From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…
Male infertility affects one in twenty men, contributing to half of all infertility issues. The following is a summary of recommendations based on recent research and findings. The general goal of these recommendations is to increase circulating levels of antioxidants and reduce free radical stress. Infertile men have been found to have a higher concentration of free radicals in their semen as compared to fertile men. High levels of free radicals within semen have been shown to cause damage to the sperm membrane and DNA. Studies suggest that 30–80% of infertile men have oxidative stress-related infertility.
1. Seek medical advice early in the process to rule out infections, varicoceles, blocked ejaculatory ducts, thyroid disorders, celiac disease, or other known causes of male infertility
2. Avoid excessive heat especially near the scrotal area including waterbeds, heating pads/blankets, saunas, hot tubs, using laptop computers (on the lap), or wearing tight clothing (biking shorts, jock straps, etc…) that will result in a temperature increase
3. Do Not Smoke. Smoking and exposure to environmental pollutants are linked with excess free radical production, which in turn damages sperm DNA. Smoking has also been shown to decrease sperm motility, sperm morphology, and cause erectile dysfunction.
4. Do not use marijuana, steroids, performance enhancing drugs, or other recreational drugs. Marijuana stays in the testes for up to two weeks meaning that habitual use can affect sperm function.
5. Limit caffeine and alcohol to moderate intake levels. Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake is linked with poor fertility. The general consensus is that 300 mg or 2-3 5 oz. cups of coffee and no more than 2 glasses of alcohol per day for men are considered a moderate levels of intake.
6. Maintain a healthy weight and check your BMI. Overweight men are 50% more likely to have fertility problems as well as having lower testosterone levels and lower sperm motility.
7. Exercise regularly and moderately: 30-minutes, 5 times/week. Consider increasing your activity level if you are inactive. Similarly, consider cutting back on your training regimen if you are training for a marathon, triathlon, or other long-distance sport.
8. Improve your nutrition status by improving your diet in the following three categories. Fats: Reduce your saturated fat intake and increase your omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Proteins: Reduce animal protein sources, and increase vegetable protein sources. Carbohydrates: Decrease “white” foods such as bread, pasta, rice, bagels etc…, and increase your foods of color (red peppers, carrots, squash, kale, blueberries, grapes).
9. Take a Multivitamin: Antioxidants help reduce the effects of free radicals. Eat antioxidant rich foods and take a multivitamin to help counter the effects of free radicals.
10. Check to see if your multivitamin contains the following ingredients/dosages and supplement accordingly:
Lycopene 6 mg
Vitamin E 400 IU
Vitamin C 100 mg
Zinc 25 mg
Selenium 26 μgm
Folate 0.5 mg
Garlic 1000 mg
INFLUENCE OF ACUPUNCTURE ON IDIOPATHIC MALE INFERTILITY IN ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Overview: The clinical effects of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in sperm parameter and on therapeutic results in assisted reproductive technology were investigated. 22 patients failed in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with idiopathic male infertility were treated with acupuncture twice weekly for 8 weeks, followed by ICSI treatment again. The sperm concentration, motility, morphology, fertilization rates and embryo quality were observed. Quick sperm motility after acupuncture (18.3% +/- 9.6%) was significantly improved as compared with that before treatment (11.0% +/- 7.5%, P < 0.01). The normal sperm ratio was increased after acupuncture (21.1% +/- 10.4% vs. 16.2% +/- 8.2%, P < 0.05). The fertilization rates after acupuncture (66.2%) were significantly higher than that before treatment (40.2%, P < 0.01). There was no significant difference in sperm concentration and general sperm motility between before and after acupuncture. The embryo quality after acupuncture was improved, but the difference between them was not significant (P > 0.05).
Outcome: Men that had failed ICSI/IVF went through acupuncture 2x/week for 8 weeks, then did ICSI/IVF again. Motility, fertilization rate, and embryo quality improved. Acupuncture can improve sperm quality and fertilization rates in assisted reproductive technology.
FERTILITY AND ORGANIC LIVING
Overview: Environmental exposures (e.g., formaldehyde), pesticides, chemical exposure, smoking, and use of recreational drugs (e.g., marijuana, cocaine) may reduce sperm count or cause abnormal sperm morphology (shape). Smoking adversely affects the semen quality of infertile men.
Outcome: In a study of Danish greenhouse workers, an unexpectedly high sperm count was found among organic farmers, who grew their products without the use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The sperm count was more than twice as high in these men as in a control group of blue-collar workers.2 Although these findings are not definitive, they suggest that consuming organically grown foods may enhance fertility.
1. Zhang M – J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci – 01-JAN-2002; 22(3): 228-30
2. Abell A, Ernst E, Bonde JP. High sperm density among members of organic farmers’ association. Lancet 1994;343:1498.
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.