What is Oligospermia?
Oligospermia is a condition where the sperm count in the semen is very low compared to the normal. The normal sperm count in a healthy man is greater than 15 million per ml of semen and if the sperm count is less than 15 million per ml of semen then this condition is known as Oligospermia or low sperm count.
Oligospermia can lead to infertility in men and it is one of the major causes of infertility. Oligospermia rescues the chances of viable sperm in fertilizing the female partner’s egg and it might prevent pregnancy. It can also cause a lot of lifestyle issues like illness, hormonal imbalance, injury, sexual dysfunction, genetic causes, and disorders of sperm.
The causes of oligospermia include obstruction of the normal flow of sperm due to such conditions as testicular trauma. Oligospermia may also result from scarring due to surgery on the male reproductive system or from infection, and sexually transmitted disease.
Symptoms of Oligospermia
The main symptom of oligospermia is infertility i.e inability to father a child. There are no other obvious signs or symptoms of oligospermia. Other symptoms of oligospermia include
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- Pain and swelling in the testicular area in the body.
- Low libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction (inability to maintain an erection for sexual (intercourse), and other sexual-related issues.
- Decreased body or facial hair is one of the symptoms of oligospermia.
Causes of Oligospermia
The different causes of Oligospermia are
- Varicocele :
Varicocele results in reduced quality of sperm. Enlarged veins in a man’s scrotum disrupt blood flow to the testicle, this causes the temperature in the testicles to increase, and an increase in the temperature can impact sperm production.
- Infections :
This interferes with sperm production or sperm health and can cause permanent testicular damage as well. Infections like epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis), orchitis (inflammation of the testicles) can reduce sperm count in semen. Even sexually transmitted diseases can cause low sperm count.
- Ejaculation :
Ejaculation problems due to some health issues like diabetes, spinal injuries, surgery of the bladder, prostate, or urethra can cause retrograde ejaculation that is semen enters the bladder instead of flowing out from the tip of the penis.
Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy to treat tumors can lower sperm count.
- Hormonal Imbalance :
The brain and the testicles produce several hormones that are responsible for ejaculation and sperm production, and a hormonal imbalance may lower sperm count.
- Medications :
Some medicines like beta-blockers, antibiotics, and blood pressure medications can cause ejaculation problems and reduce sperm count.
- Genetic Defects :
Men with a severely low sperm count that is when the count is less than 5 million sperm per milliliter of semen have a higher risk of genetic abnormalities. These may result in structural or functional testicular abnormalities. Only 20-30% of men with severe oligospermia and azoospermia are finally diagnosed to have a specific disorder. Identified genetic causes of low sperm count can be Klinefelter’s syndrome, Y chromosome deletion, cystic fibrosis.
Medical Treatment for Oligospermia
Low sperm count is a treatable area in the field of infertility, and thus the oligospermia treatment or low sperm count treatment depends on the cause of the condition. For a man who is suffering from varicocele, surgery for oligospermia sperm count is the most common treatment. For low sperm counts due to infections of the urinary or reproductive tract, antibiotics are prescribed to clear the infection.
Medication and hormone replacement treatment are used when the cause of low sperm count is related to a hormonal imbalance. If a couple still finds it difficult to get pregnant, then it would be advisable for them to visit an infertility specialist, and assisted reproductive technology might be recommended to facilitate conception either by IUI (Intrauterine insemination), IVF (In vitro fertilization), ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) and in cases where no sperm are found in the ejaculate or very low sperm count, testicular sperm aspiration procedures are recommended which allow sperm to be suctioned and extracted from the testicles and then to be used in conjunction with IVF.
Natural Treatments for Oligospermia
- Stop Smoking :
Smoking is one of the main things one should stop if he’s suffering from a low sperm count. According to a study conducted in 2016, around 6000 men were suffering from low sperm count who was consistently smoking.
- Reduce Alcohol:
Excess alcohol has a lot of negative impacts on our life, especially on sperm count. One of the recent studies has shown that drinking alcohol and use of drugs like cocaine have reduced the sperm count.
More research is going on further to make people believe that excessive alcohol drinking can impact badly on men’s sperm.
- Exercise with sufficient sleep:
We all know that obesity can lead to Erectile dysfunction and oligospermia so it is better to reduce weight by exercising well simultaneously increasing the sperm count.
Sleep is also a major factor for sperm count so sleep for at least 7-8 hours for healthy sperm count.
- Reduce estrogen rich foods:
Estrogen rich foods reduce the testosterone levels in the body and so the sperm production. To have a healthy impact on the sperm count stop taking estrogen rich foods like soy products.
According to a study in 2019, it was found that higher plant estrogen concentration in semen means low sperm quality.
- Omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful in boosting sperm count. Several studies have proven that men who take omega-3 fatty acid regularly have an improvement in sperm count.
According to a study in 2019, it is concluded that men who were suffering from fertility issues have an improvement in sperm mobility after taking omega-3 fatty acids.
Exercises for improving sperm count
Exercising on a treadmill has proven to improve the quality of the sperm in terms of volume, sperm count, motility, shape, and size.
Continuous training throughout the week for 30-45 minutes each day has also seen a significant increase in the sperm count.
Running, sprints, and walks for 20-30 minutes have been effective in countering Oligospermia.
Azoospermia vs Oligospermia
Azoospermia is a condition where there is no sperm in the semen i.e total absence of sperm in the semen and whereas Oligospermia is a condition where there is a lower sperm count than normal i.e less than 15 million per milliliter of semen in the ejaculate.
Sperm count is a very important metric for a healthy man, and low sperm count can cause infertility in men. Good habits can always help in maintaining sperm count.
Nothing to worry about this condition as the recent advancements in medicine have brought a variety of treatments and therapies to help Oligospermia or Low Sperm Count.
A healthy lifestyle and Habits can always help men to have a better sex life.
- An infertile couple suffering from oligospermia by partial sperm maturation arrest: can phytoestrogens play a therapeutic role? A case report study.
- Oligospermia and azoospermia in non-reproductive male Damaraland mole-rats Cryptomys damarensis (Rodentia: Bathyergidae).
- Ramipril for the Treatment of Oligospermia.
- Oligospermia and its Relation With Hormonal Profile.
- Cigarette Smoking and Semen Quality: A New Meta-analysis Examining the Effect of the 2010 World Health Organization Laboratory Methods for the Examination of Human Semen.
- Associations between semen phytoestrogens concentrations and semen quality in Chinese men.
- “Oligozoospermia,” “azoospermia,” and other semen-analysis terminology: the need for better science.