Male sub-fertility is more common than you think, in 40% of couples that are trying to conceive male fertility issues are the main problem, yet apart from assisted reproduction technology there are limited options from a western medicine prospective.
There is growing evidence that acupuncture and lifestyle changes can improve sperm parameters and therefor play a positive role in improving male fertility. At my clinic I am seeing more and more male patients who want to try and improve the quality of their semen, not only those with low motility and morphology but also those who want to give there sperm the boost it may need to help reach their partners egg.
In Ireland normal sperm count values are currently given as:
• greater than 20 million sperm per ml
• greater than 50% of sperm moving vigorously (motility)
• greater than 14 % with no deformities (morphology).
A population study looking at men’s fertility found that those men that succeeded in fathering a child had:
• greater than 48 million sperm per ml
• a motility of more than 63%
• a normal morphology of 12%
(New England Journal of Medicine 345(19):1388-1393).
This study indicates the importance of men achieving the highest sperm count and motility possible.
So why are we seeing falling sperm counts?
The main reason is realistically due to lifestyle changes and environmental factors. We are constantly being bombarded with chemicals from aerosol’s and detergents to oestrogen’s in our water, preservatives in foods as well as the hormone’s being put into our meat & poultry. With regards to lifestyle we are drinking more alcohol and smoking more than any of our forefather’s, this can have a detrimental effect on sperm quality as they heat up the body and they also damage sperm with their toxicity. Sperm production is most efficient at 34 degrees and it can be impaired by a raise in temperature, so common advice is to remove mobile phones from pockets and not to use laptops on laps.
The good news is that semen matures every 90 days so Acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary advice can help in improving the quality of semen. I recommend that the male partner receives Acupuncture for once a week for a minimum of 3 months, especially around the time of their partner’s ovulation.
Fertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine terms has everything to do with the Kidneys. The Kidneys are responsible for storing life-force (Jing) and are the root of male sexual development, libido and fertility and control the urethra and testicles.
The Liver energy of the male also has to balanced; the Liver ensures the free flow and unobstructed circulation of energy (Qi) and blood in the pelvic and genital region.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin, sterile, single use, disposable needles into specific points on the body to address factors contributing to infertility. The effectiveness of acupuncture is evidenced by its continued use for centuries and more recently by modern clinical trials showing successful results.
I believe that lifestyle advice is crucial in the improvement of semen quality, some changes that I advise to make may be relatively easy; others much harder.
- Avoid excessive heat, especially to the testes, remove mobile phones from pockets and avoid using laptops on laps.
- Take suitable exercise, enough to promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood, especially to the pelvic region. No excessive exercise, avoid prolonged cycling.
- Adopt a suitable diet and reduce obesity, a balanced diet avoiding excessive soya, meat, dairy and sugar and one rich in antioxidants e.g. 5-7 portions of organic vegetables a day and green tea.
- Stop smoking, excessive use of alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Minimise environmental pollution.
- Avoid drinking from plastic bottles, eating canned foods and heating foods and drinks in plastic containers in microwaves.
I also recommend a comprehensive supplementation programme to help increase the chances of conceiving and improve the health of the baby. This is individualised to the patient’s needs.
- Multi Vitamin & Mineral – to improve nutritional status.
- Vitamin E – increases sperm count and carries oxygen to sex organs – D-alpha-topherol form.
- Vitamin C – helps to manufacture healthy sperm, prevents sperm from sticking together and can improve their motility, can increase sperm up to 1/3.
- Vitamin D – essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido.
- Zinc – cell division and improves desire & ejaculation.
- Selenium – lack of selenium is linked with sterility.
- Vitamin B Complex – stress and nervous system tonic.
- L-Arginine & L-Carnitine – crucial for male fertility and sperm development.
- Co Q 10 – energy for sperm.
Acupuncture can assist and improve the chances of conception by preparing the body for the journey ahead. It is important that both partners are in good health at the time of conception to give the best possible start to the new life.
If you would like more information or would like to speak with me to discuss how I can help, please contact me.