My husband has a low sperm count. What are our chances of having a baby? What do we need to do?
The first thing to remember is that a low sperm count is NOT the same as infertility — which is defined as trying to conceive without success for one whole year. Nor is infertility the same as sterility; the annals are filled with stories of couples for whom the stork came along years after they stopped filling the bird-feeder.
In cases that do not involve impotence or ejaculatory dysfunction, male infertility may be caused by a low sperm count, decreased spermatozoic motility or by some combination of the two. “Spermatozoic motility” refers to the ability of sperm to swim to the female egg awaiting fertilization. And experts vary on the definition of “low sperm count”; even among sperm donors of proven fertility, counts vary wildly.
According to a 1995 study, New York men would seem to be Nature’s odds-on favorites in the reproduction derby, with 146.4 million sperm per milliliter, while Seattle men had the lowest count, with 42.56 million sperm per milliliter. Is it all that coffee? Could be.
Sperm have proven to be pretty sensitive to a variety of nutritional factors. Pharmaceuticals — particularly steroids, antineoplastic agents and recreational drugs such as alcohol and marijuana — can negatively affect the process by which the body manufactures sperm. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have an impact as well. Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and zinc supplementation have all been shown to be of benefit to infertile men.
Another factor is testicular temperature: If you’re serious about getting pregnant, go out and buy your husband boxers; tight underwear holds testes closer to the body, which keeps them at a higher temperature – a spermatogenesis no-no.
And of course, the more sex you have, the greater chances you have of winning the lottery. Don’t give up hope!
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