Low Sperm Count
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Symptoms of Low Sperm Count
Men that suffer from low sperm counts often find out because they are unable to conceive a child through intercourse after one year of trying. Yet, some men also have some risk factors that may lead to low sperm counts and suffer from common symptoms of this condition.
Some of the most common symptoms of men that suffer from low sperm counts may include:
Loss of hair
Low/no sex drive
Men that suffer from erectile dysfunctions often have low sperm counts or issues with male infertility.
If you suffer from issues such as the inability to maintain an erection, premature ejaculation, dry ejaculation, or retrograde ejaculation, you may also suffer from a low sperm count and may want to consider getting your sperm tested.
Loss of Hair
One of the main causes of low sperm count is hormonal imbalance. In this case, you may experience other side effects of hormonal imbalance (often low testosterone levels), such as loss of hair, including both facial, head, and body hair.
Low/No Sex Drive
Some men that have low sperm counts also suffer from a low or no sex drive. This may be the result of a hormonal imbalance as well — or it may be related to mental issues, such as trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or other issues.
If you believe your sperm counts may be low and/or are having difficulties conceiving, you may also experience some swelling or pain in your groin or testicular area.
Some men that suffer from low sperm counts also suffer from inflammation, infection, physical trauma, or swelling. This is usually the result of a completely unrelated health condition, so you may want to make an appointment with your doctor.
Low Sperm Count Causes
Low sperm counts are usually caused by a wide variety of issues. The most common causes include physical trauma and scarring, medical treatments, genetic issues, and environmental factors (such as heat damage).
Men that have experienced some type of physical trauma (such as blunt force trauma) in the groin or testicles may have low sperm counts.
When the testicles are damaged, they often cannot produce enough sperm (or they don’t produce enough high-quality sperm) to fertilize an egg. Some examples of trauma may include sports injuries, physical attacks, or accidents.
If you’ve had surgery for groin-related issues, you may have scarring that prevents sperm production, too.
Some cancer treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery may also result in lowered sperm counts.
Men that undergo these treatments often choose to freeze their sperm beforehand — just in case their bodies have difficulty producing enough sperm in the future.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is both a cause and a symptom of lowered sperm counts. This may simply be because the sperm can’t exit the body or travel far or fast enough to fertilize an egg. Erectile dysfunction may also be a symptom of a much larger issue, such as a spinal injury.
Some genetic conditions may also lead to low sperm counts. Such conditions may include cystic fibrosis, sensorineural deafness, Kallmann syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome (a male that is born with XXY chromosomes instead of XY chromosomes), and Y chromosome microdeletions of genes (loss of genetic material in relation to sperm count).
The optimal storage temperature for sperm in the body is slightly lower than body temperature. When the body temperature is raised, the sperm counts may be lowered.
There are some ‘normal’ reasons for the body’s temperature to reach higher-than-normal averages.
If you take a hot shower or sit in a hot tub for 15 minutes, your sperm count may dip; yet, your counts should become normal again after a few hours or so.
Yet, prolonged exposure to heat may cause lower sperm counts over time.
One of the most common causes of low sperm counts is hormonal imbalances. In fact, researchers believe this cause accounts for nearly 10% of all infertility cases. Two of the most common hormones to affect sperm counts are thyroid (T3 and T4) hormones and testosterone.
Luckily, hormone imbalances are usually reversible (though they may take up to a year to return to normal during treatments).
Some medications may also alter sperm count levels (though luckily, this is usually temporary). Some of the most common medications that lower sperm counts may include:
The downside is that some of these medications also treat conditions that may cause low sperm counts. Antidepressants treat both anxiety and depression, and antibiotics treat infections.
Talk to your doctor if you plan on taking any of the above medications long-term.
Some surgeries may result in trauma of the groin and testicular areas, leading to lower sperm counts.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections may also lead to lowered sperm counts and in some cases infertility.
Getting checked and treated for STDs on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to ensure high sperm counts now and in the future.
Another common cause of low sperm counts is varicocele, vein swelling in the scrotum (similar to varicose veins in the legs). If you suffer from this condition, you may feel a lump in your scrotum that developed as early as puberty. The good news is that this condition is reversible with anti-inflammatory medications and surgery.
Low Sperm Count Risk Factors
There are a wide variety of risk factors that may contribute to low sperm counts. While this condition may be brought on by the above factors, risk factors may also cause issues. Most risk factors are related to lifestyle choices, and others are brought on by medication side effects or other conditions.
Anabolic steroids are one of the most common causes of low sperm counts. Many men take these steroids to bulk up or enhance performance during workouts. Yet in some cases, doctors may prescribe these steroids for certain medical conditions, too.
