There have been a number of randomised controlled trials and pilot studies that have looked at the effect of acupuncture or electro stimulation of acupuncture points, on sperm quality in men with low counts, poor motility and morphology or a varicocele, most with favourable results. Because these trials all had different methodology and measured different outcomes, it is difficult to pool results in a meta-analysis and therefore to make therapeutic recommendations at this stage.

Effects and mechanism of action of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation in patients with abnormal semen parameters

Yan Yu et al, Acup Med BMJ, 2019,  

Acupuncture in Medicine, British Medical Journal

A randomised controlled trial examined the effect of electrical stimulation of acupuncture points (using TEAS), on sperm parameters. They found that low frequency stimulation significantly improved sperm count and motility in men with abnormal semen analysis.

The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for poor semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ui Min Jerng et al Asian J Androl. 2014 Nov-Dec; 16(6): 884–891

Asian Journal of Andrology

This review looks at a selected number of RCTs that examined the effect of acupuncture on sperm motility and count, but not morphology. From the 4 trials they examined, they report that motility and sperm concentration were significantly increased in the acupuncture groups. However if trial designs are heterogeneous, and there is risk of bias, as was the case in this meta analysis, it makes it more difficult to draw firm conclusions at this stage.

Randomised clinical trial of comparing effects of acupuncture and varicocelectomy on sperm parameters in infertile varicocele patients.

Kucuk EV et al, Andrologia, Vol 48, 10, 1080 – 1085, 2016


A study comparing surgical versus acupuncture treatment of men who were infertile due to varicoceles in the testes, found both methods were successful in improving sperm parameters although acupuncture improved sperm concentration more than surgery. The acupuncture was performed twice a week for 2 months. Pregnancy rates after more than 3 years was similar in both groups.

Effects of work and life stress on semen quality

Janevic T et al, Fert Stert 2014, vol 102, p 530-538

Fertility and Sterility

When nearly 200 men were assessed for stress and semen quality, a clear association was apparent between stressful life events and perceived stress and lower sperm count. However work related stress did not have an impact.

This study is included here, since acupuncture is well known for its beneficial impact on perceived stress.

Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities.

Gurfinkel E et al Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8.
Asian Journal of Andrology

In a prospective, controlled and blinded study, a group of infertile men were randomized into two groups, the treatment group receiving 10 acupuncture treatments and the control group receiving sham acupuncture treatments. The patients in the acupuncture group demonstrated a significant increase in the percentage of sperm with normal morphology compared to the control group.