Welcome to the latest series of Fertility Foundations, where we speak in depth with expert guests about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. This week Sandra Greenbank is talking to Ian Stones of testhim about male fertility and testing.
Ian is co-founder and co-director of testhim a company aiming to change the world of male fertility. With over 15 years experience as a practitioner supporting couples going through fertility difficulties, Ian knows how much of a battle infertility can be for men, and that they’re often the neglected part of the equation.
Through testhim, Ian is keen to do all he can to tackle male fertility head on. testhim’s mission is to provide guidance, education, comprehensive tests and ongoing support for men so that they can feel properly empowered about their health and fertility choices.
The testhim free health questionnaire can be found on their website.
Our sponsors for this episode of Fertility Foundations are NeoVos, a UK-based lab that provide at-home health tests and cutting edge analysis. Knowledge is power and in my opinion, you need to always check not guess your levels of Omega 3 and vitamin D so that you can supplement correctly if you need it. I found the novice test really easy to use and affordable. The team at NeoVos have kindly offered Fertility Foundations listeners a 10% discount by using the code FERTILITY at the checkout. Visit the NeoVos website for more information.
Hello and welcome to the Fertility Foundations podcast, where we go into detail about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. We dive deep into the underlying root causes for fertility issues and natural solutions. I want you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not broken. I hope that by sharing these episodes that will help you move from feeling overwhelmed and lost to feeling hopeful and empowered to take charge of your own path to parenthood, because there are actually lots of things that you can do to help rewrite your own story.
I’m Sandra Greenbank, nutritional therapist, functional medicine practitioner ,coach and educator, specialising in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum health. I’m also the founder of the Fertility Nutrition Centre, where you can find fully trained experts in nutrition, lifestyle and functional approaches to a healthy fertility and pregnancy. You can find more information over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org and also book in a free strategy call with one of our experts.
Today I’m speaking to Ian Stones about male fertility. Ian is co-founder and co-director of testhim a company aimed at changing the world of male fertility. With over 15 years experience as a practitioner supporting couples going through fertility difficulties, Ian knows how much of a battle infertility is for men, and that they’re often the neglected part of the equation. Through testhim, Ian is keen to do all he can to tackle male fertility head on. testhim’s mission is to provide guidance, education, comprehensive tests and ongoing support for men so that they can feel properly empowered about their health and fertility choices.
Before we get into the interview, I wanted to talk a little bit about our podcast sponsors, NeoVos. They’re a UK lab that provide at home health tests and cutting edge analysis. I personally like the vitamin D and Omega three tests, which are absolutely crucial to get right for anyone trying for a baby. Knowledge is power. In my opinion, you need to always check not guess your levels of Omega three and vitamin D so that you can supplement correctly if you need it. I found the novice test really easy to use and affordable so the NeoVos team have kindly offered our listeners a 10% discount on their website using the code FERTILITY at the checkout. Their website is simply www.neovos.com. All of these details are also in the show notes for you.
Now let’s get into today’s interview with Ian. So hi, Ian, thanks so much for joining me today on my podcast.
Ian 2:32 Thank you for inviting me for to chat with you really looking forward to this. Thank you.
Sandra 2:37 Yeah, me too. So for anybody who doesn’t already know you, would you mind just giving us a brief introduction to you and to testhim? Sure.
Ian 2:46 So I’m one of three directors of testhim. That’s myself, Toby Trice, and Michael Close. And we’ve come together on a mission to change the world of fertility and help men kind of understand they have an equal role to play when it comes to starting a family, help them get educated, but importantly, also help them access the right tests, get the right diagnosis and get the right treatment and the right support. So that’s really kind of the three of us. And my background was very much from a therapist kind of background similar to Sandra, you know, as an acupuncturist and, and I saw over years and hundreds of couples, how little was being offered to the man, and actually that that needed to change and that kind of, that’s how it kind of evolved, really, in terms of the three of us getting together and do what we’re doing.
