Oligospermia: Low Sperm Count

The testicle is a high-powered machine that typically cranks out over 1,000 sperm per second. Sometimes, the machinery can get gummed up, slowing down sperm production.. This article explores in-depth how sperm production is measured, what causes a low sperm count, how many sperm it takes to make a baby and what men can do to improve sperm production.

How sperm count is reported on lab results

Lab reports will often report two separate numbers for sperm count. The first is sperm concentration (sometimes called sperm count) and the second is total sperm count. What’s the difference? Sperm concentration is is the number of sperm in each milliliter of semen and the headline result that most people refer to when discussing male fertility, total sperm count refers to the total number of sperm in the entire sample. The amount of semen impacts the total number of sperm cells available in the sample. Calculate total count by multiplying the concentration by the volume. The table below shows a couple of examples:

Sperm Concentration Semen Volume Total Sperm Count
10 Million per mL 2 mL 20 Million
10 Million per mL 5 mL 50 Million

Semen volume is an important parameter to consider when evaluating sperm count. Alone, a sperm concentration of 10M per mL would be considered a “low” sperm count. But if accompanied with a high semen volume, the total sperm count is may not be that low.

How labs measure sperm count

To understand the challenges associated with semen analysis, imagine a 10,000 gallon pool full of thousands goldfish and you wanted to count them. How would you do it? You could stand there and try to count them all. But they are swimming so it’s difficult to keep track of which fish you already counted. You could reach in and scoop out a gallon jug full, count the fish in the jug and then multiply by 10,000 to estimate the total number. What if you scoop out a jug with water but no fish? Obviously there are fish in the pool. What if the jug has too many fish and they are moving too fast to count them?

The most widely accepted method for counting sperm is to view a small fraction of a semen sample under a microscope and counting the sperm cells. Special microscope slides called hemocytometers contain a visual grid to make it easier for a technician to count the cells. The grids are cleverly designed to make math simple so a technician can easily calculate how many million cells are in the sample based on how many sperm are in each square and how many squares the technician counts.

Some labs have computer-aided semen analysis (CASA) machines that take a video of sperm cell swimming under the microscope and use analysis software to automatically count and characterize sperm. Various other technologies have been invented to measure sperm count, but no test is perfect. Depending on the method, the technology used, and the skill of the technician there are many sources of error that can occur. The most major sources of error include:

Counting error: Counting errors happen when sperm are moving too much, there are too many cells to easily count, or the technician doesn’t count enough squares to accurately estimate the true sperm count. One way to reduce this error is to de-activate, or “fix”, sperm so they can’t swim, making them easier to count. Increasing the number of grid squares or number of cells counted can also improve accuracy.

Sampling error: Going back to the swimming pool metaphor, imagine all the fish go to the bottom and you take a bucketful from the top. This would not be a good estimation of the true count. Similarly, sperm tend to hang out in clumps due to the viscosity and structure of semen. It is possible for a technician to draw a sample that has an abnormally high or low concentration of sperm. To overcome this challenge, some labs will require extensive sample mixing, or “homogenization”, to even out the distribution. They may also require technicians to draw and count multiple samples from the semen specimen to ensure that the counts are equivalent from sample to sample.

Performing a rigorous semen analysis can be both labor intensive and expensive. Most labs will do an initial analysis with a more relaxed protocol to save time and money. If the results come back low, then some will take additional efforts to ensure accuracy. It is important to recognize that semen analysis – even when performed under careful and well-controlled conditions – can have error of up to 20%. This means that if your sperm count is measured 10 million cells per mL (M/mL), it could really be anywhere from 8 – 12 M/mL. So you need to think of it more as a range rather than an absolute measurement.

Daily Variations in Sperm Count

A man’s sperm count varies greatly from day to day and week to week. In the short run, much of the variability is due to sample collection and handling. In the longer term, variations can be much larger and can be caused by a number of biological and physical events that impact sperm production – such as having a fever, taking a new medication, or changes in diet.

Variations due to sample collection & handling

If you are interested in seeing trends in sperm count over time, you will want to try to be consistent in the way you collect and handle the semen sample for each semen analysis. Here are the major causes of variation due to sample collection & handling.

Collecting a sample: There are three important factors during sample collection that can impact test results – abstinence period prior to sample collection, excitement level during collection and how much of the sample gets collected.

