By The Examen Team
With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it’s sadly a relatively common problem that many couples have to face. Until recently, the struggles of miscarriage have mostly been kept private, placing added strain on the couples going through it. As they keep the stress and heartache to themselves, they distance themselves from friends and family, lost in a haze of emotion and uncertainty. In recent years, thankfully, the conversation around fertility and mental health begun to open up, with several well-known figures sharing their stories which has helped others feel less alone. Men are still under-represented in this discussion, and many feel unable to share their burden.
Whilst not experiencing the physical strain, men do suffer from the loss of miscarriage and the associated stress and anxiety. Some feel they simply can’t share their struggle or their inner emotions, trying to appear strong for their partner. But this silence can exacerbate the problem, damaging the man’s mental health and putting strain on a relationship that is already going through a very difficult time. Stress can and does inhibit a man’s sex drive, the last thing you want when trying for a baby. Following a miscarriage and two unsuccessful rounds of ICSI, plus a colitis diagnosis, Safwan commented:
“We were in a bad way. We had almost given up hope… and sex.”
Stress can not only be damaging to a couple’s chance of having a baby by reducing intimacy but can also have a direct impact on the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. Stress can limit sperm production and reduce quality by producing free radicals which damage sperm DNA, causing it to break into smaller fragments known as DNA fragmentation. Sperm DNA contains the instructions that will make your baby look and act like you. Sperm DNA fragmentation can affect your ability to get your partner pregnant or have baby as well as negatively impact the likelihood of successful Alternative Reproductive Technology (ART) therapy including IVF and ICSI.
One common cause of stress following miscarriage is lack of explanation about why it occurred; often women will only be tested to understand why they have had a miscarriage after they have suffered three times in a row! And it may well be sperm DNA damage which has caused the problem in the first place. To break this cycle, it is important to understand your sperm quality which is where Exact tests from Examen come in.
Exact testing provides information on the amount of DNA damage in your sperm, which may provide an explanation as to the reason behind your miscarriage. The test can not only help provide necessary understanding, but also help fertility professionals make clinical decisions in regard to which treatment is right for you – the tests allow your fertility expert to predict which treatment (IVF or ICSI) is more likely to succeed.
If it is sperm DNA damage that’s a problem, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can be undertaken to improve your sperm quality and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy in the future.
“We conceived naturally but sadly had a miscarriage. We tried again for a while, but nothing happened. We went to a fertility clinic where I was told my semen was normal. They said there was nothing wrong with me. We still didn’t conceive so we had 2 cycles of ICSI but both had poor blastocysts, and both failed I was then diagnosed with colitis so we were in a bad way. We had almost given up hope… and sex.
“Then we had an Exact test (formerly known as Comet). The results showed high sperm DNA damage. We were referred to a urologist who recommended one day abstinence times and to a nutritionist who helped me with my diet. I had my sperm DNA tested again after 3 months and my sperm were much less damaged. We have just had a baby daughter naturally!
“If we had had this advice with a Comet test first, we would have done things differently. It was the hardest time I have ever had, and I want to share this with other men.”
Miscarriage has a significant impact on men and men have a significant impact on miscarriage. Understanding your sperm DNA damage can not only provide the answers you are looking for to explain the miscarriage, but also help you improve your chances of becoming a dad.
For more information on men and miscarriage visit: https://examenlab.com/for-men/men-and-miscarriage/