When it comes to fertility challenges, both men and women are equally important to the fertile picture.
Our clients are often surprised to find out that approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner, and one-third is caused by a combination of challenges in both partners or is unexplained.
If getting pregnant has been a challenge, it is important for the male partner to get his sperm checked. Male fertility testing looks at semen in three different ways:
- sperm count (quantity),
- sperm motility (which measures the percentage of sperm that are moving in a forward direction)
- sperm morphology (which measures the shape of the sperm).
Men are constantly making around 1,000 sperm per heart beat, yet not all sperm reach their optimal potential as healthy fertile sperm. Some common factors that lead to infertility in men are age, weight, infection and disease, structural problems, hormonal imbalances, environmental factors, and lifestyle. Age may be one of the most significant factors affecting your partner’s fertility. Studies have shown that pregnancy rates decline and miscarriage rates increase when the man is over forty—even if his female partner is under thirty-five. Fortunately acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has the ability to improve reproductive health. Acupuncture increases blood flow to the pelvic cavity and testes which optimizes sperm production and quality.
There are many additional things that can be done to increase fertility. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding environmental toxins that damage sperm, taking herbs and supplements known to improve sperm count, repairing DNA fragmentation and getting acupuncture can optimize a man’s sperm quality and allow him to reach his peak fertility potential.
Improving your fertility involves both lifestyle changes and other treatments:
Acupuncture - There are new sperm continually being made. However, it takes about 72 to 90 days for sperm to mature. During this 3 month window, receiving two acupuncture treatments every week for 3 months is recommended in order to optimize sperm quality and allow partners a chance to conceive naturally or to improve sperm quality and quantity for an IUI/IVF cycle. Studies show that acupuncture can increase sperm production, increase the percentage of healthy sperm, improve sperm movement (motility), and improve the levels of hormones responsible for fertility.
- Supplements and Herbs - There is substantial scientific evidence to suggest that certain nutrients may help improve male fertility. We recommend men being taking FertilAid for Men as an overall boost for their fertility. Other supplements we recommend based off of sperm analysis: CoQ10, Chinese Herbs, Vitamin D, Zinc, Omegas, L-Arginine , L-Carnitine and Selenium. These can optimize health and increase sperm count as well as improve sperm motility.
- Nutrition - Nutrition plays a huge role in sperm health. Ahealthy diet can boost sperm production. Eating more whole foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats is important.
- Exercise - One of the best ways to manage stress, maintain a healthy weight, and balance your hormones is with exercise. When it comes to exercise, even 30 minutes a day can go a long way. Consider incorporating activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, or hiking into your daily routine. Cycling is one exercise for men to consider stopping while seeking to get pregnant. Studies show that men bicycling more than five hours per week had a lower sperm concentration. It is also important to keep in mind that too much exercise can also be problematic. Over exercising may increase body temperature to a level that is threatening to sperm production. It can also temporarily lower testosterone production. Just like everything else, there is a balance that must be honored in order to see the results you want.
- Stress Reduction - Stress is more harmful to our system that we may realize. It can interfere with your body’s natural functions and interrupt hormone responsiveness. This results in blood being diverted from the reproductive organs, which decreases the production of sperm. It is important to find ways to promoting relaxation. Some practice that are known to reduce stress include yoga, meditation, qi gong, and tai chi.
- Limit Caffeine - An excess of caffeine may impair sperm production, cause abnormalities in chromosomes or affect sperm motility. Moderation is key when it comes to caffeine. Aim for a max of 200mg caffeine per day.
- Caution with Drugs & Marijuana - Prescription and nonprescription drugs can have a toxic effect on sperm. Common antibiotics like penicillin and tetracycline, phenytoin, glucocorticoids, sulfasalazine, and nitrofurantoin may interfere with fertility. Marijuana can also inhibit fertility. A chemical ingredient in marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, which causes the body to produce less of its own. Marijuana also accumulates in the testes which can lower libido, causing impotence, and sometimes even sexual anxiety. Fortunately, if you stop smoking, you will probably see an improvement in sperm quality within a few months.
- Limit or Stop Alcohol - Alcohol breaks down in the body in a way that is toxic to sperm. Luckily, if you stop drinking, most of the damage will be reversed. Studies have showed that avoiding all alcohol at least 10 days before making an IVF sperm sample can dramatically increase chances of a successful pregnancy. More information on alcohols effect on IVF.
- Toxins - Exposure to pesticides and other toxins can affect your sperm count and quality. Unfortunately, our modern world has an abundance of toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis. However, there are many obtainable ways to reduce your exposure. For some tips and tricks, check out our blog, Toxic Effect on Reproductive Health, as well as Environmental Working Group for a list of conventional products shown to have both the highest and lowest amount of pesticides.
- Hot Temperatures - The normal body temperature is between 97.7–99°F. Hot temperatures can overheat semen. Try to reduce your time in hot tubs and saunas, or doing activities that increase your temperature. If in hot temperatures such as hot tubs and saunas, applying ice to the testicles to lower the temperature can be helpful. Check out Snow Balls
To learn more about male fertility and book an Initial Consultation + Acupuncture Treatment to start your path to optimal fertility.