Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine for Male Infertility
With difficulty in conceiving affecting nearly 1 in 4 couples, male infertility is thought to be the cause in 40% of those cases. This is a very common condition and is dramatically on the increase. Sperm count averaged 113 million in 1940 and in 1990 it was 66 million with 18% of men now considered to have extremely low sperm counts (under20million). The reasons for this appear to be increased exposure to environmental pollutants and the amount of man made oestrogens that are in general circulation.
The diagnosis of male infertility is simpler in Chinese medicine than that of women and normally falls into one of three main categories (or a combination of these). These are as follows:
Constitutional weakness of the sperm. This is where the sperm count may never have been good, motility sluggish and abnormality rate high. Whether hereditary or through some pre-pubescent illness, the testicles never fully functioned. In Chinese medicine this is seen as a reflection of the energy of the kidneys which must be nourished in order to improve sperm quality.
Blockage of sperm pathways. This is where sperm is being produced but through some blockage, they are unable to make it to their destination. In western medicine this may be the case of a varicocele. Chinese medicine views this as a blockage of the flow of qi and blood and herbs that improve circulation in the genitals are used.
Damage caused by heat. Hanging outside of the boy, the testes like to remain cool and are quickly aggravated by heat. Various heating mechanisms can therefore harm sperm production. On a daily basis, the use of alcohol and caffeine are very heating and as such lower sperm counts. Various medications are also known to lower sperm count including those used for epilepsy and chemotherapy. Infections, sexually transmitted diseases or mumps can all have similar effects. In these cases the heat can go on to damage and drain the strength of the kidneys, complicating the issue. Chinese medicine uses herbs to clear any remaining heat and replenish the energy of the kidneys.
Sperm take around 3 months from formation to full maturity. For this reason treatment must always be continued over several months. This also means that herbal medicine is often preferable and the herbs can be taken as a capsule supplement on a daily basis. This provides a subtle method of giving effective treatment , over what is usually at least a six month period.