It is often no easy task to be a father, and for some men, to become one. Several factors may be responsible for male infertility, including low sperm count, abnormal sperm size and shape, and reduced motility. Lifestyle, genetics, and physiological changes can also raise or lower male fertility levels, and can significantly affect a man’s ability to produce offspring.
There are a number of factors can cause low sperm count or a decrease in sperm production. The most common causes? Being a workaholic (a/k/a excess and prolonged stress), smoking, alcohol consumption to excess, very frequent sexual intercourse or masturbation, being overweight, and wearing tight undergarments or sitting down for extended periods of time. The good news is that these causes are rather easily remedied (in the grand scheme of things). Other causes may take some time to resolve, or may even require surgery.
While previous research has shown that acupuncture can improve fertility levels in women, there have been fewer studies on male infertility conducted. However, evidence suggests that acupuncture can have a positive effect on sperm production and quality, without causing any changes in behavior or sexual desire. An estimated 10% of men are infertile, and the male partner is a factor in up to 50% of infertile couples, write the researchers of a recent study showing just how effective acupuncture can be in the treatment of this condition. Acupuncture can lead to significant increases in the number of normal sperm and equally significant reductions in structural defects. In this study, researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture on the structural health of sperm in men with infertility of unknown cause.
Twenty-eight infertile men received acupuncture treatments twice a week for five weeks, 12 received no treatment at all, and served as a comparison group. Researchers analyzed sperm samples at the beginning and end of the study and found marked improvements in sperm quality in the acupuncture group in comparison to the other group. Acupuncture treatment was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm in ejaculate. The researchers write that acupuncture treatment is a simple, noninvasive method that can improve sperm quality.
Acupuncture infertility treatments can also increase fertility by reducing stress, which is often a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortizol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, which changes hormone levels and disrupts the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle. As we mentioned before, in men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility, and cause impotence. Acupuncture infertility treatments counter the effects of stress and cortizol by releasing endorphins in the brain. Acupuncture also works at stimulating the hypothalamus to effectively balance the endocrine system and its hormones and to get to the root cause of both male and female infertility. Acupuncture infertility treatments also have the added bonus of producing few or no side effects.
Acupuncture is relaxing, painless and gentle. Less stress, a healthy body, balance, and strong swimmers – and the endorphins are certainly a bonus!
For more information, visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com
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Sources: 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.
Photo: Baby and Dad by Vera Kratochvil