Male infertility can be defined as the inability of a man to successfully inseminate an egg but it generally has 4 aspects which are: Low Sperm Count Poor quality sperm Poor mobility of sperm No sperm production at all
It is a good idea to define what is meant by low sperm count. The NHS’s website define it as a sperm count of fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen. Up to a fifth of young men nowadays find themselves with this issue and some can also suffer from not producing any sperm whatsoever.
The causes of male infertility are numerous and it is important to understand the history, medical background and lifestyle of each patient before undergoing any treatment. Smoking and drug use is associated with low sperm count , so too sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. However, sometimes there is no easily identifiable cause. In Western medicine there are a several treatments to aid with conception such as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection ( ICSI), Gonadotrophin drugs ( for those with low levels of hormones) and donor insemination (where a 3rd party’s sperm is used to fertilise the egg). There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these and some people will feel more comfortable looking at alternative treatments such as those offered in Traditional Chinese Medicine. We will now discuss how TCM can help in cases of male infertility. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we treat the root cause of the problem and this differs depending on the constitution of each individual patient. The goal is to increase sperm production and to make sure that the sperm that is produced is of a high quality so it’s fundamental to understand where and how sperm is produced in the body. A core concept in TCM is the idea of yin and yang and much of the treatment is designed to ensure there is harmony in the body by balancing these two forces. We will discuss three common types of male infertility in terms of Chinese Medicine and the treatments we would consider. Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat The cause of this could be related to excess alcohol consumption , hot spicy food and a stressful lifestyle. Physical symptoms would be feeling hot, thirsty and tired and the tongue would be red with little or no coating. We would advise the patient to make some changes to his lifestyle especially in terms of diet and in addition we would prescribe a herbal formula designed to nourish the kidney yin and essence. Damp Heat in Lower Jiao If this was the diagnosis the patient would also be feeling stressed and hot and the tongue coating would be red with a greasy yellow coating. They would also feel clamminess on the skin. The treatment would be to clear the damp heat and eliminate the dampness with a herbal formula. Healthy kidneys are essential to the production of healthy sperm. Kidney Yang Deficiency This diagnosis often affects people who have been working too hard (particularly at night) or are oversexed. This makes the body weak and thus effects the healthy functioning of the kidneys. The tongue is pale with a white coating . The herbal remedies would be designed to warm the kidney yang and thereby improving the quality and mobility of the sperm. The above advice is very general and although we have tried to give some specific examples we strongly recommend that you consult a qualified Chinese Medicine Practitioner to get a full picture of your own condition.