Abstinence: Abstinence greatly impacts sperm count. Sperm stores are depleted with each ejaculation and take about 2 days to refill. As abstinence period increases, sperm slowly build up. If abstinence is greater than 7 days, sperm begin to die and decompose causing the semen sample to be filled with excess cell fragments and other debris. For this reason the WHO recommends an abstinence period of 2 -7 days. When having a repeat semen analysis performed, you can optimize precision by abstaining for the same amount of time for each test.

Method of Collection: Your body can tell when it is “the real deal.” The more excited you are during collection, the more sperm are found in the ejaculate. Some studies have found that samples collected at home where the man is more comfortable have had higher values for sperm concentration, total count and motility. Excitement level during collection is obviously difficult to control but it does contribute to variation of semen analysis results and may be worth taking a mental note.

Collecting the Sample: Just be sure the entire sample makes it into the cup. The first few drops of the ejaculate contain the majority of the sperm cells, so missing the first drops can cause lower results. Likewise, the latter part of the ejaculate consists primarily of seminal fluid so if that part is not collected, the result can show up as artificially high.

Handling samples after they’ve been collected: When initially collected, semen can be very viscous and technicians may need to wait several minutes before analyzing the sample (the sample will become less viscous over time). However, as a sample sits in the cup cells quickly begin to die and deteriorate. If the sample is not analyzed shortly after collection, sperm motility data (the percentage of sperm cells that swim) drops dramatically and sperm count can decrease as cells break apart.

Because technicians need to know how much time has elapsed from collection until running the analysis, clinics prefer on-site collection. The fresher the sample, the more accurate the results will be. If collection on-site is not possible, it is important to be fastidious about the time of collection. Recording time of collection will help technicians ensure that the sample is processed in an appropriate amount of time.

Variations in sperm count due to lifestyle

Over the longer run, lifestyle or specific life events can cause spikes and dips in sperm count. Some of the biggest culprits include fever or heat exposure, diet, exercise, stress level, toxin exposure and BMI. There are even a number of studies that show sperm counts vary from season to season, probably due to temperature changes. How much can these things impact sperm count? Quite a bit.

This is a chart from the World Health Organization’s manual on laboratory semen analysis. demonstrating the variability in sperm count and sperm concentration in 5 men over the course of a year and a half.

graph sperm count variation over time

What’s a Normal Sperm Count?

To calculate the average sperm count in men, researchers have conducted large studies of over 1,000 men in a defined geographic region. Some studies further refine the study and recruit certain subgroups of men such as infertile men or recent fathers. Studies found the range of sperm concentrations to be anywhere from 0 to 250 million sperm per milliliter with an average of 60 – 80 million sperm per milliliter. The following graph from a study done in 2012 illustrates the breakdown of sperm counts among young men in Denmark.

The World Health Organization analyzed global data from over 2,000 recent fathers to define semen parameters for fertile men. In this study, the median sperm concentration (50th percentile) was found to be 73 M/ml. They also defined the 5th percentile to be the cut-off for a “normal” sperm concentration, which came out to be 15 M/ml. In other words, 95% of fertile men have a sperm concentration above 15 M/mL. Sperm concentration below the cut-off of 15M/ml does not mean infertility (as the study was done with recent fathers) but it does mean a man falls in the bottom 5% of the normal range.


Global Decline in Sperm Count

Because “normal” sperm counts are defined by gathering data from a large number of men, studies are done periodically to examine differences in semen quality from one country to another, from season to season and decade to decade. These studies help scientists identify trends.

Scientists are usually very careful about not drawing conclusions too quickly, so if you talk to a number of andrologists (scientists who study sperm) you would get a number of very long, nuanced answers, but there are a number of large studies that show sperm counts may be declining worldwide.

Infertility rates have increased the past few decades. Some of this is caused by the trend in developed countries to delay childbearing to later in life, and many experts have begun campaigns to raise education and awareness about the decline in female fertility that begins as early as age 30. As a result more and more women are being proactive to protect future fertility by freezing eggs. However, less publicized is the fact that men contribute to 50% of infertility cases. The global decline in sperm counts is also contributing to the rise in infertility rates worldwide. Sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, increased obesity and toxin exposures are some of the leading suspected offenders currently being studied by researchers.

How sperm are made

How many sperm does it take to get pregnant?

