Couples younger than 30 and who are generally healthy have a 40% to 60% chance of conceiving within the first three months of trying. This leaves a high percentage of couples who may find it more difficult to get pregnant. In such cases, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies may help shorten the time it takes to conceive. In this article, we’ll address one form of alternative medical therapy, acupuncture, and whether or not it impacts male fertility.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine widely used to treat back and neck pain, stress, and headaches. Some fertility clinics are now also recommending acupuncture for couples who struggle to conceive, including those undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Does acupuncture improve male fertility?

More research is needed before anyone can say if acupuncture can improve fertility and there is no concrete evidence that this type of therapy improves pregnancy outcomes. However, there are some small studies which found a positive correlation between the two.

In one instance, a 2015 Singaporean study found that acupuncture treatment was effective in increasing the proportion of mature and functional sperm. No effects on other sperm parameters were found.

An older study of forty men found a statistically significant increase in the percentage and number of sperm with no structural defects after 28 of the patients received acupuncture twice a week over five weeks. The study concluded that men with low sperm quality can benefit from acupuncture.

Sperm motility (how sperm moves) was also found to benefit from acupuncture. A 2009 study identified a significantly higher percentage of motile sperm in patients who received acupuncture. In this group, sperm concentration remained the same.

Reproductive acupuncture: how does it work?

Acupuncture is used to improve your general health and to increase blood flow to the testes, as well as aims to address the imbalances that may be causing the issue. A trained acupuncturist will most likely use a combination of ‘local’ points above and below your navel, and ‘distal’ points below your elbow and knees.

While there are no adverse effects of acupuncture on male fertility, you should always consult your doctor before going this route. Acupuncture is generally safe but it is not advised for persons with conditions that may increase the risk of infections and for those with chronic skin problems.

Lifestyle changes, together with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, may help shorten the time it takes to conceive. You can check the impact of these changes and therapies on your sperm with an at-home Yo Sperm Test. The test measures your motile sperm concentration and records a video which you can keep for yourself or share with your doctor. Good luck!