and/or EDC will be assessed based on her folliculogenesis (FIV™) data.

The EDD/EDC will be computed automatically and provided by her own Ovulona Smart Sensor™. And no Saint Nicholas miraculous assistance will be required by the future users – although we will not write here the same for bioZhena.

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* I write “allegedly” because I spent many an hour looking for evidence of truth in this allegation, only to find the Dutch man an impressive medico-scientific mind and an impressive likeable character – but no evidence of the biblical dogma ascribed to him. As I write this note, I am going once more through the tedious but interesting Dr. Boerhaave’s “Academical lectures on the theory of physic” of AD 1744. The man’s fame and authority was such that “a Chinese mandarin, seeking advice, addressed his letter to ‘Boerhaave – Europe’, and it was delivered”. See http://books.google.com/books?id=QTUVAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Hermanni+Boerhaave+1744&source=bl&ots=NCeCN4gLdd&sig=SoUA_WS6iSkh2A8WpBX7S4o54Uw&hl=en&ei=ebP-TP2WBIX2tgO12-mvCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false


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