Season 1, Episode 19

Spermageddon: The decline in male fertility with Dr. Olivia Pojer

Today, the majority of talk about fertility revolves around women. Despite this, men are actually the cause of 50% or more of fertility problems.

 

This week, Lorne speaks with Dr. Olivia Pojer all about male fertility. Medical doctor, acupuncturist, author, and Chinese medicine practitioner, she’s here today to bring you the inspiration that many men can become more fertile.

 

Male fertility problems might be common, but they are reversible. Dr. Pojer will explain to you the root issues behind male infertility and how you can avoid them. Then, she’ll give you easy but powerful tips to boost your sperm count in a natural way.

 

In only 3-6 months, you can be at peak fertility with the ability to give your future child a strong health blueprint. All it takes are some small lifestyle changes!



 

Key Topics/Takeaways:

 

  • Why most clinics focus on women. [4:00]
  • The reason a semen analysis is not a great indicator of fertility. [7:58]
  • How lifestyle affects fertility. [14:20]
  • Tips and tricks for men to enhance sperm quality. [17:52]
  • How alcohol and marijuana affect sperm quality. [22:46]
  • COVID-19 and sperm quality. [24:39]
  • How often to use Acupuncture and laser acupuncture to improve sperm quality. [31:30]
  • Herbs and supplements. [35:36]
  • Testing for supplements and adding herbs to your acupuncture for better results [37:00]
  • How to win the race to father a child faster [44:00]
  • How often to have intercourse if you’re trying to conceive. [52:04]
  • Bringing the joy back into sex. [55:46]


Watch the Episode

Read This Episode Transcript

Lorne Brown:

By listening to the Conscious Fertility Podcast, you agree to not use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others. Consult your own physician or healthcare provider for any medical issues that you may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guest or contributors to the podcast. Welcome to Conscious Fertility, the show that listens to all of your fertility questions so that you can move from fear and suffering to peace of mind and joy. My name is Lorne Brown. I’m a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and a clinical hypnotherapist. I’m on a mission to explore all the paths to peak fertility and joyful living. It’s time to learn how to be and receive so that you can create life on purpose.

I have a special guest today with us on the Conscious Fertility Podcast. It’s Dr. Olivia Pojer and she’s coming from Austria, Graz. This is the Conscious Fertility Podcast and we know a lot of our listeners are looking to grow their family, and quite often, the topics are consciousness, spirituality, quantum healing. We always get requests though about practical things on the physical body. What can we do? And we share on this podcast that it is dual, as in we’re looking at mind and body. So we’re not neglecting the body, it’s just that we’re getting pretty good on the physical. What supplements to take, diet, lifestyle, IVF, acupuncture. People are aware a lot, are more aware about what they can do physically. And so we emphasize the spiritual, mental, emotional, the consciousness side. As promise, every once in a while we’ll have a episode where we go back to the body and something that we think is missing or needs more attention.

And this is why we have Dr. Olivia Pojer on with us today because her focus is on male factor fertility on the men. Now, a little background, she is both a physician, so a medical doctor and also holds her diplomas in acupuncture and in Chinese herbal medicine. So I always joke that she’s like Doctor 3.0, she’s got both. She’s truly, when we talk about integrative medicine, when you go to see somebody that, or you go and have an integrative approach, I should say, where you’re getting both the Chinese medicine naturopathy and the Western. Well, she’s in one. She is integration. She is Doctor 3.0. She’s also a fellow of the ABRM, which stands for the Acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine. And she does have her own integrated fertility clinic in Austria near Graz.

And she has a big focus on male fertility and I’ve met her in the past because she is the organizer of the International TCM Congress called DAO in Graz where I’ve had the opportunity to speak. And she’s also attended my integrated fertility symposium in Vancouver. She’s also an author of two books, I have a signed copy of these books. One is called Secrets from the Chamber of Jade, which is treatment of erectile dysfunction and lack of libido using Chinese medicine. And her most recent book that came out in 2022 is the Integrated Treatment of Male Infertility. Olivia, welcome to the Conscious Fertility Podcast.

Olivia Pojer:

Thank you for having me. It’s such a pleasure to talk to you and to get a platform to spread my message.

Lorne Brown:

And it’s fun. First of all, I got to let our listeners know you’re fun. I’ve seen you do talks where you have stuffies let her sperm, right?

Olivia Pojer:

It’s Sam the sperm.

Lorne Brown:

Sam the sperm. So I’ve seen you do lectures with Sam the sperm. You’ve had topics called Spermageddon. So I like how you take a topic that it’s important and serious and you also make it approachable and easy to listen to and get involved in. So thanks for doing that. I want to ask you some questions around male factor. And I want to start off with, it seems like most of the clinics are focusing on the woman. What’s your thought on this? Are men being underserved, undervalued when it comes to fertility and couples wanting to grow their family?

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. So that’s a huge problem because on average it’s 40%. So if a couple can’t conceive, then it’s about 40% due to women’s issues and 40% due to the so-called male factor. So there’s something not working properly with this sperm quality. 20% is due to both just… Well, not fitting or working perfectly together to grow a healthy embryo. But when it comes to the clients that really attend fertility clinics, then it’s actually far more than 50% due to male factor infertility. So if you look at the fertility register, which we are every country does in Europe, and you look at the percentage, so it’s over 60% that they have to attend a fertility clinic due to male factor infertility.

And still, especially in the conventional, so Western medicine, 90% of the treatment and of the diagnostic things done focused exclusively, quite exclusively on the women. We are missing 50% of the puzzle because as you always keep saying, it takes two to tango, right? And if we are missing one half of the couple, we are not doing a proper chop. Well, it diminishes the chances of the couple to actually conceive. That’s a huge problem with Western medicine. But to be honest, in PCM for example, and I doubt it’s something different in any other naturopathic medicine [inaudible 00:06:14] then we really do focus on women far too much as well.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. And I don’t think it’s by choice. It seems like men just don’t seek out medical care and even when they get a diagnosis that it’s related to the male, it’s been my experience that it’s the women that still come in to my clinic. So I’m sitting across from a female partner and she’s telling me, “Yeah, we have issues. It’s the male.” And the guy’s not even there. And I think that’s global for the most part, is it not? That men are coming into the treatment as much as the women?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. But I think that is because there is just too little awareness that there are treatment options for diminished sperm quality. And often, it’s due to not even the fertility doctors being really aware that, for example, ICSI wouldn’t solve the problem, finally. So if they do any reproductive technique, they might get the couple pregnant. But what we are really aiming for is the so-called life birth rate. That means that the couple finally leaves hospital with a healthy baby. That’s what we should always aim for.

Lorne Brown:

An emphasis on healthy, too. And so you brought up a point here that it’s the awareness, and this is why I wanted to have you on the podcast, is when people are in couple relationships, so heterosexual male-female relationships, the guides are coming in saying… When they come in or their partner release is saying that, “He’s fine,” they said, “He’s fine.” And I remember in past lectures from you, you’re saying that the semen analysis is not a great indicator whether you’re fertile, it can really show you whether you’re having fertility issues. But a normal semen analysis today in the 2022 era is not necessarily a picture of health for sperm. Can you elaborate on that and tell us what’s been happening with the quality of sperm over the last couple of decades? And why you don’t use the semen analysis where they look at shape morphology, speed, motility, and count as a checklist that you’re okay?

Olivia Pojer:

Well, actually, I do use it because that’s the standard test for male fertility, but it doesn’t really dig deep enough. So that’s, I think, important to emphasize on. And what’s interesting because very, very recently, so two days prior to our podcast now, recording now, there’s a study published, a huge one, which is the update of one that was done in 2017 and caused the title Spermageddon, yeah?

Lorne Brown:

Mm-hmm.

Olivia Pojer:

So that was a huge wow, because in 2017 the results of this huge meta-analysis containing almost 50,000 semen analysis throughout the world’s population that resulted in that the sperm quality overall dropped by 50%. So that was when the Sun then had the headlines Spermageddon. So now, the updated version didn’t really make it better, but even more pragmatic. And I’m really looking forward what the headline of the Sunday Times will be this time, because it shows that with the updated data, it’s a drop for example, for a parameter called the total sperm count by 61.3% over the last 40 years. Actually, well, it leaves nothing to say, but use them, we’re having a huge problem. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Right. And when this drops, do they adjust the range, then for the semen analysis?

Olivia Pojer:

No. No. Well, they do, but what they do is that they lower the standard values.

Lorne Brown:

So that’s the key here. So when the semen analysis is normal, when you’re in range in 2022 or 2023, when you’re listening to this, if you’re in range, you’re telling me that 40 years ago you would be called infertile or subfertile, that they wouldn’t have been in the right range, the normal healthy range?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. Absolutely. So you can say every decade they put out new guidelines and new standard values, but they keep being lower in every decade. So what was pathological in the ’90s is absolutely normal nowadays. And that can’t be.

Lorne Brown:

It reminds me of my kids in high school how they all get such good grades and I think their ’90s are what we would’ve called ’70s or ’80s when I went to high school.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

So they’ve changed the standard, they’re all so smart, this generation with such high grades. But I think they’ve changed how the grade people. Let’s bring up this idea of awareness. And so what I think I heard you say earlier is that men can be up to 50% or more contributing to the infertility diagnosis, yet men aren’t being really treated well, as in to change their sperm parameters. We have a strategy, you called ICSI. So that’s when they inject the sperm into an egg. So it’s like IVY, but they take it one step further and put the sperm into the egg. But that’s a bypass, it’s a strategy. And you’re talking about we want to help them get to a live birth and have a healthy baby. So the men are contributing to what I’ve heard, and I’m just checking in with you, this is your expertise, even if you have a normal semen analysis, some of the reproductive urologists are suggesting that the men could be contributing to what’s considered an unexplained diagnosis for the couple or even early miscarriage for the couple?

Olivia Pojer:

So what you can’t see in a semen analysis is the inside quality of the DNA of that sperm. So it’s the paternal genome. He will pass on to his future child and you don’t know whether the parameters of a semen analysis, whether this DNA quality is good or it’s rubbish. So for that further tests would be needed, which are seldom done unfortunately because they are expensive. And for that, the WHO hasn’t really found standard values for that. And I think that’s a huge problem. You can’t say which, how many DNA fragmentations are normal and how many are not normal. And even the tests are not really that standardized, you know what I mean? So that’s a problem, obviously.

Lorne Brown:

So I think what we’re going to get into shortly is what people can do, what men can do to optimize their sperm to help increase their chances to have that live birth and a healthy baby. And so we’re understanding then that the semen analysis is rudimentary. It’s an important test. You still do it. It’s one of the better tests that we have. However, I think I’ve heard you say before, it’s reading the table of contents of a book, you haven’t really read the book, right? It’s really superficial. And so these other tests, DNA fragmentation, other tests and more tests will develop, can go in deeper and look and find out maybe there’s an issue with the sperm quality. However, that’s not easily available or affordable now.

