Did you know that nearly 50% of infertility cases are caused by male sperm quality issues? In most cases doctors can find no reason for poor sperm production. The only treatment method offered is ICSI.
This is in contrast to popular opinion that infertility is usually due to female (gynaecological) problems. Usually, problems with the number or quality of sperm produced stop many couples from becoming pregnant. It is estimated that nearly 10,000,000 sperm are needed so that one 1 can get through to fertilise an egg!
Naturally, men are shocked to learn that difficulties in having a baby can be due to reproductive problems on their side. Men can experience stress and frustration and these emotions are not often shared with their partners. So men can find it difficult to cope with male infertility.
Though a sperm test is the best way to gauge a man’s reproductive health, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Realise too that sperm is easily affected, there has been suggestions that like blood pressure, sperm should be tested several times over a 3 month period to gain a better picture.
For over 10 years I have found Acupuncture to be a useful tool in improving men’s reproductive health.
Why is Male Fertility Decreasing?
As stated above, men are not immune to health issues, no matter how much we try to hide it. The reality is that sperm is easily damaged by factors such as poor diet, lifestyle and illness. Obviously men who’ve played lots of contact sports are at risk to physical damage to the testes which can result in fertility problems later in life.
Recent research has shown that male sperm count has dropped 50% since 40yrs ago amongst Western men, largely attributed to poor diet and lifestyle.
Foods and products which mimic Oestrogen such as soy and BPA can weaken sperm by disturbing testosterone production. Just like with women, stress too plays a big part, which leads to lack of sleep and gut issues that result in the reproductive organs not receiving the nourishment they need.
Secondary Symptoms to watch out for:
The beauty of Chinese Medicine is its ability to find links in patterns that Western Medicine diagnose as ‘idiopathic’. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, then they can point to possible causes of why your sperm quality may be diminished:
- High levels of stress and trouble sleeping
- Feeling fatigued and lacking motivation
- Feeling hot at night, especially in the feet
- excess weight around the abdomen
- Lack of Libido or erectile problems
- A burning or warm sensation in the groin
These and other symptoms are key in helping me diagnosis the cause of your fertility issues. All these seemingly unrelated signs help paint a detailed picture of your overall health.
The Silver Lining for Male Infertility
Whilst all this information can paint a grim picture, there is a silver lining. Whilst women are born with all their eggs, male sperm is constantly being produced. This means that given enough time, we can improve the strength of the production line and have you producing healthier sperm. Realise that the complete production cycle of sperm is approximately 70 days, so you will need a minimum of 2 months of treatment before we begin to see the full benefit. The other benefit is men don’t have a hormone cycle like with women, which requires variations in treatment depending on the phase.
Some tips for men trying to conceive
Learn your partner’s cycle: know when she gets her period and when she will be ovulating, so you know when you will need to have intercourse.
Have sex every 3 days: once her period has ceased, aim to have intercourse every 3 days until her period is due. This means that neither of you have the added worry of accurately tracking ovulation¹. It also ensures that you are constantly producing fresh sperm and not using sperm that’s a week old when its needed most. 3-4 days has been found to be a good time to allow sperm to regenerate.
Study shows Acupuncture improves sperm quality
A study of the effect of acupuncture on sperm quality in men suffering infertility of unknown cause, found that after twice weekly treatment for five weeks, there were fewer structural sperm defects (acrosome position and shape, nuclear shape, axonemal pattern and shape, and accessory fibres of sperm organelles) and an increase in the number of normal sperm ejaculated. Other sperm abnormalities such as immature or dead sperm were not affected. (Fertility and Sterility, Volume 84, Issue 1, July 2005, Pages 141-147).
Meanwhile there is evidence that infertility may now be affecting more men than women. Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is injected straight into an egg and is normally used in cases where the sperm is of too poor quality to permit conventional fertilisation has become the most commonly used technique in Europe and now outnumbers conventional IVF. (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference, Copenhagen, 2005).
And in the Merseyside and Cheshire health districts in Britain, the number of men seeking treatment for infertility has risen by nearly 70% in the past four years with ICSI now accounting for 60% of the ICSI/IVF treatments carried out at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Acupuncture improves sperm motility
The first prospective, randomised, single-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile men with severe oligoasthenozoospermia has shown that acupuncture can improve sperm motility.
The German study, involving 29 men, compared TCM acupuncture with placebo acupuncture. A significantly higher percentage of motile sperm was found after real acupuncture. No effect of acupuncture on sperm concentration was observed. (A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2009 Apr 24.)
Begin your Male infertility treatment today
improved sperm count and fertility
As the number of infertility cases rise in Australia, Chinese medicine will play an important role in helping infertile men father healthy children. I look forward to being of assistance to you.
If you’d like to begin a course of treatment, please telephone 9796 2388 or email me to make an appointment.
¹ No one actually knows when around ovulation is ideal to have sex, hence if you have intercourse every 3 days, you can safely bet you’ll have had it at least twice during ovulation as well as either side to provide the best chance of falling pregnant.