Sandra 3:40 Yeah, I agree. I’ve been doing this since 2009, which seems like a lifetime. But in that time, I’ve only ever had one male partner drag their female partner into my clinic, while they usually thought was the other way
Ian 1 3:55 around. Yeah, isn’t that funny? I mean, you know, 15/16 years as an acupuncturist and I did a lot of advanced training with Zita West, so I was very fertility focused. And I, you know, I can probably remember, I mean, I can’t remember a lot of my patients, but you know, every single guy, you know, because there were so few of them, that that actually came for treatment, but when you know, when they did come for treatment, it was absolutely fantastic. And I really, really enjoyed working with them.
Sandra 4:20 Yeah, we also actually at the Fertility Nutrition Centre wer saying how much we love working with men, because they just do what you ask them to do. They don’t have the hang ups and they’re kind of, it’s just like, Okay, I’m gonna do it. And if they say they’re going to do it, they’ll do it. And it’s, it’s just, it’s really, really lovely, actually, as well to see. Also sometimes when they’re a little bit reluctant to start with, and they sort of come in with their arms folded and then how much they also enjoy it and just seeing that change and dynamics in the couple. But, so you’re doing really great work with getting the information out there. But I think one of the main things that I really am They’re grateful for that change of conversation and bringing the man into the room. And awesome normalising it.
Ian 5:06 Yeah. And I think, you know, you’re sort of sitting back here, when guys do come in that they’re willing to make the changes, it’s, it’s just getting them over the threshold, isn’t it, it’s getting them in the door to chat to somebody like you all to go see reflexologist, but also to see the right clinician, once we’ve got those men over that threshold and in and talking to somebody, they then realise how much support and knowledge and information is available from all these fantastic professionals. And they’re like, Oh, actually, you know that there are people that can help me, because so often the guy is the neglected part of the conversation, certainly when a couple ended up in front of a consultant, often a gynaecologist or even at the GP level, but they immediately are kind of pushed back to not feel as relevant. Because there’s so much focus on the woman. So I think when the guy then does get to talk to somebody, and that that person’s given them valuable information, they’re like, oh, okay, this is really useful. And then they then they engage, and let’s say, then the, they want to do the homework and want to make a change, and us guys are very, we’re very driven by results aren’t being it’s very easy with the semen analysis to say, Oh, look, you know, my concentration has gone up from 20 million to 30 million, this is great, you know, they can see kind of cause and effect. So quite responsive, perhaps in that way. Sandra 6:26 And it can be really quick as well, this changes can be so quick to see. Yeah, I wanted to talk to you actually, about why, why this is the men are kind of what they’re almost shoved into a corner. And even if so, I don’t know if you have the same experience, but it seems like people have a very borderline semen analysis result. And they just get told that everything’s fine. It’s always fine. You know, but we’re not. First of all, we’re not looking for fine. We’re looking for great, we want to exceptional. Yeah.
Sandra 6:59 And also, that can be some really questionable things, and that test result, and they’re still get told it’s fine. And all they need is XA. Yeah.
Ian 7:12 I’ve literally just come off a consultation with a couple where we’ve had this exact conversation and, you know, his semen analysis. It wasn’t fantastic. But it was okay. But yeah, the number of times I’ve worked for couples where they’ve been told to find out, okay, what does fine mean? Can I actually see the results? And then you see those results. And that fine, is our mythology is just slightly under motility slightly under pH slightly raised, it’s like, okay, this could be a sign that there’s something else going on. So, yeah, it’s, it’s really important, we empower men to understand their results and understand their options and realise that there’s so much more that they can do and other tests that they can consider.
Sandra 7:52 Yeah, and we’ll come to the other testing as well. But I think I can see a change in the landscape, also with the kind of how men really do want to become part of the conversation as well. And they, it’s, it’s almost like the clinician still put pushing them back and they want them in that corner. But actually, you know, and especially, it must be so hard emotionally to watch your partner sometimes actually had treatment on your behalf and quite severe and invasive treatment, because you will see men is not good enough for natural conception or whatever it might be. And then you know, it’s just this gruelling treatment that your your partner has been put through. must be so hard.
