If you or your partner are struggling with infertility issues, you are not alone. More and more couples are struggling to conceive. A 2017 meta-analysis study found ‘a significant decline in sperm counts…between 1973 and 2011’ of up to 50-60% among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Recent figures estimate that 1 in 7 couples will struggle with getting pregnant and up to 30% of those will be due to problems with fertility markers in the male partner alone. This is such a growing problem that I was recently involved in a mainstream Channel 4 programme about male fertility, made to raise awareness and inform young men of the steps they can take to be more reproductively healthy.
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive it’s important to first consult your Doctor to have a full assessment and address any underlying medical concerns. Male infertility can be caused by ‘mechanical’ sexual dysfunction issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, and/or cellular or hormonal issues such as sperm count (volume of ejaculate), sperm motility, concentration of sperm, shape of the sperm and low testosterone. Factors that you can control also play a big part – diet, exercise, whether you’re a smoker or not, lifestyle, medications and even the personal and household cleaning products you use can all have an effect on fertility.
Among the various measures and interventions suggested by fertility specialists is testicular massage. There are many reasons that testicular massage can help improve fertility markers in men which we’ll explore in this article.
It’s well documented that massage, and mindful self-touch, reduce overall stress levels. Stress affects the hormones that produce healthy sperm and also reduces your libido. Incorporating things like exercise, meditation, breath work and massage into your routine will be helpful in reducing stress. When the nervous system is stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ state through chronic stress, this also has a negative effect on your ability to get and sustain an erection – a pretty major mechanical barrier to getting pregnant!
Increasing blood flow:
Massage increases blood flow to the pelvic region generally, and the testicles specifically. Restricted blood flow caused by muscular tension can mean that waste products are not cleared from the cells and tissues as efficiently; the cells do not get the optimal amount of oxygen they need to create healthy, strong sperm; and nerve function can be reduced which can cause problems with the muscular contractions needed for ejaculation. By massaging regularly (note this is different to ‘wanking’) you will increase the efficiency of blood flow in and around your genitals.
Keeping the testicles cool:
Massaging the scrotum (which is a muscle) can help it to relax and therefore keep the testicles hanging in an optimal position. The balls hang outside the body to keep them a couple of degrees cooler than body temp, which is more beneficial for sperm production.
Massage can reduce inflammation and the impact of scar tissue (if, for example, there has been a previous surgery/trauma/infection). Inflammation and scar tissue can cause blockages in the delivery of sperm and prostatic fluid from the testes and prostate to the urethra. If you feel that scar tissue might be a contributing factor in your infertility issues (e.g. if you’ve had abdominal surgery, a pelvic infection or an STI) then please get in touch for specific scar tissue remediation sessions.
Improving premature ejaculation:
If you struggle with premature ejaculation this can mean you’re struggling with a low volume of ejaculate – not ideal for maximising your chances of getting pregnant! Incorporating mindful self-massage, and non-goal oriented, relaxing touch into your life will help you master your ejaculation response by teaching your body how to stay relaxed when aroused and not clench up into early ejaculation. PE is a spectrum: on the extreme end I’ve worked with men who ejaculate before they even get to penetration – not great for getting pregnant! But even at the less ‘extreme’ end, with penetration that lasts for only a couple of minutes, you are not creating the most optimal environment for your swimmers. If you are only penetrating your partner for a a few minutes, her vaginal walls and cervix don’t really have enough time to relax and drop down into the most receptive position for your sperm. This applies even during fertile phase of cycle when the cervix is already lower in the vaginal canal. Being able to last longer will mean that your partner’s vagina will be more relaxed, and her cervix in a better position, than if you’re just in there for a couple of minutes.
Changing your masturbation routine:
The typical hurried masturbation techniques that most guys adopted during adolescence, and probably haven’t changed over the course of a decade or more, cause compression and tension in the base of the penis, the perineum and the pelvic floor. Adding some more mindful massage techniques to your masturbation routine will encourage relaxation and decompression (rather than tightening and contracting) – again, allowing for more optimal blood flow and oxygen distribution to cells and tissues. To learn more about this check out my 8 week online course in mindful masturbation.
