Abnormal/low sperm count - Causes of Male Infertility

Around 75% of cases of male infertility are due to a low or abnormal sperm count.

The medical term for low sperm count is oligospermia and this is now defined as 10 million/ml of semen although this figure used to be set at 40 million/ml. The reason for this is that if your female partner is young and healthy then a sperm count as low as 10 million/ml can still achieve conception.

Bear in mind that sperm counts do vary over time so a temporary low count is not uncommon. So, if you undergo a fertility test which reports a low sperm count then this may not be an accurate reading.

An abnormal sperm is one that it is abnormally shaped which makes it more difficult for that sperm to travel through the fallopian tube and fertilise an egg.

There are certain drugs such as anabolic steroids, sulfasalazine and chemotherapy medication which can cause a low sperm count.

Another factor is that of trauma or injury to the testicles. If you have sustained an injury to your testicles or have undergone surgery for testicular cancer then your sperm count will be affected.

Other aspects to take into account are sperm movement and shape. The shape and movement of a sperm can determine how likely it is to fertilise an egg. As you can guess a sperm which is oddly shaped or moves very slowly is unlikely to fertilise an egg.

The medical term for low quality sperm is dysspermia.

Ideally you need 60% normal sperm to guarantee fertility so quality can be more important than quantity.

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