select search filters
briefings
roundups & rapid reactions
factsheets & briefing notes
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to multiple abstracts published in advance of the 2018 ASRM Conference

Abstracts published shortly before The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference discuss several areas including the relationship between sleep and testosterone levels, lifestyle and fecundability and yoga and sperm DNA damage.

 

Prof. Daniel Brison, Scientific Director, Department of Reproductive Medicine Old St Mary’s Hospital Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“Any scientific data presented at a conference for the first time should be taken with a huge pinch of salt.  The presentations and abstracts may sound exciting and novel and conferences can be an opportunity to see ahead-of-the-curve science.  However the data are often preliminary and do not survive replication in larger groups of samples or patients.  Often closer scrutiny by independent investigators during the peer review process of scientific publishing uncovers errors in the data which the investigators had not spotted.  As a result conference presentations can be overstated, misleading, or just plain wrong, and a high proportion never appear in the scientific literature as bona fide studies.”

 

 

Impaired sleep is associated with low testosterone in US adult male: results

Prof Ying Cheong, Professor of Reproductive Medicine Human Development and Health, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine said:

“The abstract described a national cross-sectional survey examining the relationship on self-reported sleep patterns and serum testosterone. For a long time, we know that sleep is linked to many biological functions, but there are so many confounding factors unaccounted for in this study, in my opinion, men should not jump to the conclusion about lost sleep decreasing their manliness or sexual prowess just yet! More robust studies are required.”

 

Dr Channa Jayasena, Society for Endocrinology member and Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant in Reproductive Endocrinology, Imperial College London, said:

 “Testosterone is needed for sexual health, and bone health. Anything that lowers a man’s testosterone is likely to be bad for them. We already know that obesity, diabetes and alcohol can do this. The study suggests that poor sleep also lowers your testosterone but it does not answer how this happens. One possibility is that sleep loss interferes with brain signals which are normally needed to stimulate testosterone release.”

 

Prof. Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics School of Biosciences University of Kent, said:

First up is a study out of Winnipeg and Miami that suggests that lack of sleep causes a reduction in testosterone levels.  This perhaps should come as no surprise.  Sleep deprivation has a number of adverse health effects and we all know how badly we function when we’ve not had a good night’s sleep. There were also in this study associations with age, alcohol intake and increased BMI, again to surprises. A mischievous link to sexual prowess however in the title is perhaps a step too far.  Our colleagues in the social sciences may have to be called upon in order to establish a statistically significant association there. In any event, surely a few late nights are a convenient prerequisite to improved sexual performance?  Who knows?  Perhaps a comparative study between Winnipeg (famous for its dark cold nights) and Miami (not so) could be the next step in their investigations?  Opportunities for a controlled trail there.

 

 

Lifestyle and fecundability among healthy couples attempting pregnancy

 Prof. Ying Cheong, Professor of Reproductive Medicine Human Development and Health, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine said:

“The majority of the results from this study are counterintuitive, not in agreement with the vast body of literature and potentially sends the wrong message, saying that male caffeine intake increases fecundability, whilst vitamin and smoking did not impact on fertility, but only alcohol intake in females around ovulation times reduce fertility. Couples attempting a pregnancy should remember, whilst there is not a magic pill to fix all, general preconception healthy lifestyle is important prior to conception.”

 

Prof. Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:

“This is an interesting observation but we should recognise that it’s just that – an observation. I can think of no sensible biological mechanism by which a man drinking tea or coffee in the week before his partner ovulates can increase the chance of her getting pregnant. Before that claim could be made, a randomised controlled trial would be needed in which couples were randomly assigned to groups in which one drank tea and coffee and the other didn’t.”

 

Dr Channa Jayasena, Society for Endocrinology member and Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant in Reproductive Endocrinology, Imperial College London, said:

“Previous studies have found that high caffeine intake is bad for your sperm count. So, it is really surprising that male coffee drinkers were more likely to get their partner pregnant. I would advise expectant dads not to increase their caffeine intake in response to this study but to wait until we have more evidence to support or refute its findings.”

 

Prof. Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics School of Biosciences University of Kent, said:

“Next is that a cup of tea or coffee before sex makes your partner more likely to get pregnant.  My first reaction to this was that the causal agent was than men were more likely to be paying attention after imbibing the caffeine. On closer inspection however we discover that the association is with men who had a cuppa a WEEK before.  That’s some coffee!  The manufacturers should be informed immediately and encouraged to fund the next stage in this group’s research on the back of all the good publicity.  Based on only an abstract, it is hard to dissect all the variables.  Did the men have just the one cup of tea/coffee and then abstain thereafter?  What is the significance of “1 week before” and why is that important?  I remain sceptical.”

