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What is Normal Sperm Count to Get Pregnant?

Male Infertility

Dr. Suman

Aug 23, 2021

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, you must be looking for information on what is normal sperm count to get pregnant and how to increase it. For fertility, it is essential to have a healthy sperm count. 

For pregnancy to happen, only one sperm and one egg are needed, so now the question is why does sperm count matter? In short, it enhances the odds of a successful pregnancy. So, if more sperm are present in semen, then when a man ejaculates into a woman, the chances are more than at least one sperm will reach and implant itself into an egg.  

In this article, we will discuss more on sperm count. 

What is the normal sperm count to get pregnant?

Male fertility is as important as female fertility as well as quite complex. Sperm health is determined based on various factors and sperm count is one of them. Sperm count refers to the number of sperms that should be present in the given sample. 

A normal sperm count ranges from 15 million to more than 200 million sperm per millilitre (ml) of semen. With the help of semen analysis you can know your sperm count and it will fall in any of the below categories.

Low sperm count: As per WHO, 10-15 million sperm per millilitre is considered as lower than the normal range. Well, it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg but higher quantity of sperm increases the probability of the sperm to reach the egg. If other factors of sperm health are normal then despite of low sperm count one can still achieve pregnancy. There are treatments available and also one can do some changes in their lifestyle to improve the count.

Low average: The low average range is when the sperm count is less than 15 million per millilitre. This means that your sperm count is not at the lower side but still below average. 

Average: If you have more than 15 million per millilitre it is considered average sperm count range. If your numbers are in this range then it indicates that your chances of getting pregnant are 50-50, provided if all others perm health parameters are on place. 

High sperm count: As per resolve, a high sperm count is more than 300 million sperm per millilitre. However, researchers have still not identified a positive correlation between sperm counts greater than 40 million and increased fertility.

Beyond Numbers: The key factor in male fertility is sperm count but numbers are not everything. Normally sperm should have a shape of an oval head, a midpiece, and a tail. Sperm should have the capability to swim in a straight and forward direction to easily reach the egg. All these fundamental parameters of sperm health should be taken in account for a sperm to work normally and fertilize an egg. 

What are the signs of low sperm count?

When talking about sign of low sperm count, the main sign is inability to conceive a child. Some men have underlying problem like inherited chromosomal abnormality, a hormonal imbalance, dilated testicular veins or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm may cause symptoms and signs.

Some of the signs of low sperm count include:

  • Problem with sexual function. For instance, low sex drive or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or pain in the testicle area
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of chromosome or hormone abnormality

These are some of the symptoms to take into consideration if you are not able to conceive and check with your doctor. 

How to find out sperm count?

With the help of semen analysis test a low sperm count is diagnosed. Generally sperm count is determined by examining semen under a microscope to see how many sperm are there within the squares on a grid pattern. Sometimes computer is also used to measure sperm count. 

There are several ways to obtain semen samples. Many people provide sample by masturbating and ejaculating into a special container at the doctor’s office. Due to cultural beliefs, some men prefer an alternative method for semen collection. In such cases, in special condom semen is collected during intercourse. 

What are other tests to diagnose sperm count?

Depending on initial findings, your doctor may recommend some additional tests to find out the cause of low sperm count and other possible causes of male infertility. These include:

  • Scrotal Ultrasound: In this test high frequency sound waves are used to look at the testicles and supporting structures. 
  • Hormone Testing: Sometimes your doctor may recommend for blood test to get an idea of level of hormones produced by the pituitary gland and testicles, which play a mjor role in sexual development and sperm production.
  • Genetic Tests: When the concentration of sperm is extremely low, the reason could be genetic causes. Through a blood test you can get to know if there are any subtle changes in the Y chromosome, that is a sign of a genetic abnormality. Genetic testing is also recommended to diagnose various congenital or inherited syndromes.
  • Testicular biopsy: In this test sample is retrieved from testicles with the help of needle. Its result can let you know whether the sperm production is normal or not. If the result is normal, then the problem could be due to blockage or some problem with sperm transport. However, this test is recommended in certain conditions and not used to just diagnose the cause of infertility.
  • Transrectal ultrasound: A small lubricated wand is inserted into your rectum to check your prostate and check for blockage of the tubes that carry semen.  

What are the tips for a healthy sperm?

Here are few simple steps to improve your chances of producing healthy sperm:

Lose weight

If you are overweight then losing weight is the most effective way to increase your sperm count. Many studies have shown that weight loss can significantly increase semen volume, mobility, and concentration besides the overall health of sperm. It is noticed that men with higher body mass index face changes in sperm count, so if you are overweight then losing even a small amount of weight may help you.

Exercise

It is not necessary that you only need to exercise if you want to lose weight. Staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial in boosting your sperm count. As per one study it is said that weightlifting and outdoors exercise can boost sperm health compared to any other type of exercise. You should consider incorporating these kinds of activities in your routine to boost your sperm health.

