One in six Australian couples suffer infertility:
- 40% female factors
- 40% male factors
- 20% mixed factors or unexplained
For men, the infertility problem may involve the sperm, the testes themselves, the ducts that lead out from the testes or be a functional problem in relation to sexual activity.
Are there any symptoms of male infertility?
Usually there are no obvious signs or symptoms of an infertility problem. Erections, intercourse and ejaculation will usually happen normally and the quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal.
What are the causes of male infertility?
It is often very difficult to establish the causes of male infertility however the most common causes of infertility are:
- Damage to sperm production – affects two thirds of infertile men. This can include low sperm count (oligospermia), total absence of sperm, poor sperm motility and abnormally shaped sperm.
- Obstruction to the ducts leading out from a testis. This can result from infection, congenital disorders, vasectomy and other surgery.
- Functional problems such as side effects of prostate surgery, impotence and premature ejaculation
- Genetic problems
Certain lifestyle factors may negatively impact your fertility and changes in regards to the following habits can maximise your pregnancy chances:
- Stop smoking as this affects the development and quality of sperm, decreases the sperm count and reduces the volume of semen. If you are having difficulty giving up, talk to us about using acupuncture to deal with withdrawal symptoms and cravings. (1)(2)
- Restrict alcohol intake – drinking alcohol affects sperm count, increase the number of abnormally shaped sperm, changes male hormones and can led to impotence (3)
- Say no to drugs. Illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana have been known to affect sperm count. (4)
- Keep them cool as a high temperature can decrease sperm production and motility. Opt for boxes rather than briefs and avoid extremely hot baths, showers or spas. (4)
Well balanced diet. Increase amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet and decrease your consumption of animal products.
- Stay in a healthy weight range. Overweight men may have decrease fertility. Acupuncture can help control your appetite and accelerate weight loss. (4)
Exercise with caution. For example prolonged cycling can cause damage due to the ressure on the testicles from the bike seat.
- Cut back on caffeine. Even a modest amount of coffee (one or two cups daily) may decrease fertility and affect your sperm count. (5)
Avoid using lubricants as they often contain chemicals that can damage or kill sperm
- Electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and laptops is associated with hormone changes and long hours of use can reduce fertility. Do not keep your mobile phone in the side pocket of your trousers and try to limit its use.
- Avoid toxins including heavy metals such as lead and mercury, and pesticides on food
Discuss your medications
Reduce stress. Infertility causes stress and in a cruel vicious cycle, stress has been shown to reduce sperm quality. Regular acupuncture is a good way to reduces stress hormones.
How can Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help with male infertility?
In more than ten separate trials in a number of different countries acupuncture has been shown to significantly improve fertility (6)(7)(8)(9)(10). This is particularly the case where Acupuncture for Male Infertility there is low motility or high numbers of abnormal forms. Acupuncture is applied to the abdomen and the lower legs according to research protocols and your individual constitution. In the cases that the infertility is unexplained, the asim of the sessions would be to maximise other sperm quality and egg quality of the woman. In this case Electroacupunture can be used on specific acupuncture points which have been shown to increase the blood flow to the testes and in doing so improve the delivery of nutrition to the developing sperm.
How many sessions of acupuncture are required to treat male infertility?
One of the successes of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine lies in its ability to be tailor made for specific people with specific circumstances. Each consultation will allow me to map out an individual program for you or both you and your partner to help you attain your goal, which can be adjusted accordingly as your body and/or your partner’s body changes from week to week in response to treatment and lifestyle improvements.
Generally, to treat male fertility a reccomended Acupuncture Treatment Schedule involves: 1 – 2 treatments per week for 5 – 10 weeks (10 – 15 treatments in total).
Male Fertility and Heavy Metal Toxicity
When we hear about an infertile couple we tend to think the woman is infertile or has fertility issues. If you want to learn more about how heavy metal affect male fertility, click here.
1) Millet C, Wen LM, Rissel C,Smith A, Richters J, Grulich A, de Visser R. Smoking and erectile dysfunction: findings from a representative sample of Australian men. Tob Control 2006;15:136-139.
2) Tengs, T and Osgood, N. The link between smoking and impotence: Two decades of evidence Preventive Medicine 2001;32(6):447-452.
3) National Health and Medical Research Council. Reduce your risk:new national guidelines for alcohol consumption. Available online: http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/guide-adult
4) Perkins, S, Meyers-Thompson. Infertility for Dummies. Wiley Publishing Inc. 2007
5) Susan Warhus, M.D. Fertility DeMystified. McGraw Hill. 2007
6) Pei J et al. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7
7) Siterman S et al Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality. Archives of Andrology 1997 Sep-Oct;39(2):155-61,
8) Siterman S et al Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Andrologia. 2000 Jan;32(1):31-9.
9) Dieterle et al A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia Fertil Steril 2009 Oct; 92 (4): 1340–3
10) Chen A et al, Effect of acupuncture-moxibustion therapy on sperm quality in infertility patients with sperm abnormality Jnl Acup Tuina Sci 2011 Vol 9, Number 4, 219-222,
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