Reducing your ejaculation frequency:
The Tantric approach to masturbation and sex is based on the principle of avoiding peak orgasm/ejaculation. Scientific studies show that it takes at least 7 days to bring your testosterone back up to optimal levels after an ejaculation. So if you’re cumming every day you’re draining your sexual energy and not allowing your testosterone to replenish. This has a negative impact on fertility. The kind of touch and massage on the genitals that I’m encouraging in this blog are intended to help you connect with relaxed arousal (rather than the typical goal-oriented, tension based experience of masturbation), meaning you are less likely to ejaculate by mistake. If your partner is tracking her cycle you can do your part by avoiding ejaculation in the week prior to her ovulation, and doing regular self-massage in that time (or receive massage from her). To learn more about giving and receiving genital massage check out my online courses for couples.
Preparation: be somewhere private where you are comfortable and relaxed. You might like to have some oil available (e.g. coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil). Set aside 10-20 minutes for yourself, switch off your phone etc.
Let go of goals: this kind of self-touch is not about arousal – it’s different to masturbation. This is a new concept for a lot of guys: that you can connect with your genitals without the goal of erection or ejaculation. Some of these techniques might feel relaxing or pleasurable, that’s absolutely fine, but if you find that you start going into old patterns of masturbation just pause and reset your intention. Also don’t freak out if you don’t get hard. Focus instead on keeping your body relaxed and paying attention to the sensations that you do feel in your body (rather than the expectations or habits you might have in your mind).
Find a comfortable position: I recommend either sitting up on the sofa or in bed, with pillows to support your back, placing the soles of the feet together and letting the knees drop out to the sides (place pillows under your knees for support so your inner thighs can relax).
Image taken from my online course in mindful masturbation
1.Cupping with the hands, expanding the breath into the pelvis
Place your palms over your penis and scrotum and just hold still – no fiddling, no fidgeting, no tugging or stroking. As you inhale let your lower belly expand and place your attention down into the bowl of your pelvis. Take 5 or so deep breaths here, letting the exhale sigh out through the mouth.
2. Kneading with the palm of the hand
Place the heel of your hand over your scrotum and testicles at the base of your penis, the fingers should wrap lightly round to the underside of your balls. Make a ‘kneading’ movement to press the heel of the hand towards the fingers. Begin really gently, very light pressure onto your balls. Move the hand around slightly so that you can knead both testicles.
3. Stretching and massaging the scrotum
With finger and thumb, pull gently down on the skin of the scrotum (towards your toes). Massage the skin between your fingers and thumbs. Again, begin gently. Work round from the base of your testicles to the sides and back.
4. Rolling between the finger pads and thumbs
Hold each testicle lightly between the first two/three fingers and your thumbs. Gently roll your balls between your fingers, massaging the actual testicles. This might feel a little achey, it should never feel painful. Gradually add pressure if you feel comfortable.
Image taken from my online course in mindful masturbation
5. Root to tip touch for the penis
Add a little oil to your hands then turn the hand so the thumb and forefinger are closest to the body (not the little finger). Gripping the shaft of your cock, slide the hand along from the base to the tip (away from the body). Repeat with the other hand so you create a nice flowing, continuous touch. Move slowly, experiment with gently stretching outwards with a bit more pressure.
6. Massaging the perineum
Using the pads of the first two or three fingers massage in circles on the perineum (the area underneath your balls, before your anus). Use a little oil for this one too.
Male factor fertility issues are typically easier to treat than female factor issues, so being proactive with a holistic approach will likely bring you noticeable improvements. Fertility issues are often a symptom of something more systemic being out of whack in your body, and addressing your overall wellbeing with these foundational principles will go a long way to helping you, and your partner, out.
Lack of sleep, and lack of quality sleep, affects basically every aspect of health. Improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ by going to bed and waking at the same time each day, switching off from devices at least 1.5 hours before bedtime and maybe read ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker (it’s an eye opener!)
Lose excess weight:
Being overweight puts unnecessary stress on your cardiovascular system, nervous system, immune system and reproductive system. Find ways to move more and reduce/remove processed foods from your diet. Speak to a nutritionist, work with a personal trainer, speak to your doctor if you feel weight loss would benefit your fertility journey.
Speak to a specialist:
Be proactive – get your hormones checked, visit a urologist who specialises in male fertility and/or seek out genetic testing or a sperm analysis before you start your pregnancy journey. Knowing the ‘lie of the land’ will help you optimise your health and lifestyle now if having a family is a priority for you in the future.
**I am not a medical professional or fertility expert: please always consult your GP or healthcare practitioner for personalised medical advice.
If this blog has resonated for you, or raised questions, please feel free to get in touch to arrange an individual or couples session.