What Causes Low Sperm Count and How is it Treated?

April 29 2024 4:10pm

man and a doctor

In the realm of reproductive health, the quantity and quality of sperm plays a crucial role in conceiving a baby. However, a common issue that affects many couples worldwide is low sperm count, medically known as oligospermia. Understanding the causes behind this condition and exploring the available treatment options is essential for those facing fertility challenges. Let’s delve into the intricacies of low sperm count and shed light on potential solutions.

Causes of Low Sperm Count

Several factors can contribute to a decrease in sperm count, ranging from lifestyle choices to underlying medical conditions. Here are some of the primary causes:

Lifestyle Factors:

  • Poor diet: Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in vitamins C, D, and zinc, can impact sperm production.
  • Substance abuse: Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs can hinder sperm production and quality.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese may lead to hormonal imbalances, which can affect sperm count.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of regular physical activity has been linked to decreased sperm count.

Medical Conditions:

  • Varicocele: This is a condition characterised by enlarged veins within the scrotum, which can impair sperm production.
  • Infections: Certain infections, such as STIs or reproductive tract infections, can damage sperm production.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Disorders affecting hormone levels, such as hypogonadism or thyroid disorders, may lead to low sperm count.
  • Genetic factors: Inherited conditions like Klinefelter syndrome can result in reduced sperm production.

Environmental Factors:

  • Exposure to toxins: Prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals, or radiation can adversely affect sperm production.
  • Heat: Elevated temperatures in the testes, often caused by frequent sauna use, tight clothing, or prolonged laptop use on the lap, can impact sperm production.

Treatment Options for Low Sperm Count

Addressing low sperm count typically involves a multifaceted approach tailored to the underlying causes and individual circumstances. Here are some common treatment options:

Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide essential nutrients for optimal sperm production.
  • Limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and avoiding illicit drugs can improve sperm quality and overall reproductive health.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and physical activity can help balance hormone levels and enhance fertility.


  • Hormone therapy: In cases of hormonal imbalances, hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed to normalise hormone levels and stimulate sperm production.
  • Antibiotics: If an underlying infection is identified as the cause of low sperm count, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and restore reproductive health.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: For conditions like varicocele, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.

Assisted Reproductive Techniques:

  • IVF: IVF involves retrieving sperm from the male partner and eggs from the female partner, fertilising them in a laboratory setting, and transferring the resulting embryos into the woman’s uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: ICSI is a procedure involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg to facilitate fertilisation, bypassing any barriers caused by low sperm count or poor sperm motility.
  • Intrauterine insemination: During IUI, sperm are washed and concentrated before being inserted directly into the woman’s uterus during ovulation, increasing the chances of fertilisation.

Surgical Interventions:

  • Varicocelectomy: Surgical repair of varicocele aims to remove or redirect the enlarged veins in the scrotum, potentially improving sperm production and quality.
  • Testicular sperm extraction: In cases of severe male infertility, sperm can be retrieved directly from the testes through PESA or TESE for use in assisted reproductive procedures.

Low sperm count can pose significant challenges for couples trying to conceive, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, many underlying causes can be addressed effectively. Lifestyle modifications, medications, assisted reproductive techniques, and surgical interventions offer hope for couples struggling with fertility issues.

Seeking guidance from a qualified healthcare provider is crucial for developing a personalised treatment plan that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of each individual or couple. By understanding the causes of low sperm count and exploring the available treatment options, couples can embark on their journey towards parenthood with confidence and optimism. Please feel free to contact us should you have any concerns about your reproductive health, or if you’re interested in IVF or other treatments – we’re here to help.


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