What is a normal sperm count?

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A normal sperm count is approximately 48 million sperm per milliliter of semen, with a normal sperm count range being 40 to 300 million sperm per milliliter of semen.  A low sperm count which would indicate subfertility or infertility would be less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.¹

What is a good sperm count?

Ultimately, a "good" sperm count could be considered anything in the normal sperm count range of 40 to 300 million sperm per milliliter of semen. It is worth noting however, that sperm count is not typically considered a problem by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine until it is below 15 million sperm/mL. A count between 15 and 40 million is "indeterminate" and must be looked at in the context of a particular patient. ²

What is a low sperm count?

Again, a low sperm count isn't simply anything below the normal sperm count range. 20 million sperm/mL may be plenty if everything else is in good shape. A sperm count isn’t considered low by medical guidelines until it falls below 15 million sperm per milliliter.

A low sperm count (called oligospermia) generally means that a man may need extra time or some medical assistance to conceive. For a mild case of oligospermia, intrauterine insemination (IUI) is often the treatment of choice.³ For a more severe case of oligospermia, it is likely that IVF will be necessary to conceive.

A complete absence of sperm in a man's semen is called azoospermia.

Sperm count isn't everything.

There's a pretty wide range for normal, but it can be misleading. A sperm count that falls below the normal sperm count range doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be unable to conceive. You may just need extra time to conceive, or a little help from a reproductive specialist. While a high sperm count doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fertile.  Count is just one semen parameter looked at in a semen analysis. A man's sperm motility and morphology must be considered as well. Additionally, a semen analysis could look completely normal, and a man still may have fertility problems. This is why a more advanced sperm test should be consider as well.

 Sources:

1. http://www.asrm.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/practice-guidelines/for-non-members/diagnostic_evaluation_of_the_infertile_male_a_committee_opinion-noprint.pdf

2. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa003005

3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110569011000719