Low Sperm Count Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment


When you have a low sperm count, less sperm than normal are present in the fluid (semen) that is released during an orgasmic experience.

Oligospermia is another name for a low sperm count  A zero sperm count is referred to as azoospermia. You have a low sperm count if there are less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.

The likelihood that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner's egg and cause pregnancy is decreased if you have a low sperm count. Nonetheless, a lot of guys with low sperm counts can still become a parent.


The complex procedure of sperm generation is dependent on the correct functioning of the testicles (testes), as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, two brain organs that produce hormones that promote sperm production. 

The fragile tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis, where they join with semen, are where they go after they are produced. Any of these systems may encounter problems that have an effect on sperm production. Moreover, aberrant sperm morphology, motility, or function issues may arise. Low sperm counts typically have unexplained causes, though.

Many medical conditions and therapies can result in low sperm counts. A few of these are:

Varicocele. A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins that drain blood. the sperm. The most common curable cause of male infertility is this. Although the precise origin of varicoceles causing infertility is uncertain, poor testicular temperature control may be a contributing factor. Varicoceles result in a decline in the sperm's quality.

Infection. Certain infections might affect sperm health or production, or they can lead to scarring that prevents sperm from passing through. They include certain sexually transmitted illnesses, such as gonorrhea or HIV, as well as inflammation of the testicles or epididymis (orchitis). Although certain illnesses can cause irreversible damage to the testicles, sperm is often still retrievable.

Ejaculation difficulties. When semen during orgasm enters the bladder rather than coming out of the tip of the penis, this is known as retrograde ejaculation. Many medical problems can result in insufficient or retrograde ejaculation.

diabetes, spine injuries, and bladder, prostate, or urethral surgery are all conditions that might affect ejaculation.

One kind of medication that may have an adverse effect on ejaculatory function is alpha-blockers, which are prescribed to treat high blood pressure. While some ejaculatory problems are reversible, some cannot be. Sperm may still be taken straight from the testicles in the majority of situations when there are persistent ejaculation issues.

Sperm-attacking antibodies. Immune system cells called anti-sperm antibodies wrongly see sperm as dangerous intruders and make an effort to eliminate them.

Tumors. Male reproductive organs can be directly affected by cancers and benign tumors, indirectly through reproductive hormone-producing tissues like the pituitary gland, or through unexplained reasons. Male fertility may also be impacted by tumor-related surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Undescended testicles. Sometimes during development, one or both testicles fail to drop from the abdomen into the sac that houses the testicles (scrotum). Reduced fertility is more likely to affect men with this condition. The brain, pituitary, and testicles all create hormones necessary for the generation of sperm. Sperm production may be hampered by changes to these hormones as well as those from other organs including the thyroid and adrenal gland.

Defects in the sperm-transporting tubules. Sperm travels through a variety of tubes. They may become blocked for a number of reasons, including as unintentional harm from surgery, past infections, trauma, or improper growth, like in cystic fibrosis or other genetic diseases.

Chromosomal flaws. Male reproductive organs grow abnormally as a result of inherited conditions like Klinefelter's syndrome when males are born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome instead of one X and one Y. Kartagener's syndrome, Kallmann's syndrome, and cystic fibrosis are a few further genetic disorders linked to infertility.

Celiac illness. Male fertility may be affected by celiac disease, a digestive disorder brought on by a sensitivity to gluten. With the adoption of a gluten-free diet, fertility may improve.

Certain medicines. Male fertility can be decreased and sperm production is hampered by testosterone replacement treatment, long-term anabolic steroid usage, chemotherapy, some antifungal and antibiotic medicines, some ulcer medications, and other drugs.

Prior operations. Certain operations could prohibit Vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgery, prostate surgery, or big abdominal surgery conducted for testicular and rectal malignancies, among others, which might prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate. In the majority of instances, surgery can be used to remove these obstructions or to remove sperm straight from the testicles and epididymis.

Causes by the environment

The following environmental factors, when overexposed to, can have an impact on sperm function or production:

Chemicals used in industry. Low sperm counts may be caused by prolonged exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, paints, and lead.

Exposure to heavy metals. Lead exposure or exposure to other heavy metals can also cause infertility.

X-rays or radiation. Sperm production may be lowered by radiation exposure. The restoration of sperm production might take several years. The generation of sperm may be irreversibly decreased by high radiation exposures.

