The meeting was a great opportunity to share ideas with colleagues from other centres about current, and new, treatments. As is usually the case, I was pleased to have the treatment processes provided at Ballarat IVF supported by further data and opinion, and to hear about future treatments which may provide benefits for patients.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will provide information regarding the topics covered.
The first topic - Male Sperm Health
A number of speakers presented topics relating to sperm health.
It was highlighted that measuring semen parameters in the usual “sperm test” is a fairly crude assessment of the quality of an individual sperm. Sperm are highly sensitive to environmental influences due to the way in which their DNA is packaged. This means that increased levels of DNA fragmentation can occur in situations such as smoking, obesity, poor diet, and exposure to environmental toxins.
Some men, despite best efforts just happen to have high levels of DNA fragmentation, and these people are over represented in couples who have poor embryo development despite a relatively young female partner.
The best treatment to improve sperm health is to correct the obvious things mentioned above, but to also move to a diet focused on fruit and vegetables, with a Mediterranean style.
From a medical perspective, there was support for the collection of sperm by testicular biopsy in couples with repeated poor outcomes, as this tends to have lower levels of DNA Fragmentation.
One speaker elegantly presented data looking at proteomic profiles of sperm in infertile men, and showed a lack of crucial protein in some men, which is intimately responsible for the binding of sperm to the oocyte, explaining why some couples need ICSI. It was highlighted that the area of proteomics of sperm is an evolving science, and more explanations regarding the causes of male factor infertility will be derived from this in the future.