Sperm Health

Male infertility is responsible for about one-third of all couples who have trouble conceiving, as well as a major cause of pregnancy outcomes and live birth rates (Schwartz, 2017). While the holistic approach of traditional Chinese medicine is capable of improving or even resolving the issue in theory, in reality, the outcomes of research during the last couple of decades have shown that acupuncture and herbal medicine really can improve sperm health.

Male Infertility in TCM

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the conception of a child involves the essence that the person is born with, more so for men than for women. Every time a man has an ejaculation, for example, his essence becomes increasingly more depleted. Since restoring the essence is practically impossible, any conditions that a diminished essence causes or conditions involve diminishing of the essence are extremely difficult to treat successfully. (Luckily, only rarely this is the case.) At the same time, the focus of traditional Chinese medicine is holistic—that is, it is never a specific condition but a balance among internal organs, which is believed to be the origin of the vast majority of health problems and it should resolve health conditions as a consequence. This means that certain organ imbalances cause poor sperm health, and correcting those imbalances should improve it. The effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine, however, varies depending on the nature of the condition. 

TCM for Low Sperm Count

One of the most widely spread conditions is low sperm count. Interestingly enough, research studies have shown that acupuncture improves low sperm count relatively well (Siterman et al., 2000). Acupuncture has also shown to be effective in male infertility due to inflammation of the genital tract and scrotal hyperthermia (Siterman et al., 2009). Stress has been a major factor in low sperm quality, and if you live in a big city, you are particularly at risk. 

No matter what the cause of male infertility is, however, if the problem is low sperm count or sperm’s high viscosity and low motility, acupuncture can help. But traditional Chinese medicine has other tools in its arsenal, in addition to acupuncture, and studies have shown that combining acupuncture with Chinese herbal remedies leads to even higher success rates. How much higher? One recent study showed the sperm’s quality improvement between 34% and 50% (Macdonald, 2016).  

TCM for Male Infertility

What is particularly important about traditional Chinese medicine is that it is a type of natural medicine. Unlike many recent methods, it is time-tested over thousands of years. Also, because of the large number of modalities, traditional Chinese medicine is more flexible than other types of natural methods and techniques. If, for example, you take certain medications and are afraid that herbal teas may interact with them, then acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, gua sha, or therapeutic exercises will not cause any interactions, because they do not have chemical components, but they can be effective. (Specific combinations and their ratios depend a lot on an individual and his state of health.) And most importantly, all traditional Chinese medical techniques are inexpensive and not invasive (even acupuncture causes little or no discomfort), and they are definitely worth trying before agreeing to something more costly and drastic.  

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