Why is my acupuncturist asking to see my partner’s sperm analysis??

I know what you’re probably thinking… My doctor said my partner is fine! I am not saying that your doctor and/or Reproductive Endocrinologist is incorrect.  Doctors have different training than a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicinet (aka fellow of ABORM.) I highly recommend if possible to find an acupuncturist that is a fellow of ABORM or one that specializes in fertility (referral from a trusted source is always recommended.)  As an acupuncturist that specializes in Oriental Reproductive Medicine I always want to get the whole picture. This includes looking at labs of both the woman and man. It is equally important to look at a woman’s egg quality as a man’s sperm quality. 


In general, when a couple is having fertility issues – estimates suggest that about 50% of fertility issues have a male factor present. In my office, I like to look at the sperm analysis as soon as possible in order to improve overall quality of egg and sperm. I highly recommend treating both halves of the fertility equation which usually is able to improve conception rates and embryo quality. 


Why is the sperm quality important?

This may sound silly… sperm quality is important because it is going to be the other half of the person you are creating. Yes, your doctor may be more concerned predominantly with your egg quality however, because I treat the whole person not just the improvement of egg quality I highly recommend looking at both the egg and sperm. If you can improve the whole picture and not just half of the equation, that will drastically improve your chances of conception, decrease your chances of loss and increase the chances of live birth. 


But my doctor said he has plenty of sperm??

Yes, that may very well be true.  It is possible that your partner’s sperm values are all within normal range. Most doctors focus on the sperm count in recent years because most doctors that complete IVF procedures almost always recommend ICSI (read more about ICSI here = > at this site.) I prefer to look at all of the values of a sperm analysis. I will not only look to see if all the sperm are within the “normal values.”  I will look to see if it is on the low or high end of the “normal values.” It is important to see if the sperm are on the lower end of the normal value because that is when some lifestyle changes or other treatment can be incredibly helpful.  I definitely like to focus on the morphology of the sperm. Sperm morphology in sperm analysis is important because it refers to the shape and form in a given sample. When the sperm morphology has a lower percentage it can lead to male factor fertility issues. For example, if someone has a 6% morphology value this translates to 6% of the sperm given in the sample are normal shape and size. This also means that 94% of the sperm are abnormal.  Most doctors will say that this is within normal range because it’s “normal” to have a morphology value be as low as 4% (according to the WHO aka the World Health Organization.) You can read more about sperm analysis and values = > in this website. In my professional opinion it is not ideal to have a morphology value at 4% because that means that 96% of the sperm are abnormal.  I prefer for my patients to have a morphology value of atleast 30% or higher because I prefer for my patients to have the highest percentage of normal/ healthy sperm.  When morphology is ideal this means that the sperm can swim forward at a good rate because they have strong tails, necks, and heads. When even one part of the sperms body parts are weaker or abnormal this will cause the sperm to swim slower, swim in circles or not able to swim in a forward motion. Even if your partner’s sperm count is within value it is important to know have good/ solid morphology values because you want strong forward swimming The higher the morphology sperm value will help create a better overall quality embryo. Since half of the embryo is made of a sperm it is crucial to have higher quality sperm that are normal in shape and size (morphology.)  


Why is the pH of sperm important??

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) specifies that normal pH to be 7.2 – 7.8. There are a few reasons as to why normal pH is important to the overall health of sperm.  If the ejaculate is lower value which means it is acidic may mean that one or both seminal vesicles are blocked. If the pH is higher in value it could possibly indicate an infection.  The infection could mean that there is a prostate issue present. If/ when there is an infection present usually some antibiotics are enough to take care of it and move on and retest and check on the pH.  In clinical practice I have also seen someone able to obtain a normal pH value by simply drinking enough water daily. 


So, what should I have my partner do next?

  1. He needs to order a sperm analysis that includes count, pH and morphology.  

It is important to know the count and the overall morphology (shape and size) of the sperm.  All of this information will give you a solid picture of the overall quality of the sperm on that given day. The pH will be helpful in order to make sure there is no current infection and/ or hydrating enough. 


  1. Have an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility look at the sperm analysis. 

I highly recommend taking the sperm analysis to an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility and it would be better if you could have an acupuncturist that is a fellow of ABORM.  


  • Have another sperm analysis done after 60 days.


If there are any improvements to be made your acupuncturist will be able to make suggestions. Then have another sperm analysis done after 60 days. I recommend 60 days because this amount of time allows the new sperm to have a better environment and be able to show on the new analysis the improvements of the sperm. 

Adrianne Ortega

Acupuncturist and Herbalist, Alma Acupuncture

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