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Low Sperm Count: Causes and Effective Remedies

Men’s health is a broad and significant topic that not only affects daily life quality but also relates to reproductive abilities. One concerning issue is a low sperm count, which can cause psychological stress and pose challenges for couples wishing to conceive.

Understanding this issue and ways to improve sperm count can not only help men enhance their reproductive health but also contribute to nurturing a robust next generation. Let’s explore with Grove Health Bondi the primary causes leading to a low sperm count and effective methods to boost the quality and quantity of your “special forces,” thereby paving a steady journey towards a healthy sexual life and improved reproductive capabilities.

Low Sperm Count: Causes and Solutions
Low Sperm Count: Causes and Solutions

1. What is Low Sperm Count?

Low sperm count, also known as oligospermia, is a medical condition where the quantity of sperm in a man’s semen is less than normal.

Under normal circumstances, each milliliter of semen contains between 15 million to over 200 million sperm. However, if test results show that the sperm count is less than 15 million per milliliter or the total number of sperm in each ejaculation is less than 39 million, then the individual is diagnosed with oligospermia.

This condition can potentially affect a man’s fertility. However, this does not mean that the individual will be completely infertile. In fact, some men, despite having a low sperm count, are still able to naturally father a child. On the other hand, some may require the assistance of assisted reproductive methods such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Low Sperm Count
Low Sperm Count

2. Symptoms of Low Sperm Count

Determining the quantity of sperm simply by visual observation is impossible. However, there are certain signs that may suggest an individual could be experiencing a low sperm count.

2.1 Semen is scanty and thin

Semen may become thinner and less abundant than usual. This means that the semen loses its characteristic viscosity and becomes thin like rice water. Additionally, the volume of semen released during each sexual encounter may be less than the normal range, which is less than 2 – 5 ml, even if you do not engage in sexual activity regularly.

Semen is scanty and thin 
Semen is scanty and thin

2.2 Difficulty in conceiving

If you and your partner have been regularly engaging in sexual intercourse for a year without using any form of contraception and have still been unable to conceive, this could be a sign of a low sperm count. This also holds true if you have tried assisted reproductive methods such as artificial insemination but the conception rate remains low.

Difficulty in conceiving 
Difficulty in conceiving

2.3 Sexual function problems

Issues related to sexual function could also be indicative of a low sperm count. This includes a decreased sexual desire and difficulties in maintaining an erection

Sexual function problems
Sexual function problems

2.4 Other signs

Additionally, there are other signs that may appear when you are dealing with a low sperm count:

  • You may experience pain, swelling, or even detect lumps in the testicular area.
  • Your urine flow might be weak or intermittent.
  • You may feel more tired and lack energy than usual.
  • Your mental state may also be affected, leading to depression or anxiety.

3. Factors Contributing to Low Sperm Count

There are several factors that can influence the quality and quantity of sperm, including:

3.1 Lifestyle-related factors

  • Diet: A deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc, selenium, folate, and vitamin C can decrease sperm production. Consuming a variety of fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats can help improve sperm quality.
  • Smoking: Cigarettes can reduce the quality and quantity of sperm as the chemicals in cigarettes can damage sperm and their DNA.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can decrease sperm production as alcohol can lower testosterone and increase estrogen, affecting male fertility.
  • Drug use: Drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and steroids, can reduce the quality and quantity of sperm.
  • Stress: Prolonged stress can decrease sperm production as the hormones released during stress can lower testosterone and affect sperm quality.
  • Lack of sleep: Sleep deprivation can lower testosterone and affect sperm quality. Adults should sleep for 7 to 8 hours each night.
  • Tight underwear: Wearing tight underwear can increase the temperature in the testicles, where sperm is produced. High temperatures can decrease sperm production. It is recommended to wear loose, cool underwear made from cotton.
  • Hot baths: Taking hot baths or soaking in a hot tub can increase the temperature in the testicles and affect sperm production. It is recommended to take warm or cool baths.
Factors to Low Sperm Count 
Factors to Low Sperm Count

3.2 Medical factors

  • Infections: Certain types of infections, including sexually transmitted infections, can decrease sperm production.
  • Testicular issues: Some testicular problems, such as varicocele and testicular vein dilation, can reduce sperm production.
  • Genetic disorders: Some genetic disorders can decrease sperm production.
  • Chronic diseases: Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, can reduce sperm production.
  • Cancer treatments: Some cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can decrease sperm production.

3.3 Environmental factors

  • Chemical exposure: Contact with certain chemicals, such as pesticides, lead, and solvents, can decrease sperm production.
  • Radiation exposure: Exposure to high levels of radiation can decrease sperm production.

3.4 Age

  • The quantity and quality of sperm can decrease with age. Men over 40 are more likely to have a lower sperm count.

4. Diagnostic Methods for Low Sperm Count

Here are the methods for diagnosing low sperm count:

  • Semen Test: This is the primary method for determining sperm count. During this process, a semen sample is collected and analyzed to determine the number of sperm, their mobility, shape, and the volume of the semen
  • Blood Test: Blood tests can be used to check the levels of hormones such as testosterone, FSH, and LH, factors that can affect sperm production.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic tests can be performed to detect genetic abnormalities that could affect sperm production.
  • Testicular Biopsy: This is a medical procedure in which a small tissue sample from the testicle is taken for examination under a microscope. A testicular biopsy can be performed if other tests cannot determine the cause of the low sperm count.

5. Treatment Methods for Low Sperm Count

Here are some treatment methods for dealing with low sperm count:

  • Surgery: Certain issues such as varicocele and blocked ejaculatory ducts can be resolved through surgery. In cases where there is no sperm, sperm can be directly extracted from the testicles or epididymis.
  • Infection Treatment: The use of antibiotics can help treat genital tract infections. However, the ability to restore fertility is not always guaranteed.
  • Treatment of Sexual Intercourse Problems: Issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can be improved through medication and counseling.
  • Medication and Hormone Therapy: In cases of infertility due to a specific hormone being too high or too low, or the body having issues with hormone function, the doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy or medication.
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): This technology involves obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from a donor. The sperm is then directly injected into the female reproductive tract, or used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
Treatment Methods for Low Sperm Count 
Treatment Methods for Low Sperm Count

6. Preventive Measures for Low Sperm Count

Here are some measures you can take to prevent a low sperm count:

  • Maintain a reasonable weight and exercise regularly: Regular physical activity and maintaining a stable weight can help improve sperm quality.
  • Healthy nutrition: Limit processed foods, trans fats, and soy products. Enhance beneficial foods such as fish, fruits, and fresh vegetables that can provide nutrients to help improve sperm count.
  • Limit bad habits: Habits like taking overly hot baths, wearing tight pants, and constantly placing a laptop on your lap while working can heat up the testicles. Regularly staying up late, drinking alcohol, smoking, and using addictive substances also reduce the testicular sperm production function.
  • Prevent sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually transmitted diseases can cause problems with the quality and quantity of sperm.
  • Regular health check-ups: Go for regular health check-ups to detect early problems that may affect sperm quality.

7. Conclusion

So, we have together explored the issue of low sperm count – a leading cause of men’s health problems. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine health checks, will help improve your sperm count. Don’t hesitate to seek help from healthcare professionals if you have any concerns. For more useful information, don’t forget to follow us, Grove Health Bondi, for the most regular health updates.

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Glenn Salkeld
Glenn Salkeld
Professor Glenn Salkeld is a health economist with more than 30 years experience in public health research and a PhD in the economics of preventive health care. Glenn has a particular interest in screening and diagnostic test evaluation based on the implementation of multi-criteria decision analysis.

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