Understanding low sperm counts
When facing infertility, one of the most important parts of the evaluation is to determine whether there are low sperm counts. At our New Braunfels fertility center, part of the initial evaluation involves a semen analysis for the male partner.
Assessing low sperm counts
Because 40% of couples struggling with infertility have some male factor, the semen analysis is a very important test. For the semen analysis, the man will collect a specimen in a cup either at home or in our private collection room. Our trained andrologist will then analyze the sperm.
Low sperm counts are very common and can have several different causes. When making the appointment for a semen analysis, it is important to follow the instructions when it comes to the time since the last ejaculation. If the man collects the sample too soon, the test may detect falsely low sperm counts. Also, if the man has had a high fever within the last two months, low sperm counts may be found that do not actually represent his fertility potential.
One common cause of low sperm counts is testosterone use. Using any type of testosterone or pre-testosterone (boosters) can significantly reduce the number of sperm. Often, we can reverse this effect by stopping the testosterone or by changing or adding medications. However, prolonged testosterone use can have lasting effects on sperm production.
If very low sperm counts are found during your evaluation at our New Braunfels fertility center, Dr. Susan Hudson may recommend some additional testing as well as provide a referral to a fertility-trained urologist. The recommended testing will generally include hormonal testing. This involves testing testosterone levels, FSH (the hormone from the brain that stimulates testosterone production from the testes) and TSH (thyroid hormone). In some cases, chromosomal testing is recommended to make sure the man has the right number of chromosomes or that the Y chromosome is complete.
Treatment for low sperm counts
Low sperm counts can make it harder to become pregnant, but there are some excellent treatment options available. Some men will start taking vitamins that contain certain antioxidants to improve sperm parameters.
Dr. Hudson may also recommend intrauterine insemination (IUI) for mild sperm count abnormalities. In vitro fertilization (IVF) with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) may be recommended when there are very low sperm counts. The option of using donor sperm is also available when IVF/ICSI is not an option or in the complete absence of sperm. Dr. Hudson will help you find the best treatment for you based on your specific clinical situation.
Contact our New Braunfels fertility center to schedule an appointment.