by Katy Hogan, M.S., L.Ac

Should Your Partner Be Coming in For Fertility Treatments As Well?

Recently a fertility patient of mine asked me if her husband should consider treatment.

For about a month, we had been focusing on regulating her cycle and improving her ovulation. Her BBT chart was showing a lot of improvement but she still had not gotten pregnant— at least not yet. I thought back to her initial consultation. I had inquired about her husband’s semen analysis and while she could not remember the results offhand, she reported that his numbers were normal.

Despite this, my answer to her question was still a resounding, “yes, your husband should absolutely consider treatment with acupuncture and herbs!” The finding that he is in good fertile health is encouraging, but it may be incomplete. While his results may be “normal,” he still may not have optimal reproductive health; and as a couple, that may mean that they are not fully optimizing their fertility.

Over the past fifty to sixty years, average sperm counts have diminished significantly; studies have shown that the average sperm concentration in a milliliter of ejaculate has declined by approximately half since 1940. And while the baseline for a “normal” sperm count is fifteen million, evidence shows that pregnancy rates increase as sperm counts climb to forty million or more. Thus, a male partner with a “normal” sperm count may still contribute to a fertility challenge.

Furthermore, sperm quality—which includes morphology, motility, forward progression, seminal volume, liquefaction time and several other factors—matters a lot. [See my upcoming blog post on stress and dietary/lifestyle/environmental factors for more!] From our perspective at the YinOva Center, any healthful intervention that can increase sperm count and improve sperm quality is worth pursuing—even if a man’s lab results fall within normal range.

Age may be one of the most significant factors affecting your partner’s fertility. Studies have shown that pregnancy rates decline and miscarriage rates increase when the man is over forty—even if his female partner is under thirty-five. Other studies have shown that couples have more difficulty conceiving if the male partner is more than five years older than the woman, regardless of her age. Another study has shown that miscarriage rates increase as men enter their mid-thirties and double when they reach forty-five (again irrespective of their female partner’s age).

And while we wait in vain for someone to find the fountain of youth, the good news is that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have a unique capacity for improving reproductive health even in the face of advancing age. Acupuncture has a specific ability to increase blood flow to the pelvic cavity and testes which optimizes sperm production and quality.  According to Chinese medicine, our jing, or reproductive essence, decreases naturally over time. There is no avoiding this; but regular acupuncture can help slow this decline—and the correct herbal formula can even help replace some of the lost jing.

In your partner’s initial consultation, we will identify the underlying patterns of imbalance. Does he have too much “heat”? Does he experience a lot of “qi stagnation”? Is he “yang” or “yin” deficient? Addressing these issues through treatment can help him reach his highest fertility potential.  At the YinOva Center, we use a highly individualized approach to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. We aim to bring your male partner into better health and overall balance which will make his reproductive system more efficient and productive. After all, healthier people are more fertile. . . and highly fertile people are usually healthy people!

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