Low sperm count or oligospermia is a condition where the semen(fluid) ejaculated by the male genital during an orgasm, has less sperm than the normal count. A male is said to have a low sperm count if his per millilitre of semen contains less than 15 million sperm.

The complex production of sperm requires proper functioning of the testicles, hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Disturbance in any of these three systems can be the primary cause of a decrease in the sperm count. However, there are many other medical, environmental and lifestyle factors that can result in oligospermia.

Obesity - According to a medical study, around 35% of the males are overweight. High body fat can trigger a low testosterone level, which ultimately results in a drop of sperm count.

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Alcohol and Smoking - Smoking cigarettes and binge drinking not only reduces the sperm count but also affects the motility of the sperm, making it difficult for them to swim. As per a study of the BMJ Open Journal, men who drink and smoke frequently have 33% less sperm count than men who are not active drinkers and smokers.

Drugs - Just like alcohol and cigarettes, drugs, to, are harmful to male fertility. Frequent consumption of drugs like Oxycontin and Fentanyl can negatively affect the sperm count and semen quality.

Exposure to Industrial Chemicals - Certain chemicals are categorized as bulky and can adversely affect human health. Exposure to chemicals like benzene, herbicides, pesticides and lead, directly or indirectly, can result in decreased sperm count.

Diabetes - Fluxion in blood sugar level is bad for the body, even your fertility. Type-2 diabetes, which is an underlying cause of obesity, can affect your sperm count and sperm quality.

Hormonal Imbalances - Alterations in the hormonal level of the body due to improper functioning of testicles, hypothalamus, pituitary glands, thyroid glands or adrenal glands, can impair the sperm count.

Overheating of Testicles - Your testicles need to be cool in order to produce sperms. When a man’s testicles get overheated due to regular use of the sauna, hot tub, Jacuzzi, etc., it can temporarily cut down his sperm count.

Other rare causes of a drop-down in the sperm count are -

  1. Suffering from depression or stress
  2. Having a genital infection in the past or present
  3. Having a fertility disorder since birth or
  4. Case of fertility disorder with a blood relative like father or brother
  5. Having a medical condition like tumours or chronic illnesses
  6. Undergoing some cancer treatment like chemotherapy or radiation
  7. Consuming certain medications that are antibodies

Low sperm count is mostly a result of certain lifestyle factors that can be controlled. If you take better care of your health, you will see a rise in your sperm count. Other factors behind decreased sperm count can be fixed with the right medications.

Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP