Everyday chemicals contribute to air pollution mortality

  • Air pollution is responsible for the deaths of around 7 million people each year — and 91% of the global population is exposed to air that exceeds the limits on pollution levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Fine particulate matter is a key source of air pollution. This can be directly produced or indirectly produced when other pollutants react to chemicals in the atmosphere.
  • In a new study, researchers highlight another type of pollutant, called anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (ASOAs), which also react with other pollutants.
  • The researchers show that ASOAs are likely to significantly contribute to mortality associated with air pollution.

In a new study, a team of scientists has shown that an under-researched type of pollution, ASOAs, make a significant contribution to air pollution mortality.

For the researchers, their findings, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, highlight the need for greater focus on these types of aerosols and the need for further research into how, when, and where they react with other pollutants to cause air pollution.

Fine particulate matter

According to the WHO, about 7 million people die each year due to air pollution. The organization also reports that over 90% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the WHO’s safety standards for air pollution.

Researchers have found that fine particulate matter is a leading cause of this pollution — and that deaths due to fine particulate matter have increased from 3.5 million per year in 1990 to 4.2 million per year in 2015.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fine particulate matter can be caused directly or indirectly. Some direct sources of fine particulate matter include fires and construction sites.

Indirect sources include chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which can be emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce fine particulate matter.

Strong correlation

The researchers found a strong correlation between the production of ASOAs and volatile organic compounds, which react in the atmosphere to create fine particulate matter.
Using the models, the researchers estimate that ASOAs cause between 340,000 and 900,000 premature deaths each year. According to Dr. Nault, “[That is] more than [10] times as many deaths as previously estimated.”

While regulations on air pollution emission have increased over time, ASOAs have seen relatively little regulation.

Source www.medicalnewstoday.com

Human health ‘intricately linked’ to ocean health

In the paper, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, the authors say that restoring the health of oceans should not just be the priority of marine scientists but also the medical community and the public more broadly.

Ocean health

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and is crucial not only for environmental health but also for the health of humans.

However, human actions have significantly damaged the health of the world’s ocean. The issues that it currently faces include:

  • marine pollution
  • ocean acidification
  • overfishing
  • rises in sea level

According to the researchers behind the present article, as well as damaging the health of the world’s ocean, these issues also negatively impact human health.

Human health

The researchers highlight that around the world, swimming in polluted seas is linked with over 250 million cases of respiratory illness and gastroenteritis each year.

Furthermore, Arctic indigenous peoples have become exposed to a build-up of organic pollutants. Coastal communities are exposed to indirect damage to their health when fish stocks collapse, restricting access to food and severely reducing livelihoods.

The researchers argue that responding to this damage to ocean health will also improve people’s health. However, oceans can also promote human health in their own right.

The scientists point out that seafood provides a key source of omega-3 fatty acids, while extracts from marine organisms can play a role in medical treatments. Additionally, “blue spaces” — locations near water — also have links with improvements in people’s physical and mental health.

Source www.medicalnewstoday.com

Top tips for successful IVF Treatment


Are you looking for ways to increase chances of a successful treatment?


Tip #1 Educate

It’s a reality that as we grow up, we are often taught how not to get pregnant! So, the first tip is to learn as much as you can about your body, reproduction, and the basics of IVF.

When you start treatment, there are also a lot of acronyms and it can almost seem like you are speaking in a foreign language. But as you read articles or watch videos and webinars, you will learn about this new language. Soon, the words IVF, ICSI, PGT-a and blastocyst culture will not seem so foreign to you!

It’s also useful to identify what treatment options are more adequate to your individual circumstances. Whether you may consider having treatment with your own eggs, with donor eggs or surrogacy for example.

There is a lot of information online, and it’s not always reliable. Remember to choose trustworthy sources of information, like HFEA, ESHRE, BFS or ASRM. Joining patient support groups can also be a good way of learning about fertility and treatment.


Tip #2 Prepare

Ahead of the initial consultation, there are a few things you can do to prepare for it, and make sure you are taking as much as you can of that moment with the clinicians. You can start by collecting all relevant medical files about your and your partner’s health, medical and surgical history, sexual and menstrual health etc.

If you are monitoring ovulation or have done any basic fertility tests like AMH testing, pelvic ultrasound scan, tubal assessment or semen analysis, remember to bring these to the examination. The more information you have about yourself and your history of trying to conceive, the better the clinicians will be able to help you.


