Figures suggest around one in three couples struggling to conceive are affected by fertility issues which is why spotting warning signs of a low sperm count is so important. Low sperm count doesn't mean that it's impossible to conceive but does mean that there could be difficulties.
According to the NHS, it's not always obvious what causes a low sperm count but a number of issues could be factors contributing to it such as a hormone imbalance, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and using drugs. Issues of a low sperm count often remain unknown until couples try to conceive, but now a Superdrug Online Doctor has shared the one warning sign which could be an indicator.
Surprisingly, 91% of Brits were unaware that a lack of facial hair could indicate a low sperm count. Additionally, seven in ten Brits weren’t aware that eating processed foods and having poor sleep can harm sperm health, too, Huffington Post reports.
Low sperm count, also known as oligozoospermia, is where there are fewer than 15 million sperm per millimetre of semen. It is actually very common. The NHS recommends that if you haven't managed to conceive after trying for one year to have a baby, you and your partner should see your GP to see what the contributors are.
Your GP can arrange a semen analysis, where the quality and quantity of the sperm is analysed and provided within a week. If further treatment is needed, you'll be referred to a specialist infertility clinic. There are several male fertility home-testing kits available to buy from pharmacies. These tests claim to indicate whether your sperm count is low. Although the NHS says it is better to see your GP for a proper semen analysis at an accredited laboratory if you're concerned about your fertility.
Causes of low sperm count, according to the NHS:
- a hormone imbalance, such as hypogonadism (reduced hormone production)
- a genetic problem such as Klinefelter syndrome
- having had undescended testicles as a baby
- a structural problem – for example, the tubes that carry sperm being damaged and blocked by illness or injury, or being absent from birth
- a genital infection such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or prostatitis (infection of the prostate gland)
- varicoceles (enlarged veins in the testicles)
- previous surgery to the testicles or hernia repairs
- the testicles becoming overheated
- excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and using drugs such as marijuana or cocaine
- certain medications, including testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), some antibiotics and some antidepressants
- being overweight or obese
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