One of the most common myths about the infertility in couples who are trying to conceive is that usually woman should be blamed for infertility problems or delays in conceiving a baby. The facts are however different. About half of all infertility obstacles are contributed by men. Decreased sperm count is one of the most common reasons for male infertility.
Male fertility depends on sperm quality and quantity, which both can be affected by many things. Unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, poor diet, obesity, underlying infections or generally bad health are among major factors that affect health of sperm. Healthy sperm is usually linked with three important factors: quantity, quality and motility.
Sperm quantity or sperm count is usually taken as indicator of male fertility. Men are most likely to be fertile if they have more than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen, which is the benchmark for normal count according to WHO guidelines. Of the millions of sperm in the ejaculated semen, only about 200 reach the fallopian tubes and one is needed to fertilize the egg. So, the more sperm the better chances are for conceiving. However, to be fertile is not enough just to have enough sperm.
Sperm quality also plays important role in conception process, i.e. the shape and structure of sperm. A normal sperm has an oval head with a long tail. Sperm with different shaped head, or curled or double tails are less likely to fertilize an egg. If one-third of your sperm is of normal shape and structure, you re most likely to be fertile.
Another important factor is sperm motility, i.e. how your sperm wriggles and swims to find its way to the egg. Men are most likely to be fertile if at least half of their sperm is moving. Having lower sperm count doesn t necessary mean that you re infertile and that you cannot conceive, but it could be an obstacle to successful conception. Lowers sperm count indicate that you ll most likely need more time for conception, or require additional medical interventions, as well as interventions to your diet and lifestyle.
- It s needless to say that you should drop smoking, alcohol or drugs. They re directly involved with infertility in both men and women, so stopping your bad habits could increase your sperm count.
- You should consider exercise, especially if you re slightly overweight. Physical activity is good for reproductive health as well as your overall health. But don't overdo it, because exhaustion could cause temporary change in hormone levels and a drop in sperm quality.
- Eat healthy and watch your weight. Eat plenty of fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables, as well as food rich in zinc and vitamins. Consider taking supplements, such as multivitamins or supplements rich in selenium, zinc and folic acid to support your daily diet.
- Too much heat can affect sperm count and health, so avoid tight underwear or hot water while bathing or showering.
- Reduce stress as much as possible, although it may sound impossible. Consider stress-reducing exercise like yoga, tai chi, or meditation practice.
- Sperm count is the highest in the morning, so time your intercourse in the morning to afternoon hours.
- If you have a documented sperm count issue due to various underlying health conditions, you should consider visiting your doctor for additional information regarding your condition and potential treatments.
As been said, sperm count isn t the only factor for male fertility, but it is important for successful conception. So don t be desperate if your sperm count is low. It could be fixed, together with sperm quality. All you need is a little effort and patience.