November 2022

What does it mean when you have a low sperm count and what causes this?

As far as male infertility goes the term low sperm count is often thrown around. Many men are told they have a low sperm count and that is why they are having a hard time conceiving with their partner. This may seem like a scary or disheartening diagnosis, but it is important to be informed about what this means and what you can do to improve your situation.


What is a low sperm count?

Oligozoospermia is the official term for having a low sperm count. This occurs when a man has less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. A low sperm count can make it more difficult to conceive. This does not mean that conception is impossible. Issues with sperm count and quality are quite common. This impacts one-third of couples trying to conceive. You should get your sperm count checked if you have been trying to conceive for a year with no luck. Your doctor can give you a semen analysis. This will determine the quality and quantity of your sperm. You can do this test with your general practitioner. If the results of your test show a low quality and or quantity of sperm your GP will generally refer you to a specialist. [1]


What causes a low sperm count?

It can be difficult initially for doctors to find out why you may have a low sperm count. The actual cause may not ever be found. There are some more common medical causes for a low sperm count that include:

  • Varicocele is the swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. This is easily fixed by doctors.
  • Some infections can hurt sperm production. This includes some sexually transmitted infections.
  • Ejaculation issues can cause a low sperm count.
  • Cancerous and nonmalignant tumors can impact sperm count.
  • Hormone imbalances can create issues with sperm.
  • Certain medications can also affect sperm count.
  • Emotional stress and depression can also negatively impact sperm count.


There are many different reasons that you or your partner may be experiencing a low sperm count. It is important to see a doctor and speak honestly about any health or emotional changes you have felt recently. Good communication with your doctor can help you in resolving this quicker. [2]


How can having a low sperm count be treated?

There is not one solution to having a low sperm count. The treatment often depends on what is causing the issue. Some possible treatments include:

  • Surgery can treat varicoceles and blockages. This kind of surgery is usually minor and performed outpatient.
  • Medication may be prescribed for infections in the reproductive tract.
  • Counseling may help some struggling with mental health issues.
  • Hormonal treatments address hormonal imbalances.


There are many different treatments for having a low sperm count. This is a positive part of this diagnosis, there are many ways to fix the issue. Having a low sperm count shouldn’t feel like a permanent diagnosis. There are many things you can do to improve or fully fix the issue. It is important to be patient and diligent with any treatment plan your doctor prescribes. [3]