Ian 8:36 It’s so tough on men emotionally, that on so many different levels there is because there’s there is this expectation, societal belief that fertility is a female issue. So the guy goes into this with a no. Okay, right, we’re going to fly family, the guy goes in with no idea that he may be part of the issue. You know, there’s no kind of belief that he’s got a role, a significant role to play on perhaps I explained this very well, but you know, there’s no thought from the guy that he could be the problem. So Off they go, that they try, it doesn’t work. So when he gets that message that his sperm sub optimal, it really has a massive impact on him because it cuts straight through to the core, you know, because it’s a huge shock that it could ever be him. There is the this kind of belief that a man’s fertility is directly correlated to his masculinity. So he feels like less of a man because his sperms you know, a bit squiffy. So he’s got to deal with all of that. But you’re quite right that, that men typically through fertility treatment are just worried about their partner. They’re worried about the fact that he’s got all these investigations, these internal examinations or these hormones, and the guy feels utterly helpless. He just doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know what to do for the best. So if he’s dealing with that, and then he’s found out he’s got poor quality sperm and as you say, the woman’s going through treatment because of the poor quality sperm. I mean, just absolutely annihilates him as a man and kind of that that urge to be the provider and the protector. So then men are kind of dealing with these really big emotions of guilt and shame and and kind of feeling emasculated. But where do they go? And who do they talk to, because they take that down the pub, which they shouldn’t feel like they shouldn’t be down because they’ve been told not to drink but not to the football club, or anywhere else. Chances are, if they speak up, some bright spots go tomorrow, say don’t worry, mate, send around my house, I’ll get her pregnant, you know, you know, but this is the the unhelpful banter that goes on between men sometimes because it’s not part of our normal conversation. So other men don’t know how to handle it. And banter is great. And comedy is great. And it really helps break down some of these taboos and whatever, but it’s got to be at the right time at the right place. So if a man’s been brave enough to speak up, actually, you know, it’s okay to sit him or make that sounds really crap, you’re trying to grab a drink, you want to talk about it, or just acknowledging it could be enough. So it’s a real minefield for guys to navigate all of this, and to feel safe to open up and and I don’t think much as the narrative is changing. We’re not quite there yet, where any guy could stand up, say, oh, you know, I’ve got no sperm or I’m infertile, or my sperms report. And that he’s then that that is well received and well supported, but we’re getting there. And the more men that we reach, and help understand and make them feel confident to do this, and the more that do speak up, it helps break down that stigma and hopefully change that conversation forever. Sandra 11:58 Definitely. And I think that actually, it is all the sort of fertility in the workplace type education and things that go are going on as well, alongside I think it’s really helpful as well, because it’s just hearing about it. And a lot of the time is, you know, once you’ve been through the trauma is when you’re then ready to speak about it, I suppose. And then you know, that people actually talking about their experience and that they’ve been through it. And, you know, I think that can be so helpful as well. But I 100% agree that men just are not great at talking about things or they that you just mentioned, that’s just awful and have not even thought about and that would mean that would be so crushing. And I think men are natural fixers out there, they just want to fix the problem. And they are just told that there’s nothing you can do. And There literally is this, this, what they’re told that there’s nothing you can do. But that’s not, that’s not true. And we always encourage couples to come together. You know, regardless of whether they’re male, and male partners, or female or female, or you know, whatever setup you have come together, because there’s something so empowering about you being able to cook a meal together and enjoy trying new recipes together, trying trying, you know, changing your lifestyle together. Rather than, you know, one partner kind of going well, you’re supposed to give up smoking, you’re supposed to give up sweets, you’re supposed to give up all of them, you know, and they need to having all this in front of them potentially, or buying it and it you know, it’s just so the dynamics is, it’s just so unhealthy, because then it just raises stress levels and all of these things, which are also not healthy for you. So yeah, I think even if one of you has been told that there’s a problem on your side, the other person absolutely has a role to play in so many ways. And it’s not, you don’t really have to talk about it and sort of go over over it in that sense, either. You can just, there’s so many other ways you can support each other isn’t there?
