Male Studies

• The aim of this controlled study was to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture on the sperm quality of males suffering from subfertility related to sperm impairment. Semen samples of 16 acupuncture-treated subfertile patients were analyzed before and one month after treatment (twice a week for 5 weeks). In parallel, semen samples of 16 control untreated subfertile males were examined. Two specimens were taken from the control group at an interval of two-eight months. The fertility index increased significantly (p <.05) following improvement in total functional sperm fraction, percentage of viability, total motile spermatozoa per ejaculate, and integrity of the axonema (p <.05), which occurred upon treatment. The intactness of axonema and sperm motility were highly correlated (corr. = .50,p < .05). This study strongly suggests patients exhibiting a low fertility potential due to reduced sperm activity may benefit from acupuncture treatment.26


• Forty men with idiopathic oligospermia, asthenospermia, or teratozoospermia were studied.27Twenty eight of the patients received acupuncture twice a week over a period of 5 weeks. The samples from the treatment group were randomized with semen samples from the 12 men in the untreated control group. Statistical evaluation using transmission electron microscopy data showed a statistically significant increase after acupuncture in the percentage and number of sperm without ultrastructural defects in the total ejaculates. A statistically significant improvement was detected in acrosome position and shape, nuclear shape, axonemal pattern and shape, and accessory fibers of sperm organelles. The treatment of idiopathic male infertility could benefit from employing acupuncture. A general improvement of sperm quality, specifically in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, was seen after acupuncture, although we did not identify specific sperm pathologies that could be particularly sensitive to this therapy.


• Researchers searched for the best method for increasing the quality of abnormal sperm. One hundred and sixty-eight cases of infertility were randomly divided into a treatment group of 85 cases and a control group of 83 cases. The treatment group were treated with needle-picking (acupuncture) at specific bilateral points. Their therapeutic effects were observed in 3 hospitals. The study resulted in a total effectiveness rate of 83.5% and a pregnancy rate of the patient’s partner of 78.8% in the treatment group, and a corresponding rate of 54.2% and 43.4% in the control group, which represents a very significant difference between the two groups (P < 0.01). Reproductive hormones improved significantly after treatment (P < 0.01); after treatment, superoxide dismulase (SOD) activity and Zn content in semen were elevated and cadmium level decreased significantly in the treatment group (P < 0.05).


The research shows that needle-picking therapy (acupuncture) can significantly improve and regulate endocrine function, increase the quality of semen and elevate pregnancy rate of the patient’s partner for the patient of primary abnormal sperm.28


• Classic therapies are usually ineffective in the treatment of patients with very poor sperm density. This study aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture on these males. Semen samples of 20 patients with a history of azoospermia were examined by light microscope (LM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM), with which a microsearch for spermatozoa was carried out. These examinations were performed before and 1 month after acupuncture treatment. The control group was comprised of 20 untreated males who underwent two semen examinations within a period of 2–4 months. A definite increase in sperm count was detected in the ejaculates of 10 (67%) of the 15 azoospermic patients. Seven of these males exhibited post-treatment spermatozoa that were detected even by LM. The sperm production of these seven males increased significantly, from 0 to an average of 1.5±2.4×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate (Z=−2.8, P≤0.01). Males with genital tract inflammation exhibited the most remarkable improvement in sperm density (on average from 0.3±0.6×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate to 3.3±3.2×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate; Z=−2.4, P≤0.02). Two pregnancies were achieved by the IVF-ICSI procedure. It is concluded that acupuncture may be a useful, nontraumatic treatment for males with very poor sperm density, especially those with a history of genital tract inflammation.29


• The purpose of this study was to assess the clinical effects of the combined therapy of acupuncture with herbal drugs on male immune infertility and on antisperm antibody (AsAb). 100 male cases of infertility with positive AsAb were divided randomly into two groups, each consisting of 50 cases. The results showed that the total effective rate in the acupuncture-drug group was 90%; while that of the control group was 64%, the comparison showing a statistically significant difference (P<0.05). The positive rate of blood serum and/or AsAb in both the two groups decreased in varying degrees, but the negative-turning rate of AsAb in the acupuncture-drug group was more obvious, the comparison showing also a significant difference (P<0.05). The combined therapy of acupuncture with herbal drugs has definite therapeutic effects on male immune infertility, which can regulate AsAb and raise the immunity of the patients.30


