IUI with Low Sperm Count: Low Sperm Count FAQs [2022]

IUI with low sperm counts can be a challenging and worrisome time. Yet, even if your sperm count is poor, IUI can help you get pregnant. However, the lower the count, the lower the chance of success.

According to research, IUI with at least 9 million motile sperm had a 17 percent success rate. After the sperm count fell below 9 million, the success rates declined as well.

IUI with Low Sperm Count

IUI is a straightforward therapy for male infertility that includes putting sperm directly into the woman’s uterus. IUI offers the sperm a head start in reaching the egg for fertilization by bypassing the vagina and cervix.

His treatment can be done as part of a natural cycle or a cycle that uses drugs to stimulate the ovaries, such as Clomid or gonadotropins.

To do an IUI, the male partner must ejaculate into a sterile container and deliver a semen sample. To ensure that his sperm count is as high as possible, the man should refrain from ejaculating for 48 hours before the IUI.

A laboratory will prepare the sample in a process referred to as sperm washing. 

Young man crouching by the sea shore looking at sea, thoughtful.

What is Sperm Washing for IUI?

The process of separating the healthy, motile (swimming) sperm from the remainder of the sperm sample is known as sperm washing. A man’s sperm sample contains dead or nonmotile sperm, enzymes, proteins, and fluids that are undesirable for direct mixing with eggs or intrauterine insemination.

What is left after sperm washing is the healthy sperm with a clear, clean path void of obstacles in their way to get to that egg more easily.

IUI with a low sperm count can be given its best opportunity for success as these healthy, motile sperm are then concentrated into HTF (Human Tubal Fluid), a specific sperm medium or solution that feeds and maintains them for fertilization of the egg.

What is Sperm Motility?

Sperm motility is referred to as sperm with forwarding progressions of at least 25 micrometers per second and is considered healthy. Various forms of sperm motility concerns exist, including:

  • Motility that is slow or sluggish.
  • Anything less than 5 micrometers per second is considered non-progressive motility.
  • There is no mobility.

It’s important to understand motility, as it can be the cause of male factor infertility. Yet, IUI with a low sperm count can still be successful, providing the sperm’s motility is strong.

How Does Sperm Motility Affect Fertility?

Sperm motility refers to the sperm’s capacity to travel quickly. Because sperm must travel through the woman’s reproductive system to reach and fertilize her egg, this is critical in fertility. Male factor infertility can be caused by sperm motility issues.

IUI with a low sperm count gives the sperm a head start by inserting the washed sperm directly into the uterus, so even though a man may have a low sperm count, IUI can help.

What Are the Causes of Low Sperm Motility?

Low sperm motility has a variety of causes, and many cases go undiagnosed.
Damage to the testicles, which produce and store sperm, might lower sperm quality.

The following are some of the most common causes of testicle damage.

  • A problem that a man is born with
  • Testicles that haven’t descended
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Malignancy of the testicles
  • Surgery on the testicles
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Cannabis and cocaine
  • Medications

Low sperm motility has also been linked to varicocele, a disorder characterized by swollen veins in the scrotum.

How to Improve Sperm Motility

Some men may benefit from making the following lifestyle modifications to improve sperm motility:

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Limit cell phone usage
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking

Some substances may also aid in sperm motility improvement. Men who took a daily dosage of 200 micrograms of selenium and 400 units of vitamin E for at least 100 days had a 52 percent improvement in sperm motility, according to one research. (Study courtesy of PubMed Central)

As with any supplement, one should consult their doctor first.

Can You Still Conceive with Low Sperm Motility?

IUI with a low sperm count provides a couple with a greater chance of conceiving as opposed to intercourse alone. Pregnancy with reduced sperm motility is possible if the sperm are otherwise healthy.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are two reproductive technologies that can assist in raising the chances of conception.

This is due to the fact that these procedures eliminate the requirement for sperm to swim much on their own.

You’ve had your IUI, so why are there no pregnancy symptoms?

What is Considered a Low Sperm Count?

Low sperm count refers to the amount of sperm in the fluid (semen) you ejaculate after orgasm. If you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of sperm, your sperm count is considered poor.

