Posts Tagged ‘reproductive’

About Clomid, Serophene or, generically, clomiphene citrate. A critical look, part 1.

June 23, 2010

In relation to folliculogenesis, the mechanism of menstrual cycling, which we monitor in vivo – to get away from drugs as much as possible.

Last night I re-tweeted this:

RT @FertilAidAmy What is Clomid…? http://blog.fairhavenhealth.com/ = it’s NOT recommended to take it for >6 cycles, and it causes decreased fertile mucus

Then I found that there is no entry about Clomid in the Alphabet of bioZhena. Yet, Clomid is a very frequently administered medication for women with difficulty conceiving, “prescribed to women that are trying-to-conceive to induce ovulation. Clomid is often prescribed to women with irregular cycles that either experience irregular ovulation or don’t ovulate at all” (http://blog.fairhavenhealth.com/ ).

30% of women or couples cannot get pregnant

Clomid was also involved in a peculiar episode when a business-incubator director took me once to a local hospital’s young lady gynecologist thinking that, because she was written about in the local newspaper, she was just right for bioZhena Corporation’s quest for good people and/or “strategic allies”. Instead, the take of the young physician, who took several calls from upstairs during the “interview”, was something along the lines, “I don’t see what’s in it for me with your technology. When they [subfertility sufferers] come to us, we put them on Clomid, and that’s that…”.

dali - longlegs_large

Dali - Longlegs

Well, let’s look at what the “that’s that” is about. The referenced tweet mentioned, within the allowed 140 characters, two features. One, that Clomid should not be taken for more than 6 menstrual cycles. And two, that it is known to reduce the amount of the all-important fertile mucus, which is the cervical mucus form occurring only during the run up to ovulation. This essential temporary change is for the purpose of opening the cervical canal for the penetration of the sperm and, in fact, for what is called the capacitation of the sperm. At all times outside of the fertile window, the fertile mucus is replaced by the protective type of cervical mucus, which prevents the entry of microbes including sperm into the uterus and beyond.

For a concise overview of this essential mucus, read the article Cervical mucus (under C) in the Alphabet of bioZhena, at  https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/aaee-the-alphabet-of-biozhena.pdf . There we cite a noted expert on the subject, Dr. Erik Odeblad, and the gist of his message is: “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.”

You can imagine that this will have something to do with the reason why the woman becomes a patient and is now prescribed the fertility drug.

One other thing about the drug is the issue of the official “10-per-cent possibility that Clomid could produce twinning”, described by a physician’s blog post at KevinMD.com about “one of the largest malpractice awards in Canadian history. At issue is how the patient understood the discussion of the risks of Clomid”: http://to.ly/5cE7 .

Sublime moment by Salvador Dali, 1938

Sublime moment by Salvador Dali

Clomid is the brand name for the fertility drug clomiphene citrate. Clomiphene citrate may also be sold under the brand name Serophene or as the generic version called clomiphene citrate (http://to.ly/5cIc ).

Here is a bit more scientific take on how it works, cited from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clomifene ):

Therapeutically, clomiphene is given at day 2 of menses [menstruation]. By that time, FSH level is rising steadily, causing development of a few follicles [in the ovary].

Let’s interject a clarification: This timing is called the recruitment stage of folliculogenesis, during which LH induces an “angiogenesis” factor from the theca cells, increasing the blood supply and estrogen synthesis by the recruited cohort of follicles.

The term “selection” indicates the reduction of the recruited group of follicles down to the species-characteristic ovulatory quota, which in women and related primates is one. Selection is the culmination of recruitment on day 6 ± 1. “Typically only one of the two ovaries sponsors recruitment and selection of the single dominant follicle, which is destined for ovulation.” We detect the selection stage as the first marker in our ovulographic™ (or folliculogenesis in vivo™) cyclic profile. Refer to the bioZhena tech pitch page http://to.ly/xE6 and/or to http://to.ly/MJU , http://to.ly/MWl .

Back to the language of the Wikipedia article: Follicles in turn produce the estrogen, which circulates in serum. Clomiphene acts by inhibiting the action of estrogen on the pituitary [gland, or hypophysis, in the brain]. [It] binds to estrogen receptors and stays bound for long periods of time.

This prevents normal receptor recycling and causes an effective reduction in hypothalamic estrogen receptor number. As a result, the body perceives a low level of estrogen… Since estrogen can no longer effectively exert negative feedback on the hypothalamus, GnRH secretion becomes more pulsatile, which results in increased pituitary gonadotropin (FSH, LH) release. Increased FSH level causes growth of more ovarian follicles, and subsequently rupture of follicles resulting in ovulation. END OF QUOTE.

Dali - Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man (1943)

Salvador Dali - Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man

From another Wikipedia article, about GnRH (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GnRH ):

At the pituitary, GnRH [Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (synthesized and released from neurons within the hypothalamus )] stimulates the synthesis and secretion of the gonadotropins, (that is) follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These processes are controlled by the size and frequency of GnRH pulses, as well as by feedback from androgens and estrogens. Low-frequency GnRH pulses lead to FSH release, whereas high-frequency GnRH pulses stimulate LH release. …the frequency of the pulses varies during the menstrual cycle, and there is a large surge of GnRH just before ovulation.

To reiterate, Clomiphene acts by inhibiting the natural action of estrogen on the pituitary gland in the brain, interfering with – or, shall we say, altering, manipulating – the process of folliculogenesis. Women’s health revolves around folliculogenesis and its complex control mechanism by the brain and by the ovaries.

To give you a sense of said complexity of the biology we are working with when we monitor folliculogenesis in vivo, we cite the specialist, Dr. Ernst Knobil: “The mechanism is believed to involve the circhoral* clock of the hypothalamic GnRH pulse generator, on which the circamensual** ovarian clock is obligatorily dependent”. [*Occurring cyclically about once an hour, pulses from the brain; ** about once a month.] From Knobil’s memorial lecture The Wisdom of the Body Revisited, available online at http://physiologyonline.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/14/1/1 .

Sleep by Salvador Dali, 1937

During the reproductive years, pulse activity is critical for successful reproductive function as controlled by feedback loops. Cited in conclusion from the Wikipedia GnRH article referenced above. (The Wikipedia also has an article about the cervix and cervical mucus, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervical_mucus#Cervical_mucus .)

15- Word(le) greetings from bioZhena's follicular waves

15- Word(le) greetings from bioZhena's follicular waves

A wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text.

In this case the entire bioZhena’s Weblog as it was in November 2009 — 15 most prevalent words.

It is advisable – and safer – to go about TTC, Trying To Conceive, without the use of chemicals, especially man-made chemicals, and note that herbal preparations are chemicals too. Monitoring (measuring) the effects of anything you ingest is basically a must, if you do not play “Russian roulette” with yourself, your offspring, your family.

The above wordle, the “greetings from bioZhena’s follicular waves”, is a reminder that, before resorting to the chemical route, the innocuous “right time” approach is indicated (because it does not go against – it goes with – the natural biology of the body).

Have you noticed that the powerful Clomid is an estrogen agonist/antagonist? (Acting like estrogen or against estrogen. Tricky, yes? You bet. Or play roulette…)

Advertisements

Critique of birth control efficacies in NFP as published by Marquette University researchers

March 23, 2010

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.

JUST LIKE THEIR PREVIOUS REPORT IN 2003 [http://www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/issues/nfp/cmrsumfl01.htm ] OF A STUDY WITH THE PERSONA MONITOR, “LIMITATIONS” OF THE TWO STUDIES THEY REPORT ON ARE POINTED OUT BY THE AUTHORS.

