Oligozoospermia is a male fertility problem characterized by low sperm count, usually fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. It impacts a man's ability to conceive a child, although it can sometimes be treated with assisted reproductive techniques.

Men with oligozoospermia have a sperm count that is lower than the normal range of 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate. Oligozoospermia may be caused by a variety of medical conditions, lifestyle choices, or unknown factors.

Causes of Oligozoospermia

The most common causes of oligozoospermia include:

  • Infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genitourinary tract infections
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as too much or too little of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Exposure to toxins, including chemotherapy, radiation, and environmental pollutants
  • Genetic defects, such as some chromosomal abnormalities
  • Heat exposure, such as using hot tubs or saunas
  • Use of certain recreational drugs or anabolic steroids

In some cases, the cause of oligozoospermia is unknown and may require further testing to determine the underlying cause.

Diagnosis of Oligozoospermia

In order to diagnose oligozoospermia, your doctor will first take a semen sample to measure your sperm count. The sample will also be evaluated for the quality and shape of sperm, which can affect fertility as well. Further testing may include a hormonal profile, genetic testing, and an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound.

Treatment of Oligozoospermia

Treatment for oligozoospermia depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is an infection, treating the infection with antibiotics usually resolves the problem. If the cause is a hormonal imbalance, your doctor may prescribe medication to correct the imbalance. If the cause is exposure to toxins, the treatment will depend on the type of toxin. Genetic defects may not be treatable, so your doctor may recommend assisted reproductive techniques to help you conceive.

Prevention of Oligozoospermia

The best way to prevent oligozoospermia is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Avoiding exposure to toxins, limiting your use of recreational drugs, and avoiding hot tubs and saunas can help reduce your risk of oligozoospermia. Regular sexual health check-ups and STI screenings can also help prevent infections that can cause oligozoospermia.