Are you and your partner struggling to get pregnant? Although it may be immediately assumed that the woman is infertile, the problem could instead be due to the man in the relationship. In fact, according to the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, up to 40-50% of infertility in couples is linked to the male. The great news is, male infertility is treatable and you live in the 21st century, so there are many resources to help zero in on what the issues might be and then determine solutions for resolving those issues. One of the most common problems contributing to male infertility is low sperm count. Here’s a quick overview of sperm count along with some tips for getting and keeping healthy levels to optimize conception.
Sperm Count by the Numbers
Low: Anything less than 20 million per milliliter (a condition called oligospermia) is low
Normal: A normal sperm count for a healthy male is 15–200 million per milliliter of semen
High: Above average or high sperm count is over 200 million per milliliter of semen
Why Sperm Count Matters and how it’s Determined
Although it’s true it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, that sperm has to swim through a literal obstacle course in order to reach its target. The majority of sperm aren’t strong or mobile enough to succeed, so the more you have, the better the chances of successful conception.
Sperm count is determined through a semen analysis, which can be performed at a fertility clinic or urologist’s office. If you prefer, you also have a more private option with a convenient and accurate at-home test for sperm count.
Possible Physical and Medical Causes of Low Sperm Count
If you find your sperm count is lower than the normal threshold for fertile men, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor or fertility specialist as soon as possible. A medical professional can determine whether or not there are physical or medical factors contributing to the problem such as genetic disorders, diabetes, past cancer treatments, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc., and recommend appropriate treatment.
Tips: How to Get and Keep a Healthy Sperm Count by Living a Healthier Lifestyle
If physical and medical issues are ruled out, ask your doctor about changes you can make to your lifestyle that can have a measurable impact on sperm count. Here are some of the best tips recommended by healthcare pros.
Eat well: According to recent studies, diets high in saturated fats and sugar negatively impact fertility. So put down the burgers and fries and get back to basics: lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Fertility-friendly foods like nuts, leafy greens, avocado, garlic, and olive oil are ideal additions to a baby-making diet.
Lose weight: This goes hand in hand with eating well. Too much body fat can disrupt the function of reproductive hormones. Getting rid of and keeping off excess pounds can go a long way toward boosting sperm count.
Ditch those vices: Any use of alcohol, tobacco products, and illicit drugs (both by the man or woman) may reduce the likelihood of her getting pregnant. Smoking in particular has been linked to low sperm count.
Watch out for toxins: Certain pesticides, industrial metals, and even household cleaners have been linked to lower sperm count and decreased quality in sperm. If you can’t avoid exposure altogether, use a face mask and ventilate the environment well to minimize risk.
Chill out: Did you know men are more fertile in cold weather than in hot? There’s a reason for that! Overheating the scrotum negatively affects sperm production, so keep that area as cool as possible. Avoid the use of sauna and hot tubs. Wear boxers instead of briefs. Get up and move during the day if you have a desk job that requires a lot of sitting. In other words, stay mindful and do whatever you can to chill.
How Often Should You do a Sperm Check?
Testing sperm count is not a one-and-done deal. Because sperm count can vary from month to month due to lifestyle choices, stress levels, and even the weather, it’s important to test at regular intervals when you’re trying to conceive: Urologists recommend every 2 to 3 months. You can check if your sperm count meets the threshold for fertility quickly, easily, and privately at home with SpermCheck Fertility. This FDA-cleared kit is available online or at your local retailer and is a product of DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), a corporate sponsor of the American Pregnancy Association. SpermCheck is simple—like a home pregnancy test— and results are ready in minutes. Keep in mind that other fertility factors like sperm mobility and morphology are also important and should be checked by a healthcare professional.
You Really Can Improve Sperm Count
Having lower-than-normal sperm count doesn’t mean you won’t be able to help your partner conceive, but the odds are much better if your sperm count in the normal to high range. Fortunately, there are many active steps you can take to make more plentiful, stronger swimmers as you travel your journey to parenthood.More informative articles:
- Infertility 101: What You Need to Know First
- Fertility Friendly Lubricants
- Ovulation: Frequently Asked Questions
Chertoff, Jane. “What Is a Normal Sperm Count? .” Healthline, 29 Aug. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/normal-sperm-count#lifestyle-changes.
Grunebaum, Amos. “How to Increase Sperm Count and Improve His Fertility.” BabyMed.com, 27 Sept. 2019, www.babymed.com/tips-improving-sperm-count.
“Infertility.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317.
Jarrow, Jonathan, et al. “The Evaluation of the Azoospermic Male.” The Evaluation of the Azoospermic Male – American Urological Association, 2011, www.auanet.org/guidelines/azoospermic-male-best-practice-statement.
“Male Infertility.” Cleveland Clinic, 2019, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17201-male-infertility.
Panth, Neelima, et al. “The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States.” Frontiers in Public Health, Frontiers Media S.A., 31 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6079277/.