Low sperm count means that, when tested, the total amount of sperm in your semen is below a certain amount. The most current World Health Organization guidelines define low sperm count as having less than 15 million sperm in a milliliter of semen (15 million/ml).
Having low sperm count means that you have lower odds of fertilizing your partner’s egg. While it is true that it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg, you really need a significant number of sperm to make it successfully through the obstacle course that is the female reproductive system.
If you don’t get pregnant in the first couple of months of trying to conceive, don’t worry. The statistics show that, for some couples, it just takes a bit longer to get pregnant.
- 20% will conceive within one month
- 70% will conceive within six months
- 85% will conceive within one year
It is hard to let nature take it’s course when you have baby on the brain. Fertility specialists typically want to see you after you’ve tried unsuccessfully for a year, or at the 6 month mark if you are over 35 years old.
There are many things you can do proactively to help improve your overall sperm health before you reach the 12 month “Call the Dr.” mark. Changes you make now will improve your chances of getting pregnant. Take a look at your lifestyle to see if something your are doing or dealing with on a daily basis is known to cause sperm health issues.
Environmental Causes of Low Sperm Count
- Chemical Exposure – If you have a job that requires you to work with industrial chemicals on a daily basis, that exposure could lead to a lower sperm count. Jobs that work with pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals can have a negative impact on your overall sperm health.
- Overheating Your Testicles – Your sperm like a cooler than body temperature environment. If you regularly squash your testicles close to your body with tight pants or underwear, your sperm count could suffer. Sitting for long times will also increase testicle temperature. If you are trying to get pregnant, you might also want to avoid saunas and hot tubs for the same reason.
- X-rays – If possible, ALWAYS make sure a protective apron is used if you need x-rays. This will help shield your sperm and sperm producing organs from the damaging effects. Failure to do this can cause a dramatic decrease in sperm count that can last a long time.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Low Sperm Count
Sometimes, you can boost your sperm count by making changes to things you do on a daily basis. Some are easier to accomplish than others but all have the potential to improve your sperm count and all other aspects of male fertility. What you do and eat on a daily basis is directly related to your overall fertility.
Keep in mind, unless you have a medical cause for your low sperm count, the changes you make in your day to day life will take 2 to 3 months to show up in improved sperm health.
– Exercise Regularly – If you are a couch potato, your fertility can suffer. Research shows exercise helps balance your hormones (yes, men have fertility related hormones, too) and help improve your sperm count (and other aspects of your sperm too!).
– Quit Smoking – You already know that smoking isn’t good for your overall health. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stoke, cancer and a multiple of other diseases. In addition to the well known health risks, smoking can also cause a decreased sperm count and overall sperm health. Low count and low sperm quality make it more difficult for your sperm to fertilize your partner’s egg.
– Check Your Medications – Anabolic steroids (not good news body builders out there), antibiotics and certain medications used to control conditions like high blood pressure, ADHD and antidepressants can reduce your fertility. You can ask your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medications on your overall fertility.
– De-Stress – Extreme and long term stress can cause the hormones required for healthy sperm production to become unbalanced. Balance your mind and your body will go in the direction of balance as well.