What Is Sperm Concentration?

A semen analysis test describes the parameters that contribute to sperm health. These parameters demonstrate the quantity and quality of sperm cells.

One of these parameters is sperm concentration.

Men may have decreased fertility if their sperm concentration is low. This article will discuss the reasons for low sperm concentration and potential measures to enhance it.

Sperm Concentration And Male Fertility

Sperm concentration is the density of sperm in a certain volume of semen. The average semen volume should be more than 1.5-2ml and sperm concentration should be 15 million per ml of semen in order to have a better chance of conception.

The role of sperm concentration in male fertility is not always linear. You may have a low sperm concentration on semen analysis but still conceive, or have a high concentration and not conceive. This is why many experts agree that total sperm count is a better indicator of fertility than sperm concentration.

Sperm concentration is not the only deciding factor in fertility. By itself it doesn’t give a complete picture of sperm health. It also depends on other parameters like sperm motility, semen volume, total sperm count, and sperm morphology. For instance, you may have adequate sperm, but they aren’t motile or structurally robust enough to fertilize an egg.

In short, there is considerable variability in the relationship between sperm concentration and male fertility.

Normal Sperm Concentration For Pregnancy

The sperm concentration ranges typically between 15 million to 259 million per ml of semen.

Oligospermia is a sperm concentration less than 15 million per mL, while azoospermia refers to the complete absence of sperm cells in the ejaculate. Having a sperm concentration less than 15 million may increase the risk of infertility.

What Are The Causes of Low Sperm Concentration?

Low sperm concentration can occur for many reasons, including:

Decreased Sperm Production

Spermatogenesis, or production of sperm cells by the testes, is regulated by hormonal and environmental factors. Sperm production may be low due to:

  • Genetic disorders leading to smaller testes
  • Undescended testes
  • High temperature in the testes due to prolonged sitting or tight clothes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Varicocele
  • Toxin exposure
  • Cancers or cancer treatments
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Stress
  • Poor diet or nutrient deficiencies

Sperm Outflow Obstruction

If your sperm cells can’t travel from the testes to the urethra, there will be fewer sperm in the ejaculate. A blockage may cause what’s called outflow obstruction, preventing the sperm from following its usual course.

Outflow obstruction may be due to sexually transmitted infections. They can cause blockages of the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis for ejaculation.

Retrograde ejaculation refers to the transport of sperm to the urinary bladder. An injury to the abdomen or pelvis can cause this phenomenon. Since the sperm flows backwards towards the bladder, there’s a lower sperm concentration in the ejaculate.

Sperm Death

Sperm cells need nutrition to survive. If your seminal fluid lacks necessary nutrients like zinc or fructose, the cells may die before reaching the female reproductive tract.

How Can I Save My Sperm?

You can support sperm safety exactly like you secure your money-in a bank.

There are some aspects of sperm safety that you can control, such as:

  • Eating healthy
  • Performing exercise
  • Wearing loose-fitting garments
  • Wearing condoms to avoid sexually transmitted diseases
  • Avoiding stress to keep hormonal balance

However, you cannot control aging, which often decreases the number and quality of sperm. So, you may want a backup plan. Sperm freezing provides you with a way to preserve sperm while they’re at a higher number and quality for potential future use.

References

  1. Guzick, D S et al. “Sperm morphology, motility, and concentration in fertile and infertile men.” The New England journal of medicine vol. 345,19 (2001): 1388-93.
  2. Jouannet, P et al. “Semen quality and male reproductive health: the controversy about human sperm concentration decline.” APMIS : acta pathologica, microbiologica, et immunologica Scandinavica vol. 109,5 (2001): 333-44.
  3. Pastuszak, Alexander W, and Dolores J Lamb. “Counting your sperm before they fertilize: are sperm counts really declining?.” Asian journal of andrology vol. 15,2 (2013): 179-83.
  4. Wang C, Swerdloff RS. Limitations of semen analysis as a test of male fertility and anticipated needs from newer tests. Fertil Steril. 2014;102(6):1502-1507. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.10.021