One of the many things that we like to think sets our clinic apart from the rest is our particular focus on male as well as female fertility. You might expect this to be a given, but lots of couples tell us that the emphasis of the assessments they have received elsewhere is often on the woman’s fertility, whilst her partner’s contribution is largely neglected. An early diagnosis of a male problem is essential.
We see far too many couples spending months or even years investigating female infertility while their biological clock ticks away, only to find that the problem lies with their partner (which, given that c 40%+ of cases of sub-fertility are now thought to be attributable to male factors, is hardly surprising). Undoubtedly, the whole area of male fertility has been revolutionised by ICSI, but there are many situations where, provided the woman’s age allows it, intermediate steps may be appropriate to properly identify whether male factor issues may be the problem and, if so, whether it may be possible to improve your partner’s sperm health sufficiently to give you a chance of conceiving naturally.
There are lots more tests that may be important to properly (shape) of his sperm. By focussing just on these parameters, you can easily miss assess your partner’s fertility than just the standard semen test. We see so many couples who have had a semen analysis done via their GP, which doesn’t seem to show anything to worry about, but too often these tests can be quite basic and the results given to you without much explanation. In our view, if you have been trying to conceive for some time, and their are no obvious physical reasons to explain why you haven’t, it can often be important to conduct tests on the male partner that look for a whole variety of things, and not just the count, motility (movement) and morphology important clues about your true fertility status and, as a result, you may not get a realistic picture of your situation.
Semen analysis varies enormously up and down the country depending on the guidelines used to perform the test and how the results are interpreted. Some laboratories look at only a handful of parameters, while others give a much more detailed analysis for a more accurate picture of your fertility. To get a complete picture of semen quality the test should, ideally, include information about all of the factors listed on the right hand side of this page (click on each for details).
Additional testing may also be recommended, depending on your circumstances. If your sperm count is very low, for example, a hormone profile and genetic testing may be suggested (click on “hormone profile” and “genetic testing” from the menu on the right hand side of the page for more details). Testing for oxidative stress can also be helpful (click on “oxidative stress”) as can screening for previously undetected sexual infections, all of which are associated with infertility and miscarriage.
Being able to identify poor quality sperm as the cause, or as a contributory cause, for your problems can be extremely valuable, not only because it makes the decision making process so much easier in terms of what to do next, but also because many of the likely contributory factors (such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, cigarettes, stress, or poor diet) can often be addressed.
Acupuncture and Male Infertility
Acupuncture and Male Infertility is an important aspect of treating conception difficulties that is rarely publicized. In fact, according to statistics from the National Infertility Association (an organization also known as RESOLVE), between 35% and 40% of infertility problems among couples are actually caused by male conditions
So is Traditional Chinese Medicine effective in regards to Acupuncture and Male Infertility? According to a number of studies and independent trials, yes, it is. For instance 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that Acupuncture for Male Infertility significantly helped. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm structure and morphology was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture infertility treatment.
Another trial published on Acupuncture and Male Infertility treatments, Fertility and Sterility July 2005;84(1):141-7. had equally impressive results. The study involved 28 men who were diagnosed with idiopathic infertility and received acupuncture twice a week over a period of 5 weeks. A control group of 12 men were given no treatment.
Semen samples were collected twice in all groups, one prior to and one after the course of acupuncture and male infertility treatment. Compared to the control group, motility levels increased significantly in semen samples in the men receiving acupuncture and male infertility treatments. While median motility levels increased from 32% to 37% in the control group, they increased from 44.5% to 50% in the acupuncture group.
The number and percentage of healthy sperm also increased dramatically in the acupuncture patients. At baseline, only 0.06% the sperm among men in the Acupuncture and Male Infertility treatment group was considered “healthy,” while the median number of healthy sperm calculated in ejaculate was 0.04 x 10 6 (40,000).
“e;After 10 sessions of treatments, the median percentage of healthy sperm had increased more than four-fold, to 0.26%, while the median number of healthy sperm per sample had reached 0.2 x 10 6 (200,000).”
In addition, significant changes in sperm structure and quality were seen in the samples from the acupuncture group. Prior to treatment, only 22.5% of the sperm samples in the acupuncture patients contained normal-shaped acrosomes. After Acupuncture and Male Infertility treatment, the median percentage of normal acrosome shapes showed a “statistically significant improvement” to 38.5%.
Finally, the percentage of sperm with a normal axoneme pattern increased significantly among men receiving acupuncture for male infertility. (The axoneme is a microscopic structure that contains a series of tubules arranged in a distinct pattern, this is believed to aid in sperm motility.) Before the start of the study, the correct axoneme pattern was present in 52% of sperm in the control group, but only 46.1% in the acupuncture group.
“e;After 5 weeks of therapy, the median percentage increased to 52.2% in acupuncture patients, but actually decreased to 38.2% in the control group. These studies made clear that Acupuncture for Male Infertility is a viable and effective means of increasing overall sperm health and thus increasing fertility levels and the chances of conception.”
For more information on how Acupuncture may help you or your partner, please call Marianne or Gennie or email us. Contact the clinic