University Urology Associates Adds Male Infertility Expert to its Roster

Specialist Focuses on Treating Infertility from the Male Perspective

February 17, 2005

Jeanne O'Brien, M.D., has specialized training in male infertility

Area couples having difficulty conceiving have a new avenue to explore when investigating causes of and possible solutions for their infertility. Jeanne O’Brien, M.D., recently joined the staff of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s University Urology Associates, bringing to Rochester new approaches to treating male infertility.

Of the more than three million infertile couples in the United States, physicians estimate that male infertility is the cause nearly 50 percent of the time. As the first urologist in the Rochester region specifically trained to specialize in this condition, O’Brien will open up new treatment options for couples seeking help with infertility.

“This is a relatively new service area, so many are unaware of the simple procedures that can be done to improve male fertility,” O’Brien said. “I am honored to specialize in a field that helps couples achieve their dream of conceiving a child.”

O’Brien will work closely with physicians at the Strong Fertility and Reproductive Science Center to assist couples in finding optimal solutions for treating infertility.

“Dr. O’Brien’s expertise expands our capabilities in helping infertile couples,” says Vivian Lewis, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Center at the Medical Center. “Though we’ve previously collaborated with urologists regarding male-factor infertility, her presence in our community expands the options available to couples for whom male infertility is a barrier. We’ll be working closely with her to take a coordinated approach for couples who seek our help.”

Common Causes of Male Infertility

As with women, the causes of infertility in men are varied, and include genetic and lifestyle issues. Researchers believe that one major culprit in male infertility is a varicocele, an enlargement of veins inside the scrotum that drain the testicles. As many as 15 percent of all men are believed to have varicoceles, but up to 40 percent of infertile men have them.  And, in secondary infertility cases, more than 70 percent of men are believed to have a varicocele.

Physicians are not entirely sure why these enlargements cause infertility though they suspect that the enlarged veins cause a rise in temperature in the immediate region, leading to decreased sperm production, and damaging sperms’ speed and shape. Diagnosis is completed through a physical exam, and microscopic surgery is the prescribed course of treatment.

O’Brien is one of the few –if not the only – urologists in Rochester currently performing this type procedure with a specialized surgical microscope, which magnifies vision 15 to 20 times. Men should see an increase in sperm production as soon as two months after the procedure, and sperm counts can continue to rise for another seven months.

While other causes of male infertility include congenital defects and disease, physicians don’t know what causes up to 30 percent of all male infertility. Still, a variety of treatment options with good success rates are available for many of these conditions, according to O’Brien.

“For example, vasectomy reversals have great outcomes, with up to 95 percent of men producing sperm in a quantity acceptable to conceive naturally, or to be used in conjunction with another procedure, such as artificial insemination,” she says.

Before joining University Urology Associates, O’Brien completed a fellowship in male infertility at the University of Toronto.  Prior to that, she completed a residency in urology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and was chief urology resident during her last year. O’Brien is a graduate of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She is a member of several medical associations including the American Society of Andrology, American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Society of Male Reproduction, and American Urological Association. An accomplished speaker, O’Brien has spoken at a several national meetings on male infertility, and has published numerous articles on the topic.

For more information on male infertility services, call University Urology Associates at 585-341-7777.

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For Media Inquiries:
Germaine Reinhardt
(585) 275-6517
Email Germaine Reinhardt