 

 

Impact of yoga based lifestyle intervention on sperm oxidative DNA damage

Prof. Ying Cheong, Professor of Reproductive Medicine Human Development and Health, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine said:

“The study lacks control of other lifestyle factors that may reduce oxidative stress, as fathers who enrolled in such a program may already be converters to a generally healthier lifestyle. It would be perfect if Yoga could fix it all, but I am afraid this study is not robust scientifically to prove that!”

 

Prof. Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:

I think what this study is telling us, is that there is an association between undertaking yoga and observable improvements in various measures of sperm quality. This is perhaps not a surprise as we already know that men with sedentary lifestyle have poorer sperm quality than men who exercise and moreover men who go on a moderate exercise programme can improve their sperm to a measurable degree. Where the interpretation of this study is a stretch too far, in my opinion, is the conclusion that because these measures are the ones that are more commonly seen in the semen of men whose children have non-familial sporadic heritable retinoblastoma, that we can therefore conclude that men who do Yoga can reduce the risk of fathering a child with that condition. I don’t believe we can infer that from the data as presented.

 

Prof. Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics School of Biosciences University of Kent, said:

“And finally, we have a study that suggests that men who do yoga reduce their chances of their children having childhood cancer.  Now, I love yoga, I was feeling pretty stressed last night, was tired, irritable and sleep deprived.  A good session with Janie my yoga teacher and I slept like a log.  I should perhaps have enrolled into the first study. Even I however find this link a little tenuous.  A reduction in reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the sperm of men who are regular yoga practitioners – that makes sense.  A definitive link to future childhood cancer in the offspring.  That will, I think, require further study.”

 

 

Whole exome sequencing of 137 endometriosis patients with a common ancestor in Shakespeare’s England

Prof. Ying Cheong, Professor of Reproductive Medicine Human Development and Health, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine said:

“Interesting study using a modern genetics sequencing technique that can be so detail as to track back in time. So, whilst we may have found the source of the problem, or one of the sources, we now need to know how to effectively treat the condition!”

 

 

Alcohol use and tobacco smoking in relation to ovarian response among edd donors

Dr Raj Mathur, Clinical Lead for Reproductive Medicine at Manchester University NHS, Manchester Fertility, said:

 “Firstly, the work does not deal with a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, so the title of the release (though not the title of the abstract) is not consistent with the content of the abstract, and could be misleading.

“With regard to the research, the study uses recall of alcohol and cigarette use over the last year, and this is a potential weakness. The proportion of smokers is much higher than one would expect in an equivalent UK population. The number of women included is relatively small. It is not clear from the abstract what is meant by moderate alcohol – the abstract describes this as 1 – 2 times a week, but does not specify the amount, which is likely to be relevant. These factors would make one cautious in accepting the findings at face value.

“That said, in women trying to conceive, the advice in the UK is to limit alcohol consumption very sharply. The main reason for this is to prevent any effects on the fetus.

“Larger population-based studies from European countries have failed to show a clear detrimental effect of moderate alcohol intake on the chance of spontaneous conception. Overall, this research would not lead UK doctors to change the advice they give women with fertility problems.”

 

Prof. Daniel Brison, Scientific Director, Department of Reproductive Medicine Old St Mary’s Hospital Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The key point in this study is that alcohol consumption was related only to the total number of oocytes (which includes immature, unusable oocytes), and NOT the number of mature MII oocytes which are used for generating embryos and pregnancies.  Therefore this study has no clinical implications.  Unfortunately this is not really made clear in this short abstract.   Also without knowing more about the study design it is not possible to tell whether any of the findings are of interest. “

 

Declared interests

Prof. Allan Pacey: “Chairman of the advisory committee of the UK National External Quality Assurance Schemes in Andrology, Editor in Chief of Human Fertility and Trustee of the Progress Educational Trust (all unpaid).  Also, recent work for the World Health Organisation, British Broadcasting Corporation, Purple Orchid Pharma (paid consultancy with all monies going to University of Sheffield).  Co-applicant on a research grant from the Medical Research Council (ref: MR/M010473/1).”

Dr Channa Jayasena: “Chief Investigator of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment funded Testosterone Effectiveness and Safety Consortium”

Prof. Darren Griffin: “No COI”

Prof Daniel Brison: “I supervise PhD students and receive academic grant funding from NIHR and MRC in the general area of fertility research including human embryo development.   I have no commercial interests.”

None others received

in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag