RRC Embryologist Michelle Kiehl recently attended the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual conference in Denver, CO. She was gracious enough to sit down with us to discuss her trip and some of the things she learned. Thank you so much, Michelle!
Attendees were able to “customize” their conference by choosing to attend courses and seminars to suit individual interest/need. Michelle attended a post-graduate course, “Environmental, Occupational and Dietary Impacts on Fertility and Pregnancy,” and she says there were three areas of particular interest to her–
1) The importance of multivitamins and Omega 3 & 6 oils in male diets–they can improve sperm quality.
2) BPA exposure (in animal studies) reduces sperm concentration, motility, and aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormality) rates.
3) Soy products can decrease male sperm parameters and other male markers of infertility: including motility and concentration.
In addition, evidence continues to grow showing the direct correlation between BMI (Body Mass Index) and pregnancy rate, sperm count (concentration) and sperm motility. What does this mean to you? It is in the best interest of BOTH partners to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle within normal BMI ranges. Even consumption of trans-fatty acids, which has received so much press, has been shown to negatively affect sperm count. The takeaway: things you may have only associated with good cardiovascular health (low BMI, avoiding trans-fatty acids) also have a positive effect on reproductive health.
Michelle says that if you want to give yourself the best shot at achieving pregnancy, start implementing these changes at least 90 days PRIOR to trying to conceive or as soon as possible. This is due to the fact that the male sperm cycle is approximately 70 days. The changes you might consider implementing based on what she learned in Denver:
- Both partners should add multivitamins. Omega 3 and 6 oils are important, too.
- Both partners should try to avoid exposure to BPA (the chemical found in some plastics and water bottles).
- Males should minimize consumption of soy products.
- Both partners should maintain an active, healthy lifestyle (Read our previous post on Obesity and Infertility for more info.)
- Both partners should limit their intake of trans-fatty acids.
So, back to Michelle. What exactly does an Embryologist do?? In a nutshell, she deals with egg and sperm cells outside of the human body– and in the lab. Some of her specific functions include locating eggs from retrieval, insemination/microinjection of sperm directly into eggs, hatching embryos, genetic embryo biopsy, freezing of eggs and embryos and embryo transfer. Whew! RRC has been fortunate enough to have Michelle with us since 1996. (She has been in the field since 1988.) She is one of 3 embryologists on staff. Our new off-site Lab Director is Dr. Juan Correa-Perez.
Together, our team stays on top of the rapidly-changing landscape of the infertility world. They are able to do this by attending conferences and seminars like the ASRM meeting in Denver, meeting their Continuing Education requirements and even excelling personally. Michelle is currently working on her Masters of Clinical Biomedical Science. And nothing can replace the hands-on learning that takes place in our state-of-the-art laboratory each and every day! We are so proud of our staff–especially those “behind the scenes” and in the lab!