Friday, 17 February 2017

Under the Needle

With the second sperm analysis looming, K and I wanted to make sure we did all the necessary research and made all the necessary preparations to boost my number of soldiers. We scoured the internet for information on nutrition, exercise, and treatments to help increase sperm count and quality. It wasn't easy either, because the majority of information out there is for female infertility, not male infertility. We were somewhat desperate and willing to try almost anything so don't judge us.

I emailed a registered dietitian to ask her about her experience with male fertility. She said she had none, and referred me to my primary care network dietitian for "overall health". This is not what I wanted. I already know how to eat healthy, I needed to know what to eat to make an army! So back to Google. 

I found some emerging patterns as I searched countless websites. Some things were obvious: no smoking, no drinking, no drugs. Some were new to me: such as eating foods rich with zinc like walnuts and spinach. And high in omega fatty acids, like salmon. I love salmon! This is going to be a breeze! I also learned that foods high in mercury could have a negative effect on sperm count. In 2016 I lost a lot of weight by eating canned tuna and veggies every day. Convenient? Very. Healthy? Apparently not for your junk. So that's off the menu now.

As many of you may already know, sperm thrives in conditions slightly lower than body temperature. Which is why your balls sit in a sack outside your body; to keep the sperm cool. So things like a warm laptop on your lap, or sitting in a chair all day (pretty much my job), wearing tight underwear that keep your nuts close, all increase the temp of your balls. K found a company that makes a product called "Snowballs". It's underwear with a pocket sewn into the front, and an ice pack in a wedge shape that you can tuck under your nuts to cool them off. For best results, ice your balls for 2 hours daily. Will this work? I have no idea, but I figure for $50 its worth a try.

When the package came in, K made me try them on as soon as I got home. I reluctantly obliged, feeling silly, but found the cool sensation quite nice after a day working in a hot office. I had some trouble figuring out which way the ice pack went in, and after some overly-dramatic adjustments (for comic effect) the comfortable alignment I settled on did not make sense to K (women just don't understand balls) but it did the trick for me.

Another endeavour we read about was acupuncture for infertility. Personally, it doesn't make sense to me; it sounds like a giant ball of garbage. You have energy lines in your body and you jam needles into certain spots and BAM! sperm? Sounds crazy to me. What made me decide to try it though, was my grandmother. When she was battling cancer she told my mom that none of the narcotics, the Morphine or the Demerol, none of them even touched the pain; but acupuncture helped. So despite my skepticism, I agreed to give it a shot. I found a clinic in Sherwood Park that offered the treatment and made an appointment.

K came with me (she insists on co-attending as many appointments as possible) and she sat and watched while the acupuncturist inserted her needles into my ear, forehead, arms, legs, and wherever else that I have no idea about because its nearly impossible to move for fear of catching one of these things and ripping it out. I took a little nap, snored for 20 minutes, and they came and pulled all the needles out. While I was paying, they insisted I book my new patient consult. I didn't know what this meant, but agreed.

A couple days later I went in for my "new patient consult" with the "doctor". Although the person who attended to me was a registered acupuncturist, I was pretty certain she was not an MD. I was there for fertility issues but she was insistent on hearing all of my issues. So I told her about my heartburn and my night sweats, she took a gander at my tongue, noticed the dark circles under my eyes (which have always been there) and then used a "diagnostic tool" that I like to refer to as "playing a three fingered piano on my wrist". When we were complete our 45 minute session she told me I had Qi (pronounced "chee") blockages in my liver and kidneys which were causing my infertility. She told me I would have to continue with acupuncture but that it would not be nearly as effective without the Chinese herbs. Then she handed me a $100 invoice and told me to book another session to start treatment.

I'm far from convinced on this course of treatment but I'll keep going and taking these Chinese herbs at least until my next sperm analysis. If it works, fantastic, I won't care how, I'll just keep going. If it doesn't work, well, I did say I'd try anything.


  1. Hey Mr. Lefty, I am happy that you found acupuncture. Although it seems unorthodox and unbelievable it is proven to increase fertility up to 40%. I am currently working with a few couples who are experiencing similar obstacles to your and K's, they are seeing changes in their over health, and test are coming back with positive results. It's not always a guarantee (as with anything in life) but it can have strong and positive impact. Hopefully you have found someone who is able to work with you and K and help you understand how your bodies work from the perspective of Chinese Medicine, it is a unique system but one that predates our current Western System. Now that big 'S'cience is backing this medicine it never ceases to amaze me that people 5000 years ago, with no way of proving their medicine, are now being proven right.
    Keep researching, learning for yourselves, making decisions for yourselves based on what you feel is right for you, and not taking no for an answer. As you say so eloquently, its a journey and an adventure and by sharing yours you will provide someone else with a similar journey comfort. Lastly, if your acu recommends herbs, I recommend taking them :)
    A. Keane - Registered Acupuncturist

    1. Hi Allissa, thanks for your comment!
      We did end up finding someone to help us through our journey. It is a clinic in downtown Edmonton that specializes in acupuncture for fertility. We love our acupuncturists and both K and I are using them frequently during our journey. And yes, I did manage to choke down every last bit of the recommended herbs.