Take your vitamins

Some vitamins that are important for sperm health are vitamin D,C,E, and CoQ10. As per one study it is said that intake of 1000 mg of vitamin C routinely can help men sperm concentration and mobility. The overall sperm count may not improve, but the sperm can become more concentrated and able to move more efficiently. This can boost your chances of conceiving successfully.

Avoid substance abuse

Low sperm counts and unhealthy sperm is usually linked to people with a history of:

  • Heavy drinking that means drinking two or more alcoholic drinks per day
  • Any kind of tobacco use
  • Use of illegal drugs, including cocaine and anabolic steroids

If you are using any of these substances and facing problem in quitting them then it is necessary to talk to your doctor. He may recommend some programs that would help you to manage and treat addiction.

Check your environment

It is necessary to change your clothes and showering as soon as possible if you have been exposed to:

  • Pesticides
  • Metals
  • Paint strippers
  • Degreasers
  • Solvents
  • Non-water based glues or paints
  • Other endocrine disruptors

These toxins may affect sperm count. Thus, if due to your hobby if you are exposed to any of these then it is better to put your hobby on hold until you have successfully conceived.

What are the treatments for low sperm count?

The treatments for low sperm count include:

  • Surgery: For instance, often a varicocele can be surgically treated or an obstructed vas deferens can be repaired. Prior vasectomies can be reversed. In cases where no sperm is present in the ejaculate, it can be retrieved directly from the testicles or epididymis with the help of sperm retrieval techniques.
  • Treatments for sexual intercourse problems: In condition like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, medication or counselling can help in improving fertility.
  • Treatments for infections: With the help of antibiotic an infection of the reproductive tract can be cured, but this does not always restore fertility.
  • Hormone treatments and medication: In cases where infertility is due to high or low levels of hormones or problems with the way the body uses the hormones, you doctor may recommend hormone replacement or medications.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART): In ART treatments sperm is obtained through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from donor individuals, as per your specific situation or wish. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract, or used for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

In some of the rare, there is no treatment for male fertility problem. It becomes impossible for a man to father a child. In such cases you and your partner can consider either using donor sperm or adoption.  

What medicines are useful in increasing sperm count?

In some men with infertility, medication can improve sperm count. Your doctor can prescribe an estrogen receptor blocker, like clomiphene citrate, which stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. It is beneficial in hormone production and the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) luteinizing hormone (LH), which increases sperm production.

For men with low testosterone levels doctor may prescribe human chorionic gonadotropin to adjust the FSH and LH levels and improve sperm production.

Why does normal sperm count matter to get pregnant?

When it is about getting pregnant, sperm size doesn’t matter but numbers do.

Witt says “Although only one sperm is necessary to fertilize an egg and result in a pregnancy, the chances of conception occurring are related to the numbers of sperm in the ejaculated semen,”

“With low sperm counts, even though there may be millions of sperm, the chances of conception are significantly reduced, and the lower the count, the less the chance of conception.”

“The more normal your sperm counts are, the more likely you are to conceive naturally if you have a female partner with a normal reproductive evaluation,” adds Houman.

As per studies nearly 15 to 20 percent of couples worldwide experience infertility, with 30-40 percent is due to male infertility factors, which is why it does matter to know what is normal sperm count to get pregnant? 

Conclusion

Sperm count is crucial to male fertility. Low sperm count can significantly reduce your odds of having a baby. With the help of semen analysis you can know your sperm count and also about what is normal sperm count to get pregnant. 

If you have low sperm count, there are surgical procedures, medication, and lifestyle changes that can help to boost your sperm count.

If nothing works then talking to your doctor can help you to get a solution to conceive. 

FAQs

Ways to make sperm thicker and stronger

To make sperm thicker and stronger there are things to opt like exercise regularly, get enough vitamin C, relax and minimize stress, get vitamin D and zinc, and so on.

Can a man with zero sperm count get a woman pregnant?

The chances of getting your partner pregnant with low sperm count decreases. Some men have no sperm in their semen at all, but apart from sperm count many other factors are involved in reproduction.  Even there are men with low sperm count who have successfully father a child. So there are chances to father a child even if have no sperm in the semen through different procedure.

Is healthy sperm thick or runny?

Normally, semen is thick, whitish liquid. However, several conditions can change the color and consistency of semen. Watery semen can be a sign of low sperm count, indicating possible fertility problem. 

Does masturbation reduce sperm count?

Masturbation will typically lead to ejaculation. Although this doesn’t have any long term effect on your sperm count and quality, but it temporarily affect your sperm count. 

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sperm-count/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374591#:~:text=You%20are%20considered%20to%20have,in%20their%20semen%20at%20all.

https://nyulangone.org/conditions/male-infertility/treatments/medical-treatments-for-male-infertility#:~:text=Your%20doctor%20may%20prescribe%20an,which%20can%20increase%20sperm%20production.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/normal-sperm-count#outlook

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/fertility/art-20047584

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324821#normal-sperm-counts

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-sperm-count/

https://greatist.com/health/normal-sperm-count#pregnancy

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=semen_analysis

https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/m/male-infertility

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2164/jandrol.05156

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