Effects and mechanism of action of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation in patients with abnormal semen parameters

Yan Yu et al, Acup Med BMJ, 2019

 

Acupuncture in Medicine, British Medical Journal

A randomised controlled trial examined the effect of electrical stimulation of acupuncture points (using TEAS), on sperm parameters. They found that low frequency stimulation significantly improved sperm count and motility in men with abnormal semen analysis.

 

 

To evaluate the effect of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation (TEAS) on sperm parameters and the underlying molecular mechanisms.

A total of 121 patients diagnosed with oligozoospermia, asthenozoospermia or oligoasthenozoospermia were randomised into four groups (three treatment groups, one control): the TEAS groups were treated with 2 Hz (n=31), 100 Hz (n=31), or mock stimulation (n=29) at acupuncture points BL23, ST36, CV1 and CV4 for 2 months. The control group (n=30) was provided with lifestyle advice only.

The changes in total sperm count and motility in the 2 Hz TEAS group were significantly greater than those in the mock group and the control group. The change in neutral α-glucosidase (NAG) and zinc levels in the 2 Hz group were significantly greater than those in the mock group and control group, and the changes in fructose levels of the 2 Hz group were significantly greater than those in the control group. Significant increases in calcium and integrin-binding protein 1 (CIB1) and reduction of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 b (CDK1) were also found after 2 Hz TEAS treatment.

The present findings suggest that 2 Hz TEAS can improve sperm count and motility in patients with abnormal semen parameters, and is associated with increases in seminal plasma zinc, NAG and fructose. The upregulation of CIB1 and downregulation of CDK1 by TEAS may be associated with its positive effects on sperm motility and count.