Male infertility is behind 1 in 3 IVF cycles

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New data from the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database reveals that around a third of all IVF cycles performed in 2020 included a diagnosis of male infertility.

New data from the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database reveals that around a third of all IVF cycles performed in 2020 included a diagnosis of male infertility.

For the first time, IVF clinics in Australia and New Zealand have reported data on the extent and range of male fertility problems among couples who practice IVF. New data released by the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD) today reveals that around a third of all IVF cycles performed in 2020 included a diagnosis of male infertility.

Although most male fertility problems cannot be avoided, there are things men can do to improve sperm quality and chances of natural conception.

Most male infertility is caused by the testicles not producing enough normal sperm to allow conception. A low sperm count, sperm that do not move normally, or a high proportion of abnormally shaped sperm reduce the ability to fertilize eggs.

In most cases, the cause of male infertility is unexplained. A specific cause can only be identified in about 40% of infertile men.

They include genetic abnormalities, past infections, trauma to the testicles and damage to sperm production – for example due to cancer treatment. Some men have no sperm in their ejaculate (a condition called azoospermia). This may be due to blocked sperm tubes, which may be a birth defect, or as a result of a vasectomy or other damage.

In a minority of cases, infrequent or poorly timed intercourse, or sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction or ejaculation failure cause infertility.

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The least common problem is impaired hormone signals from the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that makes, stores, and releases hormones). This can be genetic or follow issues such as a pituitary tumor. Treatment with hormone injections aims to restore natural fertility.

Chronic diseases such as obesity or diabetes, environmental exposures (such as chemicals in the workplace), and lifestyle factors (such as smoking and recreational drug use) can contribute or aggravate poor sperm quality.

For couples with male infertility, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is needed to fertilize the eggs and give them a chance of having a baby.

ICSI follows the same process as IVF, except that ICSI involves the direct injection of a single sperm into each egg using technically advanced equipment, unlike IVF, where thousands of sperm are added to each egg in the hope of fertilizing it.

The newly released ANZARD report shows that the chances of having a baby for men with male infertility are comparable to those with other infertility diagnoses. However, studies show that for couples who do not have male infertility, ICSI offers no advantage over IVF in terms of the chance of having a baby.

Although most male infertility is not preventable, there are some things men can do to keep their sperm healthy. It takes about three months for sperm to mature, so making healthy changes at least three months before trying for a baby gives the best chance of conception and having a healthy baby. Here are five things you can do to take care of your sperm.

Cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals that damage all parts of the body, including sperm. Heavy smokers produce less semen than non-smokers. Smoking can increase the number of abnormally shaped sperm and affect the swimming ability of sperm, making it harder for sperm to reach and fertilize the egg.

Smoking also damages sperm DNA, which is transferred to the baby. This can increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects in a child. A study found that excessive smoking (more than 20 cigarettes a day) in fathers at the time of conception increases the risk of childhood leukemia in children.

There is no safe limit for smoking – the only way to protect yourself and your unborn baby is to quit. The good news is that the effects of smoking on sperm and fertility are reversible, and quitting smoking will increase your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.

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On average, overweight or obese men have lower sperm quality than men who are at a healthy weight. Carrying too much weight can also reduce your interest in sex and lead to erection problems.

The good news is that even losing a few pounds can improve sperm quality. Getting support, setting realistic goals and giving yourself plenty of time to achieve them, learning about nutrition and healthy eating, and exercising regularly increase your chances of losing weight and keeping it off.

Taking androgenic steroids for bodybuilding or competitive sports causes the testicles to shrink and affects sperm production. And it can have a lasting impact. It takes about two years for sperm to return to normal after stopping steroids.

A man’s fertility can also be affected by other drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin, as they reduce testosterone levels and libido.

Alcohol is okay in small amounts, but heavy drinking and heavy drinking can reduce sperm count and quality.

We’ve all heard of men in the 80s and 90s fathering children, but it’s rare and risky.

Although men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, which means they can potentially reproduce well into old age, men under 40 have a better chance of conceiving than older men. aged.

It takes longer for partners of older men to conceive, and sperm quality declines with age, increasing the risk of miscarriage and health problems for the baby.

So if you have a choice about when to try for a baby, the sooner the better.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia, can reduce sperm quality and cause blockages in the sperm tubes. This means that sperm cannot pass from the testicles (where they are produced) to semen and then be ejaculated.

Practicing safe sex using condoms is the only thing that can prevent the transmission of STIs to or from a partner. Using condoms greatly reduces the risk of blocked tubes and damage to your fertility.

If you think you have an STI, see a doctor and get treatment right away. The sooner you get treatment, the lower the risk of fertility problems in the future.

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