Microscope raises hope in low sperm count cases

For men battling with low sperm count, there is good news. They don't need to look for suitable sperm donors as a new technology can help them reproduce by choosing the best of the lot from the existing pool. Micro-TESE or micro-surgical testicular sperm extraction involves surgical opening of the testes, where sperms are manufactured, and selecting the healthiest ones using a special microscope.

Dr Ernest Suchanek, head of embryology at Bourn Hall clinic, which has introduced this technology at its Gurgaon Centre, says the chances of reproduction increase by over 50% in persons with zero sperm in the ejaculate. "Three to four healthy cells are enough," he added.

Experts say lack of sperms in the ejaculate is a common cause for male infertility. There could be problems with manufacture of sperms in the testes or due to blocking of the transport of sperms after their production. The doctors perform micro-TESE in which a small midline incision is made in the testicles to retrieve viable sperms. "Earlier, we had to put eight to 10 needles in the testicles randomly to get viable sperms. With the use of microscope, chances of retrieval are more," said Suchanek. Research shows there has been a fall in the average sperm count of the Indian male, from 60 million per ml to 20 million, over the last three decades. Also, the number of normal cells in a person has reduced by more than one-third.

Dr Abha Mazumdar, head of the centre of IVF and human reproduction at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said sperm count has fallen because of alcohol use, stress and pollution.

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