Male factor infertility accounts for almost half of all infertility cases, with about 50% of men evaluated for infertility showing abnormal semen parameters. Interestingly, the treatment of acupuncture for male infertility can be traced back to the classic A–B Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing) in the Western Jin Dynasty, which dates back around 2,000 years ago in China.
The earliest study of acupuncture for male infertility in Western countries dates back to 1984. The study investigated the effect of acupuncture on male fertility and psychological well-being, and the results showed a significant increase in sperm concentration and motility after acupuncture treatment. Similar findings were also reported by other researchers, where all semen parameters of 16 subfertile patients treated with acupuncture showed significant improvement in total functional sperm fraction, percentage of viability, total motile spermatozoa per ejaculate, and integrity of the axonema when compared to the control group.
In another study involving 57 patients, participants were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or a placebo control acupuncture twice weekly for a total of six weeks. The results showed that the percentage of motile sperm in the acupuncture group was significantly higher than that in the control group. A more recent review of 12 randomized controlled trials with 1,088 participants concluded that acupuncture was effective in improving semen quality.
Further research has also shown that acupuncture can increase testicular blood flow and significantly reduce the level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in patients with oligoasthenospermia.
In summary, male infertility is a significant issue affecting many couples worldwide. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments in traditional Chinese medicine, and recent studies have shown promising results in improving semen quality and reducing hormonal imbalances associated with infertility. Acupuncture could be a useful and safe complementary therapy for men with infertility issues.
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