Nutrition may also play an important role in sperm count. The foods we eat can make a big impact on our overall health and wellness.
Talk to your doctor about your diet to see if the foods you’re eating are playing a role in your low sperm counts.
One of the main causes of low sperm counts is a sedentary lifestyle. Men that exercise less than 30 minutes a day or that work at jobs that require sitting for long hours may be at a higher risk for low sperm counts.
Low Sperm Count Diagnosis
The easiest way to determine your sperm levels is to get your semen tested. Both in-person and online testing companies offer this service.
If you opt for in-person sperm count analysis, you simply need to head to a clinic to make a deposit. The clinic will ask you to masturbate into a cup in a private room before handing over your sample to the nurse practitioner.
If you opt for at-home analysis, you’ll go through the same process — just in the privacy of your own home. This option is also ideal for any worried about COVID-19 infection.
Companies like Dadi mail a sperm analysis kit to your home. Follow the instructions, deposit your sample into the provided cup, and mail your sample to the lab. Kits include free overnight shipping, and you get your results within 48 hours. Your semen analysis will include ejaculate testing for motility and male infertility.
Dadi also provides free sperm storage for up to one year with analysis kits.
Preventing Low Sperm Counts
If you’re worried about low sperm counts, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to ensure your sperm counts are as high as naturally possible. If you don’t suffer from any of the main causes of low sperm counts (hormonal imbalances, groin trauma, etc.), your doctor may recommend making the following lifestyle changes to boost your counts.
Since lifestyle factors can affect male fertility and normal sperm counts, switching up your daily habits may have a major impact on your sperm counts.
Men that get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day usually have healthier sperm counts. Yet, it’s also important to exercise in moderation. Men that exercise excessively may also have lower sperm counts. This is because excessive exercise can lower testosterone levels.
Get Regular Check-Ups
You may be suffering from conditions that lead to low sperm counts and not even know it. Get regular check-ups at your doctor to ensure you’re not suffering from any underlying conditions, such as STDs, hormone imbalances, or cancers.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Many fertility problems are often related to dietary concerns. Obesity and nutrition issues can affect semen quality and sperm motility.
If you want healthy sperm, it’s important to eat a diet full of fresh fruits and veggies. Since pesticides can cause infertility, you’ll want to opt for organic foods, too.
If you’re not getting enough nutrients from your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking supplements. You may need an added boost of antioxidants to prevent damage from free radicals.
If you take stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, you may want to think twice before lighting that next cigarette or pouring your second cup of coffee. Excessive cannabis use has also been known to lower sperm counts, too.
Stimulant use can lower sperm counts— especially when taken in larger quantities over longer periods of time.
Talk to your doctor about options to cut back on any stimulants, or join a support group if you need help. Online support group platforms like Wisdo pair you with people that have already gotten to the other side of stimulant addiction or dependency — all from the comfort of your own home.
You’ll also want to talk to your doctor about any medications you’re currently taking. Some medications may cause low sperm counts, so you’ll want to know if your meds are causing any issues.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before stopping or switching medications, as only your doctor can help you make these choices.
Treatments for Low Sperm Count
If your sperm counts are lower than average, there are still plenty of ways to conceive a child. The most common treatments include surgery, hormone therapy, and assisted conception.
If you suffer from testes blockages and abnormalities such as varicocele, you may need to undergo a simple surgery to control the blood flow and stop the swelling. In some cases, you may be able to take antibiotics to prevent swelling though this doesn’t work on all patients.
If you’ve had a vasectomy, you’ll want to get a reverse-vasectomy before trying to conceive.
Most surgeries to treat low sperm counts are low risk and require little downtime.
If your sperm counts are low due to hormone imbalances, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy to treat your condition.
Hormone therapy simply helps your body create the right amount of hormones. In most cases, the male body doesn’t create enough testosterone hormone to produce a high enough sperm count.
The only downside to hormone therapy is that it may take up to a year for your hormone levels to balance and return to normal.
Another popular treatment for low sperm counts is assisted conception.
Assisted conception is a catch-all phrase that refers to conception treatments such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), GIFT, and ZIFT.
Doctors use assisted conception to allow the sperm to reach the egg or to fertilize the egg outside of the body. The doctor will implant the sperm or the fertilized egg in the fallopian tube or at the base of the cervix (depending on the procedure).
These procedures help semen with low sperm counts reach the egg and fertilize the egg easier.
If you’re suffering from low sperm counts, you’re not alone. Getting your sperm tested is easy, and treatments for low sperm counts are relatively painless and risk-free. If you’re worried about low sperm counts, contact a sperm analysis and storage facility to get started.