Oligospermia – Low Sperm Count
Understanding What Causes Low Sperm Count and How to Treat It
A fertile man has a sperm count of anywhere from 15 million to over 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Anything under 15 million sperm is considered oligospermia, or a low sperm count.
Although having oligospermia decreases the odds that a sperm will find and fertilize an egg, it does not completely rule out the possibility of conceiving naturally. The number of sperm in your semen is only one of many factors that determine whether you and your partner can conceive a child.
Many men with oligospermia are able to father a child. Working with Dr. Paul Turek, a respected expert in men’s sexual health and reproductive urology, helps increase the odds of achieving a pregnancy.
Causes of Oligospermia
There are many possible causes of oligospermia, including the following:
- Varicocele – a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle
- Infection that interferes with sperm production or sperm health
- Ejaculation problems such as retrograde ejaculation (ejaculation backward into the bladder)
- Certain medications (alpha blockers, finasteride, antiandrogens)
- Genetic conditions (Y chromosome deletions, altered chromosomes)
- Hormonal imbalance (low testosterone, high prolactin levels)
- Undescended testicles
- Medical issues such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes or thyroid disorders
- Heat exposure (hot tubs, baths, saunas)
- Recreational drugs (Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana)
- Anabolic steroid use
- Chronic stress
Dr. Turek will take a detailed medical history and perform a general physical examination of your genitalia. He will also order a semen analysis and reproductive hormones that include testosterone, FSH and LH.
Low sperm count can be a biomarker of current and future health. Dr. Turek’s research has shown that low sperm counts mean a man is 2.8 times more likely to develop testicular cancer and 2.6 times more likely to develop prostate cancer later in life. If tests show you have a low sperm count, you should seriously consider undergoing a thorough medical evaluation with a specialist to rule out any underlying health conditions. You should also see your doctor annually to stay on top of your overall health and catch anything troubling early, when it is more easily treated.
How Is Oligospermia Treated?
Oligospermia does not mean you have untreatable infertility. Dr. Turek may recommend one of several approaches to improve semen quality.
Lifestyle changes can often help improve semen quality. Losing weight, avoiding hot tubs or baths, eliminating tobacco, pot and recreational drug use and managing stress may help. Getting control of other medical conditions like diabetes may be of benefit as well.
Medical therapy can be also considered. Depending on the suspected cause of the problem, Dr. Turek may prescribe anti-inflammatory or antibiotics, pituitary stimulants or prolactin-lowering agents.
If your hormones are out of balance, Dr. Turek may recommend hormonal supplementation, such clomiphene citrate, anastrazole or human chorionic gonadotropin (LH injections) to naturally restore pituitary and testicular hormone balance.
If a varicocele is interfering with sperm count, treatment of this lesion most often improves it. Dr. Turek has performed thousands of varicocele repair cases and has published data on its success in his hands.
Ten to fifteen percent of oligospermia cases are due to genetic causes. In these cases, it is very difficult to increase sperm counts using classical medical and surgical treatments. In these and other cases where the cause is not correctable, sperm retrieval and assisted reproduction (e.g., in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection) can make pregnancy possible.
Talk to Our Oligospermia Expert
If you are having trouble conceiving naturally, a low sperm count could be to blame. The first step toward determining the cause of the problem is to consult with Dr. Paul Turek at The Turek Clinic. Please contact us today to request an appointment.