Male Factor Infertility and Its Role on Pregnancy Rates Naturally and with IVF
I wanted to move the spot light of fertility from women to men. It's a slow movement but I have begun to see this change in the fertility world over the past 10 years. It's not surprising since there is more and more research coming out. These studies are supporting the ideas that the quality of sperm for fertility goes way beyond just count and motility. I blogged on male fertility in 2016 with a blog called "What Guys are Doing That Damages Embryo Quality" This blog discussed how men who have more phthalates in their sperm have poor pregnancy outcomes due to embryo quality. This study looked at couples undergoing IVF and how poor embryo quality was directly related to sperm and not egg parameters. There are many more interesting studies published on this subject.
One study published in the fertility and sterility journal looked at morphology and its effect on IVF embryo quality. In this study men who had abnormal morphology (especially head abnormalities) had lower embryo quality compared to those men who had normal looking sperm. This could point towards poor DNA found in these sperm. Unfortunately testing for DNA damage in sperm is rarely done yet Sperm DNA damage does have a negative effect on embryo development.
The above studies show that sperm morphology, the DNA found within the sperm and toxins found in semen all can negatively impact IVF success. It's unfortunate that guys are not coming for treatment more regularly. Men need to be more proactive in this aspect of their health yet only make up a small portion of my patient base. A colleague recently blogged about why men are hesitant to come for treatment. I believe we would see higher pregnancy rates once men begin to come for treatment more regularly. Fortunately I am seeing this trend.
Fertility clinics have developed technology, which can greatly help male factor fertility. Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) and Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are two examples of this technology. It's a great option for couples trying to conceive who have been diagnosed with male factor issues. It's my hope that men also become proactive in their own health without relying solely on these ART treatments. There are things men can do naturally to increase there chances of a pregnancy both naturally or with procedures like IVF.
At Acubalance we see improvements in all areas of a semen analysis. Sperm count, motility, morphology, volume and other areas, which can be changed for the better. When these parameters improve so does a couples chances of conceiving naturally, with IUI or with IVF and ICSI. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can be extremely useful in the treatment of male infertility.
More recently Acubalance has begun to use Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of male infertility. It is also commonly referred to as Laser Acupuncture. LLLT has shown many promising effects on sperm but the most significant is in sperm motility.
If you have been trying to conceive with your spouse and are looking to increase your chances of conceiving there are many things you can do. To learn more about the Acubalance approach to treating male infertility please follow the links below or call to set up a 15 minute Q&A with one of our practitioners.
Best of Health
Dr. Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Fellow of the ABORM