Having a high sperm count is important if you and your partner are planning to have a baby. For fertilization to occur, you should have enough healthy and quality sperm to successfully fertilize an egg cell. If your sperm count is low, you may have a hard time getting your partner pregnant, and that can be detrimental to your self-confidence and relationship.
According to research, about 15% of couples around the world have fertility problems, and about 20% to 30% of them are due to male infertility.
What causes male infertility? How do you keep your sperm count high to be able to conceive? What should you avoid to not endanger your sperm health?
What is a healthy sperm?
There are a number of elements that make a sperm healthy. They are the following:
- Volume or quantity
This refers to the amount of sperm. Ideally, a man should have a sperm count of at least 15 million per milliliter of semen. The higher the sperm volume, the higher the chances of fertilizing an egg.
- Morphology or shape
This refers to the structure of the sperm. A healthy sperm should have a round-shaped head and a long tail to increase the odds of getting to an egg and making fertilization happen.
- Motility or movement
This refers to the sperm’s ability to travel from the male reproductive system to the female reproductive system. After ejaculation, healthy sperm should not have any problem swimming towards the woman’s cervix, uterus, and the fallopian tubes to get to the egg.
What is a low sperm count?
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for at least year now, you may have a low sperm count, a sexual health problem defined as having fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or ejaculate.
To determine your sperm count, you should go see a doctor and undergo a semen analysis test. You will need to provide semen samples usually by masturbating and then collecting your ejaculate in a special container. Your semen samples will then be examined under a microscope, with the help of a computer, to count your sperm.
What causes a low sperm count?
There are a variety of things that can potentially reduce a man’s sperm count. Below are some examples:
This is a condition that occurs when the veins that hold your testicles become enlarged. It causes pain or discomfort in the testicular region, and can lead to atrophy or shrinking of the affected testicle or to infertility.
Sexually transmitted infections
Having unprotected sex increases your odds of contracting sexually transmitted infections or STIs, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. If not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, these can harm and damage your sexual and reproductive function, including your sperm count and fertility.
This is a medical condition characterized as an inflammation of the testicles because of a virus or bacteria. It can cause many signs and symptoms, including painful urination and ejaculation, swelling, blood or abnormal discharge from the penis, and fever.
This is a condition in which the epididymis, which is a tube that stores and transports sperm, becomes swollen usually because of a sexually transmitted infection or a bacterial infection. Its common signs and symptoms include pain in the pelvic region, pain in the testicles, pain during ejaculation, and blood or abnormal discharge from the penis.
This is a type of cancer that affects the testicles, where sperm are produced and stored. Among its earliest symptoms include swelling or a lump in one testicle, and pain or discomfort in a testicle.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it plays a key role in the production of sperm. So, if your testosterone levels drop to lower than normal, your sperm production will be affected.
If you work with industrial chemicals, such as herbicides, organic solvents, pesticides, benzenes, xylene, painting materials, and toluene, you should always wear the appropriate gear to not put your sperm production in danger.
X-rays or radiation
High or prolonged exposure to x-rays or radiation can negatively impact your sperm production, so men who undergo or have undergone radiation therapy for cancer or other diseases may likely experience a decrease in their sperm count.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco and cigarettes, and it can bring so much harm and damage to your sexual health. It can disrupt blood flow and circulation in your body, preventing your vital organs and systems, including your testicles and reproductive system, from functioning properly.
Drinking alcohol excessively can reduce your body’s testosterone levels, resulting to a decrease in your sperm volume and sperm quality. Make sure to drink in moderation, limiting yourself to a maximum of 2 drinks per day, to avoid more severe sexual health problems, liver damage, and other diseases.
The use of illicit or prohibited drugs can be detrimental to your fertility. These things may contain substances that can cause your testicles to shrink, reduce your sperm production, and lower the quality of your sperm.
If you are always under stress, your testosterone levels and other hormone levels will be messed up, affecting not only your sperm production but also your erections. It is crucial that you learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi, and talk to a therapist to learn how to manage your stress.
How is low sperm count treated?
There are different ways to treat low sperm count, and your doctor will recommend a treatment depending on the cause of your problem.
- Surgical procedure
This is the typical treatment solution for low sperm count caused by varicocele, epididymitis, etc.
Low sperm count caused by sexually transmitted infections and other bacterial infections is usually treated with antibiotics medications.
- Hormone treatment
If your low sperm count is caused by low testosterone, your doctor may advise you to take testosterone replacement therapy.