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What Can Cause a Low Sperm Count?

There are a variety of different things that can cause a man to have a low sperm count. In fact, a low sperm count is actually the most common fertility problem among men. In some instances, a low sperm count may resolve itself. In other instances, you may be able to work with your doctor to resolve your low sperm count via medical treatments. However, in some cases it may not be possible to resolve the low sperm count at all.

The key is understanding what can cause a low sperm count. To do so, however, you need to understand what exactly is meant by a low sperm count. According to the World Health Organization, a normal sperm count that is not low will be at least 20 million sperm in every ml of your semen. For testing to be accurate, there should be at least 2 ml of semen. Therefore, in a typical sample of 2 ml of semen, there should be around 40 million sperm. If a man’s sperm count falls below this number, he is considered to have a low sperm count.

Many different things can cause a low sperm count. For example, a low sperm count is often due to a genetic defect. Men who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis, for example, may have a missing or an obstructed vas deferens (which is the tube that carries your sperm). Another relatively common genetic cause for a low sperm count is Klinefelter Syndrome. For a man who suffers from Klinefelter Syndrome, which means that they have two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, the testicles may be impacted which can cause a low sperm count. Another disorder, Kartagener Syndrome, can also lead to infertility problems in men.

Some lifestyle factors can cause a low sperm count, too. For example, too much stress can cause a low sperm count by interfering with your hormones. Other lifestyle factors that can cause a low sperm count include smoking and the use of illicit drugs. Nutritional choices, such as a deficiency of selenium, zinc, foliate and Vitamin C can cause a low sperm count. There are connections between exposure to heavy metals, too, as well as obesity.


Last modified: February 10, 2013


The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.