Even mumps can cause infertility among men?
Fast-paced urban lifestyle and stress are inducing infertility among Indian men and drastically reducing their sperm count
The sprightly 34-year-old Subodh Achrekar is very much on the ball when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He never misses his hour-long tennis sessions. And his fetish for organic food keeps him and his wife glued to a gluten-free diet. But, even a healthy lifestyle could not help him and his wife conceive.
In 2013, while trying to start a family, Achrekar and his wife were advised to opt for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). “The process required my wife to be injected with hormones. The resultant eggs were then fertilized with my sperms in a laboratory. Then these embryos were transferred into her uterus. However, it did not work for us,” says Achrekar, the Mumbai-based software engineer.
The Achrekar’s tried the same method again after a gap of eight months, but didn’t have any luck. They finally opted for surrogacy and are now proud parents of a baby girl. “It has taken us sometime to start our own family, but the wait was worth the while,” says Anjali Achrekar, a freelance graphic designer and full-time mother.
Achrekar’s is one of the many stories of young urban couples failing to conceive and start a family. While experts say that female infertility constitute 40% of the cases of infertility, about 15% of cases of infertility are due to medical and stress factors in males.
Last year, at the ‘Challenges in Infertility Management (CIIM) 2014’ summit, Dr Geetha Haripriya, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Prashanth Fertility Hospital, Chennai, said that around 15% of men and women had become infertile due to an urban lifestyle and stress.
Causes of infertility among men
Dr Charumati Pekhale, IVF specialist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, lists the following medical causes of infertility among men.
- Undescended testis: It is a testicle that hasn’t moved into its proper position in the bag of skin hanging below the penis (scrotum) before birth. Usually just one testicle is affected, but about 10 percent of the time, both testicles are undescended.
- Congenital vas defrans: It is a condition in which the vasa deferentia reproductive organs, fail to form properly prior to birth.
- Testicular failure: It is an uncommon disorder that occurs when the male testes, the two egg-shaped reproductive organs in the scrotum, become unable to develop sperm and testosterone.
- Damage or trauma to reproductive organs
- Varicocele: It occurs when the network of veins that leave the testis (pampiniform plexus) become elongated and enlarged. A varicocele can result in a decrease sperm production and quality. It can also shrink the testicles.
- Infections like mumps: It is a contagious and infectious viral disease causing swelling of the parotid salivary glands in the face, and a risk of sterility in adult males.
- Erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse and ejaculatory dysfunction could be premature, retrograde, or delayed ejaculation.
- Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment: Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
Continue reading to find out about the early signs of infertility!
External factors can also impact fertility. Dr Kaberi Banerjee, IVF and infertility specialist, clinical director, Advance Fertility and Gynecological Centre, New Delhi, says, “Studies have shown that stress affects the power of conception. During times of stress, adrenalin is released in the body, which interferes with successful conception.”
She further adds, “Adrenaline inhibits the functioning of progesterone, which facilitates fertility. High levels of adrenalin also cause the pituitary gland to release higher levels of prolactin, which leads to infertility. When men are exposed to or work in prolonged high temperature conditions they can suffer from low sperm count and motility.”
Apart from these factors, the following genetic defects are also responsible for infertility.
- Abnormal chromosome number: It occurs when there is an error in cell division. Normally, one cell with 46 chromosomes divides and becomes two cells with 46chromosomes each.
- Abnormal chromosome structure: A variety of chromosomal rearrangements occur causing changes in the structure or components of a chromosome.
Dr Amol Raut, CEO, GeneSupport, explains, “Inherited genetic defects such as abnormal chromosome number and structure are the causes of infertility in both men and women. Besides, there are few genes, which if are mutated (variant) may also cause metabolic disturbances in the body resulting into infertility. One of the well known examples is Vitamin B9 deficiency due to gene mutation leading to infertility and abortions in females.”
Early signs of infertility among men
You can ease the process of conception, if you study the early symptoms of infertility. So how will you detect these early signs of infertility? Dr Banerjee says, “Majority of the patients have no obvious symptoms. However, men may face the following problems with sexual function.”
- Difficulty with ejaculation
- Reduced sexual desire
- Difficulty in maintaining an erection
- Complain of pain, swelling or a lump in the testis
- Decreased facial or body hair
If a couple is not able to conceive even after 6 months of unprotected sex, they need to visit the doctor. Since infertility treatments cost close to₹ 4 lakh, it is advisable that they begin with blood, urine and imaging tests to find out the actual cause.
Dr Banerjee says, “We generally recommend sperm analysis also to check the quality and quantity of the sperm. LH kits are available these days which when positive indicate that ovulation has occurred and the woman is in her fertile period. The couple can then plan accordingly.”
Click here to read about infertility in women.
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