Dangerous substances, including fumes from vehicles and other pollutants in the environment or homes, are said to have serious effects on the production of sperms in men.
According to a Clinical Embryologist, Mr Eugene Baah, when such pollution is inhaled by men it ends up tampering with their sperm production.
The embryologist who has over decades of experience in this specialty is the Head of Embryology at Jubail Specialist Hospital at Sakumono, Accra emphasised that pollutants are risk factors that affect the sperm health of a man to successfully fertilise with a woman’s egg.
The specialist reiterated that pollutants such as weedicides, fumes from vehicles, pesticides and insecticides had the tendency to harm the reproductive system of a man.
Mr Baah also confirmed to The Mirror that smoking was another factor that affected the ability of men to produce quality sperms.
He explained that smoking introduced free radicals into the reproductive system of men and those were often reactive oxygen species called oxidants.
He indicated that whenever a man introduced risky foreign materials into his system it created an unwanted material into the body as some of those harmful materials found their way into the testicles and it automatically interrupted sperm production.
Statistically, the embryologist said about 25 per cent of couples did not achieve pregnancy in a year, 15 per cent of them sought medical treatment while five per cent did not and others would seek other alternatives.
This issue, he said, might be attributed to the pollutants affecting men’s sperm production, adding that sperm was what showed the competency of men, whether they could get a woman pregnant or not.
Mr Baah stated that DNA Fragmentation had been one of the best tests to find out what was affecting a man's sperms and hindering him from impregnating his wife.
“DNA Fragmentation is all about finding out if the part of men needed to fertilise the egg is intact in the sperm, and if it is not intact, we can tell that at least, though his sperms are okay, this may be the reason why they need to be fertilised,” he explained.
With this process, the embryologist said there were instances where the sperm was not able to progress after it had been fertilised and even when they progressed, they were not able to implant.
Adding that even when they implant, it comes as early miscarriage, and said this could be that the man's DNA fragmentation was very high so probably the sperm that was able to fertilise the egg hadn't got the fragmentation in a lower way that was supposed to be.
“To be able to know the exact problem, the man must go through testing and after testing, and depending on the result some prescribed medication may be helpful. We can also have a proper sperm preparation for Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or a sperm preparation for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and selection of good sperm for Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which usually involves an injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg,” the specialist indicated.
According to him, some causes of DNA fragmentation cannot be treated and damages caused by free radicals can be reduced or prevented by a change in lifestyle and diet to protect against oxidative stress.
He mentioned that some antioxidants and food supplements might be helpful if needed, while treatment of infection with antibiotics would also be expected to reduce DNA fragmentation.
DNA fragmentation tests
According to the Specialist, DNA fragmentation test is an effective method for measuring thousands of sperms in an ejaculate, where the sperms are stained with a fluorescent probe that interacts with the DNA molecule.
“The fluorescent signal changes when the DNA is fragmented, and this test is monitored using a flow cytometer”, he said.
Effects of high sperm DNA fragmentation, he said, led to failure to fertilise, poor cleavage and poor embryo development, leading to congenital abnormalities in babies, and also associated with future health issues.
Mr Baah advised that people working in places full of pollution can offer to change their work or get antioxidants, and others suffering from DNA Fragmentation can change bad diets to proper diets, check their weight and stop drinking alcohol.
The fertility specialist warned men to stop drinking caffeine and stop consuming substances that are not healthy to the body.