Michelangelo - The Drunkenness of Noah

Michelangelo – The Drunkenness of Noah

Excerpts from their first study:

The retrospective study involved 204 couples (i.e., women with a mean age of 28.6 and their male partners, with a mean age of 30.3) who were taught NFP (by health professionals, physicians and nurses) at four sites in the United States

Table 1. Twelve months total unintended pregnancy rate [number of unintended pregnancies out of the number of couples in given group using the indicated method of NFP]

BBT + mucus                                    5/76                     7%

Monitor + mucus                               4/69                     6%

Mucus only                                       1/29                      3%

BBT + mucus + monitor                     2/25                      8%

Monitor only                                      0/5

Second study excerpts:

The participants for this study came from the same four clinic sites as the previous study and involved 313 couples who were taught how to avoid pregnancy with the EHFM [Monitor] plus CVM [Mucus], and another 315 who used CVM only … The researchers found a total of 28 unintended pregnancies with the EFHM plus CVM group and 41 with the CVM only group… (during 12 months of use)

Monitor + mucus                          28/313                        9%

Mucus only                                  41/315                        13%

QUOTE: “both studies have limitations in that they were not randomized clinical trials”.

In their 2003 study report, they similarly noted study limitations, but there was also the following: “Of interest is the authors’ statement that only 1% of reproductive age women in the Netherlands use NFP as a means to achieve or avoid pregnancy. The respondents in this study were mostly women who previously used oral hormonal contraception. This seems to indicate that a new technological device such as Persona could attract new couples to use NFP.” QUOTE UNQUOTE.

Quite right. Their statement of what “this seems to indicate” is consistent with what we had found (without any financial backing by a large investor like Unilever) in a survey of 5,000 American women at about the time when the Persona was new to the market in Britain. Out of those who would purchase our self-diagnostic electronic device (which does NOT require any chemical reagents and daily peeing for in vitro diagnostic measurement with imperfect measures), 70% were users of artificial contraception – they would switch to our device. This outcome was separate from anecdotal evidence of numerous letters and later emails asking if they could purchase our device for their use in NFP.

With the above quote in mind, we would broaden the conclusion – about new technology attracting new couples – beyond NFP use, and we would refer instead (i.e. more broadly) to fertility awareness based methods.

Now, before someone should glance at the above reported outcomes of the two studies and quickly jump to a conclusion, we must make some common sense observations about those statistics. Some little words.

Wassily Kandinsky - Little Words

Kandinsky – Little Words

Should someone want to declare that the above Marquette University reported Monitor had a zero failure rate, then it must be noted that, unfortunately, this was zero out of merely 5 cases. Not comparable with anything else in their publication – and hardly very useful for that reason (and because of the small sample size, too).

Similarly: Table 1 might be read as showing that mucus only is better than BBT + mucus + monitor. This could be “legitimately” considered a valid conclusion since the sample sizes are sort of comparable – if “sort of comparable” were considered good enough (76 and 69, respectively, a 10% difference). But the sample size of mucus only (29) is significantly lower than the sample sizes of the BBT + mucus and of the Monitor + mucus groups.

While the unintended pregnancy outcome of the BBT + mucus + monitor group (8%) is sort of comparable to the outcomes of the two groups with the much larger sample sizes where mucus is accompanied by either BBT or by monitor (7% and 6%, respectively), the only really legitimate conclusion or comment is that sample size matters. That is, if we do not want to compare 25 apples with 72.5 oranges (+/- 3.5) and thus come to questionable conclusions.

If all the groups had sample size of 5 and the percentage outcomes were the same, then the conclusion would be fairly legitimate about the superiority of the monitor – except for the equally legitimate complaint that the sample size of 5 is too small.


Michelangelo - The Battle of Cascina

Michelangelo – The Battle of Cascina

Statistics are supposed to be about large numbers. At least about sufficiently large numbers. Sample size of 5 is hardly sufficiently large, although it would do for a proof of concept, which here the concept would be that Monitor alone is by far the best. I would go with that hypothesis BUT I WANT IT TESTED RIGOROUSLY IN PROPERLY DESIGNED CLINICAL TRIALS.

The outcomes of the second reported study contradict the outcomes of the first, with Mucus only now showing the highest failure rate of them all (13%), and, topping it off, Monitor + mucus is now even higher than in Table 1 (9% vs. 6%).

Since the sample size is now much larger than in Table 1 (313 vs. 69, i.e., 4.5 times larger) it is legitimately concluded that the second study carries more weight and therefore the failure rate of the Monitor + mucus methodology is more likely 9% than 6%. This is rather unsatisfactory but still better than Mucus alone at the whopping 13% unintended pregnancy rate. The 13% failure rate with 315 couples is more believable than the 3% failure rate with 29 couples in Table 1. About 10.862068965517241379310344827586-times more believable – to be light-hearted about it, per jocum dixi.

Then again, remotum joco: All this makes for a kind of arithmetic that should not occur in medical research.

The following is a graphical demonstration of how numbers can distort perception and understanding. The same Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina (since he did not do any battle of statistics or technologies!) after an effect that allows the data on the periphery to dominate or simply affect disproportionally that which was in the center of focus.

See in the picture above the man looking intently toward us from the middle of the melee? Now (below) he is tiny compared to what’s around him; much like when – in a study of birth distributions as a function of the day of cycle on which conception took place – the data point outliers are doing the same to the high birth counts, because of inaccurate means of ovulation detection (actually mere estimations) employed in said study.

Michelangelo - The Battle of Cascina - Fish Eye effect -30

Michelangelo – The Battle of Cascina – Fish Eye effect -30

While such distortions happen with all imperfect measures of ovulation, the study by John France et al. was discussed in an earlier post at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/fetal-sex-preselection-%E2%80%93-illustrated/ and in the document attached to that post, https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/fetal-sex-preselection-illustrated.pdf .

We subsequently showed, in https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/ovulona-is-not-another-ovulation-kit/, the effect of doing away with the outlier data points by means of the following diagram, which can be likened to removing the Fish Eye Effect -30 from the distorted Michelangelo picture just above to get back his undistorted Battle of Cascina (with all those naked Florentine soldiers surprised by the enemy while bathing).

Ovulona (FIV) fertile window vs. old (fuzzy ovulation estimate) methods

Ovulona 3-day fertile window versus old methods’ fuzzy estimation of the fertile period

Now, one more citation from the paper under discussion. QUOTE: The EHFM [Monitor] is a hand held device that reads a threshold level of urinary metabolites of estrogen (estrone 3 glucuronide) and luteinizing hormone (LH; on test strips) and provides the user with a low, high, and peak reading of fertility. The monitor is sold in the United States as a method to help couples achieve pregnancy but can be used as an aid to track fertility. QUOTE UNQUOTE

This statement reflects the thinking in those circles. But note: Because no single hormone determines the beginning and no single hormone determines the end of the fertile window (whether they know this or not) they have to speak of low, high and “peak reading of fertility”. We have previously referred to this as a fuzzy delineation of the fertile window [https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/ovulona-is-not-another-ovulation-kit ].

A little bit fertile, then more, and a peak? That is merely a reflection of not having the accuracy to determine the boundaries of the fertile phase.

Salvador Dali - Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Just like you cannot be only a little bit pregnant, you either can conceive today or not. No such thing as low fertility, only the uncertainty of “low reading”, and of all their readings – including their subjective self-observations. Subjective self-observations refer to the mucus appearance and feel in NFP practice – and if they used that too, the same limitation applies to palpating the cervix.

The most succinct word about all this is as follows:

The old approaches to detecting fertility status are to be referred to as peri-ovulation methods. Where the prefix refers not to the Peri of Persian folklore (earlier regarded as malevolent!) but to the Greek meaning of about, around, near or enclosing – in this case ovulation. Surely, peri-ovulation or peri-ovulatory is a more palatable word than fuzzy.

