While preoccupation and focus on fertility may seem a predominantly female concern, it is important to note that 50% of infertility worldwide is also a result of male fertility issues. Men need to pay just as much attention to fertility as women do. After all, it does take two in order to make a baby, or at least an egg from a woman and a sperm from a man. As a way to bring awareness to, and encourage, men to check their fertility, a new fertility App has been developed which can analyze a semen sample and determine a man’s sperm count. The device can make checking male fertility as easy as an at-home pregnancy test. A recent article on CNN.com profiled the new App, referring to the stigma men may feel going to fertility clinics to test their sperm count. Dr. Hadi Safiee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, noted that “Men are embarrassed to go to their urologist for infertility testing.” He hopes the new App will “help couples” by providing men with the opportunity to check their sperm count in private. To read the full article along with how the App works, see the full article here: “Phone device tests male fertility with 98% accuracy, study shows”
While the App is a positive development, and will certainly help bring attention to men’s fertility health and the need for them to take responsibility for their bodies in the same way women have, the new technology is not capable of analyzing the sperm. The App can only indicate whether or not the sperm count is normal which is not a guarantee of fertilization potential. For that, a full morphology analysis of the sperm is needed, and it is important to conduct a full sperm study to determine the shape and health of individual sperm. Hanabusa IVF is excited by these new technological developments making it easier for couples to deal with the stress and uncertainty of the IVF procedure, and while we support the ease with which men can now check their sperm count, it is important to take it one step further and do a full male fertility sperm work up.
In relation to male fertility, a recent New York Time’s op-ed by columnist Nicholas Kristoff brings attention to sperm health. In a thought-provoking and somewhat alarming article, Kristoff highlights the importance of sperm viability and points to the way that our environment can compromise fertility and reproductive issues. More specifically, he points to endocrine disrupters and how they affect not only sperm count, but also the shape and size and morphology of sperm—both crucial when it comes to fertilization. Over time exposure to endocrine disrupters—in furniture fire retardants, brand name household cleaning products, personal care items and plastics—can wreck havoc with our hormones and compromise fertility in both men and women. Kristoff’s full op-ed can be read here: “Are Your Sperm in Trouble?”
While we cannot control the full extent of our environments, we can take steps to minimize our exposure to endocrine disrupters by choosing to eat and buy organic, washing fruit and veggies thoroughly and avoiding drinking and eating from plastics and plastic containers. The article cites the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to help limit these toxins: EWG.org/consumer-guides.