Tips for getting pregnant with low sperm count
Are you and your partner trying to conceive but are struggling due to low sperm count? If so, you are not alone. Low sperm count is a common issue that often impacts the ability to get pregnant. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to increase your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. In this blog post, you can find tips that can help improve your sperm count but also examples of other ways to become pregnant with low sperm count.
What is low sperm count and how does it impact fertility?
Sperm count refers to the number of sperm cells in an ejaculation. You will be diagnosed with low sperm count if your semen contains less than 15 million sperm cells per millilitre of semen. Sperm count will impact fertility, as a low amount of active sperm cells makes it harder for you to conceive naturally.
Testing your sperm count
The only reliable way to determine a man's sperm count is through a sperm quality test, also known as a semen analysis. During this test, a sample of semen is collected and examined under a microscope to determine the count, shape, and motility of sperm present. The results of the sperm quality test can help provide answers in terms of whether you need fertility treatment or not, and which type of treatment you should choose.
3 tips to increase sperm count
Lifestyle factors play a crucial role in your sperm count. Many studies have proven that an unhealthy lifestyle affects your sperm count negatively. As a result, one of the most recommended ways of increasing your sperm count is to focus on a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Here are some tips you can follow to increase your sperm count:
1. Exercise and sleep
Being overweight can affect testosterone levels, which in turn can reduce sperm count. On the other hand, being underweight can also harm fertility. Try to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
One of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle is sleep. Lack of sleep can affect hormone levels and reduce sperm production. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night to help improve your fertility.
2. Food and supplements
As mentioned earlier, a healthy and balanced diet is essential when trying to conceive. Your diet could consist of fruits, vegetables, and antioxidants which all have been linked with causing an increase sperm count. Try to exclude fatty food, which has been proven to harm your fertility. Other types of foods, that are said to help improve your fertility, are:
- Whole grain food
Another way to increase your sperm count is through vitamins and supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and Zinc. Before adding any supplements to your food, we recommend you consult your doctor to maximize the effect on your sperm count.
3. Limit your intake of substances like cigarettes and alcohol
Studies have shown that substances like cigarettes and alcohol hurt your fertility. Cigarettes are known to decrease sperm count and motility, and alcohol can reduce testosterone, thus damaging sperm production. After you quit smoking and alcohol, your sperm count often improves in a matter of months.
Treatment options for men with low sperm count
If the change in lifestyle does not create any results, another option is to try fertility treatment. When struggling with low sperm count, there are two types of fertility treatment available: IVF (in vitro fertilization) and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). In this section, we will explain the various fertility treatments available for men with low sperm count and how they can use them on their journey towards fatherhood.
ICSI treatment – the most effective fertility treatment for men with low sperm count
The difference between ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and IVF is how the sperm cell fertilizes the egg. In ICSI treatment, one sperm cell is injected straight into the egg with a small needle, to increase the chances of conception. The difference in the method of fertilization makes ICSI optimal for men with low or almost no sperm count, as it only requires one good sperm cell per egg and removes any obstacles the sperm cell may face on the way to the egg.
There is also a difference in terms of cost, as ICSI treatment is more expensive than IVF. Furthermore, some men, who are diagnosed with azoospermia, may need sperm retrieval before an ICSI treatment is possible which will also add to the cost. Therefore, we recommend you consult a doctor before making any decision on the type of fertility treatment.
Azoospermia and sperm retrieval
A total absence of sperm cells in the ejaculate is known as azoospermia, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to conceive naturally. It is possible to conceive despite struggling with azoospermia, as the problem can occur during ejaculation and in sperm quality. If the problem occurs during ejaculation, it can be possible to have sperm retrieved through a medical procedure called TESE, also referred to as sperm retrieval. In this procedure, a fertility doctor surgically extracts sperm from the testicles. Hopefully, the sperm cells extracted are of good enough quality to be injected into an egg, thus increasing the chance of fertilization. If sperm quality is the problem, and no sperm cells are in the ejaculation or testicles, there is no chance of conception and other options should be used.
IVF treatment for men with low sperm count
Another option for men with low sperm count is IVF treatment, as it offers a higher chance of conception by placing the sperm and egg together in a controlled environment. After the sperm is placed alongside the eggs and fertilization hopefully occurs, they are moved to an incubator where they can continue their growth. If fertilization is successful, the resulting embryos are transferred into the uterus of the woman.
Success rates with fertility treatments
Fertility treatments are often an effective solution for couples struggling to get pregnant. However, the success rate of these treatments varies and depends on several factors, such as the age and overall health of the partners, the cause of infertility, and the type of treatment. Here below you can read about the different success rates with fertility treatments:
- According to the NHS, the percentage of IVF treatments that have resulted in births is 32% for women below the age of 35, which decreases as the woman becomes older.
- According to the HFEA, the success rates for ICSI treatment tend to be very similar to IVF treatment, but in some cases have shown to be slightly higher than those of IVF.
Remember that success rates are an average of different women and fertility treatment processes. If you are more interested in the success rates for each treatment, then contact a fertility clinic near you and ask them what to expect.
Fertility treatment with donor sperm
If fertility treatment with your own sperm does not help you achieve pregnancy, another option is to use donor sperm. By using a sperm donor, the female partner still gets to carry the child and have the genetic relation. This may not be the way you planned to start your parenthood, but through the years, donor sperm has helped many couples make their dream of a child come true. If you would like to know more, you can read other men’s stories about fatherhood through sperm donation:
- Toyah and her husband had three children thanks to a sperm donor
- Being a dad to a donor-conceived child: I’m lucky to be a father
- Using a sperm donor to get pregnant – How Verena and Enrico fulfilled their dream of a family
The emotional and psychological impact of infertility
Navigating through infertility can be a difficult and emotional journey that affects your mental health and well-being. The feelings you experience when struggling with infertility may be compared to the feelings experienced when losing someone you love. Recognizing and understanding the five stages of grief can help you better navigate your emotions as the pressure of trying to conceive can hurt you and your partner's relationship. Couples may experience feelings of isolation, as many struggle with infertility in silence. They may feel a stigma surrounding infertility, which makes it hard to share their feelings with others.
If you are struggling with infertility, we recommend you seek support from your friends, family, a support group, or a professional. Talking to someone who understands what you are going through can provide comfort and help you cope with infertility. It is important to remember to take care of yourself and your well-being.
At Cryos we are here for you if you decide to have a baby with help from a sperm donor. Our Customer Care Team is ready to answer any question you might have, or you can join the Facebook group Family Dreams, where you can meet other people who have or consider having children with help from a sperm donor.
If you are curious to know what information you can get about sperm donors, you can click the button below to see our Donor Search.