World Infertility Awareness Month June 2024 – Why Both Partners Should Be Tested

Each year in June, World Infertility Awareness Month is observed in many parts of the world, with the objective of acknowledging the one in six couples globally who are affected by this medical condition and to raise awareness of the many infertility treatments that can help couples to have the families they dream of.

Our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic gladly add our voices to raise awareness of infertility and its treatments, and this year we highlight the crucial importance of testing both partners to ensure the correct diagnosis is made, so that the right treatment can be provided.

World Infertility Awareness Day is observed around the world to raise awareness of infertility, a medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide – as many as an estimated one in six couples globally! – and is the result of an extensive range of possible causes – from poor general health and hormone problems to genetic issues or physical challenges, such as blocked fallopian tubes or sexual disfunction.

Fortunately, there are as many treatments for infertility as there are causes.

However, pinpointing the right treatment for a couple requires thorough testing of both partners to ensure all possible causes of the couple’s infertility are addressed from the outset.

Infertility often affects both partners

Due to the general lack of awareness about infertility worldwide, infertility is still sometimes considered a “women’s problem”, as it was regarded traditionally.

But fertility specialists now know that this is not the reality and increasing numbers of cases, infertility is caused by a male factor. In the vast majority of these cases, male infertility is due to problems with the sperm, and this percentage is set to increase even further, according to a recent global study revealing a concerning decline in sperm counts all over the world.

Despite some reluctance among patients with certain cultural thought processes, at Medfem Fertility Clinic, when we see a couple, we test both partners for known causes of infertility, and that includes testing the sperm.

In a recent short video, Dr Tony Rodrigues – a reproductive medicine specialist and a founder and director of Medfem Fertility Clinic –explains: “Fertility problems can stem from either the female partner or the male partner, or a combination of factors from both partners. In fact, couples who come to our fertility clinic have a 50% chance of both partners having a fertility problem.”

Both partners should be tested

For this reason, it is very important for couples to attend consultations with a fertility specialist together.

“Fertility treatment is a team effort,” says Dr Tony. “You need both sperm and eggs to make a baby, so a couple needs to be on this fertility journey together. From 30 years of experience, we know that it wastes time and money to focus on the female partner, only to discover months later that there is a problem with the male’s sperm, as is the case in increasing numbers of couples receiving fertility treatment.

“Testing both partners allows us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation, which leads to a more effective course of action. Moreover, testing both partners can help identify any potential issues early on, facilitating timely intervention and improving the chances of successful conception. Overall, seeking testing for both partners in cases of infertility is to be clearly recommended, to ensure thorough evaluation and personalised treatment approaches.”

What tests are needed?

Couples visiting Medfem Fertility Clinic undergo a series of tests and investigations to establish the exact causes of the infertility, which could exist in either partner, but most often in both partners.

Your Medfem fertility specialist will begin by exploring each partner’s medical history to determine any possible causes for infertility and to understand previous or current infertility treatment. This will guide your fertility specialist in determining what tests and investigations are most suitable for you as a couple.

“At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we check many known fertility issues, and each test is important. We also like to check all the possibilities right at the beginning, before any diagnosis or treatment is considered,” explains Dr Tony. “These investigations aren’t that extensive, but every single test and scan is crucial to achieve the ultimate objective, which is a healthy pregnancy that culminates in a healthy baby.

“We like to also check both partners for immunological problems, because about 15 to 20% of our patients have one or more immune diseases, such as antibodies against the thyroid and high insulin, which will certainly affect their fertility.”

Investigations for male partners

Although there are many possible causes of infertility among men, the most common fertility problem is a low number of normal sperm. As such the most important test for men is a semen analysis by specialists in our state-of-the-art lab.

A semen analysis measures the volume of semen and takes a sperm count of how much sperm is present in one ejaculation. It also determines sperm morphology or shape, and measures sperm motility, or the ability to move forward normally. The analysis further reveals the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen, the level of sugar called fructose that provides energy for the sperm, and the presence of white blood cells. The ability of the sperm to bind to an egg is also investigated as a primary test at Medfem Fertility Clinic.

Depending on the results, further tests may be conducted, and this might include an ultrasound or a testicular biopsy.

In addition, male partners have blood tests that check insulin, prolactin and thyroid levels for hormone imbalances, all of which will affect fertility. In addition, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels in the blood are also tested, as this result could indicate if there is a sperm problem.

Investigations for female partners

While the most common causes of infertility among women receiving treatment at Medfem Fertility Clinic are polycystic ovaries and endometriosis, there is a very wide range of other potential causes of infertility, from lifestyle choices to cancer treatment.

As a result, the tests conducted for female partners include investigating profiles of hormones such as thyroid, insulin, prolactin and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). Other hormones closely associated with fertility are also measured, including FSH; luteinising hormone (LH); as well as oestrogen and progesterone.

Female partners also have a vaginal scan to detect abnormalities of the uterus and determine if the hormones are acting properly on the uterine lining, and to ensure that there are no diseases of the ovaries that could lead to infertility.

“At Medfem Fertility Clinic we might also do a laparoscopy – which is minimally invasive surgery,” explains Dr Tony. “This technology also allows us to investigate and diagnose endometriosis and to check the fallopian tubes simultaneously. We can also detect fibroids or polyps or any other growths, and treat all of these conditions at the same time.”

Depending on the results, further tests may be conducted, for example, a mucus test or an ovulatory cycle assessment.

Schedule your tests now!

Not only do the thorough, relevant tests and investigations we do enable us to make an accurate diagnosis, but it also ensures that only the right treatments are provided to both partners. This reduces both time to pregnancy and the costs of fertility treatment, because only the necessary treatments are provided.

If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click her to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you!

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