Low sperm count means that, when tested, the total amount of sperm in your semen is below a certain amount. The most current World Health Organization guidelines define low sperm count as having less than 15 million sperm in a milliliter of semen (15 million/ml).
Having low sperm count means that you have lower odds of fertilizing your partner’s egg. While it is true that it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg, you really need a significant number of sperm to make it successfully through the obstacle course that is the female reproductive system.
If you don’t get pregnant in the first couple of months of trying to conceive, don’t worry. The statistics show that, for some couples, it just takes a bit longer to get pregnant.
20% will conceive within one month
70% will conceive within six months
85% will conceive within one year
It is hard to let nature take it’s course when you have baby on the brain. Fertility specialists typically want to see you after you’ve tried unsuccessfully for a year, or at the 6 month mark if you are over 35 years old.
There are many things you can do proactively to help improve your overall sperm health before you reach the 12 month “Call the Dr.” mark. Changes you make now will improve your chances of getting pregnant. Take a look at your lifestyle to see if something your are doing or dealing with on a daily basis is known to cause sperm health issues.
Environmental Causes of Low Sperm Count
Chemical Exposure – If you have a job that requires you to work with industrial chemicals on a daily basis, that exposure could lead to a lower sperm count. Jobs that work with pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals can have a negative impact on your overall sperm health.
Overheating Your Testicles – Your sperm like a cooler than body temperature environment. If you regularly squash your testicles close to your body with tight pants or underwear, your sperm count could suffer. Sitting for long times will also increase testicle temperature. If you are trying to get pregnant, you might also want to avoid saunas and hot tubs for the same reason.
X-rays – If possible, ALWAYS make sure a protective apron is used if you need x-rays. This will help shield your sperm and sperm producing organs from the damaging effects. Failure to do this can cause a dramatic decrease in sperm count that can last a long time.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Low Sperm Count
Sometimes, you can boost your sperm count by making changes to things you do on a daily basis. Some are easier to accomplish than others but all have the potential to improve your sperm count and all other aspects of male fertility. What you do and eat on a daily basis is directly related to your overall fertility.
Keep in mind, unless you have a medical cause for your low sperm count, the changes you make in your day to day life will take 2 to 3 months to show up in improved sperm health.
– Exercise Regularly – If you are a couch potato, your fertility can suffer. Research shows exercise helps balance your hormones (yes, men have fertility related hormones, too) and help improve your sperm count (and other aspects of your sperm too!).
Oh, and let’s not forget how you smoking affects your partner’s fertility. Research has shown that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause fertility problems and earlier onset of menopause in women.
– Check Your Medications – Anabolic steroids (not good news body builders out there), antibiotics and certain medications used to control conditions like high blood pressure, ADHD and antidepressants can reduce your fertility. You can ask your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medications on your overall fertility.
– De-Stress – Extreme and long term stress can cause the hormones required for healthy sperm production to become unbalanced. Balance your mind and your body will go in the direction of balance as well.
Eating for Improved Sperm Health
Focus on eating foods that ensure your body has the right amount of sperm friendly nutrients. Most of these nutrients can be purchased in supplement form, but your body will benefit more if you try and incorporate them into your daily diet. Many research studies have show that the nutrients below help improve sperm count and overall male fertility. To receive the biggest nutritional and sperm count friendly benefits, you should stick with organic, grass fed, and wild caught food whenever possible.
Nutrient Recommended for Sperm Health
Foods To Eat
Bell Peppers (All colors), Guavas, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables (Kale and Spinach for example), Kiwifruit, Broccoli, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Peas, Papaya, Chili Peppers, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Mango
Beef, Shrimp, Spinach, Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Oysters, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Egg Yolks, Turkey, Salmon, Dark Chocolate, Beef Liver
Turkey, Chicken, Pork Loin, Pumpkin Seeds, Peanuts, Dairy, Chick Peas, Lentils, All Types of Seafood
Beef, Pork, Whole Milk
Essential Fatty Acids
Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Flax Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Eggs, Dark Green Vegetables
Whole Grains, Broccoli, Potatoes, Raw Tomatoes, Green Beans, Barley, Oats
Goji Berries, Dark Chocolate, Kidney Beans, Berries, Pinto Beans, Sweet Cherries, Apples, Red or Purple Grapes, Sweet Potatoes
It should be easy to increase your daily intake of these sperm friendly foods. Unfortunately, totally changing the way you eat isn’t always possible. Adding a fertility supplement might give you the added nutrient boost that you need to improve your count. FertilAid for Men and Countboost are two of the best selling male fertility supplements on the market. These supplements are formulated to include the scientifically proven nutrients for improving sperm count and overall sperm health.
How To Get Your Sperm Count Checked
If a doctor’s visit is daunting, you can take an at home sperm count test. These tests let you assess your sperm count in the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind, it will only let you know about sperm count. The test will not alert you if there are any problems with sperm motility or morphology.
