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  • Writer's pictureHolly Christiansen, L.Ac.

Fathers Are Important Too

40-50% of fertility issues are now being related to the male partner, whether the reason is known or not. So statistically, difficulty conceiving is an equally female and male issue, even though women tend to seek treatment more readily.

I realize that this article will not apply to all of those who are seeking to conceive, as partnership and relationships vary, and this is intended for those who do resonate with it, and also because it's important for men to value their hormonal and reproductive health.

I tend to see the female partner taking on the full responsibility of getting pregnant and preparing herself for conception. While this is wonderful to see, fathers are important too, and taking as much of an interest in conception and pregnancy - whenever possible - is valuable to the health of your future child.

Acupuncture has demonstrated to improve sperm morphology (size and shape) and there are some other simple things men can do to improve sperm quality:

▪Quit smoking and minimize or completely quit alcohol, marijuana, and coffee. Coffee and alcohol can be okay for some in small amounts, but please consult with a practitioner before assuming this is you. If you need help with smoking cessation, we can work on that too.

▪Avoid drinks and sodas with bright coloring (orange, yellow, etc.), as well as energy drinks. The coloring used in these drinks can often impact hormone levels - and not in a positive way.

▪Avoid working graveyard or late night shifts. This can negatively impact hormone levels, as well as impact health over time. I know this is not always economically feasible - and if you're someone who naturally LOVES working at night, that might be another story. On the other hand, I have seen this one little change mean the difference between repeated lack of pregnancy and a positive test! Try to be in bed nightly by 10pm and allow for 9 hours in darkness - no t.v., no electronics, black-out curtains if possible. Using candles or red/orange tinted lights are okay. Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark sanctuary where the magic literally will happen - lots of sleep and sex! ▪Keep cell phone out of your pants pockets and electronics off your lap. Not good for sperm quality! The male body already utilizes physiology for this: testicles are outside of the body to keep them at a lower temperature to help maintain sperm quality. Heat from electronics can alter this, so put your cell phone anywhere but in your pants!

▪Avoid drinking out of plastic and aluminum containers which can alter hormone levels. Even BPA-free products are now showing to have some type of hormone-altering effects. When in doubt, glass is the best option.

▪Flax, soy, and conventionally grown meat can also alter hormone levels, so keep your meat, eggs, and dairy organic, and grass-fed and finished when applicable. Healthy fats like butter, ghee, olive oil (at room temperature - please don't cook with it), yogurt, avocados, nuts in small portions, can all help keep hormone levels optimal.

▪Keep in mind everything from sleep to appetite to mood are all regulated by hormones. Not JUST your reproductive system. If digestion is "off" or you don't sleep well, there's a chance your hormone levels might not be in an optimized state. If you don't feel great, there's usually a reason why, and we can work on it.

Acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle changes can all help when there is a diagnosed condition, or when the problem is "unknown". But let's be honest: when you aren't getting pregnant and want to be, there is a problem! It's touching to see both partners coming in for treatment when they want the best beginning for their baby. The beauty of a man's reproductive cycle is that it regenerates faster than a female's, and often responds to treatment and changes quite quickly. The sooner you get started, the more quickly you'll achieve success!

This is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or disease. When in doubt, please consult with a licensed practitioner, especially for making any changes to your diet and lifestyle. This is generalized information based upon our medical training and expertise.

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