The headline read “Study: More urologists needed in fertility clinics” and of course my reaction is “of course!” Naturally, as a urologist who specializes in male fertility, my opinion might be biased so it was nice to see some actual research to back up my sentiments.
A study out of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison examined websites of 350 fertility clinics around the nation looking to see if male factor infertility was mentioned and what kind of information regarding male infertility was offered.
Male factor infertility was mentioned on less than 2/3 of the sites. Vasectomy reversal was rarely mentioned as an option for men with vasectomies and urologists trained in male infertility were also seldom mentioned on these websites. A little more than 10% of the sites that did mention male factor causes, had erroneous information.
Why the lack of male factor attention and inclusion of urologists? I suspect that there are many reasons but I will take a guess at a few. For one, the fertility clinic is usually a facility for and run by Gynecologists trained in female infertility (called reproductive endocrinologists). It is only natural that their website is going to be biased towards what those doctors treat, the female factor. Though there may be valuable scientific information on the site, the website is probably intended to further the business of the fertility clinic and thus it will highlight services that they provide. Most are not intended to be an unbiased discussion of infertility in general and it’s causes.
Second, it may be that there is not a urologist affiliated with that clinic that is specifically trained in male factor infertility. Clinics may refer patients to a general urologist who will treat and evaluate these men but does not make that one of the main focuses of his practice.
There are probably many other reasons, but regardless of what they are, I think there are a few things to take from this. First, I DO NOT think that the lack of inclusion of male factor information or lack of mention of a urologist is an intentional act to discourage patients from treatment of the male factor that may avert the need for the fertility clinics services. Second, any urologist who does take an interest in the treatment of male factor infertility should try and work with the fertility clinics to develop male factor content on their site. He/she should also provide information on male factor infertility on his/her website.
Most importantly, patients are the consumers and I would encourage them to seek evaluation of the male partner. This should begin with a semen analysis and possibly an appointment with a male fertility specialist to discuss any abnormalities found.
If you have had a vasectomy, vasectomy reversal is an option as wells as in-vitro fertilization and the success rates of each procedure, number of children desired, and cost should be discussed to know which option is best for each particular couple.
Bless you and thanks for reading,
Dan B. French