March 2022

Can I get pregnant if my partner has a low sperm count?

A low sperm count, also called oligospermia, is where a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen, while the average is around 75 million sperm per millilitre of semen. This condition is often a major cause of male infertility. [1]



There are many reasons why a man might have a low sperm count, and in some cases, it may not be obvious as to what’s causing the problem.

Some common risk factors can include being obese, having experienced trauma or surgery in or around the testicles, and taking certain medications that can interfere with sperm production. Other risk factors that have been linked to a low sperm count include:

  • Smoking tobacco, which has been proven to decrease fertility in men as it affects sperm volume, sperm count, and sperm mobility.
  • Drinking alcohol – especially binge drinking – can cause impotence and affect sperm quality.
  • Drug use can affect hormone levels in the body and lead to DNA damage. About 30 percent of marijuana smokers have low sperm counts. [2]
  • Diabetes, which is often caused by being overweight, is linked with lower levels of testosterone.
  • The testicles being overheated can result in a lower count as they need to be kept cooler than the rest of the body to produce sperm.

The causes listed above are just several among many, many more. Luckily, most of them are related to lifestyle choices and environmental factors that can easily be changed in order to reverse the effects of infertility.



The good news is yes, you can! While it may be harder than if he didn’t have a low sperm count, it’s by no means impossible.

You’re probably aware that having a low sperm count can significantly make it more difficult to conceive naturally, and although it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, the journey getting there can be a tough one! So, the more sperm your partner has, the better. Be that as it may, many men with a low sperm count are still able to father a child successfully.

To increase the chances of conception, men that have a low sperm count should consider incorporating certain lifestyle choices that can help increase sperm production and overall wellbeing by doing things such as obtaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.


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If you're still not having any luck getting pregnant with your partner after several failed attempts, then treatment might be the next step for both of you to take. Options for men include:

  • Surgery – although rare – can be used to repair a blockage in sperm transport or to correct enlarged veins (varicocele).
  • Hormone treatments and medications can be used in cases where infertility is caused by high or low levels of hormones or problems with the way the body uses hormones.
  • Treatment with antibiotics can be used to treat infections that interfere with the reproductive tract.
  • Treatments for sexual intercourse problems such as medications or counselling can help improve fertility with conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
  • In vitro insemination (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is one of the most popular forms of fertility treatment. These two procedures combined can increase the success rate for men with a low sperm count.


There’s one more simple thing you can do that isn’t listed above, and that’s to just keep on trying and to give it time. Unless your partner’s sperm count is absolutely zero, there’s always the possibility that you can conceive successfully with him.



[1] Low sperm count - NHS (

[2] How Does Marijuana Affect Male Fertility? | Urology Associates of Colorado | Denver Urologists (

[3] Low Sperm Count: Causes, Signs, Treatment, Pregnancy Chances (

[4] Low sperm count - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic

[5] 5 treatment options for men with low sperm count (