Low Sperm Count Affects Pregnancy
Thanks to high school biology, everyone knows that one sperm is necessary to fertilize an egg during conception. For that one sperm to reach the egg, millions and millions of sperm must make the journey. Unfortunately, low sperm count can significantly reduce the chances of pregnancy. In severe cases, an abnormally low sperm count can mean infertility. Yet, there are some ways to still get pregnant despite the diagnosis.
What’s a low sperm count anyway?
Low sperm count occurs when a man has less than fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter. In other measures, this is less than 39 million sperm total per ejaculate. The scientific term is oligospermia, and the condition seems to affect all men in some form. There are several reasons why men could have abnormally low sperm counts, including hormones, physical requirements, and much more. Luckily, there are a few workarounds, like the following 5 tips.
1. Keep trying
After a low sperm count diagnosis, the last thing men want to hear is keep trying to get pregnant. However, there is a possibility that pregnancy can happen in the coming months. The patient could be in the period of subfertility, which is a 6-month window of trying to get pregnant. If the woman is healthy, the couple should continue to try for the next 6 months. Furthermore, studies show that men with low sperm count who slightly increased the frequency of sex increased the quality of sperm. These men also increased the rates of pregnancy.
2. Make healthy lifestyle changes while you’re trying
Increasing the frequency of sex helps, but this should not happen in a vacuum. There are other helpful steps to increase sperm count and quality. Start by quitting smoking, excess caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Add exercise and healthy dietary changes, removing foods that cause inflammation while adding foods and vegetables. Finally, add vitamin D, C, zinc, and CoQ10 to improve sperm health with a doctor’s support.
3. See a doctor to explore medical options
Even with the previous tips, conceiving can fail. At this point, another visit to a reproductive specialist can help with the next steps. In some cases, medical or surgical options can make a difference. For instance, men with low hormone levels can benefit from off-label hormone medication. Others with conditions like varicocele may need surgical intervention. After treatment, the chances of pregnancy increase significantly in a few months.
4. Try intrauterine insemination
Men with abnormally low sperm counts will need medical support for pregnancy. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a simple but effective fertility procedure. With IUI, a doctor uses a catheter to insert a sperm sample directly into the woman’s cervix. First, the sperm sample is washed, meaning the healthiest sperm is available. Then, timing the woman’s ovulation cycle, the doctor inserts the sample with a catheter. IUI has a 10% success rate on average that increases with subsequent cycles.
5. Consider IVF and ICSI
IVF is another helpful way to get pregnant. The process is the most complicated and most expensive. However, the procedure has favorable outcomes. In vitro fertilization (IVF), a fertility clinic creates embryos with the man’s sperm and the woman’s egg. A healthy embryo is then implanted into the uterus, and the others are frozen for future use. For low sperm counts, the clinic suggests intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The clinic uses a single, healthy sperm in the process, which can improve success rates. Both IUI, IVF, and ICSI fall under the umbrella of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).
Low sperm count is not the end
Men with oligospermia can feel like there is no solution. However, there are several options to help with starting or growing a family. Even before medical intervention like IUI or IVF, lifestyle changes and medication can help. Take the time to make these changes, then keep trying. If these steps fail, speak with a fertility doctor to start treatment today.