Infertility is often seen as a 'woman's' problem. However, male factor infertility is the most common reason for IVF in the UK (HFEA, Trends and Figures 2014-2016), accounting for 37% of IVF cycles. This is followed by unexplained infertility (32%), ovulatory disorders (13%), tubal disease (12%), and endometriosis (6%).
The notion that fertility is a woman's issue is not just incorrect, it's also unhelpful. Men are very much part of the equation, whether they are supporting a partner undergoing treatment, struggling with male infertility, involved in surrogacy journeys, or donating sperm to help someone else, to name a few.
Just because a woman tends to undergo the majority of medical treatment in fertility does not mean that men can or should be excluded. It's time to stop talking about fertility as if that were the case.
This post sheds light on various aspects of men's fertility. How it can be assessed and improved, advice and resources, treatment options, and stories from men who have shared them.
In many cases, there is no clear reason why men have poor sperm or quality. However, in some cases there can be an explanation, such as:
When the issue is with the quality of the sperm itself, sperm quality can be improved to a degree. Lifestyle plays a role in the quality of sperm and can affect fertility. Some simple ways to improve sperm quality:
SDF is quite a grey area in the world of fertility care, and the subject of ongoing investigations and debates. Here's what we know (by one of our fertility doctors, Dr Sotirios Saravelos):
Sperm, like other cells within the human body, contains DNA, the genetic material that ultimately merges with that of the egg to create a healthy embryo. The sperm DNA itself can become damaged, leading to what is called DNA fragmentation.
Some DNA fragmentation is expected to be present, but it is thought that abnormally high DNA fragmentation may be associated with some cases of unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and failed IVF cycles.
Although abnormal sperm DNA fragmentation can predict poorer outcomes, it is not entirely understood what can be done to improve it. Lifestyle changes such as the ones mentioned above (stopping to smoke, improving diet and taking antioxidants) have been shown to help.
Is Sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) part of routine examinations?
SDF is not generally a routine examination. The ESHRE guidelines on Recurrent Pregnancy Loss state that you can perform this test for exploratory reasons (i.e. to try to explain miscarriages) but it is not routinely recommended.
It is also not part of the routine parameters evaluated in semen analysis, which is performed under the microscope. This is because it examines a different aspect of the sperm, namely its DNA.
Would a poor result influence fertility treatment?
It may explain some poor results, in terms of infertility and miscarriage. Some interventions for the male partner may be considered to improve future outcomes, but these are being investigated and debated at the moment.
Does Apricity offer SDF?
Yes, Apricity can arrange for SDF to be performed in a partner clinic, and costs around £500.
Sperm DNA testing is not advised for everyone and the decision to test (alongside analysis of results) should be discussed with a fertility doctor. A consultation with a fertility doctor can be arranged by getting in touch via our Contact form or by booking a free call with one of our fertility advisors.
We are proud to offer a variety of treatments for male gay couples. From IVF for same-sex couples to adoption, click here to access a page that outlines the main pathways and fertility considerations for gay couples. For men considering using an egg donor, the bottom of the page has an FAQ that might be useful.
You might be wondering how fertility assessments for men work, so we thought we'd make a little guide :
This service is included in our Diagnostics Packages:
If you would like to speak to us about any of our Diagnostics Packages, please get in touch by using our Contact form or by booking a free call with one of our fertility advisors.
Submit your email to join our newsletter