I want to share, there’s good news here, because you’re like, “Okay. Men are over 50% involved and we don’t have a good test.” But there are things that are not invasive that men can be doing if you’re trying to have a baby. And I will even put out, Olivia, that if you’re just wanting to grow your family and you don’t even have an infertility diagnosis, these are things that the male partner and female partner can do. Because we’re going to talk about lifestyle, diet, all these things to help your egg and his sperm reach its peak fertility potential to give your child the best chance of a good health blueprint, right? And so these are just good lifestyle and natural ways to improve your overall health, including sperm health, right?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes.

Lorne Brown:

This is proactive.

Olivia Pojer:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Lorne Brown:

And men and women are a little different. We know this, right, Olivia? Men and women are a little different.

Olivia Pojer:

Okay.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. Okay. You’re going to go with that. The theory, the understanding is women have all their eggs from when they’re born, but men are constantly making sperm. How many sperm do we make per heartbeat? I remember it’s a pretty high number, right?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, it is. It’s 1,000 per second. Yeah. So that’s a huge number. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. That’s right. I’ve heard a 1,000 to 1,500 per heartbeat.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

And this is good news in that if you’ve been smoking or you’re hot-tubbing or just not a great lifestyle and your sperm does not look great. There is an opportunity often just by changing lifestyle, diet, supplements, acupuncture, I know you do Chinese herbal medicine. These are things that over time because men are making new sperm that you could start to have better sperm production because of what you’ve done with your lifestyle.

Olivia Pojer:

Absolutely. So lifestyle issues show up a lot in a semen analysis. So whether you do good things to your body or whether you harm your body by smoking, drinking, whatever, it will result in the parameters of the semen analysis.

Lorne Brown:

Usually, well, I got to tell you a story is 10 years ago a couple came to me and he was a smoker and we suggested he stopped smoking, because our goal is healthy baby. And so we thought this would be great to quit smoking. And he said that his reproductive endocrinologist said he didn’t have to because his semen analysis was normal. So you don’t agree with that, right? You don’t agree with them smoking, I’m saying? Even if the semen analysis is normal. That was 10 years ago. This is why I wanted to bring this up because what Olivia’s going to share and in her latest book on the integrative approach to treating male factor using Chinese medicine is this idea that there’s not a lot of awareness that men can do things. And so I’m really curious what you call your bag of tricks in your book that you can share with the audience. What are the things, or in your clinic when a couple come in and they’ve been delayed getting pregnant, what is the bag of tricks that you have that you are recommending and offering the men in your practice?

Olivia Pojer:

So first thing is what I ask them, whether they take drugs. So often it’s the case that just the normal medics, the normal drugs they take against their hypertension, whatever, harm the sperm protection. So maybe there’s some issues that can be optimized. For example, if they take a lot of painkillers, a lot of painkillers such as ibuprofen, for example, they lower the testosterone production, which then has a further diminishing effect on sperm quality. So I go through that. So just be aware that not for any little pain take a pain killer. So maybe that’s an advice. We are really overtaking painkillers and not being aware they could harm sperm quality. Second thing is, do the man do sports? If no, that’s bad. If too much, that’s equally bad. So there’s been studies out that for example, running or training for a marathon for about two hours a day, five days a week, really harms sperm quality and drops the normal values in the semen analysis by 50%.

So that is I think a very important advice, because there’s a lot of guys training and wanting to do marathon. That’s one thing on a male bucket list, it seems to me. So if you train for that, that’s absolutely the wrongest time to try to conceive or even worse go for any artificial reproduction. So that should be postponed, because that drop of the semen quality is reversible, of course. If you start doing sports in a normal way, in a normal amount, then that really recovers again. So the sports analysis to me in men is really essential. Then of course, other lifestyle things, just like doing a lot of hot-taps or I’m going to saunas regularly. The optimal production temperature of semen is 44 degrees Celsius. I’m not really good with the Fahrenheit. So actually it’s lower than the average body temperature and that’s why our testicles are outside in the scrotum because really they don’t like it too warm.

And every race of the temperature of the testicles harms the sperm production. So be aware if you put your cell phone in your pocket of the trouser, that is heating up your testicles. If you have to drive a lot, sitting in a car, having the heating of the car seat on, that is going to raise temperature and everything that really raises temperatures. It’s like cycling too much. You have a body position where your gonads are pressed too close to the body and heating up, taking hot baths, going to saunas, for example. Sometimes the problem with the temperature is even the chop. Think of bakers, for example. They are heating up their gonads just on the working place. So that is really essential. For example, those things, those temperature harming issues that can be avoided like the cell phone thing.

Lorne Brown:

I want to just add here. So you’re talking about heat insult, if it’s a minor heat insult, it affects the motility and if it’s a real big heating insult, it could affect the count. I’ve heard stories that in the old days, cowboys would take hot baths as birth control. It’s not a good approach if you’re trying to use it for birth control. But it’s important as a message that it can impact the count motility. I had a gentleman that had four sperm parameters and through diet, acupuncture, and herbs, and supplements, they became all normalized. And then at one point he came in and he showed how poor his count was. It was really crazy low. And we started looking and he goes, “I’m so healthy. I’ve been eating well, I’ve been taking my supplements, I do everything.” I mean, even doing infrared sauna three times a week.

Olivia Pojer:

Mm-hmm.

Lorne Brown:

So the good news was all he had to do was stop the saunas and within three to four months, everything was back to normal. So that message is heat insult. So I want you to continue, Olivia, but you said so prescription drugs, so pain meds like the NSAIDs can affect the sperm production, motility count possibly.

Olivia Pojer:

Yes.