Ian 14:07 Yeah, and there’s a partnership, isn’t it, you know, it takes two to make a baby. And it can be great if you’ve got a kind of united front and you tackle it kind of as a partnership. Whereas typically, what we see is that, you know, maybe 80 90% of the time the woman takes the lead, and she’s the one that’s done the research, seeing the nutritionist gone on the forums, spoken to x y and Zed person and and done all this and the other and the guy is kind of just tagging along and being told what to do. Whereas actually if we empower men to be part of the whole picture, and to and to have somewhere to go and find information, to talk to people to get resources and like say they can say right okay, cool. We both need to work on this equally. Let’s let’s do a meal plan together. You know, what do you want to eat? What do you need to be compared to what do I need to be? How do we combine that and make it and I think men quite sometimes quite like it. Project. So okay, right? How do I make this project? Let’s make it three to six month project to improve my sperm. You know, how does that look looks like this in terms of my diet, I want to do this in terms of exercise, you know, I need to cut down that I need to improve this, you know, I almost almost sounds like I’m trying to make it fun. You know, what we’ve got to bear in mind is that some of these couples are two years, three years into trying to conceive. I’ve had several miscarriages, you know, sex is robotic and boring, and, you know, just programmed into the schedule, you know, so it’s not easy to pick yourself up and cancer. Okay, right. Well, let’s come come at this with a with a new kind of, you know, zest and excitement. But maybe if we had couples better prepared before even starting to try and conceive, then actually, they can put all the right stuff in place before they even, you know, enter into the bedroom, you know,
Sandra 15:53 yeah. I mean, that was my big ambition. 15 years ago, I was like, I’m gonna change the world. I’m gonna go out there and tell everyone that this is the way but you know, of course, it just doesn’t happen. They come to us once they’ve had lots and lots of failed cycles, usually, and that’s fine, I understand it. But because we all get told that, you know, you have to be careful because, you know, the minute you look at a manual get pregnant, and you know, we sort of imprinted in us that this is what’s going to happen. So you’d never go into believing you’re going to have potentially have a problem.
Ian 16:28 But just on that point there, Sondra because we were with Jonathan Ramsey last night for a webinar. And he was saying, off camera, he said to us that actually he is seeing a change in the demographics of people coming into his clinic. And he said that he said that they are seeing younger couples coming in for treatment or assessments now, a head of fertility treatment. So you might feel like you’re not you’ve not won that battle. But I think things are changing. So I think people are getting that message. Yeah,
Sandra 16:59 things are changing. For sure. There’s definitely inquiries from people and especially, I think younger girls understanding that their cycle, if they have a problematic cycle, that they this is something that is best nipped in the bud, even if they don’t yet want to conceive, but they understand that this is kind of like a red flag, or a symptom of something that they want to fix before it becomes a real problem. So I agree with you, but it’s not not this is not proportions of people coming in this is those who have struggled for a long time, which is totally understandable. But so when it comes to testing, then what what? What should you do? If say, you’re somebody who has tried for a while and it’s not worked? For whatever reason? What should a man male partner do? Is it seeing irreligious straightaway or good
Ian 17:59 questions that and I think there’s always variables with all of this, there’s so many different kind of things that can be going on demand saves the woman’s age, the man’s history, the ones history, bring the two together, when did they meet how long they’ve been trying? Or they only just try the so much to consider, I think first port of call for any couple that are trying to conceive and if it’s not going to plan this is to visit their GP, I think, you know, it’d be kind of very bad of us, you know, no matter who we are to be saying to people, don’t go to your GP, and that’s gonna be your first port of call, just get the basic tests done that’s based test for the woman, or be a semen analysis. And unfortunately, that’s all for the man. But there’s a good starting point, you know, and also, we’re gonna give the GP a chance to check out any other history and any other issues that might be there or another red flags, make sure they’re getting picked up.
Sandra 18:57 Yeah, medications, potentially. I mean, I wish that they would also do a hormone panel and just the full blood count for the male partner, but it doesn’t tend to happen. But certainly, if you’re 40, you should have your 40 Check. And if people don’t really know about this, but we’re all entitled to check around the age of 40. And really, if you’ve been trying to conceive that it shouldn’t say no, no.
