Low sperm counts in the semen are a defining feature of the medical illness known as oligospermia, which affects men. A healthy quantity of sperm in a man’s semen is typically required to impregnate a woman. According to information provided by WHO in 2009, oligospermia is a condition when there are less than 15 million sperm per millilitre (mL).

Three groups can be generated from oligospermia:

  • When there are 10 to 15 million sperm per millilitre, there is mild oligospermia.
  • Sperm counts between 5 and 10 million sperm/mL are considered moderate oligospermia.
  • When the sperm count is between 0 and 5 million sperm/mL, there is severe oligospermia.

Causes of oligospermia:

Causes of illness include:

Hormonal imbalance: The hormones necessary for sperm production are produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. When these hormones change, sperm production is affected. 

Ejaculation Problems: When semen returns to the bladder instead of leaving the penis, this is called retrograde ejaculation. This condition reduces sperm count and can lead to male infertility. 

Undescended testicles: Males born with this condition may have low fertility. During fetal development, a person’s fertility is affected if the testes do not descend from the abdomen into the scrotum forming the scrotum. 

Anti-sperm antibodies: Certain cells in the immune system called anti-sperm antibodies tend to mistake sperm for harmful invaders and kill them, resulting in low sperm counts. 

Chromosomal abnormalities: Certain genetic disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, Kallmann’s syndrome, and Kartagener’s syndrome can cause abnormal development of the male reproductive system. 

Obstruction: Obstruction is one of the main causes of oligospermia. Occlusion of the vas deferens due to cystic fibrosis or an abnormal occurrence such as damage from previous surgery or infection can reduce the flow of semen. 

Trauma and injury: Some surgeries, such as vasectomy, hernia repair, scrotal surgery, and prostate surgery, can reduce the sperm count in the ejaculate. 

Certain drugs: Certain drugs, such as antifungal drugs, antibiotics, antiulcer drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and testosterone replacement therapy, can affect sperm production in the body. 

Environmental Factors: Exposure to chemicals, radiation, and heavy metals can reduce sperm production.

Symptoms of oligospermia

Some men have no obvious signs or symptoms of oligospermia. The disease is diagnosed only when it is difficult to conceive a child. However, if a man has oligospermia due to other underlying problems such as chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, or blockages, certain signs and symptoms may occur. Let’s look at the following symptoms of oligospermia:


  • Swelling, pain, lump in the testicle. 
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, in which an erection cannot be maintained during sexual intercourse. 
  • Decreased facial and body hair growth and other signs of chromosomal abnormalities and hormonal imbalances. thick discharge.
  • The veins in the scrotum are dilated and swollen. 
  • If a viral infection causes this problem, you may feel a slight burning sensation while urinating.

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, your best option is to seek help from a fertility specialist as soon as possible. He/she will further diagnose the condition and administer treatment accordingly.

Risk factor

Many risk factors are associated with low sperm count. The risks of oligospermia are:

  • Unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs
  • Being overweight
  • Depression and stress in work and family life
  • Have had certain infections in the past
  • Exposure to toxins and chemicals
  • The testicles are exposed to extreme heat
  • Trauma or damage to the testicles
  • Taking certain medications
  • Cryptorchidism – Undescended testis
  • Have a chronic disease or tumor that requires treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy
  • Genetic and chromosomal abnormalities can cause this infertility

Oligospermia is caused by a variety of medical, genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. While certain aspects are unavoidable, there are other known factors that can be prevented to protect fertility. 

Living a healthy life, keeping stress at bay, and avoiding exposure to chemicals are some of the effective ways to produce healthy sperm. If you suffer from oligospermia for genetic and medical reasons, proper treatment may improve your productivity.


Diagnosis of Oligospermia

Testing and diagnosis of the condition may involve the following:

  • Semen analysis
  • Scrotal ultrasound
  • Hormone blood testing
  • Post-ejaculation urine analysis
  • DNA Fragmentation Index 
  • Genetic tests
  • Testicular biopsy
  • Anti-sperm antibody tests
  • Specialized sperm function tests
  • Transrectal ultrasound

Treatment of oligospermia

There are various ways to treat this condition, including:

  • If varicocele or vasectomy is the cause of oligospermia, it can be easily corrected or restored with surgery.
  • Proper medication and hormone therapy can increase sperm count in some cases.
  • Maintaining a good and healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and avoiding smoking and alcoholism can improve sperm count to some extent.
  • If all else fails, consulting a fertility specialist is the next best option. Doctors can help you with assisted reproductive therapy.

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