Acupuncture for men
The IVF specialist says it doesn’t matter that my sperm are mostly the wrong shape and cant swim well or fertilise the egg, because the embryologist will choose a sperm and fertilise the egg using ICSI. So why should I have acupuncture?
There are a number of IVF clinics that use intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) routinely now, dispensing with any normal sperm fertilization at all. However some scientists feel that letting the most vigorous sperm in the Petri dish fertilise the egg, or letting the egg choose a sperm, preserves the last vestige of natural selection that is left in this brave new world of reproductive technology.
There is some evidence that babies born as a result of ICSI have a slightly higher incidence of certain birth defects. So if you can improve your sperm function with lifestyle changes and acupuncture (and often you can) then it is well worth the 3 months preparation time (reference).
Laboratory analysis shows that my semen contains virtually no sperm at all. My specialist tells me I must have a biopsy taken from one of my testicles to see if they can find any sperm to be used in an IVF/ICSI cycle. Can acupuncture help me avoid a biopsy?
Possibly. One clinical trial collected a group of men just like yourself and gave them 10 acupuncture treatments over several weeks. Half of the men thus treated produced sperm in their ejaculate. (reference)
While there is no guarantee you would be in the half that appear to respond favourably, you may feel it is worth trying a course of acupuncture using the treatment protocols used in the clinical trial in the hope of avoiding a biopsy.
I find that the pressure of trying to produce a sample on demand at the IVF clinic after my wife has had her eggs collected is enough to stop anything working. Can acupuncture help?
You are certainly not alone. The pressure to perform at a critical time can undo many a man. Sometimes a sperm sample will be collected and frozen ahead of time in case this happens. Some men find that acupuncture before going to the clinic on egg collection day is useful in relieving anxiety and increasing blood supply to the genital organs.
How can I support my wife going through IVF?
Drive her to her appointments and back. Give her neck rubs and massages. Make her chicken soup!
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