While millions of sperms do race to fertilize an egg, yet conceiving isn’t as straightforward. Now, imagine trying to get pregnant with a partner who has a low sperm count.
Typically, anything less than 15 million sperms per milliliter of semen is considered a low sperm count. And many factors contribute to lowered sperm count. While some of these factors are environmental, genetic or medical causes, other typical reasons include regular activities and a lifestyle not healthy enough to promote a decent sperm count.
Heat isn’t good for testicles. Sperm production nearly ceases if the temperature of the testicles is raised to 98˚F. The male anatomy has been designed in a way that the testes are distant from the core body and, therefore, stay out of the core body temperature. Else it’s not even the sperm count, but it’s also the motility and morphology of the sperm cells that will alter due to heat. Sitting for prolonged periods can also increase the temperature of the testicles.
2. Hot Tubs:
If you are planning a leisure time in a sauna, a jacuzzi or hot tub, then consider this. Hot water isn’t great for testes. Exposure to a hot tub or jacuzzi even for 30 minutes can reduce the sperm production. Since sperms take a long time to mature, exposure to wet heat will take time to heal. The typical recovery time you can expect is between three to nine months.
3. Industrial Chemicals:
Extended exposure to organic solvents like benzenes, toluene, xylene apart from herbicides or pesticides, painting materials or lead might contribute to a low sperm count.
4. Radiation or X-rays:
Radiation or X-rays reduce sperm production for many years to follow for the recovery of spermatogenesis. Extreme levels of radiation can permanently reduce the sperm production..
Some cosmetics and toiletries contain phthalates. Don’t forget that shower curtains shed phthalates as you shower and enter the body pores to interfere with the sperm count. Use organic shampoos and soaps. Look for green or organic shower curtains as well.
Have you ever been advised not to put laptops on your lap, rather put on the desk? As per a study by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, laptop use can increase the scrotum temperature up to 35˚ in certain positions; the temperature is high enough adversely affect sperm production.
7. Cell Phones:
Carrying cell phones in trouser pockets (close proximity to the male reproductive organs) reduces the sperm count as well as the motility. Men who carry phones in their pockets have been found to have 11% less sperm motility than those who store their phones elsewhere. Men who spend at least an hour a day on the phone have 17% less sperm motility than those who spent 15 minutes a day on a mobile phone. Although there is a divided opinion among researchers on mobile phones affecting sperm count, you might still want to bear caution.
8. Nonstick Pans And Raincoats:
Perfluoroalkyl acids are a group of chemicals added to nonstick pans, raincoats, etc. When exposed to this chemical, men may have their reproductive health compromised. What amounts can lead to the condition is yet to be ascertained as research is still ongoing in this regard.
9. Party Lifestyle:
Tobacco, alcohol, cigarettes and narcotic drugs can lead to sexual impairment and damage sperm DNA, affect sperm motility, and reduce sperm count. Alcohol can hamper semen production and quality while tobacco can impair sperm motility. The use of narcotics can lead to all sorts of problems and is as bad.
Your sperm count could also be influenced by whether you wear boxers, briefs or tight bicycle shorts. Although boxers are better than briefs, they may not alter the sperm count significantly in comparison to when you wear a brief. But wearing tight bicycle shorts for prolonged periods is certainly not a great idea as it could make the apparatus inconducive for sperm production.
According to a 2009 study by WHO, obesity causes a decrease in sperm count and reduced testicular function. However, only extreme levels of obesity have been shown to impact the capacity for male reproduction.
12. Emotional Stress:
Emotional stress interferes with the hormones responsible for spermatogenesis. Apart from any emotional stress, some men might stress about fertility, which can lead to hormonal imbalance.
13. Excessive Sex:
Too much of sex is not good for the male sperm count. Consider reducing it to once every two or three days is recommended.
14. Nutritional Deficiency:
A deficiency of vitamins and minerals could lead to low sperm motility. Vitamins C, Vitamin B12, folate, and zinc are essential to maintaining a healthy sperm motility. If the body doesn’t meet the required levels of these nutrients, one could use supplements for these.
Soy has been known to contribute towards lower sperm concentrations. However, there hasn’t been any significant level of low sperm concentrations, so you might be on the safe side using soy in moderate concentrations.
It has been suggested that the excessive intake of caffeine, i.e., at least, three cups or more coffee a day can put one at the risk of genetic mutations in sperm. A 2002 study suggests that one cup of coffee can lead to multiple births.
17. Physiological And Genetic Factors:
Vasectomy, infection, trauma, or birth defects can cause a blockage thereby preventing the sperm from entering the semen. Chromosomal abnormalities also lead to sharp decline in sperm production. Hormonal imbalance, undescended testicles, testicular cancer, anti-sperm antibodies and sexual problems can negatively influence the sperm count.
Did you know that fever could impact your sperm count? If exposure to heat can do that, then a high fever will do the same with the similarly lasting effects. As per a 2003 study, the sperm count comes down by at least 35% following a fever the sperm count comes down to 35%.
Certain type of medications could also retard the sperm count. Tricyclic antidepressants, anabolic steroids, anti-androgens, calcium channel blockers, chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer interfere with male fertility.