Lorne Brown:

You talked about sports and just basically overexercising and heat insult. I’m curious what other things that you see that can be affecting the sperm and things that people can do as part of your bag of tricks. You talked about prescription drugs, what about recreational drugs, in Canada, marijuana is now a common use. It’s legal. So marijuana, alcohol, can you talk about that? And then also infections, illnesses like COVID, what’s the research showing us on that?

Olivia Pojer:

Marijuana harms sperm and diminishes counts, morphology and whatever of the semen, and even, that is far more important causes those DNA strength breaks, which really translated means that the paternal DNA is crap.

Lorne Brown:

So marijuana also known as pot use. So that’s something that can be negatively impact the sperm quality?

Olivia Pojer:

Alcohol. Well, we in Europe are really well-known for drinking far more than you, in Canada and USA.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

So the good news to the Europeans is that as Paracelsus says, “The dosage is the poison.” Alcohol per se, isn’t toxic. It depends on the amount. So what you allowed to drink statistically is one glass of wine or beer a day without harming your sperm. That’s the conclusion. So you don’t have to avoid it, because with me, if somebody says, “Well, you mustn’t or I forbid you to do,” then I suddenly get cravings for that. So it’s better to lower the amount and dosage with people. So it’s easier to handle then, just to keep away from too much alcohol, but you don’t have to really miss out on it.

Lorne Brown:

And then COVID, I was curious about… Because fevers can do it and I just know from us both being part of the ABRM, I know there was some discussion around COVID and sperm quality. So can you update us on the latest research on that?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, I can. What we maybe should put out prior to going through the COVID situation is that, as you said, sperm can recover and sperm is newly built every 74 to 90 days, okay? So approximately four times a year. You have the chance by changing your lifestyle, by living a happy life, by using all the advices we give up now to completely boost your sperm and renew your soldiers.

Lorne Brown:

Okay. Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

That’s what you can do.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. So that’s the good thing. Yeah. That almost every harm is reversible within three or six months, means one episode of sperm development taking three months or two cycles.

Lorne Brown:

And I’m glad you said that because I’ve heard other reproductive urologists say that if you went abracadabra, and you corrected the issue, so no alcohol and you fixed oxidative stress with taking antioxidants. So abracadabra today, everything’s fixed. In theory, because it takes 90 days for the sperm to mature, you would expect the sperm to be okay, but clinically they say, “It’s closer to six months.” So like you said, “Two cycles of the maturation of the sperm.” So to let people know I share this, that if you do an analysis three months after you make these changes and the changes haven’t shown up in the seam analysis, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. It may mean you need more time. So three to six months is more reasonable.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. And that is very important to know because COVID, we were talking about Spermageddon already prior to the pandemic, but now we have an issue with COVID being unfortunately able to enter cells in the testicle that are essential for the sperm production and harming their development. So what you can say is we all know that quite at the start of the pandemic, everybody was about war. That the virus harms the lungs. And the lungs are the organ and it suffers the most prominent infection and people had to get oxygen and everything. But what we found out now quite recently, means within the last year, is that the testicles actually have far more receptors for the virus than the lungs. So unfortunately, almost all of the cell types that are essential for the sperm development can be entered by the virus because they have those so-called ACE2 receptors.

So the cells that are responsible for nursing, the sperm in its development and the Leydig cells that are responsible for the production of the testosterone, the male hormone can be harmed by the virus too. And that is really bad, even the stem cells. What we now see with the latest research that has been published and the latest one is in October, one has been coming out in May as well and they say, “Well, COVID has a detrimental effect on semen quality.” And it really, really lowers every single parameter, because it really destroys the tissue of the testicle, which is necessary that a sperm can be produced. But the good news is that is reversible according to research. But it takes, and now we do know how many days approximately that recovery might take is about 120 to 180 days depending on the parameters.

Lorne Brown:

So that’s again four to six months. And so if you’ve had a COVID infection, this may delay getting pregnant if you’re trying naturally. So keep that in mind. And like you said, it can recover. So do you counsel your patients then that are choosing to use IVF or ICSI if they’ve had a COVID infection, are you suggesting maybe to wait it out or-

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, I do. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So whenever a man comes in showing me his semen analysis, one of my first questions after saying, “Hello, is have you had COVID?”

Lorne Brown:

Okay.

Olivia Pojer:

And if so, when? Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Right.

Olivia Pojer:

Because to me, that completely changes my time approach of therapy or my recommendation timeline for going for IVF or ICSI. So I really advise them to postpone it up to six months after the infection and that absolutely makes sense.

Lorne Brown:

Now, we’re going to get into the bag of tricks because people are like, “Okay. What can I do?” I want to read a quote from Dr. Ashok Agarwal who is an andrologist, a prolific publisher of research on male factor infertility. And also he’s in your book. So I want to read a quote from your book from Dr. Agarwal and he says, “As sperm quality has been declined over the last several decades, we need to use every tool we can to improve sperm quality, to improve a couple’s reproductive capacity. Therefore, there is an urgent need not only to explore the opportunities that Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture,” I think this was cool because often docs don’t mention the herbal part. “Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture offer to treat male fertility problems, but also to inform clinicians and scientists about the effects of herbal extracts, acupuncture needles and supplements on male reproductive functions.”

Goes on to say, “Combining the knowledge of Western medicine and evidence-based Chinese medicine with an integrative approach brings together the best of two worlds helping men to regain their fertility.” And that again is Dr. Agarwal who’s an andrologist. So can you talk about the best of two worlds? So again, you’re talking about your workup for the male, what you ask, making sure what prescription drugs are on because that can be impacting, recreational drugs, their activities and lifestyle where they’ve had infections like COVID. And then if it’s going to take three to six months, what are men doing in your practice for those three to six months to help optimize their fertility?

