Are you and your partner having difficulty conceiving? Traditionally, the inability to conceive has been viewed as a woman’s problem. Nowadays, that is starting to change. Luckily, the man’s role in fertility and conception has been receiving more attention.
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive acupuncture may be able to help improve male fertility.
The Current Situation
The current medical view is that male infertility accounts for 40% of infertility among couples.
A situation which is starting to ring alarm bells in medical circles is the drop in male fertility in the western world. Tests measure sperm for:
- vitality (how many are alive),
- motility (whether they are moving in a straight line)
- and morphology (whether they are the correct shape).
All of these have been in decline.
The situation as at 2010 is:
In 1992, the norm for sperm morphology was 15%. That means that, on average, 15% of a man’s sperm was the correct shape to fertilise an egg. Today, the norm is just 4%. Which means on average 96% of a man’s sperm are unable to fertilise an egg. On being told that your sperm is in the normal range, most men would conclude that there is no problem with their sperm. Instead, clearly, that is not necessarily the case. It just means that you are in the normal range. Unfortunately, as you can see this is decreasing at an alarming rate.
WHY IS SPERM ON THE DECLINE?
The general view is that increased pollution and a change in our lifestyles are to blame. More recently, the increased use of electronic equipment can possibly have a negative effect on sperm. Excess weight, smoking, drugs stress and STD’s are all considered to contribute to this decline.
HOW CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP WITH MALE INFERTILITY?
Acupuncture aims to re-balance the body, ensuring that Qi (energy) is flowing and not getting blocked and balancing Yin and Yang.
The diagnosis of male infertility in Chinese Medicine always includes balancing the energy of the kidneys. Please note this doesn’t meant there is anything wrong with your kidneys in Western medical terms. Chinese Medicine diagnosis usually falls into 3 main categories.
- Kidney Yin deficiency.This frequently corresponds with low sperm numbers, insufficient seminal fluid, poor viscosity, abnormal morphology. Men with Kidney Yin deficiency can often feel hot at night and have a high libido. They may overuse caffeine, alcohol or drugs and be always on the go. Acupuncture would aim to reinvigorate the Kidney Yin energy.
- Kidney Yang deficiency.In this case, the semen test will show a low count, poor motility, poor endurance, seminal fluid thin and water. Men may have low motivation, feel chilly and lethargic with low libido. They may be working and commuting long hours, working or living in a cold environment, taking cold food and iced drinks and maybe doing too much exercise. Acupuncture would aim to reinvigorate the Kidney Yang energy.
- Damp Heat.If so, the sperm test will show high numbers of abnormal forms, low count and motility. Men may have painful urination, abnormal discharge from the penis, swelling, heat or discomfort in the penis. The cause for this may be some urinogenital infections that haven’t been properly treated, or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland). They may over-use coffee, alcohol, recreational drugs, have a rich greasy diet and keep their mobile phone in a front trouser pocket. Acupuncture would aim to clear the Damp and Heat and nourish the underlying Kidney energy deficiency.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO IMPROVE SPERM QUALITY
There are lifestyle changes which you can make to improve the quality of your sperm and your overall health.
- Regular acupuncture may help improve sperm count, morphology and motility.
- Improved nutrition, including a high intake of chicken, fish, fruit and vegetables improves sperm morphology.
- Optimize weight to a BMI(body mass index) of between 20 and 25. Both high and low BMI may cause poor sperm quality.
- Keeping the testicles cool improves sperm morphology. This means no phones in pockets, no laptops on laps and to steer clear of saunas and hot tubs.
- Stop smoking and all recreational drugs to improve sperm quality. Cannabis use can cause poor sperm morphology.
- Stop or reduce alcohol. Especially before IVF, it can reduce success markedly. As little as 5 units per week have an adverse effect on sperm quality.
- Have a check for Chlamydia and any other low-level infections. In fact, these reduce sperm quality.
- Check contraindications for medicinal drugs. In fact, some cause sperm abnormalities or reduce sexual function.
For more information regarding acupuncture research for male infertility please read here.
BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT
Sperm takes 72 to 90 days to mature. So, we recommend weekly sessions for 3 months.
For an appointment please email Jackie or call her on 07733274745.
PREPARING FOR AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT
(Front Cover picture credit: Silvercross)