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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
male factor facts/myths
Top 10 Myths and Facts about Male Infertility
1. MYTH: Infertility is a woman's problem.
FACT: It surprises most people to learn that infertility is a female problem in 35 percent of the cases, a male problem in 35 percent of the cases, a combined problem of the couple in 20 percent of cases, and unexplained in 10 percent of cases, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. It is essential that both the man and the woman be evaluated during an infertility evaluation. Common male infertility factors include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality causes infertility in men.
2. MYTH: Testicle size is what really matters..
FACT: Men of all body weight and size enter a level playing field when it comes to paternity. According to the American Urological Association, the primary factors of male infertility include possible structural and other defects in the reproductive system, hormonal deficiencies, illness or trauma that might impair fertility.
3. MYTH: The heat from laptops and hot tubs do not kill sperm.
FACT: One hour of laptop use raises testicle temperature by almost 3o C, potentially putting sperm count at risk. Testicles are located outside the body because they need to stay cooler. Men who are trying to conceive should avoid sauna and hot tub use. A University of California at San Francisco study reported in the September 17, 2007 New York Times showed men who were regularly exposed to high water temperatures (about 30 minutes a week) through hot tubs or hot baths, showed signs of infertility, with impaired sperm production and motility. Researchers also found this infertility could be reversed quickly: after the men stopped their exposure to wet heat, half had a mean increase in total motile sperm counts of 491 percent after three to six months.
4. MYTH: The biological clock has no impact on men's fertility.
FACT: Sperm quality starts to go downhill after age 35 and paternal age is a significant risk factor for miscarriage, according to a study reported in the Aug. 1, 2006 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The study of almost 14,000 pregnancies, conducted at Columbia University, showed that women with partners ages 35 or older had nearly a threefold increase in spontaneous abortions compared with women whose partners were younger than 25. Researchers found that the risk of miscarriage of a fetus conceived by a father over age 40 was 60 percent greater than if the father were 25 to 29, irrespective of other factors that have been linked with increased miscarriage risk, such as the mother's age, maternal diabetes, poor maternal health and smoking during pregnancy. The increased risk of miscarriage does not just apply to fathers in their 40s, however. The miscarriage risk in a pregnancy involving a father aged 35 to 39 was three times higher than the risk if the father were under 25.
5. MYTH: Overweight men are just as fertile as men of average weight.
FACT: One in 10 infertility problems in men may be weight related. Research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that men with increased body mass index (BMI) were significantly more likely to be infertile than normal-weight men. A 20-pound increase in men's weight may increase the chance of infertility by about 10 percent. The majority of men who participated in the study were more than 30 years old. Obesity affects nearly one-third of the adult American population (approximately 60 million). According to the American Obesity Association, the number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down.
6. MYTH: Conception gets easier after your first child.
FACT: Men in their second or third marriages are often surprised to find they are unable to conceive--even if they had children from a previous marriage. Sperm quality is clearly impacted as child-bearing is increasingly delayed. A landmark study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 14, 2004) showed that genetic defects are linked to the sperm of older fathers.
7. MYTH: Men stop making sperm after a vasectomy.
FACT: Men continue to make sperm regardless of how long it has been since they had their vasectomies unless other factors come into play, such as injury to the testicles, exposure to chemicals or toxins, and certain serious medical problems. During a vasectomy, the vas deferens from each testicle is clamped, cut, or otherwise sealed, which prevents sperm from mixing with the semen that is ejaculated. According to the American Urological Association, the testicles continue to produce sperm, but they are reabsorbed by the body.
8. MYTH: Bicycle seats cause damage to the testicles.
FACT: Evidence regarding bicycle seats pertains to erection, not fertility. Bicycle riding has been linked to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) and abnormal perineal sensations in male riders. A 2007 Boston University study examined digital three-dimensional (3D) models of a pelvis, pudendal arteries and bicycle seats to evaluate the potential sites of compression of the vessels. The study, published in the January 2007 British Journal of Urology International found that a grooved seat is better than a standard seat, but the rider's position is more important for reducing compression than seat design alone. An individual's anatomy, seat design and rider position can all increase the potential for penile hypoxia and erectile dysfunction and perineal numbness.
9. MYTH: Tight clothing contributes to low sperm count.
FACT: Evidence shows that tight pants and underwear have no effect on sperm count. There is really no difference in boxers versus briefs, tight jeans versus loose pants. However, increased scrotal temperature can impair sperm production. New research indicates that hot work environments, tight-fitting underpants, prolonged sitting, and use of laptop computers can all increase scrotal temperature but no conclusions have been reached about how these activities affect fertility. The September 2006 issues of Fertility and Sterility published data from one of the first studies of cell phone usage and decreased fertility. The study, conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation suggested men's fertility may be decreased due to cell phone radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, which scientists suggest may have potentially adverse effects on brain waves, the heart and endocrine system, and DNA.
10. MYTH: Women, not men, benefit from nutritional supplements to enhance their chances of conception.
FACT: According to the Mayo Clinic, a daily multivitamin can help provide selenium zinc and folic acid -- trace nutrients that are important for optimal sperm production and function. A multivitamin also usually contains antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, which may help protect sperm from damage. In addition, a low-glycemic diet for men has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on sperm.
About IntegraMed America, Inc.
IntegraMed America, Inc. is the leading operator of fertility centers and vein care clinics in the United States. The Company supports its provider networks with state-of-the art information systems; marketing and payer contracting; financial planning, reporting and analysis; organizational planning and development; quality assurance initiatives; human resources administration; and purchasing services. IntegraMed also offers consumer treatment-financing programs and operates www.integramed.com, a leading fertility portal. The IntegraMed Fertility network consists of 31 contracted centers in 101 locations across the United States, including 171 physicians and Ph.D. scientists. One of every five IVF procedures in the U.S. is performed in an IntegraMed fertility practice.