Olivia Pojer:

Well, of course, as a TCM practitioner they get acupuncture regularly, means once a week at least, for those 10 to 12 up to whatever weeks, but that has to be at least once a week. Yeah. It’s senseless to get them in every three weeks because you won’t have an outcome of that. It’s just too little input for regulating your body.

Lorne Brown:

Most of the research shows twice a week that’s been published and even in our-

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, that would be perfect.

Lorne Brown:

Ideal. So let’s talk about if you were the male and what you know what would you be doing to improve your sperm now that you know, what would you be doing?

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah, good question. So what I would do is to get acupuncture once a week and then have a session of laser acupuncture once a week too or try to borrow a laser. So what I sometimes do with my patients is they can rent a laser pen to then really… And I teach them some points and they do laser acupuncture, because the laser actually can be that game-changer, especially in terms of COVID destruction of the sperm because it focuses on the mitochondria and it rejuvenates and renews cells. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. As you know, I love the laser and in our clinic, people come twice a week because you’re saying twice a week, you’re doing one acupuncture a week and one laser a week. In our clinic in Vancouver at Acubalance, we’re combining, so they’re getting the acupuncture and the laser twice a week in those treatments. So yes, and the mitochondria for our listeners, that’s the powerhouse, the battery of the cell and that’s really important for the motility and the energy to cell for that sperm to fertilize the egg for example. So that’s why it’s so important and low-level laser therapy also can help regulate inflammation. I know when I talk to women laser, they think laser that either can cut or burn or that removes hair or for sculpting, that is not what we’re talking about.

Olivia Pojer:

No.

Lorne Brown:

This is called low-level laser therapy. It does not hurt. And I will just add that, talk to your professional. So Olivia tells the man how to use the laser system, what to rent, because you don’t want to heat the testes. And so there are some LED systems that would give off too much heat. And so again, it can help but you just want to know what system you’re using and it’s good to talk to your health professional so they can guide you on how to use it properly.

Olivia Pojer:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Don’t go and buy laser on Amazon and use it.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

That’s not what we’re talking about, right?

Lorne Brown:

Right.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. So it’s a professional item used by TCM practitioners and they might show you how that works.

Lorne Brown:

So twice a week, acupuncture and laser, and TCM for our listeners, Traditional Chinese Medicine is the acronym TCM. And what else are you going to be doing then if you’re looking to optimize your sperm quality, you’re doing acupuncture and laser twice a week, you cut down on your alcohol, you’re not doing pot or smoking.

Olivia Pojer:

I would go for herbs as well. So as a Chinese medicine doctor, I, of course, stand out for the Chinese herbs, but you could do Western herbs as well. There’s Indian herbs. So whatever herbal tradition your therapist is into, that might of course be a game-changer, because herbs are at the foundation of any drug that has ever been invented. They always root on how herbs work in our body. Best example is Viagra for example. That roots on actually Yin Yang Huo, which is a very common herb out of our Chinese herbal backup tips.

Lorne Brown:

Do you remember for Yin Yang Huo, the nickname for it, in English, Horny Goat Weed?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. And, of course, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

So, yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

It’s not so cool in German. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

Because it’s the Bishop’s Hat then, I prefer really. So the truth translation is Horny Goat Weed.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. And wasn’t aware of that Viagra that was part of the history behind using that herbal root. Interesting. Because that’s in a lot of formulas for male factor fertility. So-

Olivia Pojer:

Of course, yes. Herbal medicine really is a game-changer. So only going for acupuncture might not be strong enough to change a really huge pathology. That might work for some, where you need to just do slight corrections, but if just due to COVID, your sperm quality is really diminished by 70%, then you need to really, really try and do everything to improve your sperm and that absolutely need some oral intake of herbs and you might want to go for supplements as well. So I always use supplements and I test which supplements are needed through blood tests.

Lorne Brown:

Oh, good to hear you do that. In our practice, we have naturopathic positions and we don’t always do the testing we’d wish and like to just some people choose not to have it done to see where they are deficient. But we do have some general antioxidants we like. Do you have the top five? I’m putting you on the spot here, but what are some of the antioxidants that you like to see that men would be taking that come to mind or supplements? Nutraceuticals?

Olivia Pojer:

Number one is zinc. Why? Because the chocolate contains the highest amount of zinc in the body. So obviously, sperm needs zinc. So you have to substitute that if it’s not enough. So if the level is not on the highest range, that’s what I mean. Do you understand what I mean? It’s not just in the range, it’s really almost over at the top.

Lorne Brown:

So we’re talking functional medicine ranges, and again, talking to my colleagues in my practice, the naturopathic physicians, what Olivia is conveying as well here is that we have a range, but you don’t want to be at the bottom of the range. It’s like at school, a pass is 50 to 100, but you don’t want to be at 51% because that’s a pass. You’d rather be closer to the 100%.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. Sure. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

So she’s saying that a lot of functional medicine clinics and Chinese medicine practitioners and way Olivia practices because she’s an MD, she wants you at the higher end of the range and so-

Olivia Pojer:

So it’s zinc, then it’s selenium, which is essential as well. But actually number two might be CoQ10. So that is really my cell magic powder. Yeah. Then folic, I think it’s essential also for men.

Lorne Brown:

Do you like vitamin D? Do you like the fish oil?

