Can you get Pregnant with Low sperm count | Oligospermia - A Comprehensive Guide

Low sperm count is a complex, yet common condition that can affect the lives of couples looking to conceive. With a number of unknown risk factors and no clear findings, infertility rates are on the rise. There are many factors that can lead to a low sperm count, also known as Oligospermia. If you're experiencing one or more symptoms and want to restore your fertility levels, it's vital that you find out the root cause. This guide will walk you through the most common causes of low sperm count and the steps you can take to start restoring your fertility levels.

Can you get Pregnant with Low sperm count | Oligospermia - A Comprehensive Guide

Low Sperm Count | Oligospermia

Also, known as Oligospermia, a low sperm count is when an individual has a lower than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. On the other hand, an absolute absence of sperm is known as Azoospermia.

Having a low sperm count issue can be depressing and more challenging to fertilize your partner’s egg to conceive naturally. However successful pregnancies can still occur with proper treatment and personal health care. Attentively read this article until the end, and you will know how low sperm count can be treated and prevented.

What are the Symptoms of Low sperm count | Oligospermia?

The main sign of low sperm count (oligospermia) is the inability to conceive a baby. There might not be any obvious manifestation of other symptoms than what has been mentioned.

Although in some cases, a man with issues such as a hormonal imbalance, an inherited chromosomal abnormality, or a dilated testicular vein might have a low sperm count. Having a particular condition, where the smooth passage of sperm is blocked, can also result in oligospermia.

For early prevention, you might pay attention to these symptoms:

  • Having a low sex drive
  • Having Erectile Dysfunction
  • Having pain and swelling in or around the testicular area
  • Having a low amount of body and facial hair

What are the main causes of a low sperm count | Oligospermia?

The production of sperm is a complex process, which can only happen if the testicles, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands are functioning properly. Hormones produced by organs such as the brain, trigger the production of sperm.

When the production of sperm is completed, it is transported via a delicate tube until they are mixed with the semen and ejaculated when having an orgasm.

The causes mentioned below can affect sperm production respectively.

1. Medical Causes for a Low sperm count | Oligospermia

Certain health issues and medical treatments can be the root cause of a low sperm count. These includes:

  • Infection - Men with some sexually transmitted infections can have impaired sperm production if not treated. Scarring may also block sperm from being able to reach the egg. The most common causes are inflammations of the epididymis or testicles or sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and Gonorrhoea. Some infections may lead to permanent testicular damage, nevertheless, most often sperm can still be produced.
  • Varicocele - A varicocele is a condition where there are swellings in the veins that carry blood from your testicle. It's a reversible cause of male infertility. Varicoceles can also result in reducing the quality of the sperm, and thus contribute to a low and oligospermia condition.
  • Ejaculation Issues - Having an ejaculation issue can be depressing. Retrograde ejaculation is a condition that may occur when the semen during an orgasm does not emerge out of the penis tip but enters the bladder instead. Many health conditions can cause such issues, and these are namely uncontrolled diabetes, a spinal injury, or bladder/prostate surgery.
  • Tumors - Both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors can affect the male reproductive organ in many ways and directly through the glans that release specific hormones for reproduction. Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for the treatment of tumors also affects the ability to fertilize.
  • Undescended Testicles - During the fetal development phase, one or both of the testicles can at times fail to come down the abdomen into the scrotum (sac containing the testicles).
  • Hormone Imbalance - The hypothalamus, pituitary, and testicles produce hormones necessary for sperm production. An impaired function in these systems or others such as the thyroid and adrenal gland can lead to a reduction in sperm count.
  • Chromosome Defects - Defects of chromosomes are a type of mutation, which can be caused by DNA damage or errors in the replication process. In the case of autosomal chromosomes, defects may include missing or extra copies of a chromosome. This is known as Klinefelter's syndrome. For instance when a male is born with two X and one Y chromosomes instead of one X and one Y chromosome.
  • Celiac Disease - A digestive disorder that's triggered by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can cause infertility in men.
  • Certain Medications - Long-term use of certain medications such as steroids, chemotherapy medication, antibiotics, or even certain antifungals can weaken the production of sperm.

2. Environmental Causes for a Low sperm count | Oligospermia

Prolonged exposure to some environmental elements may cause adverse effects on sperm production and function. These are as follows:

  • Industrial Chemicals - People with high and continuous exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, xylene, toluene, benzene, or any organic solvent might have a low sperm count issue.
  • Metal Exposure - People with high exposure to lead and any other heavy metals might suffer from a low sperm count.
  • Radiation and X-rays - A high and frequent exposure to radiation can contribute to a low sperm count or even permanently reduced.
  • Overheating the testicles - Frequently overheating the testicles can result in a low sperm count. Frequent use of Hot tubs and saunas can contribute to this condition.

