anonymous on September 9, 2011

How do I know if I have a low sperm count?

I’m an 18-year-old male virgin. I don’t ejaculate much...I read somewhere that it should be a teaspoon full...but I’m not making that much. Do I have a low sperm count? Should I be concerned?

answered by David Sobel, MD, JD on September 9, 2011

Thanks for coming to us with your questions.

Regarding “normal” ejaculation volumes…men vary widely in the amount of semen they ejaculate. That said, the World Health Organization (WHO) states in its Reference Values for Human Semen Characteristicsthat the lower end of semen volume is 1.5 ml…in other words, about 1/3 of a teaspoon.

Although you didn’t tell me how much you ejaculate, you’re likely in the normal range...but even if the amount you ejaculate is lower than this volume, it may not be anything to worry about. For example, the semen volumes reported by the WHO assume several days of no ejaculation before measurement.

As for sperm’s hard to know. Some research suggests that the volume of ejaculate isn’t necessarily linked to sperm count; rather, it’s more useful to know the concentration of sperm in semen.

Men with higher concentrations of sperm (and who have sperm that are good “swimmers”) tend to be more fertile. If you’re concerned about your fertility, I would encourage you to see your regular doctor or urologist to discuss your situation and to provide a semen sample for analysis, which will identify how robust your sperm are.

Thanks again for writing, and I wish you good health.


David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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