Low sperm count

Low sperm count means that the fluid (semen) you ejaculate during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than normal. A low sperm count is also called oligospermia (ol-ih-go-SPUR-me-uh). A complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Your sperm count is considered lower than normal if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.

Having a low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner's egg, resulting in pregnancy. Nonetheless, many men who have a low sperm count are still able to father a child.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

The main sign of low sperm count is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, an underlying problem such as an inherited hormonal imbalance, dilated testicular veins or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm may cause signs and symptoms. Low sperm count symptoms may include:

  • Problems with sexual function — for example, low sex drive or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosome or hormone abnormality

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you:

  • Are unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse with your partner
  • Have erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive or other problems with sexual function
  • Have pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicular area
  • Have a history of testicle, prostate or sexual problems
  • Have had groin, testicle, penis or scrotum surgery

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