"A Low Sperm Count is No Big Deal"

by Ann Douglas


A low sperm count is no big deal.
All you need is one strong swimmer to make its way to the egg. 

Actually, you need quite a few strong swimmers. While a lot of people envision a single sperm swimming out in front of the rest of the pack, it makes a lot more sense to think of conception as a team sport—synchronized swimming with a very specific purpose in mind. Other team members break down the outer membrane of the egg so that it is ready to be penetrated by the synchro team captain.

Of course, having enough players on the team is only one of the keys to reproductive (or synchro) success. You also want to ensure that those guys are healthy and able to move well. (This is where the sperm morphology and sperm motility measures on the sperm analysis lab results figure in.) 

While couples always want to know which of these three measures matters most—sperm count, sperm morphology, or sperm motility, giving a single factor star billing doesn’t make any sense at all, explains Steven M. Schrader, PhD, Chief of the Reproductive Health Assessment Section of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): “It’s like asking what part of your car is most important. Maybe you think it would be the engine, but just try to get somewhere without the tires. And what about the steering wheel?” 

The good news is that assisted reproductive technologies—and especially intracytoplasmic sperm injection—can give sperm a boost if a semen analysis has identified a problem in one of the three key areas. “Fertilization may be possible with even the worst semen analysis.”

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books.