STOP PRESS

And now, go and check out the 2012 post “The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors” at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-fallacy-of-ovulation-calculators-calendars-and-circulating-hormone-detectors/

A few more peri-vernal equinox tweets on #conceiving, #fertility, achieving #pregnancy & #baby gender contrary to Shettles

March 21, 2010

While NFP users know that fertility awareness is a must for birth control

We all know that the peri in the title does not refer to any “one of a large group of beautiful, fairylike beings of Persian mythology…”. We know that “peri” is in fact a prefix meaning “about” or “around” and “near”, appearing in loanwords from Greek, such as in the title here [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peri].

Peri - 1865

Peri - 1865

And now for the last few tweets; again somewhat edited, since here we do not have the 140 character limit. And again with clickable links to further information, including the #hash tags with all sorts of tweets there by anybody using a given hash tag, in the manner of the Twitter social networking mechanism.

These tweets should do it for this departure into the so-called microblogging. Do check out http://to.ly/VCF for what a reliable #fertility tool is about. Read up on it http://to.ly/vUz

Here is a birth control product that will be in the competition category when we go into the birth control market: http://twitpic.com/1971ez – This is the device used to insert the ‘Mirena’ coil into the patient’s uterus. Sent via TwitPic. Retweeted by you and 1 other. The reason why this was re-tweeted by yours truly was to highlight the invasiveness of the pictured device, which bears no comparison with ours (quite apart from our device not inserting into the uterus). But, of course, our product is not out yet, with all its user-friendly and otherwise beneficial attributes. Any comments, dear reader, would be appreciated.

RT@pregnancyorg: Read about your cycles getting #pregnant before #conceiving http://ow.ly/1l765 — and then I suggest you also read http://to.ly/VCF and http://to.ly/vUz

RT@Averyugya81: ARTs [Artificial Reproductive Technologies] for #infertility treatment may pass on genetic defects – warns ART pioneer http://to.ly/1pOJ . This is reminiscent of the development when Father of the Pill Dr. Djerassi turned against oral contraception, promoting instead what he called “the Jet-Age Rhythm Method”, by which he meant fertility awareness (aided by technology, hence the reference to jet age)

RT@Averyugya81: How often do I have to have sex to get #pregnant? http://to.ly/1pPi

Adam and Eve by Tamara de Lempicka - solarized

How often?

– Every day for 20 days with 69% chance of success, write statisticians http://to.ly/1phs (from day x to day y of your cycle)

If this continues to be pleasuresome, carry on for months on end to overcome the odds. Else, you need focus, and see my earlier tweets. Fight statistics! (With pleasuresome determination and with the aid of a deterministic timing tool… in the offing)

Again: The odds are against us! #pregnancy #birth control #fertility #startup angel-investor-find-and-match… same difference! Odds are very low (without that focus)

@pregnancyorg‘s gender selection http://to.ly/1qkx seems to perpetuate the Shettles recipe. However, evidence http://to.ly/1nyK http://to.ly/1qmz contradicts Shettles (whose claims have the reputation of not being backed by or based on any properly designed clinical studies). Here is a summary of a solid study, which – for the lack of “Perfect” – employed three “Imperfect Measures” of ovulation as defined in the previous post. The three gave similar results. Female births at (or near) ovulation, male births 2 days earlier (or so)

Birth distribution by gender - France et al., focused NFP TTC study

Birth distribution by gender - France et al., focused NFP TTC study

The uncertainty expressed by the “or near” and “or so” is the consequence of the “Imperfect Measures”, but the trend is clear. Also rather clear is that the low birth counts flanking the high ones are data outliers due to measurement errors inherent in “Imperfect Measures”. For more on this, go to the earlier post at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/15/fetal-sex-pre-selection-%E2%80%93-the-fundamentals

Baby gender pre-selection will require a clinical study as stringent as the France et al. study was, but performed with our Ovulona instead of the inaccurate methods (BBT, Peak mucus, LH rise as opposed to LH surge apex)

Delville - Satan Treasures, 1895

Delville - Satan Treasures, 1895

RT@BabyMed: So can you get pregnant from having sex on your period? http://bit.ly/29yLQJ — THE absolute requirement is a RELIABLE #fertility monitor. (Persistent monitoring in the interest of evidence-based medicine)

RT@BabyMed: So can you get pregnant from having sex on your period? Yes, but only if the cycle is very short, which would be due to a very short follicular phase, which you can only detect with a RELIABLE monitor. (Not to track merely one, two or even three hormones in body fluids – you need to follow FIV™, Folliculogenesis In Vivo™)

RT@bioZhena RT@BabyMed: Furthermore, you want our built-in #pregnancy detection because it will see you #pregnant right away (not only about two weeks later), and – importantly – our device will also see if the pregnancy is lost, which happens quite frequently. See  https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/about-the-added-bonus-of-folliculogenesis-monitoring-automatic-pregnancy-detection . Early embryonic mortality is very high (according to some sources significantly more than 50%), and most of the losses of the conceptus occur early on, prior to 12 weeks. Mostly they occur sub-clinically, without the knowledge of the mother (by one expert source, 52% of all women who conceive experience early miscarriage…)             

RT@bioZhena: RT@BabyMed: Can #pregnancy result from sex on period? Yes, if it’s a very short cycle (due to a very short follicular phase) – which is unlikely – as the pre #ovulation phase is rarely that short. Since teenage cycles tend to be irregular and often short, this is of particular interest to sexually-active teens.  You must MONITOR your cycles if you don’t want any such surprise

RT@bioZhena: RT@BabyMed: Can #pregnancy result from sex on period? See here how unlikely it appears http://to.ly/1k9L . Unlikely, if the shortest follicular phase is 6 days. Menstrual bleeding would have to be as close to ovulation as 4 days, to make the answer unequivocally positive; that would mean cycle length of 18 days (or 16 to 20 days). Very rapid dominant follicle maturation. Until this (shortest follicular phase question) is investigated with our Ovulona monitor of Folliculogenesis In Vivo™ [FIV™], there is probably little data to invoke. I would be interested in any evidence.

Major studies decades ago revealed variability of menstrual cycles

March 10, 2010

But people are still naïve about the basic cause of the difficulty to achieve pregnancy

Sex education at school, its quality or otherwise, is likely to have much to do with fertility problems later in life. Many women (men, too, of course) can use the  keyboard with all their fingers (as well as their thumbs!) but have poor understanding of the basic functioning of their reproductive system.

colonial classroom

colonial-classroom.jpg

That ignorance is well known, and is underlying the fertility problems. You should see the pregnancy doctors’ tweets – replying to some incredible questions, and then the talk of various mysteries!

A shining example is this tale of “mysterious conception”. For the whole story see the Alphabet of bioZhena under M, “Mysterious conceptions (OR THE NONEXISTENCE THEREOF)” on page 34 or thereabout, from which I cite:

QUOTE:  It appears that we must dwell on this topic, because of stories and notions propagated in various pertinent circles. This writing has been prompted by page 176 in the excellent 1999 book “Woman” by Nathalie Angier, where the Pulitzer laureate relates the story of the mysterious conception of her only child. Mysterious, because it occurred, she believes and makes her readers believe, outside of ovulation and of the fertile window.

The reason for this entry in the Alphabet of bioZhena is that there is NO SUCH THING AS MYSTERIOUS CONCEPTIONS, there is only lack of information, or ignorance of the facts. We might say, intellectual misconceptions lead to “mysteries” in terms of conception, of babies conceived supposedly when conception was biologically impossible, and vice versa, some women have difficulties conceiving for the same fundamental reason. We shall use Ms. Angier’s case to make this point. UNQUOTE.

