Oligospermia and Pregnancy

by Garreth Myers


Oligospermia and pregnancy are quite intricately linked. Oligospermia is one of the forms of male infertility and can make it difficult for a couple to conceive. Oligospermia is when the quantity of sperm in the semen is very low. Women who have no fertility problems will not face too many problems conceiving; however, if a woman has lowered fertility levels, Oligospermia can drastically reduce the chances of conceiving.

Research over the years has been able to distinguish the different problems that can cause male infertility. For the longest time, all problems were clubbed under male infertility. Today there is a distinction between lower quantities of sperm to reduced sperm motility. Oligospermia is different from azoopermia – a term for semen that has no sperm cells or asthenozoospermia which is reduced sperm motility.

Oligospermia is also known as oligozoospermia. Occasionally, in the case of oligospermia, along with reduced sperm cells in the semen, the sperms might also have reduced motility. In such cases, the condition is known as oligoasthenoteratozoospermia.

Infertility in men is very common in today's day and age due to the decreased quality of life. Lifestyle choices like drugs, alcohol or smoking, strenuous bicycle riding or exercising, and constant medication can all affect the quality and life of men’s semen.  

Other risks that can lead to oligospermia include:

  • Early puberty
  • Exposure to toxic substances or radiation of any form
  • Hernia
  • Undescended testicles
These are certainly not all the causes that are responsible for male infertility or oligopsermia but are the main causes of it:

  • Despite good hormonal health, sometimes age can affect fertility levels
  • Genetic defects or abnormal chromosomes
  • Trauma to the testicles
  • Diseases like malaria or mumps
  • Hypogonadism
  • Obstructions in ejaculation
  • Obstruction or absent vas deferens
  • Infections like prostatitis
Sometimes the causes for oligospermia are idiopathic or inexplicable which means that the cause of the condition cannot be identified. Basic cell or mitochondrial changes, environment pollutants, infections like Chlamydia trachomatis or subtle hormonal changes can also lead to oligospermia.

There are genetic diseases that can also cause deficiencies in sperm, either directly or indirectly. Some of them are:

  • Noonan syndrome
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Sex reversal syndrome

Occasionally this condition can have some symptoms too. Along with infertility, the man can also feel a burning sensation during urinating, testicular pain, or discharge from the penis. If the patient also suffers from varicocele veins, then he may also suffer from swelling in the scrotum.

Oligospermia, like most other male fertility conditions, can be diagnosed only after a complete fertility work up. A work up involves taking a complete medical history of the patient which involves a question and answer session with the doctor, a detailed physical examination, and testing of the semen sample. The treatment is suggested based on either the cause or the depth of the problem. If the oligospermia is caused by an infection or a treatable condition, the causative condition is treated and usually the oligospermia is corrected. Occasionally there maybe surgical intervention needed to remove a physical obstruction like a vas deferens. Another treatment that has shown promise in the treatment of oligospermia is a therapy of low dose oestrogen testosterone therapy.

In cases where it is not possible to correct oligospermia, and the partner is also reproductively challenged, then, the doctors suggest conception through IVF or In vitro fertilization. Sometimes intrauterine inseminations are also successfully carried out.

References:

  1. http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mens_health/male_factor_infertility/pages/index.aspx
  2. http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_of_male_infertility_000067_4.htm

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