What we look for in good sperm
Conceiving requires good sperm. However, did you know that today you will produce what could impregnate your partner three months from now? Lifestyle changes can cultivate top performers, so ask a fertility doctor for suggestions. Plan to abstain from excess alcohol and all tobacco and illegal drugs. Also, maintain a healthy weight.
No matter which precautions you take, abnormalities in production or function cause about 40% of all infertility cases. If you have tried for one year or longer to get pregnant with no success, a fertility doctor will order and evaluate a semen analysis.
Quantity for good sperm
It only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg. The average number a man ejaculates falls between 10 and 100 million. It would seem the odds of getting pregnant are in your favor, right?
A low count, anything below 10 million sperm in a milliliter (about half a teaspoon), can greatly decrease the chances for getting pregnant. That’s because a large percentage never make it to the egg.
Even if millions of sperm get deposited during sex, a limited number of survivors make it into the uterus. An even smaller number actually find their way to the fallopian tubes. Once in the fallopian tube, very few sperm travel all the way to meet the egg. Think of fertilization as a 20K road race held in the dark, uphill and over rough terrain. Only the strong survive.
Morphology (shape) and motility (movement)
A “normal” shape like a tadpole with an oval head and a long tail. In a semen analysis, we want to see more than 30% of a man’s sperm match this physical description.
You’ve heard sperm called “little swimmers” and it’s an apt description. Ejaculation propels sperm, but they must actually move head and tail in synch to “swim” the final distance to meet the egg. Ideally, more than 50% of them should be alive and able to propel forward in a straight line.
Doctors can help you
- Medication can sometimes help you overcome a low count caused by a hormonal imbalance.
- If your count is a little low, your sperm don’t swim very well or if you have a very low number of normally shaped sperm, intrauterine insemination (IUI) enables doctors to place washed, prepared semen directly into the uterus.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) can help almost any type of abnormality. During this process, an embryologist adds a high concentration of motile, normal sperm to a small droplet of fluid containing one egg in a controlled lab environment.
- If your count is extremely low, embryologists can actually inject a single sperm directly into your partner’s egg using a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Some guys may need a consultation with a urologist to correct an anatomic abnormality. In very rare cases donor sperm may be the best solution.
Regardless of the treatment you need, rest assured that male factor infertility can be successfully treated in almost every case. For more information on male infertility and sperm visit http://www.txfertility.com/09men.php