12 Causes of Low Sperm Count, Treatment

Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count is a common cause for concern among a number of married men with problems of infertility. It can be very frustrating to be married for long & not be able to get your wife pregnant & have the joy of being a father.

A normal man produce about 1,500 sperm per second and over 2million sperm per day.

Masturbation has NOT been known to reduce sperm quality, sperm production or sperm count, hence, it is not a cause of low sperm count.

Table Of Content

What is Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count is a medical condition that happens when a man ejaculates less sperm than the expected amount. It covers a decrease in both the quality & quantity of the sperm.

Low Sperm Count
Sperms in Motion. Image Credit: IVI-Fertility

Factors that are considered when accessing sperms include;

  • Semen Volume: This refers to the total amount of semen that was Ejaculated by the man. It is expected that a man without any problems should be able to produce at least 1.5ml with each ejaculation. If it is less than 1ml, then we have a problem.
  • Sperm Concentration in the Semen: The fact that a man is ejaculating does that mean that the ejaculation is useful. The man might ejaculate but there would be no Sperm (the main thing that is needed) in the ejaculate. This is what is called “Shooting blank”. Just imagine shooting a gun, but no bullet is coming out. You would just be hearing kpowa, kpowa as if its knockout that you are blowing. For a normal man, it is expected that there would be about 15 million sperms in each ml of semen that was ejaculated. Plenty right?
    Yes! That is the amount of sperms that would go and hustle one egg. If its below 12 million, then there is a problem somewhere.
  • Vitality (Live sperm): that Oga has produced 15 million sperm in 1 ml of ejaculate, does not mean that all the sperms are alive. All the sperms there could be dead. It would now be checked to ensure that the number of live sperms is enough to get a woman pregnant & this require at least 58% of the sperm to be alive. That us over half of the 15 millions sperms should be alive. You would wonder why would the sperm be dead in the first place? We would tell you later.
  • Morphology of the Sperm: you would say what is this one again. This means the shape of the sperms, to know of they are OK. That they are alive does not mean they are not deformed. So, this refers to the amount of living sperms that are OK. It should be at least 4%.
  • Amount of Motile Sperm: Now, that the sperms are OK does not mean that they can move & you know that the sperms have to move to meet the egg. If they cannot swim, they would stay there in the vagina after you have deposited them, and you trust women now, the egg would not go anywhere to come and meet the sperm. So the egg must move. You need at least 31% of the sperms to be moving.
  • PH: this one is just the condition around the sperm. It doesn’t need to be acidic or too basic. It just need to be about normal. Just around 7.2. Dont bother your head with this one.

Before submitting your semen for testing, we would recommend that you do not have sex or masturbate for between 2-4 days.

Semen analysis should be done only once in 3 months. That means,
If initial one is abnormal, you would have to wait at least 3 months before you try again. This would allow enough time for regeneration of Sperm. Also, because an abnormal result can be caused by a viral infection. It needs to be given time for recovery.

What is the Cause of Low Sperm Count

There are a number of reasons that can lead to a decrease in the number & quality of your sperms. Some could be due to underlying medical problems the man has, some due to environmental factors and others due to lifestyle as well as diet.

  • Some medical causes include
  • Varicocele:
  • Infections like STDs, gonorrhea and HIV: Spermatogonial cells that produce the sperm can be damaged by these Infections.
  • Sometime, sperm production may be normal but there are erectile difficulties or problems with ejaculation. some men ejaculate into the bladder.
  • Cancers and cancer treatment: Chemotherapy used in cancer treatment also affects sperm production. Example in Prostate cancer.
  • Having undescended testicles: pelvic radiotherapy or surgery for this can damage the cells producing sperms or block the pathway where the sperm passes through.
  • the epididymis that stores the sperm can also be damaged.
  • Hormone problems
  • Some medications
  • Conditions such as diabetes also affects sperm production.
  • Genetic causes has also been implicated. E.g: klinefelter’s syndrome.

All these can cause low sperm count.

Environmental causes include
• Radiation
• Heavy metal exposure
Heat: around the scrotum and testicles like when you stay too long in hot baths too often, wearing tight underwear as a man, sitting for too long (like long distance drivers) or working on a laptop for too long.

All these can ruin sperm count.

How to know you have low sperm count

Commonest sign is difficulty getting a woman pregnant. Other signs are:
• low sex drive
• difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
• Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle
• Decreased facial hair
• Reduced body hair too.

What to do about it?

Anyone having infertility problems in their marriage are advised to see a doctor, especially a urologist. He or she will examine your testicles, will also test your semen and based on the findings, will work out a treatment plan for you.

Treatment depends on the cause:
It could be surgery, hormone treatments or otherwise.
See available options in treatment of infertility here.

Thanks for reading! Share the awareness!


  • Obasi Chinedu David attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in ituku-ozalla, Enugu state, Nigeria.

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