Don’t let low sperm count discourage you and your spouse from trying to get pregnant. There are treatments that can help.
Having difficulty getting pregnant? Is your spouse’s low sperm count the cause? Don’t fret. There are ways to treat it in order to increase your chances of having a baby. The first step is understanding what low sperm count is and what causes it.
Low Sperm Count: Causes and Symptoms
There are many factors involved in reproduction and sperm count is only one of them. According to Dr. Leonor Manio-Leonardo, MD, FPOGS, Active Consultant from the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center, sperm count is “very important but other factors like seminal fluid, volume, motility (movement) and morphology (sperm shape) of semen analysis are also needed.”
Sperm count is normal when it is at least 15 million to greater than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Having fewer than 15 million means that your spouse has low sperm count. Also known as oligospermia, low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your spouse’s sperm cells will fertilize your egg and get you pregnant. Even so, there are still some men who have low sperm count but can still father a child.
Low sperm count can be caused by a number of medical, environmental and lifestyle causes. Exposure to industrial chemicals and heavy metals like lead and radiation, as well as prolonged biking and overheating the testicles (such as in frequent use of saunas) can affect sperm production. Lifestyle choices such as illegal drug use, tobacco smoking, emotional stress, weight and occupation can also be likely causes.
According to Dr. Leonardo, the most common causes are varicocele and metabolic diseases like diabetes mellitus. Varicocele is characterized by a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, which prevents normal cooling of the testicle that leads to decreased sperm count and fewer moving sperm. Diabetes Mellitus, on the other hand, is a chronic disease that affects insulin production by the pancreas, which affects the blood vessels and nerves.
The most obvious sign of low sperm count is the man’s inability to produce a child. However, other symptoms also include erectile dysfunction, pain, swelling or lump in the testicle area and signs of chromosome or hormone abnormality such as decreased facial or body hair.
Testing and Treatment
Have your spouse consult his doctor. Usually, the patient undergoes a semen analysis test, wherein the number of sperm is determine by checking the semen under a microscope. Depending on the results, the doctor may also prescribe other tests such as a scrotal or transrectal ultrasound and hormone testing.
Low sperm count can be treated in a variety of ways including treating infections, hormone treatments and medications, and surgery. There are also some things you can do at home. Avoid using lubricants when having sex because some have been known to lessen sperm movement. If you must, ask your doctor to recommend a sperm-safe variety.
You can also increase frequency of sex and do it when you are ovulating. According to Dr. Leonardo, having sex does not affect sperm count because spermatozoa normally regenerates every 48-72 hours. She says, “In order to have a baby, the recommendation is 7 days, at least once a day. Calculated as 3 days before, day of peak in ovulation and 3 days after ovulation.”
So, don’t lose hope if your spouse suffers from low sperm count. Get him tested and treated so you can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Dr. Leonor Manio-Leonardo, M.D., FPOGS – MOB Rm. 107, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, 2205 Civic Dr., Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa 1780; tel. (2) 771-0585 to 86, (2) 771-9310
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