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    fertility boosters

    Low Sperm Count - Causes, Symptoms and Male Infertility Treatments

    • 4.9   (5 Votes)

    Low sperm count causes are overweight, keeping laptop around the area of testicles, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Symptoms of low sperm count are problems with a sexual disorder, swelling or pain in the testicle region. Male infertility treatment such as IVF ICSI is performed for treating low sperm count.

    Infertility is a worldwide issue, and various studies reveal that it affects over 15 percent of couples that have unprotected intercourse. Male infertility is a complex syndrome encircling a wide variety of disorders. In more than half of male infertility cases, the major cause of infertility is unknown or idiopathic. While in other male infertility scenarios, the reason could be congenital or acquired. (1) Sperm count is one of the indicators of overall reproductive health in men. It is one of the several qualities that are examined during routine semen analysis and is considered a significant factor for fertility. (2) Having a high sperm count increases the odds that one of the quality sperm will fertilize the egg resulting in a healthy pregnancy. A high sperm count is assumed to be more than 300 million sperm per ml. (3) Azoospermia is one of the most common medical conditions related to the male reproductive system. In this condition, a man’s semen lacks sperm in the fluid ejaculated during orgasm or sexual physical activity. It is important to consider going for semen analysis for couples who are planning to start their family. However, it is common these days for men with low sperm count to become the father of a child owing to the advanced treatment methods of male factor infertility.

    There is a significant increase observed in the development of modern and advanced IVF and fertility centres all across the world in the view of an increasing need for infertility treatments. These centres are well-equipped with modern IVF technologies and state-of-the-art medical infrastructure and they endeavor to provide the highest success rates with each of the infertility treatments. These centers also comprise the availability of highly qualified and board-certified IVF doctors who strive to offer best IVF treatments to the patients who are deprived of experiencing parenthood. 

    In this article, we will look at:

    1. Global Infertility Statistics:

    The recent global statistics of infertility depict that infertility affects an estimated 15 percent of couples, amounting to 48.5 million couples. This number has increased manifolds over the years. Males who have contributed in this estimate are found to be solely responsible for 20-30 percent of infertility cases and contribute to 50 percent of infertility cases overall. However, this estimate does not accurately depict all regions of the world. Indeed, on a global fertility level scale, there is a lack of exact statistics with respect to the rates of male infertility. A comprehensive study was conducted assuming the cases of female infertility to be 50 percent, 20 to 30 percent associated with malefactors and the remaining 20 to 30 percent cases owing to a blend of both male and female factors and sometimes unexplained infertility causes. (4)

    2. Infertility Definition:

    The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) defines infertility as a condition of the reproductive system that hinders the body’s ability to perform the basic functions of reproduction, thereby resulting in childlessness. The concept of conception seems to be natural and simple, but the physiological procedure is quite complex and relies on the proper function of many factors which includes the following:

    • Production of healthy eggs by the woman
    • Sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg
    • Adequate embryo quality
    • Production of healthy sperm by men

    Infertility Definition

    Male infertility typically occurs because of certain loopholes in the sperm quality and count due to inadequate numbers of sperm, or issues related to ejaculation. (5) Before moving forward to know about the treatments of low sperm count, it is important to know about the causes of low sperm count for effective understanding of infertility in men. 

    3. Causes of Low Sperm Count:

    Sperm count is a mirror image of a man’s overall health, according to a comprehensive study to date evaluating reproductive function. The study also helped in finding out semen quality and metabolic risk in men’s health when considered for determining fertility levels in men. Low sperm count by itself is related to cardiovascular risk. At times, it is also associated with metabolic alterations and low bone mass. (6) Some of the main causes of low sperm count include:

