Oligospermia refers to a low sperm quantity in the ejaculated semen. It is an sperm alteration characterized by a reduced concentration of sperm, which can affect, or make impossible, the achievement of the pregnancy in a natural way.
This disease, also known as low sperm count or oligozoospermia, can occur if the sperm concentration values are under 15 million sperm per millimeter, according to the reference values established by the World Health Organization (WHO). Its definition can be considered polemic, because oligospermia was previously considered whenever the values were under 20 million sperm per millimeter.
The quantity of 15 million sperm per millimeter is a reference since 2010, when the World Health Organization changed the values of sperm parameters of what was considered normospermia, which means minimum values of sperm quality.
Given that men suffering from oligospermia have a lower sperm count in the ejaculate than normal, it is more difficult that an egg could be fertilized with the sperm from these men, which may hinder pregnancy to occur naturally. This is the reason why oligospermia is considered to be a fertility problem.
Being this disease an alteration in the sperm levels, it is considered these men suffer from male infertility.
Among the population of reproductive age, it is thought between 12 and 18% of cases have fertility problems. In 20% the cause is joint: the man, as well as the woman, is affected, whilst in 30% of cases the cause has a male origin only. Overall, in 50% of situations, there are fertility problems in men.
There are different grades of oligospermia according to the number of sperm in the ejaculate:
- Severe oligospermia
- Moderate oligospermia
- Mild oligospermia
There are numerical ranges that define a concrete type of oligospermia.
Although it causes male infertility, those men actually have sperm in their ejaculate, for this reason, through assisted reproductive techniques, they are able to fertilize the egg and achieve the pregnancy. Much more serious is the case in which there is no sperm found in the seminogram: this would be another sperm alteration, called azoospermia.
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