Trying for a baby, considering donating your sperm or just want to know more about the subject of male fertility? Whatever your situation, it’s always helpful to inform yourself a little in order to maximise your chances of obtaining a pregnancy.
Essentially, sperm count (or sperm concentration) is the number of active spermatozoids (or spermatozoa) found in a sample of semen produced by a man’s body. Measuring sperm count can indicate a man’s fertility.
What is considered normal sperm count?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sperm count as normal when it ranges between 15/20 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. The count is considered low (a condition called oligozoospermia) when there are less than 15 million sperm/ml.
Although still technically possible, having a baby naturally (that is to say without fertility treatment) with oligozoospermia, is more difficult.
Additionally, it is worth noting that 1 in 3 infertile couples experience issues with sperm (such as low sperm count.)
How can I know whether my sperm count is normal or low?
If you are considering donating your sperm or you are planning for a baby, you might want to know more about your fertility. Today there are several ways to find out whether you have a normal sperm count. These include:
Semen analysis or sperm count test
If you and your partner are experiencing difficulty becoming pregnant, your GP might ask you to undergo a semen analysis to find out what’s causing this inability to conceive. This test requires you to provide a sample of semen in order to ascertain the number of spermatazoa it contains, as well as their shape and motility.
The results indicate that you have a low sperm count? Before worrying, you should do the test again about three months later, to ensure its accuracy and to confirm whether or not you need to seek other solutions.
Male fertility home tests kits
If you prefer to avoid going straight to the lab or sending a sample, you can also purchase a male fertility test to use at home from pharmacies like Boots. These tests measure your sperm count and indicate whether you have a normal or low sperm count. This way everything can take place from the comfort of your own residence, from the collection of the semen sample to the reading of results.
However, although these home tests do provide an attractive alternative, those worried about their fertility are always advised to consult their GP and undergo a semen analysis at a lab.
What to do when you a have a low sperm count
The semen tests indicate that you’re suffering from male infertility? Your doctor might suggest you pay a visit to a fertility specialist. Fortunately, there are several solutions today to have a baby when you have a low sperm count.
Improving your sperm count naturally
If you’re trying for a baby, the first thing a doctor will usually recommend is to continue having unprotected sex every 2 or 3 days, all while adapting your lifestyle. Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, quitting smoking, exercising, reducing your alcohol consumption, and perhaps (if necessary) also losing or gaining a little weight, could all help you to conceive faster.
Conceiving via fertility treatments
If unfortunately, trying to have a baby naturally doesn’t work, you might be advised to try intrauterine insemination (IUI). However, it’s important to know that men with a low sperm count often have a lower chance of success when using this fertility technique.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a more efficient option for those with low sperm count. This method involves the removal of the woman’s eggs and their subsequent fertilisation with sperm in a lab. Once the eggs have been successfully fertilised, the embryos are then transferred back into the woman’s uterus.
Another solution to try if you have a very low sperm count is ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This technique is similar to IVF, but this time each mature egg is directly injected with an individual sperm via the use of a tiny needle. Once they have grown enough, the embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus.
Finally, men experiencing fertility issues or carrying a genetic condition can also use donor sperm to conceive, either via artificial insemination, ICSI or IVF.