When we hear about testosterone, it is often because we catch whiff of a scandal involving some athlete or celebrity who has been caught juicing (the use of performance enhancing drugs). If we think a little closer to home, a more realistic way of hearing about testosterone levels is when we start to see the signs that our own levels are dropping. Until then, for a lot of guys, testosterone (and hormones in general) tend to remain an abstraction. The more you know about it the better you’ll be able to protect what you have and extend your vitality, fertility, and longevity.Read
Guys, if you’re reading this article there is a good chance you are doing so on a laptop. And that said laptop is sitting on your lap. Before we begin, take this off your lap and place it on a table, or a pillow, or lap desk. This is one of the many things men do on a regular basis that can decrease sperm quality, and this is an easy first step to reversing course and improving your chances at conception. Read
“Hope Springs,” the cringingly funny mid-life comedy about a marriage that has lost its sexual spark, seems to have struck a chord with audiences in its opening weekend. It’s a departure for the movie industry, which usually creates the impression that everyone is having mind-blowing sex with gorgeous partners, but it more closely tracks what’s really happening behind many couples’ closed doors.
Even though we live in one of the most sexualized cultures ever, Americans are having less sex than they were in the 1950’s. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), 40 million adults in relationships are not having sex at all, and a third of all women report a lack of interest in sex. No wonder people have resonated with Meryl Streep’s and Tommy Lee Jones’ characters as they try to restore intimacy in what has become a sexless marriage.
As a practitioner of Chinese medicine specializing in reproduction and sexual health, I’ve talked with thousands of people over the years about their sex lives. So I’ve heard over and over again about how much sex people are not having, how they just don’t feel much like it, how they are too tired or too stressed to even think about it. But I also hear, with equal fervor from women like Kay, Meryl Streep’s character in “Hope Springs,” how much they want to want sex. So I’m always happy to be able to tell them there are simple solutions available, and that the ancient Taoist founders of Chinese medicine wrote it all down thousands of years ago. Their wisdom offers modern couples key insights about how to want — and have — great sex.
That’s what my upcoming book “Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido” is all about, but in a nutshell: the Taoists understood that good sex is important to a person’s health and happiness; that good sex is important to the health of a relationship; and that good sex always involves the mutual flow of energy between partners, with both people giving and receiving it. And that all those things are themselves intimately entwined. If sex isn’t creating energetic connection, and powering both you and the relationship, then over time it is likely to drop off. As in, over a cliff.
But having sex again — good sex — can have you back scaling the heights. My single best piece of advice to anyone who wants to want to have sex, but hasn’t really been feeling it, is to go ahead and do it anyway. Pretend you are in a sneaker commercial and just do it. I don’t mean to sound glib, and I know it seems easier said than done. But there’s real Chinese medicine behind the advice — and a proven track record amongst my patients that it works. The Chinese medicine philosophy is that having sex creates connection, moves stagnant energy and restores balance — both within you, and between partners. Balance, connection, and flowing energy are what you need to feel your sexual desire. In other words, having sex makes you want more sex.
Assuming it’s good sex. And the Taoists have that covered, too. They offer plenty of meditations, positions and techniques designed to ensure the sex is good. As “Hope Springs” proclaims, “Sometimes to keep the magic, you need to learn a few tricks.” The following is just one example. It’s an exercise designed by the Taoists specifically to move stagnant sexual energy in the body, circulate sexual energy from the pelvis through the rest of the body, and find a place of balance from which to make a sexual connection with someone else. I call my simplified version The Loop. It combines breathing with visualization into a meditative practice.
Practicing The Loop will help you tap into your own sexual energy if you’ve been out of touch with it, and help you cultivate more of it. And it will enhance sexual pleasure. It is also, speaking very practically, a great way to get started, especially if, like the couple in “Hope Springs,” your drought has been long.
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine a shallow bowl nestled inside your pelvis — a bowl filled with warm oil. Now imagine a tube or straw running along your spine. Inhale, and as you do, imagine the warm oil coursing up through the tube, as if led by your breath, moving from your pelvic area up to the very top of your head. Hold your breath in for a count of three (or five, as you get more experienced). Then exhale, imagining the warm oil flowing down, along a line in the center of the front of your body, from your head through your mouth, across your chest, down through your abdomen, and back into the bowl in your pelvis. Hold your breath out as the bowl finishes filling, then after three to five seconds begin again with an inhale. The idea is to create a continuous loop — and run through it about six times.
With practice you can learn to do this loop with your partner, synchronizing your breathing so one person breathes in as the other breathes out. Expert loopers learn to do this exercise whilst they are having sex, timing the breathing and energetic exchange with the rhythm of intercourse.
My patients who have learned The Loop almost always love it. They happily report that their experience with The Loop helps them to feel more balanced and connected and, not coincidentally, more like having sex. Or could the renewed sexual desire come from the way The Loop leads to more intense orgasms?
Men make new sperm every day and those sperm come to fruition withing 72 days. This is good news for men who want to give their fertility a boost, because it means that within three months they can make a big difference to the reproductive health. For more detailed information it is worth checking out our book Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility where Dr. David and I give specific advice to men based on their fertility type. Briefly though, here are five simple things men can do that have a big impact on sperm quality and quantity.
1. Keep them cool
It’s important that the testicles are 1- 2 degrees cooler than the rest of the body and so taking hot baths or sitting with a lap top on your knee can be contributing to diminished fertility. Likewise men who sit at a desk all day can become overheated so at the YinOva Center we advise them to get up a move around once an hour to air off their private parts.
2. Eat right
You will find more information in Making Babies about how to eat right for your fertility type but all men can benefit from eating a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetable, whole grains and lean protein. Poor intake of vitamin C and E and the minerals zinc and selenium can affect sperm quality and would-be fathers with borderline sperm counts might want to consider supplementation. Finnish men have some of the highest sperm counts in the world which is thought to be due to the amount of oily fish they eat. For this reason at the YinOva Center we suggest men use a fish oil/omega-3 supplement.
3. Limit your exposure to toxic chemicals.
In Making Babies we discuss how the average sperm count for American men has plummeted over the past few decades. Dr. David and I believe that environmental toxins and the main reason and so advise men to eat as much whole food as possible and to avoid processed foods. I have blogged about this here.
4. Drop some bad habits
Smoking, whilst it does not reduce sperm count, does damage sperm DNA which can lead to a greater chance of miscarriage. Excessive alcohol use can affect hormone levels and lead to atrophy of the semeniferous tubules, loss of sperm cells, and an increase in abnormal sperm. Marijuana use has been shown to reduce sperm and semen volume. If you need help dropping unhealthy habits come on in to the YinOva Center. We are happy to support you.
5. Get checked out for hidden infections.
Infections such as chlamydia or urea plasma can impair fertility and also lead to early miscarriages. Men should ask their doctors for a semen culture to make sure that they are not infected.
- Avoid processed foods where possible. That means limiting foods that have been made in a factory.
- Eat as much organic food as your budget will allow. Patients often tell me that the cost of eating organic is what puts them off and I understand this from my own experience. In this YinOva blog entry from last year, I described how, in my own family, we cut down on food wastage in order to be able to afford to eat better quality food.
- Switch your deodorant to one that is made from natural ingredients. After trying quite a few natural deodorants, with mixed results, we decided we really like this one which you can get on Amazon – Alvera Aloe Based Roll-On Deodorant.
- Use natural soaps and cosmetic products. Tom’s of Maine is a great brand as is Kiss My Face. When I was looking for a good natural toothpaste I tried many brands and settled on the Triple Action Aloe Vera Toothpaste by Kiss My Face for it’s minty taste and clean feel.
- Each American family uses about 40lbs of toxic cleaning products every year. This site has some good advice about making your own non-toxic cleaning kit. In my own house I’ve been impressed with how much cleaning can be accomplished with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
- Don’t panic! I know how overwhelming information like this can be and really all we can do is our best. There is no need to obsessively avoid every chemical out there. Just cut down the chemical load you are exposed to.