Male Infertility

Because many cases of male infertility stem from unknown causes and therefore mainstream medical treatment is often unsuccessful, many researchers are looking to alternative and complementary medicine for new ideas about causation and for new treatments.

In Chinese andrology, male infertility is suspected when a couple have been having unprotected intercourse for two or more years and there is no known female factor at play.

In Chinese medicine there are several physiological factors that must come together to allow a man to be fertile. In other words, to the practitioner there may be something in terms of Chinese medicine that is contributing to infertility, which is not being detected in Western medicine. This then opens up another avenue for treatment.

A typical course of treatment would involve an initial consultation followed by weekly sessions of Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The goal of treatment would be to improve the strength and flow of vital energy (Qi) within the body and particularly the reproductive system. Certain herbs and acupuncture points are specifically effective for this.

The effectiveness of the treatment is gauged by how the patient feels after and in between treatments, changes in the pulse and tongue (specific to Chinese medicine) and also from biomedical tests such as sperm motility and sperm count. Because Chinese medicine addresses symptoms within the context of the person and their life, advice is given on lifestyle and diet etc. where necessary. The advice, where given specifically, dovetails with the Chinese medicine diagnosis. For example, for some people dairy products are contraindicated because of their tendency to increase the production of mucus in the body. Therefore where someone already has too much mucus in their system, Chinese medicine will focus on resolving this and the advice will be to support the treatment by reducing the intake or finding an alternative to dairy products.

Treatment works best when patient and practitioner work together rather than as a passive receiving of treatment. This approach has always been at the heart of Chinese medicine.

As an example, as well as herbs and acupuncture the following is recommended:

Diet: Eat a balanced, light and clear diet. This should consist of fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains, small amounts of lean meats and seafood. Avoid eating excessive amounts of fats, sweets and spicy -hot foods. A light diet encourages the flow of Qi and blood in the reproductive system.
Avoid exposing the testes to excessive heat. Normal spermatogenesis requires a slightly cooler temperature than one’s core temperature; natural selection has guaranteed that the testes hang in the scrotum in which the temperature is half a degree lower. Therefore it is advisable for men with infertility to avoid exposing the testes to excessive heat such as hot baths and sitting in the Jacuzzi and also to treat any febrile disease promptly and completely.
Talk: The old saying that it’s good to talk is also true in Chinese medicine; withholding and pent up frustration are both part of a stagnant Qi pattern and talking helps to free the flow of vital energy in the whole body. This is particularly important when a couple is trying to conceive. From my experience this is a very stressful time for both people, and couples counselling can be very helpful. In our clinic we have had good results with increased sperm motility and volume after a course of treatment with herbs and acupuncture when accompanied by diet and lifestyle changes.