Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Shooting blanks

T&T males have fertility problem


NO SPERM: Dr Catherine Minto-Bain, clinical director of the Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre, at yesterday's Male Infertility Symposium, hosted by the University of the West Indies, at Carlton Savannah, Cascade. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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A diet of foods that contain high saturated fats such as fried chicken, doubles and roti could be one of the causes for the high percentage of men in this country having no sperm.

Use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana and also stress can be contributing factors, according to Dr Catherine Minto-Bain, clinical director at the Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre.

A study conducted from 2009 to 2011 by the IVF and Fertility Centre on male fertility in Trinidad and Tobago found that there was an extremely high percentage of men with no sperm at all (azoospermia).

According to the study, international rates range around 4.49 per cent, but in this country the figure was double at 9.4 per cent.

The research was conducted by fertility specialists Dr Cristina Hickman and Sonja Sookram, who anaylsed 663 sperm samples taken from local males.

The results were then compared to published international figures from men attending fertility clinics in Italy, Finland, Australia and the United States.

The report summarised that while just over half the samples taken were normal (51 per cent), there was a much higher than expected percentage of low sperm count (34 per cent), which was higher than the international average of 17.18 per cent.

The report also states that the percentage of men with "swimming" problems in their sperm sample was similar to average international figures of 22 per cent.

Sperm problems, according to the report, were found to be equally spread across Trinidad and Tobago, with no obvious effect due to the area in which the patients resided.

Yesterday, The University of the West Indies, in conjunction with the Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre, hosted the first symposium on Caribbean male infertility at Carlton Savannah, Cascade.

Speaking to the media following her presentation on fertility options for treatment, Minto-Bain said that the root causes as to why local men and men in the Caribbean on the whole have no or low sperm are still unknown and research was ongoing.

She said sperm research globally has found that diet and lifestyle can be a contributor to the problem, but there are other factors that are also looked at such as genetics and even environmental pollutants.

Minto-Bain added that heat may also be another factor as she noted that in colder countries sitting in hot tubs is not advised as the testicles hang outside of the body because they need to be cooler.

She said the problem can best be measured by the clinic's growth over the past four years--with an increase in staff from four to 17.