    • Varicocele: Varicocele is the most common reversible cause of infertility in men. This male infertility leads to swelling of the veins that resultantly cause damage to the testicles. Although the exact reason for varicocele causing infertility is unknown, it can be due to an abnormal rise in the temperature of the testicular region or associated regions.
    • Infection: There are some infections that may interfere with sperm production or sperm health and may lead to scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. Some other reproductive infections can also lead to long-lasting testicular damage. This has a major impact on the fertility levels in the man. 
    • Ejaculation problems: Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm and does not emerge out of the tip of the penis. In such cases, the fertility experts may recommend patients to stop taking any medicines that may cause retrograde ejaculation. This can make the problem go away. There are various health conditions that can cause this, including spinal injuries, diabetes, and surgery of the bladder, urethra or prostate.
    • Antibodies: Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells. They mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and try to destroy them. It becomes hard for sperm to effectively fertilize the egg if a high amount of sperm antibodies come in contact with sperm. 
    • Tumors:One of the comprehensive researches has proven that cancers and tumors can affect male reproductive organs directly. They affect the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes.
    • Hormone imbalances: Alterations in the organs and hormones that aid in the functioning and movement of sperm like hypothalamus, pituitary, and testicles may impair sperm production.
    • Defects of tubules that transport sperm: There are different tubes that carry sperm. Sometimes, these tubes get blocked due to various causes, including unintended injury from surgery, trauma or abnormal development, or prior infections. 
    • Chromosomal defects: There are certain inherited disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome which have high chances of being transferred to the offsprings. In this syndrome, a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome instead of one X and one Y. It can cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes that affect the male infertility are Cystic fibrosis, Kartagener's syndrome, and Kallmann's syndrome.
    • Industrial chemicals: Excessive exposure to toluene, xylene, benzenes, pesticides, painting materials, herbicides, lead, and organic solvents contribute to low sperm counts in men.
    • Radiation or X-rays: Exposure to radiation can diminish sperm production. After that, it can take several years for sperm production to return to normal. High doses of radiation can reduce sperm production at a permanent level. 
    • Lifestyle: Wearing tight clothes can lead to a reduction in sperm production and avoiding it can prove to be beneficial. Men should also avoid sitting for long hours as it can have an impact on the overall health including different aspects of sperm in men. Other ways which may affect sperm production can be working on a laptop for long hours. This happens when the laptop is kept on the lap of the man and the location of the laptop placement is much near to the organs contributing to the release of sperm. It increases the temperature in the scrotum, resulting in reduced sperm production.
    • Stress: Stress can decrease sexual function and intrude with the effective hormones required to produce sperm. Based on research led by the Population Council in 1997, it is revealed that stress hormones overpower the enzymes accounted for ensuring that cells in the testes produce testosterone. This hormone is the most important hormone for sperm formation.
    • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STD's):Some fertility experts emphasize on the fact that severe bacterial infections like gonorrhea can have a lasting impact on the testicles, which in turn affects the healthy sperm production. When bacteria are present in the ejaculate, the body produces chemicals that may obstruct sperm function.
    • Pesticides: Various highly studied and experienced fertility experts have noticed that men from rural areas where farming pesticides are commonly used have been diagnosed with lower sperm counts in comparison to men from urban areas. This condition occurs not just in grown men, but also in developing fetuses, which can develop hormonal imbalances in their later lives. (7)

    Causes of Low Sperm Count

    There are other external factors which can affect the sperm count:

    1. Heat can have an adverse effect on normal sperm production. Having a long bath in a bathtub full of hot water can have a negative impact on the production and health of the sperm.
    2. Overweight or obese man can become sterile as the sagging layers of fat can overheat the testicles. A study was conducted in France which mainly focused on the relation of excessive weight and fertility levels in men. The study showed results that obese men were 42 percent more prone to experience low sperm count if they weighed more than the recommended weight range. Men who are not overweight have reduced chances of having low sperm count. Obese men have 80 percent chances of having ejaculate with no sperm in it at all.
    3. Men who work for long hours may become a victim of infertility due to increased stress and long sitting hours. 
    4. Smoking also reduces both sperm count and sperm motility at a significant level.
    5. Excessive alcohol intake can also affect infertility. It can lower the production of sperm and also lead to a major impact on the male hormone testosterone.
    6. A workaholic man might find stress and fatigue interfering with sperm generation.
    7. Infected semen is also a cause of infertility. It was also found that mumps also causes sterility in men.

    4. Symptoms of Low Sperm Count:

    There are no obvious signs or symptoms of low sperm count. The main sign for this is the inability to conceive a child. In some men, the reason for low sperm count can be an underlying problem such as a hormonal imbalance, an inherited chromosomal abnormality, dilated testicular veins, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm.
    Main symptoms of low sperm count are:

    • Low sex drive or difficulty maintaining an erection termed as erectile dysfunction
    • Swelling, pain or a lump in the testicle area
    • Decreased hair growth on face or body or presence of similar signs in the man. 

