What does it mean to have Low Sperm Count


What does it mean to have Low Sperm Count

Low Sperm Count – What it means?

Low sperm count also known as oligospermia/oligozoospermia is a medical condition when the semen contains fewer sperm than the normal requirements for a male of childbearing age. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) – 2010 criteria, it is necessary for a male to get a diagnosis of oligospermia if he has less than 15 million spermatozoa per milliliter. The WHO has established an amount of 15 million sperm per milliliter (ml) as the minimum reference value to consider that a patient has a normal sperm count, which is known as normozoospermia – that is normal sperm.
Oligospermia is characterized by a diminished sperm concentration after ejaculation that can make it difficult for a couple to achieve pregnancy or even prevent it. That is why; oligospermia is considered as one of the causes of male infertility.
Having a low sperm count decreases the odds that one of the sperms of the concerned male would fertilize his partner’s eggs. However, it has been found that some men who had low sperm count (as little as 2-5 million per ml) are still able to father a child without any fertility treatment.

How to Diagnose Oligospermia – An Overview

In order to diagnose or detect oligospermia – the concerned male patient needs to undergo a Semen Analysis, which had been the test of choice for assessing male partner in an infertile couple since the 1930s. Semen Analysis involves the analysis of semen under the microscope to evaluate different sperm parameters including sperm concentration, sperm morphology, sperm motility etc.
A Semen Analysis aids Infertility Specialists and Andrologists in detecting seminal alterations such as asthenozoospermia (slow sperm), teratozoospermia (poor sperm morphology) to determine the causes of male infertility. To diagnose oligospermia to evaluate male fertility – the andrologists usually prefer to rely on or opt for two simple tests – a Semen Analysis and a Hormone Blood test.
The Blood Test is undertaken to verify the levels of the basic hormones like the FSH, LH, testosterone and prolactin to evaluate if any of these levels are not normal indicating that they may be contributory factor to male infertility. The other test is the Semen Analysis or Seminogram, which is the main diagnostic test to confirm the semen quality. For accurate diagnosis of oligospermia – the male patient should maintain 2-5 days of abstinence before proceeding to ejaculate his sperm in a sample collection container at a testing laboratory for analysis.
In the laboratory, – the andrologists or clinical laboratory technicians analyze the characteristics of the sperm like

  • Concentration/ Sperm Count
  • Motility (Ability of the sperm to move forward)
  • Morphology (Shape of the sperm)
  • Volume
  • pH i.e.,Chemical makeup
  • Liquefaction time
  • Fructose Level

Through the microscopic examination – the experts would verify the concentration, motility, vitality and morphology of sperm in the ejaculate box. The other tests for detecting the low sperm count include Y-Chromosome Microdeletion test to detect the effect of missing genes in the Y chromosome, which is an important gene that helps in sperm production. Missing of such genes may result in conditions like Oligozoospermia or Azoospermia.
Studies have shown that the total sperm count (volume x concentration x motility) has been the most predictive factor in determining fertility compared to volume, concentration, and motility individually.

Causes or factors of Oligospermia – What are they?

The causes or factors involved in the decline of the sperm count can be divided into three types of causes according to where the alterations has developed such as-

  • Pre-testicular causes

    These causes are concerned with sperm formation in an indirect way such as levels of hormones secreted by the pituitary, health issues in terms of food habits, smoking, alcoholism that may hinder the functioning of organs.

  • Testicular causes

    Factors due to alterations connected to the testicles like Cryptorchidism, Hydrocele, Varicocele, Orchitis, genital injuries and genetic alterations like Y-Chromosome Microdeletion etc may result in low sperm count.

  • Post-testicular causes

    Causes such as the obstruction in vas deferens, inflammation in the urethra, chronic diseases can prevent seminal fluid release resulting in low sperm count.

Treatment of oligospermia

There is no specific treatment or methodology to increase the number of sperm produced by a testicle but some of the application of remedies involves natural treatment (not scientifically proven in the majority of cases) such as using of herbs Peruvian Maca etc.
Medications such as Vitamin Complexes made up of Vitamin E, C or B6 to have a greater quantity of antioxidants influencing the DNA fragmentation of the sperms. Taking Hormonal doses to improve hormone imbalance results in enhancing the sperm count. Surgery is the other option to repair obstructed vas deferens or by using sperm retrieval techniques.

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