Acupuncture And Infertility | Acupuncture And Male Problems In Couples Conceiving

Acupuncture And Male Problems In Couples Conceiving

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Much media focuses attention on recent interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine for female subfertility, whether on its own or combined with modern reproductive medicine such as IVF.  However, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has a long history of seeing patients with male reproductive medical needs.

Men with fertility issues are also trying acupuncture these days

Men with fertility issues are also trying acupuncture these days

TCM practitioners seeing male patients with difficulty starting or adding to their family frequently offer acupuncture. Some practitioners are able to offer additionally Chinese herbal medicine alongside it.  It is impossible to adequately discuss the TCM medical theory in depth here, but broadly speaking a brief outline may be useful. TCM characterises health as the times when the body’s Qi flows smoothly, in the correct order, without any impediments or erratic movements. Qi which is imbalanced would be encouraged back into a more regulated state to encourage the body towards regaining health by healing itself.

Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture subdivides Qi into yin (female) and yang (male) vital energy

Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture subdivides Qi into yin (female) and yang (male) vital energy

In the West less standard scientific format research appears readily available for the men than the women into acupuncture or Chinese herbal interventions, although many case studies exist, especially of course in China itself. A notable 2005 study by an international team in Germany and Italy included 40 men who had a 2 year history without the desired pregnancy with their partners. All men were diagnosed using modern medicine as experiencing “idiopathic infertility” due to oligospermia (low sperm density), asthenospermia (difficulties in sperm motility) or teratozoospermia (difficulties in sperm shape and structure). These conditions can be said to be very common among male patients seeking help to conceive. 28 received acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks, compared to 12 who did not as a control group. The study found acupuncture resulted in a general improvement in sperm quality and suggested its use alone or alongside assisted reproduction technology (1). Future larger studies are planned to explore the mechanisms at work. It is worth remembering that some areas of conventional modern medicine are better studied and understood than others. Acupuncture often can’t attract the large budgets for research common for modern pharmaceutical drugs. This may be part of the explanation of why although it is widely used in the East, it is not as conventionally accepted in the West, as Western physicians may struggle to locate locally acceptable scientific resources on clinical uses. Any man considering TCM is best placed to consult a qualified practitioner, and not hesitate to enquire of their training, qualifications and professional memberships. Good practioners have no problem answering such questions. Patients should also always feel free to choose to use conventional medicine.

DISCLAIMER: NO information here is intended to be taken as medical advice – or used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Any person with any health concerns is advised instead to consult their doctor. In the case of persons seeking therapy using Traditional Chinese Medicine, this information cannot be taken as medical advice and persons are advised instead to consult a suitably qualified professional practitioner.

References

1. Pei, J. et al. 2005. Quantitative evaluation of spermatatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility.  Fertility and Sterility. 84 (1), pp. 141-147.

Professional Bodies – Sources of More Information on Traditional Chinese Medicine:

The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (UK), London:

http://www.atcm.co.uk/

The British Acupuncture Council:

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine:

http://www.rchm.co.uk/

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