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Low Sperm Count (Oligospermia)

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Many infertile men are obsessed about their low sperm count - and this seems to become the central concern in their lives. Remember that the real question the man with a fertility problem is asking is not: What is my sperm count or what is my motility ? But - are my sperm capable of working or not? Can I have a baby with my sperm? Since the function of the sperm is to fertilize the egg, the only direct way of answering this question is by actually doing IVF for test fertilization. This is, of course, too expensive and impractical for most people which is why the other sperm function tests have been devised.

The major problem with all these tests, however, is that they are all indirect there is no very good correlation between test results, pregnancy rates, and fertilization in vitro for the individual patient. This is why offering a prognosis for the individual patient based on an abnormality in the sperm test result is so difficult, and why we find that different doctors give such widely varying interpretations based on the same sperm report.

This is really not surprising when you consider how abysmal our ignorance in this area is - after all, we do not even know what a "normal" sperm count is! Since you only need one "good" sperm to fertilise an egg, we do not have a simple answer to even this very basic question! While the lower limit of normal is considered to be 10 million progressively motile sperm per ml, remember that this is a statistical average. For example, most doctors have had the experience of a man with a very low sperm count (as little as 2-5 million per ml) fathering a pregnancy on his own, with no treatment. In fact, when sperm counts are done for men who are undergoing a vasectomy for family planning, these men of proven fertility have sperm counts varying anywhere from 2 million to 300 million per ml. This obviously means that there is a significant variation in "fertile" sperm counts, and therefore coming to conclusions is very difficult for the doctor (leave alone the patient!)

In order to make sense of this, you need to understand two important concepts - "trying time" and "fertility potential of the couple". If your sperm count is low, but you have been trying to have a baby for less than 1 year, it still makes sense to keep on trying for about 1 year, since 10% of men with low sperm counts will father a pregnancy in this time. If however, you have already tried for more than 2 years with no success, you need to move on and do something more - the chances of a spontaneous pregnancy are now very low. Remember, that a doctor does not treat just a "low sperm count report" - he treats patients!

So what does the man with a low sperm count do? Most men go to their doctor and expect that their doctor will prescribe a medicine which will help them to increase their sperm count, and fix their problem. After all, they expect that if medical technology has become so advanced, then there must be some treatment available to correct such a common problem !

The problem with the medical treatment of a low sperm count is that for most people it simply doesn't work. After all, if the reason for a low sperm count is a microdeletion on the Y-chromosome, then how can medication help ? The very fact that there are so many ways of "treating" a low sperm count itself suggests that there is no effective method available. This is the sad state of affairs today and much needs to be learnt about the causes of poor production of sperm before we can find effective methods of treating it.

Oligospermia, also oligozoospermia, refers to semen with a low concentration of sperm and is a common finding in male infertility. Often semen with a decreased sperm concentration may also show significant abnormalities in sperm morphology and motility (technically "oligoasthenoteratozoospermia"). There has been interest in replacing the descriptive terms used in semen analysis with more quantitative information.

Low Sperm Count Causes

Low sperm count can be caused by innumerable, and sometimes unexplainable, factors; there are generally no predictable signs of low sperm count other than infertility.

The causes of low sperm count include, but are not limited to, the following : -
  • Infected semen
  • Physical properties such as bathing in very hot water, sitting for long hours, being over weight where fat layers sag on testicles
  • Excessive semen ejaculation
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Physical and Mental Fatigue
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Prostate infections
  • Malformed genital organs
  • Use of anabolic steroid

Precaution Before and During Treatment

  • No oral or Hormonal treatment is allowed at least one month prior to this treatment and during the course of treatment.
  • Semen analysis report is must before starting treatment, so one can know the effect of treatment at middle and end of treatment.
  • Extra food supplements, Vitamins and other sexual tonic should be avoided during treatment.

How to Increase Your Sperm Count?

  1. Have sex & masturbate less often : - Intercourse every 2 to 3 days helps maintain a good volume of sperm with quality density.

  2. Refrain from habits like smoking, alcohol consumption : - Alcohol affects your liver function, which may cause dramatic rise in estrogen levels. It also causes decline in the sperm count and male hormone testosterone. Studies show that smoking over 20 cigars a day causes such effect as the alcohol's as well.

  3. Exercise regularly : - Exercise generally facilitates your body's metabolism, including your reproductive function.

  4. Have a healthy diet : -Prefer a low-fat diet and high in protein, vegetables, and whole grains is good for your health and for healthy sperm produce.

  5. Limit activities that involves heat on testicles such as hot baths and saunas. : - Heat can have detrimental effect on normal sperm production. It has been placed in the scrotum outside the body to prevent excessive heat as compared to the ovaries placed inside the abdomen) beyond its naturally capacity.

  6. Lose excess weight : - Excess weight causes testosterone/estrogen imbalances.

  7. Relax from time to time : -Use relaxation techniques such as YOGA and MEDITATION to reduce stress.

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