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Section and Specialty Meetings: Building a Better Future for Our Patients - Society for the Study of Male Reproduction at AUA2021

By: David Shin, MD; James Smith, MD, MS; James M. Dupree, MD, MPH | Posted on: 06 Aug 2021

The Society for the Study of Male Reproduction (SSMR) will hold its annual symposium concurrent with the AUA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas on Sunday, September 12 (1:00 pm–5:00 pm, Lando 4201–4303, Foyer West/Venetian Hotel). We will use the SSMR Annual Meeting to reflect on the past 2 years, to discuss ways to improve our delivery of patient care and to provide a glimpse into emerging advanced technologies that will advance the care of infertile men. A great lineup of speakers–including leaders in the field of urology, andrology and reproductive medicine–has been assembled around the theme of our Annual Meeting, “Male Infertility Care in the Modern Era: Building a Better Future for Our Patients.”

We will start the meeting where we start our work–with the patient. Mr. Jake Anderson-Bialis will provide his unique perspective on how infertility has impacted his life and the challenges he and his partner faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hearing his experiences and difficulties with infertility and how the couple overcame adversity will be a powerful reminder of the daily struggles our patients face and the positive impact clinicians can have during couples’ journeys to parenthood.

After hearing the patient’s perspective on the past year, we will debate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on male reproductive health and our clinical practices. Drs. James Hotaling and Ranjith Ramasamy have recently published their respective findings on the effect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on spermatogenesis. In a study of 34 adult Chinese males diagnosed with COVID-19, Dr. Hotaling reported that SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the semen after a median of 31 days from COVID-19 diagnosis.1 However, when evaluating for pathological changes within the testes of 6 patients who died of COVID-19 complications, Dr. Ramasamy reported that 3 men (50%) had impaired spermatogenesis, suggesting that the male reproductive tract is not immune from COVID-19 infection.2 How, then, should clinicians counsel patients about the effects of COVID-19 with respect to fertility? We expect a lively debate between Drs. Hotaling and Ramasamy as they discuss whether or not the SARS-CoV-2 virus has a negative impact on sperm production and male reproductive health.

Drs. Akanksha Mehta and Sarah Vij will then debate a technology that is more prevalent today than ever before–telemedicine. Before March 2020, telemedicine was only allowed in certain circumstances for patients in rural areas who did not have easy access to medical care. Because of the national public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) encouraged health care providers to adopt and expand telemedicine as a means of safely providing remote care, even across state lines. However, is telemedicine a suitable replacement for in-person evaluations for men with infertility? Drs. Mehta and Vij will engage in a pro/con discussion to help answer this question.

Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 also pointed an even brighter light on the long-standing discrimination and systemic racism that impacts Black communities and other communities of color. The SSMR released a Statement on Racism and Diversity in response to numerous events in 2020. Moving forward, the SSMR Board of Directors has committed to several initiatives to address existing disparities and inequities, including highlighting these topics during the Annual Meeting. This year, we are honored to have Dr. Tracy Downs, Chair of the AUA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, provide our SSMR keynote address. Dr. Downs will speak about the impact of systemic racism on male infertility patients and our practices. Dr. Tolu Bakare will then speak about building male infertility practices that support our multicultural patients.

Our final session will be devoted to the future of male infertility care, imagining care in the year 2026. Drs. Kathleen Hwang and Dolores Lamb will discuss advanced diagnostics and advanced therapeutics in our field, focusing on what will be needed in 5 years to care for patients with male infertility. Dr. James Dupree will then discuss the new SSMR/SMRU (Society for Male Reproduction and Urology) white paper on the impact of physician productivity models on access to infertility care, including what will be needed to ensure patients can access infertility services for years to come.

The 2021 SSMR meeting will be patient-centered, practical and dynamic, aiming for all attendees to take home new learning that will influence their patients and practices. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas, where we can continue to drive SSMR’s mission of encouraging the study, elevating the practice and improving the quality of care of the subfertile male.

  1. Pan F, Xiao X, Guo J et al: No evidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 in semen of males recovering from coronavirus disease 2019. Fertil Steril 2020; 113: 1135.
  2. Achua JK, Chu KY, Ibrahim E et al: Histopathology and ultrastructural findings of fatal COVID-19 infections on testis. World J Mens Health 2021; 39: 65.