What do abnormal sperm count results mean?

Abnormal results may suggest a male infertility problem but one abnormal result does not always mean a man won't be able to have children. Often the test needs to be repeated so the initial abnormal result can be confirmed. For example, if the sperm count is very low or very high, a man may be less fertile. The acidity of the semen and the presence of white blood cells (suggesting infection) may affect fertility. 


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What is a sperm count?

sperm count, also known as a semen analysis, is a test of a man's ejaculate to check for problems that may contribute to infertility. While normal findings vary from one laboratory to the other, the World Health Organization (WHO) are usually known as the "gold standard" for a normal sperm count

Keep in mind, it's not just the total number of sperm that's important when assessing a man's fertility, other factors, such as motility and morphology play a big role. 

What determines sperm health?

  • Quantity: A man is most likely fertile if his ejaculates (the semen discharged in a single ejaculation) contains more than 39 million sperm.
  • Quality: He is most likely to be fertile if more than 4 percent of his sperm have a normal shape and structure. A normal sperm has an oval head and a long tail, which work together to propel it forward. Sperm with large, small, tapered or crooked heads or kinky, curled or double tails are less likely to fertilize an egg.
  • Motility: To reach the egg, sperm have to move on their own — wriggling and swimming the last few inches to reach and penetrate the egg. He's most likely to be fertile if more than 40 percent of his sperm are moving.

How long do sperm live?

Sperm can live from several minutes to several days depending on their environment. The survival of sperm depends on the conditions under which they are being held

Sperm exposed to air, deposited on clothing, bed linens, or toilet seats, for example, dry out very quickly and die, usually within minutes after ejaculation.

A sperm sample collected in a sterile container at body temperature may remain alive for several hours, but the sperms' fertilizing capability drops dramatically within 60 minutes after ejaculation.

Sperm that moves from the vagina into the uterus can survive longer. Studies have shown that conception is possible up to five to six days after intercourse. It is quite possible for some sperm to survive that long in the uterus, usually in the cervical mucus or the fallopian tubes. However, that is not typical. Most sperm die in the uterus within 24-48 hours after ejaculation, and the more time has passed after ejaculation, the less likely is the fertilization of the egg.

In excellent laboratory conditions and in a nutrient medium, they can remain alive for up to seven days. Sperm can be frozen at extremely low temperatures (but not in the refrigerator) and survive for years.

Sperm can survive in the vagina for up to several hours. Most sperm die in the cervix within 24-48 hours, but some can survive for 4-5 days. Some sperm can also survive in the fallopian tubes for several days.

Why does low sperm count occur?

Low sperm count is the one that is most often discussed, but there are other causes of male infertility, such as testicular damage and poor sperm quality. There are many different disorders that can lead to sperm problems including:

  • Hormonal problems
  • Physical problems
  • Psychological problems
  • Testicular damage resulting in an inability of the testicle to produce sperm

How does the sperm calculator work?

The babyMed sperm calculator calculates the total motile sperm count while at the same time taking the motility and morphology into consideration. It will tell you if you have a sufficient sperm count. This calculator will also provide you with additional information about male fertility.