3. Health and Lifestyle Causes for a Low sperm count | Oligospermia

  • Drugs - Anabolic steroids can cause the testicles to shrink and reproduction to decline. In some cases, chronic use of cocaine or marijuana may also affect the quality and number of sperm produced.
  • Alcohol - Drinking alcohol can lead to a decline in testosterone levels and the production of sperm.
  • Tobacco smoking - Men who smoke might have a lower sperm count than non-smokers which could lead to fertility problems.
  • Weight - Obesity can negatively affect fertility in many ways, impacting sperm and contributing to hormone changes that impair male fertility.
  • Depression - Research suggests that when men are depressed, it can affect their levels of testosterone and sperm count.
  • Emotional stress - Depression and anxiety can affect hormone levels which might impede the ability to conceive.
  • Job | Occupation - Some studies have linked certain occupations with infertility, but the evidence is weak. For example, research has shown that welders and those who sit for long periods have a greater risk of infertility. However, many other studies have not turned up these associations.

What are the Risk Factors that can lead to a low sperm count | Oligospermia?

Several risk factors can lead to low sperm count. They include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Illicit drugs
  • Overweight
  • Depressed or stressed
  • Severe infections
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Testicles overheating
  • Testicles trauma
  • Born with a fertility disorder
  • Tumors and chronic illness
  • Cancer treatment and radiation
  • Frequent intake of medications
  • Vasectomy or pelvic surgery
  • Undescended Testicles

How a Low sperm count | Oligospermia is diagnosed?

When you see a doctor because you're having infertility problems, they will try to identify the cause. If your doctor confirms that the issue is low sperm count, your partner should be evaluated as well. If you are having difficulty fertilizing with standard techniques then assisted reproductive techniques may be required to help.

1. General Physical Examination

This includes a physical exam of your genitals and reproductive system. Your doctor may also ask you about your health condition and if you have previously been through chronic health issues or undertaken any surgery that could affect fertility. He might also ask about your general sexual habits such as ejaculation frequency.

2. Semen analysis

A semen analysis is often carried out to diagnose low sperm count. Under a microscope, the sperm count is examined to find out the number of sperm per square on a grid pattern.

Most men have sperm counts ranging between 15 million to 200 million per ml of semen. A man is labeled to have a low sperm count if the sperm count is less than 15 million per ml or 39 million per ejaculation.

3. Other Tests

Based on the above initial findings, your doctor may ask for some further tests to identify the root cause of your low sperm count and other possible male fertility issues. These can include:

  • Hormone Testing - Your doctor might recommend running a blood test to measure the level of hormones your pituitary gland and testicles produce. These hormones play important roles in male fertility and sperm production.
  • Genetic Tests - These blood tests are generally carried out to see if the X and Y chromosome are leveled.
  • Scrotal Ultrasound - This test is carried out to look for the proper structure of the testicles.
  • Post-ejaculation Urinalysis -This test is carried out to see if the sperm is traveling back to the bladder thereby causing retrograde ejaculation and low sperm count.
  • Testicular Biopsy - This is not a commonly used test but it consists of removing some small samples from the testicles to identify if the low sperm count is caused by a certain blockage or other issue relating to sperm transportation.
  • Anti-sperm Antibody Tests - This test is carried out to check the immune body cells that may attack sperm and affect their ability to perform their normal function.
  • Specialized Sperm Function Tests - This test is performed to see how long your sperm can survive after ejaculation and how well it can penetrate an egg.

What is the treatment for a Low sperm count | Oligospermia?

If your partner has a low sperm count, there are a few options available to you. These are:

  • Keep trying - having sex every 2 or 3 days to try to conceive naturally
  • Reducing or eliminating the consumption of Alcohol
  • Stop Smoking
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Eat Healthy with a balanced diet
  • In Vitro Fertilization - IVF ( In Vitro Fertilisation) is a technique to fertilize a woman's ovaries in a laboratory. This can be an option if trying to conceive continuously for at least 2 years without any success. During an IVF, the woman’s ovaries are removed and fertilized with the donor sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted back into the woman’s womb to grow and develop naturally.

Home Care for low sperm count | Oligospermia

Several science-backed routines can help in boosting fertility. They include:

  • Taking D-aspartic acid supplements
  • Exercising regularly
  • Daily Dose of Vitamin C
  • Daily Dose of Vitamin D
  • Daily Dose of Zinc
  • Minimizing stress level

Related: Sudden Loss of Erection: Causes and Solutions

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