Measuring the Male Side of Fertility

Posted on Posted in General Tips

person-690045_640

Fertility is a doubles sport.  And as of right now, men are not aware what they can and should be tracking to optimize their chances of scoring big.

The quantified self movement promised that technology would measure, track, and interpret the body’s actions, and in doing so deliver learnings that we could never reach on our own.  Then came the onslaught: activity trackers, heart rate monitors, pedometers, sleep trackers, calorie counters, motion sensors, and thermometers to name only a few.

For those who have gotten on board with the tracking, counting, and monitoring, health data abounds.  Though many people are currently collecting their own data, few are looking at it and able to understand it.  Fewer are using that data to reach concrete health objectives or change habits. The next step involves interpreting this data — delivering unique, personalized insights for each individual user, while leveraging the collective wisdom of all participants, and preserving user privacy and anonymity.

One health objective shared by the vast majority of the population is procreation. Some would go so far as to consider reproduction a fundamental human right. Mother Nature is not so generous.  One in five couples in the United States seeks infertility care, and the infertility process can be long and hard, confusing and frustrating.  When we started Glow, we saw the immense opportunity to make a difference in this realm. Mike and his wife Jackie experienced infertility complications themselves, which gave us a first-hand understanding of how challenging it is to lack information about one’s fertility—and how taxing it can be on relationships.  Like Mike and Jackie’s case, one in three infertility cases currently cannot be explained by medical professionals.

Collecting more data can help answer some of the questions surrounding infertility. Yet when addressing infertility, attention tends to focus on female bodies and female data much more so than that of males.  Women are told to track their period, ovulation, and Basal Body Temperature (BBT), among other measurements—and many do.  Even so, 40% of infertility cases arise from male factor complications. For every five doctors specializing in female infertility in the United States, only one specializes in male infertility.

Fertility is a doubles sport.  And as of right now, men are not aware what they can and should be tracking to optimize their chances of scoring big.

Male factor fertility involves many variables, some of which are not commonly recognized as related to reproductive health.  Anatomical and medical reasons underlie some male infertility cases, but other cases are related to environmental and behavioral factors: using chemical-based lubricants, being exposed to x-rays, spending too much time in the hot tub, eating large quantities of meat.  Other day-to-day activities like smoking, drinking, typing on an overheating laptop, and even keeping a cell phone in the front pocket all affect male fertility.  These behaviors are quite trackable—and quite changeable once identified.

We are just at the beginning of exploring what tracking and data collection can do for male infertility—and what improved male fertility can do to bolster natural fertility rates.  Overcoming stigma and raising awareness around male infertility is the first step.  Next, we need to normalize products that track fertility-influencing behaviors in males and start measuring.  Having more knowledge about the male side of the reproductive equation should give couples more clarity—more options—as they navigate the often-murky infertility experience.

Source: Linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *