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Natural Fertility Boosters: 10 Things to try for men

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Story by Lisa MacFarlane

To procreate or not to procreate. That is the question many couples in their late thirties and even early forties are asking themselves as career and lifestyle choices mean putting family planning on hold. A woman’s chance of conceiving after age 40 plunges like Pamela Anderson’s neckline, and quality eggs are suddenly at a premium. Guys, your fertility is not nearly as dramatically impacted by age as it is for women, but if your knees just can’t ski the bumps like they used to, your swimmers’ mobility and volume is probably in decline too

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Fertility is defined as the natural capability of giving life, but for couples who wait to pull the goalie, the winning shot doesn’t always come easily. Richmond doctor Lisa Robinson, who delivers babies day and night says, “the truth is that the biggest obstacle in a woman’s way is age. Obviously a healthy lifestyle helps, but we all should have started sooner. I think we need to do a better job of teaching women about the effects age has on fertility, because many patients I see seem quite surprised that it becomes more difficult.” So you’ve been giving it the old college try, but with no results. Now what?

#1. Get de-stressed before you get undressed

Recognize what causes stress in your life and work to eliminate it. According to Naturopathic Physician Heidi Rootes, the most common cause of infertility is a hormone imbalance stemming from adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is caused by stress, and affects the entire endocrine system including estrogen and progesterone production. Stress may inhibit conception because it can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus. This is the gland in the brain that likes chocolate. It also regulates appetite, emotions and the hormones required to produce testosterone in men and release a monthly egg in women. Dr.Rootes explains,“the first half of a woman’s cycle is more estrogen dominant. 

During ovulation (approximately 14 days after a woman’s period) progesterone increases, an egg is released, and the body prepares for pregnancy. If progesterone is low, pregnancy will not occur. Balancing the hormone system and supporting the adrenal glands will really help with fertility.” Dr. Rootes recommends B vitamins, adrenal adaptogens and acupuncture to help women get pregnant. “It really works,” she insists. “I also run hormone tests that include cycling estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and cortisol to get a good idea of where a woman is hormonally. It’s important for people to realize that our body does not function in compartments, but all systems work synergistically together.”

#2. Timing is everything

Did you know that sperm should already be present in a woman’s body before the egg drops? “People often miss the optimum time,” says Doctor Karl Muendel of the University of Michigan.“The target window is earlier than most couples think. Plan to have sex nine to twelve days after the first day of the women’s period, not just day fourteen.” Sounds good to us

#3. Clean up your diet

Skip foods like potato chips or any packaged snacks loaded with preservatives and chemicals. On your next grocery store run, ensure the list includes foods packing lots of photochemicals and antioxidants. These include blueberries, red peppers, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, salmon, flaxseed and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritionally, these are all good choices for everyone. Doctor Muendel suggests a balanced diet high in protein. Foods high in Vitamins C and E also help

protect sperm and eggs by blocking the action of free radicals which cause cell damage. Taking a Vitamin D supplement each day – especially during the winter in Northern climes when the sunshine is lacking – may improve a man’s fertility by preventing sperm defects and boosting mobility, according to research from the University of Wisconsin.

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#4. Get freshly shucked

There’s some scientific proof that eating oysters can boost fertility. The reason? Oysters are jam-packed with zinc. 11 mg of zinc each day can help keep your reproductive system working properly. The magic mineral boosts testosterone levels and semen production in men, and assists with ovulation in women. Make a weekly date at your favourite oyster bar to share a plate. Six medium oysters have an approximately 16 mg. Or you could just take a zinc supplement, but where’s the fun in that?

#5. You booze, you lose

Drinking alcohol may decrease the chance of a conception because alcohol is a toxin that can kill off sperm-generating cells in the testicles. A couple glasses of wine are okay, but don’t overdo it say the docs. However, according to a very non-scientific survey of friends, a messy martini or tequila-fuelled night is what lead to junior’s existence. Yes, these fun-loving people might have been tipsy, but I’d argue they were all very relaxed. That whole de-stressing thing again. Just saying.

#6. Shape up with Yoga

Maybe it’s time to finally lose your winter weight? Here’s an incentive: body fat can produce estrogen, and if your estrogen level is too high, it may inhibit your ability to conceive. Being stick thin from exercise is another cause of infertility in women. “You may want to consider a less intense work out while trying to get pregnant,” says registered clinical counsellor and yoga therapist Danielle McDermott. “Extreme exercise has been proven to cause high stress levels in the body and is not conducive to conception, especially in women if their body fat is too low.” McDermott has seen a number of patients with fertility issues in her practice. “Do yoga!” exclaims Danielle. “It’s excellent for learning how to slow down, tune in, and relax. Eliminate emotional stress in your life. Not only is Yoga good for the body, it’s good for the mind. Yoga is a great coping mechanism for daily stress,

and can assist a person in processing mental blocks that may be unwittingly getting in the way of conception.” Stretch it out, work it out.

#6. Shape up with Yoga

The Chinese have long believed that a balance in the body’s energy flow (known as chi) is key to remaining healthy. When a blockage occurs in the flow, your health is compromised. Acupuncture involves strategically placing tiny needles into “energy points” believed to regulate spiritual, mental and physical balance. 20 major pathways called meridians are believed to be routes along which chi energy travels. These meridians can be accessed through 400 different points in the body. Acupuncturists say the treatment aids in the blood flow to reproductive organs. “From a scientific point of view, the research on acupuncture and fertility is very promising,” says Dr. Lorne Brown, Doctor of Chinese Medicine and clinical director of Vancouver’s Acubalance

Wellness Centre. “A recent study published in the British Medical Journal showed acupuncture increased the chances of conceiving with in vitro fertilization (IVF) by 65 %”.Dr.Brown explains that acupuncture helps optimize fertility by increasing blood flow to a woman’s ovaries and uterus lining. “The more blood flow to the ovaries, the more nourishment to the follicles and eggs. The thicker and nutrient rich the lining, the more receptive for implantation.”Acupuncture has also been shown to optimize fertility by regulating reproductive hormones, bringing them back to a balanced and homeostasis level conducive to conception.

#8. Lose the tighty whities

Fitted Calvin Klein underwear might look sexy to some, but the extra heat these tighties pack reduces the number of healthy sperm produced by the testicles. Men, make the switch to boxers. The same advice goes for you hipsters on Main Street in the tight, black drainpipe denim jeans. Keep your boys cool when the time comes.

#9 Quality not quantity

Men, think of Nancy Regan and just say no… to sex. The longer it’s been since your last encounter, the greater the number of Olympic-strength swimmers on your team.“Five days of abstaining from ejaculation should do it,” says Doctor Christophe Muendel, who regularly discusses fertility issues with his patients in his family practice. Genetic Councillor and new mother Julie Mohaseb adds, “the sperm a man ejaculates today was created sixty days ago, so in terms of genetics and sperm development, you want to really take a look at re-tooling your lifestyle and diet a few months in advance of trying for a baby.” Mohaseb continues, “when a man turns 45, we start to see a decrease in sperm quality, but before then, men can do a lot to ensure the quality of their sperm by eating properly and living healthily.”

#10 Take a Conceptionmoon

A conceptionmoon is a planned holiday dedicated to getting pregnant. Holidays are about relaxation, so leave the Blackberry at home (unless the mere thought of being without texting capabilities and GPS sends you into a tailspin). Getting away from your daily routine to a place of beauty with sunshine, good food, and a balance of outdoor and indoor activities might increase your chances of conception. Ensure the destination you choose is somewhere you and your partner feel happy and relaxed. So, why not get out that Blackberry calendar and pick a date. A good place to start. Aloha.

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