Rédacteurs : Johan Nguyen, Claude Pernice

Male Infertility

Infertilité masculine : évaluation de l'acupuncture

1. Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis

☆☆☆ Evidence for effectiveness and a specific effect of acupuncture
☆☆ Evidence for effectiveness of acupuncture
Limited evidence for effectiveness of acupuncture
Ø No evidence or insufficient evidence

1.1. Generic Acupuncture

1.1.1. You 2020

You F, Ruan L, Zeng L, Zhang Y. Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for the treatment of oligoasthenozoospermia: A systematic review. Andrologia. 2020;52(1). [209948]. doi

ObjectivesOligoasthenozoospermia is a common factor leading to male infertility. Acupuncture has been applied for treating male infertility for several thousand years in China, but clinical evidence of its efficacy and safety in treating oligoasthenozoospermia is yet to be established. This review aimed to systematically assess the evidence on the effect of acupuncture in males with oligoasthenozoospermia.
MethodsDatabases (PubMed, EMBASE, SINOMED, CNKI, Wanfang database and Cochrane Library) were searched to identify related studies published before 30th June 2019. The Cochrane risk of bias tool and Jadad score was adopted to assess the methodological quality of included studies.
Results Twelve randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with 1,088 participants were included in this review. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis, but it was not possible due to considerable clinical heterogeneity among the included studies. According to the narrative analysis, acupuncture or acupuncture combined with another intervention was effective in improving the semen quality based on the included studies. However, this result should be interpreted with caution due to high risk. The methodological quality of most included studies was low.
Conclusions The current evidence on acupuncture for oligoasthenozoospermia is inadequate to draw a solid conclusion due to the poor methodological quality. Rigorous full-scale RCTs are needed to validate the therapeutic efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating oligoasthenozoospermia.

1.1.2. He 2015 ☆

He Y, Chen CT, Qian LH, Xia CL, Li J, Li SQ, Liu BP. [Acupuncture treatment of male infertility: a systematic review]. National Journal of Andrology [Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue]. 2015;21(7):637-45. [183414].

Objective To systematically evaluate acupuncture as a treatment for male infertility.
Methods We searched Chi na Biology Medical Database (CBM), Wan Fang Medical Information System, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), VIP Information Resource System (VIP), and PubMed for published literature on acupuncture as a treatment for male infertility on May 1 2014. Based on the Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA), we evaluated the quality of the reports, conducted meta-analysis on the identified studies via RevMan5.2, and assessed the quality of the evidence in the literature by Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE).
Results A total of 12 studies involving 2,177 patients were included, the quality of which was evaluated as mediocre. With regard to the cure rate, acupuncture was comparable to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (P > 0.05) but better than Western medicine (RR = 4.00, 95% CI 1.63 to 9.82, P < 0.01) while acupuncture + TCM was better than either TCM (RR = 1.77, 95% CI 1.20 to 2.60, P < 0.01) or Western medicine used alone (RR = 2.73, 95% CI 1.51 to 4.93, P < 0.01), and acupuncture + Western medicine was better than Western medicine alone (RR = 1.88, 95% CI 1.17 to 3.02, P = 0.01). The combined use of acupuncture, ear pressure, TCM, and Western medicine showed a higher cure rate than the combination of TCM and Western medicine (RR = 3.45, 95% CI 2.90 to 4.11, P < 0.01). In therapeutic effectiveness, acupuncture was comparable to TCM (P > 0.05) but superior to Western medicine (RR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.71, P < 0.01), acupuncture + TCM was superior to either TCM (RR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.23, P < 0.01) or Western medicine alone (RR = 1.43, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.67, P < 0.01), and acupuncture + Western medicine was superior to Western medicine alone (RR = 1.25, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.49, P = 0.01). In improving sperm concentration, acupuncture was as effective as TCM (P > 0.05) and sham acupuncture (P > 0.05) but outdid Western medicine (RR = 27.00, 95% CI 24.27 to 29.73, P < 0.01) and acupuncture + TCM outdid either TCM (RR = 14.65, 95% CI 7.58 to 21.72, P < 0.01) or Western medicine alone (RR = 1.04, 95% CI–1.43 to 3.51, P > 0.05). In improving grade a sperm, acupuncture exhibited a similar effect to TCM (P > 0.05) and sham acupuncture (P > 0.05), and acupuncture + TCM was more effective than TCM alone (RR = 7.78, 95% CI 3.51 to 12.23, P < 0.01) but equally effective as Western medicine (P > 0.05). In elevating the level of grade a + b sperm, acupuncture + TCM excelled either TCM (RR = 11.00, 95%, CI 3.17 to 18.82, P < 0.01) or Western medicine alone (RR = 12.22, 95% CI 6.87 to 17.57, P < 0. 01), while acupuncture produced a comparable effect with sham acupuncture (P > 0.05). As for the quality of the included studies, only 3 conclusions of the 23 meta-analyses were assessed to be of average quality, while the others of poor or extremely poor quality. Therefore, the recommendation grade of the conclusions was low.
Conclusion For the treatment of male infertility, acupuncture is reported to be equally effective as TMC and more effective than Western medicine, and its effectiveness is enhanced when applied in combination with either TCM or Western medicine. Acupuncture is distinctively efficacious in improving sperm quality. Nevertheless, the overall quality of the included studies is low.

