For many lucky couples, conceiving a baby is a fairly easy matter. It might seem like all they have to do is stop using their birth control, and they’d be announcing a pregnancy in a few months. Other people might not be as fortunate; in fact, male and female fertility issues are increasing on a daily basis.
There are many reasons why a couple might not be able to conceive for some time. Female fertility issues include PCOS, endometriosis, etc. Male infertility is also a common factor, and low sperm count is of the many considerations here. A low sperm count means that the semen that a male ejaculate contains a lower number of sperm than the normal range.
Since a woman’s immune system attacks sperm cells in any case, having fewer sperm to start with lowers the chances of conceiving even more. However, if a male is diagnosed with low sperm count, it’s no reason to despair. Males with low sperm count, also known as oligospermia, usually go on to father children naturally. The key is to acknowledge the diagnosis and take steps towards understanding it. Below, we’ll have a look at the most telling symptoms of low sperm count and then move on to the possible causes and solutions:
Symptoms of a Low Sperm Count
If a male is having fertility issues, the best policy is to get a definite diagnosis from a doctor. Many men might not realize that they have such an issue until they’re actively trying to conceive with their partners. However, the following symptoms might help them realize that there’s something wrong before that phase occurs:
- Issues with sex drive and sexual function
- Pain in the groin area
- A lump or other types of swelling in the testicle area
- Decreasing body or facial hair
Seeing a Doctor
If a man has been actively trying to conceive a baby for a year with frequent and unprotected intercourse, but hasn’t been successful, they should get checked up as soon as possible. They might want to get to a doctor sooner if the symptoms above sound familiar.
Reasons Behind Lower Sperm Count
A relatively lower sperm count in males in anything under 15 million sperm in one semen milliliter.
Sperm production isn’t a simple process. It needs the testicles to function normally as well as the hormones to trigger its production. This means that the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which are both organs in the brain, have to be functioning properly as well.
After sperm is made, there are delicate tubes to transport them to the semen area. Any of these factors can negatively affect the number of sperm in a male’s semen.
There might also be the issue of morphology, which means that most of the sperm has an abnormal shape, function, or movement. The definite cause of any one male’s low sperm counts isn’t really identified. However, we can consider the general causes in order to avoid this complaint in the first place:
This occurs when the veins that drain a male’s testicles swell up. It does cause male infertility, but is quite a common problem and fortunately reversible. Varicoceles result in poor sperm quality, so one cannot hope of conceiving too easily with such an issue.
Certain infections might lower sperm production or mess with their health. They might also cause scarring, which blocks the tubes that carry sperm. The result is inflammation in the testicles. Infections include STIs like HIV and gonorrhea. Some of these might be quite severe and even result in permanent damage to the testicle, but doctors might be able to retrieve the sperm in most cases.
3. Ejaculation Issues
Males with low sperm count might experience retrograde ejaculation or no ejaculation as all. This might be caused by several health conditions like spinal injuries, bladder surgery, diabetes, etc.
Some types of medication might lead to ejaculatory problems. Blood pressure medications, also called alpha blockers, might be the culprit in many cases. Certain antibodies can also attack sperm, identifying it as a harmful invader.
Other medications include long-term steroids, testosterone replacement therapy, cancer medications, antifungal medication, antibiotics, certain ulcer medication, and so on.
If a male has a cancerous or even a benign tumor, they might directly affect the reproductive organs. The surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments for such tumors might also be a cause of male infertility.
6. Undescended testicles
These occur when either one or both of a male’s testicles doesn’t descend from their abdomen during fetal development. This means that the tescticles aren’t in their proper place and will likely cause a decrease in fertility.
7. Hormone imbalances
The testicles, pituitary glands, and hypothalamus are the parts that trigger hormone production that we need to create sperm. The adrenal gland and thyroid gland may also decrease sperm production if they’re not functioning properly.
8. Defected tubules
The tubes that carry sperm might have several blockages. This might be the result of an infection, abnormal development, and trauma to the tactical areas. The blockages might be at several levels, so one would need a proper check up to rule them out.
9. Chromosome defects
Klinefelter’s syndrome is an example of an inherited disorder that might not let a male father a child. This condition occurs when a male has one Y chromosome and two X chromosomes (instead of the usual one X and one Y chromosome). The result is an abnormal development of their reproductive organs. Other syndromes like Kartagener’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Kallmann’s syndrome might also be the main cause of low sperm count and infertility.
10. Celiac disease
This is a sort of digestive disorder that is caused by gluten sensitivity. If a male with this condition doesn’t take care of his diet, his eating habits might lower his sperm count. In many cases, following a gluten-free diet can help in improving fertility naturally.
A vasectomy, testicular surgery, scrotal surgery, abdominal surgery for cancers, prostate surgery, and hernia repairs might cause lower sperm count than before. Many males with this problem might be able to opt for surgery to remove such blockages. If that isn’t possible, they might opt to have their sperm retrieved from their testicles and epididymis for IUI or IVF purposes.
12. Environmental causes
Some elements in the environment might adversely affect supreme production as well as its function. These include:
- Industrial chemicals like pesticides, painting materials, led, organic solvents, etc.
- Heavy metals like lead and mercury
- X-rays and other forms of radiation
- Overheating of testicles, such as in hot tubs or saunas
Some habits might also cause low sperm count. Some people have the question ‘does mountain dew lower sperm count?’, but the following habits are likely to have such an effect:
- Sitting for a long time
- Using a laptop directly on the lap
- Wearing tight, obstructive clothing for a long period of time
- Using drugs like anabolic steroids
- Occupations like welding, truck driving, or others that require long hours of sitting
- Alcohol consumption
- Smoking tobacco
- High levels of emotional stress
- Excessive weight and overeating
There might be several complications that arise with having low sperm count, but the most common one is infertility. When any part of a couple experiences fertility issues and can’t conceive when they want to, they might get quite disturbed. If the situation goes on for too long, the people in question might even require therapy and have a lower quality of life than their peers. This is why it’s important to understand the issue of low sperm count, what causes it, and how we can deal with it. Knowing the factors of this condition will also help us get over the mental block of not knowing what’s causing infertility. With time and the right treatment, men with low sperm count can finally have a biological child if they want one.