Low sperm counts reduce the chances of one of your sperm fertilizing your partner’s egg and resulting in pregnancy. Despite this, many men with low sperm counts can nonetheless father a child.

What Causes Low Sperm Count? 

Sperm counts might be lowered as a result of lifestyle decisions. Sperm counts can be lowered by smoking, consuming alcohol, and taking certain drugs. Long-term illnesses (such as renal failure), childhood illnesses (such as mumps), and chromosomal or hormone disorders are also possible reasons for low sperm counts (such as low testosterone).

What Increases Sperm Count?

While infertility cannot always be cured, there are certain things you can do to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. A balanced diet, vitamins, and other lifestyle measures can occasionally help with fertility.

Let’s take a look at some ways to increase sperm count:

Get Physically Fit

Regular exercise can enhance testosterone levels and promote fertility, in addition to being excellent for your overall health.

Men who exercise consistently had greater testosterone levels and better sperm quality than sedentary men, according to studies.

However, excessive activity may have the reverse effect, lowering testosterone levels. This risk can be reduced by getting the correct quantity of zinc.

Make getting physically active one of your top objectives if you rarely exercise yet want to boost your fertility.

Reduce Stress

When you’re stressed, it’s difficult to get in the mood, but there might be more to it than just a lack of desire for sex. Stress might affect your fertility and limit your sexual happiness.

The hormone cortisol, according to researchers, may have a role in the negative impacts of stress.

Long-term stress elevates cortisol levels, which has a negative impact on testosterone. When cortisol levels rise, testosterone levels fall.

While medicine is usually used to address severe, inexplicable anxiety, relaxing methods can help with lesser kinds of stress.

Taking a stroll in the woods, meditating, exercising, or socializing with friends can all help to relieve stress.

Take Vitamin C

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can assist to mitigate some of these negative effects. Vitamin C pills have also been shown to boost the quality of sperm.

Infertile males who took 1,000 mg vitamin C tablets twice a day for up to two months had their sperm motility rise by 92 percent and their sperm count increased by more than 100 percent, according to research.

It also reduced the fraction of sperm cells that were malformed by 55%.

Another observational research of Indian factory employees found that ingesting 1,000 mg of vitamin C five times a week for three months might protect sperm cells from DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Supplementing with vitamin C increased sperm count and motility while lowering the number of malformed sperm cells.

This data implies that vitamin C may assist infertile men with oxidative stress and increase their fertility.

Controlled studies, on the other hand, are required before any definitive assertions can be made.

Supplement with D-Aspartic Acid

D-AA is mostly found in glands such as the testicles, as well as in sperm and semen.

D-AA is thought to play a role in male fertility, according to researchers. In fact, D-AA levels in infertile males are substantially lower than in fertile men.

D-AA supplements have been shown in tests to raise testosterone levels, a male sex hormone that plays an important role in male fertility.

Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for both male and female reproduction. It’s another vitamin that has the potential to increase testosterone levels.

Men who were vitamin D deficient were more likely to have low testosterone levels, according to observational research.

These findings were validated by a controlled investigation of 65 males with low testosterone levels and vitamin D insufficiency. They boosted their testosterone levels by roughly 25% after taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day for a year.

Although there is evidence that higher vitamin D levels are associated with increased sperm motility, the data is mixed.

Consume Maca Root

Maca root supplements have been shown to boost libido, fertility, and sexual function.

Maca root is a famous Peruvian plant dish that originates in the country’s central region. It has long been known for its potential to boost libido and fertility.

Taking 1.5–3 grams of dried maca root for up to 3 months boosted self-reported sexual desire or libido in males, according to many studies.

Maca root has also been shown to boost sexual performance in studies. Taking 2.4 grams of dried maca root for 12 weeks increased self-reported erectile function and sexual well-being in males with moderate erectile dysfunction.

In healthy males, using 1.75 grams of maca root powder every day for three months enhanced sperm count and motility.

Reviews have partially supported these findings, but the researchers cautioned that the evidence is poor and that further study is needed before making definitive assertions.

Furthermore, maca root appears to have little effect on hormone levels. In healthy, fertile males, taking 1.5–3 grams of maca root per day for three months had no effect on testosterone or other reproductive hormones.

Try Ashwagandha

The medicinal plant ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been utilized in India since ancient times.