To drive the point home, here is an excerpt from John J. McCarthy, Jr. and H.E. Rockette, “Prediction of ovulation with basal body temperature”, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Volume 31 (No.8), Supplement, 742 – 747, 1986.

Referencing particularly large studies from 1967 and 1977, these BBT experts had this to say all those years ago (and never mind their “prediction” in the cited title whereas the BBT is well known to be no predictor):

QUOTE:  Cycle regularity is often assumed by both women and their physicians. The suggestion, that the BBT graph of the previous cycle can be used to identify the day of ovulation in the current cycle, requires nearly absolute cycle regularity. [However, note this:] The data collected by 1,085 women, who provided at least 6 or more charts each, were studied for cycle length variability. … The cycle length range was more than five days for 56% of the women who submitted 6 graphs, and for 75% of those with 12 graphs. … Absolute regularity was not demonstrated in as few as six cycles. Even when the cycle length that deviated the most was eliminated, less than 1% (8 of 1,085 women) had no variation in cycle length. When the number of cycles was extended to 12, no woman had variability of less than two days in cycle length. END OF QUOTE.

In real life, you realize, no cycle can be eliminated from the experience, and every day matters. Two days are very likely to make the difference between conception and the lack of it. And/or cause an unwanted pregnancy, for that matter.

middendorf_on_the_ball.jpg

Middendorf  – On the ball

The above findings are therefore the basis on which we can say quite categorically that nobody is as regular as a metronome (and nobody conceives in an anovulatory cycle), that there is no such thing as absolute regularity, whether 28 days or otherwise.

If you are in the sub-fertile category of people finding it difficult to become pregnant, you are likely to have cycle variability of more than 5 days over those months of your fruitless efforts that define your category. More likely than being one of the 0.74% of the population with no variation in cycle length, which under ideal conditions may also mean no variation in the time of ovulation. Persistent monitoring is well advised.

Variability of menstrual cycles and of ovulation timing

March 7, 2010

See how this complicates things whether you want pregnancy or want to avoid it

And yes, stress has something to do with it

In the previous post, I suggested that the terminology that speaks of sub-fertility or reduced fertility is misleading. If you did not stumble over it wondering why, then I am glad for you (I should say, for both of you!). Because you “got it” and you will now think of taking some appropriate steps, and those will NOT be to your insurance agent and/or – more likely – to your bank! (Referencing the high costs of the A.R.T., Artificial Reproductive Technologies.)

Because you understand that, until proven otherwise, your situation should be termed one of “instant conceptive gratification cannot be obtained probably due to wrong timing”. Nothing reduced or sub- about that! And, the adjective “conceptive” is meant to indicate that the hope is that the other kind of gratification has obtained. The one I referred to as physio-pleasure, but that would be a topic for another time…

Since you are not likely to have reviewed the menstrual variability references given in the previous post, I will document the notion of wrong time with our data. I mean the data from a small clinical trial carried out with a prototype of our core technology, the Ovulona™ for home use. This trial was performed by an independent group at Marquette University NFP clinic – with patients attending the clinic to learn NFP for one of two reasons: either because they experienced difficulties in achieving pregnancy, or because they wanted to learn NFP [Natural Family Planning] as a means of birth control. Or, maybe, they wanted to use NFP for both, at different phases of their lives.

We can look at data of 10 women, 2 cycles each, reviewing here the ovulation data obtained with said prototype of our Ovulona device.

The data are systematically documented (along with two reference methods for comparison) in the attached 1-page document (Variability of menstrual cycles), and I am doing my utmost to boil it all down for you to as brief a briefing as possible.

Listing of two consecutively detected ovulation days (ovulation marker detected by our device), and noting whether the cycle was subsequently categorized as regular or irregular, goes like this:

Ovulation day number in 2 consecutive cycles

Patient #1 16 (regular) 17 (regular)
Patient #2 14 (regular) 17 (irregular)
Patient #3 17 (regular) data absent
Patient #4 15 (irregular) 14 (irregular)

The list goes on, and you should know that “irregular” means “challenged”, and means something of a problem that our modern lifestyle presents to the biology of our women.

One patient provided data from her four cycles, and the variability was – not surprisingly – even more pronounced (-5 days, +5 days, -3 days):

Patient #9

18 (irregular)

13 (regular)

Patient #9

18 (irregular)

15 (regular)

The following table shows the wide spread of the differences between ovulation days in two consecutive menstrual cycles of 10 women attending said NFP clinic.

Summary of 10 patients, 2 consecutive cycles each

Patient #

Ovulation days in 2 consecutive cycles

Difference between those cycles

Regular cycles or not

Age

Has given birth already or not

1

16, 17

+1

both regular

35

mother

2

14, 17

+3

2nd  irregular

33

mother

3

17, NA

NA

first regular

42

mother

4

15, 14

-1

both irregular

33

mother

5

20, NA

NA

first regular

30

mother

6

19, 18

-1

both irregular

38

mother

7

16, 15

-3

both regular

29

no children

8

21, 24

+3

2nd irregular

19

no children

9

18, 13

-5

first irregular

41

no children

10

10, 12

+2

2nd irregular

22

no children

Differences from -5 to +3 days are recorded in this small sample, and the one woman with 4 cycle records showed +5 days, too, which illustrates that the more cycles are followed, the larger the spread of ovulation days becomes (this is “cycle irregularity” in the conventional, usual sense).

These are differences between just two successive menstrual cycles. The situation becomes more involved when many more cycles are reviewed, as has been done in the studies years ago using BBT charting data. The data of those long-term studies of many menstrual cycles charted by many women are still used today by biostatisticians studying things such as the possibility of sequential predictions of menstrual cycle lengths – the cycle length being primarily dependent on the pre-ovulation part of the cycle (in absence of any complications).

Here is a very good example of cycle length variability of a woman who charted well over a hundred of her menstrual cycles ( ref.: Figure 1 http://biostatistics.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/4/741/F1.large.jpg in Paola Bortot, Guido Masarotto, and Bruno Scarpa, “Sequential predictions of menstrual cycle lengths”, Biostat (2010) 11 (4): 741-755 http://biostatistics.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/4/741.full ).

Variability of menstrual cycle lengths of a woman who charted more than 100 cycles

Variability of menstrual cycle lengths of a woman who charted more than 100 cycles

I should remind you that our meaning of regularity is as indicated and documented in the attached summary, “Variability of menstrual cycles”. Regular cycles are those where our ovulation marker is within 1 day of LH peak or of the day of Peak mucus (Pk).

Our meaning of irregularity is defined as those cycles where the ovulation marker day data is not within 1 day of said hormone-detecting parameters (LH and estrogen, respectively), and is always higher – signifying delayed ovulation (delayed with respect to the hormonal signals).

As I said above, “irregular” in our parlance means “challenged”, and it means something of a problem that our modern lifestyle presents to the biology of our women. More often than not, the challenge is stress, which I discussed in this blog earlier in at least two posts. Our FIV technology (aka the Ovulona personal monitor) detects the effects of stress, and helps to deal with the consequences in terms of its effect on fertility status.

STOP PRESS

And now, go and check out the 2012 post “The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors” at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-fallacy-of-ovulation-calculators-calendars-and-circulating-hormone-detectors/

Far more than a tool for getting pregnant and for pregnancy avoidance

March 12, 2009

On symptometric monitoring correlated with folliculogenesis: Why it is essential for effective diagnosis in women’s healthcare

The purpose of this article is to bring to your attention the big picture. That is the fact that the potential impact of the bioZhena technology goes beyond reproductive management. We illustrate how we mean it when we invoke the vision that the Ovulona device will become a friendly routinely-used companion tool with numerous diagnostic ramifications for women everywhere.

