June is men's health month: let's talk male fertility!
At taproot, we see patients trying to conceive every single day. Some naturally, some going through IUI or IVF. But the vast majority of our patients is female.
An estimated 10% of men are infertile, and the male partner is a factor in up to 50% of infertile couples.
In many cases, the cause of male infertility is unknown. This is where a holistic approach can increase your chances of success.
What can Chinese medicine do to help men ?
In this post, we will look at what peer-reviewed studies have found. Chinese medicine can:
Raise testosterone levels
Improve micro circulation in the testis
Boost sperm production
Improve sperm quality
Prevent oxidative stress
Chinese medicine can raise testosterone levels
The hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular (H-P-T) axis is a major positive- and negative-endocrine feedback system that regulates testis function. Hormone levels that are either too high or too low are detrimental to spermatogenesis.
Modern research has demonstrated that kidney deficiency often manifests with the dysfunction and impaired structure of the H-P-T axis . Experiments have shown that kidney-supplementing formulas could repair the structure and restore the function of the H-P-T axis  bidirectionally regulate the hormone levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and eventually increase the level of testosterone to improve the quality of semen.
Boost sperm production & improve blood flow in the testis
Sertoli cells play a central role in the production of sperm. A reduction in the number of these cells leads to a decrease in the number of germ cells and Leydig cells , with detrimental effects on fertility 
Experiments have shown that TCM promoted the proliferation of Sertoli cells and Leydig Cells and eventually facilitated the progression of germ cells to spermatozoa (meaning increased sperm production).
Spermatogenesis is also highly metabolic process that is susceptible to disruptions in the supply of nutrients and oxygen. Sufficient blood supply for the testis is a imperative for normal sperm production. Chinese herbal formulas including blood-quickening medicinals improve the microcirculation and metabolism of the testis and promote an adequate nutrient supply for the testis, while reducing inflammatory effusion and unblocking the duct which conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra during ejaculation.
Chinese medicine helps prevent oxidative stress
Environment pollution causes cellular damage via by oxidative stress (OS).
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) attack the membrane and DNA of sperm cells, leading to decreased fluidity and reduced permeability of the sperm plasma membrane. This results in an augmented DNA fragmentation index (DFI) and apoptosis rate, ultimately resulting in infertility.
TCM has been demonstrated to neutralize ROS, improve the antioxidant capacity of the seminal plasma, lower sperm DFI, and protect the male reproductive system from the lesions induced by ROS.
Chinese medicine can improve semen quality
Researchers found five weeks of acupuncture treatment reduced the number of structural abnormalities in sperm and increased the overall number of normal sperm in a group of men with infertility problems.
28 infertile men received acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks, and 12 received no treatment and served as a comparison group. Researchers compared sperm samples at the beginning and end of the study, and found significant improvements in sperm quality in the acupuncture group compared with the other group.
Acupuncture treatment meant fewer structural defects in the sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm in ejaculate.
Book an appointment with your acupuncturist to talk about fertility!
Zhou SH, Deng YF, Weng ZW, Weng HW, Liu ZD. Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Remedy for Male Infertility: A Review. World J Mens Health. 2019;37(2):175-185. doi:10.5534/wjmh.180069
Cen YH, Zhao FL, Fan R, He GZ. Research progress in the reproductive-related kidney deficiency and kidney tonifying Chinese medicine mechanism. Med Recapitulate. 2014;20:2226–2228.
Qian FL, Zeng FH, Feng WQ. Effects of Chinese herbal preparation for invigorating kidney on function of hypothalamicpituitary-gonad axis in rats. Chin J Sports Med. 2005;24:571–575.
Ye Z, Chen D, Zhong J, Zhang Y, Zhang W, Wang G, et al. Effect of Jiawei Wuzi Yanzong decoction on sperm quality and hormone level. World Chin Med. 2013;8:626–629
Shi GJ, Zheng J, Wu J, Qiao HQ, Chang Q, Niu Y, et al. Beneficial effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on spermatogenesis by improving antioxidant activity and inhibiting apoptosis in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male mice. Food Funct. 2017;8:1215–1226.
Experimental Research on Therapeutic Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine Shengjing Capsule Extracts in Treating Spermatogenesis Impairment Induced by Oxidative Stress.
Zhou SH, Xie JX. The application of treating male diseases from the perspective of blood stasis. J New Chin Med. 2007;39:97–98.