Low Sperm Count: Causes & Treatment
A low sperm count is a common reason for infertility in couples who are unsuccessful in achieving a pregnancy. Male factor fertility issues account for 30% of cases when a couple cannot conceive without the assistance of assisted reproductive technology (ART), and low sperm count or oligospermia often plays a role.
A man is diagnosed with oligospermia when it is determined that he has less than 15 million sperm/ml. A number of fertility- and medically-related issues can cause low sperm count, and your fertility specialist will run through a complete assessment of your overall health during testing and diagnosis. We have outlined some of the more common causes of low sperm count below:
Causes for low sperm count:
- Obesity: Men who are overweight can have a lower sperm count due to too many layers of fat overheating the testicles and stopping sperm production.
- Heat: The old wives' tale about heat and sterility is true – heat is bad for sperm production. Time spent in hot baths, hot tubs or with electronics on your lap can contribute to oligospermia.
- Smoking: Very heavy smokers can have a lowered sperm count.
- Alcoholism: High amounts of alcohol consumed frequently can lower both sperm production and testosterone, a male hormone.
- Stress: Those who are over-worked or who experience high amounts of stress in their daily lives are at risk for a low sperm count because stress can hinder sperm production.
- Infection/STDs: If a man has an infection in his ejaculate, his body will produce chemicals that affect sperm's functionality.
Your fertility specialist will be able to determine if any of the above factors are contributing to a fertility condition. If low sperm count is diagnosed, a number of treatment options are available.
Treatment for low sperm count:
Treatment for low sperm count is dependent on the individual and can vary depending on the cause of the condition. Some individuals may benefit from surgery if varicocele is to blame for oligospermia, but others with an infection will likely be prescribed antibiotics for treatment. Other medications, including hormone therapies, may also be used to correct a hormonal imbalance, if one exists. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) can also be used to achieve a pregnancy.