What is Male Factor Infertility?
I treat so many men on a regular basis to help increase sperm count. Did you know that almost one in six couples experience fertility problems? And those stats only include couples that outwardly acknowledge and admit that they are struggling with fertility issues! Studies show that 40% of infertility issues are the result of female factors, 40% are male factors and 20% of the time the result is a combination of both women and men. If you are experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, it is important that the male partner get his sperm checked.
Sperm problems may involve the quantity and/or quality of the sperm. A simple semen analysis can assess this. This involves asking your family doctor for a test requisition and taking a sperm sample to a local lab. 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. The more sperm there is, the better!
2. Sperm Motility: This measures the percentage of sperm that is moving in a forward direction
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.
How Chinese Medicine can Help
Recent studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively:
*Increase sperm production
*Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
*Improve sperm movement (motility)
*Improve the levels of hormones responsible for fertility
(FYI: Acupuncture needles are never inserted into the genitals. The needles are painlessly inserted into acupuncture points in various other parts of the body)
What Can You Do To Help?
1. 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.
Many prescription drugs affect fertility: common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline can wipe out a sperm harvest. 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.
3. 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. I always suggest that people eat 'Hormone-Free' and organic meat as often as possible. Plastics also give off estrogens. Please don’t microwave food or beverages in plastic containers and try to avoid drinking plastic water bottles too. When possible, try to balance your intake of water between bottled water and filtered tap water (or tap water that has been let sit on the counter for a few hours).
I hope this information helps!