    5. Risk factors associated with Low Sperm Count:

    Some of the risks which are associated with low sperm count and other problems that may cause low sperm count in men to include:

    • Smoking tobacco can be harmful to sperm production. It can lead to a notable decrease in sperm count
    • Drinking alcohol, even in moderation can make it challenging for the partner to conceive in a natural manner
    • Men who have a history of sexual disorders or the presence of certain major issues with prostate and testicles can make conception difficult
    • Men may experience reduced sperm production due to past trauma to the testicles
    • Using certain illicit drugs on a routine basis
    • Exposure to hazardous toxins can lead to a reduction in sperm production
    • Being born with a fertility disorder or having a blood relative, such as a sibling or father with the same increases the chances of being affected with the low sperm count
    • Undergoing cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy can contribute to a significant cause of infertility in men. The effect of exposure to radiofrequency radiations has a major effect on the fertility levels in men.
    • Having some medical conditions which may include tumors and chronic illnesses.
    • Having a history of undescended testicles can be another major cause of having reduced sperm production. Undescended testicles that are not treated from a young age have been recorded to affect sperm production.
    • Having major abdominal or pelvic surgery or prior vasectomy 

    6. What is Sperm Analysis?

    Fertility evaluation gives men an exceptional opportunity for health assessment and disease prevention, thus helping them create their families. Treatment of male infertility should not focus only on having a child when diagnostic evaluation finds other health risks, such as high cholesterol, overweight, or high blood pressure. Couples need to make a firm decision and go ahead with the timely diagnosis by experienced infertility specialists as they are more likely to be at an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. (8) Studying and finding out a man's sperm count is a bit complex yet crucial process. There are certain things which are considered in semen analysis. 

    Concentration - Concentration of the sperm means how many sperms are there per cc or milliliter of semen (the fluid). In the second step, the doctor takes a standard quantity of the semen to find out the concentration of sperm present in the same. Another method of measuring the sperm percentage which is moving forward progressively with 50 percent motility is considered to be normal. Another important aspect includes sperm morphology which explains the percentage of sperm which looks normal. While assessing the fertilization potential of sperm in a given semen specimen, all the factors should be kept in mind. In a semen analysis, the fertility experts examine the following: 

    • Velocity or forward progression of the sperm
    • Total semen volume
    • Sperm count
    • Ability of sperm to swim, this is referred to as motility
    • The liquefaction of the semen (the ability to go from normal gel-like state at ejaculation to a liquid state)
    • Size and shape of the sperm this is referred to as morphology. (9)

    What is Sperm Analysis

    The male partner can provide a sample by ejaculating and masturbating into a special container at the fertility doctor's office. The collected semen is sent to the labs for measuring the number of amount of sperm present and to examine the presence of an abnormality in the sperm. Most of the times, a semen analysis test is conducted in order to obtain accurate results with respect to different aspects of sperm. Additional tests are recommended by fertility experts in order to identify the root cause of infertility. Some of the additional tests include the following: 

    • Post-ejaculation urinalysis
    • Scrotal ultrasound
    • Hormone testing
    • Testicular biopsy
    • Genetic tests
    • Transrectal ultrasound
    • Specialized sperm function tests

    7. Infertility Treatments for Low Sperm Count:

     Treatments for a male with low sperm count vary with the current scenario related to fertility condition of the respective man. For example, surgery is a common treatment for those suffering from varicocele. Some of the common treatments include:

    1. Surgery: Varicocele is corrected surgically or blocked vas deferens is repaired. Earlier performed vasectomies can be reversed if required. In situations where no sperm is available in the fresh ejaculate, it can be retrieved directly from testicles or epididymis by using the required type of effective sperm retrieval technique.
    2. Infections treatment:Certain antibiotics are recommended by infertility specialists, which can be used to cure reproductive tract infections, but may not restore fertility always.
    3. Sexual intercourse problems treatment: Counseling and medication help in improving the condition of the patients who are suffering from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
    4. Treatment and medication for hormone: After consultation and diagnosis, the fertility doctor may advise patients for hormone replacement or medications where infertility is due to high or low levels of certain hormones or issues with the way body uses hormones.
    5. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): It involves taking sperm via normal ejaculation, extracting through surgery or from donor depending on case and wish. Then, the sperm is injected into the female genital tract or used for IVF or ICSI procedures.

    8. What if the treatment fails?

    In some cases, male fertility problems can't be fixed, and it becomes impossible for a man to become a father. In such cases, a couple can consider possible and effective methods of achieving parenthood such as using donor sperm, and finally surrogacy.

    9. Natural Ways to Improve Sperm Count:

    There are certain factors that can help one improve the sperm count. The usage of these helpful tips will impact the sperm count and general health of the man in an appreciating manner. Here are some of the most effective tips which will assist effectively to improve sperm count:

    • Exercise and sleep
    • Reduce stress
    • Quit smoking
    • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs
    • Get enough vitamin D and Calcium
    • Consume Ashwagandha
    • Increase intake of antioxidant-rich foods
    • Increase healthy fat intake in routine diet
    • Avoid exposure to environmental toxins and contaminants
    • Avoid excessive soy or foods that have non-human estrogen
    • Get enough folate and zinc
    • Reduce unhealthy fat intake at a gradual pace