Tip #3 Optimize

Optimizing your chances of success with treatment is also about making sure your body, mind and soul are ready for what’s come. You can improve your nutrition, to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to thrive, practice moderate exercise, seek fertility coaching, psychological support etc. It’s also important to take essential vitamins supplements, like folic acid and vitamin D.


Tip #4 Explore & Decide

Take your time to explore and decide on the options that are available to you. Reflect on the type of treatment that might be more suitable, for example IUI, IVF, ICSI, egg or sperm donation, surrogacy.

Consider the location where you’d like to have treatment. Different countries have different regulations that may be more fertility friendly to the treatment you need. You may want to have local NHS treatment, or local private treatment, or you may prefer to go a bit further way nationally or even have treatment abroad. To help you explore and decide, you may be able to visit clinics either physically or digitally. You may also be able to have online consultations.


Tip #5 Trust

Finally, once you have made your decision, trust the chosen clinic and the team. They are there to support you and guide you in your treatment. Mutual trust is essential for a great experience and for safety and success!

In cooperation with Enhanced Fertility Programme

Personalized Medicine in Fertility

by Dr Elias Tsakos * MD, FRCOG
Scientific Manager of EmbryoClinic Assisted Reproduction Unit, Thessaloniki

Dr. Elias Tsakos’ article on personalized medicine in fertility was selected for publication by:


Personalized Medicine opens a new chapter in fertility, increasing the probability of success of treatments, but also their safety. In fact, with this approach, the couple actively participates, is trained and empowered through a scientifically sound and at the same time human contact with the specialized fertility team.

But what exactly does personalized Medicine mean and how is it applied? Individualized or personalized or absolutely precision Medicine is applied in a specialized way for each patient individually, taking into account his absolute personal characteristics and recognizing his uniqueness. This term first appeared in the early 2000s and was originally related to the study of drug metabolism in the context of Pharmacogenomics.

What does individualized treatment mean in fertility?

Fertility is one of the fields of Medicine that in recent years has applied the personalized approach, aimed at improving safety and the success of treatment. The individualized treatment of fertility focuses on the unique characteristics of each couple separately – such as genetic, biological, anatomical, functional, psychological, moral and mental – but also on its particularities and adapts the diagnostic and therapeutic protocols accordingly.

The combination of the personalized medical approach with the advancement of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, the accumulated scientific experience, the high technology and the evolution of the diagnostic means and the Pharmacology is a guarantee for the highest levels of safety and success.

Thorough recording of the couple’s medical history is the field from which the individualized approach to the diagnostic stage of fertility begins, as data from individual and family history can provide information on possible factors that require further investigation. For example, a history of infertility, miscarriage, cancer, thrombosis or diabetes and thyroid disease is a valuable source of information for further personalized investigation and prevention.

Also, data from the individual history of the woman, such as dysmenorrhea (painful period), menorrhagia (bleeding during the period), short menstrual cycles, atypical abdominal pain, etc., form a clearer picture. Respectively, the individual and family history of the man is especially important.

What are fertility tests?

The control of the hormone AMH, the control of the microbial flora, the assurance of the health of the cervix with a Pap test and the control of the breasts are some of the necessary examinations for the woman before the Infertility treatment. Additional tests, such as hysteroscopy, genetic testing for cystic fibrosis, karyotype testing and thrombophilia testing, provide additional valuable information about a woman’s specific characteristics and guide us to the appropriate medical protocols that are appropriate in each case. Of course, the fertility tests also include those prescribed and defined by law, such as hysterosalpingography, genetic and infectious disease testing, hormonal testing, and ultrasound.

In the case of the man, his general health, but also the condition of his genetic material, are evaluated with examinations -beyond the classic sperm diagram- such as the microbial examination of the sperm, the control of the fragmentation of the sperm DNA (DFI test), the hormonal control and karyotype and cystic fibrosis control. In fact, in special cases, the assistance of a specialized urologist-andrologist is necessary, so that the evaluation is complete and the conditions before the IVF treatment have been optimized. Personalized diagnosis addresses all those factors that lead to increased safety and effectiveness of treatment.

What does fertility treatment include?

Fertility treatment can include a wide range of interventions, for example drug treatment of ovulation, correction of hypothyroidism, removal of endometrial polyps, etc., which either alone or in combination can offer maximum success with maximum safety.

With the individualized approach, the correct choice of the type of treatment is made, e.g. insemination, in vitro fertilization, etc., the ideal medication protocol for each case, the appropriate ancillary support (medical, pharmaceutical, psychological, etc.) and the overall strategy and schedule are planned.

