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male factor infertility

Is Hydration Important For Fertility?

According to research the short answer is: yes!

We hear all the time about ways to increase fertility, especially tips about diet and lifestyle. Many of us don’t think about hydration as being important for fertility but in fact researchers are finding that hydration does play a role. 

Along with eating healthy, reducing the consumption of processed foods, getting enough sleep and all the other healthy things we should be doing, hydration is not always considered.

Most of us think about hydration in the summer when your outside hiking or being active. However, all of us should be conscious about our fluid intake no matter the season.

Acupuncture before and after your embryo transfer is a great way to relax and help increase your chances of success!

So how does hydration affect fertility?

In one big way hydration affects the male and female fluid qualities. In females that’s cervical mucus and in males that’s ejaculatory fluid. Researchers are finding that the more dehydrated you and/or your partner are at the time of intercourse the harder it is for the sperm and ovum to meet. 

Cervical mucus usually fluctuates throughout the month. If a woman has a relatively normal cycle, the mucus should changes around ovulation time, becoming thinner and less acidic. This change allows sperm to move more easily through the vagina and cervical mucus towards the ovum. Just as in females, if males are dehydrated their sperm could also have a hard time “swimming” within semen as well. 

Don’t stress, find balance.

We want to emphasize the importance of balance and not stressing. Yes, water is important but make sure not to over-do it. The general recommendation is half your body weight in ounces but if you are not a big water fan you might need to work up to that slowly. Infertility is hard. We know many out there trying all the things to make it work. We found this article interesting and wanted to share. 

Any questions? We’re your resource for Fertility Acupuncture in Knoxville!

If you have any questions about adding acupuncture to your cycle or how we might be able to support your journey, please give us a call or an email. We are always happy to help.

Preconception Tips to Help Ensure Your Cycle is a Success: A 90 Day Plan

Help your cycle become a success with these preconception tips!

Many of our patients have been told they have poor egg quality or diminished ovarian reserve, or even poor embryo quality and this is the reason why they are having trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term. While it is true that your egg health diminishes over time, it is not true that there is nothing that can be done to help support your egg health.

Even if you don’t have any specific ovarian or egg quality issues, helping support good egg health will help increase the chances your cycle will be a success!

The total time it takes for one egg to fully mature is about 90 days. It is during this window of time that we are able to have the biggest impact on egg health. So, we recommend that all of our patients looking to plan a treatment cycle take advantage of this time to prepare and consider acupuncture, supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes to help support their egg health.

Some of the main factors affecting egg health are:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  • Oxygenation of your blood
  • Stress
  • Hormone balance

Our three favorite ways to improve all of these factors affecting egg health are acupuncture (of course!), diet and exercise, and specific supplements.

1. Preconception Acupuncture:

Each of our treatment protocols (IUI, IVF, and medicated cycles) begins with the recommendation of preconception acupuncture. Preconception acupuncture is treatments given weekly in the 1-3 months prior to any fertility cycle specifically designed to support egg health and hormone balance.

By now, you probably know that acupuncture done alongside a fertility cycle can improve the chances of pregnancy for that cycle. What you may not know, is that acupuncture’s effect is cumulative, much like exercise. Each treatment and treatment cycle builds on the previous. Research done on fertility acupuncture supports this idea. Generally, the more acupuncture one receives, the better the pregnancy rates.

The reasons why acupuncture done in the months prior to a fertility cycle can have an impact on your egg health and the overall success of your cycle are:

  • Dramatically improved blood flow to the uterus and ovaries: This increases the   delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and facilities waste product removal, improving overall egg health.
  • Hormone regulation: Many women notice changes in their cycles during preconception acupuncture: less  pain, more regular ovulation, and normalization of menstrual flow.
  • Reduced stress: Help your body and mind get ready for the upcoming cycle.

2.  Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle:

Diet: A healthy diet can dramatically affect one’s fertility (and overall health!). Taking the preconception time period to focus on eating a clean, whole-food, plant-based diet can help improve egg health. Our favorite general fertility diet comes from a Harvard Medical School research study, but many diagnoses related to infertility, such as endometriosis or PCOS, call for some specialized nutrition.

Overall, the basics of a healthy fertility diet include:

  • Low amounts of saturated fat: Choose plant based fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy fats like those found in salmon and other fish.
  • Local, grass fed, organic meats whenever possible
  • Fresh fruits and veggies: We suggest eating foods from every color of the rainbow and making sure at least half of your plate is filled with veggies as an easy way to maximize your fruit and vegetable intake
  • Vegetable protein sources: Try to replace one serving of meat per day with a vegetarian protein source like beans or tofu.
  • Lots of fresh water: Try to avoid water bottled in plastic and stick to filtered when possible.
  • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta, etc instead of simple, white carbs,
  • Iron rich plants: spinach, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, and beets.
  • Full fat dairy instead of low fat varieties.
  • Minimal (or no) sugar intake: be sure to watch added sugars and high fructose corn syrup as they can hide in many unsuspecting foods as well as sugary drinks and desserts.

For women who have endometriosis, we recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet. For those with PCOS, a low-glycemic index diet is best.

Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise improves the oxygenation of blood and increased blood flow throughout the body. It is also a great stress reliever and helps maintain a healthy BMI, which is associated with higher pregnancy rates. Yoga is also a great way to strengthen your core and help reduce stress.

The preconception time is perfect for implementing a consistent exercise routine as exercise is commonly limited by your doctor during a fertility treatment cycle.

Lifestyle: There are many lifestyle habits that can have an effect on egg health. Our top suggestions are the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Allow personal ‘down-time’ to meditate, read, or just relax.
  • Listen to fertility meditations via Circle Bloom to help de-stress and foster a healthy body/mind connection
  • Work to reduce stress and overwork as much as possible
  • Seek counseling or a support group if you feel it is necessary.

3. Supplements and herbs: In addition to a good quality prenatal vitamin, there are some supplements that you can take that will help support egg quality and overall fertility. One supplement that has some evidence showing it’s efficacy is CoQ-10.

CoQ-10 is a vitamin-like substance (meaning our bodies can make some on their own) that functions within the energy production centers, called mitochondria, present in each cell. As we age, the efficiency of the mitochondria declines. The idea is that by supplementing CoQ-10, we can help support this energy production, which is especially needed for high-energy processes like the cellular division involved in egg production and embryo development. There is some preliminary research showing an egg-health benefit in mice and we await further research. CoQ-10 is generally regarded as very safe to take while trying to conceive and most experience no side effects. It also shows some promise in helping support male fertility as well.

Other supplements that we typically recommend are:

  • Fish Oil: high in omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation in the body
  • Probiotics: to support good digestion and absorption of nutrients.

There are also specific supplements and herbs available for other fertility related conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, luteal phase defect, male factor infertility, etc and will be recommended as needed.

Please call 865-315-3845 or contact us, we are more than happy to answer your questions or set you up for preconception acupuncture! Good luck with your cycle!

The One Year Anniversary of The Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture: Wisdom Teeth and Gratitude

Thank you, Knoxville, for a successful first year!

On March 1, 2016 the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture finally opened it’s doors to Knoxville and the surrounding areas. We are Knoxville’s first and only acupuncture practice specializing in fertility and prenatal wellness. It was my goal to provide East Tennessee with an integrative option for the treatment of infertility and help each of our patients navigate this complex journey. We have officially been open for our patients for one year (and counting) and I wanted to touch on my thoughts for this first year in practice here. 

It was my intention to post this retrospective on the 1 year anniversary of my practice, but I spent the morning driving my husband to and from his wisdom teeth removal appointment. Luckily, all went well, and I was able to fill my afternoon seeing the patents that are truly the heart and soul of TNCRA. Minus the wisdom teeth extraction (who wants to do that!?), I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the one year anniversary of my practice in any other way.

