Male Fertility Factors

Reproductive Acupuncture

When a couple is not able to conceive, the reproductive health of both the man and woman must be evaluated. Problems with the male reproductive system are a common cause of a couple's infertility. Nearly half of the couples presenting to IVF clinics do so for male factor infertility. Over the last few generations, there has been a significant decrease in sperm counts. The effects of environmental toxins and pollutants damaging the quality and function of sperm are well documented.* Dr. Mudrak has strategies that are effective in countering the effects of toxins and oxidants and/or immunologic damage to sperm.

TCM Treatment of Male Factor Fertility

Acupuncture and herbal medicines are highly recommended to increase sperm count, morphology and motility as well as the quality of seminal fluid that nourishes the sperm. In TCM paradigm, the critical factors for male fertilty are primarily: Kidney Jing and a normal balance of Kidney Yin and Yang. It may be necessary to eliminate Damp-Heat and or invigorate Qi and or Blood stagnation. Dr. Mudrak utilizes laboratory results and medical tests along with individual's health history and symptoms to deterine the TCM pattern. Dr. Mudrak then recommends a treatment strategy to meet those needs and optimize male fertility.

Semen Analysis

Fertility may be decreased due to low sperm count, poor sperm motility (ability to swim) or improper sperm morpholgy (shape of the sperm). All three of these qualities must be normal in order to have vigorous, fertile sperm. The qualities and characteristics of a man's semen often have no outwardly observable health signs or symptoms. Analysis of the sperm must be conducted by laboratory testing and is often done repeatedly due to the highly mutable characteristics of the sperm.

Lifestyle Issues

A man's fertility can be enhanced directly and inexpensively by addressing life style issues such as avoiding long hot baths, keeping a laptop computer off of his lap or smoking cessation, diet and exercise, and addressing use of particular prescription medications, etc. Some pharmaceutical drugs are known to have adverse effects on sperm. Below are examples, listed by class of drugs. Dr. Mudrak takes a complete health history to evaluate for factors that may be decreasing the man's fertility and provides practical strategies that can be used to enhance sperm production.

Development of Sperm and Length of Treatment

Sperm Motility

If sperm motility is a concern, studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for enhancing the motility through increased levels of metenkephlalins in the semen.** There are additional studies linking the presence of the metenkephlalins to sperm motility.*** In summary, acupuncture, even applied short term for the man experiencing sperm motility issues, is potentially of great benefit to fertility of the couple when timed with the ovulation of the female partner.

Sperm Count and Morphology

Sperm take time to develop (2-3 months), so there should be a minimal course of treatment to enhance sperm count and morphology. In TCM, the development of the sperm is ruled by Kidney Yin. In cases of Kidney Yin deficiency inhibiting male fertility, the primary treatment is herbal medicine. The herbal treatment course may be longer than 2-3 months inorder to suffficently nourish kidney yin deficiency through the course of sperm development.

Male Vigor

Acupuncture is also helpful to give a strong invigorating treatment to the Kidneys in proximity to the need to "perform" and to reduce anxiety and stress resulting from such a pressure.

Erectile Dysfunction

The Kidney Yang needs to be invigorated to enhance the movement of blood in cases of erectile dysfunction. This is done through herbal medicine, acupuncture and moxa (in the area around the ankles and low back).

Immune Factors and/or Varicocele

Varicocele is a condition discovered twice as often in infertile men as fertile men and is determined by the presence of an abnormality of a vein in the spermatic cord. In TCM, the varicocele alters the blood flow and manifests in a condition of blood stagnation. It is also associated with an increase in the temperature in the testes and a decreased sperm count.

Varicocele is associated with the presence of anti-sperm antibodies which can decrease sperm motility and overall fertility and can be treated with TCM herbal formulas and acupuncture. Anti-sperm antiobodies are also common in men who have had localized trauma (such as reversed vasectomy or other surgery), infection, inflammation (e.g. prostatitis) and is often accompanied by blood stagnation. Regardless of the origin of the blood stagnation or the presence of the anti-sperm antibodies, properly strategized herbal medicine and acupuncture can be effective in treating these conditions to enhance male fertility.


There maybe some physical defects such as undescended testicles or retrograde ejaculation, blockages of the vas deferens tube, and/or conditions such as hypospadias and epispadias (congenital malformation of the urethral openings) which are most efficently dealt with through surgery.

* Colborn T., Myers J. P., Dumanoski D., Our Stolen Future. Little, Brown and Company, London, 1996, p. 172.

** Bensoussan A., The Vital Meridian. Churchill Livingstone, Melbourne, 1990, p. 112.

*** Fujisawa M., Kanzaki M., Okada H., Arakawa S., Kamidono S., "Metenkephalin in Seminal Plasma of Infertile Men". International Journal of Urology, 3(4):297-300, 1996.