Ian 19:22 So those are kind of basic tests. And what tends to happen then if a couple continue to try and it’s not going to plan and they’ll get a fertility referral, and that’s going to be to a gynaecologist potentially at an IVF unit. And that unfortunately sets the path and the pattern for the rest of the journey, which is very female LED. So, you know, then the woman may have a high cosy, she may have more hormone profile, whatever. Definitely kind of more thorough investigations for the woman. And this is where the guy will be kind of sidelined a little bit in terms of the investigations. So, there are a lot of other tests for men to consider, you know, our view here at testing is, is, ideally, we would like men to be having all of these tests ahead of trying to conceive if, if they, or after a year or 18 months if things aren’t going to plan. So other things for men to consider would be like, as you mentioned, a hormone profile. You know, us men have follicle stimulating hormone, just as women do, we have luteinizing hormone just as women do. And then we have the importance of kind of the testosterone and oestrogen balance and, and some other hormone so, you know, check the hormones that see what they’re doing all that you know, are the messengers working properly, you know, because any imbalance there will give you a very good idea of whether the testicles are functioning as they should be. So that’s one test that can be considered one of the big tests that’s getting a lot of publicity at the moment, partly from our work, but just just generally in the facility. What is sperm DNA fragmentation? a semen analysis is a very good first test, you know, but it’s only going to tell you how many of you got all this swimming and swimming in the right direction, and what shape are they. So it’s quite a crude test. And that’s an embryologist looking down a microscope, looking at what’s going on. But what it’s not doing is looking at what’s going on to the DNA in the head of that sperm. Sperm has one job, and that is to deliver that DNA from the man to the woman and get that with into the egg to make an embryo crate crate life move that DNA on. So that’s its only function. What a sperm DNA fragmentation test does is it looks at what’s going on to that DNA in the head of the sperm, because it can get damaged. So this is a more advanced test that might be considered a bit further down the line for for some couples. But you know, it would be well considered if you’ve had IVF failures, or if you’ve had recurrent miscarriage. Or if you kind of a healthy couple, and you’re 18 months down the line and things haven’t happened, you might then want to look at what’s going on in the DNA. Another test might be oxidative stress test. So this is looking at what’s going on in the seminal fluid to the fluid that kind of encompasses and supports the sperm on their journey. And what we know is, you know, we know a lot about antioxidants, we hear a lot about antioxidants in there, they are there to counteract oxidants. Free radicals, cells that go around damaging other cells and sperm are very vulnerable to these. And the oxidative stress test can look at what’s going on in that balance between free radicals and antioxidants and make sure that you’re in the right, white parameters that will then give you a good indication whether antioxidants are actually right for you to take or not.
Sandra 22:47 Yeah, because you can overdo it as well. To helpful. You know, I think it’s important to mention that we’re supposed to have reactive oxidative species that normal is part of a normal process. But in this day and age we are potentially exposed to more in the food that we eat and the air that we breathe, and also over exercising can be can be something that really increases your oxidative stress and also being obese or certain lifestyle, things that we’re doing. So yeah, that can be a really good way to to find out what’s going on for you. But I think this, I still see, you know, just men just need to take antioxidants, and that’s really damaging advice, potentially. Yeah,
Ian 23:35 because, as you said, we need a level of reactive oxygen species within our body for certain functions. And one of those functions is actually sperm function. So the sperm need reactive oxygen species to activate certain elements of the function. So if you wipe that out with to an antioxidant, your sperm then won’t function that way. So it is deleterious both ways, you know, further test to consider is also a scan for America zoo, or physical examination of America. So so many men will never have anybody touched their testicles from a clinical world because it’s not done routinely. But Varick cells and enlargement of veins in and around the kind of testicles, creates excessive heat, which damages that sperm 15% of the male population will have America sale anyway. But when you look at men that’s struggling to conceive that jumps to 40% or up to 40%. So it’s probably one of the major players in terms of male infertility. So that’s a really important element. So that might be a quick simple ultrasound that could just check for that or physical examination. And then I think the other sort of final significant one is is infection screening. Another kind of quite hot topic and possibly debatable area. I think the research is somewhat partly mixed. And there’s so much about this that we don’t know, I believe. But we do know that men can be carrying a low level infection that’s not causing any symptoms. So they haven’t got a fever, or they haven’t got a discharge from the penis or anything like that. But that the presence or that imbalance of organisms within the seminal fluid, or the urinary tract, can be enough that it will cause damage to the sperm. So again, that possibly needs to be tested for as well. So there are all these other tests that are available to men, but they, they don’t know about them. And when they do hear about them, they don’t know where to get them. And that’s really our mission testing is to help them find this stuff.
