An Integrated Approach to Male-Factor Subfertility: Bridging the Gap Between Fertility Specialists Trained in Urology and Gynaecology
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Subfertile men and women are usually cared for by different clinicians, namely urologists and gynaecologists. While these doctors share each other's goals, they may not always appreciate the content or implications of their opposite number's clinical decisions; to some degree they may practice in "silos." We address this problem by reviewing the effectiveness of medical treatments for male factor subfertility in the context of female factors. The effectiveness of treatments for couples with male factor subfertility, other than IVF with ICSI, appears modest. However, data from randomized controlled trials suggest benefits from some treatments: clomiphene and tamoxifen for the male (common odds ratio for pregnancy [COR] 2.42; 95% CI 1.47 to 3.94), antioxidants (COR 4.18; 95% CI 2.65 to 6.59) and surgical management of a clinical varicocele (COR 2.39; 95% CI 1.56 to 3.66). Nevertheless, close attention to female age and the duration of subfertility help to avoid lost opportunity through delays in treatment when IVF with ICSI is indicated. Making treatment decisions squarely in the context of the couple's overall prognosis is key for optimal outcomes. Future trials of male fertility treatments should focus on pregnancy as the primary outcome, rather than less important surrogates such as sperm quality.
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