Olivia Pojer:

Oh, yes. Yeah. I like vitamin D for the overall cell power of a body. I don’t think it’s in the top three for the sperm quality, but I think it’s essential for the overall health of a male. So therefore, I would go with vitamin D because also it’s easy to substitute as well. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

And what about the fish oil, the essential fatty acids, Omega-3s. Do you like those for men?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, I do. I do. Yeah. But I often use them in combinations and also, I really love L-Carnitine for example. Yeah. I found out, I have to say quite recently that the maca root, which rose in Peru. The black one. There are several colored different types, but the black maca root improves morphology problems.

Lorne Brown:

And let’s remind our listeners that diet, it’s a good diet. You can’t be eating fast food, poor diet and think the supplements are going to be the solution. They are called supplements, as in they supplement the diet, they’re not drugs, right? They’re supplements. And so these are just, I call them, catalyst to help you, right? To speed up the process and to support you. But you talk about diet as well, I imagine in your practice?

Olivia Pojer:

Yes, I do of course. And there’s been research going on to find out which is the perfect diet for improving sperm quality and the result is the so-called Med diet is the one you want to go for, which is what the Italians eat. Excluding pasta and pizza and tons of bread. So every the Mediterranean food containing a lot of vegetables and fish and seafood, for example. Also some chicken, for example, is really good or steaks. So really proper meat of good quality that would work, too.

Lorne Brown:

And so reviewing your bag of tricks, acupuncture and laser acupuncture you’re using in your practice, diet and lifestyle. So phones and laptops out of your pocket, alcohol dosage matters, stay away from recreational drugs. And then you’re interested in what kind of prescription drugs you’re taking. Stress and sleep. I know you talk about that in your book as well. So lifestyle. This is all lifestyle, right? And then we talked about acupuncture and laser acupuncture, you like to use Chinese herbal medicine in your practice as do I in Vancouver for the men, as well as supplements. So that’s a big part of your bag of tricks then. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements and then diet, and lifestyle, and stress reduction.

Olivia Pojer:

It seems a lot. So it’s a hard thing to do for a man doing so much things, but altogether they make you win the prize. It’s like if you want to or in former times, just prior to the invention of the cars. They used cabbages. Is it cabbage?

Lorne Brown:

Like you’re talking about the horse and buggy?

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. To be really fast where you want to go, you wouldn’t put one horse in front of your cabbage to carry it.

Lorne Brown:

Oh I see what you’re saying. The carriage. Carriage.

Olivia Pojer:

The carriage. Yeah, that’s the word I was looking for.

Lorne Brown:

Okay.

Olivia Pojer:

True. Yeah. So okay, more horses carrying your carriage makes you win the prize faster, means father a child. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Has it-

Olivia Pojer:

That’s it. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Has it been your experience, because you say it seems like a lot and when the men come in, and again, it’s been a challenge compared to women. Women, they come, they really do come in, they follow their treatment plans. We do. When I started in 2000, we didn’t see very many men, in 2022 we’re seeing more men involved than we did in 2000. But nothing compared to the women.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

What I found interesting, my question for you is, the men that do come, they love the acupuncture, they chill out on the table, they have naps at first they’re nervous, they’re worried. The common question I get is, where are you going to put the needles? So they think fertility, so they think we’re going to needle their penis. They don’t get their penis needled.

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. They think you’re going to make a cactus out of it, right?

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So the penis does not get needles.

Olivia Pojer:

No.

Lorne Brown:

We should let people know that’s not where it happens. That’s not where the needles go. Usually, below the extremities, below the elbows and knees and maybe a few below the navel, but they don’t go into the penis and they like it. They have a little siesta, they have a nap on the table is what happens. And they come to really enjoy this rest. They say it really rejuvenates them for the week. So they like that. I want to ask you another thing, just comparing Austria to Canada here. When I ask the men, when I see them solo and I say, “So why are you here?” It’s a good question, right? Somebody comes into your clinic, “Why are you here?” The number one answer I get from men is my wife sent me.

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. Yes.

Lorne Brown:

Is that what you got?

Olivia Pojer:

Same here.

Lorne Brown:

Okay. So the men I see, it’s interesting, now we’ll talk about the conscious side of it. The men I see in the relationship is that the females equal or even sometimes dominant, because she makes the man come to the clinic, right? If he’s the dominant one, then he may not come if he’s not interested in this. A cute story for you is years ago, a woman came in and she’s 40, no known fertility issues. She did have issues with fibroids that removed years ago and she was just being proactive. She was like, “I just want to optimize my fertility for the next three months. I just want to do acupuncture and diet and supplements.” She was into that whole idea healthy baby, right? “Get my eggs to the peak fertility potential.” And she wanted her husband to do it as well. So she sent him in for a consult and it so happened that when she was coming in for her follow-up, he was just leaving from his initial and she came in and she said, “Oh, I’m glad you just saw him. Is he booking?”

I go, “Well, he just left and no, he chose not to book.” And he follow-up, she goes, “One second.” So she leaves, you hear a little bit of commotion by the elevators out there and then she comes back and she says, “Yeah. He’ll be booking those appointments.” So that’s where the relationship’s equal or she has a lot of say in the relationship. We have found that if it’s up to the guy, historically, they don’t tend to come in. I will say, because I don’t want to live in the past as of late 2022 when we’re recording this, more and more men are really getting involved in their health. They’re looking to reduce their stress, they’re looking to improve their sleep and energy and more and more are looking to be proactive and get involved in the fertility journey. It’s still nowhere near how many women come in to be proactive, but it’s a lot better than it was over 20 years ago.

