As you can imagine, the pathology of male infertility in TCM can be very difficult to understand. The terms used in TCM, such as Kidney, Liver, and Blood, have different meanings from those of Western medicine, and are capitalized to differentiate. These terms are widely used due to lack of better translations. If you’d like to learn more about TCM and its infertility treatment, please refer to the four books recommended at the end of this article.
According to TCM theory, the Kidney is the most important organ in the male reproductive system, and any aspect of Kidney Deficiency, whether Yin, Yang, or Essence Deficiency, often leads to male infertility or contributes to unexplained infertility.
To facilitate the understanding of this complex subject, I have correlated the pathologies of male infertility per Western medicine and TCM :
- Infection of reproductive system – Damp-Heat accumulation in Lower Burner or Liver/Gall Bladder meridian.
- Varicocele- Blood & Qi stasis blocking collaterals.
- Blocked ejaculatory ducts – Blood & Qi stasis blocking collaterals.
- Autoimmune factor – Liver & Kidney both deficient, Damp-Heat downward attack, Blood stasis blocking collaterals,
Kidney Yang deficient.
- Poor motility – Kidney Yang deficient.
- Poor morphology – Damp-Heat complicating Kidney Essence
- Low count – Kidney Essence deficient
- Azoospermia (no sperm) – Kidney Yang deficient, Kidney Essence deficient, Kidney & Spleen both deficient, Damp-Heat downward attack and Blood stasis blocking collaterals.
- Low semen volume – Kidney Essence deficient, Kidney Yin deficient
- Poor liquefaction – Hyperactive Yang due to Ying deficiency, Damp-heat downward attack.
- Impotent – Liver Qi stagnation, Kidney Qi deficient, Damp-heat downward attack.
- Premature ejaculation – Kidney Qi deficient.
- No ejaculation – Blood & Qi stasis blocking collaterals, Kidney Qi deficient.
- Retrograde ejaculation – Liver Qi stagnation, Kidney & Spleen both deficient.
It may still seem to be an daunting task to understand the pathologies of male infertility, but it is actually pretty simple: there are only deficient, replete, and deficient and/or replete – three types of pathologies. Accordingly, there are only three governing treatment principles – replenish the deficiency, deplete the repletion, and prioritize the treatment if deficiency and repletion are both present. In my experience, Kidney Yin, Yang, and Essence deficiency, Damp-Heat accumulation, and Blood & Qi stagnation are the four most common pathologies of male infertility