Also, with the appropriate diagnosis and correction of infertility factors, natural fertility is increased, with the result that in some cases there is no need to apply assisted reproduction and IVF methods.

The personalized approach to fertility is also suitable for unmarried women, from 18 to 49 years old, who want to know, explore, maintain and improve their fertility, as well as for unmarried women who want to have children, as provided by Greek legislation and is supported by the State and the Scientific community.

* Dr Elias Tsakos MD, FRCOG
Dr. Tsakos has 30 years of medical experience, is an internationally recognized doctor and is one of the pioneers in Hysteroscopic, Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery in Greece. He is:

  • Member of the Board of Representatives of the Royal British College for Greece and Cyprus.
  • Member of the Board of the Hellenic Society of Assisted Reproduction Physicians (ELEYA).
  • Member of the British, European and American Fertility Society (BFS, ESHRE, ASRM).

Greece – Fertility destination 2021


Embryoclinic is proudly sharing the great experience of fertility care for international patients and is joining forces to highlight Greece as the perfect fertility destination. Every team member is dedicated and experienced to provide high standards of care and uninterrupted communication and support to all our international patients, irrelevant of their country of residence.
We aim at making the journey to parenthood a wonderful experience for all, while making their best of their stay in our wonderful country.

Warm Mediterranean climate, tempting blue sea, impressive beaches, amazing historical sites and great food – this is what we all know Greece for. However, not all of us may be aware of the fact that one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world plays also a very important role on the medical tourism map. It turns out that Greece has a lot to offer in terms of in vitro fertilisation and reproductive medicine in general. If you have been considering IVF treatment abroad and wondering whether Greece is a right choice for you, we’ll say: yes! Here are some reasons why.

It is in Greece where you will find some of the world’s top IVF clinics, combining high-quality services and reasonable rates. These units, mostly located in Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, apply best practices and are staffed with both state-of-the-art technological equipment and trained specialist doctors. The clinics are certified by internationally acclaimed organisations, which assure not only innovation but also safety and quality of clinical, surgical and laboratory procedures.

What is more, all the IVF clinics in Greece operate under license from the Greek National Authority of Assisted Reproduction. It is a national body that makes controls, gives suggestions, collects data and keeps records of every single case related to assisted reproduction in the country. And finally – what’s probably most important from a patient’s point of view – first class fertility treatment is offered in Greece at a much lower cost than in other top European fertility destinations.

Greece has surely a lot of advantages over other countries in terms of infertility treatments and services – one of them is its liberal IVF legislation. Issued in 2005, it allows most IVF methods (e.g. intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), egg/sperm donation, frozen embryo transfer), surrogacy arrangements and genetic testing options (such as PGT-A and PGD). The age limit for women undergoing IVF treatment is 50 years old and there are no exceptions in terms of marital status. It means that all the procedures are available to both married and unmarried heterosexual couples, single women and women in lesbian relationships. In case of the latter, it is only required that one partner states she is going through treatment as a single woman and signs a notarial deed.

Greece is one of the countries that allow anonymous egg and sperm donation. According to the Greek IVF law, information on a patient and the child conceived via donation will not be disclosed to an anonymous donor – and vice-versa. Donor anonymity translates into a lot of advantages: the development of egg/sperm banks, large pools of donor candidates and the lack of waiting lists for donation treatments. The latter will surely be considered as a great asset by advanced-age patients who find time very precious and cannot allow themselves to wait months for the treatment to start.

Feeling convinced? We suppose so! However, if you are still not sure whether your IVF treatment should be performed in Greece, we encourage you to follow the campaign Greece – Fertility Destination 2021 that commences on October 1, 2020. In the upcoming 6 months, the campaign will make you familiar with all the available treatment options in Greece and some of the most acclaimed IVF clinics that accept international patients.

The campaign’s online events will present you with a unique chance to get to know some of Greece’s leading fertility specialists and trusted IVF coordinators who will share some useful advice on fertility treatment in our country. And who knows, maybe you will find your future fertility team among them?

The campaign is organised by eggdonationfriends.com and fertilityclinicsabroad.com – two well known websites for patients seeking IVF treatment options abroad. It is also supported by more than 30 ambassadors worldwide and special Patron from Greece – ELITOUR – Greek Medical Tourism Council.

Read more about Greece – Fertility Destination 2021

Suspension of fertility treatments during COVID-19 has mental health impacts


The suspension of fertility treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a variety of psychological impacts on women whose treatments were cancelled, but there are several protective factors that can be fostered to help in the future, according to a new study by Jennifer Gordon and Ashley Balsom of University of Regina, Canada, published in September in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

One in six reproductive-aged couples experiences infertility, and many turn to treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), which require many in-person appointments to complete. On March 17, 2020, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society announced their recommendations to immediately and indefinitely suspend all in-person fertility treatments in the United States and Canada due to COVID-19.