The natural interest of the woman-user in being in charge of her reproductive life leads to the possibility of using the information gathered in the process for additional medical purposes, some not so obvious in the context of the menstrual cycle signature. The Ovulona cyclic profile is the signature of the menstrual-cycle vital sign.

Menstrual cyclic profile signature of the HPG feedback mechanism

To enlarge the image, click https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/menstrual-cyclic-profile-signature-of-the-hpg-feedback-mechanism.jpg   The H-P-G feedback loop (F) gives rise to the menstrual cyclic profile signatures. See also https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/wealth-of-info-elucidation-silent-3-slides-animated-ed.pdf

You will follow the discussion here better if you peruse the bioZhena weblog article, listed under Pages and titled, What is symptometric? What is the meaning of “symptometric data”? The answer in a nutshell: Symptometry means symptoms quantified and charted.

Now for a possible application. You probably do realize that there are gender differences in how patients respond to therapy, and you do not need reminding that cardiovascular disease is a big problem for women’s health, far from killing mainly male victims.

In this context we hint at an electronic interface that will function to navigate through a menu that provides for a daily registration of quantified symptoms by means of one of the standard medical symptometric inventories such as the Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences (COPE), or the Daily Record of Severity of Problems (DRSP), etc. This will replace the paper forms used today, and the data from any number of months stored in the device will be transferred to the patient’s healthcare provider(s). The longitudinal record of menstrual cyclic signatures provides a new means of patient profiling.

The DIU will facilitate electronic recording of quantified symptoms

The DIU will facilitate electronic recording of quantified symptoms. Below we show the planned transformation of the Ovulona into a semi-permanently worn cervical ring telemetric device.

Friendly Tech & Next Gen Design Panorama ed2

See the image better in slide 4 of QUICK INTRO 4 SLIDES at Friendly Technology and Next Generation Design

By design, the symptometric data will be correlated with the Ovulona data on folliculogenesis – and will be far better than the old, inefficient and costly, paper-using procedures of yesteryear (those did not employ any folliculogenesis correlation, of course). No need to invoke the evolving societal requirements in general healthcare policy towards cost-effectiveness, etc.

A recent health news headline declares: “More evidence that depression is hard on the heart”, and here is the synopsis: Severe depression may silently break a seemingly healthy woman’s heart. Doctors have long known that depression is common after a heart attack or stroke, and worsens those people’s outcomes. Monday, Columbia University researchers reported new evidence that depression can lead to heart disease in the first place [http://channels.isp.netscape.com/news/story.jsp?floc=ne-story-9-l9&idq=/ff/story/0001%2F20090310%2F0629929017.htm&sc=1500 03/10/09 06:29 © Copyright The Associated Press].

The issue is not the reported “big surprise: Sudden cardiac death seemed more closely linked with antidepressant use than with the depression symptoms the women reported. That might simply mean that women who used antidepressants were, appropriately, the most seriously depressed, cautioned lead researcher Dr. William Whang. But he said the finding merited more research” [loc. cit.].

The issue is that not only more research but all routine women’s health practice requires the knowledge of how symptoms relate to (correlate with) the course of the menstrual cycle or, more accurately put, the course of folliculogenesis.

For an illustration, refer to Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and PMDD

Effective therapy requires this differential diagnosis, and our technology will do three things for public health:

1. Enable routine quantitative recording of symptoms,
2. Correlate symptoms with the underlying folliculogenesis process, and
3. Allow for individualization of therapy (titrate medication doses for individuals).

This is one of the examples of non-reproductive applications of the bioZhena planned products; this is simply a reminder that the core product, the Ovulona™ for reproductive management, is far from the only planned product offering.

The Ovulona™ is the core product with various diagnostic ramifications within the bioZhena Fertility and Health Awareness System™.

Parturition means birthing (birth) and dystocia a difficult one

January 9, 2008

And what is a parturition alarm?

For these and other entries, see the Alphabet of bioZhena at

https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

Parturition alarm:

This is a concept that has to do with the need to know when labor or delivery is beginning, because the birthing female may be in need of help.

At the time of writing the first Alphabet draft more than five years ago, an Internet search produced only one such technology, a pressure-sensing girth, suitable for the horse breeder only, because it utilizes the fact that the horse mare lies on her side only in the process of parturition. To illustrate, we borrow a nice picture from a more recent publication found in today’s search on parturition alarm, which search still shows a preponderance of equine innovations:

Equine birth alarm

In the originally noted publication, reference was made to some other method that would detect the emergence of the amniotic sac or of the foal from the vulva (vaginal orifice) but that was not a satisfactory solution. In the horse-breeding arena, about 5-6% of births require help. Various approaches to the birth alarm solution have been attempted.

These days, there are quite a few patents etc. found in the parturition alarm search. And even 5 years ago, a patent from New Mexico University should have been found because their intra-vaginal parturition alarm patent (basically for cows) was published in 1987.

In human obstetrics, where most births take place in hospitals, determining the right time of confinement would be very beneficial. bioZhena (and/or its sister company, bioPecus) will investigate our vaginal sensor technology – suitably modified – with a view to developing a parturition alarm applicable to any mammal.

Also relevant in this context is the implication of the Ovulona making available the menstrual cycle (folliculogenesis) data over many months or cycles before conception. This will enable a more accurate anticipation of the EDD, Expected Date of Delivery. You will understand this better below, under Parturition. I highly recommend that you check out Figuring Your Due Date, too – from the Midwife Archives.

Let us put it this way: Since this is the bioZhena blog (and not bioPecus, for veterinary tools), the EDD issue must be addressed first, before any parturition alarm developments. Because we are primarily concerned with the Rerum Naturare Feminina.

And it would still be of great interest to hear from an expert Latinist about the correct way of saying this in plural, the Natural Thing of Women, the Women’s Natural Thing…

This being a reference to /2007/12/16/cervix-uteri-and-seven-or-eight-related-things/ .

Parturition:

The process of giving birth; childbirth. [From Late Latin parturitio, from Latin parturitus, past participle of parturire, to be in labor.]

Parturition is illustrated at http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/esp/2001_saladin/folder_structure/re/m2/s5/ .

The illustration’s legend indicates that physicians usually calculate the gestation period (length of the pregnancy) as 280 days: 40 weeks or 10 lunar months from the last menstrual period (LMP) to the date of confinement, which is the estimated date of delivery of the infant [EDD].

Indubitably, due dates are a little-understood concept:

“Truth is, even if you know the exact date when you ovulated, you still can only estimate the baby’s unique gestational cycle to about plus or minus two weeks” [ http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/dueDates.html ]. Why should that be? Because of the variability of your menstrual cycle lengths? (They vary even if you do not think so).

Statistically, the gestation time for human babies has a mean of 278 days and a standard deviation of 12 days, an uncomfortably large spread. The old Naegele Rule of a 40-week pregnancy was invented by a Bible-inspired botanist Harmanni Boerhaave in 1744 and later promoted by Franz Naegele in 1812. It is still believed to work fairly well as a rule of thumb for many pregnancies. However, the rule of thumb also suggests: “If your menstrual cycles are about 28 days, quite regular, and this is not your first child, your physician’s dating is probably fine. If your cycles are longer or irregular, or if this is your first child, the due date your physician has given you may be off, setting you up for all kinds of problems” (induction, interventions, C-section among them).

This is where the bioZhena technology can be expected to provide help, making it possible to reckon the EDD with recorded menstrual cycle (folliculogenesis history) data rather than merely with the LMP + 280 days. This, once properly researched, may be expected to have a significant impact on obstetric management. — Any comments?

It is ironic that, in this age of technological medicine, American women worry about their birthing process not being allowed to take its own natural course on account of an ancient method of predicting the EDD.

