Acupuncture for Infertility
Acupuncture can be used to treat any type of fertility disorder including spasmed tubes. (Spasmed tubes are often relaxed by acupuncture, though blocked tubes will not respond to acupuncture). Acupuncture is often combined with herbs to treat elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation.
Acupuncture and Male Infertility Research
A recent trial published in Fertility and Sterility has shown that acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of some male infertility problems, leading to significant increases in sperm count and reductions in some structural abnormalities.
In the study, 28 men diagnosed with infertility received acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks. The acupuncture points used were: Guan yuan (Ren 4), shen shu (UB 23), ci liao (UB 32), tai cong (Liv 3, ), and tai xi (KI 3l), zhu san li (ST 36), xue hai (SP 10), san yin jiao (SP 6), gui lai (ST 29), and bai hui (Du 20).
Two samples were collected from each patient: one obtained the day before treatment, the other after the last acupuncture treatment. Samples from the treatment group were then compared with semen samples from 12 untreated control patients.
Analysis showed that motility levels increased significantly in semen samples in the men receiving acupuncture. While median motility levels increased from 32% to 37% in the control group, they increased from 44.5% to 50% in the acupuncture group.
The number and percentage of healthy sperm also increased dramatically in the acupuncture patients. After 10 sessions of treatments, the median percentage of healthy sperm had increased more than four-fold, to 0.26%.
Furthermore significant improvements in sperm structure were seen in the samples from the acupuncture group. Following acupuncture, the median percentage of normal shapes showed a "statistically significant improvement" to 38.5%.
While acupuncture appeared able to improve the overall quality and structural integrity of sperm, it was ineffective against some common sperm pathologies. Apoptosis levels (programmed cell death) in sperm samples were reduced slightly, but not to a statistically significant degree. Median percentages of necrosis (unprogrammed cell death) and sperm immaturity also decreased slightly in the acupuncture group, but not to a level considered statistically significant.
The authors concluded that the treatment could be used to improve overall sperm quality, leading to the possibility of increased fertility.
Authors concluded that "Further research is needed to demonstrate what stages and times in spermatogenesis are affected by acupuncture, and how acupuncture causes the physiologic changes in spermatogenesis."
1. Hopps CV, Goldstein M. Male infertility: the basics. Available online.
2. Levine D. Boxers or briefs: myths and facts about men's infertility. Available online.
3. Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, et al. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility July 2005;84(1):141-7.
For a complete version of this article see: http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2005/ oct/10infertility.html