The Fertility Show, London, 1-3 November 2019
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_90236

Male fertility restored through simple surgery

4 December 2006
Appeared in BioNews 387

A new study presented this week at the Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago showed that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may help restore male fertility.

Some experts believe that male infertility is commonly caused by the formation of varicose veins in the testicle, called varicoceles. These are a tangled network of blood vessels which form due to blood circulation problems. They are believed to be relatively common with around 10-15 per cent of men being affected. In many cases they cause no adverse effects, however it is thought they may allow warm blood to pool in the testicle, increasing the scrotum temperature and reducing sperm count and motility.

The traditional treatment for problematic varicoceles has been open surgery, but recently the less invasive procedure, varicocele embolisation, has emerged. The procedure involves inserting a small catheter into the varicocele through a small nick in the skin of the groin. A special fluid can then be injected which blocks off the vein and diverts blood flow through an alternative route.

The study included 223 infertile men aged 18-50 with as least one varicocele, all of whom had healthy partners and were trying to achieve pregnancy. A semen analysis performed on 173 patients three months after the procedure showed that on average, sperm motility and sperm count had significantly improved. Sebastian Flacke, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Bonn in Germany, who led the research, said 'We found that spermatic vein embolism combined with anti-inflammatory treatment improves sperm motility and sperm count in infertile men with varicoles'. Dr Flacke said 'Six months after treatment 26 per cent of couples had achieved pregnancy'.

Dr Allan Pacey, a male fertility expert from Sheffield University told the BBC that 'Varicoceles are common in men, but whether or not they actually cause fertility problems has been controversial'. He said 'A recent systematic review of seven randomised controlled trials concluded that there was no improvement to fertility by correcting the varicocele by surgery, although most of the studies considered used the old technique rather than embolisation'. He pointed out that the authors had not compared their sperm data and fertility rates to a control group of infertile men with varicoceles who had not undergone the procedure, which 'makes it very difficult to conclude how successful the embolisation technique has really been at restoring fertility'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Minimally invasive treatment helps infertile couples conceive
EurekAalert |  28 November 2006
Simple surgery can restore male fertility
The Times |  29 November 2006
Surgery 'restores male fertility'
BBC News Online |  29 November 2006
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
13 June 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A new fertility test for men which can detect DNA damage in sperm has been developed in the UK. The test, called SpermComet, could save couples undergoing fertility treatment both time and money, since it will allow clinics to fast-track patients to the most appropriate treatment, say its developers...
4 April 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
A New York fertility specialist has 'partially successfully' implanted a British woman's own ovarian tissue back into her body after treatment for breast cancer....
30 October 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
Researchers at Cornell Medical Center in New York have discovered that commonly prescribed anti-depressants may have the unwanted side effect of drastically lowering male sperm count. Tests were conducted on two men over a two year period, during which time their sperm count changed from normal before...
30 October 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
A new study has reported its findings that heavy mobile phone use is correlated to a decline in male fertility. The study, led by Dr Ashok Agarwal, and reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans, found that men who...
10 June 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that sperm quality may deteriorate as men age. The study, which involves a relatively small number of volunteer subjects, was conducted at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Ninety-seven healthy, non-smoking...
12 February 2006 - by BioNews 
Scientists in the US have discovered what gives sperm cells the burst of energy they need to be able to reach and penetrate an egg. Researchers at the Boston Children's Hospital and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute measured the electrical activity taking place in a single sperm cell. Reported in...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.