Hearing that you have oligospermia could be a huge slap in the face. Chances are that you’ve been trying to get a partner pregnant for some time without being successful. Chances are that you’ve seen a fertility specialist prior to getting the diagnosis.
The scary medical term oligospermia refers to a low sperm count. It’s a common cause of infertility in guys. Figuring out that you have a low sperm count without a medical test is going to be a difficult task but it’s not entirely impossible.
Here’s some information about the most common symptoms of the condition, as well as the available treatment options.
Symptoms Of Oligospermia
Most men can’t really tell that they have a low sperm count, especially if they aren’t trying to get a partner pregnant at that specific time.
Chances are you’ll suspect that something is wrong if you want a baby but it’s just not happening. If your wife or partner has had gynecological exams that suggest she’s perfectly healthy, chances are there may be something wrong with you.
Still, you can’t be 100 percent confident that you suffer from oligospermia unless you get a spermogram (sperm analysis that is carried out in a specialized lab).
There could be a few symptoms that may be indicative of oligospermia:
- Low sex drive (may be indicative of problems with testosterone production)
- Inability to sustain an erection for a long period of time or erectile dysfunction
- Swelling and lumps that you can feel on the testicles
- Testicle pain
- History of sexual and prostate problems in the family
- Signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (a common cause of low sperm count)
- Low ejaculate volume
- Hair loss and baldness (another symptom of testosterone issues)
- Loss of muscle mass
- An increase in body fat without a diet change (especially if fat is accumulating in the abdominal region)
Such symptoms can be caused by many other conditions. They aren’t necessarily a sign of oligospermia.
If you have any of those and you haven’t been capable of getting a partner pregnant in approximately 1.5 years (the period is six months for women who are 35 or older), you will need to meet with a fertility specialist.
Oligospermia: 5 Most Common Treatments
The treatments for oligospermia are numerous. It is possible to see an improvement, even if your lab results show a serious problem.
A doctor will first need to identify the cause of the low sperm count. Addressing this medical issue or lifestyle factor will potentially lead to major improvements in sperm quality and quantity parameters.
#1 Hormonal Treatment
Oligospermia is often caused by low testosterone or a hormonal imbalance. When you get the diagnosis, you’ll be asked to have a hormone test. You’ll need to give some blood in a lab. The most common hormones tested in the case of oligospermia are testosterone, FSH and luteinizing hormone.
Once a testosterone issue is pinpointed as the root of the problem, you may have to undergo a hormone treatment. Hormone replacement therapy could produce good results but you should also be aware of the possible side effects.
Natural supplements that boost testosterone levels (by affecting the functioning of the pituitary gland) are also a great choice.
Varicocele is a second common cause of oligospermia. Varicocele refers to enlarged blood vessels in the scrotum. They are a common issue and they can lead to serious sperm count and motility abnormalities.
Depending on the severity of varicocele, urologists may suggest surgery. The operation isn’t a dangerous one – the enlarged veins have to be removed. The experience of the urologist and their specialization in the treatment of varicocele will be very important for a successful procedure.
#3 Lifestyle Changes
If a medical condition is not the cause of oligospermia, you’ll have to introduce a couple of lifestyle changes.
Quitting smoking ranks among the most important one. The same applies to decreasing alcoholic beverage consumption or discontinuing it altogether.
Improve your diet and consume larger quantities of raw fruits and veggies. Foods rich in zinc, cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids also play an important role in male fertility.
If you lead a busy lifestyle and you don’t have the time to prepare and eat healthy meals, choose a high quality preconception supplement that will give your body everything that it needs to make millions of healthy sperm cells.
Keep in mind that lifestyle changes will demand time to deliver results. Sperm cells are renewed within three months. Wait three months after improving your lifestyle to get your sperm tested once again.
#4 Change Your Underwear And Your Bathing Habits
This may sound weird but oligospermia could be caused by exposing the testicles to a lot of heat.
Sperm cells need a moderate temperature in order to survive. If you enjoy very hot baths, you could be killing those little soldiers unintentionally.
Opt for lukewarm water when having a bath. Also, it’s a better idea to use the shower rather than the bathtub.
One more thing you can do to keep your testicles cool is change your underwear. Go for boxers made of cotton instead of briefs. The fabric is breathable and it’s not going to push your testicles against the body.
#5 IVF And ICSI
If everything else fails and you don’t see an improvement, you may want to opt for a procedure like in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
ICSI is a procedure in which a healthy sperm cell is injected directly into the egg. The procedure is particularly suitable for couples dealing with oligospermia.
Assisted fertility treatments give you a chance to father a child, even if your sperm count is low. Keep in mind that IVF and ICSI procedures are expensive.
In addition, your partner will have to go through a hormonal stimulation and an egg retrieval procedure that is linked to certain risks. The experience of the fertility specialist and the equipment available in the clinic will be determining for the success of the procedure.