The simple, but important answer is 1. So, why do men make so many sperm? From the time a sperm is made, it is constantly in danger of being destroyed. Inside the man’s epididymis, reactive oxygen species attack sperm cells. Once ejaculated in the vaginal tract, sperm are attacked by acidic vaginal fluids and white blood cells. Finding the fallopian tube is like finding a needle in a haystack. Most sperm get lost. Of the millions of sperm released upon ejaculation, only 10-30 make it to the fallopian tube where the egg is released. There, the sperm must survive long enough to meet and fertilize the egg.

Many factors influence a couple’s monthly chance of conception – the woman’s age, the “friendliness” or “hostility” of her vaginal tract, the quality of the semen that transports the sperm and the health of the sperm cells. When optimized, all these factors combined add up to something in the range of a 30-35% chance of conception. As factors become less optimal, the monthly chance of conception goes down to zero.

Sperm count is a factor that impacts the monthly chance of conception. However, it is very hard to precisely correlate sperm count to chances of pregnancy. A man that has a low sperm count with healthy sperm may have a better monthly chance of conceiving than a man who has a higher sperm count but the sperm are unhealthy. Several large scale studies have analyzed the relationship between semen quality and how long it took a couple to get pregnant. One study found that men with healthier sperm had a shorter time to conception. Another study found that the more sperm a man had (up to around 55M/ml) the better his chances of conception.

As sperm concentrations drop below 10 M/ml, odds of natural conception get pretty dicey and most reproductive endocrinologists will recommend some sort of assisted reproduction treatment. Sperm concentrations in the range of 1-10M/ml often have success with cervical cap or intrauterine insemination if there are no female factors present. When the sperm concentration is lower than 1M/ml, doctors will often recommend an in-vitro fertilization procedure called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for the highest chances of success. ICSI involves isolating a single sperm cell and carefully injecting it into the woman’s egg.

Causes of Low Sperm Count

Sperm count is not a static number like your height or your shoe size. It is a dynamic indicator of testicular health. Like other aspects of health – blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels – event shocks like high stress and fever can cause dips in sperm count. Long-term unhealthy lifestyle such as poor diet, smoking and a beer belly can also significantly suppress sperm production.

There are also medical reasons for a low sperm count in otherwise healthy men including the presence of a varicocele (varicose veins in the scrotum), past illnesses or infections, maldescent of testicles during childhood, prior surgeries in the groin (such as hernia repair), hormone imbalances and genetic disorders. Fill out our complete Risk Assessment to get a comprehensive assessment of risk factors that could be impacting your fertility.

Lifestyle: We like to use the acronym SHOT — Stress, Heat, Obesity, Toxins — as a quick way to remember the major lifestyle contributors to low sperm count. Studies have shown these factors can reduce sperm counts all the way to zero in extreme cases.

Varicocele: Varicose veins in the scrotum, known as varicoceles, have been known to impact testosterone and sperm production as well as sperm health (motility, morphology). Varicoceles are relatively common, occurring in about 15% of all men, and impact men differently. Some men can have large varicoceles with little to no impact on fertility, while other men are more sensitive and even small varicoceles can dramatically impact semen parameters. Varicoceles are repairable through surgery; it often takes 6-12 months post-surgery to fully improve fertility.

Genetics: There are a number of genetic disorders that contribute to male infertility. Because the molecular science is still relatively young, new genetic markers for male fertility are still being discovered. The good news is that most genetic causes of infertility are relatively rare. The most common disorders are:

Klinefelter’s Syndrome: Genetic condition in which a man has an extra X chromosome causing him to be XXY rather than the normal XY.

Y chromosome microdeletions: The deletions of genes from the Y chromosome that are responsible for sperm production.

Infection: Viral and bacterial infections – both in childhood and as an adult – can cause scarring on tiny microtubes of the male reproductive tract leading to a partial or complete blockage. Leading offenders include: mumps, tuberculosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasma, urinary tract infections and prostate infections.

Hormone imbalances: Hormones play a critical role in the production and maturation of sperm cells. For reproductive health, the most critical hormones include – Testosterone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). Hormonal imbalances can occur for a number of reasons including: impaired testicular function, thyroid disorders, diabetes, pituitary disorders or growths and abuse of androgens for athletic performance.

