Low sperm count medically known as Oligospermia is a condition in which the sperm contained in the semen(fluid ejaculated by men after sexual intercourse) is lower than usual.
The normal quantity of sperm contained in 1ml of semen should be more than or equal to 15million, any quantity less than this is considered to be low.
Low sperm count reduces a man’s chances of impregnating his partner, although it does not totally prevent him from being able to impregnate a woman.
Causes of Low sperm count.
There are a variety of factors that can cause low sperm count, some of them include:
1. Sexually transmitted infections(STI): STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia.etc. can cause low sperm count by interfering with sperm production and causing scarring in the tubes that carry semen thus blocking the passage of sperm to the urethra.
2. Hormonal Imbalance: An excess or deficit of any of the male sex hormones needed for production of sperm can cause low sperm count.
3. Certain drugs: Certain drugs such as anabolic steroids, drugs used in chemotherapy, some antibiotics or testosterone replacement therapy can interfere with sperm production causing low sperm count.
4. Previous surgeries: adhesions from previous surgeries such as surgeries to parts of the male organs such as scrotum, testis and prostate can prevent sperm from passing from the testes where it is produced into the urethra.
5. Antibodies that attack the sperm: certain cells found in the immune system of the body can attack the sperm, they are called anti-sperm antibodies. Such immune system attacks on the sperm cells can lead to low sperm count.
6. Undescended testes: During development in the womb, one or both of the testes(the male organ where sperm is produced) in some men fails to descend into the scrotum. This can lead to low sperm count because sperm needs to be stored at a lower temperature than the rest of the body and the temperature conditions outside the scrotum are not suitable for storage of sperm.
7. Environmental factors: such as over-exposure to industrial chemicals, heavy metals, radiation or x-rays can reduce sperm production leading to low sperm count.
8. Exposure of the testes to heat: High temperatures hinder sperm production and function. Habits such as putting your laptop on your laps for long periods of time, wearing tight clothing and sitting for long periods of time may increase temperature in the scrotum.
9. Obesity and emotional stress: Prolonged stress and obesity can interfere with hormones necessary for production of sperm.
10. Laboratory errors or issues with sperm collection: could lead to errors in results giving a false impression of low sperm count.