DECLINING SPERM COUNTS: WHAT TO DO
Male factor infertility has been associated as a contributing factor causing infertility in 40-50% percent of cases, and as the sole cause for infertility in 15-20% percent of cases. If a semen analysis is found to be abnormal, generally it is first repeated to confirm the abnormality. Once confirmed, the male partner is referred to a reproductive urologist, especially if the abnormality is severe. In some cases, the reproductive urologist can improve semen function by recommending certain lifestyle changes, by hormonal treatments, or by surgery.
Causes of declining sperm count.
There are various medical causes that affect the sperm production:-
- Infection: Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis or testicles and some sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea or HIV. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often sperm can still be retrieved.
- Varicocele: A varicocele is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. Although the exact reason that varicoceles cause infertility is unknown, it might be related to abnormal testicular temperature regulation. Varicoceles result in reduced quality of the sperm.
- Antibodies attacking sperm: Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to destroy them.
- Tumors and Cancers: Cancers and nonmalignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, through the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors also can affect male fertility.
- Hormonal imbalances: The hypothalamus, pituitary and testicles produce hormones that are necessary to create sperm. Alterations in these hormones, as well as from other systems such as the thyroid and adrenal gland, may impair sperm production.
The environment around us also affect the sperm production:-
- Industrial chemicals: Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead might contribute to low sperm counts.
- Overheating the testicles: Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function.
- Radiation or X-rays: Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. It can take several years for sperm production to return to normal. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
- Heavy metal exposure: Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also can cause infertility.
Health, lifestyle and other causes
Our health also affect our sperm count :
- Excessive usage of drugs: Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Use of cocaine or marijuana might reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
- Heavy consumption of Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels and cause decreased sperm production.
- Occupation: Certain occupations might be linked with a risk of infertility, including welding or those associated with prolonged sitting, such as truck driving. However, the data to support these associations is inconsistent.
- Consumption of Tobacco: Men who smoke might have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke.
- Emotional stress: Severe or prolonged emotional stress, including stress about fertility, might interfere with hormones needed to produce sperm.
How to increase Sperm Count :-
You can increase your sperm count by following methods :-
- Maintain Good Health: To improve sperms and increase sperm motility, you should first concentrate on maintaining good health. For that, try to refrain from any kind of drug use. Quit drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco or consume them only in moderation.
- Switch to Low Fat Diet: Eat a healthy diet which is high in protein and low in fats. Consume as much of organic food as possible because this kind of food is low in chemicals and fertilizers.
- Do Exercise and Yoga: Exercise regularly and de-stress yourself. Yoga and medication are both very effective for improving overall health and sperm count.
- Increase Frequency of Sex: Regulate the frequency of sex and ensure that you increase your frequency around the time of ovulation. Sperm count is also usually the highest in the mornings, so increase the frequency of coitus from morning to afternoons.
- Avoid Hot Baths: Heat can further lower your sperm count and deteriorate their health. So try and avoid wearing tight underwear and lingering in hot baths for long. Also avoid using the laptop by placing it on your lap.
- Take Supplements: Consider using sperm count improving supplements.
If you not get the desired result after trying the above mentioned ways. Go to the doctor and get the required treatment
- IUI: Intrauterine insemination is a process by which sperm is washed and prepared for placement into the uterine cavity, therefore bypassing the cervix and bringing a higher concentration of motile sperm closer to the tubes and ovulated egg. At least one open tube is required for IUI, and the sperm abnormality cannot be severe otherwise the sperm will not be able to swim to and fertilize the egg.
- ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is a process by which semen is washed and prepared for direct injection of one sperm into each egg collected during the IVF process. In order to perform ICSI, an egg is held via a small suction pipette, while one sperm is injected into that egg using a very fine glass needle. This process bypasses the normal fertilization process, which may be compromised due to poor sperm function. Your doctor will analyze your semen analysis carefully and help you decide if ICSI is an appropriate treatment for you.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition whereby cells very similar to the ones lining the uterine cavity, or endometrium, are found outside the uterine cavity. It is found in approximately 10-50% of reproductive-aged women and can be associated with infertility as well as pain during intercourse and/or menstrual periods. Endometriosis causes infertility by producing inflammation and scarring, which can result in not only pain but also potentially detrimental effects on egg, sperm or embryo. Endometriosis can only be confirmed by surgery, usually laparoscopy. If endometriosis is found, it can be surgically removed by various methods, and its removal may lead to a decrease in pain as well as improvement in the ability to conceive naturally. Your doctor will determine if you are at risk of having endometriosis based on a careful history, physical exam, and ultrasound.
- Unexplained/other: Sometimes a full evaluation does not reveal the cause of infertility. This occurs approximately 15% of the time. Thankfully, even when the cause of infertility is not known, various fertility treatments can overcome the unknown road block that was preventing pregnancy and eventually lead to delivery of a healthy baby.