• The researchers in this study carried on a quantitative analysis of fluorescence polarization degree and fluorescent intensity on wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) receptor in sperm membrane surface and protein macromolecule 1-Anilinonaph thalene-8-suphonic acid salt (1,8-ANS) of sperm membranes of patients with infertility and those with normal fertility. The method of study used an ultraviolet microspectrofluorometer (SMP, type: 05, made in Germany). The results were as follows: the patient’s WGA receptor in sperm membrane surface was decreased (P less than 0.001), and the 1, 8-ANS of fluorescent intensity in hydrophobic area of protein macromolecule of sperm membrane was increased (P less than 0.05). After the treatment with Shenjing Zhongzitang, WGA receptor was significantly increased and 1, 8-ANS fluorescent intensity whad become nearly normal. Researchers demonstrated that those Chinese medicinal herbs mentioned above have definitive influences upon the constitution of WGA receptors and protein macromolecules of sperm membranes.48


• Between 30% to 80% of male subfertility cases are considered to be due to the damaging effects of oxidative stress on sperm. Researchers wanted to answer the question if oral supplementation with antioxidants may improve sperm quality by reducing oxidative stress. The study included randomised controlled trials comparing any type or dose of antioxidant supplement (single or combined) taken by the male partner of a couple seeking fertility assistance with placebo, no treatment or another antioxidant. The outcomes were live birth, pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, sperm DNA damage, sperm motility, sperm concentration and adverse effects. Men taking oral antioxidants had an associated statistically significant increase in live birth rate and pregnancy rate compared to the control groups. There were NO NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS reported with the antioxidant therapy used. Conclusion: The evidence suggests that antioxidant supplementation in subfertile males may improve the outcomes of live birth and pregnancy rate for subfertile couples undergoing ART cycles. 50


• The reseachers in this study employed a prospective, randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled methodology to study 57 infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. 28 Patients received acupuncture according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and 29 infertile patients received placebo acupuncture. Researchers observed acupuncture caused a significantly higher percentage of motile sperm (World Health Organization categories A-C), but no effect on sperm concentration, was found after acupuncture compared with placebo acupuncture.54


• Various studies indicate that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for chronic prostatitis. Patients with prostatitis know that current western medical treatments such as long term antibiotic therapy and anti-inflammatories are ineffective and can have strong side effects. Acupuncture has no side effects and has been shown to be very effective at reducing inflammation, pain, improve voiding, and other symptoms, as well as assisting to treat the underlying causes of prostatitis. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic routinely advises its patients that studies indicate acupuncture can help with the symptoms of prostatitis.56


• To date few if any comprehensive studies have been undertaken to study the effects of acupuncture and or Chinese herbs on sperm DNA fragmentation. Please READ an interesting thesis from TCM doctoral candidate Virginia Prior of Yo San University in Los Angeles, California who concludes that while acupuncture and TCM does improve many factors associated with DNA fragmentation (morphology, motility, concentration, volume, count, hormone levels, quality and quantity of immune markers, antioxidant levels), more specific studies in this area are required.57


• The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of acupuncture treatments on sperm parameters and pregnancy rates in patients with primary infertility. 30 men with the primary infertility were randomised into two groups. Group 1 underwent subinguinal microscopic varicocelectomy, and Group 2 underwent acupuncture treatment twice a week for 2 months. Both groups were evaluated with semen analysis at 6 months after the treatment. Patients in both groups were evaluated to determine if their partners had become pregnant. The researchers concluded that acupuncture treatment in primary infertile varicocele patients with semen abnormalities seems to be effective and has comparable results with the varicocelectomy treatment. 78


• This review was designed to systematically evaluate acupuncture as a treatment for male infertility. A total of 12 studies involving 2,177 patients were included in this review. For the treatment of male infertility, acupuncture is reported to be equally effective as traditional Chinese medicine (Chinese herbs) and more effective than Western medicine alone, and its effectiveness is enhanced when applied in combination with either TCM or Western medicine. Acupuncture is distinctively efficacious in improving sperm quality.79

Jonah Arnold