Male Infertility ‘as important as global warming’

Leading Irish fertility clinic, ReproMed warns that male infertility continues to be a growing problem.

Leading Irish fertility clinic, ReproMed warns that male infertility continues to be a growing problem.

A study from the European Science Foundation (ESF) has revealed a rapid increase in male infertility over the past few decades.

Whilst 1 in 6 people in Ireland are affected by infertility, and traditionally it was believed that 90% of infertility issues lay with women, contemporary statistics reveal that in fact, 40% of infertility issues lie with women, 40% with men, 10% with both and 10% unexplained.

Declan Keane, Senior Embryologist and Director of ReproMed Clinics says, “we are seeing more and more Irish males coming to our clinics. Advances in technology have allowed us to offer greater insight into male fertility issues and we see men of all ages attending here to avail of our services. It’s important that couples seek advice to ensure that unnecessary tests are not carried out on women purely because satisfactory interest is not being taken in male issues.’’

Keane continues, ’’Many males attending our ReproMed clinics have expressed feelings of failure at not being able to provide healthy sperm to their partner to conceive their child naturally. This feeling of a loss of “masculinity”, while unwarranted, can lead to stress and strain on the relationship and in some cases depression.“

Gordon Ramsay talks about his infertility and his low sperm count. Hugh Jackman, Dennis Quaid and Robert De Niro are also vocal about their experiences of infertility. Keane believes that the stigma attached to infertility is preventing men talking about this hidden problem.

Neils Skakkebaek, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the report says, ‘’The important impact of men’s reproductive health on a couple’s fertility is often overlooked’’.

The ESF study uncovered that 1 in 5 males aged 18-25 are affected by sub fertility – low semen quality and quantity. This can be caused by issues they are born with, such as undescended testes which later can be linked to testicular cancer in young males. Infertility can lead to stress; strain on relationships; and particularly in men, a feeling of failure. In the sub fertile general population, the majority of couples will eventually successfully become pregnant within a year with little or no intervention. This can come about through changes in lifestyle, diet and more often than not, a consultation with a fertility expert, which can help a couple to relax, leading to natural conception.

Fertility issues in men come in different forms:

· 15% of males are affected by a varicocele – an enlarged vein located in the scrotum which, if temperatures rise, can decrease the quantity and quality of sperm

· Undescended testicles is a common defect that males can be born with and can lead to fertility issues in the future

· Orchitis – inflammation in the testicles/genital tract is also a common cause of male infertility

· Unhealthy diet and lifestyle can also damage or interrupt sperm production