1.1.3. Jerng 2014 Ø

Jerng UM, Jo JY, Lee S, Lee JM, Kwon OL. The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for poor semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Asian J Androl. 2014;16(6):884-91. [183487].

Objective The aim of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for poor semen quality in infertile men.
Methods We searched for relevant trials registered up to May 2013 in 14 databases. We selected randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared acupuncture, with or without additional treatment, against placebo, sham, no treatment, or the same additional treatment. Two reviewers independently performed the study selection, data extraction, risk of bias and reporting quality appraisal. Risk of bias and reporting quality were appraised by the Cochrane risk of bias tool, the consolidated standards of reporting trials and Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture. The outcomes were sperm motility, sperm concentration, pregnancy rate, and adverse events. Pregnancy was defined as a positive pregnancy test.
Results Four RCTs met the eligibility criteria. Acupuncture increased the percentage of sperm with rapid progression (mean difference - 6.35, 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.38-8.32, P< 0.00001) and sperm concentration (mean difference - 6.42, 95% CI: 4.91-7.92, P< 0.00001), but these two outcomes were substantially heterogeneous among the studies (I² = 72% and 58%, respectively). No differences in pregnancy rate were found between acupuncture and control groups (odds ratio 1.60, 95% CI: 0.70-3.69, P= 0.27, I² = 0%). No participants experienced adverse events.
Conclusions The current evidence showing that acupuncture might improve poor semen quality is insufficient because of the small number of studies, inadequacy of procedures and/or insufficient information for semen analysis, high levels of heterogeneity, high risk of bias, and poor quality of reporting. Further large, well-designed RCTs are required.

1.2. Comparison of Acupuncture Techniques

1.2.1. Yang 2020

Yang B, Meng QY, Chen H, Gao YL, Shen J, Mu YY, Xia YB. [Clinical effect of acupuncture combined with traditional Chinese medicine in treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia: a meta-analysis]. Acupuncture Research. 2020;45(3):243-50 [207995].

Objective To evaluate the clinical effect of acupuncture combined with Chinese medicine in the treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia.
Methods Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture combined with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia published up to February 15, 2019 were searched from databases of CNKI, CBM, Wanfang Data, VIP, PubMed, Embase, and The Cochrane Library. Two reviewers independently performed quality assessment and data extraction of the studies, and RevMan5.3 was used to perform the meta-analysis.
Results A total of 13 articles with 12 RCTs were included, with a total of 1 183 patients. The meta-analysis showed that acupuncture combined with TCM achieved a significantly higher pregnancy rate than TCM alone in the treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia(risk ratio [RR] =1.46, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13-1.90,P=0.004). The patients treated with acupuncture combined with TCM had a significantly higher effective rate than those treated with TCM alone (RR=1.17, 95% CI:1.10-1.24, P<0.000 01). Compared with TCM alone, acupuncture combined with TCM achieved significantly better improvements in sperm survival rate (mean difference [MD]=8.28, 95% CI: 6.48-10.08, P<0.000 01), sperm motility (MD=17.01, 95%CI:11.06-22.96, P<0.000 01), sperm concentration (MD=8.71, 95%CI:5.92-11.50, P<0.000 01), and number of grade A sperms (MD=6.39, 95%CI:5.27-7.50, P<0.000 01).
ConclusionAcupuncture combined with TCM has a better clinical effect than TCM alone in the treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia. Due to the low methodological quality of the studies included in this analysis, acupuncture combined with TCM in the treatment of oligozoospermia/asthenozoospermia should be used based on patients' conditions in clinical practice.