The Observer (Kampala)

13 November 2012

Uganda: Doctor - Sauna Overuse Can Lower Sperm Count

analysis

Dear Doctor,

We have been married for 7 years with no children. My wife did all fertility tests which were normal and recently the doctor recommended a sperm count for me which was found to be low. Are there any foods I can eat to improve it? James, 43.

Dear James,

Low sperm count is one of the leading causes of male infertility. While it refers to the low number of sperms per millilitre of ejaculate, it also covers the percentage of sperms with normal shapes and ability to move.

Normal fertile men produce between 20-40 million sperms per millilitre of semen with more than 50% of them having normal shapes and can swim normally. If numbers are below 15 million sperms per millilitre of semen and/or less than 50% normal shapes and ability to move, you are considered to have a low sperm count.

There are a number of medical causes including certain STDS(gonorrhoea),mumps, injuries to testes, undescended testes and hormonal imbalances. Environmental exposure to X-rays, chronic alcohol use, exposure to heavy metals and industrial chemicals as well as overheating the testes as in saunas and steam baths overuse, can cause low sperm counts. In 70% of cases the cause is unknown.

While there are no specific foods that improve sperm count, depending on the cause, lifestyle changes can increase your sperm count. Regular exercising, losing weight if obese and reducing harmful chemicals like alcohol and other drugs may help.

A number of causes can be treated with drugs especially infections; anatomical anomalies can be surgically corrected and hormonal imbalances sorted. Some couples even when the husband has a low sperm count can still conceive if they make use of the fertility window of the woman (ovulation and unsafe days). In case of failure, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) including In vitro fertilization (IVF) can help. Please see your gynaecologist for detailed help.

For all your reproductive health queries , write to: SMS to 0788026929 or write doctor and SMS it to 8777

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