Male Fertility is often associated with sperm count. Whilst sperm count is important and a key determinant in assessing male fertility potential, it is also very important to investigate sperm quality. Sometimes a couple may be experiencing male fertility problems despite a normal sperm count because the sperm quality is poor.
What does sperm count mean?
No sperm – this is called azoospermia which is a medical condition that means there is no sperm in the ejaculate.
Low sperm count – this is called oligospermia which means that the sperm count is low when a man ejaculates. There are three types of low sperm count – mild, moderate or severe.
Normal sperm count – this is considered anything over 15 million sperm cells per millilitre of semen.
What about sperm quality?
Sperm quality is assessed by a DNA fragmentation test. This assesses the DNA quality of the sperm. DNA underpins the make up our cells so if the DNA quality of sperm cells is low it follows that it affects male fertility. It has been shown that high levels of DNA fragmentation are associated with male fertility problems.
What causes no sperm?
There are two reasons why there would be a lack of sperm cells in the semen; the first is that there isn’t any sperm being produced in the testicles this is non-obstructive azoospermia, the second being that there is a blockage preventing the sperm from reaching the ejaculate – obstructive azoospermia. Azoospermia affects approximately 10% of men with fertility problems and about 1% of men in the population as a whole.
When it comes to treatment options there are a few to consider and should be discussed with your consultant to see which is the most appropriate for you. These include:
- Specialist team – bringing together male and female fertility specialists is important get the best outcome for you and your partner.
- Lifestyle changes – discussing lifestyle changes with your consultant is important as excessive weight, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse can all impact sperm levels and fertility
- Medication – some medications can help address a hormone imbalance and others can help treat infections
- Surgery – this may be an option if the azoospermia is caused by blockage. Surgery would be micro tese or sperm retrieval
If you wish to speak to our specialist team please contact the practice here.