Couples often uninformed about causes and treatments of male infertility

May 23, 2007

Men who present with infertility issues and their partners are relatively uninformed about the causes and treatments of male infertility, a fact that may be attributable to urologists' failure to properly market their capabilities in this area of clinical practice, says a University of Connecticut, Farmington, urologist.

Men who present with infertility issues and their partners are relatively uninformed about the causes and treatments of male infertility, a fact that may be attributable to urologists' failure to properly market their capabilities in this area of clinical practice, says a University of Connecticut, Farmington, urologist.

Stanton C. Honig, MD, reported the results of a patient-and-partner questionnaire-based study here at the AUA annual meeting. Generally, both groups' understanding of urologic abnormalities associated with male infertility was limited.

Dr. Honig credited reproductive endocrinologists with raising public awareness of assisted reproductive technologies-particularly through direct-to-consumer marketing-and he called on groups such as the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction and AUA to do the same for the causes and direct treatment of male infertility.

The study found significant gaps between patients' and partners' knowledge of male infertility and real-world, clinical experience. For example, 55% of respondents identified "tight underwear" as a cause of infertility, though the only published study on the topic found no significant difference in fertility between men who wore boxer shorts and those who wore briefs (J Urol 1998; 160:1329-33).

On the other end of the spectrum, few of those taking the questionnaire (13%) identified varicoceles as a potential cause of infertility, and only 10% felt varicocele repair was "highly successful" in treating it.

In vitro fertilization was the most recognized treatment for infertility, with 50% of the respondents indicating they knew about it. Intrauterine insemination was the next most well-known option at 36%. Other treatments respondents were aware of included clomiphene citrate ([Clomid], 23%), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (18%), repair of blockage (18%), varicocele repair (13%), sperm retrieval (13%), vitamins (12%), and antibiotics (6%).

For an interview with Dr. Honig, tune into www.urologytimes.com/radio.