Ironically, the 40 week dogma – which is the gestational counterpart of the unacceptable calendar method of birth control (the so-called “Vatican roulette”) – does not reconcile the 295+ days of the 10 lunar months; and yet, at the same time, the U.S. has an unusually high perinatal death rate, resulting from high statistics of too early (preterm) labor. Quid agitur? See also under Gestation.

Dystocia or birthing difficulty:

Dystocia is difficult delivery, difficult parturition. From Latin dys-, bad, from Greek dus-, ill, hard + Greek tokos, delivery. Calf losses at birth result in a major reduction in the net calf crop. Data show that 60% of these losses are due to dystocia (defined as delayed and difficult birth) and at least 50% of these calf deaths could be prevented by timely obstetrical assistance. The USDA web site http://larrl.ars.usda.gov/physiology_history.htm is apparently no longer there but when it was it indicated that an electronic calving monitor was being developed to determine maternal and fetal stress during calving. These studies are important since they are leading the way for developing methods to reduce the $800 million calf and cow loss that occurs each year at calving in the USA’s beef herds.

In analogy with the superiority of in vivo monitoring of folliculogenesis versus tracking behavioral estrus (heat), in vivo monitoring of the progress towards parturition must be a priori a more promising approach.

The telemetric version of the BioMeter – the animal version of the Ovulona technology – will hopefully provide a tool for these efforts. Once tested on animals, human use will be a logical extension of the endeavor. (Or endeavour, should it take place in Europe! Smiley…)

Comment about the EDD and/or EDC issue, and request for input:

Again, EDD stands for Estimated Day of Delivery, while EDC stands for Estimated Day of Confinement.

Per Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence, article Gestation Period and Gestational Age [ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2602/is_0002/ai_2602000272 ], ” 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.”

The Ovulona device from bioZhena will provide to the woman user a very simple means to record the day of any intercourse. In every cycle, whether pregnancy is planned or not. This must become a part of the routine. The information will be electronically recorded along with the daily or almost-daily measurement data inherent in the use of the Ovulona. With that menstrual cycling history data, this intercourse-timing information will be available for optional use by the woman’s physician(s).

Therefore, the routine use of the Ovulona will provide for an equivalent of the above-referenced 38-week (266 days) calculation available to the women receiving IVF or artificial insemination.

This alone should be an improvement on the current way of EDD/EDC assessment.

In addition, an investigation should be undertaken into the question of whether any inference can be drawn from the woman’s menstrual cycle history prior to the conceptive intercourse. Any comments on this would be welcome, even about anecdotal or subjective or tentative observations that may be available already. However non-scientific, however tentative, however uncertain an individual answer or input from you may be…

E.g., do women with more or less regular cycles tend to exhibit a regular gestation period, and vice versa?

And, certainly, what evidence is available in medical literature (or maybe in unpublished records?) about the outcomes of the IVF and/or artificial insemination pregnancies, i.e., about their documented gestation periods? Does the 38 weeks projection work? Always? If not always, can anything be correlated with any deviation?

Do women with distinctly irregular menstrual cycles tend to have non-regular gestation periods?

The complicating effect of first versus subsequent pregnancy has already been noted, of course…

Conceivably, there is no such preliminary info available, and we shall have to try and gather even these preliminary data in a systematic manner, but – no question asked, nothing learned… Public or private input would be appreciated.

Birthday, and how it relates to the bioZhena enterprise – eukairosic™ diagnostic tools

December 28, 2007

Today is a major anniversary related to the bioZhena enterprise. Namely, a round-number (and not small) birthday of the offspring whose begetting had much, if not everything, to do with the inception of the project.

The biologically educated member of the would-be parental team insisted that medical help would have to be the very last resort, as she did not wish to be poked in and subjected to the various medical procedures available in the country of the proud Albion (that, alas, no longer ruled the waves!), where this awakening was going on. The image of what she resented getting into is telling, and it’s not even the whole story.

Woman in stirups sketch

Awakening on the part of said couple, who till then took steps to minimize or theoretically avoid getting in the family way, owing to circumstances. As in too many instances the world over, the “awakening” was left until somewhat too late. I do not wish to talk about age specifics, but you probably know that particularly female fertility (more accurately put, fecundity or fecundability) decreases starting around or even before the Christ’s age, and so – in retrospect – it was no great surprise to find that achieving pregnancy was not as simple as expected. At the time, actually, this was a great surprise…

At the time, yours truly was not an expert in the field that deals with certain practicalities of the most important aspect of life, by which many of us mean procreation, reproduction, and its management. I am referring to some insight into the practicalities on the female side of things procreative, which insight was not there at the time – but the better half knew the basic fundamental that I now delight in referencing as eukairosic.

In a nutshell, the word refers to the right time, opportune time – exactly what we are about the strategic or “right time; the opportune point of time at which something should be done.” A window of opportunity is kairos time.

For more about this, the Wikipedia article can be recommended, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos . Let’s cite: Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the “right or opportune moment,” or “God’s time” [sic; thus said – but this should say “gods’ time”]. The ancient Greeks had many gods, and two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies “a time in between”, a moment of undetermined period of time in which “something” special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. END QUOTE.

If you visit that article, you will probably understand why I would like to look at the possibility of adopting as our company logo QUOTE a monochrome fresco by Mantegna at Palazzo Ducale in Mantua (about 1510 C.E.) that shows a female Kairos (most probably Occasio)… UNQUOTE.

You will also appreciate that, since we are not theologians, and because “eu-“ is the Greek prefix meaning well or good or true or easy, my choice of the adjective that we want to trademark as descriptive of bioZhena’s wares is eukairosic™.

And so here, for the sake of accurate definition, is one other item from The Alphabet of bioZhena – /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

Fecundability and fecundity:

Fecundability is the probability of achieving pregnancy within one menstrual cycle – about 20% or maybe 25% in normal couples [sic; the probability depends on many factors, including age – vide infra, or see below].

Fecundity is the ability to achieve a live birth.

Fecundability is strongly influenced by the age of the partners, and it is maximal at about age 24. There is a slight decline at ages 24 – 30, and a rapid decline after age 30.

The words are derived from Latin fecundus, fecund, from the root of fetus, via Old French fecond. Fecund means fruitful in children, or prolific.

As for the eukairosic diagnostic tools, their utility goes beyond reproductive management. Due to folliculogenesis (menstrual cycling), even things such as administration of medications or certain diagnostic examinations must be performed at the right time within the menstrual cycle…

Scire quod sciendum

fecundoscitus!!! 🙂

Thus spoke the exegete and father of Barnaby and Petrushka, Vaclav Kirsner © 2007

 ‘To know what is to be known’.

Stress and fertility

December 22, 2007
Please click through to the 2019 revision of this post at
https://biozhena.wordpress.com/stress-and-fertility-fertile-window-ovulation/

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 timing 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 sympathetic nervous system are involved in the stress response. Don’t get stressed by some undecipherable abbreviations or unknown words — look up The Alphabet of bioZhena, you may find it or them in there!

Just remember, this is no Alphabet of Ben Sira!

( /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/)

021r from The Book of Urizen

Stress and the menstrual cycle

“It is a matter of conventional wisdom that perturbations in the external or internal environments – that is stress – can interfere with the normal course of the menstrual cycle.” To further quote the expert, “disturbances in the menstrual cycle occur in response to exercise and physical demands, stress and emotional demands, and diet and nutritional demands” [citation below, ref. 17].

As Michel J. Ferin writes, with reference to the brain component of the female reproductive control system, “with minimal reduction in (GnRH) pulse frequency, small undetected defects in the follicular maturation process may occur, whereas with a higher degree of pulse inhibition the follicular phase may be prolonged, and luteal phase deficiency, anovulation, and amenorrhea may develop.”

