Hepatitis caused by viruses, known as viral hepatitis, usually tends to affect the liver, leading to inflammation of the organ. But experts say such viral infections, particularly hepatitis B and C, can also affect male fertility by impairing sperm function.
During an exclusive interaction with the HealthSite, Dr Nisha Pansare, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Pune, decoded the connection between hepatitis infection and male infertility.
What people need to know about hepatitis viruses?
There are various types of hepatitis viruses such as A, B, C, D, and E. Each of these viruses will have different symptoms and treatment modalities will be based on the type of virus one is infected with. A simple test can determine the type of hepatitis that a person is infected with. Hepatitis can be transmitted via sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) along with many other ways. When it comes to STDs and diseases that affect fertility, HPV, HIV, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia tend to have short and long-term effects.
There is a connection between hepatitis and infertility. A large number of people get hepatitis B. Hepatitis may not show any effect on the normal functioning of the ovarian or uterine glands. But it can affect spermatogenesis in a negative way in males. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are spread via infected blood, while HBV can also be spread by sexual contact or through other infected fluids. Various studies have confirmed that many viruses can affect the sperm and cause male infertility. HCV leads to abnormal morphology in sperm and decreased motility. The semen volume and the sperm count are affected. Furthermore, the 'S' protein in HBV tends to lower sperm motility and decrease the rate of fertilization in sperm by over half.
According to the evidence available, couples, wherein the male partner had suffered from HBV, risked low fertility even after opting for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Those males detected with hepatitis B have a higher risk of sperm DNA fragmentation, or damage to the DNA inside sperm, which causes infertility and even miscarriage.
So, what one should do to keep hepatitis B infection at bay?
Males with hepatitis B are more likely to experience infertility when compared to those without the infection. Hepatitis B is most commonly linked to infertility. Getting vaccinated is an effective and completely safe way to keep hepatitis B at bay. Thus, sexually active people, those with multiple sexual partners, and the sexual partner of a known or suspected hepatitis B positive person should take the hepatitis B vaccine without any delay. If you are planning a baby by various types of ARTs, then speak to your fertility expert about hepatitis and its management. You will have to follow the instructions given by the fertility consultant if you are planning to start a family.