GIVF eNews

June 2012 eNews

Father's Day Present: Fathers Live Longer, Happier Lives

Is parenthood the key to living a longer, healthier, happier life for men? Recently released research from three North American universities indicates that men who are parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning from life than non-parents and may be less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. These findings were pronounced for fathers at older ages.

Results of studies on parental happiness and satisfaction from Stanford University, the University of British Columbia and University of California at Riverside appear in the paper, "In Defense of Parenthood: Children Are Associated With More Joy Than Misery", in the journal Psychological Science.

Fathers felt greater levels of happiness, felt more meaning in life and experienced more positive emotions than peers without children, according to the new studies on parental happiness. Sonja Lyobomirsky, a psychology professor from the University of California at Riverside and a co-author of the study, says, "We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning."

The three studies detailed in "In Defense of Parenthood...." explored whether parents are happier overall than their childless peers, if parents feel better moment to moment than non-parents and whether parents experience more positive feelings when taking care of children than during their daily activities. The findings indicate that parenthood, despite the associated stresses and responsibilities, brings parents more positive emotions than negatives. The results of this research mesh with evolutionary perspectives that suggest that parenting may be a fundamental human need.

"If you went to a large dinner party, our findings suggest that the parents in the room would be as happy as or happier than those guests without children," says University of British Columbia psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn, who co-authored the study with colleagues from Stanford University and the University of California at Riverside.

Results from another Stanford University study indicate that dads also might be healthier than their childless peers. A ten year study by Stanford researchers of more than 130,000 retired men age 50 or over who were married or formerly married revealed that the number of cardiovascular-related deaths was 17 percent higher among the childless men than among fathers. The study's author, Dr. Eisenberg, says, "Maybe having children causes men to have healthier behaviors, so fathers will live longer.”

What's New at GIVF

  • Talk to a Fertility Expert

    Free fertility consults this summer

    New incoming patients will receive free fertility consults with one of our board certified reproductive endocrinologists for consultations held in office in either Fairfax or Bethesda between June 1 and August 31, 2012. Click here to schedule an appointment.

  • Thinking about starting fertility treatment?

    GIVF offers IUI Plus

    GIVF is very happy to provide a new highly affordable treatment option to new patients seeking fertility treatment. IUI Plus provides the following great features:

    • Up to three IUIs for the price of two
    • Dollar-for-Dollar credit for IUI base fee costs against a future Multicycle or Delivery Promise IVF contract, if medically indicated.
    Read more about IUI Plus here.

  • MicroSort® Available Internationally

    MicroSort technology is now available for American patients through labs in Mexico City, Guadalajara and North Cyprus. MicroSort can be used for the avoidance of genetic disease or family balancing and in pre-conception IUIs, IVF or in combination with PGD through physicians in these countries who are experienced with MicroSort. For details go to www.microsort.com.

The Science of Selecting Embryos: Keys to the Success of an IVF Cycle
by Melissa Iwaszko, MSc, ELD (ABB)

The success of an IVF cycle is, in part, dependent on a skilled, experienced and knowledgeable embryologist selecting the most viable embryo or embryos for transfer. The embryos created in one cycle may vary widely in how well they will develop and be able to create a successful pregnancy, so good selection is key. Selecting embryos for transfer and possibly others for cryopreservation (freezing) is a difficult task. Current science does not provide us with clear markers to guarantee a successful pregnancy, but skilled embryologists work with the patient and physician to determine which techniques to employ for a cycle. The easiest and most widely used method for selecting embryos is morphological evaluation or evaluation of the form and structure of the embryos. Using a high-powered microscope, the embryologist evaluates the developmental rate of the embryo. Recent advances in culturing systems have allowed laboratories to extend the culture of good quality embryos to the blastocyst stage. Embryos reach this stage on day 5 or 6. In the past we could only successfully culture embryos until day 2 or 3, which made it difficult to select the more robust embryos. Now we utilize the selection process of extended culture to select the strongest embryos. The embryos that do develop to this later stage are assessed using a scoring system which assesses their overall appearance based on their size and the relative appearance of the two main components of the blastocyst, namely the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm. These two structures are destined to become the fetus and the placenta, respectively. There are other subtleties that are also noted, which may include granularity of the cytoplasm, presence of vacuoles, multi-nucleation, and the thickness of the zona pellucida.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) or Preimplantation Genetic Screeining (PGS) is a more complex scientific method used to assess the genetic status of embryos. This method, which GIVF performs entirely on site, involves biopsy of the embryo either at the 8-cell stage or the blastocyst stage. Although not appropriate for everyone, PGD may be the key to a successful pregnancy for some patients with genetic disorders, repeated miscarriages, or several failed cycles in the past. GIVF has performed PGD for more than two decades and our expert team of physicians and scientists may suggest that patients choose this method to select embryos to increase their chances of a healthy pregnancy.

A study published in early May in The Journal of Molecular Cytogenetics has demonstrated that using PGD and the advanced 24 Chromosome testing available at GIVF significantly increased pregnancy rates in single embryo transfers.

If you have questions about PGD consult with your physician to discuss these options.

Several new technologies being explored around the world may add even more to our ability to select the embryo or embryos that are destined to achieve a pregnancy. These new methods can be categorized into four broad groups: genetic markers (genomics), metabolic markers (metabolomics), protein markers (proteomics) and time lapse photography. We have already discussed genomics (PGD/PGS). Metabolic analysis involves measuring the metabolic output of the embryo in culture media during the various stages of development. This is potentially a good strategy since there is no need for additional manipulation of the embryo. Another related strategy is to analyze the protein content or output of embryos. Embryos produce proteins that are released into culture media that may determine the viability of the embryo. But to date, no specific metabolic pathway or protein pattern has been discovered that is clinically applicable, but one may come. Time-lapse micro-photographic analysis of an embryo's development using a digital video camera inside an incubator is a promising strategy. Some strides have been made in this area and some embryology laboratories, most notably in Europe, are studying the growth patterns of embryos to see if they can be correlated with specific developmental potential. But, these tools still need to be validated, simplified, and made cost effective in order to be truly useful for patients.

GIVF has always been in the forefront of developing and adopting new laboratory and clinical methods. While we are employing the best methods available now to select embryos for transfer, we continue to monitor those in development. We are committed to providing the laboratory methods available, coupled with great clinical care, to help our patients achieve successful pregnancies.

Melissa Iwaszko is the Assistant Director of the Embryology Laboratory at GIVF.

The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly publishes an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.