Can Acupuncture Help Male Factor Infertility?
Male fertility problems are just as common as female problems but receive much less attention. With few treatment options available to address issues with sperm production and quality, improving fertility using Western medicine alone can be challenging. Acupuncture offers a simple, safe way to boost your fertility and increase the size of your family.
How Acupuncture Treatments Improve Fertility in Men
Acupuncture treatments improve the flow of Qi throughout your body. The Asian medical practitioners who created acupuncture techniques centuries ago defined Qi as a vital life force or energy that balances your physical and mental health. Blockages or imbalances of the energy can lead to a variety of ailments, ranging from chronic pain to digestive issues to fertility problems.
Qi flows through your body through a series of 14 pathways or meridians. Acupuncturists insert thin needles into your skin at acupuncture points that correspond to specific meridians. Insertion of the needles clears blockages and restores your body's natural balance.
If you've been diagnosed with male factor infertility, acupuncture treatments may:
- Raise your sperm count. Acupuncture can be helpful if your sperm count is lower than normal.
- Improve sperm motility. Sperm motility refers to the sperm's ability to move forward. Sluggish sperm are much less likely to reach the Fallopian tubes and fertilize an egg.
- Change the shape of sperm. Too many abnormally shaped sperm can lower the chance of conception. Acupuncture treatment offers an effective way to increase the number of normally shaped sperm.
- Turn down the heat. Higher-than-normal temperatures in your scrotum can kill sperm. A study published in The Asian Journal of Andrology followed a group of men who had high scrotal skin temperatures due to genital inflammation. After treatment, 17 out of 34 men in the experimental group had normal skin temperature. Sperm counts also increased in 15 of the men.
- Regulate your hormones. Hormonal imbalances can affect every area of your body, including your reproductive system. Acupuncture treatment helps balance hormone production and may improve your fertility.
- Reduce stress. Stress prompts your brain to release cortisol, a hormone that regulates blood pressure and metabolism, lowers inflammation, and increases energy levels. High levels of cortisol can also be a factor in impotence, poor sperm motility and lower sperm counts. Acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins that provide natural stress relief.
- Increase blood flow. Stagnant blood flow in your genitals can raise the temperature in your scrotum and kill sperm. Acupuncture restores the normal flow of blood, decreasing the heat. In one study examined in Evidence Based Acupuncture, stimulating acupoint ST-29 on the abdomen increased blood flow in the testicular artery. Increased blood flow may also improve the quality of your erections.
- Treat impotence. Acupuncture can help treat impotence and increase your sex drive. Your treatment plan may include herbal medicines or supplements in addition to acupuncture treatments.
- Improve success rates for Invitro Fertilization (IVF) Treatment. Acupuncture treatments may also increase the likelihood of IVF success by improving sperm quality and quantity. Treatment should begin several weeks or months before the egg retrieval is scheduled.
Is Acupuncture Treatment Painful?
Although you might assume that your acupuncturist would need to insert acupuncture needles in your penis or scrotum to treat infertility, that's not the case. Needles are often inserted in the legs, abdomen or upper body for male factor infertility. Each needle is no thicker than a hair. You may feel a slight tugging or aching sensation when needles are inserted, but if you're like most people, you won't find the process painful.
Acupuncture offers a natural, drug-free approach to improving male factor fertility. Contact us to schedule your first appointment.
WebMD: Acupuncture May Improve Sperm Quality, 8/3/05
Relias Media: Acupuncture for the Treatment of Male Infertility, 4/1/05
PubMed: Asian Journal of Andrology: Success of Acupuncture Treatment in Patients with Initially Low Sperm Output is Associated with a Decrease in Scrotal Skin Temperature, 3/11/09
Evidence Based Acupuncture: Semen Production Disorders, 5/25/14
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Oriental Medicine Makes Miracles Happen: Acupuncture & Infertility
Department of Health and Human Services: Male Infertility