Over the years, the cause of childlessness in the family had been blamed on the infertility of the woman but recent researches have revealed that male infertility is now in an upward swing
| By Chinwe Okafor | Jun. 9, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
NGOZI Obika, a graduate of Anambra State University is an unhappy woman. Reason is that her more than five-year old marriage is being threatened by childlessness. Her in-laws are not helping matters. They not only taunt her for the apparent barrenness, they also accuse her openly of pre-marital acts that had resulted in her childlessness. Obika has tried every possible means to conceive but the baby is not forthcoming.
This situation has made her to visit many hospitals and traditional homes to ascertain her fecundity. All the tests she underwent certified that nothing was wrong with her reproductive organ. This made her accept her fate and to continue to hope and pray for the day God would bless her with her own child. As she continued to hope and pray, a friend of hers emerged one and suggested that since all the medical tests had given her a clean bill of health, her husband should also go for the fertility test to know if his reproductive organs were also healthy. Ngozi said she declined to take the advice in the first instance but later had a rethink and sold the idea to her husband. He bought it and they went for tests in many hospitals. All the tests he underwent certified that her husband’s sperm count was very low. In other words, there were very few live cells in the sperm that can fertilize the female eggs.
Although these findings made her sad, they were determined to find the way out of the problem. Eventually, Obika’s in-laws got to know about the development and stopped pointing accusing fingers at her. She is not alone in this situation. There are other women out there facing such problems. More often than not, infertility in marriage is often blamed on the woman. But the question now is: Is infertility just a woman’s problem? Realnews gathered that infertility is a shared responsibility between couples. It could be a problem from the man or the woman or problem with both but in 35 percent of the cases, the problem lies with the man and in another 35 percent, it lies with the woman.
In 20 percent, they could share among them and the remaining 10 percent could be an unexplained infertility, where all kinds of tests had been run but it could still not be ascertained why the couple cannot conceive. However, there is an alarm in reproductive health circles because male infertility is on the rampage. All over the world, reports of declining sperm quality and increasing male infertility attributable to low sperm count and poor sperm motility and morphology are making the rounds. Indeed, it is becoming more challenging for the typical African, Asian, American or European male to preserve his manliness and perpetuate his masculinity, particularly with regards to fertility and vitality.
Increasingly, experts are reporting incidences of men with genetically fragile sperms. Such sperms have fragmented DNA chains, which make them to be of low quality and less capable of fertilization and this inability of the sperm to function properly could be as a result of various factors such as: lifestyle which results in overweight or having a job that involves contact with chemicals or radiation. It could also be a direct cause of environmental pollutants, that is, being in high heat for prolonged periods; birth defects; heavy use of alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine; too little or too much hormones; impotence and infection.
Others could be old age; cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation; scarring from sexually transmitted diseases, injury or surgery; surgery to prevent pregnancy or failure of vasectomy reversal; retrograde ejaculation and smoking. All these causes have adverse effects in sperm production in males resulting in problems such as: low sperm count or quality; problems with the tubes carrying sperm; of getting an erection, and that of ejaculating.
However, medical research grouped infertility into two categories: primary infertility which refers to couples who have not become pregnant after at least one year of unprotected sex and secondary infertility which refers to couples who have been pregnant at least once, but never again. John Idahosa, a consultant gynaecologist, said that 40 percent of infertility problem are attributable to men and dismissed the common belief that only women have infertility issues. He outlined the causes of impotence to include mental stress, illness, excess smoking, excess alcohol intake and consistence sleeping on a brighter light. Idahosa said men who want to avoid erectile dysfunction should increase their intake of multivitamins to help boost their sperm count.
Abayomi Ajayi, a fertility treatment specialist and medical director of Nordica, Fertility Clinic, Lagos, with branches in Asaba and Abuja, said there are more men who have bad sperms, weak sperms and abnormal sperms and advised that there is real need to explore a suitable intervention to meet the growing proportion of men that need help in this direction. “There are many things in the environment that can cause oestrogenisation of men and these things are paint, exposure to petrol and even insecticides and they all can affect sperm count. Men working in fuel stations, for instance, are known to suffer from low sperm counts,” he said.
According to Oladapo Ashiru of MART Clinic, Maryland, Lagos, sperm disorders account for most common causes of male infertility and are often symptomatic of other diseases or disorders. He said some causes of male infertility include low semen volume and low sperm count. Studies have also revealed that other male infertility causes include liquefaction time, pH levels, and fructose levels. Experts say that an off-average number in any factor can signify infertility.
Clinical records show that in Nigeria, 25 percent of couples are infertile, and that half of the causes are due to male factor issues. An assessment of hospital data from four leading tertiary health institutions revealed that over 90 percent of male infertility cases are either due to low sperm counts or poor sperm quality, or a combination of both. A study conducted by French researchers has revealed the continuing decline of male fertility in the modern world. In a recent publication in the Human Reproduction journal, they disclosed that a study conducted on French men aged 18 to 70, to track their average sperm counts across the country between 1989 and 2005, showed a drop among all French men in this age range, of about 1.9 percent per year on average, and by 32.3 percent on average over the course of the 16-year period studied, while the number of normally-shaped sperm dropped by 33.4 percent during the study period. “This constitutes a serious public health warning,” said Joelle Le Moal, an environmental health epidemiologist and one of the researchers.