Shedding light on the reality and extent of Infertility today

The whole world is becoming aware of the number of people who are facing fertility problems. However, did you realise that the proportion of infertile people includes 1 in 6 persons globally? This fact is taken from a recent report by WHO (World Health Organisation). In India, according to India Times, “one in every 15 couples struggles with infertility”.

Infertility has been described as the failure, after 12 months or more of unprotected sexual intercourse, to achieve a pregnancy. Earlier, it was taken for granted that women were the cause of fertility problems. However, it has now come to light that problems with the male partner contribute to a large percentage of infertile couples. Previously, it was assumed that infertility issues were primarily caused by women, but recent findings indicate that a significant proportion of infertile couples are affected by male partner’s problems. Fortunately, this fact is now being acknowledged globally, and the social stigma related to this matter has decreased significantly.

Despite a significant number of individuals being affected by infertility, this subject, including its causes and possible treatments, has not received the full attention it deserves. Many people are still unaware of details, thus causing their social, emotional and financial status to be negatively affected.

There are numerous causes for infertility – some due to physical/medical problems and others due to lifestyle causes which can be changed. One of the risk factors is age – a woman’s fertility lessens after she is 35 years old while a man’s fertility starts to decline over the age of 40. A study on the sperm DNA integrity of Indian males conducted by us showed that post 36 years of age, the DNA quality decreased significantly in Indian males. Hence, for couples wanting a child, it is better to try conception while the fertility age is prevalent.

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Some criteria in the physical factors are:
Azoospermia: the absence of sperm cells in the semen
Oligospermia: low sperm count
Varicocele: an enlargement of the testicular veins, leading to decreased sperm production and low quality sperm.
Retrograde ejaculation: when the semen enters the bladder and does not exit through the penis.
Sexual dysfunction: Problems with early ejaculation, retaining erection, painful sex or emotional issues which interfere with normal sexual functioning.
Imbalances in hormones: These could affect the hormone systems, mainly the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands. In turn, low testosterone and other hormonal disorders can be caused, which could affect fertility.
Antibodies: Antisperm antibodies mistakenly treat sperm as dangerous and try to destroy them with immune system cells.
Infection: STD (sexually transmitted diseases) and other infections such as inflammation can affect sperm production or prevent sperm from passing through the penis.

Other causes are due to lifestyle factors:
Smoking, drinking, wearing too tight clothes or excessive heat in the groin area (due to hot baths, laptops placed on thighs etc), obesity, too much consumption of fast foods, addiction to medicines or drugs, late marriages or excessive exercise like cycling can contribute to fertility issues.

The large proportion of people affected with infertility proves the need to make access to fertility care easily available and affordable.

After an initial examination by the physician, in the case of males, most doctors will advise a semen analysis test. This will immediately show if there is any defect in the morphology or motility of the sperm.

We, at Andrology Center, not only offer the semen analysis test. In addition, we offer the sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) test, which gives even more information on the quality of the sperm. We are the only authorised laboratory in India to carry out the SCSA (sperm chromatin structure assay) test, which is an advanced method and, due to the technology and top-class equipment, guarantees accurate results. These results will make it easier for the fertility specialist to diagnose the problem and initiate the relevant treatment.