This pilot study once again showed a positive effect of acupuncture on sperm count - but this time on men with such low sperm counts (or no sperm) that they would usually require a testicular biopsy to extract sperm for use in an IVF cycle. Seven of the fifteen men with no sperm at all produced sperm detectable by the light microscope after a course of 10 acupuncture treatments (p < 0.01) ie enough sperm could be produced for ICSI to be performed without recourse to testicular biopsy. The control group with similar semen analysis had no treatment and showed no change after three months.
Classic therapies are usually ineffective in the treatment of patients with very poor sperm density. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of acupuncture on these males. Semen samples of 20 patients with a history of azoospermia were examined by light microscope (LM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM), with which a microsearch for spermatozoa was carried out.
These examinations were performed before and one month after acupuncture treatment and revealed that the study group originally contained three severely oligoteratoasthenozoospermic (OTA), two pseudoazoospermic, and 15 azoospermic patients. The control group was comprised of 20 untreated males who underwent two semen examinations within a period of 2–4 months and had initial andrological profiles similar to those of the experimental group.
No changes in any of the parameters examined were observed in the control group. There was a marked but not significant improvement in the sperm counts of severely OTA males following acupuncture treatment (average=0.7±1.1×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate before treatment vs. 4.3±3.2×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate after treatment). A definite increase in sperm count was detected in the ejaculates of 10 (67%) of the 15 azoospermic patients. Seven of these males exhibited post-treatment spermatozoa that were detected even by LM. The sperm production of these seven males increased significantly, from 0 to an average of 1.5±2.4×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate (Z=−2.8, P≤0.01). Males with genital tract inflammation exhibited the most remarkable improvement in sperm density (on average from 0.3±0.6×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate to 3.3±3.2×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate; Z=−2.4, P≤0.02).
Two pregnancies were achieved by the IVF-ICSI procedure. It is concluded that acupuncture may be a useful, nontraumatic treatment for males with very poor sperm density, especially those with a history of genital tract inflammation.
See also a report of acupuncture helping an azoospermic patient to produce sperm.
Bidouee F et al, "Effect of Acupuncture on Azoospermic Male." Saudi J Kidney Dis Transp, 2011-22-1039