Tips for Boosting Sperm Count

Even in circumstances in which sperm production is suppressed by a medical condition such as a varicocele or hormone imbalances, lifestyle changes targeted to improve sperm production can dramatically improve sperm count, motility and morphology. It is important to recognize that start to finish it takes about 72 days to make a sperm, so things that you implement today will take a few months to really take effect. Here are some of the top tips:

1. Don’t smoke
2. Watch what you eat
3. Lose weight
4. Pay attention to sources of heat
5. Ice your balls
6. Lift weights
7. Go for a run
8. If you have a desk job, take breaks and walk around
9. Don’t do drugs — this includes mary jane
10. Read up on your meds – some medications can interfere with sperm production
11. Don’t juice (not talking about raw foods here)
12. Limit alcohol
13. Don’t wear tight clothes too many days in a row
14. Meditate, take a run or find some other healthy outlet for stress
15. Have lots of sex (but lay off the lube)
16. Play team sports
17. Don’t watch TV for longer than 1 hour at a time
18. Be careful if biking
19. Take a multivitamin
20. Try acupuncture

Getting Pregnant with a Low Sperm Count

Fertility is a team sport. To understand the best path to pregnancy, you need to consider what’s happening with each partner and if there are any compatibility issues. Sometimes there are very clear issues that can be identified and treated by doctors. Other times, infertility can stem from multiple factors or be unexplained which is damn frustrating. Patience, communication and education can go a long way in helping you figure out the best path forward.

From cheap and non-invasive to expensive and invasive, here are some tools for improving your odds of trying to conceive if your swim team is a little low. Note: taking steps above to improve sperm count will improve your chances of conception even if you decide to pursue IVF or ICSI.

Creating a Sperm Friendly Environment: There are a number of over the counter products available to improve the sperm-friendliness of the female reproductive tract including pre-seed, Astroglide TTC and GoBaby pH.

At-home assisted reproduction: Cervical cap insemination is a technique that has been used by OB-Gyns for decades to increase odds that sperm will make it to the egg. In this technique, sperm are collected into a container that is placed directly on the cervix. This shortens the distance sperm have to swim and reduces the obstacles along the journey. Modern technology makes it possible to bring this proven medical technique into the home. Cervical cap insemination is recommended when total motile sperm count is above 1 million

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Commonly called IUI, intrauterine insemination is commonly practiced by many OB-Gyns and fertility clinics as a low cost procedure to improve chances of conception when the male partner has a low sperm count. It is recommended when total motile sperm count is above 1 million. The procedure involves producing a semen sample on-site. Healthy sperm cells are “washed” or removed from semen and placed in a nutrient rich solution which is placed into a “straw” and inserted directly into the uterus.

Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This is the highest-tech baby-making option. The procedure on the female side is identical to a normal IVF cycle. Medications are administered to hyper-stimulate ovaries and mature eggs are harvested. The semen sample is “washed” and then placed on a special microscope. A single sperm cell is selected and the tail is cut off by a technician. It is then sucked up into a tiny needle and injected directly into the egg which is held in place by a specialized micro-pipette. The process is repeated for each egg harvested. Resulting embyros are then monitored and the top 1 or 2 are selected for implantation. The rest are frozen for future use.

Sara SDx

Sara SDx

Editor of dontcookyourballs.com and co-founder of Trak Fertility. Interested in all research about men's health, sperm, balls & babymaking. Passionate that we can do better when it comes to male fertility and men's reproductive health.

This doesn't need to be a taboo subject left in a closet, nor do men need to go through this alone. Education and community are key elements to improving health. Don't cook your balls is a space for us to share science and experience advance the state of male reproductive health care.
Sara SDx


  1. dan May 8, 2017 at 4:39 am - Reply

    hi sara
    will you help me out. I am 31 yrs old and got married for 4 yrs.i hade surgery before 5 years which is on my left scrotum scrotum cyst after it removed my two balls are not balanced .and i saw same linkage some times
    I have had a Semen Analysis done. The results are as given below :
    colur ——whitish
    coagulation and liquification —–20
    volume ————————————6.2
    motility with in 60′ ——————nill
    semen count———————-nil
    Remark===Normally sperm are pear shapedheads with long and single tail.
    comment —Few pus cells seen

    • Sara SDx May 16, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      The surgery may have caused a blockage which is preventing the sperm from coming out of the body. I would recommend that you visit a urologist (maybe the doctor who did the surgery) to discuss what can be done.

  2. Gladys April 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Hi Sara,

    Please help us, my husband had sever oligozoospermia and leukospermia, is there any chance for us to get pregnant?

    • Sara SDx April 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Has he been been evaluated to figure out the cause?
      Depending on how severe the issue is and if it is correctable you may need to get an IUI or IVF to conceive.
      I always recommend men with severe oligozoospermia to go to urologist for full evaluation.

