Hey Chicago, it’s Movember again and a good time to shine a light on Men’s Health Awareness! Movember was started several years ago to bring attention to the issue of prostate cancer and has expanded to address a wide range of health issues for men including infertility – something we know a lot about here at Reproductive Medicine Institute.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Nasir Rana from RMI, about issues related to male fertility and some personal insights about Dr. Rana as well!
Do male patients have the same level of awareness about their fertility as your female patients do?
Dr. Nasir Rana: Unfortunately, no. Men have a sense of invincibility which I often must help them get over. I like the opportunity that Movember creates to have an honest discussion about male health, wellness, and fertility. And it’s important. About a third of the infertility cases that we see at RMI are related to the male. Mainly low sperm count or poor sperm quality. Infertility isn’t just a female problem, it’s an “us” problem to solve – the patients and me.
What can affect sperm production, quality, or quantity in men?
Dr. Nasir Rana: Pollutants, exposure to chemicals, smoking, and natural supplements can interfere with male fertility – and these are often self-induced issues. Excessive exercise, drugs, and hormones that many bodybuilders use are big culprits and negatively impact male fertility too.
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 40% of men will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Can men preserve their fertility as women can?
Dr. Nasir Rana: Yes, men can freeze their sperm before cancer treatment and preserve their fertility for future use. By using a technique called vitrification, we can provide excellent thaw rates for both sperm and eggs. I speak with male patients all the time who wish they had a better understanding of their options for male fertility preservation. Especially at the urologist’s office, making sure that men know that while their fertility may last longer than a female it’s not infinite.
What’s the difference between motility vs. morphology?
Dr. Nasir Rana: Male fertility declines over time too but just not as pronounced as females. Before motility and morphology, we first must consider count or sperm quantity. Anything above 15 million sperm per milliliter is considered in the normal range. If the count is healthy, then we’ll look at do the sperm swim straight and if their shape is considered normal from head to tail.
How long have you been helping patients with infertility?
For a long time (laughs) and it’s been wonderful and rewarding. In 1980 I started at RUSH then a few years later joined a private practice and then RMI. I’ve enjoyed every moment. I’m husband, father, and grandfather too, I understand the need and joy that family brings. Children are truly a blessing. I cry with my patients and experience the same joy when they get that call. No better job for me.
What made you want to become a reproductive endocrinologist?
Louis Brown in 1978, the world’s first IVF baby. Helping build families is a privilege and the perfect area for me to practice medicine in.
What do you want a patient to feel on their first consult with you?
Compassion, understanding, and honesty. Before a patient comes in, I’ve reviewed their records looking for clues to solve their infertility mysteries. I try very much to be direct and honest with the best path to success. “Dr. Google” has been good and bad for many patients. There’s a lot that needs to be clarified with patients about their condition and chances of success.
How did your military experience help you as a physician?
Right, I was a flight surgeon in the US Air Force. I’m very proud of my service. I got to see the world and serve my country in the Gulf War. My experience took me places and helped me meet people that made me want to serve others through medicine more than ever.
Before we go, are there any favorites you can tell us about?
Well, I love movies and the classic Gone with the Wind is a favorite. The music of Yani, whose name means “well” in Turkish is very soothing – but he’s Greek, right? Yani, he’s got an appropriate name for his music. I’ve seen a few Blackhawk games with my grandkids, but football is a little too rough for my taste. I’m just a gentle doctor who likes to help build families!