The testicles are getting too hot. High temperatures interfere with sperm growth and function. Regular use of saunas or hot tubs may momentarily lower sperm count, however, the evidence is inconsistent and scant.

Long periods of sitting, tight clothes or prolonged use of a laptop computer can all raise the temperature in your scrotum and somewhat lower sperm production.

Health, way of life, and other factors

Insufficient sperm production may also result from:

Using drugs. When used to increase muscle mass and strength, anabolic steroids have the potential to shrink testicles and lower sperm counts. Usage of cocaine or marijuana may also result in a decrease in sperm quantity and quality.

using alcohol. Drinking Alcohol can diminish testosterone levels and impact sperm count.

Occupation. Certain professions, like welding or those involving extended sitting, like truck driving, may increase the chance of infertility. Yet, the evidence for these connections is contradictory.

Cigarette smoking. Smoking may diminish sperm counts in men compared to non-smokers.

Emotional tension. Extreme or prolonged emotional stress, especially stress connected to fertility, might have an impact on the hormones needed for the generation of sperm.

Depression. The concentration of sperm may be negatively impacted by depression.

Weight. Obesity can reduce male fertility both directly and via changing hormone levels in addition to having a detrimental impact on sperm.

Difficulties with sperm testing. By analyzing a sperm sample that was collected, it is possible to discover lower-than-normal sperm counts.

How to check if you have a Low Sperm Count?

See a doctor if any of the following apply to you and you have not been able to conceive after a year of consistent, unprotected sexual activity or earlier:

  • Low sex desire, issues with erection or ejaculation, or other issues with sexual function
  • Testicle region ache, pain, bulge, or swelling
  • A background of testicular, prostate, or sexual issues
  • A scrotum, penis, testicles, or groin operation

Risk Factors

Low sperm count and other issues that might result in low sperm count are connected to a variety of risk factors. They consist of:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Using certain illegal substances
  • Having a lot of stress or melancholy while being fat
  • Possessing certain ailments, either current or historical
  • Having toxic exposure
  • A testicle overheating
  • Having undergone a testicular injury
  • Possessing certain medical issues, such as malignancies and persistent diseases
  • Undergoing radiation therapy for cancer
  • Using certain drugs
  • Previous vasectomy, significant abdominal surgery, or pelvic surgery
  • Having already had undescended testicles


The inability to conceive a child is the primary indicator of low sperm count. There could be no other obvious symptoms or warning signs. Signs and symptoms may be brought on by an underlying issue in certain men, such as inherited chromosomal abnormalities, a hormonal imbalance, dilated testicular veins, or a disorder that prevents sperm from passing.

Symptoms of a low sperm count may include:

  • Issues with sexual performance, such as decreased sex desire or trouble keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Having discomfort, oedema, or a bump around the testicles
  • Hair loss on the face or body, as well as other signs of chromosomal or hormonal problems


Avoid recognised variables that might lower sperm quality and quantity to safeguard your fertility. For instance:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Restrict or avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid using illegal substances.
  • Discuss drugs that may lower sperm count with your doctor.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Prevent heat.
  • Stress management.
  • Avoid being exposed to pollutants such as pesticides and heavy metals.


Low sperm count remedies include:

Possessing certain ailments, either current or historical. An earlier vasectomy can be undone. Sperm may frequently be extracted straight from the testicles or epididymis using sperm retrieval procedures in situations where there are no sperm in the ejaculate.

Infection treatment.  Although antibiotics can treat a reproductive tract infection, fertility is not always returned.

Treatments for issues with sexual activity. In cases of erectile dysfunction or early ejaculation, medication or counseling might assist to enhance fertility.

Medicines and therapies for hormones. In circumstances when infertility is brought on by high or low levels of particular hormones, or issues with how the body functions, your doctor may advise hormone replacement or drugs.

Use of assisted reproduction techniques (ART). Depending on your unique circumstances and preferences, ART treatments may entail acquiring sperm by routine ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from donors. The sperm are then either utilized for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or they are injected into the female vaginal canal.

Whenever a therapy fails

Seldom are unfixable male reproductive disorders the root reason for a man's incapacity to father a child. If so, you and your spouse may want to think about utilizing donor sperm or adopting a child.

Complications of Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count-related infertility can be difficult for both you and your spouse. Possible complications include:

  • Surgery or other therapies for the underlying reason behind low sperm count
  • Costly and time-consuming assisted reproductive methods, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Stress brought on by not being able to have children


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Page last reviewed: Mar 17, 2023

Next review due: Mar 17, 2025

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