Hidden Fertility Factors – Male Factor and Other Overlooked Factors
by Virginia Prior, DAOM, L.Ac.
When a couple is struggling with trying to get pregnant, often times the woman begins to take action and go see a doctor, whether it’s her general provider, her OBGYN, or a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). All too often I’ve seen patients come in with prescriptions for Clomid from their gynecologist when they haven’t had some basic testing done, such as a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to check to see if their tubes are open, or their male partner hasn’t been tested with even a basic semen analysis. News Flash: Men also struggle with infertility.
Blame it on later fatherhood, GMO’s or good ‘ole boring stress, these days many men are having trouble trying to conceive with their partner. Male factor is becoming just as prevalent as female factor, both of which account for about 40% (each) of the reasons why couples aren’t able to get pregnant, the remaining 20% thought to be “unexplained infertility”. This means men have to get checked out too, and some may need treatment, whether it’s surgery, stopping a certain medication or habit, or getting natural treatments like acupuncture, herbal medicine or supplements. If there is a problem with sperm count, morphology or motility, or there is a health issue (diabetes, auto-immunity, etc.) that is affecting the sperm indirectly, this could greatly reduce the chances of a couple conceiving. Just because your hubby looks like Channing Tatum (or is it Tatum Channing?) doesn’t mean his sperm doesn’t have two heads. Send him to the doc, and if he’s squeamish, his doctor may be able to set him up with a home- kit.
There are many other factors that get overlooked when stumbling down the road of infertility which may keep a couple from conceiving. An underactive thyroid, an overactive immune system or pre-diabetes, among other health challenges or concerns, should be addressed. Want-to-be dads greatly benefit from taking care of their health issues, not only so that they can have a child, but so they can be healthy for that child throughout the kid’s life (not to mention the epigenetic reasons and having healthy children). Men can participate in pre-conception care too!
Some doctors won’t test for these things unless indicated, so some TTC-ers will be walking around with the diagnosis “unexplained infertility” or their OBGYN may just assume everything is fine and tell the couple to keep trying. This is where I highly recommend seeing a fertility specialist, like an RE; and in the cases of very-unexplained infertility, a trip to a thyroid specialist. Sometimes seeing the experts can save a couple years of futile effort and struggle, and emotional issues like anxiety and depression, not to mention dollars.
So before you jump to Clomid, which may not work if your tubes are blocked or if your partner is suffering from azoospermia, go see a fertility specialist. Don’t be one of the many women who spend a year taking Clomid, only to find out down the road (and in a much less fertile phase) that their partner was shooting blanks or their tubes were blocked and there was a 0% chance of getting pregnant. Increase your chances of conception and see a specialist sooner rather than later. And if you have questions, ask. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Or something like that.
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