Do you and your partner plan to have a baby soon? Have you been trying for over a year now but are still not pregnant? What could be the problem? Are you doing something wrong? Have you talked to your doctor about it?
Infertility is a global problem. According to data, it is estimated that about a third of couples across the world have trouble conceiving. And, within that group, approximately 90% of the cases are because the male partner has a low sperm count.
Normal sperm count – What amount of sperm is considered normal?
In order to successfully conceive a child, you should have enough sperm in your semen.
According to medical professionals, a normal sperm count is at least around 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. So, if your sperm count is less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, you have a low sperm count, and if your sperm count is more than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen, you have an above-average or high sperm count.
Semen analysis – How can you determine your sperm count?
Semen analysis is a procedure that can help you know your sperm count. If you want to undergo one, you should go to a fertility clinic or your doctor’s office.
In a semen analysis, many different elements of your sperm are examined:
- Your sperm volume
- The shape of your sperm
- Your sperm motility or movement of your sperm
All of these are essential in analyzing your fertility.
According to the World Health Organization, the following are the normal or healthy semen analysis values:
- Number of sperm in ejaculate – between 39 and 928 million
- Volume of ejaculate – between 1.5 and 7.6 milliliter
- Sperm concentration – between 15 and 259 million per milliliter
- Total motility – between 40 and 81 percent
- Progressive motility – between 32 and 75 percent
- Sperm morphology – between 4 and 48 percent
Warning signs of a low sperm count – What symptoms should you watch out for?
There are various signs and symptoms that can occur if you have a low sperm count, depending on the cause of the problem.
In many cases, having a reduced sex drive or libido and/or trouble getting and sustaining an erection can happen. Sometimes, these can be accompanied by a lump, pain, or swelling in the testicular area too. If the issue is due to some abnormalities in the hormones or chromosomes, physical changes, such as hair loss or decreased body hair, can manifest.
Diagnosing the problem – What methods are used to diagnose low sperm count?
It is crucial that you go see a doctor to get an official diagnosis for low sperm count. In addition to a semen analysis, the following are examples of other tests that you may have to take:
♦ General physical exam
Your doctor will examine your genitals to find any visible indicators of the problem. They will also delve into your medical history, and ask about any history of injuries, surgeries, chronic diseases, and inherited medical problems. They will also ask about your sexual activities, habits, and others.
♦ Hormone testing
This is a blood test that can determine if your pituitary gland and your testicles are producing enough amounts of hormones. In men, testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and it plays a key role in several important sexual functions and processes, including the production of sperm. If your testosterone levels are low, your testicles may not be able to produce sufficient testosterone.
♦ Scrotal ultrasound
This utilizes high-frequency sound waves to take a closer look at the testicles and other vital parts involved in sperm production.
♦ Genetic tests
This test can determine if your low sperm count problem is caused by some genetic issues. It requires a sample of your blood to detect abnormalities in the Y chromosome.
♦ Post-ejaculation analysis
This test checks if the sperm in your urine goes out of your penis when you ejaculate or travels back into your bladder.
♦ Anti-sperm antibody tests
These are a group of tests that check for antibodies or immune cells that attack your sperm cells, preventing them to function properly.
♦ Testicular biopsy
This requires samples from your testicles to see if they are producing sperm normally.
♦ Transrectal ultrasound
In this test, a thin lubricated wand is slid into your rectum to examine your prostate and see if there are blockages in the tubes where your semen travels.
Treatment methods for low sperm count – How can the problem be fixed?
Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on what caused your sperm count to decrease. Below are examples of potential treatment methods for low sperm count:
This method is usually used if your sperm count problem is caused by varicocele. During the surgery, the obstructed vas deferens will be repaired to allow sperm transport to go on smoothly.
These are prescribed if your low sperm count is due to an infection that affected your reproductive tract.
♦ Hormone treatment
If you cannot produce enough sperm because of your testosterone levels are low, your doctor may recommend hormone treatment that can boost your testosterone levels back up.
Having difficulty conceiving can take a toll on your mental health, so your doctor may advise that you see a mental health professional to help you.
Natural remedies for low sperm count – What can you do to naturally increase your sperm count?
To increase your sperm count and your odds of getting your partner pregnant, you can also make better and smarter lifestyle choices, including:
♦ Quit bad habits
Drinking alcohol excessively, smoking, and using prohibited drugs can lower your testosterone levels, causing reduced sperm production.
♦ Lose weight
If you are overweight or obese, your risk of health problems, including sexual health problems like low testosterone, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction, increases.
♦ Take care of your mental health
Stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can negatively impact hormone balance in your body, affecting sperm production.