Low Sperm Count

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Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count – known as oligospermia – occurs when a man’s semen (fluid ejaculated from the penis) contains fewer sperm than is typical. A man is considered to have low sperm count if he has fewer than 15 million sperm per millimeter of semen. Having a low sperm count does not necessarily mean that a man will not be able to impregnate a woman, but it may make it more difficult.

Factors that may contribute to a low sperm count are:

  • Abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • Severe mumps infection after puberty
  • Hernia repair surgery
  • Hormone disorder
  • Exposure to poisons or radiation
  • Blockage caused by a prior infection
  • Regularly wearing very tight underwear
  • Prior injury to the groin area

Symptoms of a low sperm count include:

  • Decreased facial or body hair (a sign of a chromosome or hormone problem)
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Inability to impregnate a woman (infertility)
  • Low sex drive
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area

A man’s sperm may be considered to be in “poor health” or abnormal for two main reasons: an unusually short life span and/or low motility (difficulty “swimming”).


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