let’s talk about male fertility

Katy Bradshaw Acupuncture - male infertilityLike many of you I was deeply moved by the BBC programme on male fertility ‘Me, my brother and our balls’. This was a heartfelt and informative documentary following the challenges faced by two brothers with fertility issues resulting from testicular cancer and varicoceles.

The message was clear – male fertility issues affects millions of men but because of the stigma associated with opening up about these issues, many men are only finding out about these life-changing problems when you decide to have children. And even when you do, you often feel isolated and struggling to work out what options are available to you.

Whilst I was incredibly impressed with the BBC show I was disappointed to see that the only option presented to the younger brother was a course of the testosterone boosting Chlomofene to prepare him for an invasive sperm extraction procedure.

I’m not saying he didn’t need to take that approachI believe passionately in an integrated approach to healthcare which very much includes Western medicine where it is needed. And given his health history this really could have been the only option available to him.

But it would have been good to have had at least some discussion on the MANY natural and non-invasive things men can also do to improve their fertility. Especially in support of any medical treatment being suggested.

Why?

Because it’s super easy to make changes that will improve the quality of your sperm. This is because sperm production takes place over a 90-day period and dietary and lifestyle changes can make a big difference to the quality and quantity of your sperm.

So what should you do first?

First, get your sperm tested…

If you’re thinking about having children, get a sperm test. You’d be amazed how many women I see for fertility treatment who say their partner hasn’t had a test and won’t come for any treatment. It’s no biggy to get it done, and seeing as 50% of fertility issues lie with you guys, you really do need to find out what’s going on.

If it comes back normal…

Don’t just think you can kick back and do nothing. ‘Normal’ today is a whole lot lower than what normal was 40 years ago. In fact, a study of 120,000 men found that the percentage of men who are at risk of needing male fertility treatment has doubled from 12.4% in 2004 to 21.3% in 2017. Experts suspect a number of reasons for this that include social changes (i.e. delaying having children – yes that does matter for men too), diet, lifestyle factors and increased exposure to toxins.

Diet

Our food is not only grown with harmful pesticides and herbicides, poor quality soil and intensive farming techniques have greatly reduced the levels of vitamins and minerals it now contains. Add to that the unpronounceable list of chemicals added to processed foods and a poor diet may end up doing some real harm to your fertility.

What one thing can you do today to make a change?

Start taking a good quality supplement that contains zinc, folate, selenium, vitamin C and E. Research shows that this is the single most important thing you can do to improve sperm quality.

Stress

Over 80% of GP visits have a stress component. We are a stressed nation with work pressures, family pressure, money worries, and now COVID to ice the cake. And men are particularly susceptible because there are less outlets for talking about your feelings and emotions.

What one thing can you do today to make a change?

Start a daily practice of 5 minutes a day to unplug. Switch off your phone, find a comfortable spot and focus on your breath. Breathe in slowly, release slowly making sure your out breath is longer than your in. This calms the sympathetic nervous system and over time will help reduce your cortisone levels.

Lifestyle

Evidence shows that smoking, alcohol and drugs all impact sperm quality. Not to mention the other stuff that it does to your lungs and liver.

What one thing can you do today to make a change?

Take a break from drinking. Even if it’s just for the next three months. And imagine how great you’ll feel at the end of it! Plus, your partner will have no doubt already done this and will really appreciate the support.

Tight trousers and technology

Sperm production needs a nice cool environment of 34°C. Anything that raises that temperature is going to have a negative impact; Laptops on laps, mobile phones in pockets, tight trousers and synthetic underwear.

What one thing can you do today to make a change?

Treat yourself to some nice new cotton undies.

Toxins

Plastic isn’t just bad for the environment. It’s also bad for us. Phthalates and BPA are two out of hundreds of chemicals which have been shown to harm sperm quality.

What one thing can you do today to make a change?

Ditch the plastic tupperware and start wrapping your sandwiches in a beeswax wrap.

Anything else you could be doing?

Why not get some acupuncture!

Yes, acupuncture can treat male infertility and has been shown to improve motility, morphology and the quantity of sperm and also has loads of awesome side-effects like improving your sleep, boosting immunity and reducing stress. There’s lots of evidence you can read on the subject here.

And remember…

Just one small change practised every day can make a huge difference. And what’s the worst that could happen? You’ll make a few changes to your life that will make you feel a whole lot better anyway.

If you need to know more about how acupuncture can help or any of the other things you can be doing then just get in touch.

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