In the new study, researchers used online social media advertising to recruit 92 women from Canada and the U.S. who reported having their fertility treatments suspended to participate in an online survey. The women, who were aged between 20 and 45, had been trying to conceive for between 5 and 180 months. More than half had had an IVF cycle cancelled and approximately one-third had been in the middle of IUI when treatments were suspended.

Overall, 86 per cent of respondents reported that treatment suspensions had a negative impact on their mental health and 52 per cent reported clinically significant depression symptoms. Neither age, education, income or number of children were correlated with the effect of treatment suspension on mental health or quality of life. However, other factors were found to positively influence these outcomes: lower levels of defensive pessimism (r=-0.25, p<0.05), greater infertility acceptance (r=0.51, p<0.0001), better social support (r=0.31, p<0.01) and less avoidance of infertility reminders (r=0.23, p=0.029) were all associated with a less significant decline in mental health.

The authors add: “This study highlights how enormously challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been for women whose fertility treatments have been suspended. At the same time, it points to certain factors that may help women cope during this difficult time, such as having good social support.”

Source: www.sciencedaily.com.

Follicle stimulating hormone


What is follicle stimulating hormone?

Follicle stimulating hormone is one of the gonadotrophic hormones, the other being luteinising hormone. Both are released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. Follicle stimulating hormone is one of the hormones essential to pubertal development and the function of women’s ovaries and men’s testes. In women, this hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in the ovary before the release of an egg from one follicle at ovulation. It also increases oestradiol production. In men, follicle stimulating hormone acts on the Sertoli cells of the testes to stimulate sperm production (spermatogenesis).

How is follicle stimulating hormone controlled?

In women, when hormone levels fall towards the end of the menstrual cycle, this is sensed by nerve cells in the hypothalamus. These cells produce more gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more follicle stimulating hormone. The rise in follicle stimulating hormone stimulates the growth of the follicle in the ovary. With this growth, the cells of the follicles produce increasing amounts of oestradiol and inhibin. Thus, during each menstrual cycle, there is a rise in follicle stimulating hormone secretion in the first half of the cycle that stimulates follicular growth in the ovary. After ovulation the ruptured follicle forms a corpus luteum that produces high levels of progesterone. This inhibits the release of follicle stimulating hormone. Towards the end of the cycle the corpus luteum breaks down, progesterone production decreases and the next menstrual cycle begins when follicle stimulating hormone starts to rise again. In men, the production of follicle stimulating hormone is regulated by the circulating levels of testosterone and inhibin, both produced by the testes.

What happens if I have too much follicle stimulating hormone?

Most often, raised levels of follicle stimulating hormone are a sign of malfunction in the ovary or testis. If the gonads fail to create enough oestrogen, testosterone and/or inhibin, the correct feedback control of follicle stimulating hormone production from the pituitary gland is lost and the levels of both follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone will rise. This condition is called hypergonadotrophic-hypogonadism, and is associated with primary ovarian failure or testicular failure. This is seen in conditions such as Klinefelter’s syndrome in men and Turner syndrome in women.

What happens if I have too little follicle stimulating hormone?

In women, a lack of follicle stimulating hormone leads to incomplete development at puberty and poor ovarian function (ovarian failure). In this situation ovarian follicles do not grow properly and do not release an egg, thus leading to infertility. Since levels of follicle stimulating hormone in the bloodstream are low, this condition is called hypogonadotrophic-hypogonadism. Sufficient follicle stimulating hormone action is also needed for proper sperm production. In the case of complete absence of follicle stimulating hormone in men, lack of puberty and infertility due to lack of sperm (azoospermia) can occur. Partial follicle stimulating hormone deficiency in men can cause delayed puberty and limited sperm production (oligozoospermia), but fathering a child may still be possible.

Source: www.yourhormones.info.

4 Reasons to Go Abroad for Fertility Treatment

Fertility treatment abroad

is becoming more and more popular. The benefits of seeking options away from home include:

1. Treatment Cost
2. Donor options
3. Perception of better IVF success rates abroad
4. Seeking treatment in a less stressful environment

Specifically in Greece,

  • There are good fertility regulations
  • Fertility treatment in Greece is less expensive than in the UK.
  • There are often shorter waiting lists and access to a higher number of donors.
  • The cost of living in Greece, as well as travel and accommodation costs, is fairly low.

