In 40-45% of cases male infertility is found to be the involved in fertility issues, and regardless of the cause the developing embryo from day 3 relies on the health of the sperm, as well as the female egg to develop. Women have become accustomed to seeking help for fertility, from western medicine, supplements and complementary medicine such as acupuncture, where as  men aren’t catered for so well.

In 40-50% of male infertility cases the cause is unknown. Sperm analysis generally concentrates on 3 parameters count, shape (of the head, body and tail)  and swimming ability ( called morphology and motility), however fertility is also dependent on viscosity, the ability of the DNA to replicate without fragmenting, and energy production of the cell itself. Many controlled and uncontrolled studies have reported acupuncture’s positive effects on sperm concentration, motility, and morphology as well as testosterone levels, and luteinizing hormone (produced in males and females, in males stimulates cells in the testes to produce testosterone). This occurs without unwanted changes in social or sexual behaviour.

Men who can benefit from acupuncture

  1. Men with known fertility issues- such as count, morphology, motility. Including men classed as having severe oligospermia (very low count), and azoospermia (no sperm in ejaculate).
  2. Men with infertility of unknown cause.
  3. When ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is being used with IVF.
  4. Men whose partner is undergoing IVF where embryo quality is found to decrease after day 3
  5. Men diagnosed with a varicocele, epididymitis, or prostatitis.
  6. Men whose work situation means they are exposed to high chemical loads, i.e. farmers, factory workers, and painters.
  7. Even in cases where minimal or no sperm issues are found, a strong healthy sperm can assist an egg of less quality to go on to become a viable pregnancy.

Treatment timing

Treatment can be worked to coincide with an IVF cycle, with 2 -3 months preparation time before the cycle being optimal, however acupuncture and herbs over a shorter time span is still beneficial. One study conducted in Sydney found evidence of improvement 2 weeks after treatment commenced.

Frequency of visits

Acupuncture-Treatment depends on the severity of the problem, usually once a week for an hour or 2 half hour visits.
Chinese Herbs- After the initial series of visits to tailor the prescription, a once a month visit will suffice.

The Therapy

On the first visit a medical and general health history will be taken, diagnosis is made based on Traditional methods, including observing the tongue and pulse, and any western medical diagnoses. Acupuncture treatment is commenced, needles are inserted in the back, lower abdomen, arms and legs (no needles in ‘uncomfortable’ places) and lifestyle issues will be discussed. Supplements and possible herbal therapy can be looked at if the client desires, and if time permits when IVF is being used.

How Acupuncture works

The exact mechanism remains unclear but acupuncture has been shown to alter blood flow, hormone levels, neurotransmitters, stimulate specific centres within the brain, and particular to fertility, to lower scrotal temperature, sperm being highly temperature sensitive.