Low sperm count in males has become familiar, and numerous cases of low sperm count are being reported. We have heard numerous accounts of low sperm count and related problems from our friends, relatives or family members. But what exactly is low sperm count?
Lower sperm count means that the sperm ejaculated during orgasm has less sperm count than normal sperm count.
A low sperm count is called oligospermia, and an absence of sperm count is called azoospermia. The normal sperm count accounts for 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. If the sperm count is less than normal sperm count, then your chances of fertilizing your partner's egg decreases drastically.
A low sperm count is usually attributed to a hectic life schedule, many illicit drug and alcohol related addictions among others.
A detailed in depth view of the subject is as follows: -
Causes for Low sperm count:
The production of sperm requires regular functioning of testicles as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These are organs in our brain that produce hormones which trigger sperm production. Once the sperm is produced, it is transported via delicate tubes and mixed with semen and ejaculated out of the penis.
Numerous reasons attributing towards lower sperm count are as follows:-
Medical causes for low sperm count:
*Varicocele: - Varicocele occurs when veins swell up which drain the testicles. It is the most frequent reversible cause of male infertility. Varicocele results in reduced quality of sperm. Varicocele infertility has often linked to the unregulated temperature in testicles.
*Infection: - Infections can interfere with sperm production and sperm health and can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. The infections include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea or HIV.
*Ejaculation problems: - Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of being relieved out of the penis. Numerous health conditions cause retrograde or lack of ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, and surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra.
Many medications also result in ejaculatory problems, such as blood pressure medications known as alpha blockers.
*Antibodies that attack sperm: - Sometimes the medication to protect us does more harm than good. Some anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to destroy them.
*Tumors: - Cancers and nonmalignant tumors affect the male reproductive organs, via the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, mostly the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors can also affect male fertility and reduce the count of male sperm.
*Undescended testicles: - During fetal development, one or both testicles may sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum that usually contains the testicles.
*Hormone imbalances: - The hypothalamus gland, pituitary gland, and testicles produce hormones that are necessary to create sperm. Any alterations in the production of sperms by the same lead to reduced infertility and reduced sperm count.
*Defects of tubules that transport sperm: - Various tubes carrying sperm can be blocked by many causes such as inadvertent injury from surgery, prior infections, trauma or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.
*Chromosome defects: - Inherited disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome — in which chromosomes are mismatched may cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organ. Some of the other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann's syndrome and Kartagener's syndrome.
*Celiac disease: - It is a digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten leading to loss of fertility.
*Certain medications: - Replacement therapy for testosterone, prolonged anabolic steroid use, chemotherapy, some antifungal and antibiotic medications, certain ulcer medications can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility.
*Prior surgeries: - vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers are certain surgeries that prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate.
*Industrial chemicals: - Prolonged exposure to benzene, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead contributes to low sperm count.
*Radiation or X-rays: - Exposure to radiation reduces sperm production. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
*Drug use: - Anabolic steroids consumed to stimulate muscle strength and growth causes the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Usage of cocaine and marijuana reduces the number and quality of your sperm as well.
*Alcohol use: - Drinking alcohol for an extended period causes diminishing of testosterone levels and lower sperm count.
*Occupation: - Hectic work schedule has often been linked to sperm quality degradation. The emotional stress as well as being overweight also contributes to the reduction in sperm count.
Complications due to low sperm count:-
Infertility and subsequent failed attempt of fertilization caused by low sperm count can be stressful for both you and your partner. Complications that may arise are:
*Surgery or other treatments due to low sperm count.
*Expensive and involved assisted reproductive techniques, such as in-vitro fertilization
*Stress related due to the inability to have a child.
Appointment with the doctor as well as test and diagnosis for low sperm count: -
Before your appointment, have a knowledge of how to refrain from ejaculation, any drugs or medications that need to be stopped.
Jot down all the symptoms and difficulties that you are experiencing, howsoever unrelated, as well as any personal lifestyle changes that you may have undergone.
Find out about your genetic linkage with any sperm related difficulty that may have been present. Make a list of all the medicines and drugs that you are taking such as vitamins or other supplements.
Have your questions ready when you meet the doctor and clarify all your doubts regarding lifestyle habits, refrainment, restrictions, treatment and alternatives regarding issues concerning low sperm count.
The test and diagnosis would include:
Get a physical examination of your genitals and let the doctor know about your medical history.
A low sperm count is diagnosed by the doctors as part of a semen analysis test. Sperm count is usually determined by examining semen under a microscope to see how many sperms appear within squares in a grid pattern. Sometimes, a computer might be used to measure sperm count.
For semen sample collection, your doctor will have you masturbate and ejaculate into a special container. It's also possible to collect sperms for examination during intercourse, using a special condom. Because sperm count often fluctuates, typically several semen analysis tests are done over an extended period to ensure accurate results.
Semen analysis: -
Usually, sperm densities range from 15 million to about 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. It is considered to have a low sperm count if you have lower than fifteen million sperm per milliliter or less than 38 million sperm in totality before ejaculation
Your chance of getting your partner pregnant diminishes with decreasing sperm count. Some men have zero sperms in their semen at all, the condition is known as azoospermia.
Many other tests are conducted as well such as:
Scrotal ultrasound, Hormone testing, Post-ejaculation urinalysis, Genetic tests, Testicular biopsy, Anti-sperm antibody tests, Anti-sperm antibody tests, Specialized sperm function tests, Transrectal ultrasound, for successful determination of the correct cause for low sperm count and hence it can be mitigated and treated easily.
Treatment And Drugs for Low sperm count: Allopathy
*Treating infections: - Antibiotics are used to cure an infection of the reproductive tract. Medication and counseling help to improve fertility in conditions such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
*Assisted reproductive technology (ART): - In ART technique, sperm is obtained through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction or from donor individuals. The sperm post collection is inserted into the female genital tract or used for in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
But Allopathic medicines, as discussed above, have serious detrimental effect on human life and prolonged use often leads to many health related concerns.
Allopathic medicines are known to cause gastrointestinal problems among many and have serious side effects as well.
Lifestyle and Home remedies: -
*Increasing the frequency of sex: - Having sexual intercourse everyday or every other day, at least four days before ovulation increases the chances of getting your partner pregnant.
*Avoiding lubricants: - Some products such as Astroglide or K-Y jelly, lotions, and saliva might impair sperm movement and function. Ask your doctor about sperm-safe lubricants.
Alternative medicine for low sperm count: -
The evidence is still limited on whether — or how much — herbs or supplements might help increase male fertility. None of these supplements treat a specific underlying cause of infertility, such as a sperm duct defect or chromosomal disorder. Some supplements might help in case if you have a deficiency.
Supplements with studies showing potential benefits on improving sperm count or quality include:
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Vitamins A, C, D, and E
Consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements to have a thorough knowledge of the risks and benefits of this therapy. Intake of some of these supplements in high doses (megadoses) or for extended periods of time might be harmful.
Ayurveda: Ayurvedic an effective solution to low sperm count
The biggest advantage of ayurvedic medicines for curing low sperm count is that they are natural medicinal remedies that help in improving the sperm count as well as sperm quality. These ayurvedic medicines for low sperm count are entirely free from any toxic side-effects. They treat the condition most safely and harmlessly. Ayurvedic medicines work by treating the underlying cause behind oligospermia. The ayurvedic medicines for low sperm count save a person from strong medicines like hormonal substitutes that usually have a huge risk of adverse side-effects. Ayurvedic medicines help most gently to enhance the sperm count.
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