What Does Sperm Count Mean?
Sperm count is the number of sperm in a semen sample. Sperm count is measured during a semen analysis, which is typically performed on men undergoing fertility testing. A low sperm count does not mean it is impossible to achieve pregnancy, but it may make the process more difficult.
A typical ejaculation contains as many as 15 million to 200 million sperm per mL of semen. Sperm concentrations below 15 million per mL or counts below 39 million sperm per ejaculate are considered subnormal according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and may interfere with conception.
FertilitySmarts Explains Sperm Count
Male factor issues are thought to be solely responsible for around 20% of infertility in couples and a contributing factor in another 20-30% of couples. An analysis of sperm count can provide insight into a man’s chances of contributing to a successful pregnancy and help determine which treatments, including assisted reproductive technology (ART), may be required.
Sperm count is just one of many parameters examined in both a semen analysis and an overall examination of male infertility. Men with significantly low sperm count have oligospermia, while men with no sperm have azoospermia.
What causes a low sperm count?
A low sperm count may be caused by:
- Age, particularly after age 50
- Lifestyle factors
- Endocrine problems, including pituitary disorders, including hypogonadal hypogonadism
- Diseases affecting the testicles, including varicoceles
- Genetic disorders, including Klinefelter’s disease
- Cancer treatments
Ways to Improve Sperm Count
General ways for men to improve their sperm count include:
- Maintaining a normal weight and body mass index (BMI)
- Refraining from smoking, drinking, and drug use
- Eliminating household toxins
- Wearing loose-fitting underwear
Treatments may include:
- Hormone treatments for endocrine problems
- Surgical repair of underlying conditions such as varicocele or an obstructed vas deferens
Conceiving a child with a low sperm count can also be achieved with assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) like intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).