A new study from China shows that acupuncture may improve sperm quality in idiopathic male infertility.
In the July issue of Fertility and Sterility (Fertil Steril. 2005;84:141-147), the chief investigator, Jian Pei, PhD, from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the People’s Republic of China, noted that acupuncture had a positive effect on sperm concentration and motility, an increase in testosterone, and some improvement in luteinizing hormone (LH) level, as well as an increase of normally shaped sperm and a significant decrease in the percentage of morphologically abnormal sperm.
The study consisted of 40 men with unexplained sperm abnormalities (oligospermia, asthenospermia, or teratozoospermia). 28 of the men (70%) received acupuncture twice weekly for five weeks. The semen samples from both groups were quantitatively analysed by transmission electron microscopy.
After acupuncture, there was a statistically significant increase in the percentage and number of sperm, and improvement in overall morphology of the sperm without defects seen in the total ejaculates. Specific sperm pathologies in the form of apoptosis, immaturity, and necrosis did not change significantly between the control and treatment groups before and after treatment.
“The treatment of idiopathic male infertility could benefit from employing acupuncture,” the authors write. “A general improvement of sperm quality, specifically in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, was seen after acupuncture, although we did not identify specific sperm pathologies that could be particularly sensitive to this therapy.”