Is it common to have a suboptimal sperm count? Male factor as a single cause of infertility is responsible for 20 - 30% of infertility cases and combined male and female factors are estimated to affect 20 - 40% of couples. (*1). Average sperm counts from 1940 to 1990 have dropped from 113 million/ml to 66 million/ml. Sperm production can be compromised for various medical and environmental reasons such as seminal tube blockage, varicocele, fever or infections, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, poor diet and many more lifestyle based reasons.
What will my acupuncturist need to know? Prior to fertility acupuncture a seminal fluid analysis is required to understand the markers of a patients sperm health, as well as a complete medical history at the first appointment. Men are usually presumed to be fertile if semen parameters are normal, however male subfertility still might be a factor which tests have not picked up. It is suggested that both partners should pursue preconception acupuncture to enhance chances of conceiving. How long will treatment take to rebuild healthy sperm? To achieve optimum quality sperm most patients should be looking at a minimum of 3 months of acupuncture treatment. Often lifestyle suggestions will accompany your tailored treatment plan. Treatment is scheduled weekly or fortnightly depending on the patient’s unique health issues. Treatment may also be timed around your partner’s ovulation.
How are healthy sperm measured? • Motility (measured in % of sperm swimming purposefully) • Count/ejaculate • Vitality (Live) • Volume (more than 6 ml; important to counteract vaginal acidity (WHO>2ml)) • Morphology 30 - 50% (WHO is currently reassessing its figure of 15 - 30%) • Liquefaction: within 60 mins (semen liquefies to allow sperm motility) • White Blood cells: <1 million/ml, more may indicate infection • pH Level: <7.2
How can acupuncture help my sperm quality? Acupuncture treatment helps by lowering scrotal temperature which enhances microcirculation. By increasing blood flow in the arterioles, inflammation is reduced which improves sperm maturation and testosterone levels.
Research *1 Szmelskyj I & Aquilina L, Acupuncture for IVF & Assisted reproduction, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, 2015. Click here for more research from the British Acupuncture Council about Male infertility