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Houston Fertility Center

Treatment Options for Low Sperm Count

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on August 29, 2014

A healthy, young adult manHaving a low sperm count is by far the most common reason for male infertility, and contributes to a significant portion of all fertility problems among couples. The fewer sperm cells there are in a man’s semen, the lower the chances are of a healthy and viable cell fertilizing an egg. Therefore, if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, it is worth identifying the man’s sperm count and, if it is low, seek treatment options to that end.

When you visit our Houston fertility clinic, you benefit from a multifaceted approach that aims to improve your fertility through a number of methods. Consider any of the infertility treatment options listed below in regard to low sperm count before speaking with one of our fertility specialists.

Identifying the Problem

Although a low sperm count may be responsible for infertility, there is often an underlying problem that should be addressed. By recognizing which factors are responsible for a man’s low sperm count, the most appropriate method of treatment can be utilized. This is accomplished through one or more tests such as a physical exam, semen analysis, and urinalysis. Depending on the results, it may be determined that low sperm count is caused by:

  • A medical condition: Oftentimes, sperm counts are lowered by varicoceles, or inflammation of veins connected to the testicles. Other possible conditions include infections, diseases, retrograde ejaculation, an improper antibody response to sperm, hormone imbalances, tumors, or defects within the sperm duct.
  • Lifestyle: Patients who use alcohol, tobacco, certain medications, and recreational drugs all risk having a low sperm count. Other factors such as obesity, emotional stress, and improper diet can also negatively impact sperm count.
  • Environment: High testicular temperatures are known to lower sperm counts, such as from saunas, hot tubs, tight clothing, or laptop use. Exposure to volatile compounds can also endanger one’s sperm count or health, including exposure to lead, radiation, pesticides, and industrial chemicals.

Treating Low Sperm Counts

Some treatment options, such as lifestyle changes, are likely beneficial to most patients. On the other hand, some treatments are reserved specifically for patients suffering from a given disease or condition. Once you and your doctor have determined the reason(s) for low sperm count, one or more of the following options may be recommended:

  • Improvements to lifestyle: If no specific condition is behind a low sperm count, various daily adjustments can result in gradual improvement. Weight loss, diet, and abstinence from harmful habits can all have a positive effect.
  • Hormone treatment: If hormonal levels are determinately abnormal, medication can be given to help the body ease back into a normal range. Normally, such medication requires a few months before results can be seen.
  • Surgery: If low sperm count is the result of a physical abnormality, surgery may be necessary to fix the problem. For instance, swollen varicoceles can be drained in order to better regulate testicular temperature and, in turn, healthy sperm cells.
  • Assisted fertilization: Intrauterine insemination can be used to combat the typical problems of low sperm count. First, a semen sample is collected and “washed” so that only healthy sperm cells remain. These cells are then injected directly into the uterus, increasing their chances of finding and fertilizing the egg. Alternatively, IVF can be used to artificially fertilize the egg in a lab before it is transferred into the uterus. By completing the fertilization process manually, sperm count becomes a mostly negligible factor.

Learn More about Male Infertility

Fertility problems can arise from one or both partners in a relationship, and as such, we offer a wide range of treatment options. Together, we can help you find the best method of conceiving and subsequently achieving a successful, healthy pregnancy. Contact us to learn more about male or female infertility via an appointment at our office.

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