Home / Acupuncture and Male Infertility

The numbers show that anywhere from 15-18 % of couples in the United States deal with infertility. By definition, they have been unable to conceive with frequent unprotected intercourse for one year or more. An estimated 10% of men are infertile, and the male partner is a factor in up to 50% of infertile couples.

What we do know is that male fertility issues can be a result of poor sperm production (volume), poor movement or circulation of sperm (motility) and abnormal sperm shape (morphology). Blockages that inhibit the delivery of sperm can also be a factor. Chronic health issues, lifestyle and dietary choices, disease or injury can be factors that can play a role in causing male fertility problems.

Another factor that can play a role in male infertility is varicoceles. A varicocele is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. This is one of the most common causes contributing to male infertility and one of the most reversible. Varicoceles usually result in a reduction of the quality of the sperm and treating it can improve sperm volume and function.

Most men do not notice any symptoms other than the inability to get their partner pregnant, but  signs and symptoms associated with male infertility can be present and include:

  • Difficulty ejaculating  or ejaculating small amounts of semen, reduced libido or difficulty maintaining an erection
  • Swelling, lumps or pain in the testicle area
  • Ongoing respiratory infections
  • Sense of smell diminished
  • Abnormal breast growth called gynecomastia
  • Decreased body hair
  • Having a sperm count lower than normal ( less than 15 million sperm per milliliter or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculation )

You should see a doctor if you have been unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse especially if you have any of the following:

  • Ejaculation or Erection issues, low libido, or other issues with sexual function
  • History of pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area
  • History of prostate, testicle or sexual issues
  • History of surgery on the testicles, scrotum or penis

Risk factors linked to male infertility include tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use, exposure to toxins, obesity, undescended testicles or trauma to the testicles, overheating the testicles, certain medical conditions including tumours, and the side effects of various medications.

Acupuncture for Male Infertility

Fertility issues can be frustrating, stressful and depressing. However there are a number of viable treatment options that are available. One of these is acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupuncture can help some men overcome infertility problems by improving the quality of their sperm. Recent research has found that just five weeks of acupuncture treatment reduced the number of structural abnormalities in sperm and increased the overall number of normal sperm in a group of men with infertility problems.

Previous studies of acupuncture and male infertility have suggested that acupuncture can improve:
1. Sperm volume (production)
2. Sperm motility (a measure of sperm movement)
3. Sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm)

Research Shows its Efficacy

A systematic evaluation of acupuncture as a treatment for male infertility included a total of 12 studies involving 2,177 patients. For the treatment of male infertility, acupuncture is reported to be equally effective as the application of Chinese herbs and more effective than Western medicine, and its effectiveness is enhanced when applied in combination with either TCM or Western medicine. Acupuncture is distinctively efficacious in improving sperm quality.

In another study, researchers analyzed the effects of acupuncture on the structural health of sperm in men struggling with fertility from unknown causes. The studies’ conclusions appear in the July 2015 issue of Fertility and Sterility.

28 infertile men received acupuncture two times a week for five weeks, and 12 received no treatment and served as a comparison group. Researchers analyzed sperm samples at the beginning and end of the study and found significant improvements in sperm quality in the acupuncture group compared with the other group. Acupuncture treatment was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm in ejaculate. The researchers write that acupuncture treatment is a simple, noninvasive method that can improve sperm quality.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26333228

http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20050803/acupuncture-may-improve-sperm-quality