As a Urologist with a special interest in men’s health and fertility problems, many men come to
see me when they and their partner are trying to have a baby and a ‘simple’ sperm test has
suggested a problem. Most men do not feel unwell and have never considered that there could
be anything wrong. They may never have had any contact with medical professionals and there is
a lot of misunderstanding about semen analysis results and what they mean.
It is important to explain what a semen analysis measures but also what it doesn’t. Most couples
appreciate the opportunity to at least discuss this and find out whether any further tests are
required to help explain the problems they are facing and know if there are any treatments
available taking into consideration the woman’s situation and implications for both partners.
This is all possible without having to go to a fertility clinic.
Problems include abnormalities with the sperm or even not finding any sperm at all. Some men
have problems with sexual function and often will have difficulty discussing them. Underlying
health issues are discussed or even diagnosed. IVF treatments may be discussed but it is often
not the first choice and is not the ideal option for many people. If the male partner’s situation
can be optimised this can help improve both natural and IVF pregnancies and may even reduce
the chance of a miscarriage.
It is an interesting time scientifically as we gain a greater understanding of men’s health. We know
that new tests such as sperm DNA damage testing can identify male issues that relate to not only
pregnancy but also miscarriage and long term development of the child. As a father and husband,
I know of the desire for children as well as the loss and despair of miscarriage. Men are starting to
engage much more in their own health and ask questions about their fertility.
A recent patient sent me this note, “Thank you for giving us the time to listen to our concerns and honestly
helping us with our options. I struggled with what I was told by the GP and fertility clinic and felt so left out of the
decisions being made. My family and friends didn’t really understand and actually I didn’t want to tell them
everything. I’m delighted to let you know we are now 8 weeks pregnant, early days, but I don’t think we would
ever have got here without you. Thanks again from both of us.”
Dr Stephen Gordon