For many couples, fertility issues can be disheartening, frustrating, or even heartbreaking. It’s not uncommon for couples to focus on female infertility problems, and overlook the possibility of male infertility. Both are important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, male infertility is defined as a “male’s inability to cause a pregnancy after having regular intercourse with a fertile female without birth control for one year.” Research indicates that 15 percent of couples are unable to conceive after twelve months of regular, unprotected sex. Men who suffer from infertility may be interested in the potential benefits of a series of acupuncture sessions, which offer a natural and holistic approach to addressing infertility issues in both men and women. Here’s a brief overview of common causes of male infertility, how acupuncture sessions may help, and what to expect during a typical acupuncture session.
Common Causes of Infertility in Men
There are several reasons why a man may suffer from infertility. Erectile dysfunction can prevent a man from successfully releasing sperm, making it challenging to impregnate a woman. Low sperm count or low sperm motility makes it hard for an egg to become fertilized. Men can also have blocked tubes, which prevents sperm from traveling or releasing properly. In other cases, a man may experience an enlarged vein in his scrotum, called a varicocele, which causes the temperature of the testes to rise enough to damage the sperm. Other risk factors associated with male infertility include smoking, heavy alcohol use, diabetes, environmental toxins, hormone issues, and steroid use.
Acupuncture and Male Fertility
As more people are looking for natural therapies to avoid unwanted side effects that are often associated with pharmaceutical drugs, acupuncture has emerged as a promising option for rebalancing and healing the body. A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of several studies indicated that acupuncture treatment was particularly beneficial to men with low sperm count or low sperm motility. Researchers are not certain what the precise mechanism is that accounts for the success of acupuncture on male infertility; some hypothesize that acupuncture’s neural stimulation may impact testicle vasodilation, while others propose that acupuncture may enhance immune responses that causes a reduction in lipid peroxidation in sperm. Most researchers agree that the other benefits of acupuncture sessions, including stress reduction, encouraging the body to heal itself, and promoting more restful sleep, may also have a positive effect on male fertility.
Those who are interested in learning more about the benefits of acupuncture should schedule an initial consultation with an acupuncturist to discuss their goals. During your first appointment, you can share your fertility struggles and your lifestyle habits to give your acupuncturist the information they need to create a personalized treatment plan that is specifically designed to suit your body, mind, and spirit. Your treatment plan will likely include a number of weekly acupuncture sessions, and you may decide to implement nutritional and dietary changes or supplements to support your progress.
Schedule your initial consultation with an experienced Portland acupuncturist by calling Inner Works Acupuncture at (503) 227-2127 today.