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Low Sperm Count: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And More


Have you ever heard of a medical condition called oligospermia? No! It’s nothing but the low sperm count several men face.

Sperm count or health is a less bothered health condition compared to other diseases. But, it is one of the essential things to consider while thinking of having a baby. 

Sperm count is linked to male fertility. With a better sperm count, you may increase the chances of your sperm fusing into the egg. But, here, a low sperm count could play a spoilsport.

Currently, you might be curious to know all the science behind low sperm count. This article will answer all the questions you are stitching in your head.

What Is Low Sperm Count?

Oligospermia or low sperm count is a condition in which a men’s semen contains less than 15 million sperm per milliliter.

The sperm content is calculated by performing a semen analysis test. During semen analysis, the pathologist would take a drop of semen on a glass slide and count the number of moving sperm cells.

The semen analysis also checks other factors related to sperms like shape, motility, etc. The condition is quite common among men, as one of every three men may have a low sperm count.

The condition may not severely affect an individual’s health, but it may play a negative role when trying to conceive.  But, in some cases, men with low sperm count may have a child.

Low Sperm Count Signs

You may be able to detect[1] oligozoospermia by observing the following changes in your body and lifestyle.

  • Inability To Conceive Naturally

    If you are unable to conceive naturally without any record of your partner’s infertility, then it may be happening due to a low sperm count.

    Hence, you should undergo a semen analysis test to verify the doubt.

  • Swelling In Veins

    If you observe swelling or lumps formed in the veins arising from testicles, it could be a sign of low sperm count.

    Moreover, the swelling may cause intense pain in the veins to make you aware of the condition.

  • Erectile Dysfunction

    Erectile dysfunction is another possible sign of low sperm count in men. If you fail to hold a firm erection or experience lower blood flow to the penile tissues, it may be due to low sperm count.

  • Decreasing Facial And Body Hair

    Losing facial and body hair is a visible change for a man. It could be a sign of low sperm count if you are experiencing a sudden loss of body and facial hair.

What Causes Low Sperm Count?

Low sperm count could be caused by multiple lifestyle choices and previous medical conditions. Some of the reasons linked to low sperm count could be as follows:

  • Smoking, Drinking Alcohol, And Drug Abuse

    Any harmful substance abuse could play a negative role on sperm’s health. These substances release harmful toxins[2] that alter the sperm’s shape, size, motility, and count.

  • Consuming Some Prescription Medication

    Some prescribed medicines for health conditions like diabetes[3] might be good for lowering blood sugar levels, but they may hamper sperm production.

    Moreover, these medicines may be responsible for decreasing male fertility.

  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    If you are previously diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, it may cause a blockage or damage to the reproductive system. Hence, the testicles may not produce enough sperm due to the blockage.

    A few clinical trials[4] also showed that impaired sperm motility in HIV+ men may be mediated by activated seminal leucocytes, which could induce oxidative stress on sperm.

  • Patients With Cystic Fibrosis

    Any patient with cystic fibrosis or an individual genetically carrying cystic fibrosis may suffer from oligozoospermia. Cystic fibrosis is responsible[5] for blocking the entry of sperm into the semen.

  • Low Immunity

    Immunity[6] has a significant role in a sperm’s production and success. If you have low immunity, you may face difficulty producing enough sperm.

  • Testicles Overheating

    Testes need an optimum temperature that is lower than the body temperature to start sperm production. But, overheating the testicles may affect sperm production.

    Several conditions like sitting in a place for a more extended period or keeping a laptop on your lap could increase the temperature of the testicles, hence, affecting sperm production[8].

  • Stress And Depression

    Long-term stress or depression may hurt sperm production. Several studies[8] have mentioned that people suffering from depression are diagnosed with low sperm count.

  • Testosterone Boosters And Other Supplements Consumption

    Testosterone boosters and other supplements may reportedly contain anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are considered a cause[9] of male infertility, hence, they may affect sperm production.

    Moreover, by consuming weight gain supplements, you may lower sperm production. It is believed that excess weight[10] could be a significant cause of low sperm count.

Low Sperm Count Treatment

  • Surgical Method

    You may be able to get back the average sperm count by undergoing surgical treatment. The lumps or swelling in the veins or blocked vas deferens could be surgically treated.

    Moreover, using the surgical method, you may directly extract sperm from testicles and epididymis using the sperm retrieval method.

  • Taking Medication For Infections

    Viral and fungal infection in the genital area hampering sperm production could be treated by taking antiviral and anti-fungal medicines.

    Moreover, several antibiotics also help in the treatment of reproductive tract infections.

  • Treating Hormonal Imbalances

    Hormonal imbalances may be caused by multiple reasons, but they may be curable with proper medication.

