Oligospermia or low sperm count is a common fertility problem in men. It comes with varying degrees of severity. In some cases, the sperm count will be decreased minimally and it will not interfere with conception. In other instances, however, a sperm sample could have less than one percent viable sperm cells.
Addressing oligospermia is possible, if you have an idea about the cause of the condition. There are several factors that could be contributing to it.
Needless to say, you’ll need to see an experienced urologist and have a thorough examination to figure out what’s leading to your low sperm count.
Urologists will check men with a low sperm count for varicocele first because it’s one of the most common causes of oligospermia. Varicocele is the appearance of varicose veins around the testes.
These varicose veins are enlarged and they could cause the sperm inside the testes to get heated. As a result of the excessive heat, some of the sperm cells will die off.
Varicocele comes with varying degrees of severity. In some situations, the condition can be treated with medications. In other instances, a surgery will be required to remove the varicose veins.
Sperm production takes place in the testes. This is why an array of testicular problems could contribute to a low sperm count or the disappearance of sperm cells from the semen altogether.
Several of the most common testicular factors that cause oligospermia include:
- A genetic defect of the Y chromosome
- Trauma to the testicles
- Age-related decline in testicular function
While some of these problems can be addressed through the use of medications or another urological intervention, others are a permanent that can’t be influenced in a positive way.
The good news is that even if the issue can’t be resolved, men still have options. ICSI in vitro fertilization is one of the best possibilities for men suffering from oligospermia who want to get a partner pregnant.
Other Reproductive Tract Issues
Oligospermia is often caused by a problem in the testes. This is the first place where a doctor will look for a problem. If a testicular factor is not identified, the other parts of the reproductive system will be checked.
Defects of the genital tract, ejaculation issues and obstructions will all lead to semen that features an abnormally low number of sperm cells. A few of the medical conditions that will lead to such problems include:
- Abnormal Vas deferens
- Obstructed or non-existent Vas deferens
- Infections of the reproductive tract, including sexually transmitted diseases
- Retrograde ejaculation (ejaculation that occurs inside the male body)
- Any other duct obstruction
Smoking And Lifestyle Factors
A low sperm count doesn’t necessarily have to be caused by a medical problem. Lifestyle factors will often be to blame.
The first and the most destructive negative habit is cigarette smoking. The chemicals and carcinogens found in the tobacco smoke can kill off the sperm cells. In addition, these chemicals can lead to sperm cell abnormalities that will also lead to infertility.
Sperm renewal requires approximately three months to take place. Thus, quitting now may eventually mean an enhancement in your sperm count in approximately three months.
Getting the testicles too warm is another lifestyle factor that will lead to oligospermia. There’s a reason why the testicles are located outside the body. This way, they can keep the sperm at a lower temperature and ensure its survival. High temperatures can kill off otherwise healthy sperm cells.
Wearing tight underwear, hot baths and entering the Jacuzzi often can all lead to oligospermia. This is why men who are interested in getting a partner pregnant should avoid such activities and opt for loose, cotton boxers.
Finally, idiopathic oligospermia may occur every now and then. This is a condition in which the low sperm count isn’t caused by a medical condition or a lifestyle factor.
Idiopathic oligospermia occurs in about 30 percent of men diagnosed with the condition. Age and very subtle hormonal changes could be leading to such a problem but urologists are not 100 percent confident in the cause.