Menopause is triggered by the number of ovarian follicles falling below a threshold number and is irreversible because oogonial stem cells disappear after birth. Since it is the result of programmed disappearance of a limited store of follicles, menopause can be predicted using mathematical models based on total follicle counts at different ages. Our model shows follicle numbers decline bi-exponentially rather than as a simple exponential function of age, as had been assumed, with a first exponential rate parameter of -0.097 and a second of -0.237. The change occurred when numbers had fallen to the critical figure of 25 000 at age 37.5 years. The unexpectedly faster rate of ovarian ageing afterwards lowers the follicle population to 1000 at approximately 51 years, and was adopted as the menopausal threshold because it corresponds to the median age of menopause in the general population. Had the earlier rate persisted menopause would not be expected until 71 years. The impact of step reductions of follicle numbers on the prospective span of menstrual life was predicted by the model. A reduction by 50% before age 30 years resulted in the threshold being reached at 44 years and 0.6 year later for every subsequent year until age 37.5 years after which it is reached at 48 years. A reduction of 90% in childhood before age 14 years could result in menopause as early as 27 years, with increments of 0.6 year per year afterwards until after 37.5 years when it is expected at age 41 years. The predictions are reassuring insofar as they confirm anecdotal evidence that long-term ovarian function is not substantially comprised by reducing as much as one-half of the mass.
Ewes heterozygous (I+) for the Inverdale prolificacy gene (FecX(I)) located on the X chromosome have ovulation rates about 1.0 units higher than noncarriers. The purpose of this study was to examine the reproductive performance of ewes that were either heterozygous or homozygous (II) carriers of the Inverdale gene. Carrier rams (I) were mated with heterozygous ewes (I+) to produce females, half of which were expected to be I+ and half II. The 59 female progeny were examined by laparoscopy at 8 mo or 1.5 yr of age; 48% were found to have nonfunctional "streak" ovaries, which were about one eight the volume of normal ovaries and showed no sign of follicular activity. There were four examples of full sib pairs where within each pair one had normal ovaries and the other had streak ovaries. Since these streak ovaries have not been observed in ewes known to be I+ or noncarriers (++), it is concluded that this condition is associated with animals homozygous for the Inverdale gene.
Objective: To assess the role of varicocele in male infertility.(~)Design: Data analysis of a large population of couples who were systematically investigated for infertility. Settings: Couples were recruited in 34 World Health Organization collaborating centers in 24 countries. Patients: Nine thousand thirty-four men presenting as partner of infertile couples. Interventions: None. Main Outcome Measures: Physical findings, semen characteristics, coincidental pathology, and spontaneous pregnancies. Results: Varicocele was found in 25.4% of men with abnormal semen, compared with 11.7% of men with normal semen. It was accompanied by decreased testicular volume, impaired sperm quality, and decline of Leydig cell secretion. Spontaneous pregnancies were as frequent in couples in whom the men did or did not have varicocele. Conclusion: Varicocele is clearly associated with impairment of testicular function and infertility.
In order to achieve a clinical pregnancy rate higher than that achieved following initial adoption of in-vitro fertilization embryo transfers, more than one embryo is transferred. This has led to a substantial increase in unwanted multiple pregnancy rates with IVF as compared with natural conception. What is therefore required is a simple, clinically useful embryo scoring system, to reflect embryo developmental potential, which will enable the selection of the optimal number of embryos to transfer in order to achieve the maximum pregnancy rate with a low incidence of high order multiple pregnancies. We believe that the Cumulative Embryo Score (CES) achieves these aims. On the day of embryo transfer the grade of each embryo transferred was multiplied by the number of blastomeres to produce a score for each embryo, and summation of the scores obtained for all the embryos transferred gave the CES. The grouped pregnancy rates obtained rose as the CES increased to maximum of 42. A continued increase in the CES above 42 did not result in any further rise in the pregnancy rate. However, an analysis of all our IVF pregnancies showed that the multiple pregnancy rate continued to rise above a CES of 42. By restricting the CES per embryo transfer to 42, 78% of triplet pregnancies and 100% of the quadruplet IVF pregnancies could have been predicted and potentially avoided.
Data on reproductive biology are presented for five benthic caridean shrimps from the high Antarctic (Chorismus antarcticus, Notocrangon antarcticus, Nemato-carcinus lanceopes, Lebbeus antarcticus and Eualus kinzeri). The first three species were very common on the Weddell Sea shelf and upper slope, whereas only a few individuals of the other two species were caught-but these did include some ovigerous females. Our measurements include size at first maturity, fecundity (total number and mass of eggs), individual egg mass, egg length, ovary indices, maximum size encountered and documentation of the reproductive cycle in spring and summer. Egg number generally increases with female size, and the largest species (N. lanceopes) also carries the highest number of eggs. The eggs of all high Antarctic species are large, the extreme being L. antarcticus with an egg length of up to 3.3 mm. For C. antarcticus and N. antarcticus, which have wide geographic distributions, a comparison is made with older published and unpublished data from the Subantarctic (South Georgia). High Antarctic representatives of these two species grow to a larger maximum size, attain sexual maturity later in their life cycle, and produce fewer and larger eggs in relation to both carapace length and female mass, than their Subantarctic counterparts.