You may discover that the sperm count appears normal with the at home test, awesome! BUT … that doesn’t mean you are off the hook. All it says is that sperm count may not be the issue. A fertility doctor visit should be your next diagnostic step.
Many men are hesitant to get a semen analysis done. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to find out if you are the reason why you and your partner not getting pregnant. You are going to have to “Suck it up, Buttercup!” and get the testing done if having a baby is important to you and your partner.
If you are trying to get pregnant and have low sperm count, these changes may help your achieve your dream.
Visit a fertility specialist if you have been trying to conceive for over a year.
Evaluate what you do and eat everyday and make changes if you have activities that can harm your sperm count and overall health.
Eat healthy foods with nutrients that support healthy sperm count and overall male fertility.
Most women are fully aware that their period can come with pain and cramping, but what about the cramping (mittelschmerz) that occurs during the middle of your cycle, around the time of ovulation?
About 1 in 5 women will experience ovulation related cramping, mittelschmerz, about two weeks before their period is due to start. For most women, this condition is associated with a sharp pain that diminishes into a dull ache.
Mittelschmerz – What It Means
The word, mittelschmerz, is German in origin and literally means:
Mittle = Middle or Medium
Schmerz = Pain
It is a very accurate description of what is going on for some women – pain in the middle of your menstrual cycle.
What is Mittelschmerz and What Causes It
Mittelschmerz is pain or cramping, either dull or sharp, that you feel around the time you ovulate.
The exact cause of ovulation related cramping and pain isn’t fully known. Typically, people assumed that you feel the pain when ovulation actually occurs and your egg breaks out of the follicle. Minor leakage of blood from the ovary during ovulation might cause mittelschmerz to occur. It is believed that when it does leak, it irritates the abdominal wall or nearby nerves and causes the painful ovulation. Depending upon your unique pain threshold and the amount of blood that does leak, mittelschmerz might affect you differently than others.
The University of Melbourne conducted a study that presented another possible cause of the ovulation pain. The research suggests that the majority women feel the pain before they actually ovulate. The pain seems to be associated with the the lutenizing hormone (LH) peaking and causing ovarian muscle to contract.
Recognizing Mittelschmerz (Ovulation Related Cramping)
Timing – If you are going to feel mittelschmerz, it will typically happen about 14 days before your period is due to arrive. This pain may last for a couple of hours or as long as a couple of days.
Location – Ovulation cramping is usually felt on one side of your body, near the hip bone. If you have ovulation pain every month, the side may vary depending on which ovary is releasing the egg that month.
What it Feels Like: The way women feel the pain varies. It could feel like uncomfortable pressure, twinges, sharp pains or cramps. If you are feeling cramps, they will feel different from menstrual cramps. This is because the location the cramping is different. When you have period cramps, your whole uterus is a player in the pain, but where mittelschmerz is concerned, the cramping will be located off to one side, where the ovary is located.
Mittelschmerz as an Ovulation Sign
If you are actively trying to get pregnant, you know that the best time to get pregnant is around when you ovulate. Besides the normal signs of fertility, like egg white cervical mucus, mittelschmerz is a major ovulation indicator. If the pain isn’t too bad, you might want to let your significant other know what is going on. Timing wise, now would be the best time to have sex if you are trying to get pregnant.
What Can I Do to Relieve Ovulation Pain?
No specific treatment is usually required for ovulation pain as this only occurs for a short time. If it isn’t over quickly, and the pain lingers, there are ways to make this time of your monthly cycle much easier. Take plenty of time to rest until the pain is gone, taking warm (not hot) baths to feel relaxed, and drink plenty of fluids to keep you properly hydrated. You can try anything that you usually use when you have period cramps.
For women with severe ovulation pain, over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or aspirin, and a heating pad applied over the abdomen will usually provide relief from the pain. You can also try pain relievers that are marketed for menstrual pain such as Midol.
However, if the pain becomes severe and intolerable and pregnancy is not something you want to achieve for now, then oral contraceptives can be prescribed by a physician. This can help stop ovulation and the resulting monthly mid cycle pain.
When Should I Be Concerned?
For most women, ovulation pain and cramping is not a sign of a serious problem.
There are a number of things that can cause ovulation pain. It could be caused by the ovary cramping, or a ruptured or emerging follicle. If the cause of the pain was the follicle rupturing, you may end up seeing a bit of ovulation bleeding.
When to Contact Your Doctor
If you are super concerned about the pain. Seriously, doctors are there to support you. If you are concerned, get checked out.
Pain is lasting longer than 24 – 48 hours.
You are in so much pain that it is impossible to cope.
If spotting is too heavy to qualify as spotting.
Having sex causes too much pain to bear.
Endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or even appendicitis can also cause ovulation pain. If you have pain every month during ovulation, you should talk to your doctor. It may be indicative of another medical problem, which can often be treated. Your doctor can do an exam, use blood tests, ultrasounds and more to help diagnose what exactly is going on.