    10. Healthy Foods to Improve Sperm Count:

    The dietary pattern, components of the diet and nutrients are considered to be the possible determinants of sperm functionality. (10) Foods which are high in sperm count-boosting nutrients include:

    • Walnuts
    • Citrus fruits
    • Whole wheat and grains
    • Fish, especially wild cod, salmon, and haddock
    • Most of the shellfish, especially oysters
    • Vitamin D enhanced milk and milk products
    • Dark chocolate
    • Garlic
    • Bananas
    • Broccoli
    • Ginseng
    • Turmeric
    • Asparagus
    • Most leafy greens, especially spinach and kale
    • Fermented nuts and seeds

    Healthy Foods to Improve Sperm Count

    Preparing for Your Visit:

    For those who have never been evaluated by a doctor, they might begin dealing with their case by seeing their family doctor. If, however, they have a known reproductive condition resulting in infertility or have developed any abnormalities on your testing by the primary care doctor, in such cases the patient is generally recommended to a fertility specialist.

    • Patients should make note all of the visible symptoms experienced by them for beneficial treatment evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and achieving results.
    • Patients should make note of any recent lifestyle change or major stress sources.
    • They should find out if they have a history of undescended testes or other reproductive disorder in order to obtain effective treatment outcome
    • Prepare a list of all medications, so that the fertility expert may suggest in an appropriate and result-oriented infertility treatment for the case.
    • Make a list of questions to be asked to the doctor 

    11. How does low sperm count impact male infertility?

    When a man ejaculates, generally around 250 million sperm are released. For a successful and healthy conception, a sperm cell must swim all the way up from the vagina, via the cervix and uterus and into the fallopian tube in order to successfully reach the ovulated egg. Of the millions of sperm, only hundreds would be able to reach the fallopian tubes in the women after the sexual intercourse is performed. These sperm release an enzyme which clears the path to the egg. If all goes well, the healthiest sperm will be able to swim up that path and will fertilize the ovulated egg. The fertilized egg will then move down the fallopian tubesand then into the uterus, where it is allowed to implant and grow. Any changes in health condition or medications can impact the testicles of a man as they are considered as sperm-producing machines. Men should avoid giving a sperm sample, if they aren’t feeling well, had any recent changes in medication or diet, and has been exposed to excessive heat in the significant reproductive related areas. He should prefer visiting the center when all such conditions and circumstances are in his best favor. Abstaining from sex prior to semen collection helps in accumulating a good quantity of sperm for the sample. Not all cases of low sperm count lead to a failed pregnancy. A woman can get pregnant if the count is low but the sperm motility is at the required rate. It may require more attempts in such cases, which means more time. 

    The highly experienced and knowledgeable fertility doctors are at the core of solving the most pressing reproductive health problems of the present time, from obesity to diabetes to infertility and hormone-related cancers. The IVF specialists and fertility doctors are devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related medical conditions.

    For more information about IVF treatments, best IVF centres, and other infertility and gynecology treatments related queries, feel free to visit OVO fertility".com. You can also get your all queries answered right away at +918268260808.





    Deepak Pal

    I think improving my daily lifestyle will really help me to improve my sperm quality. Thanks for sharing!

    Oct. 2, 2018, 9:09 p.m. 5.0


    Sathvik Verma

    Is there any way to track my sperm count naturally? I am trying some natural remedy.

    Sept. 17, 2018, 11:34 a.m. 5.0


    Mitika Maheshwari

    I had MESA treatment for my low sperm motility. It is highly effective and my wife is pregnant now.

    Sept. 15, 2018, 11:28 a.m. 5.0


    Yogesh Sharma

    In my opinion, precaution is better than cure. So have a healthy life. God! Those surgeries would be painful!

    Sept. 9, 2018, 1:51 p.m. 5.0


    Subzar Ganaie

    I have good sperm count as I tested in medical laboratory but I have erectile dysfunction. Is there any remedy to get off it forever.

    Feb. 21, 2018, 8:47 p.m. 4.5

    View all comments

    Leave a Comment



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    It is not advised to self-diagnose or treat any medical condition or disease following the information given in this article. We insist you to consult a registered practitioner and never try to replace their advice or discontinue treatment in between by relying solely on the information obtained. External links to different websites as well as videos given on the website serve the purpose of sharing knowledge only. Ovo Health being an Independent Medical Information platform is neither responsible nor guarantees the authenticity, reliability, and accuracy of these videos and websites in any way. We do not intend the information displayed here to be used for a medical emergency, if you seek medical attention for yourself (or any other person with whom you want to share the information with), we advise you to directly get in touch with the hospital or the doctor.

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