Acupuncture and Male Infertility

Infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after approximately two years of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Nowadays this is a very common trend; one in six couples seek some form of assisted fertility treatment. In about 50% of infertile couples, there is a male infertility factor associated, either due to abnormalities in the semen or inadequate sexual function.

Many factors influence semen parameters (number, motility and shape of spermatozoa). These can be hormonal, psychogenic, environmental toxins, increased heat of the scrotum, systemic diseases, smoking and alcohol etc. In some cases no cause of infertility can be found. This is then referred to as unexplained infertility.

My experience from my patients is that assisted reproduction is a a very stressful, let alone expensive procedure, so many couples seek help from complementary therapies before they decide to go for IUI, IVF or other artificial fertility techniques. And rightly so!

Recent clinical trials and case studies suggest that traditional acupuncture can contribute to the treatment of male infertility, as the results of the research showed an increase in the sperm count, motility and quality. It has also been demonstrated that scrotal temperature decreases after acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture has proved to produce very positive outcomes with stress release and hormonal balance, two significant factors contributing to a healthy sexual life and fertility. If you want some more information on the research and its outcomes please visit www.acupuncture.org.uk/fact-sheet-male-infertility.html

I believe we all know by now the effects of lifestyle to fertility and healthy sexual life. Smoking, drinking alcohol, eating the wrong things and overworking are not beneficial for the body and, not surprisingly, will impair both. In traditional acupuncture individualized nutritional advice is a very important part of the treatment. Also it can give you a helping hand to quit smoking, once you have decided this is what you want to do but cannot quite do it on your own.

Depending on the individual diagnosis acupuncture treatment may last for a course of 7-10 sessions up to a few courses if the condition is chronic or deeply rooted. As the treatment improves semen quality, acupuncture can be an important aid to assisted fertility techniques. Let me clarify one thing that many people are not aware of: the treatment does not involve any contact with the genital area whatsoever. Diagnosis and treatment take place as usual for a holistic treatment and needles are not inserted anywhere locally. Typical areas of needling are the lower limbs, the back and the abdomen. I know a lot of men are put off by the idea of having acupuncture for fertility for this reason but there is no reason for that.

A few words on female infertility will follow soon; I just wanted to point out here that in cases of unexplained infertility, where no physical problem can be identified in either of the partners and the couple decides they want to try natural conception, it is ideal that both receive traditional acupuncture. This is because a minor imbalance that is not physically detectable (has not structurally manifested yet) but can impair fertility, can be present in both partners.

OB
 



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