Male Fertility

Small child with his head rested on his parent's forehead

It is estimated that 1/3-1/2 of all infertility cases among heterosexual couples are, in part, caused by
male reproductive issues. Not only that, but male sperm counts and motility parameters have been in a steady, trending decline over the last few decades (Fetters, 2018). Scientists are coming to a consensus on why this might be, but let’s back up a bit.

So, what is measured when a semen analysis is performed?

Sperm count/concentration: How many sperm per milliliter of semen (or how many sperm per
ejaculate). Normal densities are from 15 million to 200+ million sperm per milliliter of semen.
pH level: If semen is too acidic, this can affect the health of the sperm.
Volume: How much fluid per ejaculate. Normal levels are 1.5 to 5.0 milliliters.
Sperm morphology: Size and shape of the sperm. At least 4% should have a normal shape.
Sperm motility: How many sperm are able to swim toward an egg? More than 40% is normal.
Time to liquefaction: How long it takes for the sample to turn from coagulated to a liquid. Usually, this is around 15-20 minutes.
Vitality: The percentage of live sperm in a sample.

So, what role can acupuncture play in all in male fertility?

Evidence suggests acupuncture can play a “positive role” (Huang, D. et al. 2011), and another study showed that five weeks of acupuncture treatment improved sperm counts and morphology (WebMD, 2005). In another study, men who received acupuncture showed improved blood flow to their testicles (Yao, D. and Mills, J. 2016).
This is only scratching the surface. These studies investigate the role that acupuncture could play in
improving male fertility parameters. However, other things also come into play during treatment with a
traditional treatment plan. What is your lifestyle? What do you eat? Do you take any special
medications? Are you exposed to certain chemicals in your home/work? What is your stress level and
what are you doing to manage that? All of that comes into play, and can influence male fertility as a
whole. Luckily, we as acupuncturists can address and counsel on all of these.


Fetters, A. 2018. ‘Sperm counts continue to fall’, The Atlantic. Available at:
Huang, D. et al. 2011. ‘Acupuncture for fertility: is it an effective therapy?’, Available at:
WebMD. 2005. ‘Acupuncture may improve sperm quality’, WebMD. Available at:
Yao, D. and Mills, J. 2016. ‘Male infertility: lifestyle factors and holistic, complementary, and alternative

Written by Krissy Rock in our Tacoma office.

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