Having a low sperm count (oligospermia) means that the fluid (semen) that you ejaculate during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than is considered normal.
Low sperm counts contain fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen than normal sperm counts. Therefore, having a lower sperm count can cause male infertility issues and thus decrease the chances of getting your partner pregnant. However, many men with a lower sperm concentration in their semen can still father a child.
The Urology of Greater Atlanta expert urologists offers accurate diagnoses and tailor-made treatment plans for those with a low sperm count. Call or book an appointment now.
What Causes a Low Sperm Count?
A low sperm count can be caused by several different health issues and medical treatments, including:
- Hormone imbalances
- A varicocele
- Infections (epididymitis and orchitis, gonorrhea, HIV)
- Ejaculation issues (retrograde ejaculation)
- Antibodies that attack sperm
- Undescended testicles
- Defects of the tubules that transport the sperm
- Chromosomal defects (such as Klinefelter syndrome)
- Celiac’s disease
- Certain medications (chemotherapy, antifungal, and antibiotic medications)
Symptoms of a Low Sperm Count
Signs of a low sperm count or decreased sperm production may include:
- Inability to conceive a child
- Sexual dysfunction (a low sex drive or erectile dysfunction)
- Decreased facial or body hair (perhaps due to a chromosome or hormone abnormality)
- Pain, swelling, or a lump in the area of the testicles
When to See a Doctor
Those with the following symptoms should see a doctor to analyze their sperm production.
- Unable to conceive a child after a year of regular unprotected intercourse
- A history of sexual, prostate, and testicular problems
- Recently had a groin, scrotum, testicle, or penis surgery
- Pain, discomfort, or swelling in the testicle area
Doctors can diagnose a low sperm count with specialized sperm function tests such as semen analysis tests. During a semen analysis test, your healthcare provider will conduct an examination of your genitals and obtain a sperm sample from you. Then your physician will then use a microscope, and a computer used to measure sperm count. The doctor will then determine your sperm health and density.
Treatment for a Low Sperm Count
Many with a low sperm count choose to receive treatment when trying to conceive a child. Treatments for low sperm count include:
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with in vitro fertilization (IVF): A procedure that involves collecting a sperm sample and cleansing it to isolate the healthiest sperm. The sperm is then injected directly into the egg for fertilization. This is often the best treatment for males with a low sperm count.
- Hormonal treatment: A procedure involving injectable hormones such as Humagon and Pergonal to increase sperm count so that a couple can conceive naturally.
- Antibiotic treatment: In some cases, infections can interfere with sperm production and block the passage of sperm. Antibiotic treatments can, in most cases, eliminate the infection and positively affect sperm concentration.
- Surgery: In rare cases, surgery is needed to repair a blockage in sperm transport caused by a varicocele. Removing the blockage can, in most cases, improve sperm production.
- Artificial donor sperm insemination: If the testicles are unable to produce sperm and male fertility problems can’t be treated, a couple can consider alternative sperm donation. This would involve using sperm that has been donated and frozen in a sperm bank.
If you have concerns regarding low sperm count and male infertility and would like to know about the available treatment options, then make an appointment to speak to one of the urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta. Call or book an appointment now.