The number of men suffering from fertility issues is rising all the time. The primary cause of male infertility rests with a low sperm count. In this blog, we learn what a low sperm count is and about the causes of low sperm count and watery sperm.

Low Sperm Count – What Is It?

A simple definition of low sperm count is when your semen has a lower count of sperms than normal. This ‘normal’ range is defined as between 40 million to 300 million sperms for every milliliter of semen. As you see, this range is spread across a wide spectrum and men with sperm counts within this range have a higher chance of fathering their own children through sexual intercourse alone.

A low sperm count, which is also known as oligospermia, is when the sperm count falls below 15 million for every milliliter of semen. The low count affects a man’s ability to impregnate his partner without any external assistance or treatments. Pregnancy needs the female’s eggs to be fertilized by the male partner’s sperm. A higher sperm count increases the chances of this fertilization. This also means that men with a low sperm count are still perfectly capable of fathering their own children. However, they might need some external assistance in doing so.

Low Sperm Count Signs & Symptoms

There are no explicit signs or symptoms associated with having a low sperm count as it’s not a disease or illness per se. However, among certain men with low sperm counts, the following signs could be seen.
 Difficult sexual functioning – This includes low sexual desire or problems maintaining an erection (also known as erectile dysfunction).
 Pain – The testicular area might suffer from inflammation, swelling or even outright pain.
 Reduced hair density – The density of body and facial hair might reduce. However, this is also possible because of hormonal abnormalities.

Factors and Causes of Low Sperm Count

Producing sperms is a complex process that calls for a regular and smooth functioning of the testicles, hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Once the testicles produce sperms, the latter is carried by special tubes and mixed with semen during ejaculation. Difficulties in even one among these functions can seriously affect sperm health and count.
When a test tube baby treatment in India is recommended to couples, usually the male partner’s sperms are also checked for quality and quantity. Quality here refers to the sperm’s lack of motility, functionality or even shape (known as morphology).
The causes of low sperm count are broadly classified into three types, viz. clinical, environmental and lifestyle.

Clinical Causes:

1. Varicocele – It refers to the inflammation of the veins that empty the testicle. Varicocele is usually the most common and reversible cause of male infertility.

2. Bacterial infection – Certain bacteria can affect sperm health and generation or even result in scars that block the sperm’s passing.

3. Ejaculation issues – Retrograde ejaculation is when the semen is released into the bladder instead of being eliminated from the penis’s tip. Health issues like diabetes, spinal injury and surgical treatments to the prostate, bladder, and urethra can result in retrograde ejaculation. Certain medicines like alpha-blockers (used by patients with high blood pressure) can also cause this issue.

4. Tumors – Tumors, both non-malignant and cancerous, can affect a man’s reproductive system and its overall functioning.

5. Antibodies – In certain cases, antibodies can wrongly detect sperms as external threats and destroy them.

6. Undescended testicle – In this condition, the testicles do not descend fully from the abdomen area and into the sac known as the scrotum. Normally, this happens during the growth of the fetus in the womb.

7. Dysfunction of tubules that transport sperm – A large number of tubes transport sperms. Issues like blockages or infections of any of these tubes can lead to a reduction in sperm count.

8. Celiac disease – It’s a condition of the digestive system that is caused by sensitivity to gluten. The celiac disorder has been shown to affect male fertility.

9. Chromosomal deficiencies – These are various dysfunctions of hereditary nature like Klinefelter Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, Kartagener’s Syndrome and Kallmann’s Syndrome.

10. Previous Surgical Procedures – Surgical treatments like vasectomy and those related to the prostate, hernia, stomach, scrotum, testicles, rectum etc. can also lead to a low sperm count.

Environmental Causes:

1. Industrial Chemicals & Compounds – Continuous contact with toluene, benzene, herbicides, xylene, organic solvents, chemical pesticides, and painting compounds can cause low sperm count.

2. Heavy Metals – Exposure to lead or other kinds of heavy metals can also cause male infertility.

3. Radiation – Radiation exposure can affect sperm production severely.

4. Testicle Overheating – Excess heat immediately around the testicles is known to reduce the sperm count. This heat could be the result of wearing overly tight clothes, sitting for too long and even extensive usage of hot tubs or saunas.

Lifestyle Causes:

1. Alcohol Consumption & Smoking – Both activities have an immediate and negative effect on the sperm count.

2. Medication & Drug Abuse – Overusing anabolic steroids and consuming narcotics like cocaine and marijuana also negatively affect sperm count.

3. Excess Weight – Obesity or extra weight can damage fertility by reducing sperm count and affecting hormones that are necessary for good reproductive health.

4. Stress – Stress resulting from emotional upheavals and long-term depression can also tamper with the body’s hormonal balance, which negatively affects sperm generation.

5. Professions – There are certain professions where the threat to sperm health is inherent because of the activities involved therein. These include driving or even a desk job, where you are required to sit in the same place for a long period of time.

When you visit any infertility or surrogacy hospital, your sperm health is one of the first things that are checked. In many cases, simple adjustments to your lifestyle and environment can help increase the sperm count. Consult your personal physician or visit a reputed best fertility specialist to determine if you suffer from a low sperm count.