What Is Sperm Count?

How Does Sperm Affect Pregnancy?

Semen analysis test measures sperm quantity by checking several parameters, including sperm count. Sperm count is the total number of sperm present per ejaculate.

Your sperm count may vary based on the volume of semen produced in ejaculation. You may also have a slightly higher count if you’ve practiced abstinence for a few days before testing.

Some important terms related to sperm count include:

  • Normal sperm count: 39 million to 928 million sperm cells per ejaculate
  • Oligospermia: A sperm count lower than 39 million
  • Azoospermia: complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate

What Is The Required Sperm Count To Get Pregnant?

If you are trying to have a baby or plan to have one in the future, an adequate sperm count is considered one that’s greater than 39 million.

A sperm count less than 39 million may make conception more difficult, though some people with lower sperm counts are still able to conceive, since it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg.

Why Does Sperm Count Matter?

Sperm count is a crucial barometer for fertility because having more sperm makes you more likely to have healthy sperm. Not all your sperm cells are motile or perfectly shaped, but with a higher sperm count you’ve got better odds of having enough healthy sperm to fertilize an egg.

What Are The Causes Of Low Sperm Count?

A low sperm count can occur for various reasons, including:

  • Smoking: Smoking is linked to decreased sperm production and low sperm counts.
  • Hormonal conditions: Testosterone is the hormone that’s primarily responsible for spermatogenesis. Conditions that cause low testosterone can lead to oligospermia or even azoospermia.
  • Alcohol: A drink every now and then is usually fine, but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to low sperm counts.
  • Infections: Sexually transmitted infections ascend through the penis and urethra. They may infect the testes and impair spermatogenesis.
  • Recreational substance use: Substances like opioids and cocaine reduce sperm count.
  • Medications: Many medications can affect sperm production, including antidepressants, some antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs.
  • Undescended testes: Having undescended testes exposes the testicles to high temperatures and may result in decreased sperm production and infertility.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Underlying conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and varicocele can lead to decreased sperm production.
  • Poor diet and exercise: Leading a sedentary life and consuming an unhealthy diet can decrease sperm counts.

Does Masturbation Cause Low Sperm Counts?

It is a common misconception that masturbation leads to a low sperm count.

When you are taking a sperm count test at home, it’s a good idea not to ejaculate for 3 to 5 days to ensure that you build up enough semen to analyze.

However, masturbation does not lead to any change in your body that can permanently affect your sperm count or make it low enough to cause infertility.

How Can I Improve My Sperm Count?

There are a number of things you can do that may help to improve your sperm count as well as your overall health:

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid recreational substance use
  • Use condoms to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections

How Can I Make Sure My Sperm Count Stays High?

You can maintain a healthy lifestyle, but there is no guarantee. Stay on top of your sperm health by getting a semen analysis or taking an at-home test.


1. Sharpe, Richard M. “Sperm counts and fertility in men: a rocky road ahead. Science & Society Series on Sex and Science.” EMBO reports vol. 13,5 398-403. 1 May. 2012

2. Maheshwari, Anuj et al. “Efficacy of FurosapTM, a novel Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract, in Enhancing Testosterone Level and Improving Sperm Profile in Male Volunteers.” International journal of medical sciences vol. 14,1 58-66. 10 Jan. 2017