The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for poor semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ui Min Jerng et al

Asian J Androl. 2014 Nov-Dec; 16(6): 884–891

This review looks at a selected number of RCTs that examined the effect of acupuncture on sperm motility and count, but not morphology. From the 4 trials they examined, they report that motility and sperm concentration were significantly increased in the acupuncture groups (If trial designs are heterogeneous, as they were in this meta analysis, it makes it more difficult to draw firm conclusions at this stage).
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Randomised clinical trial of comparing effects of acupuncture and varicocelectomy on sperm parameters in infertile varicocele patients.

th_Andrologia

Kucuk EV et al, Andrologia. 2016 Jan 21. doi: 10.1111/and.12541. [Epub ahead of print]

Andrologia

A study comparing surgical versus acupuncture treatment of men who were infertile due to varicocles in the testes, found both methods were successful in improving sperm parameters although acupuncture was superior to surgery. The acupuncture was performed twice a week for 2 months.

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Effect of acupuncture-moxibustion therapy on sperm quality in infertility patients with sperm abnormality

Acupuncture-Pregnancy-358Chen A et al, Jnl Acup Tuina Sci 2011 Vol 9, Number 4, 219-222

Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science

 

This study in China sought to elucidate the mechanism whereby acupuncture improves sperm quality. The team found that levels of an important enzyme in the semen increased, as did the sperm motility after acupuncture.

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A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia

Dieterle et al Fertil Steril 2009 Oct; 92 (4): 1340–3 Fertility and Sterility
This small clinical trial randomised 57 patients who had extremely low sperm counts, to acupuncture and placebo acupuncture groups. After receiving acupuncture twice weekly for 6 weeks motility of sperm (but not overall count) was found to increase significantly. The authors conclude that the results of the present study support the significance of acupuncture in male patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. More evidence with larger trials needs to be accumulated before the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture in male infertility can be evaluated.

 

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Clinical observation on electroacupuncture and Chinese drug for treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia of the male infertility patient

Wang Z et al, Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2008 Nov;28(11):805-7. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu
This interesting study examined the effect of electro-acupuncture, chinese herbs or a combination of both on the sperm quality of infertile men. While sperm count and vitality improved in all groups, the effect was significantly better in the group who had acupuncture and took Chinese herbs. 

 

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Point-and frequency-specific response of the testicular artery to abdominal electroacupuncture in humans

Cakmak Y et al, Fertil Steril 2008;90:1732–8 Fertility and Sterility
Just as electrocaupuncture can increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus (see reports above) so it can to the testicles. These authors demonstrate that particular frequencies applied for just 5 minutes are effective in increasing blood flow in the testes, and suggest that such a stimulus may address the damaged microcirculation associated with varicoceles, and with aging. They note that decreased testicular arterial blood flow may result in impaired spermatogenesis from defective metabolism in the microcirculatory bed and suggest that further research is needed to discover if electroacupuncture can improve sperm manufacture in this instance. 

     

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Significant reduction of sperm disomy in six men: effect of traditional Chinese medicine?

Tempest HG et al, Asian J Androl. 2005 Vol 7(4):419-25. Asian Journal of Andrology.
This is a small study carried out in the UK, but one of the few (outside of China)  to look at the effect of Chinese herbs on sperm quality. The incidence of chromosomal abnormality in all the patients who took the herbs was significantly reduced.  

 

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Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility.

Pei J et al Fertil Steril. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7 Fertility and Sterility
A group of infertile men who had pathological semen analyses according to WHO criteria, were treated with acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks. A statistically significant increase after acupuncture in the percentage and number of sperm with no structural defects was demonstrated compared to the control group of patients who received no treatment. They concluded that male infertility patients could benefit from having acupuncture. A general improvement of sperm quality, specifically in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, was seen after acupuncture.

     

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Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities.

Gurfinkel E et al Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8. Asian Journal of Andrology
In a prospective, controlled and blind study, a group of infertile men (married for 3 - 11 years without children) were randomized into two groups, the treatment group receiving 10 acupuncture treatments and the control group receiving sham acupuncture treatments. The patients in the acupuncture group demonstrated a significant increase in the percentage of normal forms compared to the control group.

 

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