Acupuncture for Male Infertility
If you find yourself or your partner taking longer than expected to conceive, you’re not alone!
This article answers the big questions related to male infertility.
To give you a complete picture we cover:
- can infertility be reversed in males
- the factors reducing sperm count
- can acupuncture for male infertility help
- and more
And of course, if you’re male, I am sure you are wondering where the needles do go, more on this later…
Anyway let’s get started!
Fertility depends on many factors- some of which are in our control, and some not.
Overall, traditional Chinese medicine is able to reverse some of the effects… but first, some background.
Males account for 20% of all infertility cases and contribute to another 30-40%.
The modern lifestyle brings with it some problems: a decrease in sperm density, quality, motility, and morphology.
We’ll discuss why this is important shortly…
With a combination of acupuncture for male infertility, Chinese herbal medicine and lifestyle changes, the modern lifestyle sperm problems can improve…
…and thus foster fertility.(1)
Now let’s chat about sperm.
So, what are we looking for in the perfect sperm?
Male fertility is determined by high-quality sperm and unobstructed transport.
The 3 factors of high quality sperm:
1. Number of sperm and volume of semen
- at least 15 million sperm for every 1 ml of semen
- the strength and amount of semen at ejaculation
- At least 40% need to be strong swimmers to make the strenuous journey to the egg
- And one of the things that they look at is the ovarian reserve.
Now let’s consider unobstructed transport!
Common obstructions include(1):
- absent or dysfunctional epididymis tracts
- undescended testes
- testicular torsion
- ejaculatory disorders (cysts)
- urogenital tract infections
- sexual dysfunction
- masses and other structural or hormonal abnormalities.
What reduces sperm count and quality in males?
Things that affect sperm count are:
- lifestyle: diet, smoking, alcohol, drug-use, shift-work
- work-related chemical exposure
- varicocele (a mass of varicose veins in the spermatic cord)
- genetic factors
- nerve damage
- hormone disorders (hypo/hyperthyroidism, hyperprolactinemia)
- certain medications
- environmental toxins
- damaged sperm ducts
- past infections
- radiation damage
- heat (laptops)
And what’s worse, the quality of sperm has significantly declined.
This can be due to modern stress levels, delays in marriage time, and environmental pollution.
Certain supplements can improve sperm quality.
Those high in antioxidants: vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and L-carnitine may help.
Yet, long-term supplementation can cause toxicity. Be sure to discuss with your doctor the right supplements for your situation.
Some drugs such as androgens and hCG/hMG are not effective in improving sperm quality.
Many studies have illustrated the efficacy of acupuncture and defined the active components in Chinese herbal medicine.
These therapies promote blood circulation in the reproductive system and regulate testosterone secretion.(1,3)
So, can infertility be reversed in males?
In some cases, yes!
In others, no.
Obstructions or structural abnormalities may cause a hindrance, no matter the quality and quantity of the sperm.
Infertility by hormonal, lifestyle, or other internal imbalances may be able to be reversed with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes.
Speak to your practitioner for more personalised information regarding your fertility health.
How can Chinese medicine help male infertility?
In traditional Chinese medicine theory, infertility occurs when there are imbalances in the body.
- qi and blood circulation
- fluid retention
- disparities of heat and cold in the body
- deficiencies of essential nutrients
- excess of unfavourable elements
These imbalances can restrict the circulation of vital blood and energy to the reproductive organs… and so disrupting sexual and reproductive function in men.
Excessive heat in the body indicates inflammation, impact sperm quality or lead to infections.
The core of Chinese medicine theory is to bring balance to the body through different techniques.
The insertion of needles at specific points on the body can regulate hormones, the nervous system, the immune system, and circulation.
To be specific, acupuncture for male infertility and Chinese herbal medicine can:
- regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (regulates testis function)
- improve Sertoli and Leydig cell function (sperm production)
- reduce oxidative stress
- regulate the proliferation and apoptosis of germ cells (increase sperm count)
- improve the uptake of vitamins and minerals and provide vitamin-rich herbs
- decrease anti-sperm antibody levels (immune-induced infertility)
TCM with lifestyle changes increases blood flow to the genitals, improves microcirculation in the testes… and of course strengthens fertility(2).
