Male infertility affects 10-15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide yet is a condition that gets little attention in the current western biomedical model of care. Without this medical focus men often become complacent with their involvement in the path to pregnancy.
Male infertility can be due to a number of factors, including abnormal spermatogenesis; reproductive tract anomalies or obstruction; inadequate sexual and ejaculatory functions; and impaired sperm motility. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, stress, lifestyle and environmental factors can all play a role in causing male infertility. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) can help through acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition and lifestyle support. Treating the root cause of infertility often rectifies the underlying imbalance, which in turn can improve sperm production, morphology and motility.
Male infertility refers to the inability of a male to achieve a pregnancy in a fertile female, and is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fertility. In many cultures, women are unfairly blamed for the inability of a sexually active couple to conceive. In reality, men suffer from infertility issues just as frequently as women.
Male fertility requires normal sperm production and sperm transport, and adequate sexual performance, functions that require normal levels of testosterone.
How can TCM help?
Clinical trials suggest that acupuncture and TCM herbs can improve sperm motility, increase sperm count and improve sperm quality. In conjunction with ART or even for reaching natural fertility potential, acupuncture treatment is a simple, non-invasive method that can improve sperm quality.
TCM may help in the treatment of male infertility by:
- Increase sperm production
- Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
- Improve sperm movement (motility)
- Improve sperm morphology and reduce sperm DNA fragmentation
- Relax the nervous system and promote relaxation
Can TCM help to improve IVF success rates?
Couples are often rushed into IVF when there is a diagnosis of male infertility and told about a procedure (ICSI) where the laboratory will choose the best looking sperm and inject them into the egg for fertilization. If the whole pool of sperm is poor quality, the chances of a healthy baby are reduced. In addition, miscarriage could have more to do with sperm quality than imagined, and treatments that focus solely on the woman may indeed miss the mark. TCM and acupuncture can help to improve sperm parameters, which can in turn boost IVF rates.
What to expect on my first visit?
There is no such thing as a ‘quick-fix’ for male factor infertility.
Once you are working with EMW TCM and have set clear health and wellness related goals it is important to be realistic. An understanding of what to expect is important so that proper commitment is cultivated.
The treatment approach that we have set for you are based on clinical evidence and experience (what we and our peers have observed as being necessary to obtain desired improvement), as well as current available research. Please understand that every human is unique and therefore so may be their requirements for treatment to be effective.
It is also important to understand that our holistic treatment is not only focused on sperm. Whole health is important for optimal reproductive health and semen quality. We also implement strategies that focuses on the improvement of overall health, as well as addressing the stress that infertility inevitably bestows upon couples.
At EMW Physiotherapy & TCM we have found significantly higher success rates when treating both partners when there is a unexplained infertility or a male infertility diagnosis. Treatment options for men are tailored to their individual needs and that may include weekly acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and even supplements specified for his needs. We are happy to answer questions and concerns and can even provide referrals for medical evaluations.
One of the leading causes of male infertility is obesity, which has been shown to affect the endocrine regulation of male reproduction.  Obesity is not only correlated with a decrease in sperm concentration and motility, it also increases sperm DNA damage and changes reproductive hormones. In a systemic review and meta-analysis, it was shown that acupuncture significantly reduced the average body weight in obesity compared to placebo or lifestyle control.  Ming Wang et al came to the conclusion in the meta-analysis in 2020 that the combined use of TCM and vitamins for the treatment of male infertility has more advantages in terms of pregnancy rate and sperm parameters compared to vitamins alone. 
 Dutta, Sulagna & Biswas, Anupam & Sengupta, Pallav. (2019). Obesity, endocrine disruption and male infertility. Asian Pac J Reprod, 8:195-202
 Cho, S. H., Lee, J. S., Thabane, L., & Lee, J. (2009). Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International journal of obesity (2005), 33(2), 183–196.
 Wang, M., Wang, Q., Du, Y., Jiang, H., & Zhang, X. (2020). Vitamins combined with traditional Chinese medicine for male infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Andrology, 8(5), 1038–1050.