The Bottom Line
I love this: An investigation developed by personnel of the Department of Surgical Sciences of the Pediatric Surgical Unit at the University of Verona, Italy, confirmed that just by changing some lifestyle habits, patients with varicocele could avoid surgery while improving their sperm quality and count. The responsible for the study suggested that avoiding cigarette smoking, reducing coffee and alcohol consumption, and introducing vegetables and fruits in the daily diet could do the job.
Varicocele and Male Infertility
Nowadays, the ability to conceive a child can be a very delicate subject, due to the presence of multiple difficulties for some couples that want to start a family. The inability to procreate can affect both genders, and can sometimes create fractures in their spirits, and aggravate their relationship. The man can especially be affected by this because his ability to make a child is strongly attached to his manhood.
Varicocele, the swelling of the veins that drain the testicles, is one of the main causes of male infertility worldwide. If not properly treated or left untreated for several years, it can directly affect sperm quality, leading to infertility. Surgery is categorized as the gold standard in varicocele conventional treatment, but some specialists are turning to other alternative methods that can solve this problem, and other infertility treatment methods without surgery.
Nutritional Supplementation and Changes in Dieting
These natural methods, especially the ones that involve nutrition, have been studied for several years now by many specialists on the matter. For example, a study made in 2004 in India showed the effects of alternative medicine on the semen quality of 100 idiopathic patients with oligozoospermia.
The alternative medicine was based on herbal supplementation and it was received for 12-13 weeks by a randomly selected group, while the other group received conventional treatment. At the end of the study, the group of patients who received alternative medicine showed a significant improvement in their sperm volume, count, and motility compared with the other group.
Another study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology in 2016 discussed the positive effects on male fertility due to the consumption of supplements based on:
Physical Treatment Modalities
The idea of dropping the scrotal temperature with scrotal cooling has proven some benefits in increasing the sperm concentration, motility, and morphology of patients with varicocele and other fertility conditions. This was discussed in the Asian review commented above, which stated that the cooling process helped some of the studied patients in achieving pregnancy while practicing the method. However, weeks after the cooling process concluded, the sperm characteristics returned to be the ones pre-method.
As per the boxers vs briefs battle that has gone for several years, specialists have different opinions. In a study of 2016, Sapra et al studied several couples for a whole year in their approaches to get pregnant, taking into consideration the type of underwear that the men would use. In the end, the ones who used boxers or no underwear for bedtime had the most evidence of sperm-positive changes, but male underwear choice had no main significance with achieving conception.
Some of the main conclusions assure that going “commando” provides the necessary cooling that the testicles need. And for the patients that suffer from varicocele, the combination of no underwear and varicocele specialized underwear is the one to follow due to the correct support and compression administered to the testicles.
Acupuncture and Other Chinese Alternative Methods
One 2008 study developed by personnel of the School of Medicine at the University of Marmara, Turkey, showed that abdominal electroacupuncture could increase testicular blood flow, providing more nutrients and oxygen to the testicles, leading to a possible improvement of sperm quality and count.
While another 2009 study made in Germany achieved the increase in sperm motility through the use of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. Sperm concentration was not increased in this study. However, more studies should be done to prove its benefits.
As for other practices like mind-body practice, tai-chi, qigong or yoga, these focus on controlling breathing, focusing, calming the mental anxiety, and other conditions provoked by infertility itself. Further studies are needed to conclude if these practices can improve fertility.
Author: Stefano Pizzo, MD.
Dr. Stefano Pizzo is a general practitioner. He graduated from Universidad de Oriente (UDO), Barcelona, Venezuela. In his last year as a Medical student, he lent his services in the Departments of Gynecology and Obstetrics, General Surgery, Traumatology, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics at the "Luis Ortega" Central Hospital in Nueva Esparta State, doing assistance work in its Emergency and Hospitalization areas. Since then, he became a trained expert in Neural Therapy and he occupies the majority of his time writing valid and certified medical and scientific articles, especially in the Anti-Aging and Alternative Medicine fields.
Mr. Daniel Johnson, B.Sc.
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