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Sara Naap, Co-Founder, Sandstone Diagnostics
Vaginas are pretty tough defenders against the outside world, which is usually great for keeping everything healthy, and infection-free. However, when we are trying to conceive, these defense systems are all pointed directly at sperm, making the job of reaching the egg a difficult one. From formation to fertilization, the sperm cell is in constant danger, so men need millions of them to have even a small chance of conception.
So, what’s a normal sperm count?
Like most things about our bodies, there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to sperm count. On average, men produce anywhere from 40 million to nearly 1 billion sperm cells each time they have sex.
More sperm can help you conceive faster
It is hard to say exactly how many sperm you need to get pregnant, but here are a few rules of thumb.
- More is better: S analyses and home tests generally show a cut-off of about 15 million per mL of semen as “normal.” The truth is, many studies have shown that fertility improves as sperm count increases. To optimize your chances of conception, sperm count should really be higher than 55M/mL.
- Quality can make up for quantity: Men who produce healthier sperm don’t need as many to conceive. Improvements in motility or morphology can also improve chances of conception.
- Don’t dip too low: As sperm count goes down, chances of conceiving also go down. When sperm count dips below 10 million / mL, chances of conceiving naturally get pretty low, even when motility and morphology are within the normal range.
Does a low sperm count automatically mean we need IVF?
In-vitro fertilization is a miracle of modern medicine that has enabled millions of people to conceive who otherwise would never have been able to. However, having a low sperm count does not automatically mean that you have to go directly to IVF as a means to conception. Here are some things to do if you discover that your partner has a low count:
- Get healthy: Some simple ideas include avoiding things that can elevate heat below the belt, such as hot tubs or saunas, laying off on alcohol or cigarette use, losing weight, or starting a multivitamin regimen. For some men, just doing a few of these things has been shown to double or triple their sperm counts.
- Establish a baseline: Sperm count can fluctuate. Taking the average of two tests done a month apart is a simple way to get a baseline. With a test like the Trak® Male Fertility Testing System, you can test at home any time and get results as accurate as those from a lab.
- Talk to a urologist: Find a urologist who has specialty training in male reproduction. Talking to the right doctor will help you get to the heart of what’s going on, and what your options really are.
- Know the cut-offs: In the world of assisted reproduction, various studies have been done to correlate success rates of natural conception, IUI, IVF and IVF using ICSI with various sperm counts. It is important to get educated on the success rates and trade-offs between various procedures before making a decision about how to move forward.
Ultimately, conception is a team sport and a process that medicine cannot fully quantify. There is no “right” way to make it happen, but learning about each of your bodies and taking steps to improve your health can help open more doors.
A good way to start is to establish that baseline, and get a sense of your partner’s fertility. Consider trying Trak, an FDA approved home testing system and companion app that allows men to measure and improve their reproductive health from the comfort and privacy of home.
You do a lot track and improve your fertility, Trak can help your partner do the same. Get helpful tips about male fertility from Trak by signing up for their newsletter, just tap the button below and enter your email.
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