Acupuncture for Male Fertility

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:

  • low sperm count
  • abnormal sperm size and shape
  • reduced motility
  • DNA fragmentation
  • Varicocele
  • Altered hormones
  • Infection

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 25 years in working with a wide range of male fertility issues. Our Acupuncture sessions 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, aiming to improve delivery of nutrients to developing sperm and promoting optimal sperm vitality. Chinese herbal formulas 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. These are discussed in detail during our Fertility Support Consultation. 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.

At the clinic we have many years training in male fertility issues including with leading Urologists and Andrologists. We have a network of support and refer to clinics offering specialist advanced male fertility testing in circumstances where we may need additional information.

Our Success Stories

Supporting Research

Many clinical trials* in several countries have demonstrated the benefit of acupuncture to improve sperm quality.

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.

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.

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

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.

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).

Dieterle et al Fertil Steril 2009 Oct; 92 (4): 1340–3 Fertility and Sterility

A 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.

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.

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.

More About Our Training

Caroline is one of a small group of Acupuncturists internationally to hold a Diploma in Advanced Fertility Acupuncture. This level of training reflects the depth of experience and commitment to providing the very best fertility Acupuncture. It has supported us here at the clinic to adapt the way we work as Acupuncturists to combine the ancient wisdom of Acupuncture with the information that modern medical testing is able to offer us.

The Diploma covered in depth training including:

  • causes of infertility such as PCOS and endometriosis
  • reproductive immunology and recurrent miscarriage
  • supporting IVF, IUI and other Assisted Reproductive Techniques.
  • pregnancy support
  • male issues in fertility

This level of training includes an ongoing commitment to keeping abreast of the latest developments in fertility as well as broadening knowledge. Some of the recent monthly CPD has included:

  • Dr Yao Thum. The Lister Clinic London: ‘As a consultant how do you choose the right protocol for clients?’
  • Dr Abbi Lulsegged. Consultant Physician, Endocrinologist and Functional Medicine Nutritionist. ‘Using an integrated approach for sperm health and insulin in PCOS’
  • Professor Gerard Conway. Consultant Endocrinologist and author. ‘Luteal phase defect in PCOS’
  • Dr Sheryl Homer. Andrologist and Clinical Scientist. ‘Male fertility DNA fragmentation and epigenetics’

The Zita West Clinic is a specialist holistic Fertility Clinic in London. Zita has written many books to support the fertility and pregnancy journey. Caroline is a founder member of the national Acupuncture Network affiliated to the clinic having undertaken specialist fertility training with the clinic.

As an experienced fertility Acupuncturist Caroline was invited by Zita West to lecture this experienced group of fertility Acupuncturists from across the UK and Ireland on numerous occasions. This has included topics such as ‘using Acupuncture to improve IVF outcome’ and ‘using electro-Acupuncture to support male and female fertility and pregnancy Acupuncture’. Caroline has lectured Acupuncturists working in the  Zita West Clinic as well as the national Acupuncture Network.

Here Zita briefly talks about the benefits of Acupuncture to support those going through IVF and ICSI.

In September 2010 Caroline had the unique opportunity to attend a specialist Fertility and Traditional Chinese Medicine course in Beijing, China. She was one of a small group of 14 experienced Acupuncturists with a specialist interest in fertility chosen from across the UK and Southern Ireland.

The course was led by Zita West, fertility expert, and was hosted at the prestigious Xiyuan Hospital of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing. The hospital is part of the International Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine with the World Health Organisation (WHO), being both a national centre both for TCM, and for integrated Traditional and Western Medicine.

The course provided a unique opportunity to see fertility acupuncture and other forms of TCM practised in China, the home of Traditional Chinese Medicine and to see the benefits of integrating western and traditional medicine on such a large scale.

Specialist fertility lectures were given by a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and also by Zita West, providing invaluable additional learning which Caroline believes has been a unique learning opportunity directly benefiting her work here at the clinic.


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