Venturing into the unknown

  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 10 Aug 2014

The co-founder of the London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw, once said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

I am always enthused about this amazing Irish Playwright, whose focuses on educations, marriage, health care and class privileges were simply life changing.

No wonder he is the only person who has ever been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature and the Oscar.

Today, I have been even more inspired! It has definitely been an eye-opening experience to be invited as a speaker for TEDxKL.

Truthfully, a Dinosaur like me really knew nothing about TED Conferences. For those of you from the pre-historical era like me, TED, stand for Technology, Entertainment and Design.

This is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation. What an amazing belief of the power of ideas to change attitude, lives and ultimately the world!

The concept of TED was very foreign to my world of urology, and it petrified me.

I questioned my own worthiness to be at the podium, compared with other extraordinary personalities. I was neither technological inclined nor excel in Design.

I certainly was hoping my pathetic sense of humor was my saving grace to entertain.

I had an amazing time delivering my talk. Above all, I was truly inspired by the others.

I only wished my small TED conversations break barriers and reduce taboos in male treatment seeking behaviors. Thank you TEDxKL, for giving me a chance to venture out of my comfort zone and to create myself.

On that note, I would like to answer an email of a fearful reader who is lost in the world of male sexual health and reproduction.


Dear Dr. G,

Thank you so much for responding to my email.

My name is Ivan and I am 35.

My wife and I have been married for 7 years and we have been trying for a baby for the last five years.

We have very healthy sexual relationship and I don't think I have any sexual dysfunction. Therefore, I assumed the problems lies with my wife.

My wife has been to the gynecologist several times and was told that her hormones and anatomy functions are normal.

The gynecologists have been asking me to do my part and see a Urologist for a check up.

Truthfully, I have been terrified of seeing a Urologist. However, I feel rather sad my wife is shouldering all the blame for our situation.

Can you clarify what exactly do you do for the assessment of Male infertility.

Is the assessment painful? Will it need surgery? Can it result in permanent damage?

I am scared and please help.




Fertility has often considered a woman’s problem in many cultures for generations. In reality, female related subfertility only constitutes half of all etiologies. Both genders issues involve another quarters. So, technically, Male associated problem may be as high as forty percent.

It is not unusual for men to assume the lack of sexual dysfunction is a good indicator for perfect fertility, and decided not to see a doctor.

In fact, it is not just matters that relate to reproduction that deters men seeking early treatment.

Scientific evidence also revealed men delay in seeking treatments in other pathologies too.

Sadly, this may result in compromised care in the future.

Male treatment seeking behavior is a mysterious and yet unknown phenomenon.

It is generally believed that men are characteristically associated with “Left brain thinking” which is respond better to rational and critical thinking, concrete facts and reasoning.

Paradoxically, when it comes to making health related decisions, men seems to utilize the “right brain” more, which effectively responds to emotions.

The reality is the assessment of male infertility is a simple process.

Men need to produce the semen for analysis. Such assessment indicates the viability and numbers of sperms that can impregnate the eggs. The poor quality of sperms is called OATS (oligo-astheno-teratospermia).

The commonest reason of this is the emergence of varicose veins in the scrotum (Varicocele), which will increase the temperature in the testicle.

The easiest treatment for varicocele is surgical intervention.

This can be done by open or keyhole operations. Occasionally, this can also be rectified by embolization of the veins through minor incisions in the groin.

With the above interventions, the chances of sperm improvement and fertility can be as high as 80%.

The French Statesman, Charles de Gaulle, once said: “Greatness is the road leading towards the unknown.” I am not suggesting the part to the Urology Clinic is an unknown entity.

But venturing out of your comfort zone can discover what medicine can do for you. And you never know, in due course, it might even create new lives too!


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