Ashwagandha has been shown in studies to promote male fertility by increasing testosterone levels.

One research found that ingesting 675 mg of ashwagandha root extract per day for three months enhanced fertility in males with low sperm cell counts.

In comparison to the start of the trial, it boosted sperm counts by 167 percent, semen volume by 53 percent, and sperm motility by 57 percent. Those who received a placebo therapy, on the other hand, showed just minor gains.

Increased testosterone levels may play a role in these advantages.

A study of 57 young men who were participating in a strength-training program found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract daily raised testosterone levels, the muscular mass, and strength much more than taking a placebo.

Observational research supports these findings, demonstrating that ashwagandha supplementation may increase sperm counts, motility, antioxidant status, and testosterone levels.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Zinc

Animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and shellfish, are high in zinc, an essential mineral.

One of the pillars of male fertility is getting adequate zinc.

Low zinc status or deficiency has been linked to low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility in observational studies.

Zinc supplementation also boosts testosterone levels and sperm count in zinc-deficient males.

Zinc pills may also help to counteract the drop in testosterone levels that comes with too much high-intensity exercise.

These observational findings must be confirmed in controlled studies.

Tribulus Terrestris

Puncture vine, or Tribulus terrestris, is a medicinal plant that is commonly used to improve male fertility.

In one study, consuming 6 grams of tribulus root twice daily for two months enhanced erectile function and libido in males with low sperm counts.

While Tribulus terrestris does not increase testosterone levels, research suggests that it may boost testosterone’s libido-enhancing benefits.

However, further research is needed to prove its aphrodisiac qualities and assess the hazards and advantages of supplementing with it in the long run.

Try Fenugreek Supplements

One research looked at the effects of consuming 500 mg of fenugreek extract four times a week on 30 men who were strength-training four times a week.

When compared to a placebo, the guys had considerably higher testosterone levels, strength, and fat reduction.

Another study found that taking 600 mg of Testofen, a fenugreek seed extract, and minerals supplement, daily for 6 weeks increased libido, sexual performance, and strength in 60 healthy men.

Another, bigger research of 120 healthy males supported these findings. For three months, taking 600 mg of Testofen every day increased self-reported erectile function and sexual activity frequency.

In addition, the pill raised testosterone levels considerably.

Keep in mind that fenugreek extracts were the focus of all of this research. Whole fenugreek, which is used in cooking and herbal tea, is unlikely to be as beneficial.

Other Ways to Increase Sperm Count

  • Avoid too much soy, as soy is associated with lower sperm quality.
  • Take folate, as studies have shown that low folate intake possibly impairs sperm quality.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle, as unhealthy habits can impair fertility.
  • Get adequate sleep. Sleep is vital to your health, and restricted rest is linked to impaired semen quality.
  • Lose weight to reduce your chances of infertility.
  • Nibble on antioxidant-rich foods which benefits fertility.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to prevent impaired semen quality.

Learn ways to improve your chances of having a successful IUI with these tips.

Getting Pregnant with Low Sperm Count

Before committing time and money to artificial insemination, a sperm test, also known as a semen analysis, is required to assess your chances of having a successful IUI. A semen analysis will determine your sperm count and motility, as well as if IUI is the best fertility treatment option for you and your spouse.

A sperm test is a quick and painless process that requires you to obtain a sample of your sperm. Masturbation into a sterile cup or the use of a special condom during intercourse is the most common method.

Because ejaculation frequency and sample collection impact sperm test results, it’s crucial to skip ejaculation for three to five days before taking the sample and to capture the complete ejaculation.

Signs of Low Sperm Count

Signs of low sperm count may not be evident until you and your partner try to conceive a child and find that pregnancy is not happening. However, if you have a low sperm count that is triggered by an underlying illness such as a hormone imbalance, chromosomal aberration, testicular trouble, or obstruction, you may suffer from symptoms that aren’t the same as symptoms of a low sperm count.

These signs and symptoms might include:

  • Less body or facial hair
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low sex drive
  • Pain or swelling in or near the testicles

Important to know is that there are times when a couple just cannot get pregnant, even when the sperm is normal, the fallopian tubes are open, and there are no endometriosis or ovulation problems. This is referred to as unexplained infertility.

