Oligospermia is the condition where the man’s sperm sample contains a low sperm count. A sperm count lower than 16 million sperm per millilitre is considered lower than normal and is considered oligospermia. Men with oligospermia may decrease the chances of pregnancy, or it may take longer to happen. But men with oligospermia are generally able to have a child by natural or ART methods.


The symptoms of low sperm count may include

  • Impaired sexual function may include low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
  • Pain, lump and/or swelling in the testicular area.
  • Reduced body and facial hair. These may be signs of hormonal or chromosomal abnormalities.

Visit your fertility expert if you experience

  • Problems with erection and/or ejaculation.
  • Pain, lump, swelling or discomfort in the testicular area.
  • A past surgery in the pelvis are.
  • Past sexual, testicular or prostate problems.

Oligospermia may have many different causes, some of which are listed below.

  • Medical cause
  • Varicocele
    • infection and inflammation
    • Ejaculation issues like retrograde ejaculation or lack of ejaculation.
    • Anti-sperm antibody presence.
  • Cancers and tumours
  • Undescended testicles
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Tubular abnormalities that interfere with the sperm transport system
    • Chromosome defects
  • Celiac disease
  • Past surgeries
  • Consumption of medications
  • Environmental causes
  • Toxins like industrial chemicals and heavy metal
  • Radiation
  • Long term exposure of the testicles to high temperatures
  • Lifestyle cause
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Occupation that calls for prolonged sitting or exposure to heat.
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Medical history and physical examination
    You will be asked about health problems, injuries, surgeries, medications and inherited conditions you may have. The doctor will also collect information about your sexual habits. A thorough physical examination will then follow to rule out any apparent physical problems.
  • Semen analysis
    Fertility experts will test the semen sample provided by you to spot abnormalities. If you receive a poor semen analysis result, you have to undergo a second test. If you have lesser than 16 million sperm per millilitre, you may be diagnosed with a low sperm count.
  • Other tests
    Your doctor may ask you to go through one or more of the tests mentioned below depending on the results of the semen analysis to determine the cause of the low sperm count.

    • Scrotal ultrasound
    • Hormone testing
    • Post-ejaculation urine analysis
    • Genetic tests
    • Testicular biopsy
    • Anti-sperm antibody tests
    • Specialised sperm function tests
    • Transrectal ultrasound

The treatment of low sperm will depend on the cause.

  • Surgery
    • Varicoceles obstructed vas deferens and vasectomies can be restored through surgery.
  • Retrieval of viable sperm
    • Viable sperm can be retrieved from the testes or epididymis using sperm retrieval methods to be used for artificial insemination or other ART methods of pregnancy.
  • Infections are treated accordingly.
  • Medication and counselling for sexual intercourse problems.
  • Hormone treatments and medications to help hormonal issues.

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