Nearly half of infertility cases involve men, but nearly all are treatable
OTTAWA, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Women are traditionally seen as the source for both fertility and infertility with men playing a small role, yet nearly half of all couples presenting with infertility involve a male factor. With advances in treatment, about 99 per cent of male-factor cases are treatable.
"There's a common misperception that the causes for infertility are mostly a woman's issue, yet it's equally prevalent among men," says Dr. Art Leader, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Medicine at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of the Ottawa Fertility Centre. "Male-factor infertility diagnosis and treatment used to be a huge challenge. Now, only one percent of cases can't be treated - but it's a diagnosis that is often suffered in silence by many couples because many men are not tested or are reluctant to seek treatment."
This Father's Day, Conceivable Dreams, an Ontario organization advocating for those who suffer from infertility, is urging men who experience fertility challenges to not to delay to seek treatment and are 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 is a common barrier to timely treatment. Although male fertility does not decrease significantly with age, the DNA in sperm changes and thus the risk of genetic disorders in children increases after the man turns 40.
"My husband, Alex, was diagnosed with male factor infertility when he was only 30 years old," says Kerri Stanford of Ottawa. "We were lucky because my parents were able to help us to pay for our IVF treatment and we got pregnant on our first try. I had a complicated [twin] pregnancy, but we were blessed with a healthy little girl. As we approach Father's Day, I would ask Canadians to consider - if your son or daughter faced this medical condition - wouldn't you want treatment to be available for them?"
Before the Stanfords knew their infertility was male-factor, Alex was emotionally prepared for the challenge. That changed when they learned his medical condition was preventing them from conceiving naturally. "Before we knew that our infertility was male-factor, my mindset was to be as sensitive and understanding as possible while we handled the frustration and looked for answers," he recalls. "Already set on playing two different roles - that of potential father and of understanding partner - it was very difficult to deal with the fact that I was the one who had a medical condition keeping us from starting a family. Equally devastating was the fact that this wasn't anything I could control. It had nothing to do with age, and the only solution was something that cost thousands of dollars."
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, poor eating habits and alcohol can also interfere with male fertility.
In men previously diagnosed as sterile, a sperm retrieval technique now allows for the precise removal of testicular tissue in areas of active sperm production.
The following requirements must be in place for a man to be fertile: A man must produce and ejaculate sperm of adequate amount and quality. Sperm quality: the shapes and motility (ability to move) must be normal so that the sperm can get to the woman's egg and join with the egg.
"Men wanting to have children shouldn't wait," recommends Dr. Leader. "A man's age is a significant factor in determining fertility and the health of any baby. Under 40 is ideal."
Male Fertility Facts
- Both men and women experience infertility. Nearly half of all infertility cases can be linked to a male problem.
- When a man smokes it increases the likelihood of infertility by 30%.
- Cancer treatments impact male fertility. Freezing sperm is an option that men should consider before cancer treatment.
- Strenuous bicycle riding or any other forms of excessive heat, such as hot tubs and laptops, can reduce sperm production.
- Certain herbal products such as Echinacea, Gingko Biloba and St. John's Wort can reduce fertility in men.
Male Fertility Myths
- 'Size matters'. False, except when related to the testicles. Smaller testicles have been linked to lower sperm counts.
- A man's age does not affect childbearing. False: Waiting until after age forty can increase the risk of miscarriage and may affect the health of the newborn.
- Tight men's underwear has no impact on fertility. False. Wearing boxers or loose underwear is advised.
- Daily intercourse is recommended to increase the chance of conception. False: Waiting two days between intercourse allows men with low sperm counts to increase their sperm count.
- Eating red meat reduces fertility. False. Although some meats contain hormones that may affect fertility. Eating red meat in moderation is healthy.
About Conceivable Dreams
Conceivable Dreams is a broad-based organization of patients, family members, health professionals and other supporters dedicated to achieving equitable access to funding for in vitro fertilization for men and women facing fertility challenges.
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/Conceivable Dreams)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130611_C7202_PHOTO_EN_27883.jpg
SOURCE: Conceivable Dreams
For further information:
For more information and to speak to Dr. Art Leader, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Medicine at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of the Ottawa Fertility Centre Reproductive; Joanne Horibe, co-founder of Conceivable Dreams; or Kerri Stanford, please contact: