Approximately 2.5 million couples in Turkey cannot have children due to infertility. One third of infertility occurs due to male related reasons. 10 to 15 percent of male infertility occurs due to azoospermia, or lack of sperm. However, in half of the men with azoospermia, the cause cannot be determined exactly.
Urology and Reproductive Health Specialist Assoc. Dr. Emre Bakırcıoğlu, after 15 years of clinical observations, said that he decided to do a research after he realized that the problem of azoospermia is mostly in men whose parents are first-degree relatives (cousins). “The ratio of men with a lack of sperm in the society is around 1 percent. It occurs in 10 to 15 percent of all infertile men, and in about half of these men, we cannot identify the underlying cause.
That’s why we started this work. While researching the underlying causes, I noticed that there are men who are consanguineous in Turkey, namely azoospermic men whose mother and father are related. This observation is based on nearly 15 years of clinical experience. Thereupon, we conducted a retrospective study and looked at the rate of consanguineous marriage in our 246 male patients with azoospermia of unknown cause. “We saw that the parents of 81 men, that is about 1 out of 3 men, were close relatives, at the level of a relative cousin.”
Stating that they later examined the clinical data of these patients, Assoc. Dr. Bakırcıoğlu stated that, for the first time in the world, they detected clinical differences between men whose mother and father were relatives and those who were not. Explaining the clinical difference of the mechanism that reveals the absence of sperm that develops due to genetic factors, Assoc. Dr. Bakırcıoğlu, “For example, the hormones and testicular sizes of these people are at normal levels, and the sperms in the samples we take from the testicles develop until a certain period.
However, mostly there is a pause at the level of spermatitis, which we call meiosis. Therefore, we have presented these data for the first time in the world. Our study has also been published in the journal of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Another feature we see is that in families whose parents are related, infertility problems are three times more likely to occur in more than one child. In other words, the probability of developing infertility due to azoospermia is three times higher in more than one sibling. It doesn’t have to be someone else in the family, either. “Sometimes it can occur in the children of a single couple, although it has never been seen in the family.”
Explaining that with this study, it has been proved that consanguineous marriages, which are quite common in Turkey, increase other rare diseases related to genetic disorders and negatively affect reproductive health, Assoc. Dr. Bakırcıoğlu continued his words as follows:
“I would like to emphasize that consanguineous marriage can cause problems not only in terms of rare and genetic diseases but also in reproductive health and infertility. In Western societies, consanguineous marriage is very rare, or we do not see it at all. Our study is one of the first studies to show this. It is also the first study in the world to show that infertile men born as a result of consanguineous marriage have a different (clinical) structure than those who do not. “