A micro-glossary: The follicular maturation process is also called folliculogenesis. GnRH is a brain-produced hormone involved in folliculogenesis. A maturing follicle is a small, protective sac, gland, or cluster of cells in the ovary, in which an egg (ovum) develops towards ovulation, in order to have a chance to be fertilized.

 

What is folliculogenesis - like EKG

 

And here is for you a baseline picture of how our folliculogenesis-in-vivo technique captures the course of folliculogenesis in baseline subjects (healthy and chemically clean i.e. no medication, less than 35 years old). Take your time to study the wealth of information particularly in the right-hand part of the image (use the linked slide):

 

 

For better legibility, click on the image. For more detail (presented in a PDF of 3 slides better viewed – incl. presenter notes – in Firefox, not in Chrome), go to:  https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/wealth-of-info-elucidation-silent-3-slides-animated-ed.pdf .  For the animation and narration of the first two slides, go to: https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/wealth-of-info-elucidation-3-animated-slides-2-narrated.pps (again, Firefox works while Chrome does not, at least here for me).

As for the scientific background of our work:  https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/what-is-stress.pdf is an ad hoc selection of a few abstracts from my files in (or before) 2007 on papers addressing ovulation, reproduction, folliculogenesis and stress. I referred to said area of biomedical science as psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology. Your perusal of the material with my markings (highlights) will help you understand the significance of the bioZhena technology for women’s healthcare and self-care. (The footer in the document shows obsolete email and physical addresses.)

Stress and the OvulonaTM

As introduced above, our electrochemical sensor of the ectocervix, the OvulonaTM, is a smart tissue biosensor for women’s reproductive self-help. It records menstrual cycle vital sign  signature data for OBGYN, PRIMARY CARE, RE and other healthcare providers’ use when needed.

Results obtained with our Ovulona prototypes lead to the conclusion that the technique appears to detect such phenomena as referred to by Dr. Ferin.

This is not merely the detected different rates of follicular maturation in different menstrual cycles, but even more significantly the delayed ovulations in those cycles where it takes longer than 1 day to reach the ovulation marker trough (minimum), as observed in some non-baseline subjects’ cyclic profiles. And the unprecedented  detection of the absence of dominant follicle maturation, which makes the woman infertile in the present menstrual cycle. Click on the composite image below for a better resolution of the contents.

Short luteal phase and LPD examples of the Ovulona(TM)'s diagnostic power

Here (in the upper image) is the detection of Ferin’s “minimal reduction in (GnRH) pulse frequency, small undetected defects in the follicular maturation process may occur”.

Whereas (lower image), “with a higher degree of pulse inhibition the follicular phase may be prolonged, and luteal phase deficiency [LPD], anovulation, and amenorrhea may develop” – and, indeed, we have seen the LPD, the extended follicular phase and short luteal phase, and other aberrations in the cyclic profiles of different women over the years.

bioZhena’s technique is basically detecting non-pathological stress responses in menstrual cycles through monitoring cervical end-organ effects. Pathological stress responses are captured as well.

Abnormal cyclic patterns of the end-organ effects may serve as an early warning of pathological disorders. This remains to be systematically investigated. Anecdotal evidence in non-baseline cyclic profiles is compelling.

For a hint of how this came about, including samples of data from two pilot studies by independent investigators testing our prototypes, refer to these five  slides (they take a few moments to open; some browsers such as Firefox seem better for it): Five slides selected for bioZhena weblog

The five slides are as old as the text of the original blog post, so perhaps a recent more detailed explanatory illustration (clickable for better legibility) might be in order:

 

Ovulona detects delayed ovulation

 

For better legibility of the contents and for links to the references, see the PDF of the slide shown in the image: https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/single-slide-ovulona-detects-delayed-ovulation-w.-links.pdf  (You can enlarge the contents using the browser zoom, or use the PPS slide show version of the slide (it takes a few moments to open): https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/single-slide-ovulona-detects-delayed-ovulation-w.-links.pps)

In general, the non-baseline cyclic profiles present certain quantitative deviations from baseline: e.g., their post-ovulation (luteal) phase can be not of the normal length of about 14 days (12 to 16) as in one of the illustrated cycles above. In such abnormal cycles with short luteal phases (<11 days, observed more often in older women), there is a lack of synchrony due to a mismatch between the ovarian steroids and the pituitary peptides [S.K. Smith et al., J. Reprod. Fert. 75:363, 1985].

Here is an example of a non-baseline cyclic profile of a woman with a short luteal phase (8 days); for comparison, the woman’s BBT profile in the same cycle is also shown:

Short luteal phase cyclic profile

A woman’s history of amenorrhea and/or of ovarian cysts is pertinent to the case of abnormally short luteal phase, but so is stress and its effect on the GnRH hormone generator in the hypothalamus of the brain, which affects the output of the pituitary peptides.

For example, it is known in a general way that norepinephrine and possibly epinephrine in the hypothalamus increase the GnRH pulse frequency. Conversely, the endogeneous opioid peptides, the enkephalins and beta-endorphin, reduce the frequency of the GnRH pulses. These interactions are particularly important at the time of the “mid-cycle” LH surge, affecting its timing and intensity [W.F. Ganong, Review of Medical Physiology, 17th edition, Appleton & Lange, 1995, Chapter 23].

The slow rate of descent of the Ovulona signal – seen in slides 1 and 2 of the 5 slides  above – descent from the short-term predictive peak to the ovulation marker trough (minimum) is a useful diagnostic feature that is indicative of an extended period of time required for the two “clocks” (the circhoral and the circamensual) to become synchronized as a precondition of ovulation.

Activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis by physical, chemical, and psychological perturbations is known to result in elevated levels of serum corticosteroid hormones. Corticosteroids are the principal effectors in the stress response and are thought to be responsible for both adaptational and maladaptational response to perturbing situations. They have profound effects on mood and behavior, and affect neurochemical transmission and neuroendocrine control.

Stress double whammy

Cortisol, the predominant corticosteroid in primates, is often regarded as the “stress hormone” and consequently serves as a marker of stress. Cortisol can be measured in blood, urine, and saliva. For information about the adrenal gland and stress, go to http://arbl.cvmbs.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/adrenal/index.html .

We logically mentioned stress in the post on Sub-fertility (or Reduced Fertility), in the following reminder. The endocrinologist professor Brown may be quoted:

“Failing to conceive when wanted is stressful and therefore favours infertility. It should be remembered that, apart from a few conditions such as blocked fallopian tubes, absent sperm and continued anovulation, most couples will conceive eventually without help. However, the modern expectation is one of immediate results, and the main function of assisted reproduction techniques is therefore to shorten the waiting time for conception.”

To which we would add that bioZhena aims to offer a more affordable and safer alternative to the A.R.T. approach. Besides offering to women’s healthcare providers the diagnostic technique with the capabilities outlined in the foregoing.

References as excerpted from our White Paper:

[17] Michel J. Ferin, “The menstrual cycle: An integrative view”, Chapter 6 in [2], pages 103 – 121.

[2] Eli Y. Adashi, John A. Rock, and Zev Rosenwaks, editors, “Reproductive Endocrinology, Surgery, and Technology”, Lippincott – Raven, 1996.

Terminology reminder:

Luteal phase is the phase after ovulation. Follicular phase is the phase before ovulation. Referencing the phases of the menstrual cycle. Amenorrhea = abnormal absence of menstrual bleeding. GnRH = gonadotropin releasing hormone. See The Alphabet of bioZhena at /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

Cervix uteri and seven or eight related things

December 16, 2007

For these and other terms, see the Alphabet of bioZhena at /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

Rerum Naturare Feminina. A Woman’s Natural Thing. In the lingua franca of the ancients.

