Your semen analysis was less than perfect. Rest assured, you are not alone.

Male infertility is the most common reason for couples attending an IVF clinic. While IVF/ICSI is not a cure for male infertility – rather a bypass procedure; there is much you can do to improve your sperm.

There may be changes to some aspects of your diet and lifestyle for a few months – however you will feel better for it and should your sperm respond well there might be no need to use IVF.

Alcohol

Heavy alcohol consumption has a deleterious effect on sperm count and function, that’s a fact. Social moderate drinking seems to do no harm. If you have a ‘hot constitution’ your acupuncturist will advise you to avoid some types of alcohol.

Smoking

All studies have shown deleterious effects of tobacco or marijuana on sperm. If you are having difficulty giving up, you may consider using acupuncture to deal with withdrawal symptoms and cravings or frankly, whatever it takes to do so.

Coffee

Again moderate intake is fine for most men but too much (3 cups or more a day) have been shown to damage sperm DNA. So, to improve your outcome, like alcohol, coffee intake should be limited.

Weight Loss

Being overweight or having a high BMI is associated with decreased testosterone and increased oestrogen. Neither of which are good for your sperm count or quality. Now is a good time to start a weight loss programme.

Exercise

Avoid prolonged overheating. Otherwise, keep up regular exercise.

Sex

frequent sex improves the quality of sperm in an ejaculate, while a few days abstinence increases the quantity. If your partner knows when she ovulates then sex daily around this time is recommended. If not, then it is advisable to have sex every second day from when the period finishes and continue for 10 days (or more if your partner has a long cycle). If libido or performance on demand is an issue speak to your practitioner about how acupuncture and herbs can help.

Fumes

It has been documented that environmental exposure to chemicals or fumes in the work place can lead to lower sperm counts and poorer morphology. Try and limit exposure at work and at home.

Stress

stress has been shown to reduce sperm quality. With Infertility causing stress, a cruel vicious cycle is perpetuated. Manage stress by taking some time each day to relax or exercise, and ensure you get enough sleep. Regular acupuncture reduces stress hormones.

Supplements

Seminal fluid needs high levels of antioxidants to protect the sperm from oxidative damage to sperm membranes and DNA during their 90 day development. Zinc, vitamins E and C, CoQ10, selenium and carnitine have all been shown to improve sperm quality, as have a number of Chinese herbal formulas. Talk to your practitioner.

Diet

just eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and have adequate protein. Special or restrictive diets (unless you have allergies) are not beneficial. Ideally eat organic foods where possible.

Clothing

sperm manufacturing works better at cooler temperatures (which is why the testicles are carried outside the body). Avoid wearing tight jeans and tight under pants.