How does the process work at EmbryoClinic?

EmbryoClinic’s international co-ordinator will ask you to fill out a medical questionnaire on your fertility history and type of treatment desired.The initial free consultation will follow, via Skype, with the co-ordinator and a fertility doctor, who will discuss your medical case, assess your options and may ask for more tests to be carried out.If you decide to proceed, a new appointment will be arranged for an on-site consultation.

It will take place in Embryoclinic Thessaloniki, where you will meet the co-ordinator, who will be your contact person during your treatment, alongside the medical director. After all necessary examinations, you will be informed in great detail about your personal fertility treatment plan and next steps to take.

During your treatment, the co-ordinator will be available to answer your questions, manage your appointments and discuss with the doctor all your case details. They will also inform you about how many times you will need to travel to Greece and how many days you will need to stay.

Want to know more? Read the full article in Fertility Help Hub.

Fertility Treatment using Donor Sperm

Using donated sperm can help many women and couples grow their family. We might recommend donor sperm if:

  •     you’re not producing sperm
  •     your own sperm are unlikely to result in a pregnancy
  •     you have a high risk of passing on an inherited disease
  •     you’re single
Choosing a Sperm Donor

Using donor sperm is very safe. Initially the donors are selected based on a number of parameters:

  •     sperm quality
  •     age
  •     personality
  •     education
  •     4 generation family health history

Further screening includes blood and urine analysis: chemistry panel, urinalysis, complete blood count, blood typing, HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, CMV IgG/IgM, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, HTLV

Genetic tests include the following:

  • 4 generation family medical history, which is reviewed by a trained genetic specialist or a medical doctor (all donors)
  • Cystic Fibrosis screening for 32-86 mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis gene (all Caucasian donors)
  •   Chromosome analysis (all donors)
  • Thalassemia (all donors). An HPLC analysis is done to detect this indirectly. Please contact us if you would like to have your donor genetically screened for carrier status.
  •   Tay-Sachs disease (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish or French Canadian ancestry)
  •   Canavan disease (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
  •   Familial Dysautonomia (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
  •   Fanconi Anemia type C (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
  •   Gaucher disease (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
  •   Niemann-Pick type A disease (donors with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
  •   Sickle Cell Disease (donors with African ancestry are genetically screened). For all donors an HPLC analysis is done to detect this indirectly.

If you use a donor through EmbryoClinic, our clinical team will find the best match for the specific characteristics you decide that are important to you:

  • Physical description (weight, height, eye color, hair color)
  • Ethnicity
  • Education level
Does the donor have any rights to children?

The sperm donor has no legal rights or responsibilities to any children born with their sperm. This means they won’t be named on the birth certificate, won’t be required to provide financial support and won’t have any rights over how the child will be brought up. EmbryoClinic’s legal team is happy to clarify any other legal concerns you may have on sperm donation.

EmbryoClinic collaborates with certified sperm banks abroad, which meet strict criteria regarding the safety and effectiveness of their genetic material. If you are considering sperm donation, get in touch!

Semen Analysis

Semen analysis constitutes the first examination in assessing male fertility. The sample should be collected after a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 5 days of sexual abstinence. The whole sample should be collected in a clean, wide-mouthed container, in a private room near the laboratory. The sample may be collected at home under exceptional circumstances, must be delivered to the laboratory within 1 hour, and maintained at body temperature during transfer. Semen analysis includes macroscopic and microscopic analysis of the sample by recording the following parameters:

  • The volume of the sample,
  • The pH of the sample,
  • The number of spermatozoa in the sample (semen concentration),
  • The movement of the cells (sperm motility),
  • The morphology of the cells and
  • The presence of other round cells in the sample

The test results will be ready within one day. A normal result indicates that there is a sufficient number of spermatozoa with good motility enabling it to travel towards an egg and normal morphology to fertilize it. Nevertheless, a normal result does not guarantee fertility.  Moreover, variance from the reference values does not necessarily indicate infertility. It is worth mentioning that the volume and quality of sperm is not always the same with each ejaculation.

Semen analysis is performed in accordance with internationally accepted principles of the World Health Organization (World Health Organization. WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination and Processing of Human Semen, in 5th ed. 2010.).

Finally, the treating physician should be informed regarding medications, illness, etc, as it may have negative effects on semen quality.

For further information or if you wish to arrange an appointment you can contact us to +30 2310-420020 or via e-mail at info@embryoclinic.eu.