Don’t Stop Asking Why

I’ve been called a “disruptor” before, but I’ve never considered myself a “visionary.” To my surprise, I was recently called just that, and by colleagues about whom I might use the same term. Quite flattering, really.

Meeting of Minds

We met just outside of Washington, at the invitation of the NIH and CDC, to discuss what’s known about how one’s fertility status might correlate to current and future health. I was told that this think tank was partly inspired by our work showing that infertile men have higher cancer rates later in life. I remember attending NIH meetings in 2009 and 2011, soon after these results were published, and letting fly with the idea that infertility could be a “window” into men’s health. Back then, I saw it as a golden opportunity to take earlier, better and more informed care of men.
Since then, other studies have confirmed our findings, and some have even gone beyond that to suggest that infertile men are actually less healthy than fertile men, and that infertile men may not live as long as fertile men. Still others have shown that the same may be true for infertile women. Breaker one-nine, we got us a convoy!

Your Tax Dollars

My hat goes off to the NIH and CDC who, having observed this evolution of thought, called us together to take action and develop a game plan for change. In my breakout group, here are some of the goals we felt needing pursuing now:

  • Develop fertility biomarkers that correlate with overall health
  • Define the relevance of fertility to overall health as early as possible in life
  • Use fertility biomarkers to individualize health care screening throughout life.
  • Use fertility biomarkers to detect diseases earlier than currently done, if done at all.

Maybe it’s my relatively simple upbringing, or maybe it’s the professor within me, but I have always asked “why?” Probably bugs the heck out of many people I know, but it’s in my DNA: Don’t settle; inquire. Warms the cockles of my heart to know that our government cares enough to ask similar questions. And to ask them of such important issues as fertility and health, subjects that so profoundly influence our lives and the lives of generations to come.
As yet another tax return deadline is upon us, you too should feel comfort in knowing that your tax dollars are spent on things that matter. Realize that your government actually has a heart and even a soul and that, in some small but noble and humanistic way, what matters to you also matters to them.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Stop Asking Why

  1. Hello
    I have a question: Why Vasal sperm aspiration is not normally offered in IVF clinics specially when you can get the more mature sperm?
    My husband has had 2 TESE, he has retrograde ejaculation because the sphincter of the bladder was damage during surgery.

    1. Dear Liv, Please don’t stop asking “why.” I have even a better question: Forgetting about sperm aspiration (from either the testis or the vas). Why isn’t the IVF program using retrograde ejaculated sperm obtained from “bladder harvest” for IUI in this setting!!??!!

      1. OMG thanks so much for answering me. I am writting from Norway. Most of the IVF clinics in Europe just do TESE/PESA. It drives me mad, because we have done two sperm analysis: one from the bladder and one from the testis and the one from the bladder give us the better result. WE have got also karyotype test. I have tested also, nothing wrong, good egg reserve AMH 54 pmol/l, We have done IVF in Norway, Spain, and Now we have decided to do it in Denmark. I dont want my husband to get another TESE, I thinks is too much. I think he has had enough with a testicle being removed and huge surgery in the belly because of spredning. The surgery was enough, he didn’t need radiotherapy or any other thing. He feels great. We just want to have family. I am going to PUSH very hard to get sperm from Bladder Harvest, to be use with IVF+ICSI. You have given me hope. THANKS SO MUCH.

  2. This is a great article! The reason I left two of my urologists after my first SA showed azoospermia (with 5 pellet sperm cells after centrifugation) is that they mindlessly suggest biopsy, are completely patronizing, and dismiss my questions, which are based on some of the latest scientific papers, about the value of inhibin B and other hormones as predictors etc. I have yet to find a good one here in Greece, but the journey goes on.
    So many “why?” ‘s are still left unanswered in this field . For instance
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10548602
    Could this case mean infertility in Y-chromosome microdeletions is caused by other factors as well?”Why” the father was fertile, since he carried the same deletion as his sons?
    Maybe it has something to do with more rapid decline of spermatogenesis/more susceptibility to environmental factors that cause testicular damage?
    Researching fertility articles in the last four months has led me to better understand that the bigger picture needs to be addressed, like the other article in Dr. Turek’s blog mentions about the biomarkers, infertility and general health. There is so much we do not know yet (being a physics PhD I know a thing or two about our general ignorance in the scientific field. For every new answer, 10 more questions arise and phenomena which were thought to be irrelevant to each other are found to be based on the same principles).
    But this blog is a real treasure of knowledge, really meaning to teach the general population, instead of keeping them in the dark and patronizing them.
    Thank you for sharing these with us Dr. Turek!

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