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Fertility Doctor of the Month: Larry Lipshultz, M.D.
Larry Lipshultz, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX
FertilityAuthority is pleased to recognize Larry Lipshultz, M.D., a world-renowned expert in male reproductive medicine and microsurgery as Fertility Doctor of the Month. The Baylor College of Medicine professor is a pioneer in urological microsurgery and has performed more than 2,000 vasectomy reversals at his clinic in Houston, Texas. In addition, people come from all over the United States and the world to receive treatment for male reproductive health issues.
Dr. Lipshultz's treatment philosophy does not focus solely on the male during treatment. "I think it is important to consider the couple instead of just focusing on the male factor," he explains. "While my expertise is in surgical and medical treatment of the male, I am fully conversant in the etiology of female fertility failure as well. I work closely with my referring gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist colleagues."
The Path to Urology
During college, Dr. Lipshultz worked in a surgical research lab at the University of Pennsylvania where he was assigned to a urology resident to assist in his research projects. "He became a role model and encouraged me to assist in his research projects," he says. "Once I was a resident, I realized that there were very few urologists addressing male reproductive disorders, but the treatment of female reproductive failure was becoming very active. I decided that my treating male infertility would be very productive and fulfilling."
Dr. Lipshultz earned his medical degree and completed residency training at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing a two-year fellowship in male reproductive medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, he joined the Baylor College of Medicine faculty as a full professor. Today, he is Professor of Urology in the Scott Department of Urology and Chief of the Division of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery. He was a founder of the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction and is a Past President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. In addition, he has served on the FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs. He was the first AUA Research scholar and was awarded the prestigious Hugh Hampton Young Award at the 2005 AUA Annual Meeting.
"One of the highlights of my career was establishing the first division of male reproductive medicine and surgery in the country," Dr. Lipshultz says. "This has allowed me to train over 50 fellows now practicing throughout the United States."
Treating Male Infertility
There are many causes of male infertility, and the factors contributing can placed into three groups. The first, pre-testicular, meaning that there may be a hormonal imbalance in the body due to abnormalities in either the hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland, can be linked to such factors as obesity, stress, poor nutrition or drugs. Testicular causes, meaning the man has a congenital (born with) or acquired reason for the testicles to not produce adequate numbers or normally functioning sperm, includes such things as trauma to the testes, varicocele and overheating the testicles. Post-testicular casues, meaning there is a blockage or problem with the tract that the sperm have to travel from the testis to the tip of the penis, include a previous vasectomy or hernia surgery.
In his practice, Dr. Lipshultz offers a wide range of treatment. He treats male infertility both surgically with such procedures as microsurgical varicocelectomy for varicocele and vasectomy reversal, as well as procedures for sperm retrieval such as microsurgical epididymis sperm aspiration (MESA) and testicular sperm extraction (TESE). In addition, he provides non-surgical treatments such as hormone therapy, non-hormone therapy and nutritional supplements.
"I think that couples in general are much better read and educated about the causes and treatment of infertility due to the impact of social media," he says. "The fact that we are seeing more couples with infertility reflects their increased awareness of the benefits of early treatment, but it may also be due to increased exposure to environmental pollutants or ingestants."
On the Horizon
Dr. Lipshultz says nothing is more devastating to a couple with infertility than to find find out the male partner is not producing any sperm at all. Yet, this is one of the most exciting areas for advancements in the field of male reproductive medicine.
"Currently, we have no therapy for the majority of these patients," Dr. Lipshultz says. "Advanced techniques are now able to diagnose genetic abnormality, which was previously undiagnosable. An emerging field is stem cell therapy, with recent reports demonstrating the ability to grow mature human sperm from adult stem cells. This will undoubtedly be a potential form of future therapy."
What is his biggest challenge in the field? "My biggest challenge is making sure that the husbands of infertile couples receive full evaluation and realize that there are doctors for them as well as for their wives," he says.
For his dedication to the field of male reproductive medicine and his consideration of both partners in the treatment of infertility, FertilityAuthority congratulates Dr. Larry Lipshultz.
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FertilityAuthority.com features a dedicated fertility doctor (reproductive endocrinologist) each month. You can nominate your favorite fertility doctor by clicking here. We will contact you if your fertility doctor is chosen to be our Fertility Doctor of the Month.