Talking to your doctor will help get to the root cause of the cramping around the time you ovulate. If there is a fertility related condition going on, your doctor will have the necessary tools to address it.
When you are trying to get pregnant, women bring their eggs to the party and the men, the sperm. Having healthy sperm will increase the chances for you actually getting pregnant.
What is “Healthy” Sperm?
There are many different components that add up to “healthy sperm”. Good sperm count, healthy forward movement, and well formed sperm are three of the main ones. With the exception of a home sperm count test, there is very little you can do to figure out the baby making potential of your sperm without the help of a doctor. A semen analysis done by your doctor will provide the scientific details about these important sperm issues.
Healthy Sperm Count A conception friendly sperm count would be at least 15 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate. Of course, the higher the count the better when you are trying to get pregnant. If you have fewer than this amount, you could have difficulties getting pregnant. It’s not impossible, but you might need to have a doctor’s help to facilitate pregnancy.
Healthy Sperm Motility Motility is how the sperm moves within the semen and in the woman’s body. Healthy sperm know which way to move. Limited forward motion makes it very difficult for the sperm to get to the egg to fertilize it. Healthy normal sperm motility is when 40% or more of the sperm, in a semen analysis, are showing the forward movement. The Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago has an interesting video that shows you how sperm count and motility determine during a semen analysis.
Sperm Morphology This particular criteria is a bit odd because the percentage of normally formed sperm only has to be 3% in order to be considered “normal”. Of course, the higher the percentage the better if your goal is fertilizing your partner’s eggs. If you have normal sperm count and motility, a 3% morphology result might not make that big of a difference in your fertility.
The majority of fertility treatments focus on improving the woman’s fertility. This is unfortunate, since half of all fertility problems couples experience have to do with male fertility. Many men are hesitant, for whatever reason, to undergo medical testing to determine whether male infertility factors into a couple’s infertility. Even if a man doesn’t want to undergo fertility testing (and treatment, if appropriate), there are a number of things he either stop or start doing that will positively impact the quality of his sperm.
4 Things That Can Hurt Sperm Health
Hot Testicles – Tight pants and brief style underwear can contribute to lower sperm count. The testes need a cooler environment in order to create new sperm. Ideally, a temperatures 3 or 4 degrees below what the rest of the body will allow the testes to do what they are made for – healthy sperm production.
Smoking – Both cigarettes and marijuana have been studied where sperm health is concerned and the results are not promising. Cigarette smokers increase their chances of having lower sperm count and motility than non smokers and ultimately can damage their sperm on a genetic level. If you are a pot smoker, you risk having significantly lower seminal fluid, a decreased sperm count and the sperm behave abnormally. Moral of the story, stop smoking, of all types, before you attempt to get pregnant. Your sperm can return to normal health in about 3 months once you stop smoking.
Weighty Issues – Both being overweight and underweight can adversely affect your sperm health. Being underweight has been shown to contribute to a lower than normal sperm count, whereas excess body fat affects a man’s reproductive hormones. This in turn lowers his sperm count. It can also lead to higher percentages of abnormal sperm. Dropping a few pounds, if you are overweight, can go a long way towards improving sperm quality and increasing your chances of conceiving.
Unhealthy Eating Habits – This goes hand in had with the item listed above. Unhealthy eating can contribute to weight issues and adversely affect your sperm health at the same time. Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meat and bacon have fewer normally formed sperm as compared to men who made healthier food choices. Milk does your body good, right? Well, sometimes. A 2013 study in Human Reproduction has shown that the intake of full fat dairy like cheeses and whole milk actually can lower sperm motility and morphology. Drinking low fat milk, on the other hand, was shown to have a positive effect on sperm health with higher sperm concentration and progressive motility.
4 Things That Can Improve Sperm Health
Get Moving.Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week has a positive effect on, not only overall health, but also on reproductive health. Men who exercise about 7 hours a week have a 48 percent higher sperm count than their sedentary, TV watching, counterparts, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Take Fertility Supplements.Let’s be honest here. In an ideal world, we would all be eating exactly what we needed to be totally healthy. In real life, this isn’t always possible. Adding supplements lets us get the nutrients we need. Fertilaid for Men is an awesome supplement that is formulated to improve overall male fertility issues. You can also add a boost of ingredients that are forumlated to improve sperm count or targeted towards improving overall sperm motility.
Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Quality Sleep.A recent study has shown that people who don’t sleep well or have sleep apnea can have a decreased sperm count and motility. If you have difficulty sleeping, and are trying to get pregnant, it might be time to schedule a sleep study to find out what is going on. Improving your quality of sleep may, in turn, increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Eat Your Veggies.Scientific research has discovered that beta-carotene, Lycopene and carotenoids (aka antioxidants) can help improve sperm morphology and motility. The veggies that you should routinely add to your meals include carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens and tomatoes.