Ever since I started working with couples, I have found one of the biggest challenges to a couple getting pregnant is having both partners on board, and male infertility is holding them back.
Usually, it’s the woman that comes in first for a course of Chinese medicine to boost her health when trying to conceive
( find out more about acupuncture and fertility here).
And usually, she has already done a lot of research, blood tests, scans (and plenty more uncomfortable procedures) in order to understand what is getting in the way of her and her partner conceiving a baby.
I can still feel myself tensing in anticipation as I approach the question in a consultation: ‘so, has your partner had any male fertility test yet?’, As, often, I receive the reply: ‘Nope, we haven’t even discussed his role yet.’
This anticipation comes from knowing that men’s fertility is always 50% of the picture and that in order for this woman sitting in front of me to achieve her desired outcome we have a potentially long (and challenging) road ahead of getting their male partner on board.
Book in for a male fertility consultation here.
Why male infertility matters
As of yet, modern and traditional Chinese medicine has not found a way to eliminate the man’s role in having a baby ( there is no acupuncture for fertility that can magically help women have babies without good sperm!)
Even our generous sperm donors are needed for our lovely same-sex couples and non-partnered mums to be.
And of course, as nature intended (for evolution and the betterment of humanity) the male contributes 50% of the genetic material to make the beautiful little new human. Because of this fact, there is simply no other way around ensuring you can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and child, without first addressing any men’s fertility issues and male infertility causes.
Unfortunately, there is a male fertility crisis going on worldwide, with a 50% reduction in male fertility across the board over the past few decades. Now more than ever, male fertility improvement is vitally important.
It’s not just about male fertility supplements: My understanding of why guys struggle with getting on board with fertility.
Sadly, in my clinical practice, I have seen many women who have not been able to reach their fertility goals due to a lack of congruency and understanding from their men as to how important their role is in falling pregnant.
If the partner is on board at all, often they simply feel they need to take the best male fertility supplement, and that’s it! They often do not have a clear understanding of male infertility causes and how things such as foods, smoking, marijuana, alcohol, radiation stress, and sleep ( to name a few things) can help.
(Check out our post here on the best ways to boost your natural fertility)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely no expert when it comes to completely understanding men and how they think (just ask my partner!) And I definitely don’t pretend to have all the answers in this post.
But I do have some lived experience to share, and hopefully, I can spark a discussion with you and your partner, to make the male infertility treatment just that little bit easier for you. both
Too many times, I have heard feedback that either they are finding the conversation too difficult to have with their partner, or their man believes that it is not their responsibility.
Now, this isn’t always coming from the guys, oftentimes women don’t believe that the male contribution is of significant importance, and believe that it’s ‘their fault’ ( the woman’s alone) That they haven’t given birth yet.
( Check out our post here on why IVF fails)
This really is an interesting phenomenon, as so much has been said and talked about women’s fertility in society, but comparatively very little about men’s fertility.
Therefore, I believe that society as a whole generally still strongly believes most of the responsibility for good fertility health lands on the woman, and not on the man. (This misconception is something that Qi Medicine Acupuncture practitioners are actively trying to turn around with each couple worked with!)
2. Shame and fear
Yes, two of the most debilitating and negative emotions that our poor men can feel.
It seems that many men feel that when he cannot ‘perform’ his one duty (contributing good quality product, or sperm) that he has somehow ‘failed’ at life and manhood, and is somehow less valuable.
To some of you women out there reading this, this might seem farfetched and overly dramatic. But I can guarantee you that if you dig down into some of the stonewalling behavior of your male partner, you will see fear and shame hiding at its very core.
Our beautiful men have just as many strong emotions as women, yet they have been taught and conditioned to not show them, to hide behind aggression, dominant behavior, indifference, sarcasm, and avoidance tactics (sound familiar?)
Allowing a safe space for our partners to express what is really going on for them is so important.
Also, some may be absolutely terrified of becoming a new father because of the big life changes that it will bring, yet they have very few places they can express this freely and without judgment.
Men feel deeply, and strongly, and allowing them to feel these emotions will help them to be better fathers and partners overall.
The third major factor that I see in men being not on board with fertility treatment is simply they do not understand how their body works.
Most guys were taught how the male reproductive system works in year 10 biology; at which time they were so wrapped up in doing teenage things that they paid little attention to the content.
And it’s not their fault that they don’t have a better understanding of the reproductive systems, no one’s ever told them that it was something worth understanding! (Until now, of course).
For many guys, the first time they ever even had a male fertility test is when they have been trying for several years to get pregnant with no luck.
“But my GP told me I had great sperm!”
Frustratingly, when a sperm sample is assessed by your General Practitioner, they can often be told that they are ‘A stud- Great sample!’, but in actual fact, they are absolutely not ( GP’s are great people but sometimes possess a too broad understanding of male fertility to pick up on subtle issues, this is better assessed by an Andrologist or TCM practitioner with expertise in male fertility).
- Does your fella, for example, know that it takes at least four months to improve sperm quality?
