“It's probably you because this never happens to the women in my family.”
“Me? It can't be me, I'm just fine.”
“Look, babe, instead of us blaming each other, why don't we just find out why we can't get pregnant after trying for so long?”
Is that the dialogue you are having right now with your partner? Perhaps it would help to know that in this instance, your wife/girlfriend might not actually be wrong when she tells you, you might be the problem.
Contrary to popular belief that infertility was mostly a “women's issue”, a recent study suggests, it's quite the opposite, at least when it comes to T&T men.
According to Dr Catherine Minto-Bain, medical director and consultant gynaecologist at T&T In Vitro Clinic and Fertility Centre (T&T IVF), the research, which examined data for 366 people diagnosed with infertility, revealed a 60 per cent incidence of sperm problems in the men surveyed. Of the women observed, it was discovered, the second highest cause of infertility was due to abnormal fallopian tubes (found in 27 per cent of the women). The third reason for infertility was attributed to ovulatory dysfunction, which Minto-Bain explained, is the challenge of growing and releasing eggs, with 87 per cent of these problems being caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
(PCOS is a condition that affects a woman's hormone levels. Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant. Additionally, according to www.healthline.com, PCOS affects women during their childbearing years—ages 15 to 44. It said between 2.2 and 26.7 per cent of women in this age group have PCOS).
Speaking about the first-of-its-kind solid research on rates and causes of infertility in T&T, Minto-Bain said what it essentially unveiled was that T&T is in line with other research done elsewhere in the region, which indicated that male infertility was more common in the Caribbean than in first-world countries.
Asked what was the cause for the increase in male infertility in T&T, Minto-Bain said, “No one really knows. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
She was quick to add, however, studies have indicated, hormonal problems, genetics, infections, injury, abuse of alcohol, and poor diet were all linked to male infertility.
The study also showed T&T was similar to other developing countries, having higher rates of couples experiencing infertility.
Minto-Bain found this revelation to be shocking and disclosed that one-third of couples—37 per cent, had a female-only cause for their infertility, while a fifth—19 per cent, had a male-only cause. The majority—40 per cent, she said, both males and females had issues contributing to infertility.
This confirmed previous statistics revealed to the Sunday Guardian from another local fertility centre which had noted that among couples where a cause for infertility can be identified, female factors account for approximately 40 per cent of all infertility cases; male factors account for a further 40 per cent; and in the remaining 20 per cent of cases, there is a combination of female and male factors.
In an interview last Tuesday with Hema Ramkissoon on CNC3's Morning Brew, Minto-Bain said in the US, infertility existed one in every ten couples; in Africa, one in every three couples; and in T&T, the current rate stands at one in every six couples.
The doctor said this seriously highlights the need for couples to be seen in a specialist fertility clinic as soon as possible and to treat with infertility as a “couple's issue”.
“Both the male and female partner must be properly assessed before any treatment is started, otherwise a large number of couples will be undergoing treatments that cannot get them pregnant,” she added.
Seven tips to healthy sperm:
*Stop smoking. Smoking lowers sperm count and reduces its mobility.
*Do not take testosterone. If you are want to start a family, do not use it.
*Eat well. Try to avoid junk food that is loaded with fat, sugar, and preservatives.
*Exercise is key.
*Limit alcohol and caffeine.
*Keep temperatures cool.
*Lower your stress level.