Male Fertility -information:
Male Fertility factors accounts for approximately 30% of couples experiencing fertility issues in the UK (1). Male infertility is due to abnormal sperm production. When assessing the sperm production, common semen parameters include volume, pH, concentration, motility, morphology and white cell count. Normal semen values as outlined by the World Health Organization (2010) are as follows:
|Sperm Concentration (million/mL)|
|Forward Progression (0-4)|
|Normal Morphology (%) (WHO)|
|Normal Morphology (%) (Strict)|
|Total Sperm Count (million)|
|Total Motile Sperm (million)|
|Total Functional Sperm (million)|
There are many causes of abnormal sperm counts. These may include damage to the testicular system from trauma, drugs, infection, post surgey, or congenital problems. In many cases abnormalities cannot be explained, but several lifestyle aspects such as environmental factors (e.g. pesticides), stress, alcohol and smoking can all contribute (2).
NICE (2004) initial advice recommend for male fertility includes:
-Sexual intercourse every 2-3 days optimises chances of pregnancy
-Excessive alcohol is detrimental to semen quality.
-Smoking reduces semen quality
-BMI higher than 29 is detrimental
-Wear loose fitting underwear
Acupuncture can be a very effective complementary treatment for assisting in male fertility with some positive controlled trials, as listed in the research section below. The most common acupuncture classifications for male infertility include:
Qi (energy) stagnation or blood stagnation
These classifications can exist independently or in conjunction with one another. From traditional acupuncture theory the kidney energy is responsible for our reproductive capabilities being the storing place of our Jing. Jing is a metaphoric concept for the physical substance that constantly flows deep within our bodies circulating and releasing a form of energy (Yuan qi) that maintains good tissue quality and function. This Jing is said to pass on to our offspring in the form of postnatal Jing (i.e. semen), containing our inherited constitutional energy. It is therefore essential to ensure the kidney energy is strong when supporting semen quality and quantity for male fertility. Common causes of Kidney energy depletion include the natural aging process, long-term emotional or physical stress, poor diet and excessive sexual activity.
The flow of qi and blood through the testicular system is through the spleen, Kidney and in particular the liver energetic meridians. It is therefore important to ensure that these meridians are functioning well free from obstruction or invading energies such as damp-heat.
|Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8.|
Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities.Gurfinkel E, Cedenho AP, Yamamura Y, Srougi M.
|The Chinese Traditional Medicine acupuncture and moxa techniques significantly increase the percentage of normal-form sperm in infertile patients with oligoastenoteratozoospermia without apparent cause.|
| Fertil Steril. 2009 Oct;92(4):1340-3. Epub 2009 Apr 25.A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia.|
Dieterle S, Li C, Greb R, Bartzsch F, Hatzmann W, Huang D.
|A significantly higher percentage of motile sperm but no effect on sperm concentration, was found after acupuncture compared with placebo acupuncture.|
|Fertil Steril. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7.Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility.|
Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, Abt M, Piomboni P, Baccetti B, Sterzik K
|A statistically significant improvement was detected in acrosome position and shape, nuclear shape, axonemal pattern and shape, and accessory fibers of sperm organelles.|
(1) Human fertilisation embryology Authority (HFEA). (2011). (1) Quick facts about fertility. Available: http://www.hfea.gov.uk/infertility-facts.html. Last accessed Aug 2012.
(2) NHS Choices. (2012). Causes of infertility. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Infertility/Pages/Causes.aspx. Last accessed Aug 2012.
(3) NHS Nice. (2004). Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems. Available: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG011niceguideline.pdf. Last accessed Aug 2012.