The infertility rate here in Australia is estimated to be one in six couples.However, the focus on fertility treatments always seems to be skewed towards treating the female. Marketing of fertility treatments seems to be directed at women, reminding them that the clock is ticking. Even in IVF, a lot of stress is placed on the woman to follow strict schedules. Somewhere along the line, it is forgotten that men too play an equally important role in conception.
fertility treatments focus on both man and woman, never assuming that
the inability to conceive is merely due to a woman’s age or egg
production alone. Studies are showing the increasing effect of the male
on all conception, embryonic/foetal/infant health and pregnancy issues.
takes between 80-116 days for a single sperm to be created. Going
through five cycles of six stages, it is this 3-4 month period before
ejaculation where the sperm is susceptible to many threats, before it
even takes the journey towards (possible) conception in the uterus of
the woman. Because they are smaller and more exposed to environmental
factors, sperm are indeed more vulnerable than eggs.
the known causes of male infertility, the most common (affecting some
66% of cases) is issues with production. The usual causes are factors
such as heat, pressure, infections, genetic problems, exposure to drugs,
chemicals, or radiation, age, testicular torsion, undescended testes,
or previous vasectomy. 15% of cases are due to blockage of tubes
(ejaculatory problems), and the third most common aetiology is
anti-sperm antibodies which attack the sperm whilst in the uterus. Less
than 1% of infertility cases are due to sexual problems, which are
usually secondary to illnesses such as diabetes, pelvic/prostate
surgery, nerve damage from spinal cord injury, anti-depressants and
anti-hypertension medication, infrequent intercourse, or age.
health-care for males is therefore essential, especially during the 3-4
months where sperm is being created. The factors leading to male
infertility need to be identified, and then appropriate diet/lifestyle
changes and treatment need to continue throughout this period. Potential
dads need to re-consider how they lead their lives and how they treat
themselves and their bodies, as their health can impact the health of
their offspring. Leukemia, asthma, respiratory disease, mental
development/disease have all been linked to the health of the father and
sperm should ideally have a concentration of at least 100 million/ml.
Motility should be at least 75%, and normal morphology rates of no less
than 30% are considered acceptable for natural conception. In the past
few years, the details of what is considered acceptable sperm for making
the next generation have been significantly revised downwards. Many
laboratories now consider 5 million sperm, 45% motility and 97%
abnormally formed sperm to be acceptable.
Chinese Medicine, there are several physiological factors that must
come together to enable a man to be fertile. There must be adequate
life-essence, this is reflected in a general robustness and vitality,
good quality hair that isn't greying, strong nails, no sweating at night
or sticking feet outside of the doona, no reflux meds or asthma
medication. The "gate of vitality" in the lower abdomen must
be warm enough to power spermatogenesis, this will show in a strong
lower back that doesn't ache, good circulation, hands and feet that
don't get cold, and a good strong libido. Liver energy must be
free-flowing and Kidney energy must be abundant enough to promote
healthy sperm production and maintain normal ejaculation. When the Liver
and Kidney are functioning well there will be a moderate temperament
without anger, good vitality, clear eyes without dark circles or
puffiness underneath. A man must also have adequate vitality and general
nutrition, to promote the quality and liveliness of his sperm which
contain a blueprint that gives his offspring the best foundation to life
prostate issues are suspected, or there is a blockage interfering with
normal ejaculation, Chinese Medicine looks for "phlegm" or "blood
stasis", which tend to obstruct the seminal pathways and allow normal
ejaculation. Issues that damage or interfere with the normal shape of
the sperm (morphology) are often classified as "damp-heat" or
"heat-toxins". These can be present in the body due to exposure to
toxins, chemicals, radiation, infections and STD’s. Checking the semen
for Human Papilloma virus (HPV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex
virus (HSV), human herpes virus type-6 (HHV-6), Epstein-Barr virus,
hepatitis-B, and Chlamydia trachomatis can be useful; at the
sub-clinical level, there may be no visible signs or symtpoms, but the
DNA of these viruses will show up in the semen.
course, there are other factors which we would also look at addressing,
such as the physiological factors involved when men are over-weight or
suffering from obesity. When there are prostate issues, these presenting
patterns usually combine also to create infertility, as would any of
the patterns involved with more psycho-emotional conditions involving
low libido, erectile dysfunction, or other issues related to
performance. Psychological and emotional wellbeing is also important, as
how we as men feel will also affect our partners’ moods, thus affecting
the deep connection which also is important in the act of conception.
treating male infertility, both acupuncture/moxibustion and Chinese
herbal medicine can be of great benefit. However it also vital to look
at one’s diet, and make the appropriate modifications, depending in the
such as zinc, folate, vitamins E & C, and beta-carotene have been
found to be useful to improve fertility; these are best taken in
supplement form, the therapeutic levels required to achieve positive
changes in sperm often exceed what is possible in a normal diet.
issues also need to be taken into account with appropriate
modifications, such as reducing the exposure of the scrotum to heat due
to tight and synthetic-fibre underwear, hot baths, and so on. The
ancient Chinese also knew that maintaining regular - but not excessive -
sexual activity is important, as it ensures the free-flow of "Qi"
(energy), "Blood", and "Essence", thus maintaining fertility. Psychological
and emotional wellbeing is also important, as how we as men feel will
also affect our partners’ moods, thus affecting the deep connection
which also is important in the act of conception.
a holistic approach is best and involves utilising modern testing
methods with ancient Chinese treatments and augmentation practices such
as diet, lifestyle, and Qigong.