What is Low Sperm Count
Low sperm count (oligospermia) is one cause of male infertility. Although it takes only a single sperm to fertilize an egg (ovum), the odds of a single sperm reaching the egg are very low. For this reason, having a low sperm count decreases your chance of getting your partner pregnant.
The lower your sperm count, the more likely you'll have trouble fathering a child. But treatments for male infertility related to low sperm count can help. Urologists are skilled in evaluating men with fertility problems and can recommend treatment.
Symptoms of Low sperm count
For most men, the only sign of low sperm count men is the inability to conceive a child (infertility). A couple is considered infertile if they're unable to conceive after one year of regular intercourse. If sperm production is impaired by an underlying hormonal problem, you may have other signs such as decreased facial or body hair or problems with sexual function.
Low sperm count can cause male infertility.
Causes of low sperm count
Although in many cases the exact cause isn't always clear, possible reasons for low sperm count include : -
- Varicocele : - This is a swollen vein inside the scrotum that can affect sperm production. This common cause of male infertility can be repaired with minor surgery.
- Damaged sperm ducts : - Inherited conditions, infections, surgeries or injuries can damage the delicate duct system that carries sperm from the testicles into the penis.
- Genetic or hormonal problems : - Certain health conditions affect sperm production, such as Klinefelter's syndrome or a problem with hormone production.
- Substance abuse : - Sperm count can be reduced by use of illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana.
- Smoking :- Smoking cigarettes affects sperm production. Secondhand smoke may also lower sperm count.
- Being overweight : - Being obese has been shown to cause hormonal changes that affect sperm production.
- Exposure to environmental toxins : - Exposure to radiation therapy, certain chemicals, heat and some medications can temporarily reduce sperm production.
- Cancer treatment:- Radiation treatment and chemotherapy can hamper sperm production.
- Certain surgeries or injuries : - Surgeries or injuries that affect the testicles or glands that produce hormones can affect sperm production.
When to seek medical advice
If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant after a year of regular intercourse, see a doctor.
It is generally determined by examining semen under a microscope to see how many sperm appear within squares on a grid pattern. In some cases, a computer may be used to measure sperm count. If you have no visible sperm in your semen sample, your doctor may use a more involved test to try to isolate any sperm present in your semen for examination.
Treatments for low sperm count include : -
- Varicocele repair : - Varicoceles are a common cause of male infertility. A swollen vein in the scrotum, a varicocele can cause reduced sperm count and abnormally shaped sperm. Surgical treatment to repair a varicocele can improve the sperm count and increase the chances for a pregnancy.
- Hormone replacement : - If the hypothalamus or pituitary glands in your brain aren't producing normal hormone levels, your doctor may recommend hormone treatment (gonadotropin injections). In some cases, it can take up to a year of regular injections to achieve normal fertility.
- Treating infections : - If a blood test reveals high numbers of white blood cells, you may have an infection of the reproductive tract that affects sperm production. Antibiotic treatment may cure the infection, but may not restore fertility.
- Assistive reproductive techniques : - Also called ARTs, these procedures are an effective treatment for men with a low sperm count, because only a small number of sperm are needed. ARTs include:
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) : - During IVF, the female partner receives daily hormone injections for five to 12 days to stimulate egg production in the ovaries. When the eggs are mature, they're removed from the ovaries and combined with sperm in the laboratory. Fertilized eggs are placed into the woman's uterus.
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