Nearly half of infertility cases involve men, but nearly all are treatable
VANCOUVER, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Infertility is commonly perceived as a woman's issue, yet nearly half of all cases involve male factors. With advances in treatment, nearly all (99 per cent) of male-factor cases are treatable, if treatment is sought.
"There's a common misperception that infertility is a woman's issue, yet it's prevalent among men," says Dr. Jeffrey Roberts, Reproductive Endocrinologist at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Burnaby, B.C. "Male-factor infertility used to be a much bigger challenge. Now, only one percent of cases can't be resolved - but it's a diagnosis that is often suffered in silence due to stigma and many men don't or are reluctant to seek treatment as a result."
This Father's Day, the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada is urging men experiencing fertility challenges to not delay seeking treatment and getting out the message that there is hope. Since a woman's fertility declines with age, waiting can decrease the couple's chances of conception.
Nearly all male-factor infertility cases can be resolved through safe, effective treatments - with in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, as it is more commonly known, being the clinical best practice. While nearly all male-factor cases are treatable, cost - at approximately eight to ten thousand dollars per treatment cycle - and access - clinics are only in the Lower Mainland and Victoria - are common barriers to timely treatment. Although male fertility does not decrease significantly with age, sperm quality and thus the risk of genetic disorders in men increases after age 40.
For Dan Coghlan of Langley, retrograde ejaculation was a complication stemming from diabetes. He was informed by his doctor that his sperm quality is normal, but that his sperm essentially 'backfires' due to nerve damage. "The 'warhead' is fine, but the guidance system is off," explains Dan. Complicating matters, his partner Kate had blocked and damaged fallopian tubes - so the couple sought and was eventually successful with in vitro fertilization. "There were so many factors for us," he says. "In vitro fertilization was effective, but wouldn't have been possible without financial support from our families."
When Nick Beaulieu of Vancouver was diagnosed with a low sperm count due to a tumour on his pituitary gland, he was initially optimistic the problem could be resolved through medication - and that he and his partner could finally conceive. When subsequent tests showed a continued sperm count decrease, even with medication, they turned to IVF. The only problem? Despite being working professionals, the Beaulieus couldn't afford the effective but costly procedure. "We'd already been trying for seven years, so wanted to get on with it and turned to IVF," Nick recalls. "My sperm count is continually dropping, so it's now or never."
An IT specialist, Nick devised a creative way to raise funds for the treatment; he launched an online 'crowdsourcing' campaign, which has been well received by friends, family and the public. "Without help we wouldn't be able to afford IVF anytime soon, and since we're both 32 years old we felt that waiting much longer wouldn't be ideal. Through the generosity of family, friends and complete strangers we were able to raise enough for one round IVF."
Nick has noticed a lack of awareness when it comes to male factor infertility, and encourages men to get tested and seek information. "Don't feel embarrassed. You're not alone, and it's not your fault. You can find a solution."
Male-factor infertility causes include medical conditions such as: varicocele - swelling of veins in the testicle; infection - including sexually transmitted diseases; and retrograde ejaculation - when semen is redirected to the bladder. Other causes include genetic predisposition, cancer treatment, obesity and injury to the testicles. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drugs and alcohol can also make it difficult for a man to impregnate a woman.
In men previously diagnosed as sterile, a new fresh sperm retrieval technique allows for the precise removal of testicular tissue in areas of active sperm production. Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine is one of the only centres in North America to offer the procedure known as fresh MicroTESE.
The following requirements must be in place for a man to be fertile: A man must produce sperm. Sperm must be carried into the semen. Sperm quantity must be adequate. Shape and motility (ability to move) must be normal.
"Men wanting to have children shouldn't wait," recommends Dr. Roberts. "A man's age is a significant factor in determining the baby's health outcome. Under 40 is ideal."
Male Fertility Facts
- Both men and women experience infertility. Nearly half of all fertility cases involve men.
- Smoking increases the likelihood of infertility. Smoking affects fertility by as much as 30 percent in men.
- Cancer treatments impact male fertility. Freezing sperm is an option that men should evaluate.
- Strenuous bicycle riding and excessive heat, such as hot tubs and laptops, can affect fertility.
- You can get pregnant up to six days after intercourse. Fact, sperm can live in a woman's body for nearly a week.
Male Fertility Myths
- 'Size matters'. False, except when related to the testicles. Smaller testicles have been linked to lower sperm count.
- A man's age does not affect childbearing. False: Waiting until after age forty can affect the child's health outcome.
- Men's underwear can reduce fertility. False.
- Daily intercourse is recommended to increase the chance of conception. False: Intercourse every other day around the time of ovulation should allow for optimal sperm counts.
- Eating red meat reduces fertility. Myth, but a healthy diet and weight do correlate.
About the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada
The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada Inc. (IAAC) was founded in 1990 and originated from an Ottawa voluntary group called the Infertility Self Support Group, which began in 1983. IAAC is committed to providing educational material, support and assistance to individuals and couples who are experiencing the anguish of infertility, a reproductive health disease which affects over half a million Canadian men and women. For more information, visit: www.iaac.ca
Image with caption: "Father's Day Fertility Facts: Nearly half of all infertility cases involve men, but nearly all male-factor cases are treatable (CNW Group/Infertility Awareness Association of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130611_C7203_PHOTO_EN_27882.jpg
SOURCE: Infertility Awareness Association of Canada
For further information:
For more information and to speak to Dr. Jeffrey Roberts, Reproductive Endocrinologist at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Burnaby, B.C., Nick Beaulieu from Vancouver, Dan Coghlan from Langley, or the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, please contact: