MEN'S FERTILITY

MEN'S FERTILITY

Male Fertility

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One in six couples experience fertility problems; though studies show that 40% of the time, infertility is caused by female factors, it is 40% of the time caused by male factors and 20% of the time by a combination of both. This means if a couple has been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, the man should definitely check out his sperm count. Numerous studies have shown acupuncture to be of benefit in the treatment of male infertility.

.

WHAT IS MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY?

Sperm problems may involve the quantity and/or quality of the sperm. A simple semen analysis can assess basic fertility. This simply involves asking your family doctor for a test requisition and taking a sperm sample to a local lab for testing. Often men feel embarrassed or stressed about providing the sample. There is no need to as the sample can be collected at home and discretely dropped off at a laboratory near you.

.

The semen analysis looks at the sperm in three different ways:

  1. Sperm Count: This is the most important part of the test and the more sperm there is, the better!
  2. Sperm Motility: This measures the percentage of sperm that is moving in a forward direction — sperm needs to be able to travel from the vagina to the fallopian tubes where they meet the egg).
  3. Sperm Morphology: This measures the shape of the sperm.It is quite common for men to have lot of abnormally-shaped sperm. Don’t feel too worried if you get this result as no one really knows how much impact this has on your overall fertility.

The following issues are the most common causes of male factor infertility:

  • Structural Problems
  • Various structural problems, such as blockages, can obstruct the passage of sperm or impair the ability to produce healthy sperm. These can result in several conditions, such as:
  • Scarring
  • Undescended testes
  • Varicocele
  • Vasectomy

Hormonal Imbalances

Imbalances caused by a lack of communication between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the testes can affect a man’s ability to produce healthy sperm.

.

Infection and Disease

Many health conditions or diseases, including diabetes, cystic fibrosis, mumps, and any extended period of high fever, can reduce sperm production. As men are continually producing sperm, the infection effects may be reversible if no scarring or blockage has occurred, which can result in sperm function being restored over time.

.

Age

New research is showing that men’s sperm quality begins to decline around the age of 45.

.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors can have a negative effect on sperm counts. These factors include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cigarettes
  • Hot tubs
  • Overweight (BMI over 25)

TREATMENT

Surgery is often successful in treating infertility caused by structural problems or blockages.

For mild sperm problems, your doctor might recommend intrauterine insemination (IUI). In this procedure, the man produces a sperm sample, which is then prepared in the laboratory and inserted into his partner’s uterus. IUI is a relatively inexpensive procedure and work very well for certain couples.

For more severe sperm problems, you may need to undergo an IVF (In vitro fertilization) cycle with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). This is when the woman’s eggs are removed and the eggs are fertilized outside her body. With ICSI, a single sperm is then directly injected into the egg.

.

HOW CHINESE MEDICINE CAN HELP

Chinese medicine treats the underlying health problem that may be affecting sperm count and motility.

Men produce new sperm all the time. It takes approximately 100 days to create and mature sperm. During this crucial time, we treat the underlying condition or imbalance that is affecting your fertility. Typically a treatment program starts with a three week detox to eliminate toxins and reduce food allergies or sensitivities. In addition, acupuncture treatments, herbs, diet, supplements, and exercise are recommended to boost your health and sperm parameters.

.

Acupuncture

“In conjunction with ART, or even for reaching natural fertility potential, acupuncture treatment is a simple, non-invasive method that can improve sperm quality.”

(Dr. Jian Pei, Fertility and Sterility 2005)

.

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively:

  • Increase sperm production
  • Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
  • Improve sperm movement (motility)
  • Balance the levels of hormones responsible for fertility
  • Increase the rate of pregnancy when used in conjunction with ART studies
  • Acupuncture needles are never inserted into the genitals. The needles are instead painlessly inserted into acupuncture points in various other parts of the body.

Herbal Therapy

Herbal therapy is another important aspect of Chinese Medicine, and provides an essential compliment to acupuncture. Studies have shown that herbal formulas may improve low sperm counts or poor motility.

.

DIET

Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a good diet can help boost sperm production. Watching your portion size and exercising daily is also crucial. If you are overweight, losing even just 10-15 lbs. can make a big difference.

.

Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods still in the state Mother Nature made them (the apple versus apple juice), minimally processed, and refined as little as possible before being eaten. Whole foods provide maximum nutrients, fiber enzymes, antioxidants, and great taste without added artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, or trans fats.

.

Slow Carbs

Slow carbohydrates are those carbohydrates that are more slowly digested, causing a slower and lower rise in blood sugar after being eaten. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits. Eating slow carbs helps to minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, balance fertility hormones, and prevent gestational diabetes.

.

Plant-Based Foods

You don’t have to cut out all meat from your diet to be healthy and fertile. Just make sure you increase your servings of anti-oxidant plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as kidney beans), nuts, seeds, and whole grains to least five a day. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that counter inflammation (a common cause of infertility) and boost your reproductive system.

.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats and oils are those that are pressed naturally from whole-plant foods (coconuts, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives) and short-lived, deep sea fish (salmon, herring, etc.). Free-range poultry and eggs are also highly recommended. Healthy fats combat cellular inflammation and improve hormonal sensitivity.

.

LIFESTYLE

It’s necessary to change your lifestyle as well. Exercise and stress reduction are important and free ways to optimize your fertility.

.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to balance your hormones and manage stress. Exercise burns calories and helps regulate your insulin levels, reversing some of the metabolic imbalances that contribute to weight gain and fertility problems.

You can get the positive effects of exercise by just walking for 30 minutes every day. The effect of your workout can be further enhanced by incorporating more activity into your daily routine: try parking your car a few blocks from work or your destination, take stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible, hike, swim, don’t bike (elevates the testicles temperature).

.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress can have a powerful effect on your body as whole and your fertility in particular. Stress shuts down all non-essential systems and interferes with your body’s ability to respond to hormones. This results in blood being diverted from the reproductive organs, thus decreasing the production of sperm. Practices such as qi gong, yoga, meditation, and tai qi are very effective ways to reduce stress and induce deep relaxation.

.

THINGS TO AVOID

.

High Temperatures

The human body is 37 degrees Celsius while sperm functions best at 32 degrees Celsius. This means anything that elevates the scrotum’s temperature over a period of time can adversely affect sperm. Long distance driving, extended sitting, hot baths, saunas, hot tubs, tight-fitting underwear, and athletic support straps all can raise the temperature of the scrotum, thus “cooking” the sperm.

.

Alcohol

Alcohol interferes with the ability to make testosterone and also speeds-up the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lower sperm count and decrease sex drive. The good news is that if you stop drinking, most of the damage will repair over time.

.

Smoking

Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body, which are known to damage many cells. Sperm cells are among those most affected by free radical damage so smoking can result in reduced sperm count and motility as well as increased amount of abnormally-shaped sperm. Fortunately, this damage is generally reversible if you quit smoking.

.

Drugs

Many prescription drugs affect fertility: common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline can wipe out a sperm harvest while phenytoin, glucocorticoids, sulfasalazine, and nitrofurantoin are other drugs that can affect sperm motility.

Furthermore, many nonprescription drugs can have a toxic effect on sperm. For example, the chemical ingredient in marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, which causes the body to produce less of its own. Marijuana also builds-up in the testes, lowering libido, causing impotence, and sometimes even causing sexual anxiety. Fortunately, as with cigarettes, if you stop smoking them, you will probably see an improvement in sperm quality within a few months. The effects of cocaine on fertility are similar to those of marijuana.

.

Caffeine

Too much caffeine may impair sperm production, cause chromosomal abnormalities, and effect sperm motility.

.

Excessive Exercise

Though moderate regular exercise helps your reproductive health, exercising to exhaustion may lower sperm count (due to heat) and temporarily reduce testosterone production.

.

Toxins and Pollutants

There are unfortunately a wide variety of toxins and pollutants that can harm the development of sperm. For example, pesticides and heavy metals are toxic for sperm – they’re designed to disrupt the reproductive cycle of the insect, fungus, or weed they’re trying to kill. Ever since the use of chemical pesticides was introduced after World War II, male sperm counts have plummeted. Avoid as much pesticide consumption or contact as possible by eating organic foods and not using pesticides in your garden.

Additionally, watch your exposure to X-rays, solvents, paint products, and toxic metals.

.

Environmental Estrogens

Environmental estrogens can damage the sertoli cells. Sertoli cells are responsible for the production of sperm. Estrogens are now found in drinking water and food such as meat. Plastics also give off estrogens. Don’t microwave plastic and try to avoid drinking from it – use glass containers instead. If you are drinking water from a plastic bottle, try to limit its exposure to the sun or heat.

Whether you are trying to conceive naturally, or using assisted reproductive techniques, acupuncture has been shown to increase sperm count and quality as well as concentration.

.

Common conditions that we treat include:

  • Male Factor Infertility (low concentration, morphology or motility)
  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
  • Prostatitis
  • Premature Ejaculation
  • Impotence

Male Fertility

.

One in six couples experience fertility problems; though studies show that 40% of the time, infertility is caused by female factors, it is 40% of the time caused by male factors and 20% of the time by a combination of both. This means if a couple has been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, the man should definitely check out his sperm count. Numerous studies have shown acupuncture to be of benefit in the treatment of male infertility.

.

WHAT IS MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY?

Sperm problems may involve the quantity and/or quality of the sperm. A simple semen analysis can assess basic fertility. This simply involves asking your family doctor for a test requisition and taking a sperm sample to a local lab for testing. Often men feel embarrassed or stressed about providing the sample. There is no need to as the sample can be collected at home and discretely dropped off at a laboratory near you.

.

The semen analysis looks at the sperm in three different ways:

  1. Sperm Count: This is the most important part of the test and the more sperm there is, the better!
  2. Sperm Motility: This measures the percentage of sperm that is moving in a forward direction — sperm needs to be able to travel from the vagina to the fallopian tubes where they meet the egg).
  3. Sperm Morphology: This measures the shape of the sperm.It is quite common for men to have lot of abnormally-shaped sperm. Don’t feel too worried if you get this result as no one really knows how much impact this has on your overall fertility.

The following issues are the most common causes of male factor infertility:

  • Structural Problems
  • Various structural problems, such as blockages, can obstruct the passage of sperm or impair the ability to produce healthy sperm. These can result in several conditions, such as:
  • Scarring
  • Undescended testes
  • Varicocele
  • Vasectomy

Hormonal Imbalances

Imbalances caused by a lack of communication between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the testes can affect a man’s ability to produce healthy sperm.

.

Infection and Disease

Many health conditions or diseases, including diabetes, cystic fibrosis, mumps, and any extended period of high fever, can reduce sperm production. As men are continually producing sperm, the infection effects may be reversible if no scarring or blockage has occurred, which can result in sperm function being restored over time.

.

Age

New research is showing that men’s sperm quality begins to decline around the age of 45.

.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors can have a negative effect on sperm counts. These factors include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cigarettes
  • Hot tubs
  • Overweight (BMI over 25)

TREATMENT

Surgery is often successful in treating infertility caused by structural problems or blockages.

For mild sperm problems, your doctor might recommend intrauterine insemination (IUI). In this procedure, the man produces a sperm sample, which is then prepared in the laboratory and inserted into his partner’s uterus. IUI is a relatively inexpensive procedure and work very well for certain couples.

For more severe sperm problems, you may need to undergo an IVF (In vitro fertilization) cycle with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). This is when the woman’s eggs are removed and the eggs are fertilized outside her body. With ICSI, a single sperm is then directly injected into the egg.

.

HOW CHINESE MEDICINE CAN HELP

Chinese medicine treats the underlying health problem that may be affecting sperm count and motility.

Men produce new sperm all the time. It takes approximately 100 days to create and mature sperm. During this crucial time, we treat the underlying condition or imbalance that is affecting your fertility. Typically a treatment program starts with a three week detox to eliminate toxins and reduce food allergies or sensitivities. In addition, acupuncture treatments, herbs, diet, supplements, and exercise are recommended to boost your health and sperm parameters.

.

Acupuncture

“In conjunction with ART, or even for reaching natural fertility potential, acupuncture treatment is a simple, non-invasive method that can improve sperm quality.”

(Dr. Jian Pei, Fertility and Sterility 2005)

.

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively:

  • Increase sperm production
  • Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
  • Improve sperm movement (motility)
  • Balance the levels of hormones responsible for fertility
  • Increase the rate of pregnancy when used in conjunction with ART studies
  • Acupuncture needles are never inserted into the genitals. The needles are instead painlessly inserted into acupuncture points in various other parts of the body.

Herbal Therapy

Herbal therapy is another important aspect of Chinese Medicine, and provides an essential compliment to acupuncture. Studies have shown that herbal formulas may improve low sperm counts or poor motility.

.

DIET

Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a good diet can help boost sperm production. Watching your portion size and exercising daily is also crucial. If you are overweight, losing even just 10-15 lbs. can make a big difference.

.

Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods still in the state Mother Nature made them (the apple versus apple juice), minimally processed, and refined as little as possible before being eaten. Whole foods provide maximum nutrients, fiber enzymes, antioxidants, and great taste without added artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, or trans fats.

.

Slow Carbs

Slow carbohydrates are those carbohydrates that are more slowly digested, causing a slower and lower rise in blood sugar after being eaten. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits. Eating slow carbs helps to minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, balance fertility hormones, and prevent gestational diabetes.

.

Plant-Based Foods

You don’t have to cut out all meat from your diet to be healthy and fertile. Just make sure you increase your servings of anti-oxidant plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as kidney beans), nuts, seeds, and whole grains to least five a day. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that counter inflammation (a common cause of infertility) and boost your reproductive system.

.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats and oils are those that are pressed naturally from whole-plant foods (coconuts, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives) and short-lived, deep sea fish (salmon, herring, etc.). Free-range poultry and eggs are also highly recommended. Healthy fats combat cellular inflammation and improve hormonal sensitivity.

.

LIFESTYLE

It’s necessary to change your lifestyle as well. Exercise and stress reduction are important and free ways to optimize your fertility.

.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to balance your hormones and manage stress. Exercise burns calories and helps regulate your insulin levels, reversing some of the metabolic imbalances that contribute to weight gain and fertility problems.

You can get the positive effects of exercise by just walking for 30 minutes every day. The effect of your workout can be further enhanced by incorporating more activity into your daily routine: try parking your car a few blocks from work or your destination, take stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible, hike, swim, don’t bike (elevates the testicles temperature).

.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress can have a powerful effect on your body as whole and your fertility in particular. Stress shuts down all non-essential systems and interferes with your body’s ability to respond to hormones. This results in blood being diverted from the reproductive organs, thus decreasing the production of sperm. Practices such as qi gong, yoga, meditation, and tai qi are very effective ways to reduce stress and induce deep relaxation.

.

THINGS TO AVOID

.

High Temperatures

The human body is 37 degrees Celsius while sperm functions best at 32 degrees Celsius. This means anything that elevates the scrotum’s temperature over a period of time can adversely affect sperm. Long distance driving, extended sitting, hot baths, saunas, hot tubs, tight-fitting underwear, and athletic support straps all can raise the temperature of the scrotum, thus “cooking” the sperm.

.

Alcohol

Alcohol interferes with the ability to make testosterone and also speeds-up the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lower sperm count and decrease sex drive. The good news is that if you stop drinking, most of the damage will repair over time.

.

Smoking

Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body, which are known to damage many cells. Sperm cells are among those most affected by free radical damage so smoking can result in reduced sperm count and motility as well as increased amount of abnormally-shaped sperm. Fortunately, this damage is generally reversible if you quit smoking.

.

Drugs

Many prescription drugs affect fertility: common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline can wipe out a sperm harvest while phenytoin, glucocorticoids, sulfasalazine, and nitrofurantoin are other drugs that can affect sperm motility.

Furthermore, many nonprescription drugs can have a toxic effect on sperm. For example, the chemical ingredient in marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, which causes the body to produce less of its own. Marijuana also builds-up in the testes, lowering libido, causing impotence, and sometimes even causing sexual anxiety. Fortunately, as with cigarettes, if you stop smoking them, you will probably see an improvement in sperm quality within a few months. The effects of cocaine on fertility are similar to those of marijuana.

.

Caffeine

Too much caffeine may impair sperm production, cause chromosomal abnormalities, and effect sperm motility.

.

Excessive Exercise

Though moderate regular exercise helps your reproductive health, exercising to exhaustion may lower sperm count (due to heat) and temporarily reduce testosterone production.

.

Toxins and Pollutants

There are unfortunately a wide variety of toxins and pollutants that can harm the development of sperm. For example, pesticides and heavy metals are toxic for sperm – they’re designed to disrupt the reproductive cycle of the insect, fungus, or weed they’re trying to kill. Ever since the use of chemical pesticides was introduced after World War II, male sperm counts have plummeted. Avoid as much pesticide consumption or contact as possible by eating organic foods and not using pesticides in your garden.

Additionally, watch your exposure to X-rays, solvents, paint products, and toxic metals.

.

Environmental Estrogens

Environmental estrogens can damage the sertoli cells. Sertoli cells are responsible for the production of sperm. Estrogens are now found in drinking water and food such as meat. Plastics also give off estrogens. Don’t microwave plastic and try to avoid drinking from it – use glass containers instead. If you are drinking water from a plastic bottle, try to limit its exposure to the sun or heat.

Whether you are trying to conceive naturally, or using assisted reproductive techniques, acupuncture has been shown to increase sperm count and quality as well as concentration.

.

Common conditions that we treat include:

  • Male Factor Infertility (low concentration, morphology or motility)
  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
  • Prostatitis
  • Premature Ejaculation
  • Impotence