TCM can regulate the hormone circuit from the brain to the testicals… otherwise known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis.
TCM can boost the action of the functional work horses of the testicles… the Sertoli cells and Leydig cells.
TCM can alleviate inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, reduce the DNA fragmentation index… also modulate the growth and death of sperm cells.
Furthermore, TCM can supply trace elements and vitamins.
These elements improve the microcirculation of the testis.
It can decrease the levels of serum anti-sperm antibody, and modify epigenetic markers as well.
Determining acupuncture for male infertility
Each person has a different genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment. Because of this, treatments should not be the same for every individual!
We endeavour to discover your body’s current makeup.
We do this by asking questions, taking your pulse, looking at your tongue, and observing the physical channels in your body.
These investigations offer practitioners insight into the imbalances in your specific body. We can then tailor an individualised treatment for you.
Acupuncture for male infertility focuses on:
- stimulating organ function
- increasing blood circulation to the reproductive organs
- decreasing excess inflammation
- calming the nervous system to lower stress levels
- strengthening nutrient absorption
- improving overall health
By promoting these changes, sperm quality, motility, and quantity can improve. The body will then have the energy and health to focus on reproduction. (2)
And now the BIG one!
Where do acupuncture needles go for male fertility?
Let us pacify your nerves: the acupuncture needles for male infertility do not go into your genital region!
They are also almost painless – our needles are nowhere near the size of intravenous needles!
Acupuncture needles are not intended to penetrate blood vessels and therefore create a pressure sensation, if at all.
As mentioned, infertility is seen as an imbalance in traditional Chinese medicine.
By treating those internal imbalances, the new cycle of sperm production should reap the benefits.
Personalised acupuncture points for male infertility are selected to:
- increase your strength
- maximise vitality
- improve digestion (the source of your energy)
- promote better quality sleep
- and relieve stress
Other health issues are often simultaneously addressed during these treatments… an increased quality of life will manifest in the health of your sperm.
How do you prevent or treat male infertility naturally?
In addition to acupuncture for male infertility and Chinese herbal medicine, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make(1):
- reduce or avoid tobacco, marijuana, anabolic steroids, and recreational drugs
- reduce alcohol consumption
- increase nutrients in diet
Avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals, heavy metals:
- household products
- potentially toxic artificial lubricants
Keep a moderate body weight:
- exercise moderately, not in excess
Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
Avoid long-term antibiotics and antihypertensives.
Avoid injury to the genital region
- contact sports
Avoid excessive heat to the genital region
- avoid hot baths/saunas
- wear loose-fitting shorts/pants
- place laptops on tables not on legs
Reduce pressure to genital region
- softer bicycle saddles
- loose-fitting shorts/pants
What does acupuncture for male infertility involve?
As mentioned earlier, each individual requires a tailored approach.
A combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is the usual treatment regime.
In terms of treatment frequency, this will determined within the initial consultation. Our Acupuncturist will outline your treatment plan stepping out a clear path forward.
Reach out to us if you have any questions or make a comment below.. we would love to help!
Leslie, S.W., Siref, L.E., Soon-Sutton, T.L., et al. (2021). Male Infertility. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
i. Zhu, J., Arsovska, B., & Kozovska, K. (2018). Acupuncture Treatment for Fertility. Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 6(9), 1685–1687. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2018.379
Wang, S., Wang, S., Li, C., Lin, C., Huang, H., Tsai, L., & Chang, C. (2018). The Therapeutic Effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Poor Semen Quality in Infertile Males. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 7(9), 239. doi:10.3390/jcm7090239
i. Zhou, S. H., Deng, Y. F., Weng, Z. W., Weng, H. W., & Liu, Z. D. (2019). Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Remedy for Male Infertility: A Review. The world journal of men’s health, 37(2), 175–185. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.180069