Cakmak Y et al, Fertil Steril 2008;90:1732–8
Fertility and Sterility
In a small prospective randomised trial, healthy men were treated with electroacupuncture of different frequencies, and the effect on the blood flow in the arteries of the testicles was measured. The trial showed that a frequency of 10HZ was effective in increasing blood flow in the testes, and the authors 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.
Objective: To clarify the role of the abdominal acupuncture points and the frequency of short-term electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation on testicular blood flow (TBF) in humans.
Design: A prospective, randomized study.
Setting: University hospital, Department of Radiology, ultrasound unit.
Patient(s): Eighty healthy male volunteers were randomly allocated to three groups in stage one and to a single group in stage two. In the first stage of the study, the abdominal acupuncture points ST-29 (guilai) were stimulated using simple needle insertion, 2 Hz burst EA or 10 Hz EA, in three different groups. In the second stage of the study, abdominal acupuncture points ST-25 (tianshu) were stimulated with the frequency found to be more effective in stage one. Stimulation was for 5 minutes in each group.
Intervention(s): Electroacupuncture and Doppler flowmeter.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Four groups were compared for volume flow and other related parameters of TBF.
Result(s): The 10-Hz EA stimulation of ST-29 (guilai) increased TBF, but simple needle insertion and 2-Hz burst stimulation did not. The 10-Hz EA stimulation of ST-25 (tianshu) did not result in significant changes in TBF.
Conclusion(s): For the first time point- and frequency-specific effects of abdominal EA on TBF are shown in humans.
Further investigation is required to ascertain whether these findings may be helpful in the clinical treatment of infertile men.