[BLOG] Infertility, semen processing & endoscopy: take-away messages from our “Convention Provinciale” in Québec


It’s raining today in Ontario. One might complain about it, but I must admit that today, this does not bother me at all ! I’ve been away so much lately that I’m just glad to sit in the office in front of my laptop, answering all the emails that accumulated during these last 3 weeks, and obviously, blogging. After 3 weeks on the road, there are indeed lots of stories to tell! Let me start with our “Convention Provinciale”, that was held in Drummondville, Québec, on May 31st.

The story begun last November, after the repro seminar we organized in Vaughan Mills, ON (see previous post here). I was teasing my colleagues in Québec about when they would organize a similar event in « la Belle Province ». Well, must admit they took me at my own game! They sent out a survey to our breeder partners there, asking them if they would be willing to participate to this kind of event. 100 seats were opened for this event:  they were all booked 48 hours after the survey was sent out… We got an amazing response for what was going to be the largest PRO event of the year in Canada ( more than that, it is still the largest PRO event I had the chance to attend to since I landed 2.5 years ago).

Brief outline of what it was about: a full day of lectures focusing on canine reproduction; 3 different speakers –two Québec repro vets, Dr Angelika Stock and Dr Marie-Christine Lefrançois, and myself -; tons of questions and great interactions with our passionate canine breeder partners. Hard for me therefore to summarize the full content of this conference in a single blog post! However, here are 3 take-away messages from this fantastic day.

#1 : Uterine diseases in dogs are NO more the end of the reproductive career

We touched on all these uterine diseases that can impact the reproductive function in the bitch, and eventually be an important cause of infertility. There are ones that are well-known among the breeder’s community (pyometra, cystic endometrial hyperplasia). There are others that were recently identified as an important cause of infertility (endometritis, endometriosis). I should definitely wrote a blog about these different diseases later this year. There was a key message I however wanted to deliver: we now have the tools in veterinary medicine to clearly identify these diseases. Ultrasonography and now genital endoscopy allows us to fully explore the genital tract of the bitch. In the past, when these diseases were identified, the only solution was spaying. Fortunately things have changed: we now have medical approaches that can be used to cure these diseases and maintain the reproductive fertility. Don’t hesitate to speak with the veterinarian about these new alternatives! And if they have never heard about it, they can definitely reach out to me!

#2 : Chilling/ Freezing semen offer great options in terms of genetic selection

Breeding dogs is all about passion: breeder’s first motivation is to improve the breed they are so passionate about. In the past, you guys had to travel a lot to find the “perfect male” that would represent the best match for your female. Well, I would not say that these days are over – if you still love to travel, you can for sure go ahead! -, but breeders now have access to fantastic tools to make their life much easier. The male’s semen can be chilled (=semen is prepared with a specific extender that will allow to cool down the sperm cells to 4-8⁰C and therefore extend their life span) and shipped anywhere where it can be delivered in 24-48hours to be used for insemination. A great tool to extend your genetic outreach and use males you probably could not use for your genetic selection program if you were only relying on traveling. Frozen semen (= semen is again prepared with a specific extender that will allow to freeze it and keep it at -196⁰C in liquid nitrogen… where it can be kept for a lifetime) is another great tool that allows breeders can use. Providing a good quality frozen semen has been kept in a semen bank, this allows breeders to use genetic material from dogs 1/ which are living really really far away (Australia, New Zealand, Asia,…) and which semen cannot be shipped using the chilling process 2/ dogs that are no more available for breeding (because they are tool old now and their semen is of really poor quality, because they’re gone…).

#3 : Vaginal endoscopy in canine reproduction, the current revolution

I like to say during our seminars that I used to love vaginal endoscopy in dogs because while growing up I was big videogames fan ! Thanks to the fiber optic technology, we are able to fully observe the inside of the genital tract of the bitch. This led to the development of new intra-uterine insemination techniques (see our previous post here) but it also allows us to diagnose other diseases like vaginitis – not always easy to diagnose solely based on clinical signs – & endometritis (= inflammation of the inner part of the uterus that goes totally unnoticed under ultrasounds, main clinical sign usually being infertility). This is definitely one of the greatest revolutions we went through in veterinary medicine, and for sure, many other applications will be developed in the coming years !

Read our full blog here

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