Acupuncture for male infertility
Male sperm quality had been decreasing for 70 years. This decrease is largely due to the exposure of men to chemicals, heat and electromagnetic waves. Both motility and morphology have been declining.
The common treatment for male infertility is IVF ICSI. However, dietary, lifestyle changes can have a big impact of the quality of semen, especially when acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combied together.
Male infertility is a lot simpler when compared to female infertility. There are fewer hormones involved and therefore fewer that need to be harmonized in order for fertility to be optimal. The sperm is essentially a head and a tail. It can either have movement problems (motility) or structural problems (morphology) or there aren't enough of them.
The most common problem seen in male infertility is issues to do with motility. This is often caused by excessive heat in the body and is relatively straightforward to rectify, using a combination of dietary changes and Chinese herbs.
Like in women, the release of GnRH from the hypothalamus causes the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. LH causes the release of testosterone. FSH with testosterone promotes the production and movement of the sperm. As sperm production increases, inhibin is released. Inhibin inhibits the release of FSH from the pituitary gland and GnRH from the hypothalamus thereby reducing sperm production. The production of sperm in the testes takes around 70 days.
About half a billion sperm are produced each day. Low levels of FSH and LH can reduce sperm production. Injections of both these hormones can be given to increase sperm production if testosterone levels are normal. In cases where testosterone levels are low, all these hormones can be given to induce sperm production.
The testicles are outside of a man's body to keep them a few degrees cooler for optimal sperm production. If the testicles become too warm, it will harm sperm production with the likelihood of the sperm test showing problems with motility.
Sperm are contained within seminal fluid, which is a liquid; it's therefore affected by temperature. Excessive heat in the testicles is like a platoon of soldiers trying to march through a dessert without any water. They suffer from heat exhaustion and will stumble around in a dehydrated daze.
Ways to improve male fertility
There are many ways a man can improve his sperm quality:
- Don't eat any chilli
- Don't smoke
- Reduce alcohol drinking to just a few beers a week
- Go to bed early, around 10pm
- Don't exercise too much
- Eat lots of fish
- Don't over work
- Reduce red meat consumption
- Eat organic meat
- Don't put a laptop on your lap
- Don't wear tight fitting underwear
- Don't spend too much time in the sauna or sun bathing
There have been several research studies that show having acupuncture treatment can benefit male fertility.
In this research, the acupuncture group that received acupuncture had significantly improved semen analysis. Infertile men had improves sperm quality, increases a low sperm count, increase testosterone levels, increase blood flow to the testicals and treat unexplained male infertility.
Ren et al. (2016) Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture and moxibustion on reproductive endocrine function in male rats with partial androgen deficiency. Acupunct Med, 34:136-143 doi:10.1136/acupmed-2014-010734.