How does acupuncture support men during IVF

How does acupuncture support men during IVF(In Vitro Fertilization) by 

Experts estimate that 40% of couples with infertility issues are due to women while 30 % of the issues are related to men and 30% of couples suffer from unexplained infertility. However, fertility related support such as IVF acupuncture is always focused on supporting women female and very few men seek for help.

So what does male factor infertility mean?

The issues can range from a mild reduction in sperm count, abnormal sperm function, blockages to prevent the delivery of sperm, complete absence of sperm, to the inability to ejaculate. All these can prevent conception from happening.

How can acupuncture help?

For men, acupuncture can help balance the energy flow through the system. It can improve blood flow to the testes where sperm are produced, restore balance of the body’s natural hormonal level, and facilitate a more relaxed nervous system which often result in improved semen analyses, especially for men with low sperm count, poor sperm motility or poor sperm morphology. Combined with herbal formulas, acupuncture can even help with sex dysfunction such as reduced libido or erectile difficulty which can as a result lead to natural conception. Our fertility acupuncturist and registered Chinese medicine practitioner Master Ruth Lee has worked with many couples where conception could not take place until the male partner received treatment so Ruth always encourage her clients to come with their partners.

How to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture on male’s fertility?

Ruth often encourages patients to bring their past health reports especially any fertility test results for a holistic understanding of the couple’s health conditions. It can also be serve as an evaluation tool to review the effectiveness of the treatment. For example, patients can repeat the semen analysis three months after the treatment to see if the quality of the sperm is improved.
According to the 5th edition of the WHO laboratory manual for the examination and processing of human semen, a normal semen sample should be:
Semen volume: >1.5ml
Total count: >39 million/ejaculate
density: >15million/ml
Progressive motility:>32%
Morphology: >4%
White blood cell: <1million/ml

Is it painful?

Sometimes what hinders men to come for acupuncture is the phobia on needling. Ruth ensures that the disposable needles she uses for acupuncture are hair-fine and often painless. What you can feel is the electrical charge which is the Qi arrival and that is crucial for an effective acupuncture treatment. The sensation comes from the point of insertion along the meridians to unblock the qi and blood flow inside your body. Due to the rebalanced and harmony of body and mind, most people find it very relaxing and will doze off during the treatment.

How often should you have acupuncture?

During the IVF, the man’s main contribution is to provide sperm during the testing stages and on the day of egg collection. It takes around 10 weeks for the sperms to get mature in the system and the result is actually a reflection of your health conditions two months ago. Ideally, Ruth will suggest couples to get started 3 months before the process and usually have one or two acupuncture treatments a week before the testing and egg collection day.

If you or a loved one is suffering from infertility, Ruth can provide assistance
Please contact us at +852-25303315 or appt@balancehealth.com.hk for a personalized consultation.

How acupuncture and Chinese medicine support Intrauterine insemination (IUI) ?

IUI is often the first recommendation to patients experiencing difficulty with conception in a fertility clinic as is more affordable and less invasive compared to IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation). It is a method which combines hormone treatment for the woman and a painless insemination procedure where washed sperm is placed directly into the uterus, followed by the natural fertilisation in the womb.

Who should consider IUI?

If you or your partner experience the below conditions, you may consider IUI as your fertility treatment:

• Failure to ovulate caused by stress, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS) or over-weight
• Hostile cervical mucus that prevents the sperm from penetrating
• Mild male factor infertility such as poor motility, low count, or abnormal morphology
• Sexual dysfunction including premature or inhibited ejaculation or erectile dysfunction
• Unexplained fertility
• Donor sperm

How does acupuncture work to support IUI?

Research shows that for women, acupuncture improves blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, which can lead to improving the egg quality and ovulation, as well as nurturing an uterine lining that is more receptive to implantation.

Here are the seven benefits of acupuncture support to IUI:

1. Regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian-axis for a balanced system.
2. Enhance the production of healthy follicles and eggs.
3. Stimulate the ovulation.
4. Decrease the side effects of hormone medications.
5. Calm down the stress response.
6. Facilitate healthy endometrium and the internal environment of the uterus.
7. Support implantation by preventing uterine contractions.

How often should you do acupuncture for IUI support?

Acupuncture works before, during and after the IUI process. I recommend that treatments begin 3 months prior to the procedure. If this is not possible you should begin treatments as soon as possible. One should consider booking an acupuncture treatment and consumption of herbal formulas once a week before fertilization and schedule an acupuncture treatment one day before and after the procedure for best results.

How does Chinese herbal help for IUI and fertility?

Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the most sophisticated herbal systems that exists and has been used for more than two thousand years to treat gynaecological disorders including infertility. In the last decades, experimental and clinical studies have shown that the appropriate use of Chinese herbs increases fertility two-fold within a four month period[1].

A case study showed that by optimizing the uterine and ovarian health, Chinese herbal formulas works well to improve follicle count and quality[2]. The report reviewed a 43-year-old woman with diminished ovarian reserve and multiple uterus fibrosis treated with Chinese herbal medicine for 6 months and achieved a natural conception and a live birth of a healthy baby.

What are the ingredients in the herbal formulas and are they safe?

Herbal treatments rarely use single herbs, but are rather prescribed as balanced, targeted formulas to provide holistic cure and lead to a higher conception and successful pregnancy rate. After a proper diagnosis, I will select around 10-20 different ingredients among thousands of herbs in the Chinese pharmacy that best fit your condition. Some commonly use herbals include angelica root, rehmannia root, Chinese dodder seed, glossy privet fruit, and sometimes minerals like fluorite or ingredients from animal-derived ingredients like Antler Pilose Antler and Colla Corrii Asini. The formula is customized based on one’s dietary restrictions and preference.

Working with a qualified professional who will help ensure that herbal ingredients are pure, without any additives, or chemicals like pesticides or heavy metals is the key to a successful pregnancy. I only select herbal manufacturing companies which are of excellent quality adopting systematic standard operating procedures that are strictly in compliance with the GMP standards of the PRC and Australia and the USP.

If you or your loved one is suffering from infertility, please contact Balance Health at +852-25303315 or appt@balancehealth.com.hk for a personalized consultation.

[1] Karin Ried. Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: an updated meta-analysis.
Ried K. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):116-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.12.004. Epub 2015 Jan 3.PMID: 25637159

[2]Benqi Teng, Jie Peng, Madeleine Ong and Xianqin Qu. (2017) Successful Pregnancy after Treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine in a 43-Year-Old Woman with Diminished Ovarian Reserve and Multiple Uterus Fibrosis: A Case Report. Medicines (Basel) 2017 Mar; 4(1): 7.
Published online 2017 Feb 9. doi: 10.3390/medicines4010007