Male Factor Infertiltiy

Male Factor Infertiltiy

Treatments: Chinese Medicine for Male Infertility | Acupuncture and Acupressure | Chinese Herbs

In men, infertility is defined as the inability to fertilize the ovum, whereas sterility is defined as the lack of sperm production. Male fertility depends upon three things:

  1. adequate production of spermatozoa by the testes,
  2. unobstructed transit of sperm through the seminal tract, and
  3. satisfactory delivery to the ovum.

The laboratory analysis of sperm count, motility and morphology are the main parameters which gauge a man’s ability to father a child. However, the quality of the seminal fluid, liquefaction, and the ability for the sperm to be inserted into the vagina are important parameters if a couple is trying to achieve a pregnancy naturally.

Sperm evaluation categories:

  • adequate
  • aspermia (absence of ejaculate)
  • azoospermia (absence of sperm in semen)
  • oligospermia (lowered sperm density)
  • poor motility (impaired forward movement)
  • morphology (high percent of abnormal sperm)
  • antisperm antibodies

Western Evaluation Methods

Most infertility evaluations for men include an analysis of a man’s semen. One or more samples are sent to a laboratory and analyzed for:

  • deficient sperm count (less than 20 million per milliliter; volume should be 1 to 5 milliliters of ejaculate),
  • insufficient sperm motility (over 50 percent should be motile and demonstrate purposeful forward movement), and/or
  •  poor sperm morphology (more than 30 percent normal form, per WHO criteria; 5% Kruger analysis)

If semen analysis shows results within normal parameters, and if physical examination has indicated no possible obstructions, hormone levels will be measured. To produce healthy sperm, men need many of the same hormones women do to produce healthy eggs, only these hormones are present in different amounts in men than in women.

Sperm Production

It takes approximately three months for sperm to develop fully. Even in the most fertile human males there is a relatively large loss of potential spermatozoa in late meiosis that does not occur in other animals.

This instability makes human sperm especially susceptible to environmental effects.

Sperm

Sperm CountSperm Antibodies

In certain couples antisperm antibodies also may be a factor in reduced fertility. Antisperm antibodies may be produced by either partner. In both cases, the antibodies will attack the sperm as if they were dangerous invaders, killing them off before they can reach the egg.

Western Medicine Treatments

Male infertility factors are easier to diagnose with Western methods than female infertility, but harder to treat. In cases of mechanical obstruction, the only potential remedy is surgery. Luckily, new microsurgical techniques have made it possible to repair obstructions or other problems

In cases of poor sperm production or quality, there are some dietary and lifestyle changes that can help. However, when it comes to hormonal abnormalities, Western medicine has little to offer, as supplementation with testosterone, FSH, LH, or other hormones rarely improve sperm production significantly. If a man has some healthy sperm present, the doctor may recommend he and his partner try either an IUI or IVF procedure.

Chinese Medicine for Male Infertility

From a Chinese perspective, the main causes of male infertility fall under two broad categories: vacuities: of the Kidney energies, qi or blood, or excess conditions such as liver qi stagnation, blood stasis, or damp heat in the pelvic organs.

A 1997 article in the Journal of Chinese Medicine stated the main causes of sperm abnormality are deficiency of Kidney Yang or Kidney Yin, or deficiency of the Kidneys that affects the Liver and Spleen and leads to stasis of Qi and Blood or downward flow of damp heat.

Almost all aspects of male infertility can benefit from The Fertile Soul Method. Certainly, sperm production and quality can be increased; some mechanical blockages can be dissolved or reduced; and unlike treatment with Western medicine, even hormonal factors can be resolved by restoring balance to the entire body.

Acupuncture and Acupressure Treatments

Western medicine provides little in the way of assistance for male fertility problems caused by hormonal factors. However, acupuncture has been shown to help balance the hormonal system and restore higher levels of virility in men. A study conducted by the College of Acupuncture & Moxibustion at the Shanghai University of TCM in China reported on 35 cases of infertility due to sperm abnormalities that were treated only with low-frequency electroacupuncture. Study results showed improvement in symptoms of lumbosacral aching, frequent urination, emission, and overall sperm parameters. Activity and quantity of sperm, semen quality, and spermatogenic environment (significant decrease of mucosity and liquefaction time) also improved. Equally important, sex hormones were normalized as follows:

  • 33.5 percent improvement in FSH
  • 35.3 percent in LH
  • 57.1 percent in estrogen
  • 65.1 percent in testosterone

A 1997 Israeli study analyzed semen samples of 16 sub-fertile men treated with acupuncture. Analysis was done before and one month after the treatments, which were given twice a week for five weeks. Semen samples from 16 untreated sub-fertile men also were analyzed as a control group. In the subjects treated with acupuncture, improvements were measured in (1) percentage of viability, (2) total motile sperm per sample, and (3) integrity of the flagella. The fertility index of the sperm was deemed to have increased “significantly” following acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture and acupressure treatments should be based on the specific pattern being presented.

Treatment with Chinese Herbs

As stated earlier, most cases of male infertility involve some element of Kidney vacuity, which can be treated effectively with Kidney tonifying herbs. A study at the Institute of Acupuncture and Meridians, Anhui College of TCM, Hefei, China, reported that 87 cases of male infertility with semen abnormalities were treated with an herbal formula. Semen analysis after treatment showed that sperm parameters improved in 83 of the 87 cases, or over 95 percent of the time. By the end of the study, 49 of the men’s wives (56.32 percent) were pregnant. Different studies have shown that herbs which stabilize the Kidney essence and tonify the Liver and Kidneys, have been found to improve sperm motility. Kidney Yang tonics have been found to decrease impotence, fatigue, low back pain, urinary frequency, and spermatorrhea.

Other energetic patterns and conditions that improve with TCM herbal treatment include:

  • Source Qi—an important component in a man’s reproductive health, as the source Qi is considered the basis of all life and cellular function.
  • Sperm antibodies—these are addressed according to pattern discrimination for both men and women, and treated accordingly.
  • Varicocele—A study from the American Journal of Chinese Medicine reported that 37 infertile patients with varicocele were treated with 7.5 grams per day of a Chinese formula for blood stasis for three months, after which semen qualities such as sperm concentration and motility were graded. A varicocele disappearance rate of 80 percent was obtained with 40 out of 50 varicoceles. In addition, sperm count improved in 71.4 percent of patients, while sperm motility increased in 62.1 percent.