N and I are quite open that we tried for a child for a while, and eventually turned to IVF supported by complementary therapies such as TCM and Negative Ion Therapy and managed to birth a beautiful baby boy in August this year! So we understand the frustrations of trying for a child!!
If you and your spouse have been actively but unsuccessfully trying for a child, please know that you are definitely not alone! ~40% of married Singaporean couples who are actively trying for a baby are “not happy” with their progress, according to a 2019 survey on fertility health. While women traditionally bore the stigma of childlessness, the man’s role in infertility issues is gaining awareness. Recent statistics show that married couples experiencing infertility are due to problems arising from the male partner.1
I am glad that N was open to get medically checked so we could work on the right issues, and also glad to have Senior Physician Lim’s permission to publish some of his content that will help patients struggling with male infertility. We hope this sharing will allow more husbands who may be struggling in silence to seek medical help to fulfill their baby dreams!
How can TCM help men who are experiencing infertility issues?
Step 1: Full analysis of the semen analysis report
To solve the problem, we first need to know what is the issue. So we are glad that the first step Physician Lim used was using the semen analysis report. A normal semen sample should fulfil the parameters below:
An example of a semen analysis report.
A sex hormone test (testosterone, estrogen, FSH, LH and prolactin levels) can be very helpful in providing the physician with baseline information about your endocrine health. This report combined with other findings mentioned above helps the physician determine the number of courses required for treatment.
An example of a sex hormone test. Source: Reddit
Step 2: Understand the root cause issues from a TCM perspective
Male infertility can be due to many factors ranging from inherited factors, dietary habits, emotional extremes and external injuries. However, not every male exposed to the same external factors results in infertility…. otherwise we would be extinct as a species 😛
This difference can be attributed to the health of the individual’s Kidneys, govern the pre-natal essence or Jing (精) in the human body. Apparently, in China, numerous patients have been treated successfilly for many decades by combining TCM and use of scientific advances in semen analysis and endocrine testing.
“TCM handles male infertility by understanding if there are excess or deficiencies in the body. Tonifying deficiency and removing excess is a fundamental technique used to restore balance and harmony to the body.”
– Senior Physician Lim, Oriental Remedies Group
Other than the semen analysis, the sexual function of the male is also assessed as different symptoms of erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation could provide clues as to which organs are not functioning optimally. Examples like erectile dysfunction during stressful periods is a signal of Liver Qi stagnation whereas premature ejaculation combined with frequent sweating alludes to Lung Qi deficiency.
Step 3: Customised treatment approach
The Physicians we saw tailored a specific treatment for us. Only a holistic approach taking into consideration all factors that result in poor fertility can manage this condition. This means being disciplined across our general wellness – diet, lifestyle and environment.
- The physicians customised herbs based on our specific constitution.
- For example, to correct Kidney Yin deficiency, some of the herbs we used were Gou qi zi and Shan Zhu Yu
- For infertility patients, common herbs that are prescribed to help boost the quality of sperm include Gou Qi Zi, Tu Si Zi, Wu Wei Zi, Fu Pen Zi and Che Qian Zi. These 5 herbs combine to form a decoction called Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan, the premier fertility decoction of ancient and modern times
- Don’t worry, it wasn’t painful!! Provided the physicians are skillful 😉
- Researchers found that the patients who underwent the acupuncture treatment with electro-stimulation at 2Hz reported a significant improvement in sperm count and motility compared with the 2 control groups.
ELT – Electro-Lymphatic Therapy
- ELT is a gentle and non-invasive treatment that helps stimulate the proper flow and drainage of the lymphatic system using an FDA registered device.
- The electrical energy can penetrate deep into the skin layers, and also stimulate the deeper lymph nodes and vessels found in areas deep within our bodies including our sexual organs which cannot be reached manually.
- Negative ions, specifically electrons, can help combat free radicals which accelerate cellular aging and senescence. An imbalance of free radicals in the body can impair the quality of DNA in the sperm resulting in damage that results in recurrent pregnancy failure or infertility.
- By reducing the oxidative stress on the body, the glands that produce sperm can function better and produce better quality sperm at a higher rate.
General Tips: Dietary Changes and Supplementation
- Alcohol must be avoided! Mitochondria are the “batteries” of the sperm (and all cells in general) and since alcohol is a mitochondrial toxin, without proper functioning mitochondria, the sperm would be unable to propel itself forward as it would lack the proper “batteries” to do so.
- Nicotine from smoking limits blood flow into the organs. Over time, this can result in loss of flexibility and elasticity of the vessels, and thus impair the proper functioning of the testes as both blood flow in and out is affected.
- Exposure to excess heat should also be limited to a minimum as production of sperm is a temperature-sensitive process. Lifestyle modification includes avoidance of sauna and steam-baths as well as any tight-fitting clothes and undergarments.
- A proper diet of fresh food eaten at regular time intervals is also greatly beneficial. Fresh produce contains fewer preservatives compared to canned or preserved food, thus lowering the toxicity load on our liver.
- Certain medications can affect sperm production, so do clarify with your doctor to ascertain that the medication you are on does not decrease your fertility.
- Lastly, find ways to relax and stay positive. Trying for a child can be a tiring process, lowering stress will help both you and your partner achieve a more robust and passionate relationship together and increase the chances of a natural pregnancy.
This technical content was originally written by Senior Physician Lim Jing Yang, Oriental Remedies Group. You may read the original (much more scientific!) full article here.
1 Ammar T, Sidhu P S, Wilkins C J. Male infertility: the role of imaging in diagnosis and management[J]. Br J Radiol, 2012, 85 Spec No 1: S59-68.
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