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Male Infertility

My doctor said my swimmers are bad, now what?

Written by guest contributor, Dr. Spence Pentland – doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Yinstill Reproductive Wellness.

Infertility affects 10% to 15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide. You might be surprised to know that male factor fertility problems account for 30 – 40 percent of these cases. Since male infertility is such a common problem, it is important to understand the role it plays in male health and relationships. Men diagnosed with male factor infertility often experience feelings of guilt and shame. Over time, coping with the diagnosis and undergoing invasive fertility treatments can have negative sexual, personal, and social consequences for the man and his partner.

If you have been diagnosed with male factor infertility it is important to know that, unless your fertility problems are being caused by lifestyle choices, your infertility is not your fault. It is a disease that happens like any other. Although you aren’t to blame for your infertility, below are some things you can do to cope with the diagnosis, and perhaps increase your chances of fathering a successful pregnancy in the future…

Take control 

Take the time to educate yourself, as this can help you gain some control of the situation and can aid with decision-making. If you’ve been diagnosed with a male factor fertility problem, you probably have already seen a fertility specialist or urologist. If not, make an appointment with a urologist that specializes in male infertility. This specialist can streamline your care, make it more efficient, and employ cutting edge treatment techniques unfamiliar to other general practitioners. Next, you may want to consult with a traditional Chinese medicine reproductive health specialist. These practitioners can help correct imbalances that may be contributing to your fertility problems. They can also help you work on reducing your stress and improving your overall health and well-being.

The following list are some recommended steps you can take to ensure you are making healthy lifestyle choices, and to improve your overall health and well-being on your road to becoming a father:

  • Get enough sleep, this is paramount
  • Find ways to reduce or alleviate stress
  • Exercise is a great way to blow off steam and get your blood pumping
  • Eat more colorful foods, eat less sugar
  • Cut down or completely eliminate alcohol intake
  • Stop using tobacco, marijuana and all other recreational drugs
  • Lose weight if necessary
  • Avoid endocrine disrupting toxins (e.g., BPA bisphenol A plastics; sunscreen containing 4-MBC; domestic and agricultural pesticides, etc.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, talk openly with your partner regarding your feelings. Be honest about when you need a break from the topic. Together, decide who really needs to know about your fertility struggles and who doesn’t. Finally, get the support you need – talk with buddies or family members that you trust, and if necessary, consider talking with a counsellor. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Please, pick up a pen and write down your plan for optimal health and fertility right now. Good luck creating your family.

Share your thoughts on Dr. Pentland’s post in the comments section below, or submit your “Ask an Expert” question here.

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