Blog

The Woodruff Lab contributes to the Women’s Health Research Institute and Oncofertility Consortium blogs. Read the latest information disseminated from these blogs below:  

Fireworks fly when sperm fertilizes egg!

Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. The fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in “zinc sparks,” one wave after another, a Northwestern University-led interdisciplinary research team has found. Researchers at Northwestern developed technology that captured images of these fireworks.  According to Dr. Teresa Woodruff, PhD part of the team studying this phenomenon and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at NU, “The amount of zinc released by an egg could be a great marker for  identifying a high-quality fertilized egg, something we haven’t been able to do.  Once we can, fewer embryos would need to be transferred during fertility treatments.”
View a WGN-TV segment on the new discovery HERE.

Medicine, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Some women need to take medicines during pregnancy for health problems like diabetes, depression, morning sickness or seizures. Always talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any medicines, vitamins or herbs. Don’t stop taking your prescription medicines unless your health care provider says that it is OK.


Lots of women need to take medicines while they are pregnant. Learn how you can sign-up for a pregnancy registry to share your experience with medicines.

Prostate cancer treatment often ignores bone health

Men being treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer are not  always getting bone-strengthening drugs they may need according to a Canadian study reported in a research letter in JAMA.  A potentially serious side effect of the androgen-deprivation therapy often prescribed to prostate cancer patients is an increased risk of bone loss and fracture. Several consensus guidelines recommend bisphosphonate therapy for men receiving hormones but the new study found that the bone strengthening treatment was underused even in men with osteoporosis.

Study supports CVD timing hypothesis in menopause

Early results of the ELITE study find women who started hormone therapy early after menopause saw a significant slowing of atherosclerotic progression, whereas those who waited more than a decade saw no impact on vascular health, supporting the “timing hypothesis”.

New drug data finds sex/race inclusion lacking

In response to the call for more sex inclusion data in drug studies, the FDA has developed  Drug Trials Snapshot a pilot project to provide information about the sex, age, race and ethnicity of clinical trial participants for a small group of recently approved drugs. In addition to information about who participates in the trial, each Snapshot also includes information on how the study was designed, results of the efficacy and safety studies and, if known, differences in efficacy and side effects among sex, race and age (referred to as subgroups).

Tactics to slow cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s

The cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) may be related to the particular pathology of this disease which researchers continue to study.  One study at Stanford suggests that if you slow the pathology (biologic)  progression it could slow the path to full dementia.   In other words, if you stay healthier, you may slow the biological process that causes the progression of dementia.  Some suggested tactics:

Menopause hormone therapy: what do we know today?

Today, Many women live beyond age 80 and as a result may be postmenopausal for over 30 years. Each woman has a unique range of symptoms.  Hormone therapy has been widely prescribed since the early 60s despite limited research to relieve unpleasant menopausal symptoms.  However,  alarms were raised in the 1990′s that have led to a whole battery of new research on hormone therapy that continues to this day.