How common is male factor infertility?
About one in seven couples may face difficulties conceiving despite frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. Although such couples are commonly referred to specialist gynaecologists, it important to note that in up to half of these couples, male infertility is contributing to the problem.
Male infertility may be caused by decreased sperm production, abnormal sperm function or anatomical blockages that prevent the passage of sperm through the male reproductive tract. Serious illnesses, local injuries, chronic health conditions and lifestyle choices can all play interweaving roles in causing male infertility.
Although infertility as a condition can be frustrating and stressful, a number of treatments are available to combat male infertility. As the duration of many of these treatment options may be lengthier than expected, it is crucial that you seek expert advice from experienced, fertility specialists.
How can we help?
We are proud to offer a range of male fertility tests and health screening diagnostics, not just a routine semen analysis. These tests are performed together with the usual semen analysis from the same semen sample.
We work closely with two, world-renowned andrologists in the London and top andrology laboratories in Berkshire and in London. This means that the advanced assessment and treatment of male factor infertility can be performed in the UK prior to commencing IVF treatment in Athens.
What are the advanced male fertility tests we offer?
These advanced tests include:
DNA fragmentation test
A DNA fragmentation test looks inside your sperm to assess the quality of your sperm. This test gives important information as it identifies DNA damage in sperm. If fragmentation levels are high this is associated with infertility, failure of IVF and early miscarriage.
Your DNA fragmentation report will give you an average percentage of DNA damage per sperm, a percentage of “normal” sperm and a percentage of highly damaged sperm. This is a specialist test, so it is important that the results are interpreted for you in a clinical context by a highly-skilled professional. We will do this in consultation with you after a consultant urologist has reviewed them. We will subsequently advise you of an appropriate course of action to both investigate the cause and treatment options to lower your DNA fragmentation levels and ultimately improve your fertility and increase your chances of pregnancy.
Oxidative Stress Test (MiOXSYS)
High levels of oxidative stress have been linked to abnormal sperm function, resulting abnormal semen parameters and failed IVF outcomes. Using an oxidative stress test can enhance the diagnostic accuracy of male infertility, particularly in cases of unexplained infertility, abnormal semen parameters, and or failed IVF outcomes. We perform a test called MiOXSYS, which can readily and easily identify cases of male infertility attributed to oxidative stress.
Semen culture tests
This semen analysis test examines your semen sample for evidence of infection. The presence of bacteria in the sperm can be insidious as it is often may cause no symptoms other than the difficulty to conceive spontaneously. The presence of bacteria in the sperm denotes an infection of one or more locations of the male genital tract, which requires prolonged antibiotic use, often for weeks.
How can we help you with the application of these tests?
- If you have had an abnormal semen analysis elsewhere
If you have had a previous semen analysis done that has been described as abnormal, these advanced tests can provide us with vital information. A consultant andrologist will subsequently review your results and an individualised treatment plan can be offered to you.
- Before IVF treatment
If you are considering proceeding with IVF, then it is important to optimise your fertility potential as much as possible. Increased DNA fragmentation, the presence of oxidative stress and the detection of bacteria in the semen have all been linked with decreased pregnancy rates and increased miscarriage rates following IVF. We also acknowledge that the IVF process is an expensive process both emotionally as well as financially. It is sensible to check your sperm thoroughly in order to improve the chances of a successful outcome.
- After previous IVF treatment has failed
An IVF cycle can fail at different stages. In some cases, the number of eggs that fertilise with sperm after IVF is low. Other times, the development of embryos appears to be poor as they may have arrested before they reach the blastocyst stage. Even when embryos have implanted after IVF, you may have suffered a first-trimester miscarriage.
We have clear scientific evidence that the underlying cause for these failures may be the functional quality of the male sperm. The conventional semen analysis that is arranged by your GP or NHS gynaecologist does not examine the DNA integrity, the presence of oxidative stress or infection.
It is very important that a thorough analysis of the sperm is performed to help improve future outcomes. Please feel free to contact Dr Christopoulos to discuss how these tests may apply to your individual circumstances and how you can book them.