According to Resolve: The National Infertility Association, only 60 percent of couples will conceive after trying for six months. While this statistic may not be directly due to a reproductive health problem from one or both partners, there is still often some sort of unexpected setback at hand that needs to be addressed.
While it is often female infertility that is talked about, the American Pregnancy Association states that approximately 30 percent of infertility cases involve male infertility and that about a fifth of infertility cases involve merely male infertility.
One common reason for male infertility is directly related to a low sperm count. Even if the woman has a flourishing reproductive system, when the male has a low count of sperm, this can significantly impact how easily and quickly the couple can conceive.
Although only a medical professional can diagnose and/or treat a man suffering from low sperm count, the following ten causes may be potential contributing factors worth keeping in mind:
1. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol has the potential to do bad things to our bodies. In minimal amounts, however, alcoholic beverages may pose no harm or may even provide health benefits. But like with other aspects of our health, excessive consumption of alcohol can pose danger to a man’s reproductive health in terms of his sperm count.
Interestingly, though, research has found that moderate drinking can actually benefit a man’s sperm count. Compared to men who drink alcohol minimally or excessively, those who drink moderate amounts (about two pints) on a weekly basis are found to have higher sperm concentrations.
2. Cigarette Smoking
A majority of us are aware that smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco-containing products may cause detrimental effects to our health. For this reason, women are not advised to use such products while pregnant. However, something many don’t realize is that smoking cigarettes may make it harder for a man to conceive a child at all.
With decreased sperm motility and sperm concentration along with a higher risk of abnormally-shaped sperm and sperm with DNA damage, smoking cigarettes can certainly affect a man’s fertility.
3. Being Overweight or Obese
Being overweight or obese not only affects one’s appearance and general health but can also affect a man’s sperm count until he is able to get his weight under control. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, men who are overweight have an 11 percent higher chance of suffering from low sperm count.
4. Exposure to Radiation
Radiation therapy may impact a male’s fertility in different ways. For instance, if a man has radiation performed at or near his testicles, he may suffer from temporary or long-term low sperm count as radiation can alter sperm-forming cells or germ cells. Apart from causing low sperm count, radiation may also affect sperm quality.
Radiation of the pituitary gland, which often results in low levels of testosterone production, is another reason a man may suffer from a low sperm count.
5. Marijuana Use
Numerous countries and U.S. states are legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana use. However, legal or not, marijuana use, like tobacco use, may reduce a man’s overall sperm count.
This research, though, cannot be concluded as other studies have found that marijuana may actually benefit sperm concentration. Perhaps different marijuana strains, the medium(s) in which it is used (e.g., smoking, dabbing, consuming weed in baked goods, etc.), and how often it is used play a role.
6. Low testosterone
Low testosterone can be due to many things including metabolic disorders, injury or trauma to the testes, infection of the testes, alcohol abuse, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, the list goes on and on. One thing is for sure: this male-dominant hormone is vital for the production of sperm. With low testosterone, the quantity of sperm may be at risk.
7. Use of Certain Medications
It’s no secret that pharmaceutical medications can cause a plethora of side effects. However, use of these medications is often necessary for one’s overall health, but unfortunately, they may be contributing to a low sperm count in some individuals.
Likewise, the use of anabolic steroids and the long-term use of certain herbal remedies can also hinder man’s sperm count.
8. Exposure to environmental toxins
In a May 2018 study, it was found that the exposure of environmental toxins may impact sperm motility, concentration, and/or morphology. Researchers believe that we can blame environmental toxins as the leading cause of the global decline of sperm count among men over the past few decades.
9. Groin injury
Surely you’ve heard that kicking a man “where it hurts” may have long-term effects on his fertility. While this won’t necessarily impact fertility in all cases, there is some truth to this. Other traumas to the groin, like through the continuous wear of restrictive clothing or dealing with a below-the-waist injury during sports, may cause low sperm count.
Even for couples who both have healthy, properly-functioning reproductive systems, only 20 to 25 percent of couples between the ages of 29 to 33 will successfully conceive in a given month. This is one of many statistics that prove to us that age can be a factor in fertility on a broad scale and, thus, may be one cause to low sperm count.
Regardless of age, it is still important for a man to get a sperm analysis if he believes he is experiencing infertility and wishes to reproduce.
Although there are other reproductive problems males may encounter from erectile dysfunction to delayed ejaculation, low sperm count is still a common concern for males around the globe. This reproductive issue may be one contributor or the sole contributor to a couple’s inability to conceive.
While it is enlightening to see what some of the potential causes of low sperm count are and what lifestyle changes a man could potentially make, the reason for a man’s reproductive setbacks can only be evaluated by a licensed doctor. If you or a loved one are suffering from reproductive problems, speak with a medical professional for advice.