Low Sperm Count Treatment

Causes, Testing, Diagnosis, and Treatment for Males with Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count is a condition called oligospermia. This is the term used to describe the condition when the sperm count is low, less than 15 million sperm/ml. If there are no sperm at all in the semen sample, the condition is termed azoospermia. In cases of low sperm or no sperm, we recommend coming in for an appointment to examine male fertility factors and medical history. For the medical history, specific questions will be asked about any past condition that may have affected the testicles. The specialist will also ask questions regarding whether there were any operations in the groin area, undescended testicles in childhood or whether there has been any major injury or infection in the genital area. Take our online questionnaire for self-evaluation.

Infected semen can be a cause of infertility. Previously it was believed that mumps could cause sterility in men. However, it is now known that even when the testicles are involved in mumps such as orchitis (a very painful swelling of the testicles), it is extremely rare for this to lead to sterility.

What Causes Low Sperm Count?

Heat can have a detrimental effect on normal sperm production. It is for this reason that nature has placed the testicles outside the body in the scrotum rather than in the abdomen like the ovaries. Some infertile men soak themselves in a bathtub full of hot water this can almost stop sperm production completely.

Obese men can also become sterile because the sagging layers of fat can overheat the testicles. Men whose jobs involve long hours of sitting, e.g. long distance lorry-drivers may have infertility due to the increased heat to the genital area.

Very frequent intercourse can lead to the demand exceeding the supply. There are quite a number of infertile men whose sex drive is such that they must ejaculate 2-3 times a day. This explodes the myth that links infertility to lack of virility. It can be extremely difficult for these men to reduce their ejaculation rate to every 48 hours.

Smoking over 20 cigarettes a day has been shown to reduce both the sperm count and sperm motility.

Excessive alcohol intake can lead to infertility. Alcohol can lower the production of sperm and of the male hormone testosterone.

The workaholic husband may find that fatigue can interfere with his desire for intercourse, reducing the opportunities for conception.

What Problems May Be Identified During Examination

Every infertile man must be carefully examined. The examination of the external genitalia in the male rarely shows anything out of the ordinary. However, sometimes one or both testicles are very small or rarely may even be absent. Additionally there may be congenital absence of each vas deferens, the ducts through which sperm pass from the testicles to the female at intercourse.

Other factors which may contribute to lowered fertility, and which can be identified on examination include a wide range of chemical substances that can affect sperm quality and/or quantity, including medications. The medications listed below have been associated with male infertility:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Antihypertensives
  • Allopurinol
  • Erythromycin
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cimetidine
  • Colchicine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Dilantin
  • Gentamycin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Tetracycline

Low Sperm Count Treatment

Treatment options for men with low sperm count vary depending on the cause of the condition.  For example, surgery is the most common treatment for men suffering from varicocele.  For low sperm count due to infections of the urinary/reproductive tract, antibiotics can be prescribed to help clear the infection. Medication and hormone replacement treatment options can also be used when the cause of low sperm count is related to a hormone imbalance.  In cases of low sperm motility, assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments would be used to facilitate conception by inserting sperm into the female reproductive tract.

Additional Resources

Learn more about male infertility and possible treatments for low sperm count:

Male Infertility Overview
Cures for Male Infertility
Treatments for Male Infertility


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