    In hormonal imbalances like testosterone deficiency, doctors may prescribe you some medication to keep the level within the normal range.

  • Treating Sexual Health Conditions

    Several sexual health conditions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation could be easily treated.

    You may require some medications and lifestyle changes to get yourself back on track. 

  • Asking Doctors To Change Medication

    As mentioned earlier, some medications may hurt sperm production.

    Hence, you may ask your doctors to change the medication to avoid adverse effects that bother you.

  • Lifestyle Changes

    Lifestyle changes may not have an immediate impact, but they may help you treat the condition effectively[11]. It would be best to avoid smoking and consuming alcohol and drugs to normalize your sperm count.

    Moreover, keeping yourself relaxed and active may help you elevate your sperm count.

    Having said all that, you could also follow and make these natural changes to improve sperm count.

How To Check Low Sperm Count At Home?

The semen analysis test may give you an approximate sperm count, health, and other related information. You may perform a semen analysis test at home by following the below steps:

  • First, you have to collect the semen in a sample tube used for the analysis. 
  • Now transfer the semen into the analysis device to get the reports. Generally, you may get the reports within a few minutes of transfer. 
  • A selective protein of sperm is used to detect the sperm count. 
  • In case of a negative result, the protein content is low, and you may have a low sperm count and vice versa. 

Hence, if you get negative results, consult your physician for further fertility evaluation and treatment.

Does Low Testosterone Means Low Sperm Count?

Low testosterone levels may not mean low sperm count, as sperm production may not be stimulated by testosterone alone. 

Moreover, the testes’ amount of testosterone required for sperm production might always be present. 

Hence, people suffering from low testosterone levels might have sufficient levels of testosterone necessary for sperm production. 

Therefore, it may not be possible to say that low testosterone is the same as low sperm count. 


You might not always get enough signs of low sperm count, but periodic semen analysis tests may help you detect the issue. 

If you find any problem, immediately consult your physician and undergo a preferable treatment to get your sperm count back to normal.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies. 

  1. Naina Kumar and Amit Kant Singh. Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2015 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 191–196. doi: 10.4103/0974-1208.170370.
  2. Travis Merritt, Jan Mazela, Allen Merritt. Tobacco smoking and its consequences on reproductive health: the impact of a lifestyle choices including cigarette smoke exposure on fertility and birth defects. Przegl Lek. 2013;70(10):779-83. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24501794/.
  3. V Calle-Guisado, L Gonzalez-Fernandez, D Martin-Hidalgo, et. al. Metformin inhibits human spermatozoa motility and signalling pathways mediated by protein kinase A and tyrosine phosphorylation without affecting mitochondrial function. Reprod Fertil Dev. 2019 Apr;31(4):787-795. doi: 10.1071/RD18256
  4. E Umapathy. STD/HIV association: effects on semen characteristics. Arch Androl. Sep-Oct 2005;51(5):361-5. doi: 10.1080/014850190924124. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16087564/.
  5. G R Dohle, D J J Halley, J O Van Hemel, et al. Genetic risk factors in infertile men with severe oligozoospermia and azoospermia. Hum Reprod. 2002 Jan;17(1):13-6. doi: 10.1093/humrep/17.1.13. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11756355/.
  6. Stuart Wigby, Susan S. Suarez, Brian P. Lazzaro, et. al. Sperm success and immunity. Curr Top Dev Biol. 2019; 135: 287–313. Published online 2019 May 15. doi:10.1016/bs.ctdb.2019.04.002
  7. S.A.R. Mortazavi, S. Taeb, S.M.J. Mortazavi, et al. The Fundamental Reasons Why Laptop Computers should not be Used on Your Lap. J Biomed Phys Eng. 2016 Dec; 6(4): 279–284. Published online 2016 Dec 1.
  8. Artur Wdowiak, Agnieszka Bień, Grażyna Iwanowicz-Palus, et. al. Impact of emotional disorders on semen quality in men treated for infertility. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2017 Feb;38(1):50-58.
  9. Rabih El Osta, Thierry Almont, Catherine Diligent, Nicolas Hubert, Pascal Eschwège, and Jacques Hubert. Anabolic steroids abuse and male infertility. Basic Clin Androl. 2016; 26: 2. Published online 2016 Feb 6. doi: 10.1186/s12610-016-0029-4.
  10. Understanding the Increased Risks to Your Health. How Excess Weight Affects Your Health. Available from: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/how-excess-weight-affects-your-health.htm
  11. Rakesh Sharma, Kelly R Biedenharn, Jennifer M Fedor, Ashok Agarwal. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013 Jul 16;11:66. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-11-66. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23870423/.

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