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After not having any luck getting pregnant after 6 months of “trying,” I got myself poked and prodded to find answers. I had my FSH, AMH, TSH, and other blood work done and got my tubes checked with an HSG. Good ol’ Sean got his guys under the microscope. All his numbers came back normal except for a low normal morphology, meaning the shape of many of his guys were abnormal. Still, since his other numbers were good, our fertility specialist didn’t seem too concerned that it was a problem. We decided not to pursue more information with a Kruger strict morphology test at that time. Instead, we spent that money on acupuncture sessions for me.
Months later, though, after we had our miscarriage, we got Sean’s sperm tested again. This time, we made sure to ask for the Kruger strict analysis, and his % morphology indicated that there may be a significant male-factor infertility issue. Honestly, I have to admit that it was somewhat of a relief to learn that maybe, just maybe, our struggle wasn’t entirely due to my age. There was finally something tangible for my brain to wrap around that partially explained why it was taking so long for us to have a baby. (Our fertility doctor still believed that the 3% normal morphology had little to do with our infertility, but it seems logical to me that fewer normally shaped sperm would lower our chances of successful fertilization every month.)
At that time, I also had switched over to a new acupuncturist–one that specializes in fertility. Contrary to our fertility doc, she was more concerned about Sean’s sperm than me. In fact, she was concerned–not necessarily rightly so–that I would have a high chance of another miscarriage with his sperm. So, we decided that Sean and I would take turns at weekly acupuncture appointments and that he would start taking herbs and supplements to improve his sperm morphology.
It takes about 70 days to produce new sperm, and we still haven’t gotten a positive pregnancy test, yet, after 5 months of acupuncture treatment. Pardon my French, but that sh…stuff is expensive. Feeling discouraged, I started canceling my appointments last month. We also decided to test Sean’s sperm again to see whether the acupuncture and herbs had any effect. When Sean called me with his results, I expected to hear news of a modest increase, like 3% to 6%. Instead, he astounded me with a whopping jump from 3% to 14%! His sperm count and % mobility also increased significantly. Even though we are not pregnant, yet, it was quite uplifting to see that some of the lifestyle changes we made had some effect. Here is what he’s been doing since the beginning of the year:
- Started acupuncture. Each hour appointment costs $85, and with herbs for both of us, each week can cost up to $135. We pay this out-of-pocket, and we just found out that we can have it billed to count towards our insurance deductible. We decided that we could only afford to take turns with appointments.
- Herbs and supplements. Our acupuncturist started Sean on this herbal supplement.I also purchased a 3-month supply of FertilAid for him to take. On top of that, he takes fish oil and ubiquinol.
- Quit coffee. Many traditional practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that a daily coffee habit can lead to overtaxed adrenal glands. Sean is very attached to his coffee, but he agreed to cut it out of his daily intake–if not for the sake of his sperm then at least to support me in cutting down my intake. (Note that this applies to any lifestyle change you may want to take; it’s easier when your partner does it, too, right?) So, we have switched over to mostly green tea and an occasional cup of joe.
- Switched to boxers. Within the last few months, he switched over from boxer briefs to just boxers to keep his boys cooler.
Other than that, we already were eating a varied, well-balanced, mostly organic diet (I mean, I am a dietitian!) and drinking only occasionally (1-2 drinks per week at most). He did his best to stay active despite his busy and unpredictable work schedule. Some of the changes evolved from hard negotiation, and it wasn’t all easy, but the astounding improvement in his morphology really is encouraging. I mean, he was beaming with pride like a kid with straight A’s when he handed me the results. It gives me hope that if we were able to improve sperm morphology, our lifestyle changes may be making a difference in my egg quality, too. That’s food for thought if you’re thinking of making changes to improve any health parameter.
Note: Thank you to my wonderful husband for allowing me to write about his junk… as long as I titled this post the way he suggested. 🙂
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