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American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Oct. 18-22

Last Updated: October 23, 2014.

The 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

The annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine was held from Oct. 18 to 22 in Honolulu and attracted approximately 5,000 participants from around the world, including physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians, and other health care professionals interested in reproductive medicine. The conference featured more than 1,000 abstracts focusing on reproductive biology, and more than 200 different vendors.

In one study, Angela K. Lawson, Ph.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues found that younger, Hispanic, non-divorced women with a diagnosis of breast cancer were the most likely to have an indication of fertility preservation counseling in their medical record.

"It is unclear if this reflects a true disparity in counseling or if this is an error in documentation in the medical record. However, patients who are not offered fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment have previously been found to experience significant regret and poorer quality of life," Lawson said. "In addition to emotional harm, disparate counseling for fertility preservation could result in an unnecessary decreased ability for some women to fulfill their future reproductive desires. Therefore, all patients, regardless of demographic or medical characteristics, should receive counseling for fertility preservation."

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In another study, Emily Barrett, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and colleagues found that women with high urinary levels of certain phthalate metabolites were more likely to report that they had lacked interest in sex in the recent past.

"These results suggest that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment such as phthalates could affect libido. Previous studies have shown that other endocrine disrupting chemicals can impair men's sexual function at high exposure levels (such as occupationally) but there has been very little work on whether exposures at environmentally relevant levels can impact sexual function, and no work on these issues in women, thus far," said Barrett. "More research is needed to confirm these results and also to examine whether phthalates affect libido by interfering with androgen and/or estrogen activity, as we suspect."

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Marissa Ghant, of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and colleagues found that there is a significant psychological burden among women suffering from symptomatic fibroids.

"The majority of the participants demonstrated a significant emotional response to their fibroids, ranging from general worry and concern to fear, anxiety, sadness, and depression," said Ghant. "Over half of the women felt disempowered or helpless and believed that they had no control over their fibroids, specifically with regard to the inability to manage and predict heavy periods."

The investigators also found that many women also possessed a negative self-image and cited concern over appearing pregnant, overweight, and less attractive, which led to difficulties becoming intimate with a partner. In addition, several women felt that they lacked substantial support to help them deal with these issues, with only three women mentioning that they received support from a mental health professional.

"There is an opportunity and a need for the mental health community as well as physicians to address the concerns in this population. Leveraging the unique expertise and role of the mental health professional may lead to improved psychological health and quality of life in patients living with this chronic condition," Ghant added.

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Sorapop Kiatpongsan, M.D., Ph.D., of the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and colleagues evaluated the attitudes of 200 physicians based in the United States who had treated patients for menopausal symptoms. The investigators asked physicians about their attitudes toward shared decision making (SDM) for managing menopausal symptoms.

"First, we find strong support among these providers for SDM. More than 90 percent of physicians surveyed feel that it is very or extremely important that their patients are well informed about treatments for menopause and that physicians explicitly discuss patients' preferences before a treatment decision is made," said Kiatpongsan. "However, less than half of physicians reported that their patients actually are very or extremely well informed. We found that obstetricians and gynecologists were much more likely to report that their patients are very or extremely well informed compared to primary care physicians or internists."

A significantly higher proportion of obstetricians and gynecologists, compared to primary care physicians or internists, have used educational materials such as brochures or decision aids to help inform their patients before treatment decisions are made.

"Physicians strongly support SDM but recognize that they are not always putting it into practice in menopausal symptom management," Kiatpongsan added. "Providers, particularly primary care physicians, may benefit from using educational materials to improve SDM practice."

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ASRM: Black Women Fare Worse With Fertility Treatments

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Black women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) are only about half as likely as white women to become pregnant, and the racial disparity persists even when donor eggs are used. These findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), held from Oct. 18 to 22 in Honolulu.

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ASRM: Caffeine May Hinder, Alcohol May Aid Infertility Tx in Men

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A man's caffeine intake could hamper the success of a couple's infertility treatment, while mild alcohol use by would-be fathers might help boost the odds of pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, held from Oct. 18 to 22 in Honolulu.

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