Where Did My Low Sperm Count Come From?
If you've been through fertility testing and learned that you have a low sperm count, it's certainly important to understand what this means. The leading cause of male infertility is low sperm count, so rest assured that you are not alone with this issue. You probably have questions about what caused your low sperm count, and how you may counteract this problem. Here, we discuss the many possible causes of low sperm count, helping you to understand this condition better.
Smoking and Substance Abuse
Cocaine, marijuana and smoking all impair sperm and reduce the number and quality of the sperm. Both cocaine and heavy marijuana use have been found to reduce sperm by as much as 50%! Marijuana makes the sperm's ability to swim more difficult, and makes its ability to penetrate the egg less effective. In addition to lowering sperm count, smoking may also hurt sperm motility and lifespan, and may put the fetus at risk for genetic problems. A 1999 study of male smokers also found that smokers have a lower sex drive and less frequent sexual activity.
Other Lifestyle Issues
Stress, both physical and emotional stress, can also inhibit sperm count. Stress may interfere with the hormone GnRH, and thereby reduce sperm count. It is very important to recognize stresses, such as relationship problems, impotence, premature ejaculation and other issues that may reduce sperm count. If you use lubricants, such as spermicides, oils or Vaselines, this may also limit the sperm count as well.
Foods and Body Weight
Low sperm count can also be caused by issues with your weight and your eating habits. If you are deficient in vitamin C, selenium, zinc or folate, you may be at risk for low sperm count. If you think that these may be a problem for you, you should have a physical done and blood work taken. Obesity has also been linked to low sperm count, so it is also important not to eat too much, to keep to a regular weight and to exercise.
Age has not been tied in a definitive way to low sperm count, but researchers do believe that there is a correlation. Men under the age of 39 usually have fertilization rates over 60% while those over 39 have fertilization rates slightly over 50%. Obviously, this can be due to many factors, but researchers believe that one of them may be sperm count.
Much of our health is determined by our genes. Genetic factors may certainly inhibit sperm count, including issues such as cystic fibrosis, Klinefelter syndrome and Kartagener syndrome. If you have any of these issues, or believe that you might, you should certainly speak to your doctor about your sperm count.
There are certain work locations that might put people at more risk for low sperm count. These include places that would expose you to toxins, chemicals and infections. Chronic exposure to heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic can also influence sperm production. Radiation treatment and x-rays can also damage sperm count. If you've had a massive exposure to radiation, it can take up to two years for normal sperm production to return; in some extreme cases, that production never returns. Overexposure to heat can also cause a low sperm count. This may occur at a work location, or it might be because of prolonged fever, consistent sauna or hot Jacuzzi use, or from working with a laptop on your lap for too much time.
While this may come as a surprise to some, extensive bike riding can influence sperm count. Bicycle riding has been linked to impotence and can lower the sperm count. This is due to the pressure on the body from the bike seat, as it is thought to damage blood vessels and nerves needed for erection. Mounting biking, specifically, puts shock on the perineum and increases the potential problems for the scrotum.
Speak to your doctor if you believe that you might have a low sperm count due to one of these factors. Should you already know that you have low sperm count, you may be able to take measures to reverse it by avoiding some of the risk factors discussed here. Similarly, a fertility specialist can help you to deal with this issue and to work on having a baby, despite this set back.