When I think back over the past year, I am completely overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I have been humbled by the reception that Knoxville has given to TNCRA. Over the past year I have met many families struggling with infertility and had a chance to help many of them achieve their dream of pregnancy. I have also met many expectant mothers and had the honor of working with them as they prepare to become mothers for the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth (and more) time. I have also met so many others whose passion for working with families during infertility and pregnancy just bleeds through their work: doctors, doulas, midwives, nurses, massage therapists, craniosacral therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, photographers, lab technicians, yoga teachers, other acupuncturists, counselors, reproductive endocrinologists, ultrasound technicians, OB/GYN’s, and I’m sure there are few I am forgetting.

One thing I kept hearing in my first year of practice here is that it can be hard for people coming from outside of Tennessee to get a successful business going. I have found this completely and happily untrue. Knoxville has an incredibly welcoming atmosphere and a truly wonderful community to support families of all backgrounds on their journey from trying to conceive to becoming parents. I am honored to be a part of this community and look forward to many years of practice here.

So, thank you Knoxville for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you to the other practitioners who have taken time to learn about TNCRA and how we may be able to work together to help support our patients. But mostly, thank you to my patients. You have put your trust in my experience and training during the most sensitive of times and I am forever grateful to walk alongside you on this journey.

I am very excited for the years to come and hope to build upon the foundation that has been laid. I look forward to learning more each year and working with more families. Mostly, I look forward to pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, and holding space (or a hand) for those experiencing a loss or a failed cycle. These moments are truly what drives me to come to work each day. I love my job.

 

5 Reasons to Try Acupuncture for Fertility

5 reasons why you should consider adding acupuncture to your fertility treatment.

Are you currently trying to get pregnant or planning to try in the next few months? Have you considered adding fertility acupuncture to your IVF, IUI, or medicated cycle?

You’ve probably read or heard a little about acupuncture for fertility, but maybe don’t know much about how it can help you. Here are our top five reasons why you should book an acupuncture treatment with your next cycle!

  1. Increases Chances of a Take Home Baby: Research shows that acupuncture not only improves pregnancy rates (up to 60%!), but can reduce miscarriages leading to an overall increase in the chances of a take home baby! After all, this is what everyone facing infertility really wants! This research is typically done on IVF cycles, but the same mechanisms of action can help improve an IUI, medicated, or natural cycle in much the same way.
  2. Improves Blood Flow:  Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus. This improved blood flow is associated with a better chance of embryo implantation in IVF cycles. It can also facilitate better nutrient delivery and waste product removal to potentially increase the the quality of your follicles and endometrial lining.
  3. Hormone Regulation: Over the course of 1-3 months, acupuncture can help to regulate your reproductive hormones. For example, women with PCOS often begin ovulating after treatment with acupuncture. Subtle cycle changes also occur as hormones become more balanced. Changes often noticed during the course of treatment include: increased fertile cervical mucous, a longer luteal phase, reduced PMS symptoms, and even changes in your basal body temperature chart.
  4. Reduced Stress: We all know struggling with infertility is stressful. Acupuncture can help you cope with this stress so you can relax and feel normal while going through treatment cycles. It causes a release of ‘feel-good’ chemical called endorphins in your brain that will…. well, help you feel good! You may also notice that you sleep better or have better digestion after treatment as well.
  5. Treatment of Side effects: Often when we are treating patients during their cycles, we use points to reduce headaches, nausea, bloating, irritability, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, constipation, anxiety…. you name it! Making you feel comfortable during treatment is a huge part of what we do. The way we see it is that, for many couples, success can be a matter of time. Time finding the right medication combination that works with your body and time waiting for the right follicle to develop. If we can make that wait easier, you’re more likely to try an additional cycle or two and increase your chances of success! Additionally, we all know you can’t push the pause button on life while you undergo fertility treatment, so we work to help keep you at your best so you can continue to be a wife, co-worker, student, mother, sister, friend, and/or superwoman!

As you can see, combining acupuncture to your fertility treatment plan is a great way to, not only, increase your chances of pregnancy, but to feel more comfortable, relaxed and get a more regulated cycle!

We work with both men and women to find a treatment protocol that works with the timing of their cycles to give you the maximum benefit of acupuncture. Please give us a call or contact us online and we’ll walk you through what is best for your situation. Or, if you’re ready, you can schedule an appointment online now! 

How We Treat Male Factor Infertility

Acupuncture treatment is helpful in treating many causes of male infertility.
Acupuncture treatment is helpful in treating many causes of male infertility.

Infertility is often seen as something only women have to be concerned about. The reality is that infertility is due to female factors 30% of the time, male factors 30% of the time, and both partners or unexplained infertility 30% of the time.

Male infertility can even go undiagnosed by some practitioners not experienced in treating fertility. A semen analysis should be part of your initial workup with your reproductive endocrinologist. It is a non-invasive, low cost test that can really have an impact on your best course of action.

 

Common causes of male factor infertility include:

  • Varicocele
  • Infection
  • Hormonal Problems
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Blockage of sperm flow
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Previous vasectomy

 

Many times, varicoceles or blockages can be corrected with surgery. Follow up semen analysis will ensure that fertility has been restored. Other causes can be treated with medication or lifestyle changes. Sperm can sometimes even be removed from the testical directly to be used in an IVF cycle in a minor surgical procedure if needed.

 

Optimizing male fertility is an often overlooked part of a couple’s journey and, yet, there is so much you can do. Various lifestyle changes, complementary medicine, and supplements can have a big impact on male fertility.

 

ACUPUNCTURE AND MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY

Acupuncture has been used successfully to help treat male infertility. Research studies showed both an increase in the total number of sperm present and an increase in the number of sperm present without structural abnormalities. Acupuncture can also be used to help regulate hormonal imbalances.

At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we would like to treat both the male and female partners to help them optimize their fertility. Our recommendations for male factor fertility depend on the timing of the cycle. Sperm go through a 3 month growth and maturation process before they are ready to fertilize and egg. Because of this we like to see men 3 months before their fertility cycle, if possible. However, benefit has been seen from much shorter treatment windows and you can start treatment at any time during your journey. Feel free to call us for a recommendation on your situation.

 

SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY

We carry Conception XR supplements for male fertility. There are two versions of this supplement, detailed below. Their primary ingredients are antioxidants and other nutrients shown to increase pregnancy and birth rates and improve sperm motility.

  • Reproductive Health Formula: This formula is designed to support normal male fertility and is recommended for any man trying to conceive. You can think of it as a prenatal vitamin for men! It is also recommended for IVF cycles, when motility support is not necessary.

XR3_300w_300h_sb

  • Motility Support: This formula has an added ingredient, L-carnitine, that is specifically helpful with sperm motility. It is recommended for low motility or when trying to conceive naturally or through IUI or medicated cycles.

XM1_300w_300h_sb

LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO SUPPORT MALE FERTILITY

  1. Smoking has been shown to be very detrimental to sperm health. Please see your doctor about quitting.
  2. Alcohol: Limit to 1 drink per day.
  3. Keep your testicles cool: Avoid hot tubs, laptops on your lap, high temperature work areas, or prolonged baths.
  4. Diet: Increase your fruit and veggie intake and stay hydrated.
  5. Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
  6. Harmful supplements: Some supplements containing DHEA or other ingredients, often used for muscle building, can impair sperm development.
  7. Environmental Hazards: Avoid working with radiation, pesticides, solvents, or other fumes when possible.

 

Sources:

http://www.theralogix.com/sp/theralogix-conceptionxr-motility-support/

http://www.theralogix.com/sp/theralogix-conceptionxr-reproductive-health/

http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20050803/acupuncture-may-improve-sperm-quality

http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/optimizing-fertility/enhancing-male-fertility.html