Male factor is often undiagnosed

  • rowland rees

Britain’s Daily Mail reports today on Mark Griffiths and his girlfriend Jeanette Parker. After a series of scans and tests, it was suggested that Jeanette, 38, might have a blocked fallopian tube and she underwent four minor procedures which cleared the blockage, at least partially.

Tests on Mark also revealed that while his sperm count was reasonable, the volume of semen was small and the sperm itself ‘acidic’ – dismissed by the gynaecologist as nothing serious.

‘He made a joke about making sure you hit the pot and nothing more was said about it,’ Mark, 42, from Portsmouth told the paper.

It was only after Jeanette, a personal assistant, had undergone three unsuccessful IVF cycles — costing £15,000 — plus the removal of one of her two fallopian tubes, which had to be removed after an ectopic pregnancy, that doctors suggested that, in fact, the problem might be with Mark’s sperm.
He was referred to a specialist male fertility doctor who diagnosed a blocked ejaculatory duct. This was preventing the normal volume of semen being released.

The condition, which causes up to 5 per cent of cases of male infertility, may be triggered by a cyst or scarring due to prostate infections.  Jeanette and Mark now believe if his problem of a blocked ejaculatory duct had been spotted earlier, it could have made a real difference.

Rowland Rees, a urological surgeon at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, explains: ‘The majority of fertility clinics are gynaecology-led, where the emphasis is on investigating the female partner and carrying out assisted conception.

‘The investigation and treatment of male-related fertility problems is often not done thoroughly enough, and sometimes not at all.

‘In half of cases male problems are partly responsible and, in 20  per cent, it is purely a male issue. ‘Around 50 per cent of male fertility problems are treatable, but unfortunately this is commonly overlooked.

‘Therefore, couples are undergoing IVF — with all the inherent costs and emotional turmoil it can cause as well as the risks to women from conditions such as ovarian hyperstimulation — when they could have conceived naturally had the man been treated.
‘Treating male infertility may also be cheaper, more successful, and less invasive.’

You can read the full story here