There have been a number of reports in the media recently about a decline in male fertility so alarming that it “could make humans extinct” after a study suggested that sperm counts seemed to have halved in the last forty years. The study found a decline in men in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, but it isn’t clear why this might be happening.
Other experts have suggested that there may be room for some scepticism about the findings from the research team led by Dr Hagai Levine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Although the research is said to be of high quality, some are concerned that it may be too early to be quite so pessimistic about the future, but it is clear that this is an issue which we should be concerned about and looking into more closely.
What often gets forgotten in the discussion about male fertility and sperm counts is the emotional impact for men of dealing with this – and you may be interested in this article with interviews from a number of men about how their experiences of infertility.
Men can often feel rather left out when it comes to fertility treatment – and the support available to couples can often seem very female-focused. Now, a team from Leeds Beckett University have partnered with Fertility Network UK to try to find out more about men’s experiences of fertility problems. They believe not enough is known about how men cope with fertility issues and will use the results of the research to help to raise awareness of men’s needs.
They will also produce a report at the end of the study and present the findings to health care professionals to ensure that the male perspective is taken into consideration in fertility clinics and in fertility counselling settings.
This survey is completely anonymous so please do fill it in – or get your partner to – and ensure that the researchers get a good response and can start to encourage changes in the support for men during treatment.
You can find the survey here
Could your sleep patterns be affecting your sperm count? New research from China has found that going to bed after midnight along with sleeping much less or much more than average seems to have an impact on sperm.
The research team looked at more than nine hundred men who had regular sleep patterns and divided them into groups who were all given different sleep durations and bedtimes. They then carried out semen analyses over a period of six months, and found that those who were having the shortest sleep had lower sperm counts and lower motility. They also found that those who went to bed after midnight had lower sperm counts regardless of how long they then slept for.
So, if you are trying to conceive, it’s certainly worth ensuring you get to bed before midnight – and that you don’t get too little or too much sleep. You can find the full paper from the team at China’s Harbin Medical University, which was published in the Medical Science Monitor, here
It is often noted that there’s a lack of support for men going through fertility problems and it is certainly true that much of the help on offer is aimed primarily at women. Now, for the first time, one London clinic is offering tailored support for men.
Andrology Solutions is running a male fertility evening on February 16th with a guest speaker, Gareth Down, and a team of andrologists at hand to answer any male fertility questions. You can find out more here.
They are often thought to be the safer version of smoking – but new research has found that the flavourings used in e-cigarettes may contain toxic chemicals which can damage men’s sperm.
A team from University College London found that two of the most popular flavours put into e-cigarettes were particularly damaging to sperm – bubblegum and cinnamon were both found to affect male fertility. You can read more details about their research, which was presented at the Fertility 2017 Conference earlier this month, here
Researcher Megumi Fieldsend who has carried out previous work looking at childlessness is working on a new project “Life without children – lived experience of a man who wanted to be a dad”. She would like to talk to childless men who are in heterosexual relationships with no adopted children, step-children or children of a partner from a previous marriage/relationship and she would like to carry out interviews as soon as possible. There are some other criteria which Megumi can discuss with anyone who might be interested, If you, or anyone you know, falls into this category and might be willing to talk to Megumi for her research project you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may have heard about recent research suggesting that boys born after ICSI were likely to have lower sperm counts – and you may have been concerned about it. If you were, you may find this commentary from Bionews by Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, who is one of the country’s leading sperm experts, reassuring.
There has always been a question about the future fertility of males born using ICSI, and it had been suggested that they might inherit their fathers’ fertility problems. The latest research has found that the sperm of ICSI-conceived men is of lower quality than average, but when fathers have particularly poor sperm quality this doesn’t seem to be passed on to their sons. You can read Professor Pacey’s interesting commentary on the subject here.
The brilliant NHS Choices also has a commentary on the research behind the headlines, and you can find that here.
Fertility Network UK is holding an online session on male fertility problems on 29th September at 8pm. The guest speaker is Dr Sheryl Homa, a clinical scientist and andrology specialist.
Sheryl’s talk will focus on male fertility problems and this will be followed by the usual Q & A session afterwards. The session will last for about 45 minutes. If you would like to join the group, you can email our to Hannah who will give you all the details email@example.com
So the Daily Mail tells us that watching too much Olympic sport on TV “could spell problems ahead” for men who want to become fathers. I am pleased to tell you that watching the Olympics is not going to make you infertile…
The report is based on research from Copenhagen University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology which found that healthy young men who had a “couch potato lifestyle” and watched more than 5 hours of TV a day had lower sperm counts than those who were more active.
It isn’t the first time that research has concluded that too much TV is bad for your fertility (see this report here with some common sense advice from Professor Allan Pacey) but this research discovered that sitting at a computer screen for the same amount of time didn’t have the same impact – it was thought that the men who watched TV were also likely to eat less healthily and take less exercise – which brings us back to the root of the problem with the point about watching the Olympics being bad for your sperm count.
The reality is that it’s a healthy lifestyle which makes a difference to your sperm – and to your general health and well-being. You don’t really need academic researchers to tell you that a man who spends entire days in front of the TV eating chips and drinking beer is less likely to be fertile than a man who watches masses of Olympics on TV but also eats healthily and enjoys getting out and about taking moderate exercise.
Researchers at Sheffield University are examining the way the red pigment compound found in tomatoes may impact on sperm. It’s called lycopene and the Sheffield team led by leading expert Professor Allan Pacey are investigating the impact taking a lycopene supplement has on sperm quality.
The study will use samples from a team of sixty volunteers over three months as that’s how long it takes to produce sperm, so the results may be available later this year. There have been claims that lycopene reverses DNA damage to sperm and can improve quality by up to 70%, so this could be a very interesting study.
There’s more about the story in the Daily Mail, under a headline about a “tomato pill” which may “supercharge” sperm here and a calmer version on the Sheffield University website here !