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Low sperm count – Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Low sperm count is a common concern in today’s world. As a leading infertility center, we often get questions related to the low sperm count of our patients.

We have noticed that there is a lot of confusion around this topic, aided by a lot of misconceptions.

The primary misconception is related to the impact of Sperm on pregnancy. So we decided to come up with a way to answer all these questions.

In this blog, we’ll explore what low sperm count means, how it affects pregnancy, and the necessary steps to address it.

So let’s get started.

What is Low Sperm Count?

Low sperm count, medically termed as oligospermia, occurs when the sperm count in semen is less than 15 million per 1 ml. This condition can be a significant factor in couples facing difficulties with conceiving.

A key part of diagnosing this issue is through semen analysis, which assesses not only the sperm count but also their motility and morphology.

The Role of Semen Analysis

Semen analysis is the primary diagnostic tool to understand a man’s fertility status. Dr. Puranik emphasizes the importance of not relying on a single report.

It’s recommended to repeat the test after a three-day interval if the first report indicates abnormal results. Consistency in results across multiple tests is crucial for an accurate diagnosis.

The Importance of Motility

Alongside the quantity of sperm, their quality, particularly motility (the ability to move), plays a vital role in successful conception.

Sperm must be able to swim through the female reproductive tract to reach and fertilize the egg, making motility as important as count.

Causes of Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count is a concern for many, and its causes are as varied as they are complex. Delving into these factors helps in both prevention and treatment. So, let’s break down what leads to this common reproductive issue.

·   Lifestyle Influences

Lifestyle choices play a significant role in sperm health. Smoking, for instance, has been consistently linked to reduced sperm count and poor sperm health. Similarly, heavy alcohol consumption can negatively impact sperm production and overall fertility. 

Environmental toxins, including exposure to certain chemicals and heavy metals, can also harm sperm production. These factors can lead to oxidative stress, which damages sperm DNA.

·   Medical and Physical Factors

On the medical front, hormonal imbalances can disrupt the normal process of sperm production. Conditions like hypogonadism, where the body produces low levels of testosterone, are prime examples. 

Genetic factors, such as chromosomal abnormalities, can also play a role in reducing sperm count. Physical issues can be culprits as well. Varicocele, a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, is a common physical cause. 

It can lead to increased testicular temperature, adversely affecting sperm production and function.

·   The Impact of Stress and Obesity

Stress, both physical and emotional, can affect hormonal balance and sperm production. Chronic stress can lead to an imbalance in hormones like cortisol, which can negatively impact testosterone and sperm production. 

Obesity is another key factor. It’s linked to hormonal changes and can lead to increased scrotal temperatures, both of which are detrimental to sperm production.

·   The Role of Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise, though often overlooked, are crucial in maintaining healthy sperm count. A diet rich in antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress, while regular exercise can improve hormonal balance and overall sperm health.

Diagnosis of Low Sperm Count

When both semen analysis reports suggest abnormalities, it’s essential to consult a infertility doctor in Pune. The doctor will likely conduct a physical check-up, a general body examination, and possibly hormone tests. 

It’s crucial to identify the root cause of the issue, whether it’s related to the brain (hormonal signals), the testes (sperm production), or the transport (movement of sperm through the reproductive tract).

Treatment and Management

The treatment for low sperm count depends on the underlying cause.

Ø  Adapting Lifestyle for Better Results

One of the first steps in managing low sperm count involves making positive lifestyle changes. This can include dietary improvements, such as incorporating foods rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients that support sperm health. Reducing stress is another crucial aspect. 

Engaging in regular physical activity, practicing stress-relief techniques like meditation or yoga, and seeking support through counseling can all contribute to better sperm health.

It’s about creating an environment, both physically and mentally, that’s conducive to healthy sperm production.

Ø  Medical Interventions: When Changes Aren’t Enough

In cases where lifestyle adjustments aren’t sufficient, medical treatments come into play. Hormonal imbalances, if identified, may be treated with hormone therapy to restore balance and improve sperm production.

For physical issues like varicocele, a common condition where swollen veins in the testicles affect sperm production, surgery might be recommended to correct the problem and enhance fertility.

Ø  Advanced Solutions for Complex Cases

In more severe scenarios, such as azoospermia, where no sperm are found in the semen, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) offer hope. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are common ART methods used in such cases.

 IVF involves fertilizing an egg with sperm in a lab, then transferring the embryo to the uterus. ICSI takes this a step further, directly injecting a single sperm into an egg before implantation.

These techniques have opened doors for many couples to achieve pregnancy despite significant fertility obstacles.

Ø  The Importance of Personalized Care

Each case of low sperm count is unique, and so should be the approach to treatment. It’s vital for individuals and couples to work closely with healthcare providers to determine the most effective treatment plan based on their specific circumstances.

The Psychological Aspect

Dealing with low sperm count can be emotionally challenging. It’s essential for individuals and couples to seek support and counseling if needed. Open communication and a supportive approach can help in navigating this journey.

The Role of Preventive Care

Preventive measures, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and avoiding known risk factors, can help preserve and improve sperm health. Regular health check-ups and early consultations in case of concerns are also key.

Wrapping Up

The journey through womanhood, especially the phases of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery, can be a roller coaster of emotions and physical changes. Being well-informed and proactive can make this journey smoother and less daunting. 

As a trusted obstetrician and gynecologist in Pune, I am here to guide you every step of the way. Together, we can ensure a healthy, fulfilling journey towards motherhood.

  • About Author

    Dr. Supriya Puranik

    Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist

Often known as the last glimmer of hope for people who have lost all hope for conceiving a child, Dr. Supriya Puranik is a leading gynaecologist, high risk obstetrician and Head of IVF & Gynaecology department at Ankura Hospital for Women & Children.

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