IVF born boys likely to have low sperm count

As per a recent study, boys conceived out of popular ICSI treatment are prone to having fertility problem

It is said nearly one in five healthy men between age of 18 to 25 have an abnormal sperm count – Illustration: Milind Jadhav

Boys born via In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) might have fertility problem after they grow up, says a study which was published in the latest edition of Human Reproduction journal

Doctors from the University Hospital in Brussels, who had pioneered intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – most popular fertility treatment, have been following 54 children born using this procedure. They have linked the treatment to lower sperm counts and lower sperm quality in men conceived by it.

The first person conceived via ICSI was in 1992. Presently, these 54 men are in the age group of 18 to 22. During the study, these men underwent sperm testing, which revealed startling facts. The results of the sperm test showed that nearly half of them have almost half the sperm concentration of naturally conceived men. It also revealed that these men have a 62% lower sperm count, and 66% lower sperm motility – which measures how well a sperm can move.

“It is a known problem that in IVF, genetics transmission will happen. Men with sperm count problem are getting benefitted with ICSI treatment,” said Dr Nandita Palshetkar, an infertility expert, Lilavati hospital, Mumbai.

It is said nearly one in five healthy men between age of 18 to 25 have an abnormal sperm count. While there are multiple factors that lead to infertility in a man or woman, stress is one factor that can’t be ruled out. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says men were nearly four times more likely to have sperm counts below the level deemed normal.

“WHO has also acknowledged that there is a decrease in sperm count. We need a larger sample size and emphasis should be given to the limitation of the study,” said Dr Aniruddha Malpani who runs Malpani Infertility Clinic, Mumbai.

In ICSI procedure, healthy sperm from the father is taken and injected directly into the mother’s egg. The fertilized egg is then placed in her womb. Men with defective sperm usually opt for ICSI.