Low Sperm Count

One of the most common causes of male factor infertility is low sperm count. This means that the semen that is ejaculated during the male orgasm has a lower number of sperm than is usual. The medical name for low sperm count is oligospermia. The sperm count is considered low if there are fewer than 20 million sperm in a milliliter of seminal fluid.

Getting Pregnant

Having a low sperm count lowers a man's chances of being able to fertilize his female partner's egg, which means he has a harder time getting his partner pregnant. But despite this drawback, many men with low sperm counts go on to father children.

It may be possible to increase a man's sperm count if the source of the lowered count can be found and treated. But it's possible that both partners will need some help in boosting their fertility. Some couples may need to use artificial reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to become pregnant.  

No Symptoms

Other than not conceiving a child, there are no apparent symptoms of low sperm count. But in some instances of low sperm count, there may be a root cause, for instance some type of inherited hormone imbalance or perhaps some kind of obstruction that prevents sperm from passing through the testicles and such an underlying cause may cause symptoms or signs. Here are some of the symptoms that may be seen with a low sperm count:

*An inability to conceive a child

*Sexual dysfunction such as a lowered libido or erectile dysfunction

*Pain in the area of the testicles

*A swelling or a lump in the area of the testicles

*Signs of a hormonal imbalance or chromosomal or abnormality such as decreased body or facial hair.

See your doctor if you:

*Still haven't conceived after an entire year of unprotected intercourse at regular intervals with your partner

*Have trouble with sex drive or sexual function, for instance maintaining an erection or difficult ejaculation

*Find a lump or swelling in the area of your testicles or have pain

*Have had sexual problems in the past or have a history of prostate or testicle problems

*Have had surgery on your penis, testicles, or groin

The manufacture of sperm is a complex process that involves good functioning of the testicles, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary glands. These last two items are organs that are located in the brain and which produce the hormones that trigger the production of sperm.

Once the sperm have been produced within the testicles, fragile tubes help to carry them to the semen where they mix with this fluid and are ejaculated from the penis.  If anything goes wrong with any one of these steps, the production of sperm may be affected. Other sperm problems may also result, including abnormal shape (morphology) or slow movement (poor motility). In many cases, the cause of a low sperm count is never identified.

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