Olivia Pojer:

That’s true. And what might be interesting and also really essential and encouraging a man to actually do something for their health, not only for their fertility, but a poor semen analysis is set to be the window to a man’s health. So it shows that something isn’t really working properly in his body, means he is sick to some point he can’t produce proper sperm. So he might be unable to produce proper healthy cells at all, means he’s more prone to get cancer. And that is really statistically proven. So-

Lorne Brown:

The risk factors, so what you’re saying here is, I’ve heard it, the male infertility is the canary in the mind for men’s health. And so if they’re having sperm quality issues, that’s the symptom that there’s something else going on that could lead to other risk factors to other diseases. So we do want to have further workup as physician you’re saying and also proactive treatment.

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. You need to have that. Yeah. Because maybe you don’t want a child as much as your wife or your partner, which is often the case. And therefore, I really like to have a couple coming together for the first time, because I really want to see they are a partnership communication and sometimes you get a glimpse on who is the more proactive one in terms of that they want to conceive a child. And it’s not always the woman, I have to say, sometimes it’s really the man forcing but maybe too hard. So that isn’t helping at all. They have to do something for his overall health because what we know is that the probability of getting cancer, gut cancer, is it gut cancer? No. For example, three times higher than with fertile men, means with men having a normal semen analysis, for example, or prostate cancer.

Lorne Brown:

And so just to remind the listeners is the men are involved to 50% or more into fertility issues. And so unexplained in fertility and early pregnancy laws, some are saying now the data is saying the reproductive urologists are saying that this likely could be contributed to the mail. And you are sharing as well that if there’s some issues, since men are constantly making sperm and that cycle of maturation for production and maturing sperm is 70 to 90 days, that two cycles, and you could have better sperms. So give yourself three to six months of eating well, your lifestyle. So how you exercise your sleep, your stress reduction, and then using proactive things like acupuncture, laser acupuncture, Chinese herbs and supplements and a good diet. And doing that over three to six months while you’re continuing to try to conceive, you may see a change in your semen analysis. And even if your semen analysis is considered normal, but you’re having issues getting pregnant, this would be something that you’re recommending men. That’s what I think if I summarized what you shared today. Did I hear you well?

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. Yeah. And to the end, maybe let’s talk a little bit about sex, right? Because-

Lorne Brown:

I’m waiting for that because I know one of your books is about erectile dysfunction and libido. So, Olivia, let’s talk about sex.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. Keep best to last. Yeah. No, that is really, really a well-meant advice that a parent that wants to conceive has to increase their frequency of intercourse. Yeah. It’s not enough you chance to have intercourse one or two days prior to the women’s ovulation. But you have to really, really get going. You have to start having intercourse statistically best every day starting from six days prior to your ovation and then continue having sex. Because there’s one very interesting study that if a couple fathers a child without having lots of sex prior to the conception, for example, they just start to try to conceive and it worked in the second cycle, then the female body isn’t used to the paternal DNA well enough and then it produces an immunologic reaction causing cystitis, for example. And I think that’s really interesting. And therefore, as a woman, get your body used to that foreign material that contributes half to your baby inside of you. You should really have sex. Lots of sex.

Lorne Brown:

Anybody that likes to have lots of sex, whether you’re female or male, now you have an excuse to tell your partner why you have to have more sex, it’s for the health. It’s our health. We’re building up resistance.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. And especially, with poor se quality, you want to have a high turnover. So you want to have fresh soldiers put out every time you have sex. So therefore the poor the semen quality is, that more helpful, it would be to have daily sex, because that also improves the sperm quality, which is interesting. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

And what about, because in our practice some have been trying for so long and having so much sex, it gets uncomfortable. And I wanted to unpack a little bit about what you said and one is six days before ovulation. So I align with that. I agree with that. If when you’re ovulating start at least six days before, often I’ll tell couples that every other day. And if they’re testing for the ovulation predictor test the LH surge then on that day and the next day. And the reason being is because sperm can live in a female’s body on average three to five days. So every day, you’re saying it’s great, because especially if there’s some sperm issues, it’s just you’re saying it’s good to do it every day.

But for those where the semen analysis looks somewhat okay, you’re doing all these proactive things, and really you just don’t have the energy or the desire to have it every day and it becomes uncomfortable then every other day is what we would recommend. And I’m just checking in with you, because you’re the expert in here. What do you say for the couple that are like, “We don’t want to do it every day?”

Olivia Pojer:

Yes. I totally get them because it gets a duty over time and you don’t want that. Because sperm quality also depends on the grade of arousal and that’s really interesting. So what experts say when it comes to which sex to have the best sperm quality and to be sure to be able to father a child, then it comes to two words, hot and hard.

Lorne Brown:

This is important because I’ve heard this before from other colleagues when you talk about the erection. Because a lot of times when you’re in the baby-making mode, it becomes a duty, like you said, and you’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible where the guy really isn’t, he’s organisming, but it’s not like a hot, hard, it’s not a fully-wreck hard erection. And I want to pull out some Chinese medicine here. So this kidney Yang, this energy, the Yang, right? We want this strong Yang and I often think of it as a bow and arrow, if you’re having intercourse, but it’s just really just to orgasm. Not you’re not really enjoying it and not really heartfelt in it. It’s like you’re pulling the bow back, the string, I should say, not really tense. So when the arrow goes, it goes boom, right?

But if you really pull it back hard, lots of tension and you let it go, it goes straight and fast. And so often when I’m talking to couples, it’s that idea that if you can bring joy back into it, make it fun. And even for the guy, don’t rush this, hold back a bit. Really build up what we call this Yang energy. Build this up as you said, because I love Olivia when we talk sex at workshops, it does need to be, or you’re saying it sounds like it’s more beneficial from how Chinese medicine thinks if the man is hot and hard, because kidney Yang it… Because a cold penis is a diagnostic, right? If the man feels his penis is cold, that means something in Chinese medicine.

