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What causes low sperm count?

It only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, but we are rarely honest about the fact that it can be rough for that one sperm to reach the promised land. The truth is that the more sperm you have, the better your chances.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to have a low sperm count, its possible causes, how to know you have a low sperm count, and what you can do about it.

What does it mean to have a low sperm count?

Low sperm count means that semen contains fewer sperm than normal.

In terms of numbers, it means that a person has less than 15 million sperm per one milliliter of semen. But alas! 15 million sperm sound like quite a lot! Well yes, it’s 15 million! But compared to the normal sperm count which is around 75 million per milliliter the 15 million is quite low.

What causes low sperm count?

Some common causes include:

  • Obesity
  • Trauma in the testicles, including from surgery
  • Certain medications such as those that treat arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, etc.  
  • Exposure of testicles to too much heat
  • Medical conditions such as Varicoceles,
  • Genetics – yes low sperm count could also be something you’re born with

How do I know I have a low sperm count?

The main sign of low sperm count is the inability to father a child – or get someone pregnant. Unfortunately, there might be no other obvious signs or symptoms.

So, how do I know for certain if I have this problem?

Through semen analysis.

Semen analysis involves a lab test that helps show the level of sperm production and whether sperm are functioning well. The test is most often done at least twice if sperm numbers are abnormal. In case you are wondering, semen is collected by having you masturbate into a cup.

In addition to the sperm number, the analysis can also look at sperm that help or hurt conception (fertilization), sperm volume, count, concentration, movement (‘motility’), and structure.

The results are out, now what?

Whether the results show low sperm numbers or no sperm, it does not automatically mean you are permanently infertile: further testing may, however, be necessary.  Even if no sperm are seen on a semen analysis, talk to your doctor about the available treatment options.

The truth, however, is that having a low sperm count decreases the chances of your sperm can fertilize an egg leading to pregnancy. However, it is possible for a man with a low sperm count to father a child.

Do you have any questions or want to share your experience? Talk to us in the comments section.

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LoveMatters Africa

Blush-free facts and stories about love, sex, and relationships