Getting Pregnant Despite Low Sperm Count

Did you know that despite a man's low sperm count, it may still be possible for a couple to conceive? In many cases, male infertility can be resolved by treating the problem directly or by using fertility treatments. This is welcome news to many would-be parents who are struggling with the issue of infertility.

Anytime infertility is suspected, men should undergo a semen analysis, which analyzes a man's sperm count, sperm motility (movement), and sperm shape (morphology). Too often in the past, couples did not consider male factor infertility to be a variable, and valuable time and efforts were lost on interventions that failed to work.

What is Low Sperm Count?

Sperm count, or sperm concentration, refers to the concentration of sperm in a man's ejaculate. Any number over 20 million sperm per milliliter is considered normal. Anything lower is considered "low sperm count," or "eligozoospermia." There are many factors that can give rise to low sperm count. Depending on the cause, low sperm count may be temporary or permanent.

What Causes Low Sperm Count?

While the root of some instances of low sperm count are never identified, it is often possible to pinpoint the source of the problem and thus intervene to help a couple get pregnant despite low sperm count.

Normal sperm production requires a healthy male reproductive system, including the functioning of the testicles, ejaculation, unblocked ducts and transport tubes, and healthy hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Any abnormalities in these areas can cause infertility.

Here are some of the contributors to low sperm count and male infertility:

•- Retrograde Ejaculation: Certain health conditions can cause semen to enter the bladder instead of emerging from the penis. These conditions include spinal injuries, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, previous surgeries, and even certain medications.

•- Premature Ejaculation and Erectile Dysfunction

•- Varicoceles: A varicocele is an enlarged vein in the testicles. Often located on the left scrotum, varioceles can lead to blockage of the ducts or to overheating of the testicles. Fortunately, varicoceles can be removed with surgery.

•- Defective Sperm Ducts: Delicate tubes or ducts are responsible for transporting sperm out of the testicles. Sometimes these are blocked or altogether absent.

•- Infections: Infections in the reproductive organs caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or by other medical conditions can interfere with sperm health and production.

•- Tumors: Cancers and non-malignant tumors can affect the pituitary gland or affect male reproductive organs directly.

•- Hormone Imbalances: Abnormalities in the hypothalamus or pituitary glands affect the production of testosterone and normal functioning of the testicles.

•- Genetic Defects: Inherited chromosomal disorders such as Klinefelter's Syndrome hinder the normal development of the male reproductive system.

•- Exposure to Environmental Toxins: For example, pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation or X-rays.

•- Overheating of the Testicles: Beware of prolonged wearing of tight clothing, prolonged bicycle riding, and frequent use of hot tubs and saunas, all of which increase the temperature in the scrotum and testicles and can reduce sperm production or cause erectile dysfunction.

•- Lifestyle Factors: Other risk factors for low sperm count include the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, smoking, stress, vitamin deficiencies, being overweight, and age (after the age of 35, sperm production naturally declines).

Overcoming Low Sperm Count

Besides treating the cause directly, treatments for low sperm count include:

•1) Fertility Drugs

•2) Hormone and vitamin supplements

•3) Homeopathic Remedies

•4) Use of a Cervical Cap

•5) Artificial Insemination

•6) In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

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