- Or, that they need to have an external examination to check for a common issue called varicocele, which is basically an overgrown vein that can cook the sperm? ( Something an andrologist, basically a male gynecologist, will pick up on)
- Or, that you both may have a matching gene mutation that can cause the woman’s body to attack a growing embryo? (DQ Alpha gene)
- Or that just seeing a clinic for IVF in Melbourne won’t circumnavigate male infertility?
This, and so much more important stuff needs to be found out as to the reasons why your partner can’t produce good sperm and therefore help make a baby.
In our clinic, we have roughly a 60 point check for male infertility causes/issues, and we check all of the above and more to check for male infertility causes- that’s just an outline of how detailed the man’s role is.
What can be done to help get men more on board with male infertility?
There is a lot that can be done to help men better understand and be more on board with their responsibility in their male infertility causes. and it does not have to be difficult.
1. Talk about the heart stuff
In my experience, it is always important to start with ‘the heart stuff’.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the heart is a major organ that is deeply interconnected with fertility health and helps men to produce good quality sperm. It also helps them to be kind and loving fathers, who are devoted to their family and children.
Not only that, taking the time to understand your partner’s fears, pain and insecurities will help you to connect and bind your relationship on a much deeper level.
If you find it difficult to talk to your partner about these things or are confronted with aggressive or dominant behavior, then it’s always advisable to get professional help.
Engaging in either couples counseling or him seeing someone on his own, will help to unburden both of you with the strain of the fertility journey.
So often couples don’t resolve these underlying issues, which do not go away once a baby is born.
On the contrary, the emergence of a first (or second) child in your life, will only put a sharper focus on the lack of communication and understanding you may have in your relationship.
Don’t make parenthood harder than it needs to be!
Simple, straightforward education on how their body works and what their role is in male infertility treatment will be enough for many guys to get on board.
We have put together a simple, straightforward booklet on male fertility which you can download below. This helps you understand how male fertility works and gives great advice on what you can do to improve it.
Also, him being open to attending a consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner who works with males can be revelatory. He will begin to understand that even though Western medicine may not have a lot of solutions for men’s fertility issues, Chinese medicine may have a lot more to offer. Not only will he find out about the best male fertility supplements, but a range of other approaches he would have never even heard about!
Male fertility supplements are often the first port of call for many guys, but there is so much more they can do!
(Read our post here on when to start acupuncture with fertility)
And finally, some of the best resources I have to share with you at the moment are:
Don’t cook your balls: This excellent website has a range of resources, including real-life stories from other guys, explainers in man-speak on fertility and how it works, plus a tonne of other great stuff.
Healthy Male: This website has been put together by Australian andrologists (who are the male version of a gynecologist) and who work in men’s fertility clinics and specialize in male reproductive and urinary issues.
This website helps you find a specialist near you, and also has a stack of resources and information to help you with everything male health-related. https://www.healthymale.org.au/
For many guys, just showing up at the GP can seem overwhelming. So if you are struggling to get started, try this male fertility home test. Even a basic male fertility test will give you an indication of his overall health, and from there you can go on to book in with an andrologist or get further male fertility tests in Melbourne.
(Word of warning- stay away from the sperm kits that you get from the chemist, they are often completely inaccurate!)
Go for an online service like i-screen Australia (www.i-screen.com.au/health-screening/) which provides a male fertility test you do at home, but send off to a lab to be analyzed. They post you out the kit, and you simply drop off the sample at one of their many locations around Australia.
What to do to help male fertility issues
There are many things guys can do to help their swimmers.
To get the most up-to-date and tailored advice, book in for a male fertility consultation with one of our acupuncturists here.
Western mainstream medicine is somewhat limited in being able to improve sperm, but at the very least it can help find and diagnose issues you never even knew you had and can offer some solutions. In conjunction with this, taking a holistic approach can really impact your overall health, and potentially boost fertility.
Deep down, I feel men really want to help.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy that deep down really wants to be a pain in the butt.
Of course, humans, by their very nature, want to be accepted, loved, and part of a tribe.
So it is my belief that there is always a way to connect with your partner around male fertility issues, it’s just a matter of finding the right language to use. And before you know it, he’ll be off to get that male fertility test, booking in with the andrologist, and booking in for acupuncture!
I don’t think that this road is ever easy for anyone, but I do believe that it is definitely worth doing. Even if the process does not end in a baby, at least you have made efforts to connect more deeply and understand what is going on for him.
A male infertility treatment journey is all about the heart stuff- it’s never just only about sperm and eggs.
Good luck to you on your path, and I hope you discover some wonderful heart stuff along the way.
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We provide acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Melbourne to the North Western suburbs of Melbourne and are close to Highpoint. Qi Medicine acupuncture is minutes away from Ascot Vale, Essendon, Avondale Heights, Maribyrnong, and Brunswick West.
We also service many clients with acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Travancore, Flemington, Aberfeldie, Maidstone. We are just 10 km from Melbourne city.