  3. ibrar March 29, 2017 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    HI Sara !
    We married 3 years ago. Now we want a baby. Please give us suggestion. My semen test analysis is given under
    Day of absentia 1 day
    total count 45 millions
    Active motile 55%
    sluggish motile 15%
    Dead 30%

    • Sara SDx April 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      How long have you been trying for a baby?
      These results look ok.

  4. marmc32 March 24, 2017 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Sara, will you help me out… I am 32 yrs old my wife and I have just begun trying to get pregnant, i had a Semen Analysis donde because I had an orchidectomy 7 years ago. The results are as given below :

    Abstinentia : 6 days
    Volume : 2.8 ml
    pH : 7.9
    Sperm Count: 11×10^6
    Total Sperm Count : 31×10^6
    Grade A motility: 5%
    Grade B motility: 51%
    Grade C motility: 8%
    Grade D motility: 36%
    Leucocytes : <1×10^6
    Normal Sperm Morphologic : 33%
    agglutination : absent

    I am a casual smoker no more than to packs a month, 6'1" and 242 Lbs. Could you please let me know if I have the chances of becoming father? or what to do?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Sara SDx April 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      You have a chance, but your sperm is a little on the low side. I would recommend that you quit smoking. That should help improve your sperm in lots of ways. You may want to download this app to see if there are other things you can do to improve. If you can boost your sperm even a little bit you should be able to conceive naturally. If it stays this low or goes lower you will probably need fertility treatments which can be uncomfortable and very expensive.

  5. Clare March 22, 2017 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Doctor
    My husband’s semen analysis report came yesterday and it says

    PH 8
    Vitality 52%
    Volume 3.8
    Count 18.8 million/ml
    Motile 1.3 million/ml
    Total motile 4.9 millions
    Motility 7%
    Progressive (A+B) 3%
    Non progressive (C) 4%
    Immotile (D) 93%

    What are the chances of having a baby according to this report results?

    • Sara SDx April 19, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      There are chances of having a baby but it could take a while. His sperm count and motility are both lower than they should be. They are not infertile range but more swimming sperm would increase your chances each month.

      You might want to fill out this risk questionnaire and see if there are things he can do to improve his sperm.

  6. kumar March 16, 2017 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    I am about 73kgs and try to maintain an active lifestyle and do no smoke or drink alcohol . Me and my wife have been trying for the past 1 year and we conceived normally 2 times but had mc both times at around 8-9 weeks. We got a bunch of tests but including detailed physical and thyroid profile, so far we have not found anything abnormal. I also had a semen analysis done and the results were shocking based on my interpretation. Can you provide your thoughts? Could the semen analysis be off?

    TOTAL SPERM COUNT : 7.0 million (total volume 2ml)

    Abstinentia : 13 days
    Volume : 2 ml
    Appearance : MUSTY
    Liquefaction : 25 mins
    Viscosity : VISCOUS
    pH : 8.0
    Odour- MUSTY
    Progressive Motility (PR) : 25%
    SLUGGISH Motility : 15%
    NON Mtality : 60%
    Total Sperm Count : 7 Ml/ml
    Sperm Concentration : 7 M/ml

    in advance

    • Sara SDx March 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      It could be off. It would be unlikely that you would have conceived twice with these numbers.

      I have seen situations where technicians have miscounted and results were half of what they should have been. I would recommend a second analysis at a different clinic if that is possible — to confirm.

      I would also recommend taking our risk assessment to see if there are other factors that could be contributing to low count. Sperm can contribute to miscarriage. You may want to think about your diet and increase the amount of fruit and vegetables that you eat or consider taking a multivitamin to make sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients (particularly folate / folic acid)

  7. nenye March 8, 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Comment…nenye ,pls this is my husband test
    appearance. greyish white
    volume. 3ml
    viscosity. moderate
    motility. 40% sluggish
    non motile. 60%
    morphology. 16 abnormal
    pus. cell+ ,RBC +
    sperm count 23*10 sperm cels/ml
    yielded a significant of stafloccocus urea.
    please what will we do? thanks

    • Sara SDx March 9, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      I would recommend talking to the doctor about possible infection. You should get it treated, then repeat the semen analysis in a few months.

  8. Shegzy February 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Hi, for sperm to regenerate must a man abstain from sex for the whole 72 days

    • Sara SDx February 28, 2017 at 2:09 am - Reply

      Goodness no. Ideal abstinence is 2-7 days if you want to maximize sperm count in the ejaculate.