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. True. So for the couple, getting away from that beauty shop might be the advice to really start being creative. Start playing games. Start doing some plays. Some role plays, for example, that is really good. Or for the women, cook a meal just wearing high heels. That’s perfect. Or watch porn together. Bringing in new women. Changes. Yeah. We, as women don’t want to hear that, but actually changes and increases sperm quality. So you don’t have to bring in and do a threesome. A new woman. That’s not my advice. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Okay. I’m glad you clarified that because I wasn’t sure exactly what I just heard.

Olivia Pojer:

Well, you can if you want to, but you know don’t have to, to can fake that by watching porn together and that actually really has a positive effect on the sperm quality and that’s easy to do. And that’s something you are not used to. That gets you away of that every day intercourse thing. Yeah. That’s something really exciting. Something new and so far in. So try to go on sex dates somewhere else. Just try to surprise you as a couple and try to really look over the plate when it comes to sex. Don’t stick to the… Well, in German we say flower sex, I don’t know.

Lorne Brown:

Flower sex.

Olivia Pojer:

Or dating sex. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Okay.

Olivia Pojer:

So don’t be vanilla.

Lorne Brown:

Okay. Don’t be vanilla?

Olivia Pojer:

[inaudible 00:59:30] your sex, too. Yeah.

Lorne Brown:

When we started, I didn’t put this was Rated-R podcast today, but we’re talk about reproductive health and I’m glad, Olivia, that you’re here to talk about this. Because in my practice, I don’t get into the sexy talk as much as you do. But it’s important, right? It is important. And so-

Olivia Pojer:

Yeah. It’s essential.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah.

Olivia Pojer:

Because you can’t… Well, nowadays unfortunately, there’s a trend excluding sexuality from reproduction.

Lorne Brown:

Well, that’s the one, unfortunately, when you do IVF, that we’ve taken sex out of the reproduction so that this is a whole other topic. And I like that you have brought up the intention, because it’s hard to make it fun. We’re getting it. You’re stressed already. You’re trying. And so it’s the playful intention. So experiment. It may not work, right? You may set up a date and do something and it just didn’t happen the way you thought happened. But if you don’t try, you don’t know. So you’re suggesting some playfulness, bring some intention into it. Couples have shared that even though they both know what’s going on, we’re trying to make a baby here. When you pretend and set the intention, after a few minutes, you forget and you get into the role and you have a good time. At the beginning, it’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable.

I know that you know that I know that we’re trying to have a baby here. However, they do say after minutes into this role play or this new experience that it’s fun. And so they do find it a different experience. So thank you for bringing that up as well. All right. So we have Dr. Olivia Pojer with us today, from Austria, from Graz. And I do want to let, if my colleagues are watching this, if you’re a clinician, an acupuncturist, any health professional that works in reproductive health, so reproductive endocrinologist or urologist, I do want to let you know that Olivia has a book out called The Integrated Treatment of Male Infertility with Chinese Medicine. So do check that out as well. It’s something you want in your library, so you can implement some of these approaches for the men, or at least you become aware, so you can refer them in your city to a Chinese medicine acupuncturist to implement these bag of tricks that Olivia offers in her book. Olivia, thank you very much and I look forward to having you back on the Conscious Fertility Podcast.

Olivia Pojer:

Thank you. It was a good time and I hope the people listening had a good time too, and have some tricks now that they really want to implement in their everyday life

Lorne Brown:

Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of Conscious Fertility, the show that helps you receive life on purpose. Please take a moment to subscribe to the show and join the community of women and men on their path to peak fertility and choosing to live consciously on purpose. I would love to continue this conversation with you, so please direct message me on Instagram at @lorne_brown_official. That’s Instagram, lorne_brown_official, or you can visit my websites lornebrown.com and acubalance.ca. Until the next episode, stay curious and for a few moments, bring your awareness to your heart center and breathe.

Olivia Pojer

Olivia Pojer

Dr. Olivia Pojer MD studied medicine at the University of Graz, Austria, and graduated from Doctor Medicinae Universae (Dr. Med. Univ.) in 2004, and general practitioner since 2009. In 2010, she established a medical practice for Chinese medicine in Gleisdorf, Austria.

Dr. Pojer is a lecturer and the course instructor of the OGKA (Austrian Society for Controlled Acupuncture and TCM), who teaches and lectures in Austria and worldwide. She is a Fellow of the ABORM and holds an Acupuncture Diploma and a Diploma for Chinese Herbal Medicine from the Austrian Medical Association, a diploma for further training in “Master-Tung acupuncture” by Henry McCann (USA), a diploma for “Integrative medicine in assisted reproduction (ART)” by the German association for reproductive medicine, diploma for advanced training in TCM from the Universities of Nanjing and Wuhan (China). Since June 2019, Dr. Pojer is the President of the OGKA.

She is the author of the books “Secrets from the chamber of Jade-Treatment of erectile dysfunction and lack of libido with Chinese Medicine”, published by Müller & Steinicke in May 2017, and “The Integrative Treatment of Male Infertility With Chinese Medicine”

 

Where To Find Dr. Olivia Pojer:

 

Instagram: @oliviapojer

 

Book: The Integrative Treatment of Male Infertility With Chinese Medicine 

 

Online Course on Healthy Seminars by Dr Olivia Pojer  https://healthyseminars.com/bio/olivia-pojer



 

 

Hosts & Guests

Lorne Brown
Arieyu Zhang

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