Infertility has been a major issue in men’s sexual health. Men have several parameters that serve as indicators of good health, including a good sperm count, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight/BMI, etc.
An average sperm concentration is at least 20 million per mL. In contrast, normal motility is at least 50%, and normal morphology is at least 15%. While many other important factors are involved in a semen analysis, such as seminal volume, the presence or absence of white blood cells, and the quality of sperm movement (to name a few), most lay people focus on sperm concentration.
What is Sperm Count?
A sperm count is the number of sperm in a sample of semen. A sperm count may be used to measure men’s fertility rate.
Normal Sperm Count
Sperm count plays a vital role in trying to conceive a child. An abnormal sperm count may also indicate a health problem.
An average sperm count ranges between 15 and 200 million sperm per millilitre (mL) of sperm. Low sperm count is less than 15 million sperm per millilitre or 39 million sperm per ejaculate. “Oligospermia” is a term used to describe a low sperm count.
A high sperm count is more than 200 million sperm per millimetre. A sperm analysis can help you determine your sperm count.
Causes of low sperm count
- Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones drive the production of sperm, and sometimes the hormonal signals between the brain, pituitary and testicles can stall or cease altogether. A blood test can confirm whether all systems are functioning or if an imbalance is causing a low sperm count.
Some infections can interfere with sperm count production or sperm quality health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhoea or HIV. Although some conditions can result in permanent testicular damage, most often, sperm can still be retrieved.
3. Genetic or Chronic Disease
While most genetic causes of low or complete absence of sperm production are rare, many chronic conditions and/or medications used to treat them are common causes of the drop in male infertility. Conditions such as cancer of the testicle or prostate, diabetes, high blood pressure and peripheral vascular disease can cause a man to have a low sperm count.
4. Previous Vasectomy
Surgeries to reverse vasectomy can produce successful results to restore patency in the tubes that carry sperm. However, side effects of the surgery may lead a man to produce antibodies that can attack his sperm.
5. Environmental and Lifestyle Factors
Certain habits and occupations put men at risk for fertility problems, and a lower sperm count can make it difficult to become a father. Embrace a healthy lifestyle and weight while trying to conceive, and you will increase your chances for success. The most common threats to a man’s fertility include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Anabolic steroids
- Cigarette smoking
- Exposure to toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, paint and solvents
- Illegal drugs, including cocaine and marijuana
In extreme cases, prolonged exposure to heat and long-distance cycling can also affect a man’s fertility and leave him with a low sperm count. Changing habits may be the only required course of action in these cases.