To Your Health
April, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 04)
Dreaming of Baby
By Bill Reddy
Pregnancy is the result of a complex chain of events that doesn't occur easily for some couples. The causes of infertility are varied and standard medical treatments can be costly and invasive, but there are alternative treatment options that may make the dream of a family a reality.
Infertility affects one in six couples in the United States. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, that corresponds to 6.1 million women and their partners in the U.S. or 10 percent of the reproductive population. This figure continues to rise due to higher levels of toxicity in our environment, electromagnetic exposure, greater obesity in younger people and consumption of processed foods (leading to serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies). The American Fertility Society states that one-third of infertility cases can be traced to the woman, one-third to the man, and the remaining third to either a combination of the two partners or to no identifiable cause.
Men are fairly simple reproductively: Issues include reduced sperm count, problems with sperm motility (movement) or morphology (development to full maturity), or a combination of these that can be measured accurately in a semen analysis. Something as simple as a vitamin deficiency can lead to male sterility. A selenium deficiency will reduce sperm production, vitamin C will limit motility, vitamin E will disturb hormone production and zinc will impair function of the testes.
In by James and Phyllis Balch, they recommend the following supplementation for both partners:
- Selenium: 200-400 mcg/day
- Vitamin C: 2,000-6,000 mg/day in divided doses
- Vitamin E: 200 IU/day
- Zinc: 80 mg/day (zinc gluconate absorbs the best)
- L-Arginine (specifically for men): to increase sperm count/motility. Take as directed on package or after talking to your health care provider
Both herbal medicine and acupuncture have been used for more than 30 centuries to improve male and female reproductive health. A 2002 study performed at Tongji Hospital in China involved 22 patients with idiopathic (unknown cause) male infertility. They were treated with acupuncture two times a week for eight weeks. Researchers evaluated sperm concentration, motility, morphology, fertilization rates and embryo quality. Sperm motility and ratio improved significantly after eight weeks of treatment c and fertilization rates were higher (66.2 percent) after acupuncture than before treatment (40.2 percent), representing an increase of 65 percent.
In a more recent study (2006) performed at Jinan university in Guanzhou, China, 85 men with abnormal sperm were treated with acupuncture. The total rate of pregnancy of their wives was 78.8 percent after treatment. The study conclusion was, "Acupuncture can significantly improve and regulate endocrine function, increase quality of semen and elevate pregnancy rates of wives of men with abnormal sperm."