Obesity often overlooked as a cause for male infertility

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The profile of routine tests for male infertility needs to be expanded to make sure all possible causes are covered, including obesity. A comprehensive review by South Australian scientists of 24 scientific papers looking at male obesity as a cause of infertility has led to this conclusion.

A better way to look at male infertility

“Our results suggest that clinics using the more usual measures to look at infertility in obese men may in fact be missing the full picture, “explained Dr. Jared Campbell, a research fellow at the Joanna Briggs Institute, University of Adelaide. “Using more cutting edge techniques would allow a better understanding of where some infertility problems lie.” Routine tests for men include assessment of sperm concentration (quantity), motility (how well they are able to move toward the egg), and volume of semen (amount of fluid produced).

Infertility due to obesity is not revealed in standard tests

Obesity does not have any impact on these three measures and yet obesity contributes to male infertility. “Numbers of sperm with DNA fragmentation and altered mitochondrial membrane potential were increased by obesity,” Dr. Campbell noted. Both of these measures impact the ability of sperm to perform egg fertilization.

Research confirms that obesity is a valid concern

“Per cycle of IVF, obese men were significantly less likely to have a clinical pregnancy – that is, an embryo which transferred successfully – and also significantly less likely to have a live birth,” said Dr. Campbell. “This finding backs up data from the general populations, which shows that obese men are more likely to be infertile than men of a normal body weight.”

Weight should be considered for men and women

The weight and health of both men and women should be on a standard fertility checklist. “Although in the past women were the focus, infertility clinics now also advise men on lifestyle and dietary factors,” he explained. Although there is no study to show that weight loss leads to increased fertility, it’s certainly something that could be tried.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, The Lead South Australia


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