Low sperm count (oligospermia): Can it be treated?

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Low sperm count (oligospermia): Can it be treated?

Question

My doctor says I have a low sperm count. I don't understand why this would interfere with my ability to get my wife pregnant. Doesn't it take only one sperm to fertilize an egg?

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Answer

A low sperm count (oligospermia) is one cause of male infertility. Although it takes only a single sperm to fertilize an egg (ovum), the odds of a single sperm reaching the egg are very low.

A normal sperm count is 20 million or more sperm per milliliter of semen. In order to father a child, at least 60 percent of those sperm should have a normal shape and show normal forward movement (motility). These numbers are a bit arbitrary because some men with lower sperm counts have fathered children. Likewise, some men with higher sperm counts have been unable to father children. Newer methods of artificial insemination can produce pregnancies when low sperm count is a factor.

A medical evaluation can help determine the cause of a low sperm count. Most urologists are skilled in evaluating men with fertility problems and can recommend appropriate therapy when correctable conditions are encountered.

Last Updated: 06/14/2006
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