If a couple are unlucky enough to be referred for fertility testing - and that's about 1 in 6 of couples - there tends to be a fairly relaxed approach to male fertility testing. After all, with IVF or ICSI procedures, it only needs one sperm to fertilise the egg. But if the sperm is damaged, then fertilisation may not occur.
It's estimated that at least 30% of fertility difficulties lie with the man alone and yet male fertility testing is still relatively basic. Normally male fertility testing looks at 3 factors - volume, motility and morphology - there needs to be enough sperm, that are moving in the right direction and are well formed.
And the good news is that sperm quality can be improved by lifestyle factors: a healthy diet which is low in sugar and processed foods, vitamin supplements, regular sex, keeping the genitals cool and avoiding alcohol, smoking and any other toxic substances.
But can more be done to test for sperm quality? Yes. The SpermComet test is a more sensitive test designed to measure DNA damage in individual sperm.
There are a couple of instances in which a more in-depth testing of male fertility factors can be helpful:
When undertaking assisted reproductive techniques it can be useful to know about the quality of sperm in order to select the technique which has the best chance of success. For example, if a test shows moderate sperm DNA damage, IVF may to the way to go, whereas a test result with higher DNA damage may indicate that going directly to ICSI will offer the best chance of a pregnancy.
Sadly miscarriage is something that about 1 in 4 women will experience, and where there is recurrent miscarriage a sperm DNA test may provide useful information. There can be a number of reasons for recurrent miscarriage, one of which is sperm DNA quality. And according to Lewis Fertility Testing who designed the sperm comet test, "Recurrent miscarriage following IVF or ICSI can be caused by sperm DNA damage."
So, if you've experienced recurrent miscarrige, or are about to embark on assisted reproductive techniques, or if time is running out and you want as much useful information about your fertility as you can gather, then a SpermComet test might be useful.
Testing is available in Edinburgh and if you'd like to know more, contact Doris Wylie on 07724 197627.
And for more general information on fertility click here and discover how reproductive reflexology can help support your fertility journey.
When you look at your life I'm sure you'll can identify challenges that you've overcome and problems that are still with you. And when you look around it's easy to find examples of other people who have overcome challenges : Dame Evelyn Glennie has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12 and yet still managed to become a world class precussionist; and Steven Hawking's diagnosis of motor neurone disease has not prevented him from achieving a long life and a stellar career.
So, what's the difference between a challenge and a problem? A problem becomes a problem because of how we handle it. We create problems when we:
And once we've done all that, our challenge has become a problem, "a thing" to be grappled with, rather than a challenge to be overcome.
And the thing about problems is that they cannot be solved with the thinking that created them. So we need to think differently - to step outside the problem and look it with a fresh pair of eyes to find a solution.
So here are a few ways to do that:
1. Think of it as a challenge to be overcome
2. Step outside of the problem by asking better questions:
problem has passed
4. Accept the problem. It is in your life (for now) and resisting the
problem feeds it with energy and gives it power over you. Now
accepting it does not mean that having the problem is OK or that you
resign yourself to having the problem forever. No, accepting just
means that you're not hiding from the problem and you're not
struggling with it and you're willing to step outside of the thinking that
created the problem to generate a change.
And if your problems become overwhelming, find a friend or a coach or a counsellor who can help you.
Or have a relaxing and restoring Reflexology session.