Oligospermia, or low sperm count, is a condition where a man’s semen contains fewer than the normal number of sperm. If a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per millimeter of semen, their sperm count is considered lower than normal. Unfortunately, many men who suffer from a low sperm count find it more difficult to fertilize their partner’s egg, making conceiving a pregnancy less likely. The good news is that many men with low sperm counts are still able to become fathers.
In normal conditions, a male’s reproductive system makes, stores, and transports sperm. Sperm is made in the two testicles, is stored in the epididymis, and is transported through tubes called the vas deferens. However, this system only works when genes, hormone levels, and other outside factors are healthy.
Causes of Low Sperm Count
There are several potential causes of low sperm count in men. Some of the most common ones include:
- Hormonal Imbalances: There are certain hormones that are necessary to produce sperm. Any alterations in these hormones may hinder sperm production.
- Infection: Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and urinary tract infections are examples of conditions that may lead to infection and trigger low sperm count.
- Sperm Duct Problems: Illness or injury may cause the ducts that carry sperm to be blocked or damaged. Blocked or damaged ducts make it difficult for sperm to make their way into the semen.
- Ejaculation Issues: Neurological diseases, birth defects that affect the male reproductive system, prostate surgery, hormone-related conditions, depression, and anxiety may all lead to ejaculation issues.
- Lifestyle Factors: Obesity, the use of illegal drugs, smoking, stress, and prolonged sitting can all play a role in low sperm count.
Other causes of low sperm count may be due to sperm disorders, such as sperm that has not grown fully, is oddly shaped, may not move the right way, is made in low numbers, or is not made at all.
How to Increase the Likelihood of Pregnancy
There are a number of different ways men with low sperm count can increase their likelihood of pregnancy. If a lifestyle factor is the cause of low sperm count, lifestyle changes can be beneficial. In the event that low sperm count is the result of another cause, one or a few of the following treatments may be recommended:
- Hormone treatment: If hormone imbalance is present, medication may be prescribed to help a man’s body get back to normal. It typically takes a few months to see results from this type of medication.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary if low sperm count is the result of a physical abnormality.
- Assisted fertilization: IVF can be used to fertilize the egg in a lab before it is transferred into the uterus. Since IVF allows the fertilization process to be completed manually, sperm count is not as important. IUI, which involves separating high-quality sperm from those that are non-moving or sluggish, is another option.
Low sperm count can be difficult to diagnose but can be evaluated through semen analysis. If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, a complete physical examination, along with semen analysis, may be necessary.
If you are a man with low sperm count or the partner of a man who is struggling with this issue, contact Carolinas Fertility Institute today. CFI is here to provide you with care and expertise to find the best solution. Contact us to learn more about ways to reconnect with your partner during infertility and start planning your fertility goals. Check out our website or call us at (336) 448-9100 to make an appointment in the Triad or (844) 686-2233 for our Charlotte office.