Combating Male Infertility with Chinese Medicine
With all the focus on female infertility, it is alarming to see all the research coming out in the last few decades that shows male fertility dropping like a sack of potatoes. Consider for example:
Male factor infertility is the primary medical issue in about 30 percent of all infertility cases
Male infertility is a factor in up to 50 percent of couples trying to get pregnant a second time
Nearly 50 percent of men dealing with infertility have low sperm counts as the primary factor
Studies have observed declines in men's sperm count for decades. The British Medical Journal published a landmark, comprehensive study in 1992 that indicated “a genuine decline in semen quality over the past 50 years,” and this was not due to selection bias. A more recent study published in 2017 by researchers from the Hebrew University and Mount Sinai’s medical school found that among nearly 43,000 men from North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia, sperm counts per milliliter of semen had declined more than 50 percent from 1973 to 2011.
At this rate of decline, it’s not impossible to imagine that in less than a hundred years the male fertility rate in developed countries will be so low that the population will decline.
What is causing male fertility to plummet? There are many potential causes, however researchers have isolated three in particular:
Industrial chemicals such as benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials, lead, and other heavy metals may contribute to low sperm counts. These directly cause DNA damage to sperm cells.
Eat an organic and plant-based diet. Avoid VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as formaldehyde - they can be found in furniture or cabinets made from pressed wood board covered with veneer, paints, carpets, commercial mattress, and the “new car smell.” Carefully remove old dental amalgam by using dental dams. Use an oxygen mask to avoid exposure to mercury dust.
Detoxify your body three months before attempting pregnancy. One detoxification program is the Tao of Wellness Cleansing protocol, which uses skin brushing, lymphatic tuina bodywork, infrared sauna, detox herbal formula, acupuncture, and a special cleansing diet that includes veggie juice and broth blends. Request the Detox Menu from your practitioner.
Do not carry a cell phone in your pocket or work with a laptop on your lap. The radio frequency of the phone or an overheating computer can raise the temperature of the testicles by one degree, thereby reducing your sperm quality by 40 percent. In other words, stop cooking and nuking your balls.
Plastics are everywhere. Studies have linked chemicals in plastic such as PCBs, phthalates, and bisphenol A to reduced sperm count and quality. The reason? Plastic chemicals act like estrogen in the body, thereby suppressing testicular function in males.
Eat cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts as they contain sulforaphane. Sulforaphane counteracts the adverse effects of estrogen on the hormonal system. You can also take DIM (diindolylmethane), a supplement made from broccoli extracts that blocks bad estrogen from weakening your testicular function.
Take the herbal formula Spark Male, found in our Wellness Living store, to support healthy testicular function. It is a clinical blend containing ginseng, morinda, and Cnidium among other synergistic herbs.
Do not put credit card and store receipts into your pocket as the paper is coated with BPA and has been shown to lower men’s sperm count and quality.
This is similar to varicose veins on your legs except it occurs in the scrotum. It causes a blockage of blood flow to the testicles resulting in poor sperm production. It often leads to abnormally shaped, low volume, and inactive sperm. Varicocele is a common cause of male infertility.
Surgery is often utilized in reproductive endocrinology to repair the vein and restore blood flow to the testicles. It can be painful and recovery may take time, but it is generally a successful procedure and results in improved sperm parameters for many men with varicocele. Some men, however, fail to benefit from surgery for unknown reasons.
Acupuncture improves varicocele and sperm parameters. A study published in Andrologia in 2016 compared two groups of men with varicocele determined to be the cause of infertility. One group received acupuncture for two months and the other underwent surgery. After six months, sperm analysis were performed and both groups showed improvement in sperm concentration and motility, as well as similar pregnancy rates. However, increase in sperm concentration was higher in the acupuncture group compared to the varicocelectomy group.
Clinically, at Tao of Wellness, topical application of essential oils of fennel, astragalus, saffron, and other herbs in a proprietary blend called Veina Oil have been effective in reducing bulge of the veins and support healthy blood flow in the scrotum. Inquire with your practitioner how Veina Oil can help your condition.
In summary, male infertility is as big of a problem as female infertility.
Tune in to the Healing Hour Show on June 26th with Drs. Mao and Matthew Brand as they plan to discuss men’s health in more depth.