Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history in the East of focussing on male sexual health. In modern practice, this means that TCM may provide a natural, non-invasive way to enhance semen parameters, giving a new hope for male fertility.
Several factors may be responsible for declining male fertility including:
Sperm quality has been correlated with more than simply fertilisation rates, but with factors such as development of the fertilised egg, implantation and perhaps more importantly, the development of the embryo itself. So occurrences like miscarriages could have more to do with sperm quality than we imagined, and treatments that focus solely on the woman may indeed miss the mark. If you are considering a pre-conception programme, or if infertility is unexplained, the aim is to maximise sperm and egg quality.
We offer a professional, friendly and relaxed approach at the clinic, with over 15 years in working with a wide range of male fertility issues. Our acupuncture treatments are based upon up-to-date research using clinic protocols chosen to help boost male fertility, and to address overall health and well-being.
We use points in the abdomen and leg which help to increase blood flow through the small blood vessels of the testes, improving delivery of nutrients to developing sperm and promoting optimal sperm vitality. Chinese herbal formulas have a successful record in improving semen parameters and may also be recommended.
There is a clear link to male fertility with both nutritional and lifestyle issues. Part of our comprehensive approach includes making suitable dietary recommendations in order to support and maximise our impact upon poor sperm parameters. Often a sensible, planned and individual approach, plus some persistence, helps to address many of the factors linked to reproduction.
It takes around 90 days to create new sperm, so positive effects from acupuncture sessions as well as from nutritional and lifestyle changes are maximised after this period. Follow up testing by semen analysis is recommended as a way to demonstrate the positive changes made from healthy choices.
Many clinical trials in several countries have demonstrated the benefit of acupuncture to improve sperm quality.
This is particularly the case where there is low motility or high numbers of abnormal forms. Authors from a study in 2005 concluded 'In conjunction with ART or even for reaching natural fertility potential, acupuncture treatment is a simple, non-invasive method that can improve sperm quality'.
Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility.
Pei J et al. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7 Fertility and Sterility
A group of infertile men who had pathological semen analyses according to WHO criteria, were treated with acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks. A statistically significant increase after acupuncture in the percentage and number of sperm with no structural defects was demonstrated compared to the control group of patients who received no treatment. They concluded that male infertility patients could benefit from having acupuncture. A general improvement of sperm quality, specifically in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, was seen after acupuncture.
Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality.
Siterman S et al Arch Androl. 1997 Sep-Oct;39(2):155-61 Archives of Andrology
A group of infertile men with abnormal semen analysis were randomly divided into 2 groups; one group was given 10 acupuncture treatments over 5 weeks, and the other group, no treatment. Significant improvements (p < 0.05) were demonstrated in the acupuncture group compared to the control group, in particular improved motility and morphology.
Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study.
Siterman S et al Andrologia. 2000 Jan;32(1):31-9. Andrologia
This pilot study once again showed a positive effect of acupuncture on sperm count - but this time on men with such low sperm counts (or no sperm) that they would usually require a testicular biopsy to extract sperm for use in an IVF cycle. Seven of the 15 men with no sperm at all produced sperm detectable by the light microscope after a course of 10 acupuncture treatments (p < 0.01) ie enough sperm could be produced for ICSI to be performed without recourse to testicular biopsy. The control group with similar semen analysis had no treatment and showed no change after 3 months
Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities.
Gurfinkel E et al Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8. Asian Journal of Andrology
In a prospective, controlled and blind study, a group of infertile men (married for 3 - 11 years without children) were randomized into two groups, the treatment group receiving 10 acupuncture treatments and the control group receiving sham acupuncture treatments. The patients in the acupuncture group demonstrated a significant increase in the percentage of normal forms compared to the control group.
Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology.
Zhang M et al J Huazhong Univ Sci Tech Med Sci.2002;22(3):228-30 Journal of Huazhong University ( Abstract in Chinese)
This trial looks at sperm behaviour in an IVF setting. It was a “before and after” study involving 82 infertile men with pathological semen abnormalities and who’s sperm achieved a poor fertilization rate in at least 2 IVF/ICSI cycles. They were given acupuncture twice a week over 8 weeks and the IVF/ICSI cycles were repeated. The fertilization rates after acupuncture (66.2%) were significantly higher than that before treatment (40.2%) (P < 0.01).
A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia
Dieterle et al Fertil Steril 2009 Oct; 92 (4): 1340–3 Fertility and Sterility
This recent small clinical trial randomised 57 patients who had extremely low sperm counts, to acupuncture and placebo acupuncture groups. After receiving acupuncture twice weekly for 6 weeks, motility of sperm (but not overall count) was found to increase significantly. The authors conclude that the results of the present study support the significance of acupuncture in male patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. More evidence with larger trials needs to be accumulated before the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture in male infertility can be evaluated.
Correlation of psychological changes and spermiogram improvements following acupuncture (article in German)
Riegler R et al Urologe A. 1984 Nov;23(6):329-33 Der Urologe
This German group were the first to publish studies on the affect of acupuncture on sperm parameters. In this study they not only not measured changes in semen analysis after acupuncture but also certain psychological parameters.
Point- and frequency-specific response of the testicular artery to abdominal electroacupuncture in humans
Cakmak Y et al, Fertil Steril 2008;90:1732–8 Fertility and Sterility
Just as electrocaupuncture can increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, so it can to the testicles. These authors demonstrate that particular frequencies applied for just 5 minutes are effective in increasing blood flow in the testes, and suggest that such a stimulus may address the damaged microcirculation associated with varicoceles, and with aging. They note that decreased testicular arterial blood flow may result in impaired spermatogenesis from defective metabolism in the microcirculatory bed and suggest that further research is needed to discover if electroacupuncture can improve sperm manufacture in this instance.