COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift, and most clinics are back up and running. It’s time to take the next positive steps on your fertility journey and live a ‘new normal’.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the delays to fertility treatment and isolated as you try to get through your fertility crisis during the pandemic, then know that you’re not alone. Many couples are experiencing the exact same feelings as you. A recent study showed most prospective parents impacted by the coronavirus delays feel their mental health has also been affected. Their concerns were focused on when their treatment would resume and whether gaps in treatment could have an impact on pregnancy. Fertility clinics are catching up, but it’s likely that for those needing multiple rounds of IVF or ICSI, there will be a longer gap between treatments.
Age is an important factor in fertility. For some, these delays could mean you no longer qualify for IVF on the NHS. The likelihood of a successful pregnancy decreases with age, so for those who have reached the stage where fertility treatment is the next step, more time lost may feel too much to bear. Rather than focusing on time lost, think about what you can do to regain control of your journey and make your next cycle count.
Get your sperm in the best possible shape
Sperm DNA damage is a leading cause of male infertility and yet it is not measured as standard. In fact, male infertility is often under investigated prior to fertility treatment. Semen analysis is insufficient to understand the quality of sperm. You can have a normal semen analysis, but your sperm DNA damage could be high, so it would be less likely that you would get your partner pregnant naturally, or even with treatment.
Men with high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation (damage) take longer to get their partner pregnant and have double the risk of miscarriage. But it doesn’t need to end there. It is possible to reduce sperm DNA damage with some very easy lifestyle changes. If you improve the quality of your sperm DNA, you will increase the likelihood of your next cycle of treatment being a success!
Make simple lifestyle choices
- Eat right – Just like you, sperm need lots of different nutrients to function properly, so a healthy, balanced diet is important.
- Get plenty of sleep – Stress can damage sperm production by producing free radicals and getting enough sleep is a good way to reduce stress levels.
- Take plenty of exercise – As well as being great stress relief, exercise is important to sperm health as being overweight may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm.
- Drink less – Many of us have been drinking more in lockdown, but don’t let the pubs tempt you as they reopen. Alcohol can reduce sperm count and motility so limiting your intake is a good idea to protect your sperm health.
- Quit the cigs – Smoking has been shown to reduce sperm count and motility, and damage DNA, so quitting could improve your chances of becoming a dad.
These simple steps could significantly improve your sperm quality and the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, and they can be taken now – whilst you’re still waiting for treatment.
Get to grips with your sperm DNA
Exact tests measure the level of DNA damage in sperm, and with results in just 10 days, a test will give you and your fertility expert a better understanding of your sperm quality and the best course of treatment for you.
“We went to a fertility clinic who suggested we should have an Exact test. But, when the result was my sperm had high DNA damage, they didn’t try to fix it. They said our only option was ICSI. We had ICSI but it failed. We then took the Exact test result to another fertility clinic where they gave us a different option. They said we should try to improve my sperm quality first because both natural conception and IVF chances are increased by having healthier sperm. They sent us to a urologist to see if my sperm quality could be improved. I was diagnosed with high ROS in my sperm as well. The urologist treated me with antioxidants and probiotics and after 3 months my sperm DNA was normal. And what’s ever better, we are now 15 weeks pregnant.”
Examen has expanded its capacity since reopening, with a new clinic at the Whittington Hub in North London available for bookings each Friday evening and has no waiting list. It also works with fertility clinics all across the UK and Ireland. Accelerate your fertility journey, find a clinic near you and ask your fertility expert for an Exact test.
 Karavadra, B., Morris, E., and Balen, A., 2020. Exploring the impact of patients undergoing fertility care in the UK; a biphasic study. ESHRE 36th Annual Meeting (2020, July 5-8), https://www.focusonreproduction.eu/article/ESHRE-News-Annual-Meeting-2020-Karavadra
 Lewis, S.E., Aitken, R.J., Conner, S.J., De Iuliis, G., Evenson, D.P., Henkel, R., Giwercman, A. and Gharagozloo, P., 2013. The impact of sperm DNA damage in assisted conception and beyond: recent advances in diagnosis and treatment. Reproductive biomedicine online, 27(4), pp.325-337.
 Robinson, L., Gallos, I.D., Conner, S.J., Rajkhowa, M., Miller, D., Lewis, S., Kirkman-Brown, J. and Coomarasamy, A., 2012. The effect of sperm DNA fragmentation on miscarriage rates: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human reproduction, 27(10), pp.2908-2917.