  9. Jay February 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    I’m a 33 year old diagnosed as severe OAT ,i did some investigations like hormonal analysis,chromosomal analysis and scrotal ultrasound
    All is good except the scrotal ultrasound which showed bilateral varicoccele (grade 3 at the left side and 2 at the right side)
    My question is “can such varicoccele lead to SEVERE OAT”?? And am I going to benefit from doing varicoccele surgery?
    My SFA was less than a million total count (0.2 million/ml)
    Thank you

  10. bre February 19, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    PLEASE HELP. Just received these results on Friday. They are obviously horrible. Unfortunately everywhere is closed and I can get any information. Most devastating weekend of my life. I know that natural is not an option. But will IUI be?

    concentration: 3 (volume 3)
    Total motility: 23%
    progressive motility: 6%
    total sperm count 9.0
    total motile count: 2.1
    Ph: 7.4
    color: gray opalescent

    • Sara SDx February 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      I wanted to give you some encouragement. This is a low, but IUI could be an option.

      It may also be possible to increase. Have you taken our risk assessment? I’m happy to help you put together a plan.

  11. Egbe Johnson February 15, 2017 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Hi doctor
    Am a young man from Cameroon age 31 and i have low sperm count and i did a sperm test which the result says my case is Azoospermia,please doctor i need advice from you.

  12. Fathima February 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    My husband’s first 2 semen test result was nill. .in 3rd test <8000 total sperm he has . . He's 31 nd am 28. . Is there any chance to improve his sperm count?? First two times he took semen sample at hospital fully stressed, erection happened after a longg try . . Third semen sample was taken at home bt tat time also fully stressed nd erection problem. . We are totally confused tat choose ivf or wait few more months to improve his sperm count. . His Doppler study nd FSH , physical examination and few more test reports were very normal. .

    • Sara SDx February 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Did he get genetic test done? I would request a Y chromosome deletion test.
      Does he normally have challenges with erection?
      Have you taken our risk questionnaire? Were there any major risks listed there?

  13. Starbelle February 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Hello, Sara! Below is the my husband’s semen analysis, I tried to do my best in translating it:

    Abstinence 4 days
    Volume 5 ml
    pH 8
    Liquefaction 30 min
    Appearence Opalescent
    Motility 20 %
    Sperm count / ml 1.2 mil./mL
    Germinal cells 2 per 100 sperm
    Leukocytes rare 2-3
    Normal morphology 60 %
    Abnormal morphology 40 %
    Conclusion Oligospermia

    Pretty bad, right? We are planning to repeat the test in a couple of weeks and go to an urologist with both results. Until then, could you give me a piece of advice? If the results will be the same, what are our chances of conceiving naturally?
    Thank you in advance!!!

    • Sara SDx February 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      It’s not hopeless, but chances of natural conception are pretty low unless you are able to get to the bottom of this and find a way to improve the numbers.

      I have a few recommendations to help empower both of you to figure out the best foot forward.

      1. Be prepared to get the most out of the urology appointment. Here’s a guide to what you should expect and I would make sure that you get a good evaluation.
      2. Take time to fill out this fertility questionnaire. It should bring up any potential risk factors that you will want to discuss with the doctor during your appointment.
      3. In the meantime, there are lots of things you can try to do that won’t hurt and could possibly help. Here’s a good starting list of my top 20 recommendations. In cases like yours, my top recommendations include getting a pair of snowballs (or using a pack of peas to cool things down there) and looking into a multivitamin or supplement.

      Hopefully these things help you feel some empowerment and can help you move forward. I am happy to talk through the risk report if you have any questions or provide commentary after your visit with the doc to help you understand / think things through.

      Blessings to you both. Here any time you need a sounding board.

      • Starbelle April 22, 2017 at 11:13 am - Reply

        Hi, Sara. In the months that have passed my husband took quite a few supplements. We didn’t improve anything else in his lifestyle because he already had quite healthy habits. We took the fertility questionnaire and he doesn’t have any risk factors. We didn’t go to the doctor just yet, because my husband is quite reluctant. We also didn’t repeat the SA sooner, as I first said, because I wanted for a full sperm cycle to pass.
        He did another SA this week we got great results:concentration 84 mil./mL, motility: 50%, normal morphology: 75%. I also asked for a sperm culture, just in case, and everything came back normal.
        What do you think? I can’t believe there could have been such a huge improvement, maybe one SA is wrong? We did them at different labs.
        Needless to say I haven’t gotten pregnant in these couple of months.

