Is a Low Sperm Count the Reason for Your Infertility Concerns? A Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Test Can Help

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Infertility is a concern that can affect both men and women. While commonly referenced as a female related issue, a concern with the male partner is often the cause for around 40 percent of couples experiencing difficulties. Of the males that fall into this category, low sperm count is sometimes to blame.

Low Sperm Count

A male with a low sperm count, medically known as oligospermia, is one who produces an amount of sperm that falls below the normal level during ejaculation. You are diagnosed with this condition if you are producing fewer than 15 million sperm per ejaculation.

When your production rate falls below this threshold, this does not mean you will be unable to produce a child. However, it does drastically reduce your chances, as a smaller sperm count comes with a smaller chance that one of your sperm will meet your partner's egg and fertilize it.

Common Causes

Low sperm count can occur for many reasons, and an underlying medical cause is often to blame. Certain sexually transmitted diseases can cause scarring in the outlet through which sperm escapes during an orgasm. The scarring doesn't lower the sperm production, but it prevents all the sperm from coming out.

A person who suffers from a hormonal imbalance might also deal with this if the hormone affected is responsible for sperm production, such as the adrenal gland. Everyday life situations can also influence sperm count. A male who is obese, is highly stressed, or is a drug or alcohol user might also have a lower count.


In many instances, an individual is not made aware of this difficulty until they are having a hard time conceiving a child. A follicle-stimulating hormone test is generally ordered to make this detection. This testing is non-invasive and only requires that you have a small sample of your blood collected.

In the lab, the sample is examined to determined what level of follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, is present. Based on this information, a physician can determine if your sperm count is low, normal or nonexistent, known as azoospermia.

A low sperm count does not mean your chances of conception are zero, but it does present a challenge. However, it is a challenge you can work through with the help of your physician, often by making lifestyle and dietary adjustments. A follicle-stimulating hormone test can reveal the results and put you on the path to expanding your family. Talk to a doctor like those at the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine for more information.