Ejaculated semen from the male reproductive organ contains millions of sperm cells. The amount of sperm cells in the ejaculated semen is measured in terms of its quantity per millilitre of the ejaculate. This is known as sperm count. In a normal situation, a single millilitre of ejaculated semen contains between 15 million – over 200 million sperm cells.
Where there are less than 15 million sperm cells per millimetre of ejaculate semen, it is known as low sperm count. It is also called Oligospermia.
Where there are no sperm at all in the ejaculated semen, there situation is known as azoospermia.
Causes of Low Sperm Count:
- Drug use – Drugs like anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle growth and strength can cause the testicles to shrink, thereby decreasing sperm production. Others include cocaine, marijuana, chemotherapy, certain types of antifungal and antibiotics, anti-hypertensive drugs, erythromycin, etc.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption – Excessive Alcohol use can lower sperm production by decreasing male hormone testosterone
- Tobacco Smoking – Smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day tend o reduces sperm count and sperm motility
- Obesity (Overweight) – Sagging layers of fat can over heat the testicles and halt or decrease sperm production. Obesity can also hinder sperm production by hormonal changes or imbalance which negatively affects male fertility.
- Infections – Infections such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and inflammation can hinder sperm production, sperm quality, or even obstruct sperm transportation.
- Varicocele – This is an abnormal enlargement or swelling of veins in the testicles. It is similar to varicose vein that occur in the leg and elsewhere. Varicoceles results in sperm quality.
- Blockage of Tubes – Sperms are transported from the testicles to the point where they’re ejaculated during intercourse. If the tubes are blocked at any point, it can result in low sperm count
- Ejaculation Problem – Sometimes when sperm are ejaculated they end up in the bladder rather than emerge through the tip of the penis. This is known as retrograde ejaculation. It is caused by certain medical conditions such as diabetes, spinal injuries, etc.
- Heat – Over heating the testicles has a negative effect of decreasing sperm production and function. Factors that can expose the testicles to overheating include wearing very tight clothes, hot tub, jobs that involve sitting for long hours, etc.
- Hormonal Imbalance – Hormones determine everything that happens in the body? These include mood, energy levels, weight gain, sleep, alertness, sex and every other aspect of your health. Hormones are like messengers that transmit signals between organs in the body. If for Certain reasons enough hormones such as testosterone are not produced it can hinder sperm production.
- Industrial chemicals – Long term exposure to industrial chemicals may affect sperm production. These chemicals include: pesticides, herbicides, paint materials, benzenes, etc.
- Radiation or X-ray – Exposure to radiation and X-rays tend to affect sperm production. In extreme cases of exposure, it can lead to serious permanent damage of sperm production capability.
TREATMENT FOR LOW SPERM COUNT
Treatment for low sperm count varies depending on the underlying cause. These include surgery in the case of varicoceles; medication/antibiotics (for infections); hormonal replacement (for hormone imbalances; assisted reproductive techniques (ART) such as IVF (for cases such as sperm movement and normal (shape).