        • Sara SDx April 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm - Reply

          Holy moly! That’s a big improvement. Perhaps there was a heat exposure, fever or something else that temporarily suppressed his sperm production.

          Semen analysis can be a bit inaccurate depending on who is doing it but I wouldn’t expect it to be THAT wrong.

          It’s possible that he was missing a key nutrient and the supplements are really helping. I would keep doing what you are doing… and if you don’t get pregnant, test again in a month or two to see that it is staying high. Some guys have pretty temperamental sperm and are very sensitive to even small changes in lifestyle. I don’t often see changes that big but anything is possible.

          If you are in the US, I totally recommend that you consider tracking sperm at home with this home tracker. Testing regularly might give you more insight as to what is going on.

          Please keep me posted. I’d love to learn more.

          • Starbelle April 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm

            There wasn’t anything like heat exposure, illness or fever. The only thing that was different the first time, except for the supplements, was the fact that we didn’t BD very often prior to the SA, because we were TTA and were always a bit stressed about messing up. I was aiming for a full year at my current workplace (because of the legal stuff in getting a maternity leave in our country), so getting pregnant was a big no-no. We we’re BD 3 times/month on average, and now it’s more like 7-8 times/month. I was thinking that maybe not getting enough action could hurt the swimmers?
            We don’t have access to the home tracker where I live and doing the SAs at the lab is quite expensive. In addition, the lab program overlaps my husband’s work schedule, so it’s pretty difficult to get it done. Right now we decided to just keep tracking my cycles so we fully hit my fertile window and see what haappens over the next few months.

          • Sara SDx April 28, 2017 at 9:13 pm

            OK, well I would keep on the supplements because it seems to be helping.

            I would also recommend trying to BD 2-3 times a week if possible.

            I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Please let me know if you get good news. Happy to answer any other questions if they come up.

  14. Rohit February 3, 2017 at 6:30 am - Reply

    I am about 210lbs and try to maintain an active lifestyle and do no smoke or drink alcohol . Me and my wife have been trying for the past 1 year and we conceived normally 2 times but had mc both times at around 8-9 weeks. We got a bunch of tests but including detailed physical and thyroid profile, so far we have not found anything abnormal. I also had a semen analysis done and the results were shocking based on my interpretation. Can you provide your thoughts? Could the semen analysis be off?

    TOTAL SPERM COUNT : 2.5 million (total volume 2ml)

    NON MOTILE :70 %

    NORMAL FORMS :80 %

    Thanks in advance,

    • Sara SDx February 10, 2017 at 5:12 pm - Reply

      I feel like this might be off or unusually low for you. If you were able to conceive twice, I feel like your semen analysis results should be a bit higher. This result suggests very low chances of conceiving naturally. It is possible that your sperm count declined over the past few months due to something like a fever or exposure to something but it gives me pause… I would re-test.

      Did your physical reveal anything?
      Did you get hormone measures – Testosterone, FSH, LH?

  15. Prakash February 2, 2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr,

    Below are my SA:

    Volume : 2.0 ml
    Colour : Greyish white
    Viscosity :Viscous VISCOUS
    Reaction : Alkaline

    TOTAL SPERM COUNT : 2.0 : 20-120 millions/ml

    NON MOTILE :45 %

    NORMAL FORMS :40 %

    Pus Cells: 1-2/hpf
    Epithelial Cells: NIL
    RBC: NIL
    Fructose :PRESENT

    I don’t smoke, don’t drink. I do Walking /Jog 5 KMs every day.
    My height is 5’11 and I weigh 94 Kgs but not obese I am fit.
    My food habits a are not that great.However I’ve been eating lot of veggies and fruits for last 20 days.
    I was 6 Days abstain before taking this test, I took the fertility questionnaire and found only BPI risk which 30 for my Height
    I was diagnosed with Dengue about 15 months ago.
    I want stay positive and don’t want to disappoint my wife.

    Need your valuable suggestion’s and advise.
    Thanks in advance,

    • Sara SDx February 4, 2017 at 6:18 am - Reply

      Dengue could do some damage. I would have expected it to clear by now but depending on how bad it was, you may still see some impact.

      I would recommend going to urologist or endocrinologist and getting blood work done for hormone levels, physical exam for varicocele and genetic screen.

      2 is low enough that I would want to rule out medical issues especially since you seem in relatively good shape.

      Don’t get discouraged. Focus your energy on getting a good answer for why it might be low.

      You might try cooling cause it wouldn’t hurt and might help.

      I’m here to help. Keep me posted. You’re doing exactly what your wife needs 🤗

  16. Umer January 28, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Hello Sara, this is my report. Can you please comment how to improve it.

    Volume : 1.5
    Consistency : gelatinous
    Color : white gray
    Liquefaction : time >60 mins
    Sperm count : 13 mil/mL
    Sperm motility : 40 %
    Active Grade : 3- Fast but undirected movement
    Morphology : 28%
    Plus cells : 1-2 /HPF

    Pathologist comment :

    Liquefaction time are consistent with Oligo-asthenozoospermia. Disturbed sperm motility pattern. Many sperms with multiple cervical & cephalic abnormalities seen.

    • Sara SDx February 4, 2017 at 6:02 am - Reply

      It’s a little lower than i like to see. Ideally you want to have a count in above 50mil/ml

      Have you taken our fertility quiz to see what your risk factors are?

  17. shiva January 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    i dont see my question listed here

  18. Prakash January 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    I did my semen analysis done today, below are the test results.
    I do a brisk walking 4 times a week say about 5 KMs each time, I used to smoke heavily but now stopped since a year.
    We are trying for a baby for 6 months now but no positive results. Hence decided to do a semen analysis and I am very disappointed and going into depression.

    My results:

    Volume 2.0 ml
    Liquefaction Time > 3hrs
    Viscosity :Increased
    Reaction: Alkaline
    Fructose :Present
    Sperm Count 1.3 millions / ml
    Rapid Progressive Motility 10%
    Sluggish Motility 20%
    Non Motility 70%
    Normal Forms 60%
    Abnormal Forms 40%
    Pus Cells 2 – 3 /hpf
    Epithelial Cells Nil /hpf
    RBCs Nil /hpf
    Advised : Repeat analysis after 3 – 4 weeks with proper precaution.

    Please advise me. How to improve my counts to become a father

    • Sara SDx January 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      How long did you abstain before taking this test?

      Have you had a full evaluation? You should get a blood test done to check your hormones and a physical exam by the urologist.

      Have you completed our fertility questionnaire?

      How is your diet? Do you eat lots of vegetables?

  19. Amer January 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Abstinence – 3 days
    Quantity – 3 ml
    Color – Straw
    Liquification time – 30 mins
    Viscosity – Viscous
    pH – alkaline
    Sperm Count – 40 millions/ml
    Rapid Progressive motility – 30%
    Slow Progressive motility – 50%
    Non Motile – 20%
    Pus Cells – 1-2/HPF
    Can you please let me know my chances of becoming father ?

    • Sara SDx January 21, 2017 at 5:40 am - Reply

      This looks to be on the lower end of normal. Your chances of fatherhood are pretty good. Are you trying?

  20. nkotb January 5, 2017 at 5:31 am - Reply

    Hi Sara, will you help me out… I am 31 yrs old and got married for 4 yrs.
    I have had a Semen Analysis done. The results are as given below :

    Abstinentia : 4 days
    Volume : 3.5 ml
    Appearance : White
    Liquefaction : 15 mins
    Viscosity : Normal
    pH : 8.0
    Progressive Motility (PR) : 53%
    Non Progressive Motility : 11%
    Immotile : 36%
    Total Sperm Count : 2.1 M/ejaculation
    Sperm Concentration : 0,6 M/ml
    Leucocytes : 20.000/ml
    Normal Sperm Morphologic : 9% (WHO 2010 >4%)
    agglutination : absent
    Aggregation : Absent

    I am not a smoker, not overweight and not a drinker but little time to rest (4 hrs/day). we have intercourse only 3-5 times/mo. My wife doesn’t have any medical issues.
    Could you please let me know if I have the chances of becoming father? or what to do?

    Thanks a ton in advance.

    • Sara SDx January 11, 2017 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      A couple of things to note.

      The sperm count is low. It will be difficult to get pregnant without a doctor with a sperm count this low. 4 hours is very little sleep. It may be that your body is not having enough time to recover. However, because it is so low, I think there might be something else going on. I would recommend going to a urologist for a full evaluation.

      If you are able to get your sperm count higher, the next thing you will need to do is have intercourse more frequently. You should at least have it once a week. And better if you can do it 2-3 times a week.

      At the moment, the sperm count is a bigger issue and you should see if you can figure out what is causing it to be low.

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