Men’s health is an important part of the fertility equation. How you are feeling both physically and emotionally will effect the quality of your sperm. If you have been trying to conceive for more than six months it is highly recommended that you take some action to give your swimmers a boost, regardless of what your sperm test says.
Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through IVF, by improving your sperm quality you will significantly increase the chance of creating a healthy embryo resulting in a positive pregnancy and consequently a healthy child.
Most men we see have a reasonable sperm count but their motility (movement) and/or morphology (shape) are not so great. This means the sperm are going to have trouble getting to where they need to go and/or have trouble penetrating the egg. The good news is that with some lifestyle changes and Chinese medicine treatment it is possible to see positive changes.
Even if you have been told your sperm is OK, it is worth taking a second to think about what this actually means. Current WHO values for healthy sperm and for 10 years ago are as follows:
This means that if only 5% of your sperm are a normal shape then you would technically have healthy sperm. While this may be enough to conceive through IVF it can make things a bit harder if you are trying naturally.
A few generations ago, in the 1940s, the average sperm count was 113 million per ml, with a higher percentage of motility and morphology. By 1990, the average sperm count had dropped to 66 million.
Average Sperm Count Over Time
This sharp decline in sperm quantity and quality has been linked to increased exposure to environmental chemical (such as pesticides), food additives (such as m.s.g), recreational drugs (alcohol, smoking, etc) and pharmaceuticals (such as antibiotics).
If you have been diagnosed with male factor infertility it is likely you have been recommended to undergo IVF using ICIS. In this case it is good to know that through acupuncture, herbal medicine and a few simple lifestyle changes you can improve the quality of your sperm within a relatively short period of time increasing the chances of a successful cycle.
A 2003 study by Zhang M et al looked at infertile men who’s poor sperm quality resulted in repeated low fertilisation rates through IVF/ICIS. They were given acupuncture twice a week over 8 weeks and the IVF/ICSI cycles were repeated. The fertilisation rates after acupuncture (66.2%) were significantly higher than that before treatment (40.2%) (P < 0.01).