June is Men’s Health Month, a good time to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
One aspect of men’s health often overlooked is infertility, especially among couples trying to conceive.
That’s where Dr. Jane Frederick, Medical Director of HRC Fertility in Newport Beach, comes in. She is one of longest-practicing female experts in reproductive science, and for 30 years has been helping couples that are struggling with infertility to build the families they have always wanted. As a result, Dr. Frederick has helped bring more than 2,000 babies into the world.
It’s no surprise that Dr. Frederick, who is affiliated with Hoag Hospital, has an enormous fan base of patients who appreciate the time and care she takes to help them achieve their dreams. They also like that she gives them an honest assessment of their chance of conceiving.
“A lot of people don’t realize that 40 percent of infertility is caused by male factors,” said Dr. Frederick during a recent phone interview.
When initially consulting with couples, Dr. Frederick said she does a careful history of the man to determine what lifestyle factors might be related to infertility. Even things like diet and exercise are important determiners.
“Obesity does play a big role, because it tends to lower testosterone, which can lower sperm production,” explained Dr. Frederick. “I also ask about smoking, and excessive alcohol, both of which can contribute to low sperm or abnormality in sperm.”
And these days, she also asks about vaping and marijuana use, which can lower sperm parameters.
Sometimes, when asked what medications the man might be on, steroids come up, which she says is a red flag.
“Men might take steroids for sporting purposes, and anabolic steroids can cause sperm to drop to zero,” she said.
Even seemingly innocent activities such as time spent in a jacuzzi can be a factor.
“Sitting in a high temperature bath for long periods of time, say 15 to 20 minutes, can cause sperm production to go down. Sperm does regenerate itself every 70 days, so if a man has been in a jacuzzi recently, he can change his lifestyle and regenerate sperm,” said Dr. Frederick.
There might also be genetic reasons for infertility, such as chromosome defects, so she might do a blood test to check chromosome or do a genetic screening. Other factors can include a history of surgery or injury to the scrotum.
“Careful history is important when interviewing a male partner for infertility,” noted Dr. Frederick. “I will also order sperm analysis to look at the number of sperm, and the mobility, or how fast they are swimming, and then look at the shapes and see if there is a head and a tail. If any of those parameters are low, it can cause infertility.”
Fortunately, said Dr. Frederick, there are many treatment options, including artificial insemination, which is a non-surgical procedure done in the office.
“That is the low-tech method,” said Dr. Frederick. “The high-tech method is invitro fertilization,” where she can fertilize an egg under a microscope.
The good news is that 60 to 80 percent of couples are able conceive with simple treatment options, said Dr. Frederick.
“My goal is to spread the word—don’t give out hope” of having a baby, said Dr. Frederick. “Seek out a specialist, and know you have options.”
“This is a rewarding field to be in,” added Dr. Frederick. “I am very blessed that I can continue to do this” for couples.