The Male Element of Infertility

Aug 17, 2023
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The Male Element of Infertility

While women often are the ones that undergo treatment and medication to get a higher chance of getting pregnant, we must also look at how a male's reproductive health contributes to conception. Thanks to modern medicine and continuous research, male reproductive health is also now being given the same importance. Treatments are now also being developed and existing techniques to address concerns about male infertility are resurfacing.

In fertility health, there are a lot of factors that needed to be considered. If there is difficulty in conceiving, a woman gets checked from her medical history to her hormones, uterus and ovary health, and many more. For a man, the very first thing that physicians check is sperm health. A good evaluation of sperm health is by undergoing semen analysis. If you have undergone semen analysis, then your physician might have already explained to you the different parameters of it. If you're not yet aware, here are the most common things that your doctor looks into:

  • Sperm motility - The ability of the sperm to move/propel across the female reproductive tract to reach the egg
  • Sperm count - The number of sperms found in a semen sample
  • Sperm morphology - The appearance of the sperm under a microscope. It is based on size and shape.

Semen analysis tells a lot as to what might be the reason why a male is having difficulty with their partner to conceive. However, that is only one aspect and there are more factors that are also looked into such as libido, stress, hormonal imbalance, other medical conditions, and also lifestyle. Multiple series of screenings and tests are done to give empirical data on where they should focus in helping you. Fertility health can be a reflection of a man's overall health. Did you know that in the practice of Traditional Chinese medicine, male infertility can also be treated? Yes, the thousand-year-old medical system of TCM has been treating infertility of both males and females. The TCM approach is to look at a person's overall well-being. What does it mean? It means that TCM does not only treat your symptoms, but it also finds the root of those symptoms and addresses the deficiency, stagnation, or excess that your organ systems are experiencing which affects your reproductive health. Another thing is that the treatment is not a one-size-fits-all. TCM practitioners create individualized treatment plans based on your medical history, examination, and goals.

That's great, but what does a TCM treatment plan usually include?

A typical TCM treatment plan for male infertility consists of acupuncture treatments, herbal medicine, and nutrition and lifestyle modifications. Kindly note that your treatment plan can have less than or more than what was mentioned.

1) Acupuncture - Specific points in the body represents a particular organ or organ system. With the use of acupuncture, these points can stimulate the body to naturally heal. From dealing with stress to sperm count and also the regulation of hormone levels, acupuncture has always been the most used TCM method in dealing with infertility.

2) Herbal medicine - Acupuncture paired with herbal medicine is a more effective treatment for male infertility. Herbal remedies can help balance hormones, increase sperm count, and improve sperm motility.  Always consult with a qualified TCM practitioner before using herbal remedies to ensure safe and effective treatment. Disclose to them if you are also taking other medications to avoid adverse effects and achieve optimum results.

3) Nutrition - Proper nutrition is vital in the process of successful conception. It's best that you and your spouse/partner do this together so you can stick to it consistently. Always choose whole foods instead of processed ones. Green leafy vegetables should always be present in your meals. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help develop healthy sperm cells. Walnuts, edamame, seaweeds, and mackerel are just a few of the many foods abundant in omega-3.

4) Lifestyle modifications - Smoking, excessive alcohol drinking, lack of sleep, and being in a constant state of stress affect the quality and quantity of sperm you produce. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake can reverse its negative effects. Being well-rested does not only improve your overall health, but it can also increase your libido and endurance so do not take sleep and relaxation for granted. 

Acupuncture and other TCM modalities offer a holistic approach to improving male reproductive health. If you are interested to know more about how TCM can treat you and your partner, it is best to schedule your acupuncture consult at least 3 months before trying to conceive. Whether you're planning to conceive naturally or preparing for assisted reproductive therapies like IVF and IUI, TCM can help.

Book online for your initial fertility consult with Dr. Ting Wu of NYC Acupuncture + Wellness.