Low sperm count means that the fluid (semen) you ejaculate during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than normal.
A low sperm count is also called oligospermia . A complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Your sperm count is considered lower than normal if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Having a low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner's egg, resulting in pregnancy. Nonetheless, many men who have a low sperm count are still able to father a child.
Causes-- The production of sperm is a complex process and requires normal functioning of the testicles (testes) as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary glands — organs in your brain that produce hormones that trigger sperm production. Once sperm are produced in the testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis. Problems with any of these systems can affect sperm production.
Also, there can be problems of abnormal sperm shape (morphology), movement (motility) or function.
However, often the cause of low sperm count isn't identified.
Low sperm count can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:
· Varicocele. A varicocele (VAR-ih-koe-seel) is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It's the most common reversible cause of male infertility. 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.
· 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 (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) 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.
· Ejaculation problems. Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out of the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can cause retrograde or lack of ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, and surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra.
- Certain medications also might result in ejaculatory problems, such as blood pressure medications known as alpha blockers. Some ejaculatory problems can be reversed, while others are permanent. In most cases of permanent ejaculation problems, sperm can still be retrieved directly from the testicles.
- Antibodies that attack sperm. Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to destroy them.
- Tumors. 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 can also affect male fertility.
- Undescended testicles. During fetal development one or both testicles sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that normally contains the testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is more likely in men with this condition.
- Hormone 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.
· Defects of tubules that transport sperm. Many different tubes carry sperm. They can be blocked due to various causes, including inadvertent injury from surgery, prior infections, trauma or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.
Blockage can occur at any level, including within the testicle, in the tubes that drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
· Chromosome defects. Inherited disorders such as Klinefelter's syndrome — in which a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome instead of one X and one Y — cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann's syndrome and Kartagener's syndrome.
· Celiac disease. A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can cause male infertility. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
· Certain medications. Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), certain antifungal and antibiotic medications, some ulcer medications and other medications can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility.
· Prior surgeries. Certain surgeries might prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockages or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
Sperm production or function can be affected by overexposure to certain environmental elements, including:
· Industrial chemicals. Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead might contribute to low sperm counts.
· Heavy metal exposure. Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also can cause infertility.
· 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.
· Overheating the testicles. Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function. Although studies are limited and are inconclusive, frequent use of saunas or hot tubs might temporarily impair sperm count.
Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing or working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time also might increase the temperature in your scrotum and slightly reduce sperm production.
Health, lifestyle and other causes
Other causes of low sperm count include:
· Drug use. 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.
· Alcohol use. 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.
· Tobacco smoking. 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.
· Weight. Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm and by causing hormone changes that reduce male fertility.
· Sperm testing issues. Lower than normal sperm counts can result from testing a sperm sample that was taken too soon after your last ejaculation; was taken too soon after an illness or stressful event; or didn't contain all of the semen you ejaculated because some was spilled during collection. For this reason, results are generally based on several samples taken over a period of time.
ARGENTUM NITRICUM 6—Argentum nitricum is an effective remedy for low sperm count with erectile dysfunction. Erection fails when coition is attempted . Coition is painful and desire wanting. Argentum niticum patients are melancholic, apprehensive of serious disease . They are impulsive , wants to do things in a hurry. The patient feels time passes too slowly. The patient complaint of flatulence. In Argentum nitricum there is a great craving for sweets.
DAMIANA Q- Damiana is an excellent medicine for increasing the sperm count. Sperms are absent in semen. Damiana acts magically and increase the sperm count. It also corrects erectile dysfunction.
CONIUM MACULATUM 200—Conium maculatum is the top medicine for low sperm count with orchitis.Conium is selected when there is swelling and enlargement of the testes. A cutting type of pain is felt in the testes. The testes are also indurated and hardened.
STAPHYSAGRIA 30- Staphysagria is another suitable remedy for low sperm count from orchitis. It is indicated when burning, shooting, tearing or drawing pain is present in the inflamed testes. Staphysagria is also indicated for orchitis following mumps. Persons needing Staphysagria also show constant dwelling on sexual subjects.
RHODODENDRON 30-Rhododendron is effective for low sperm count with orchitis.Rhododendron is helpful when there is swelling and severe pain in the testes that worsens from slight touch. Contusive, crushed and drawing pain is felt in the testes along with swelling.Rhododendron is also useful useful for low sperm count resulting from hydrocele.The testes are swollen , painful and drawn up.
AURUM MET. 30- Aurum Met is useful for low sperm count with hydrocele. Along with hydrocele, high sex drive and nocturnal pollutions are also present.
IODUM 30- Iodum is a wonderful remedy when aching, pressing and forceful pain is present with hydrocele.
AGNUS CASTUS 30-Agnus Castus is a prominent remedy for low sperm count with decreased sexual powers. There is inability to attain erections and the genitals are relaxed, shrivelled, cold and flaccid. An aversion to sex is also there.
CALADIUM 3X-- Caladium is also useful for low sperm count with weak sexual powers. The person lacks physical power to have sex although the desire is present. Mental depression may accompany the condition. Caladium is also considered for diminished sexual power from tobacco abuse.
COBALTUM 30- Cobaltum is effective for low sperm count with erectile dysfunction. Emissions without erection. Backache in lumbar region and weak legs. Brown spots in genitals and abdomen.
SELENIUM 30-Selenium is very effective for low sperm count with diminished sexual power. There is insufficient, weak and slow erections. Selenium is also helpful in a person with low sperm count who has involuntary seminal emissions at night, during urination or stools. Semen is thin , cold and odourless.On attempting coition , penis relaxes. Increased desire with decreased ability.
HAMAMELIS 30-Hamamelis is the top remedy for low sperm count with varicocele. Pain in spermatic cord , running in to testes. Pain in testicles , testicles enlarged, hot and painful.
SABAL SERRULATA Q--Sabal Serrulata is one of the best homeopathic medicines for low sperm count with wasting (atrophy) of testes. It is also prescribed for infertility in males with prostate enlargement or prostatitis.Sexual intercourse is painful at the time of emission.
TRIBULUS TER. Q—Tribulus ter. Is effective for correcting semen and sperms. Here sperms are absent or are in low count. Weak and thin semen. Poor mobility of sperms and other abnormalities like coiled tails, pairing etc are corrected by the use of this remedy.
TITANIUM 1000—Titanium is another effective remedy for low sperm count. There is great weakness and too early ejaculation in coition. Infertility with backache Titanium is the top most remedy.
X RAY 30-X Ray is one of the top medicines for infertility in males from a low sperm count. It helps to increase sperm count. It helps in both improving the quality and quantity of sperms.