Sandra 25:39 Yeah, when it comes to infectious, there’s two types of screenings that we would do, I suppose that’s looking at the sexual health screening, which hopefully, you know, I think it’s something that everybody should do, it’s, at least at some point, and you know, hopefully, they’re not carrying chlamydia or gonorrhoea, or, you know, it could have been caused, could have caused a problem in the past. But also, then this, like you said, this other bacteria that are not necessarily sexually transmitted, but you know, and then might be commensal, which means that we might be kept, we might carry them generally, anyway, and they’re not always problematic, but it’s about the levels that and, and whether you’ve got the protective mechanisms as well, and whether your immune system is able to handle those and keep them at bay, and so ureaplasma, something that we see time and time again, and it’s passed between couples, and you wouldn’t normally have any symptoms, but up to 70% of people who have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility carry this organism. And it’s as simple as an antibiotic prescription to clear it. And it would be such a shame for people to go through failed attempts over and over again. And you know, with all the trauma and the expense that you’re going through, for this to have been missed, and it’s such a simple thing to check.
Ian 27:05 Yeah, cool. Exactly. And so often get missed, because men aren’t getting these tests are standard.
Sandra 27:12 Yeah, I mean, we always test. Certainly, we always do a female vaginal swab, and it would come up. And if it then comes up on this test, we would always, so Mr. Ramsay sometimes tends to just then issue a prescription for him as well. Based on this, some clinicians would ask for a test to see if it’s actually there or not. And so in it, but certainly if it’s found in one partner it the other partner needs to be checked. And actually, they then need to use a barrier form of contraception to better been treated.
Ian 27:44 Yeah, exactly. But yeah, so many couples don’t know, though this.
Sandra 27:48 Oh, I mean, the medics don’t know. So, you know, I mean, did they even test it for for it in the clinics, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it been tested in a clinic
Ian 27:56 or stopped routine is it and this is a thing, you know, all of these advanced tests, and they’re not routine, you know, they they will often will sometimes be offered after multiple failures, you know, so there’s only then when a couple have been through several rounds of IVF, or maybe a couple of failures and or miscarriages, then somebody might say, Maybe we should look at this firm in a bit more detail. And it’s very back to front in that sense. I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of people that go and have treatment, and they have success, and this firm may have been affected, and they got lucky. So yeah, we never knew there was fraud. Remember, scheduled never knew there was a problem. But like you said, the heartache, the emotion that the hormones, all of that, you know, for a couple to go through all of that many times over and then say, are maybe we should check the sperm. You know, it’s devastating. Check it early, get it, get it tested, do something about it. And then yeah, giving yourself the best possible chance.
