Causes of Low Sperm Count
Why Low Sperm Count Occurs
There are many causes of male infertility, including poor sperm quality, lack of semen, reduced sperm motility, and low sperm count. Biological and environmental factors can both cause low sperm count.
Age Can Play a Role
There is growing evidence supporting the connection between aging and male infertility. Men under the age of 39 have fertilization rates of over 60 percent whereas males over 39 have fertilization rates of slightly over 50 percent.
Lifestyle and Temporary Reasons for Low Sperm Count
Sperm count is almost always temporarily reduced by physical or mental stress, including:
- Heightened Emotional Stress – Emotional stress interferes with the hormone GnRH.
- Issues With Sexual Intercourse – Issues with sexual intercourse or technique is possible in less than 1 percent of males.
- Mental Stress – Psychological issues, impotence, premature ejaculation, or issues within a relationship can affect fertility.
- Lubricants – Lubricants including spermicides, oils, and Vaseline have been shown to affect fertility.
Overheating of the Testicles
Exposure to high heat in saunas, hot tubs, and fevers can temporarily lower your sperm count.
Sperm count can be impaired by up to 50 percent due to heavy use of cocaine or marijuana. In fact, there are specific compounds in marijuana that are detectable by a sperm’s receptors, impairing their ability to swim and penetrate an ovum.
Cigarette smoking can cause low sperm count, impaired motility of sperm, reduced lifespan of sperm, and genetic damage. A study completed in 1999 suggests that a lower sex drive and less frequent intercourse is associated with men who smoke.
Deficiencies in Nutrition
Insufficient levels of nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, folate, and selenium are nutrients that can cause issues with sperm count.
According to a select number of studies, obese men are at risk for lower sperm counts.
Regular Use of a Bicycle
Impotence and low sperm count are often associated with biking because bike seats can damage nerves and blood vessels associated with erections. Mountain biking can exacerbate these issues and injure the scrotum.
Male infertility is linked to several genetic factors that are discussed below.
Examples of Inherited Genetic Factors
Men who suffer from cystic fibrosis generally have vas deferens that are obstructed or missing. This affects fertility because these tubes carry the sperm.
Men with Klinefelter Syndrome have two X chromosome and one Y chromosome. This causes the destruction of the seminiferous tubule lining during puberty. This results in internal damage that can lower sperm counts.
Another disorder is Kartagener Syndrome, a condition where major organ positions are reversed. Sperm cells might also be affected by the condition.
While the extent of damage by environmental toxins is unknown, common assaults such as Oxygen-Free Radicals, Estrogen Emulation Pesticidal Chemicals, Plastic Softening Chemicals, and Hydrocarbons can pose a threat to sperm count.
Heavy Metal Exposure
Long-term exposure to cadmium, arsenic, and lead can lead to reduced sperm production. The smallest amounts can also impair enzymes found in the membrane on the head of the sperm, also known as the acrosome.
Treatment for Radiation
X-rays and other radiation treatments are known to affect sperm. Regular production can take two years to return, if it returns at all.
Reduced Levels of Semen
Structural abnormalities in the tubes transporting sperm can cause reduced amounts of ejaculated semen.
Unclear Effects of Varicocele
Varioceles are varicose veins found in the cord connected to the testicle. 15 to 20 percent of all men have this issue whereas 25 to 40 percent of infertile men have varioceles. However, their impact on fertility is unknown.