Research has shown a significant decline in both sperm quality and sperm counts in recent decades which has led to an increased need for treatment options. Sperm quality which includes morphology and integrity of the DNA, influences more than just fertilization rates.
Development of the fertilized egg, implantation, and most crucially the development of the embryo itself and hence the health of a potential child are all dependent on vital, healthy sperm. Miscarriage could have more to do with sperm quality than previously believed and treatments that focus solely on female factors may be missing fifty percent of the equation.
There are many factors that may contribute to the decline of healthy sperm. Chemicals are added to nearly everything we put in or on our bodies. Studies have shown the presence of hundreds of chemical substances in present day populations that weren’t detected in previous generations. Environmental pollutants including the prevalence of xenoestrogens, industrial compounds found in pesticides, plastics, commercially raised meats, body care products and detergents to name a few, act as estrogens in both men and women and are very disruptive to the endocrine system.
Many men maintain very high stress levels and chronic stress responses can cause elevated cortisol levels and eventual adrenal fatigue that contribute to imbalancess in the endocrine system. Poor nutrition, blood sugar imbalances, autoimmune conditions, overuse of antibiotics and other medications can all contribute to unhealthy sperm production.
Natural therapies including detoxification, nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine and acupuncture all have positive effects in correcting these imbalances.
A study in the journal Fertility & Sterility showed that acupuncture significantly improved both sperm count and quality in men with infertility of unknown causes. Previous studies support these findings, reporting improvements in motility, morphology, and overall higher rates of successful pregnancies. Numerous studies have also shown that herbal medicine is effective in improving sperm count and quality.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been shown to:
- Significantly increase sperm production
- Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
- Improve sperm motility
- Regulate the endocrine system
- Calm the nervous system and lower stress hormones
- Modulate and support the immune system
- Increase pregnancy rates when used in conjunction with ART
An individualized treatment program will be designed for each patient based on their Western medical diagnosis, nutritional assessment and Chinese Medicine diagnosis. A combination of acupuncture, herbal and nutritional therapies, detoxfication and dietary recommendations are used to address any overall health issues and specifically to restore normal reproductive function.
It takes about 100 days for the body to create and mature sperm. Treatment is recommended throughout this time to affect production from beginning to end and to bring the endocrine system and overall health into proper balance. That said, it is never too late to start treatment and benefits can be gained immediately after beginning therapies.
Andropause and Male Hormonal Health
What is Andropause?
While age related female hormonal changes are commonly acknowledged the male counterpart, termed andropause, is not often considered to be problematic because male fertility persists until an advanced age. It is often overlooked because it presents with a very gradual drop in hormone levels as opposed to the more dramatic hormone fluctuations that women experience during menopause. Andropause is becoming a serious health problem in industrialized countries.
Progressive age related hormonal changes typically present in the fourth and fifth decades when the production of androgen dominant hormones such as testosterone decline. Varying androgen levels can be the reason why some men age with relative vitality and virility while others steadily decline. The increase in this phenomenon some speculate is likely due to the increase in environmental pollutants that disrupt the endocrine system, the epidemic of blood sugar imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and increased cortisol levels that result from ongoing stress all of which have a direct effect on declining male hormones.
An array of signs and symptoms may result including:
- Decreased muscle mass
- Decreased libido and sexual function
- Low energy and decreased stamina
- Unexplained weight gain especially in the mid-section
- Increased fat distribution in the breasts and hip areas
- Hair loss
- Depression and low motivation
- Inability to concentrate
Alarmingly with more frequently evidence of such hormonal imbalances have also been occurring in men as early as their twenties and thirties. Men in this age group who are affected may experience:
- Lowered libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature baldness
- Inability to lose weight
Such symptoms are evidence of hormone imbalances and deficiencies that can be corrected.
The appropriate treatment of andropause is much more complex than simply replacing testosterone which may be indicated for only a small percentage of patients. Saliva hormone panels and comprehensive nutritional blood testing can provide insight into these imbalances and indicate direction for treatment. Nutritional and metabolic imbalances are most often found to be the root cause and a combination of dietary changes, detoxification, nutritional and herbal supplementation are the most effective and lasting approaches to treatment.