The role of men in fertility Statistics
Fertility issues are extremely common with 1 in 6 couples experiencing difficulties, but what many people do not realise is that a third of these cases are due to male factors.
Infertility is defined by not being able to conceive after a year if you are over 30 and more than two years if you are under 30. Male fertility declines from the age of 40
It seems that doctors and consultants tend focus on women while male fertility is marginalised.
It is time that we looked a bit closer at the contribution from males. Men also need to take responsibility for their fertility.
Unfortunately men are being told that their semen sample is fine if only 4% of the sperm are capable of fertilising an egg, this means that 96% are of no use at all.
Some women can go for endless tests with invasive medical procedures and eventually 3 or more cycles of IVF, and their goal of having a child is always going to be unobtainable because of the quality of the sperm.
If a man has been told that his sample has passed the basic mark, he often will switch off from taking appropriate responsibility.
The NHS do a basic analysis, this will look at how many sperm there are in a sample, if can they swim and what do they look like.
If is important to remember that semen is made up of seminal fluid and Sperm. The fluid nourishes the sperm and helps it reach the egg, it needs to be ‘as healthy’ as the sperm itself.
The sperm is made up of the head, which holds the DNA and is actually the only part of the sperm that fuses with the egg, the mid-piece that is like the engine, which gives it the strength to swim to the egg, and the tail that acts like a rudder and helps to steer it to the egg.
Semen analysis is usually only done once and will give limited information on fertility potential or prediction of the outcome of Assisted Reproduction techniques.
What many men do not realise is that it takes approximately 90 days for the sperm to form, and that changes can occur during the developmental stage, therefore if a man makes lifestyle changes he may well significantly improve his sperm count, increasing the potential success of getting his partner pregnant.
This is good news for men with a low count and poor morphology, and they should remember that unlike women who produce one egg a month they are producing sperm all the time.
Having a very stressful time, an emotional shock, exercising too little or too much, eating badly, drinking or taking drugs will all have a huge effect on the production line of sperm.
There are several way to check that the sperm is really up to the mark, one of which is to have a more detailed semen analysis by going to a private Andrologist (a scientist who specialises in male reproductive health).
Dr Sheryl Homa from Andrology Solutions who works from her Clinic in Wimpole street in London will give a much more detailed picture of your sperm and seminal fluid, this will give a better idea of what might be causing the problem. It may be something as simple as an infection that can be cured with a course of antibiotics.
Investigating DNA damage can also make a significant difference to the outcome of a potential pregnancy.
The Sperm Comet Test is the most up to date method of testing DNA in the sperm head. Professor Sheen Lewis of Queens University Belfast who developed this test says it is the most sensitive test available. If the DNA damage is high positive pregnancy results will be low or non-existent
Before embarking on IVF or any other assisted conception, it would be well worth investing in these tests. Unfortunately there is no funding for this and couples have to dig into their own pockets, however it is a lot less costly than a cycle of IVF at £3.000 plus and a lot less stressful than having cycle after cycle fail with a women being put through the trauma and the invasive drugs.
Sperm Comet Test: www.spermcomet.com