Infertility treatment often involves assessment of both the man and woman. The conventional evaluation test for the male partner is a semen analysis. While this test is important, it does not tell the whole story. This article aims to analyze the meaning of a semen analysis and how traditional Chinese medicine may help with male infertility.
Why is a Semen Analysis Necessary?
According to Dr. Paul Turek, a reproductive neurologist, a semen analysis is necessary because it gives us an idea of what’s going on. The quality of sperms is a useful biomarker of overall health, including lifestyle and diet – and we must look at the individual as a whole. What should you expect from a semen analysis? A semen analysis allows us to identify the possible causes of low sperm quality/health. Below are the parameters used in a typical test:
- Morphology: How many sperms have a normal appearance, size, and shape? Abnormal morphology/anatomy is characterized by defective tails, heads, and immature sperm.
- Sperm Motility: What is the sperm’s swimming ability? This is arguably one of the most important parameters in male factor infertility – only moving sperms get the work done.
- Sperm Count: How many sperms are contained in a single ejaculation? Dr. Turek claims that the concentration of sperms in semen is not necessarily a cause for worry. However, low sperm count is a sign of something wrong in the lifestyle of the person
- Sperm Volume: How much fluid is ejaculated? Similar to the sperm count, low sperm volume could be a sign of other health issues such as low testosterone or ejaculatory duct obstruction.
Does a Semen Analysis Tell the Whole Story?
Did you know that abnormal sperms may still be fertile and normal may be infertile? Modern researchers such as Dr. Turek recommend a more in-depth assessment of sperm quality – epigenetics and DNA fragmentation tests. This is because healthy-looking sperms might contain a flawed genetic package, which affects embryo development.
According to a recent study, sperm DNA fragmentation is useful in determining male infertility. Additionally, male factor infertility is associated with poor lifestyle habits. Dr. Turek notes that sleep, obesity, genetics, diabetes, medication, low testosterone, alcohol and drugs, epigenetics, cholesterol, HBP, organ failure, surgery, stress, injury, prolactin as some risk factors affecting male fertility.
Similar to the assertion of Dr. Turek and other modern researchers, acupuncturists believe that the poor results from a sperm analysis signify an underlying imbalance. Some studies suggest that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine may improve the level of reproductive hormones, sperm motility, production, and overall male health. A 2015 systematic review concluded that “acupuncture is distinctively efficacious in improving sperm quality.”
The treatment regimen at acupuncture clinics such as Centre of Balance Hamilton focuses on treating imbalance through needling, traditional herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes. Feel free to visit our clinic or contact us for more information regarding male infertility and the role of acupuncture.
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Zeqiraj, A., Beadini, S., Beadini, N., Aliu, H., Gashi, Z., Elezaj, S., … & Shabani, A. (2018). Male infertility and sperm DNA fragmentation. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 6(8), 1342.
He, Y., Chen, C. T., Qian, L. H., Xia, C. L., Li, J., Li, S. Q., & Liu, B. P. (2015). Acupuncture treatment of male infertility: a systematic review.