Sandra 28:56 It’s so heartbreaking. Every time I hear I wish we’d met you sooner. Yeah, you know, it’s just so heartbreaking. Because what can you say? And you know, it’s not, it’s not your fault. If you didn’t, if you didn’t know, you didn’t know, your clinicians didn’t know, they didn’t recommend the tests. But, you know, how upsetting is that to go through life thinking? If I’d have just done that sooner, you know, and, and so, obviously, we we have access to all of these tests that you just mentioned, and we run them routinely. Mr. Ramsey, I mean, he’s, you know, it is brilliant. And I just think any couple who are trying to conceive and who are struggling that in addition, see somebody like him, but he’s got a long waiting list, and there’s only one of him. There is where else can people kind of go to find out more and to get these tests and now you’ve got some things in the pipeline. We
Ian 29:56 do you know, we have the test in DNA fragments. Session service is there’s basically sitting ready to go at time of recording. It’s, I imagine our lab managers sitting there waiting for sperm to write up. I think she’s actually incredibly busy doing other stuff. But we kind of imagined her just sitting waiting for this service to be turned on. But it is going to be live very, very soon. Yes, we have the wonderful Jonathan Ramzi, but there are other Andrew ologists out there, most of them sort of London based. So you know, if you’re looking for these tests, or looking for advice, they’re, they’re the people to try and track down. We refer a lot to Professor show Homer and Georgie solutions as well. But also do you know, if you’re in an IVF clinic, or you’re in an IVF, you know, kind of treatment pathway already, then do speak to your clinic, you know, some clinics are offering this service, they do offer a DNA fragmentation service, we’re hoping to, to work with some of the big clinic groups to have our service within the kind of offerings to do speak to them, you know, that, I think kind of it’s the medical system, still very kind of, you know, you must trust the consultant, you know, you must respect and and I’m not kind of challenge. You know, I think that’s got you can’t challenge but challenge with respect. And, you know, if you’re speaking to consultants, I let you know, I’m curious to find more, you know, find out a bit more about this DNA fragmentation, or perhaps a similar culture to look for infection. What do you think about this, open up that conversation with them, and see what they offer. And if you’re happy with what they’ve told you, then great, go with that. But if you’re not happy, then perhaps seek another opinion and try and find these tests. So some courts will offer them, but you may need to go outside of your clinic provider, and find another clinician that can offer these tests, and importantly, interpret them and give you the advice as to what that all means and what your best options are after that.
Sandra 31:55 I think this is one of the main problems, because some clinics will say, you can have the tests. But even if if the result is poor, if you have poor DNA fragmentation, there’s nothing you can do anyway. Yes,
Ian 32:08 we’ll just do Axi. But there are other options out there. Which is, first of all, let’s treat them and let’s try and treat the the cause of the DNA fragmentation. So if it is Verica, so let’s see if we can get that treated or if is infection, let’s let’s do the antibiotics. But what will you always have to bear in mind is kind of what I said right at the beginning is if you’ve got a 41 year old woman who’s on the last knockings of her egg reserve, and you’re only just learning that, you know, the male partners got sperm DNA fragmentation, you may not have time to fix that, you may not have time to have Ark, so embolization, and the minimum three month recovery period from that and more like six to nine if not a year. So if you haven’t got that time, then you may just need to push forward with treatment. But there are things like sperm separation devices, which are showing really promising results in terms of filtering sperm in a much gentler and kinder way. And some of the devices, hopefully, there’s a new one coming out next year that we’re going to be supporting, it’s showing that it can reduce the fermentation by anywhere from 50 to 95%. So you’re then getting us the sperm have gone through this device, you’ll then pick out really high quality good sperm. That means okay, you know, ideally, always treat the man. But if you haven’t got time to do that, there might be other options. So again, these are conversations you can have with your clinic, if if they’re not, you know, open to doing anything else for the man, I
Sandra 33:36 think that’s great. And, you know, some of these devices are incredible, and the technology is incredible. And it’s important, and you know, I would never I’m 100 cent for for IVF exceed all of this, if it’s needed, where it’s indicated, I think what my issue is that it’s like, oh, we’ll just do well, we’ll just see, we’ll just use this devices and then a potential kind of, you know, because male fertility is kind of like the canary in the coal mine. And we know that if your fertility problems actually that can be that can correlate with Heart, heart problems later in life, and all of these things so they can be, it can be a symptom of actually something started as something grumbling, that’s potentially going to become a problem in the future. So I still think it’s actually really good idea to check what’s going on.
Ian 34:31 Absolutely. Yeah. You know, I think as I say, kind of, if you haven’t got time, then we’ve got technology to support things. But if you have got time, then you’re quite right treat the man and certainly sure Homer talked about this on a podcast with us that, you know, we think she says, you know, we have a responsibility to assess men’s general health if they’re struggling with infertility. Yes, male fertility is a good proxy for general health. Some men with fertility issues are more I think they’re more prone to certain cancers, testicular cancer, cardiovascular disease. So yeah, let’s jump on this stuff early and support these men so that these issues don’t, you know, end up further down the line. But also, there’s a small amount of research, I believe, around genetic issues in children, where the man had high DNA from a patient, you know, so these issues are then getting passed on to the next generation, possible genetic issues, learning difficulties, some childhood cancers, so you want to be making a baby with the best possible ingredients. And you want that baby to be as strong, healthy and vital as as possible. And this is where men need to understand that they have this incredible opportunity by doing the right lifestyle and diet factors and getting treated and looking after their health to really impact their child’s long term longevity and then unhealth further down the line. Yeah,
Sandra 35:57 this is this is all this all comes down to comes down to epigenetics. So looking at your genes and your potential, so your genes are just is the book of life, but how you read the book is down to you. So how those genes how that book is expressed. It’s all down to you and your diet and lifestyle. And there’s quite a lot of research now that shows that that three month period prior to conception in both partners actually can have a really significant effect on the long term health of the offspring. And this is where I suppose my dream was this this idea of like biohacking your family? Is that a really push those genetics, but you know, it will come? But I think, yeah, it’s really, it’s a really exciting area of research. And I suppose, you know, for the majority of the people who come to see us, they just want to get pregnant and have a baby at the end of it. And sort of the next level, we sort of, you know, if a baby feels really unattainable, then that kind of the rest of it is almost like not even on the menu,
Ian 36:57 too much to think about as everything else. So yeah, I can totally understand that. But it’s just trying to get that message through to men, isn’t it as like, you know, yes, your wife might be nagging you about not having a beer, or not going on your bike. But actually, this, this stuff really does count, it does make a difference. And there’s such a huge disconnect, that there’s probably a disconnect between men, in terms of what they eat and drink and their sperm health, I think, you know, we are changing that. But there’s that disconnect. And like you say that, try and connect what you’re doing now, in terms of the food you’re eating, and the way you’re living your life with a child that you’re can’t even contemplate continuing. Because you seem to be just losing that battle, to then get all the way to that child’s health. That’s a huge thing to kind of, to overcome. A bit like global warming and the environment and everything that we’re doing around that. You know, people can’t contemplate that, you know, that plastic bag that I’ve just chucked in the bin is having that much of an impact. But actually, you know, it’s too far
Sandra 38:07 to things, isn’t it? Yeah.
Ian 38:11 So yeah, and that’s a really good way of saying, actually, it’s like, the little things that you can do now as a man will have far more impact than you can ever imagine. It’s the compound effect, isn’t it? Which is a great, there’s a great book called The compound effect. How, you know, if you stick a pound in a bank every day by X amount of years, you’re gonna have this much. If you exercise your biceps, once a day with X, many reps, you know, you’re not gonna see any improvement in three, four weeks. But after three years, you know, you’re going to come along Oh, wow, you know, been working out and it’s different. Same display home health.
Sandra 38:44 Yeah. Oh, it’s been great talking to you. I think you’re doing really, really great work. And we are so grateful to you, because you know, coming from a man is always going to be different, you know, there was going to come across different so it’s going to be you know, received differently. So it’s really nice, the way that the work you’re doing so if anybody wants to find you, your podcast, get in touch, where should they go. So
Ian 39:13 the website, such a great, great resource testhim.com. And we’ve got our free questionnaire on there that guys can complete. And that will take them through a lot of the key kind of risk element around fertility, some medication, history, fertility, history, diet, lifestyle, they can go and do that for free. Podcasts are linked from their Instagram is a great channel to find us all works really well, where we’re most kind of active testing YouTube as well. So a lot of that content is repurposed on to YouTube, and then Spotify. Just look up the test in podcast. But yeah, kind of such a test and I think you should find us pretty easily. Right. Thanks so much. Well, thank you for having us. Really great, you know, just to be able to spread the word and talk about what we’re doing and how all these men and couples.
Sandra 40:00 I really enjoyed this chat with Ian and I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Please like save, share and rate this podcast if you’ve found it useful as it helps us reach more people. Also, don’t forget your 10% discount at tests with Neovos using the code FERTILITY at the checkout. And if you’re looking for a fertility specialist to support you, our practitioners can be contacted over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org And they all offer a free strategy call to help you decide on your next steps and your journey. Thank you for listening.