by Ian Stones, fertility acupuncturist
Male sub fertility is a massively under recognised problem
With 1 in 6 couples struggling to conceive and in around 40% of those cases the issue sits with the man yet still the men are lacking support.
The fertility journey is heavily focussed on the women and that is understandable given the nature of IVF however it’s leading men to feel side lined and helpless. Men are often left not knowing what to do and feeling they can’t express their concerns and emotions as they need to hold it all together and support their partner.
Having worked with hundreds of couples going through their own fertility struggles there are some common issues that come up for the men
Lack of consistent information – Men don’t know where to turn to get reliable and consistent information.
Men are disempowered – Very little time is offered to men to take them through the importance of lifestyle and diet, making them feel helpless.
Men feel nagged and harassed –It often falls upon the women to try and encourage the man to change his lifestyle causing relationship tensions.
Men don’t want to have sex – Due to the pressure men feel like they’re just being used for their sperm; they become completely turned off from sex putting huge pressure on relationships.
Men need to talk – Men feel the pressure too and have less options to talk openly in a safe environment.
Giving men more support and getting them engaged in the process earlier is paramount to success and could potentially negate the need for any medical interventions or fertility treatment at all. It seems crazy to go into such an invasive, expensive and emotionally demanding treatment without ensuring that both elements of the equation have been properly assessed and supported.
Where can men go for support?
GP’s and IVF clinics can only do so much and don’t necessarily spend a great deal of time with men. A good next stop is to see a Urologist who is able to carry out more advanced testing, physical examinations and blood tests to ensure all is as it should be. This is great in terms of addressing the medical aspect of sperm health however who’s there to take men through the all-important lifestyle and dietary advice as well as provide support around the emotional element of fertility treatment.
What men seem to value is down to earth practical advice, clear guidance on what they should be doing and a chance for them to talk about what it’s like for them
It doesn’t have to be in depth emotional counselling or full on naval gazing type therapy. A down to earth honest chat with realistic achievable lifestyle changes will help a man feel empowered and supported.
Acupuncture and specifically, seeing an acupuncturist with experience of working with fertility, is a fantastic option for men to get the support they need outside of the clinical world of IVF.
Through a tailored treatment plan acupuncture can work wonders on reducing the effects of stress
This route also allows men to get practical advice on what they need to do to maximise their health and specifically their sperm health.
Seeing a practitioner regularly helps keep men on track with positive lifestyle changes, reduces stress and will help with overall health, mental well-being and energy. It’s well known that poor sperm health is linked to other health conditions so there are far more benefits to regular treatment than just the fertility stuff.
Regular treatment also helps build a relationship of trust and support and a great opportunity to talk if that’s what’s needed. Equally if guys just need somewhere quiet to escape the hassles of life and to switch off from the fertility stuff then treatment can do that too.
I’d urge all men to think about regular acupuncture treatment throughout their fertility journey or as a fantastic way to prepare themselves for IVF
It’s well known that it takes around 90 days for sperm to mature so a course of acupuncture prior to IVF could be a great way to enhance sperm health whilst also reducing the stress of the whole process.
Ian is a degree qualified fertility and wellness expert
He is a member of the British Acupuncture Council and the Zita West affiliation network. With over 12 years experience of working with fertility clients Ian is passionate about providing emotional and physical support to couples throughout their fertility journey. Ian offers a unique three step system that allows couples to get themselves in the best possible place to start a family. His passion is to raise awareness of male fertility issues and to help men talk more openly about their fertility whilst getting the support they need. Ian also offers men the Sperm Comet test from his clinics in Farnham and Hove which assesses the DNA damage that occurs to sperm causing fertility issues.
To get in touch with Ian, drop him a line here