I’ve had a really interesting couple of days at the European fertility conference ESHRE which is being held in London this year. It has been fascinating to meet people from around the world who are involved in the fertility field and to look at different issues from different perspectives – from the lovely Kenyan doctor who is working to set up a fertility support group to the IVF baby who was so inspired by the story of her conception that she’s training to be an embryologist!
One theme that emerged from a number of discussions over the last couple of days was unexplained infertility and sperm DNA damage – last night I was very excited to meet Professor Sheena Lewis, the leading expert in this field, whose research has shown that sperm DNA damage is the key to unexplained infertility.
This morning I met a Danish expert, Preben Christensen, who is working in a similar area. He said that he had seen lifestyle changes make a real difference to the fertility of men who had been unable to conceive because they’d been drinking large quantities of fizzy caffeinated drinks or eating huge quantities of chocolate every day – and even taking scalding hot baths. He recommends testing for DNA damage and then not only lifestyle changes but also taking vitamin supplements such as Vitamin D, zinc and selenium all of which can affect sperm.
It does seem that there is increasing evidence that this is a really important factor in fertility – but one that is not yet part of the routine round of tests which are carried out at clinics.