Fearing stigma, men shy away from infertility issues

In the last couple of years, there has been a significant rise in infertility rates in India. Infertility is unfortunately a sensitive topic among many people in India even today.

Published: 04th July 2019 06:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th July 2019 06:15 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: In the last couple of years, there has been a significant rise in infertility rates in India. Infertility is unfortunately a sensitive topic among many people in India even today. The innate capability to reproduce is deeply ingrained in the mind as a sign of biological well-being and the news of infertility can come as a shock and is difficult to accept for a lot of people. Increasing infertility is a result of many factors  today and cannot be tied down to a single cause alone.

We all know that poor lifestyle habits contribute to a maximum of the disease burden on the planet. People do not have the time to follow a balanced, healthy diet with adequate exercise, which has been affecting the body in various ways ranging from mild health effects to severe, irreversible lifestyle diseases. The level of stress that the average individual today faces has skyrocketed, which also contributes to imbalance in the body.

If a couple has been trying to conceive without any success for a period of one year or more, it is time to consult a doctor. Male infertility   can also be a side effect of testicular infections, tumours, damage or trauma to the testicles, under-developed testicles or exposure to heat for long periods of time. While lifestyle and other factors can cause infertility, it should be noted that there are treatments for male infertility, though awareness about them may be less. There are many treatment options that one could choose and experts will suggest some from listed below:

Sperm and semen analysis
You have to provide the doctors with a fresh sample of semen and experts will then assess your sperm count, their shape, movement, and other variables. Generally, a higher number of normal-shaped sperm means higher fertility. Exceptions are, however, common. Many men with low sperm count or abnormal semen have been found to be fertile and some infertile men have normal semen and plenty of normal sperm. There is also the possibility of absence of sperm in the semen. According to experts, this might suggest a blockage that can be corrected with surgery. 

Physical examination
A rigorous and comprehensive physical examination can detect varicocele and offer clues to hormone problems. A urologist would be the right person to undertake this test.

Genetic testing
Genetic tests are crucial to identify specific obstacles to fertility and problems with sperm. 

Hormone evaluation
Hormones and hormonal balance would be evaluated by experts. It should be noted that testosterone and multiple hormones control sperm production. However, experts are of the view that hormones are not the main problem in most infertile men.

Testicular biopsy
This is undertaken for men with very low or no sperm count in their semen. A needle biopsy of the testicle can show whether a man is making healthy sperm. In case abundant good sperm are found in the testicles, the possibility of a blockage elsewhere cannot be ruled out.

Medical specialists will tell you that if as a couple you have doubts about fertility, both can go in for different tests as individuals, and depending on the results, go in for the right treatment. This will break the stereotype that women alone are infertile if they cannot conceive. There is very low awareness that men too can be infertile and that there are treatment options for men.
The author is a consultant, Reproductive Medicine and IVF, Aster CMI Hospital

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