Ask an expert - body - fertility - male fertility

2 questions

Q:  I am 69 years in good health, I would like to find out if acupuncture will help me havE a stonger erection

 

A:  We are assuming that your question is about making good a slight loss of normal function (erectile dysfunction/ED) rather than whether acupuncture can be used as a sexual enhancement technique. There are a number of small studies, two of which you can find here 
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14562135
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10098953
 
which give some encouragement to the possibility that acupuncture in conjunction with conventional strategies can help men suffering from ED. However, the studies are small and far from conclusive, so we couldn't give a definite and positive recommendation.
 
As a general comment we would say that there are many reasons why men can begin to suffer from ED. These can range from the simple fact of ageing and the effects of conditions which become more apparent in older age, like mature onset diabetes, or to the problems associated with excessive drinking or smoking, through to the kinds of complex psychological issues which have arisen as a consequence of someone's life experience. Whether acupuncture can offer any help depends a great deal on the background against which the problem has arisen.
 
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is primarily concerned with the restoration of balance and flow in the energy of the body, and there are several distinct patterns of disease, or 'syndromes', in which poor flow or blockage of energy ('qi' as it is called in Chinese medicine) can cause erectile problems. If this were to be the case, and there were other confirming factors pointing to a specific syndrome in the overall diagnosis, there may be some possibility that acupuncture could provide some help. However, if the cause of the ED lies in a pathological condition which means that there has been some permanent loss or weakening of blood supply to the sexual organs, then acupuncture would be less likely to have any effect.
 
Our only advice to you can be to seek the view of a BAcC member local to you and discuss the matter face to face, perhaps offering them a little more background information on which they can give you a clearer assessment of whether they think acupuncture treatment may be of benefit.    
 

 

Q. Can acupuncture help with male infertility and where would the needles go?

 

A. Although there is no conclusive evidence that male infertility can be helped by acupuncture a number of studies, such as this one undertaken in 2002 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12658811, suggest that there may be measurable changes in important aspects of sperm motility and quality. Traditional Chinese medicine clearly did not have access to such sophisticated methods of analysis but infertility was recognised as just as much a problem in both sexes over a thousand years ago, and its diagnosis was understood in terms of the patterns of energy with which infertile couples presented for treatment.
 
As we say frequently on the website, chinese medicine primarily treats the person, not simply the condition, and most treatments use points on the limbs below the elbow and knee, and powerful points on the trunk and back. As we constantly remind patients, though, they are in charge of the treatment. If any needling is suggested for areas outside their comfort zones, they can and should say 'no.' A well-trained practitioner will always be able to find suitable alternative ways to achieve the same results.

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