While the majority of couples dealing with infertility focus on the female, the males are just as important, and here's why. There has been a huge decline in male fertility over the years.
In fact, 40-50% of infertility cases are due to male factor infertility, and the majority of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities due to DNA damage in sperm. Sperm counts have also declined by an alarming 50% in the last 40 years due to environmental factors, toxins, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, stress, and poor diet and lifestyle factors. Because of this decline, what is classified as "normal"on a sperm analysis has changed quite considerably, making "normal" far from optimal or ideal when it comes to fertility. In fact, to have the best chances of conceiving, sperm count should be in the optimal range of >40 million per milliliter, rather than the "normal" acceptable range of >15 million per milliliter.
In addition to sperm count, there are three main parameters that important to assess: 1) sperm concentration (how densely the sperm are packed), 2) sperm motility (the sperm's movement and ability to swim to the egg), and 3) sperm morphology (the sperm's shape and size). How important are these parameters? If only one of these parameters is out of range, infertility is 2x as likely. If two of these parameters are out of range, infertility is 6x more likely. If all three of these parameters are out of range, infertility is 16x as likely. When it comes to sperm, it's not just a numbers game; in fact, it is quality that is more important than quantity. For example, you could have normal or even high sperm count, but if they are misshapen and/or can't swim, they can't fertilize the egg.
Starting thousands of years ago, the male emperors of China used acupuncture and herbal medicine to boost their fertility so they could bear many children. Fortunately, this ancient medicine can be used in modern times to improve male (and female) fertility. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been proven to enhance sperm motility, improve morphology, and increase sperm count naturally. Acupuncture can help improve sperm quality by increasing blood circulation and nerve conduction to the gonads, thus improving spermatogenesis (sperm production), hormone signaling and temperature regulation. Chinese herbal medicine is also a fantastic treatment option both alone or in conjunction with acupuncture because it can significantly improve both sperm quality and quantity. Chinese herbs promote healthy sperm by improving testicular blood flow and hormone levels. Specific herbal formulas also help to increase sperm motility, concentration, and survival rate by improving the physiological integrity of sperm membranes. Chinese herbal medicine can also improve liquefaction time by stimulating the secretion of important enzymes into the prostate fluid.
Functional medicine is another powerful tool when it comes to improving male fertility. With functional medicine, we run comprehensive laboratory testing to pinpoint root causes of fertility issues including: hormonal imbalance, toxin overload, adrenal stress, gut issues, thyroid dysfunction, oxidative stress and vitamin & mineral deficiencies. Treatment consists of vitamins, minerals and plant medicines to help detoxify the body, boost testosterone production, reduce oxidative stress, heal the gut, improve thyroid and adrenal function and/or fill in vitamin and mineral gaps. Diet and lifestyle recommendations are made to further improve sperm health and increase fertility.
At New Direction Natural Medicine, we use a natural, yet powerful treatment approach for male infertility using a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Functional medicine. It takes around two to three months to make sperm (spermatogenesis), so consistent weekly acupuncture for for three months will produce the most optimal results. Customized Chinese herbal formulas may also be given during this time to address the specific underlying causes of infertility. Even if the male partner isn't considered "infertile", Chinese herbs can still be taken to further boost sperm health and increase the chances of conceiving. If you and/or your partner are struggling with infertility, it may be time to consider reaping all the benefits that these natural medicines have to offer.