Approximately 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving and, in 50% of these couples, the problem lies wholly or partly with the male partner. This is typically a problem with his sperm; low sperm count, low sperm quality and/or or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm .
What’s more, scientific studies have found that sperm count has dropped by as much as 50% in the last 40 years due to a range of lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, alcohol and lack of exercise. A shocking truth, especially considering the amount of women that undergo harsh fertility treatment when the issue is male related. Therefore a key issue here is education; if men can improve their fertility naturally there may be no need for his partner to undergo fertility treatment.
You can read Geeta’s article Why Boys Should Also Receive Fertility Education in Schools in the Huffington Post.
What is a very low sperm count?
A male has a low sperm count when there is less than 15 million sperm per millilitre of his semen.and a very low sperm count when there is less than 1 million/ml of semen . A sperm motility rate of less than 32% is also considered low, as is an abnormal morphology rate (shape of sperm) which is higher than 97%.
Find out more about male infertility parameters.
How to improve your sperm count and mobility
You can improve your chances of conceiving naturally in a number of ways, many of which will boost both male and female fertility. However, it is important to note that fertility decreases with age. Hence, men younger than 40 have a better chance of fathering a child than those who are older than 40. This is because they have fewer healthy sperm than younger men, and the amount of semen and sperm motility (the ability to move towards the egg) gradually decreases from 20 to 80 years.
“Outside of the effect of age on fertility, men must understand the role played by lifestyle choices. Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, using recreational drugs, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight all have a bearing on sperm quality and quantity” - says our Medical Director, Professor Geeta Nargund
Therefore, a man can increase his sperm count naturally by:
- Moderating alcohol consumption
- Stopping smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy balanced diet
- Reducing stress
- Try and keep your testicles at their ideal temperature of 37C (/slightly cooler than body temperature)
How quickly can you increase sperm count?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to increase male sperm count very quickly. Whilst many men attempt to live a healthier lifestyle once they start trying for a baby, it takes the body at least three months to create new sperm.
To guarantee a man’s efforts are worthwhile, they should be making lifestyle changes many months ahead of time and keep them in a routine.
Is your struggle to conceive really because of male infertility?
As there are many factors that influence fertility, it is recommended that a couple’s first step is to have a couple’s fertility test if they are struggling to conceive. This will provide both you and your partner with a comprehensive understanding of your fertility, and a joint consultation will enable you to ask questions and plan for the future: be that with or without additional fertility help.
Treatment for male infertility
When a couple has tried to increase sperm count naturally for a prolonged period of time and have been unable to fall pregnant, many seek out some fertility assistance.
Fortunately, ICSI is an excellent fertility treatment for couples where male factor infertility is the issue or there is a fertilisation problem. During this procedure, an embryologist will select a normal motile sperm and inject it directly into the fluid contents of an egg cell, which helps increase the chances of fertilisation. This is then transferred to the woman’s womb.
However, it is important to note that ICSI is an invasive procedure, so it is a standard practice to attempt to improve male fertility first.
If you would like to find out more about your sperm count, or enquire about fertility treatment for infertility, please get in touch with our friendly team.