The reader of this bioZhena’s Weblog article will or should be well aware that a woman’s menstrual cycle lengths are quite variable, as is the timing of her ovulation within those menstrual cycles. For evidence of this variability, see another blog post at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/variability-of-menstrual-cycles-and-of-ovulation-timing/ (opens in new tab/window). Our focus on the cervix uteri is clarified below in this article.

Cervix:

The narrow lower part of the uterus (womb), with an opening that connects the uterus to the vagina. It contains special glands called the crypts that produce mucus, which helps to keep bacteria (and other microbes, including sperm for most of the cycle) out of the uterus and beyond. Sometimes called the neck of the womb, it protrudes into the vagina. The region around the cervical protrusion is known as the vaginal fornix. The sanitary vaginal tampon is inserted so as to reach into the posterior fornix. Likewise the bioZhena sensor. As simple as that.

The cervix is the gateway to the uterus and has a lot of important and challenging roles. It must allow the passage of either sperm (or penis, in some species) at copulation, prevent the entrance of microorganisms before and particularly during pregnancy, and expel the neonate and placenta at parturition (birth). It is a muscular tube that has a very dynamic role in both the menstrual cycle and in forming a tight seal during pregnancy, but opening to form a broad passageway at birth. The multitude of physiological roles of this gateway has caused it to become an important element or focus of the bioZhena technology.

Cervical mucus:

The fluid secreted by the inner walls of the cervical canal and exuded by the cervix. The amount and the properties of the fluid change depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle, e.g., from practically nonexistent during the so-called dry days early in the cycle to the relatively copious amounts of clear slippery fluid during the fertile days.

Cervical mucus is essential for the ability of the sperm to function properly: sperm survival and sperm transport within the woman’s reproductive system are critically dependent upon the presence of a healthy mucus.

To quote a noted expert, 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 oestrogens, 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.” He also wrote: “After 3 to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced … A pregnancy rejuvenates the cervix by 2-3 years, but for each year the Pill is taken, the cervix ages by an extra year.” Web reference:http://www.billings-ovulation-method.org.au/act/pill.html .

Cervical mucus method:

A method of determining a woman’s fertility by observing changes in her cervical mucus. The Billings ovulation method and the Creighton model ovulation method are both cervical mucus methods.

Cervical palpation:

Feeling the cervix with the middle finger of the thus trained woman-user of FAM or NFP to determine cervical position. This is not a widely used procedure, and is not involved in the Billings and Creighton ovulation methods.

Cervical position:

Three facets of the cervix (its height, softness and the size of its opening, the cervical os) assessed for fertility significance by specially trained users of this method of NFP or FAM. Not many of those around…

Colposcope:

A viewing instrument with a bright light and magnifying lens that is used to examine the vagina and cervix stained with special solutions. Colposcopy: Examination of the vaginal and cervical epithelia by means of a colposcope. [Greek kolpos, vagina, womb + -scopy, suffix that signifies viewing; seeing; observation: as in microscopy. From Greek -skopi, from skopein, to see.] Colposcopy is the diagnostic procedure to evaluate patients whose Pap smear screening produced abnormal cytological smear results.

Billings Ovulation Method (BOM):

An NFP method in which the fertile days are identified exclusively by observations of cervical fluid at the vaginal opening. Developed by the Australian Drs. John and Evelyn Billings. An international survey in 1987 indicated that at least 50 million couples were using the method, and the number is said to be increasing from year to year. It has also been estimated that 80% of natural family planning world-wide is now the Billings ovulation method. In 1978 an international conference in Melbourne was attended by delegates from 48 countries. See also the cervical mucus method.

Creighton model ovulation method:

An NFP method of vaginal-cervical mucus self-evaluation according to criteria developed by Thomas Hilgers, M.D. at St. Louis and Creighton Universities. The criteria are called the vaginal discharge recording system (VDRS) and require that women check for the mucus by wiping the outside of their vaginas with bathroom tissue, checking the mucus for color, stretch and consistency. The last day of mucus that is either clear on appearance, stretches an inch or more, and/or causes the sensation of lubrication is called the peak mucus day. The method is similar to the Billings ovulation method.

.

bioZhena’s method of monitoring the cervix:

And then we have the bioZhena method, with the Ovulona inserted briefly just like a tampon applicator, and taking a reading of the fertility status (most of the time NOT FERTILE = cannot conceive; only 3 days of fertility in each menstrual cycle):

Ovulona™

The DIU is or will be an auxiliary add-on

 

 How the Ovulona will be transformed into a (semi-) permanently worn cervical ring obviating daily insertion is shown in slide 4 of QUICK INTRO 4 SLIDES at

Friendly Technology and Next Generation Design

The natural interest of women in being in charge of their reproductive life leads to the possibility of using the information gathered in the process for additional medical purposes. The Ovulona cyclic profile is the signature of the menstrual-cycle vital sign, which is the result of the illustrated interaction between the female brain and the ovaries – the so-called Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonad Feedback Loop (F). (This editing added here in 2016.)

Menstrual cyclic profile signature of the HPG feedback mechanism

To enlarge the image, click https://biozhena.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/menstrual-cyclic-profile-signature-of-the-hpg-feedback-mechanism.jpg

The H-P-G feedback loop (F) gives rise to the menstrual cyclic profile signatures captured by the bioZhena technology.

Here is why the bioZhena technology had to be invented. One way of saying this is: The available means, methods or products, were not good enough. Another way of putting this is to quote from medical literature, as follows.

A symposium on ovulation prediction in the treatment of infertility covered all the phenomena known to be associated with ovulation [reference 9]. Moghissi, who discussed more than 20 measurable parameters that vary during the menstrual cycle, stated the following [reference 8]: “Mid-cycle mucorrhea, ferning, spinnbarkeit, lowered cell content, and viscosity of cervical mucus are used commonly in ovulation detection and as an index of the estrogenic response of cervical epithelium. However, these changes extend over several days … (These changes) do not necessarily indicate ovulation, and are merely an index of the optimal amount of circulating estrogen…”.

In brief, none of the methods determined ovulation with the required accuracy to be useful either as a conception aid or especially for birth control. Here is how our method (monitoring folliculogenesis) does it by generating the multi-featured cyclic profile that includes the definitive ovulation marker after the predictive signals, and here is how this compares with the older techniques. See how inaccurate is the ovulation assessment by the older means available to the users of NFP or FAM (spread over 3 days):

Marquette comparison with LH kit and Peak mucus – right click on the link to open a larger PDF version of the image.

Marquette comparison with LH kit and Peak mucus

In this example, our device detected delayed ovulation while the LH ovulation kit indicated positive for ovulation on two days (not just one) and the mucus assessment (Creighton method) indicated positive one day later. The LH was positive the day before as well as on the day of the ovulation marker (day 17), while the Peak mucus day indicated ovulation one day after the ovulation marker day.

The spread of 3 days is not acceptable, but it is actually quite typical of the uncertainty associated with these older techniques. You know what that means, don’t you, because you know that every day matters. Their lack of accuracy and precision renders the older techniques not good enough – which is where we started.

Cited references:

[8] Kamran S. Moghissi, “Cervical mucus changes and ovulation prediction and detection”, Journal of Reproductive Medicine 31 (Number 8), Supplement, 748 – 753, 1986.

[9] Stephen L. Corson, guest editor, “Ovulation Prediction in the Treatment of Infertility. A Symposium”, Journal of Reproductive Medicine 32 (Number 8), Supplement, 739, 1986.

Review and listen to 3 narrated slides summarizing the bioZhena technology. Contemplate the importance of the cervix uteri.


%d bloggers like this: