Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Infertility in the news


Since infertility has been a big subject in my life the past few years, whenever I see things in the news about it, it peaks my interest. Recently a study has come out about men's declining sperm count. "Sperm counts in the West plunge by 60pc in 40 years as 'modern life' damages men's health." The decline shows no sign of stopping either. That is crazy when you think about it!

The article also said that poor sperm can be an indicator of other health problems; Aside from the obvious implications for reproduction, the researchers said the declines were consistent with reported trends in testicular cancer, the number of children born with one or both testicles missing, the onset of male puberty and total testosterone levels. This is not something that should be ignored. There were several possible reasons given in the article; chemicals... BPA... processed meats... but I got the impression they don't really know for sure. If there are chemicals in the food that we are being exposed to that are causing problems like this (plus who knows what other issues could be attributed to it such as cancer), something needs to be done.

The same study was also covered in the Daily mail, which is a tabloid paper. They commented about how women are typically "blamed" for infertility when often it is the man at fault. I really wonder when the blame game of women "being career women" and "waiting too late" is going to stop. Anyway, the article mentioned that maybe men and women will have to start freezing their sperm and eggs when they are young for future use! This is not an ideal solution for numerous reason. It's an interesting idea though. I'm currently reading "The handmaiden's Tale" for my book club and articles like this make the book seem not all that far fetched!


The comments under both articles (there and on the facebook pages) were despicable though. Firstly there were lots of people blaming "feminists" and "feminism". That made my blood boil. Come on! Some people seriously think that women having equal rights and being allowed to work and vote for instance is causing men to feel so threatened that their bodies produce less sperm?! Give me a break! The other most prevalent comment was about "overpopulation" and that this sperm issue is hence "a good thing". That also upset me. I can see how over population can be a problem is certain countries especially with poor access to family planning and contraceptive measures but in the western world we have the opposite problem. Germany has an aging population for instance. Many couples these days only have one kid on average, or none at all! And people not being about to have the choice to have children is in no way a "good thing". I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy! It is heartbreaking to go through.

By the way I wanted to add that by using a picture of the manly Jon Snow from Game of Thrones I'm not in any way suggesting that there might be any issue with his swimmers... But if there were, it wouldn't make me think any less of him!

24 comments:

  1. Blaming feminism? That's hilarious and sad at the same time. Hilari-sad. I don't know where this horde of insecure man-boys came from who blame women for everything and take no responsibility for anything, but I wish they'd grow up.

    Guys, get a hobby. Read. Exercise. Become interesting. It's a much better use of your time, trust me!

    And yeah, it is quite concerning, whatever is causing this apparent rise in fertility issues. So many things are done these days without really knowing the effects, turning us all into guinea pigs. I'm not too worried about the human race going extinct any time soon, but it can sure be tough on individuals.

    By the way, how did your next scan go? Seems like you're so close to the second trimester! So exciting!

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    1. Yeah I felt like despairing for humanity when I read all the anti feminism comments. Why so many man-boys continue to feel so threatened by it is beyond me. Yes they need to grow up and find other interests!
      Yeah I have a feeling in about ten years we'll find out that more and more things we are exposed to these days are bad for us!
      My 12 week scan is in a few days! I'm both nervous and excited at the same time! Thanks, I can't wait to get to the 2nd trimester :)

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  2. So the egg/sperm freezing thing is odd -- several tech companies now pay for their employees to freeze eggs. While I get what they're trying to do, I'm not sure I like that as a general trend. Also, is it weird for me to be envious of people who _choose_ to do this (rather than _have_ to)

    Gah, the feminism thing is so weird. Maybe we should take a page out of Finland's book and all women go on vacay for a day. See how well everyone survives.

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    1. Yeah I agree, I don't like the trend either for tech companies to pay for egg freezing either. I'd rather they provide parental leave and support their employees who don't put off having kids. I've read that there are very few births after egg freezing, so it's not really a great option either. Embryos are more likely to survive being defrosted than eggs apparently.
      Yeah the feminism comments were ridiculous. Interesting idea Finland had!

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  3. I have heard the same thing about declining sperm counts in men. It is a serious health problem aside from infertility. I don't think freezing egg and sperm is the golden ticket, we need to find the underlying causes. As you said, it is an indicator of other problems.

    You shouldn't have read the comments on such articles but I know it is oh so tempting. People like to hear themselves talk (as I comment on this) and think they know what is best for everyone. Everyone on the internet all of sudden got a PhD in Everything. I wish there was a bit more compassion online and in real life. Life is hard enough as it is, we could all stand to be a bit nicer to eachother.

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    1. Yeah I agree that freezing eggs and sperm isn't the "solution". More research needs to be done to figure out what's going on.
      You're so right about avoiding the comments. Most of the time they can just end up making me feel angry or upset when I read hurtful things people say! People seem to like using the anonymity of the internet to be cruel it seems. I agree that the world could do with more kindness! At least the blogging community is generally lovely and supportive

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  4. I read The Handmaid's Tale a few months ago. It hit way too close to home for me. Brrr.

    If there are chemicals in our foods (or the containers for our foods) that our causing these issues then yes, something definitely needs to be done. My cynical head says that since it's affecting sperm there will be some research done into it eventually . Meanwhile, my "diagnosis" is unexplained infertility. It's 2017... how is it possible that they can do a few tests and then reach a conclusion of "we don't know"?!

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    1. Yea I'm finding some parts of the book hard to read. It's a scary world!
      You have a point that probably there will be more research done since it is an issue affecting men not women!
      The "unexplained infertility" diagnose is really frustrating I can imagine. Because maybe it will work eventually or maybe there is some issue that needs to be fixed. A friend of mine was 38, husband 34 and had unexplained infertility. During their first IVF they paid for an extra sperm test to check DNA and it showed really poor results. Apparently around 10% I think it is of men can have good results on the standard test but actually have DNA issues! Before then doctors had "blamed" her for her age. Anyway, her partner took lots of supplements and really improved his diet. Their third IVF resulted in a healthy daughter! So that DNA test might be something worth asking about for instance. Or you could take his&her pre conception supplements if you aren't already. Boots have some next time you're home or you can get them online too. I hope you get some more answers soon. Or ideally just need more time and it'll happen naturally!

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    2. Way back before we even had any tests, Jan asked the doctor about supplements he could take and was told zinc and vitamin C were good for sperm, so he takes them. Luckily nobody has blamed me for my age yet - I've been told I still have "plenty of time" (which is true if I only want one child, but what about the next one?). I would have to look into whether that DNA test is a thing they would do in Switzerland. I'm still pretty sure the issue is on my side though - whether standard tests actually find anything or not there must be *some* reason I ovulate late, spot during my luteal phase (sometimes starting at 3 dpo!) and have a short luteal phase! Although the last few cycles I've ovulated between day 16 and 18 instead of between day 20 and 22 and my luteal phased has reached the magic number of 10 days (or more) three cycles in a row so one of the supplements I'm taking must be working! I'm currently on the lowest dose of levothyroxin and have to go back in September to see whether it's made any difference to my TSH and prolactin levels.

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    3. Great that the supplements seem to be improving your luteal phase! Hope you get your thyroid levels sorted too. Non optimal thyroid can cause infertility issues I've heard! Yeah if you would like a few kids then there isn't all that much time unfortunately. Best of luck!

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  5. I sometimes wish I could know for sure if I was much more fertile when I was younger (20s: as I know I had major issues by early 30s). Not because I would necessarily have made different choices but because I am curious. I assume I was more fertile but I also suspect I had issues from an early age. I ignored what might have been warning signs because I took fertility for granted and I just didn't have awareness.

    My husband on the other hand has some quite plausible explanations for his issues (side effects of Crohn's).

    I otherwise try to avoid speculating about the reasons for our challenges as it feels too overwhelming and I don't want to become paranoid. An infertility epidemic still seems far fetched to me but on the other hand the issues are not so uncommon.

    I think the backlash against feminism, or certain kinds of feminism is coming from deep seated angst about gender roles. It is not only coming from men either. Sadly as long as men and women are blaming each other for things neither will be happy. I have a happy marriage based on many progressive values. On the other hand my parents had more traditional roles and had a very long successful marriage (ended with my dads death). By no means am I copying everything they did but the common element is working together not against each other. When men and women work as a team they can be successful with all sorts of arrangements and personalities. If not, trouble ahead. My 2 cents. Hope all is well with you.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Sorry I made a mistake in my previous comment so I deleted it.

      I just wanted to say I found your take interesting.

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    3. Yea I suspect I was more fertile in my 20s but then I was also much more immature and in my 30s I was in a much better position to have children for many reasons but then my body wasn't playing ball! It seems crazy/unfair that a 16 year old is super fertile but a woman in her mid 30s/early 40s who is ready and willing will often struggle to conceive.
      Yeah I know the backlash against feminism comes from women too, sadly. I also believe that whatever works well for each couple is great. Some couples prefer the more traditional female/male roles and that's absolutely fine. To me feminism is all about choice and respect.

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  6. This might sound bad, but your Jon Snow picture just made me think of the last episode of GOT. All I can think is, "will Jon Snow pet a dragon? Will he?!"

    Sorry for the aside. I read that article too. I'm very curious why, but I have a theory.

    The answer is... aliens.

    Just saying.

    No wait. It's actually : alien feminists. They're invading from Venus.

    We have to unite the north with that dragon lady if we're to fight them off.

    Venus is coming.

    Joking aside, that "overpopulation" comments make me eye roll. Ironically, the people saying that probably are the excess people they whine about.

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    1. HAHA to your Jon Snow comments! I'm not sure I would be brave enough to pet a dragon on Game of Thrones!
      Yeah I hate the overpopulation comments too. I doubt the people who say that even care that much about the environment or climate change or do anything about it apart from trolling comment pages.

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  7. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4776392/Silent-agony-husbands-haunted-male-infertility.html

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I wish the male perspective would be heard from more.

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  8. I've heard about the decline in sperm count as well. It does make me wonder... but not only regarding the male factor! There are many unexplained issues with women, too. For example nobody knows where endometriosis comes from. However, just like Confuzzled Bev I guess that research will be pushed a lot faster where sperm is concerned while it's supposed to be normal for women to be in pain at the same time... so sad!

    Comments like these are very predictable (and yes, they make me angry, too). Anytime an article on infertility or childlessness is being published here in Switzerland, they are the same. I don't even have to read them anymore, I just know ;-).

    I hope all continues to go well for you. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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    1. Yeah it's crazy really that it's 2017 and there are still something like 40% of couples who receive the "unexplained infertility" diagnose! There are still so many unknowns I suppose.
      Yeah I think I will avoid the comment pages on articles about infertility and childlessness as they are mainly just so insensitive and hurtful!
      Thanks Elaine :)

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  9. Yes I followed all the news with interest... the papers just love a "Children of Men" / "Handmaid's Tale" scenario, don't they. Women have always borne the brunt in this arena, with barrages of misogynistic comments flying whenever fertility is mentioned. And none of the commentators understand population issues: they either think the world is about to run out of people any time now, or that this is a good thing because we are so overpopulated. I'm not surprised sperm counts are dropping with the shitty way we live, though; maybe it could serve as a wake-up call for the world.

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    1. oh yea, any sort of Children of men/Handmaid's Tale story always gets written about! There has always been so much backlash and blame towards woman as you say which I hate. We get blamed for being career women but on the other hand there are stories of employers not wanting to hire women of child bearing age for fear they will get pregnant! We just can't win. And I know so many single friends who haven't tried to get pregnant as they haven't met the right man, nothing to do with their jobs.
      Yeah I'm hoping articles like that are a wake up call for food to become less processed and people to eat healthier.

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  10. Ugh, internet comments. It is interesting to me how often there is male factor, yet infertility more often than not has a female face. That men aren't always delved into as deeply as women, and sometimes there's an issue that could only be found by significant testing, such as DNA fragmentation. That whole "career woman" and "putting it off too late" business fills me with fury. Having PCOS, I was likely infertile in my 20s too (although maybe if I'd had babies in my early 20s it wouldn't have been as severe, but just no), but would I have wanted to have children with my horrible ex-husband? Should I have sacrificed so much to have children in more fertile years? I was 33 when we started, and I don't really consider that "later" -- I didn't get slapped with "advanced maternal age" until 35. Something that always irritated me as I saw fertile friends have babies after 35 with very little difficulty, so why once you have a diagnosis do they need to label you with that? No one labeled our vials of sperm with "advanced paternal age," even though they are finding that age does affect sperm quality as well, not just eggs. ARGH. It all makes my blood boil. Enjoy "The Handmaid's Tale" -- it's real interesting reading it as a woman who's experienced infertility (as opposed to when I read it much younger). The TV series is quite good, too, doesn't follow the book exactly but I felt the infertility aspect was more poignantly felt.

    Thanks for sharing and sorry for the rant... very interesting stuff indeed!

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  11. It has been all over the news here too :( At least infertility is making the news!

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