What is Low Sperm Count it's causes, symptoms and treatment


Low Sperm Count: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Low sperm count, also known as oligospermia, is a condition where the semen a man ejaculates during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than normal. This condition can impact a man's ability to father children and can be a source of significant stress and anxiety.

Causes of Low Sperm Count

Medical Causes

  • Varicocele: A swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, which can affect sperm production.
  • Infections: Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health.
  • Ejaculation Issues: Retrograde ejaculation or blockages in the ejaculatory ducts can prevent sperm from being present in the semen.
  • Hormone Imbalances: Disorders affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary, and testicles can affect sperm production.
  • Defects in the Tubules that Transport Sperm: Blockages or issues in these tubes can lead to a low sperm count.

Environmental Causes

  • Overheating the Testicles: Frequent use of saunas or hot tubs can temporarily lower sperm count.
  • Radiation or X-rays: Exposure can reduce sperm production, potentially permanently.
  • Heavy Metal Exposure: Lead and other heavy metals can affect sperm production.

Lifestyle and Health Factors

  • Drug Use: Anabolic steroids, marijuana, and cocaine can lower sperm count.
  • Alcohol Use: Excessive drinking can lower testosterone levels and reduce sperm production.
  • Tobacco Smoking: Smoking is linked to lower sperm counts.
  • Stress: Severe or prolonged emotional stress can interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm.
  • Weight: Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm.

Symptoms of Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count itself does not typically produce symptoms other than the primary one: the inability to conceive a child. However, an underlying problem such as an inherited chromosomal abnormality, a hormonal imbalance, dilated testicular veins, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm can cause signs and symptoms. These might include:

  • Problems with sexual function (e.g., low sex drive or difficulty maintaining an erection)
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosome or hormone abnormality


To diagnose low sperm count, a semen analysis is usually performed. This involves providing a semen sample, which is then analyzed under a microscope to determine the number of sperm present.

Treatment of Low Sperm Count

Medical Treatments

  • Surgery: For example, a varicocele can often be surgically corrected, or an obstructed vas deferens can be repaired.
  • Treating Infections: Antibiotics can cure reproductive tract infections, but this doesn't always restore fertility.
  • Hormone Treatments and Medications: Hormone replacement or medications can treat a low or high level of certain hormones.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity can impact sperm count and quality.
  • Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity can increase the levels of powerful antioxidant enzymes.
  • Avoid Substance Abuse: Avoid drugs, tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can affect hormone levels related to sperm production.
  • Avoid Overheating the Testicles: Reduce exposure to hot tubs and saunas.

Frequently Asked Questions about Low Sperm Count

What is considered a low sperm count?

A low sperm count is defined as fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.

Can low sperm count be treated?

Yes, treatment options are available and can include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery, depending on the cause.

What lifestyle changes can improve sperm count?

Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol, quitting smoking, managing stress, and avoiding overheating the testicles can help.

How is low sperm count diagnosed?

Low sperm count is diagnosed through a semen analysis, which involves examining a sample of semen under a microscope.

Can low sperm count cause other health problems?

While low sperm count primarily affects fertility, it can be associated with other health issues, such as hormonal imbalances and genetic conditions.

Is low sperm count permanent?

Not necessarily. Many cases of low sperm count can be treated or improved with medical intervention and lifestyle changes.

Can diet affect sperm count?

Yes, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve sperm count and quality. Avoiding processed foods and high-fat diets is also beneficial.

Does age affect sperm count?

Yes, sperm count and quality can decline with age, particularly after the age of 40.


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