Low Sperm Count – Causes & Treatment

May 2, 2024
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For a successful pregnancy, only one sperm is required to penetrate and fertilize the egg. However, for that one sperm to reach the egg successfully, many more sperms are needed. Did you know more than 39 million sperm are released per ejaculation? Yes, more than 39 million sperm and only one of these is required to fertilize an egg.

Low sperm count is one of the major fertility issues faced by men. One cannot just take a look at the semen and determine if the sperm count is okay or low. Only clinical testing of the semen can determine if the sperm count is as required or low.

What is Low Sperm Count?

Also known as oligospermia, low sperm count is when the number of sperm is lesser than 29 million per ejaculation. In most cases, only a sample of semen is tested. If the sperm count is lesser than 15 million per millimetre of semen, the sperm count is lower than desirable.

In oligospermia, the sperm count can be just below the required 15 million sperm per ML of semen or it can be even lesser than 5 million sperm per ML. When the sperm count is too low, it is known as severe oligospermia.

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What Causes Low Sperm Count?

It is very difficult to determine the exact cause behind a man’s low sperm count. One does not realize they have a low sperm count until the semen analysis and the semen will be analysed only when he is unable to father a child. Since low sperm count does not prevent pregnancy, there could be many men out there with low sperm counts and biological children without any fertility treatments.

Some of the possible reasons behind oligospermia are:

A man could have a problem resulting in low sperm count, right from birth. However, in most cases, it will be discovered only when he is an adult and is trying to have a child. By this time, he could be exposed to heat, toxins or infections. Hence, it can be difficult to find the exact cause behind a man’s low sperm count.

Symptoms of Low Sperm Count

One of the most prominent and easiest-to-spot symptoms of low sperm count is the inability to conceive. When a couple faces difficulty in conceiving, they will seek a fertility specialist. Fertility doctors will check both the male and the female to determine where the problem is.

Only when they test the semen can they determine if the sperm count is low or normal. Some of the other symptoms some men may experience due to a low sperm count are:

Impact of Low Sperm Count

The biggest impact of low sperm count is difficulty in conceiving naturally. A couple may take more time or may not even be able to conceive if the sperm count is very low. However, men have been able to father children despite a low sperm count.

Pregnancy is impossible only when there is zero sperm in the semen. This condition is called azoospermia. Oligospermia only reduces the chances of pregnancy. So, not every man with a low sperm count has a noticeable impact. This is why it is very difficult to document and get proper data for this disorder.

Low Sperm Count Treatment

Some of the treatment options to improve sperm count are:

  • Surgery – If your sperm ducts or blocked, thus preventing the sperms from coming out or if you have a varicocele, surgery can help fix it.
  • Supplements – Hormonal supplements can help restore balance and improve the sperm count that is affected by the imbalance.
  • Antibiotics – If the low sperm count is due to an infection, treating that infection with antibiotics can help treat low sperm count.
  • Counselling – If no treatments work and the cause cannot be determined, the only option is counselling. Some therapists can help men experiencing this issue, to accept the situation and overcome issues like erectile dysfunction.

Can You Cure Low Sperm Count?

Low sperm count can be rectified or reversed in certain conditions. If the low sperm count is due to certain medications or exposure to toxins or heat, then the sperm count can be improved by avoiding these factors.

However, if the low sperm count is due to genetics or other diseases, it might not be possible to cure or improve the sperm count to the desired level. It is advisable to consult a fertility specialist from a reputed fertility clinic, take the necessary steps and clinically determine the cause and treatment for oligospermia

Pregnancy Despite Low Sperm Count

One of the biggest concerns for men with a low sperm count is their ability to father a child. In many cases, men with low sperm count go on to father a child, even naturally.

Today, with the advancement of science and technology, one can even opt for fertility treatments like artificial insemination, to increase the chances of pregnancy. The lower the sperm count, the lower will the chance of pregnancy but it is still possible. The doctor will directly insert the sperm into the egg, so millions of sperm need not swim up the fallopian tubes to meet the egg.


Low sperm count is not an uncommon disorder but it is not well documented either. Since it is not a fatal condition, it does not interfere with regular life or physical activities. One can continue with their career, professional work or even exercises despite a low sperm count. The only area it will affect is the sexual life or attempts to father a child.