Spence Pentland Dr. TCM, graduated from the acclaimed International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He completed his internship at Anhui Hospital of TCM, Hefei City, China. Since 2004 Spence has been treating pain, stress, & reproductive health in Vancouver BC. To learn more about Spence click here. To book an initial in-person consultation call 604.873.9355.
Men's Health Blog
For many years now I have been treating men suffering with conditions such as; male factor infertility (poor sperm parameters), premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, low libido (testosterone), and prostate conditions such as prostatitis, BPH, and chronic pelvic pain (CPPS). I have come to some overarching conclusions about the treatment and prognosis of these conditions, and not surprisingly, they are not that dis-similar to one another.
Male infertility affects 10% to 15% of reproductive aged couples worldwide. Since male infertility is such a common problem, it is important to understand the true role it plays in male health and relationships. Men diagnosed with infertility suffer intense negative sexual, personal, and social strains that might be considered typical for other medical illnesses such as cancer or heart disease.
I just wanted to share what I have been seeing really make a difference in my clinic for men suffering with prostatitis or cpps. It doesn't take long for conventional western medicine to fail men with these conditions, as there is really no treatment to be offered. If it is not a bacterial infection, certain drugs for urinary flow are often administered with some effect, as well anti-androgenic drugs (anti-testosterone). These have side effects and should not be taken long term, especially the anti-androgens (it should be noted that these adversely affect fertility and sperm). Surgical removal of parts of the prostate is another option. TURP, the term used for this surgery, rarely does much for anything but the urinary symptoms such as dribbling, poor flow, and frequency. Lastly, for the pain, anti-inflamatories such as ibuprophen are taken. If cases are extreme, experimental pain medications such as Lyrica may be prescribed. Daunting isn't it. Read on.
Testosterone is a sex hormone in men required to be able to produce sperm. It is produced primarily in the testis and is especially abundant in young men. As we age, testosterone levels naturally decline. Statistically, at the age of 50, the decline becomes more rapid and gives way to male menopause (andropause).
A study released recently from Denmark (300 men) showed vitamin D improving sperm motility, more specifically, progressive motility (which is the measure of motility that really matters). It was also shown that this positive effect was most significant in men that were deficient in vitamin D (Vancouver,...lack of sunlight?!?!). Full study article attached.
A study recently showed that antioxidant therapy may interfere with ovulation in female mice. It displayed the fact that a certain amount of reactive oxidative stress (that which antioxidants help 'clean up' in the body) is required for proper ovulation. Now lets take this with a grain of salt, as we should all scientific research, as they are usually done on mice or in a vacuum that ignores the whole of reality. That said, this should be cause for minor alarm, as once again, relying on western based thinking methodology, if someone says something is good for us, we over-do it (i.e. if vitamin C is good for the immune system, let's take a whole bunch of it!).
More and more studies (in 'fertility & sterility' THE western medical journal all your IVF doctors read to keep up with research) are showing the correlation between sperm quality (in particular DNA fragmentation rate) and embryo quality.
I have a female patient that has been doing everything she can to ensure she is optimizing her fertility, supplements, exercising, dietary changes, regular acupuncture treatments, taking herbal medicine. She has endometriosis & pcos. She has now just finished 2 cycles with clomid, no luck so far. Well, now what, of course, the fertility clinic says 'it is time for IVF'. Well, I have another idea, and it corresponds with what everyone I know that works intimately with fertility thinks, let's treat the other major variable in this infertility scenario, THE MAN. The husband of this woman has never been tested, has done nothing to his diet, does not exercise, is extremely overworked, does not take any supplements, and most certainly does not do acupuncture or herbal medicine. Wouldn't it make sense, ESPECIALLY when the woman is displaying fertility issues, to optimize his sperm health, EVEN IF AN ANALYSIS SAYS IT IS OK?
When treating male factor infertility, you often treat female fertility also, this makes sense. Research and understandings of female infertility also help us better understand what to investigate when it comes to men. An area of female infertility that is generally overlooked, misunderstood, and treated poorly is issues of the thyroid. Since thyroid health is showing more and more importance in female infertility, it makes sense to start investigating its role in male factor as well. First off, we now know the ranges of TSH on lab reports are not specific enough when it comes to a woman wanting to conceive. Could this hold true for men also? Does TSH need to be 'more' specific for optimal sperm production and health?