Where to Get Sperm Count Tested

To get your sperm count tested, make an appointment with your doctor to express your concerns. If you and your partner have been having trouble conceiving, you will want to research why. It’s best that you both make separate appointments to help narrow down where the problem lies. Some women have blocked fallopian tubes or other issues that prevent them from conceiving.

Your family doctor will want to refer you to a urologist or fertility specialist who will perform a complete physical and ask you several questions, such as the following:

  • Do you smoke or take any type of drugs?
  • What medications do you take?
  • What surgeries have you had?
  • What are your exercise habits?
  • Have you ever had an STD?

There are a variety of ways to determine a possible fertility problem. The following are common tests that may be performed:

  • Semen analysis. Your sperm count, shape, motility, and other properties are all checked by a professional specialist. In general, having a larger number of normal-shaped sperm indicates more fertility.
  • Physical exam. A physical exam can find or rule out varicoceles, which are abnormal formations of veins above the testicle. Surgery can correct this.
  • Evaluation of Hormones. Testosterone and other hormones are in charge of sperm production. Keep in mind, though, that hormones aren’t the primary cause of infertility in around 97 percent of infertile males. Experts differ on how extensive a search for hormonal causes of infertility should go.
  • Genetic Tests. It can detect particular impediments to fertility as well as sperm abnormalities. When it comes to genetic testing, opinions differ on when genetic testing should be performed.

You may have heard you need to abstain before IUI, but for how long?

How Much Is Semen Analysis?

The cost of semen analysis testing ranges between $75 to $300, depending on what type of semen tests are being performed. Each laboratory performing the tests will have its own rates and will charge accordingly. Some insurance companies are required to cover a portion of the costs of fertility treatments.

Treating Low Sperm Count in Men

The process of treating low sperm count in men begins with the diagnosis. When you go to the doctor because you can’t get your partner pregnant, he or she will try to figure out what’s causing the problem.

Even if your doctor feels your low sperm count is the issue, it’s a good idea to get your spouse checked to rule out any other possible causes and see whether assisted reproductive treatments are needed.

Have a Complete Physical

Examining your genitals and asking questions about any genetic disorders, chronic health issues, illnesses, injuries, or operations that may impair your fertility are all part of this process. Your physician may also inquire about your sexual habits.

Provide a Semen Sample for a Semen Analysis

A semen analysis test is used to determine a low sperm count. Sperm count is usually assessed by looking at sperm under a microscope and counting how many sperm appear in squares on a grid pattern. A computer may be used to calculate sperm count in some instances.

Samples of sperm can be collected in a variety of methods. By masturbating and ejaculating into a designated container in the doctor’s office, you may submit a sample.

Some males prefer an alternate technique of sperm collecting due to religious or cultural beliefs. In such instances, semen can be collected during intercourse by using a specific condom.

Results of Your Semen Analysis

Sperm densities in normal males vary from 15 million to more than 200 million per milliliter of sperm. If you have less than 15 million sperm per milliliter or less than 39 million sperm overall per ejaculate, you have a low sperm count.

With lower sperm counts, your chances of getting your spouse pregnant diminishes. Some males have no sperm at all in their semen.

The amount of sperm in your semen is just one of several elements that go into conception. Some men who have low sperm counts are able to have children. Similarly, some men with normal sperm counts are unable to become fathers.

Other elements, such as good sperm mobility, are needed to establish a pregnancy even if you have enough sperm (motility).

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options available for low sperm count. Those treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy. In situations when infertility is caused by high or low levels of specific hormones or difficulties with the way the body processes hormones, your doctor may offer hormone replacement or drugs.
  • Infection treatment. Antibiotics can treat a reproductive tract infection, but they don’t always restore fertility.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART). Depending on your personal condition and preferences, ART treatments may include collecting sperm by regular ejaculation, surgical extraction, or donor persons. After that, the sperm are either injected into the female vaginal canal or utilized for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
  • Surgery. A varicocele, for example, can often be surgically rectified, as can a blocked vas deferens. Vasectomies that have already been performed can be reversed. When there are no sperm in the ejaculate, sperm retrieval procedures can frequently be used to get sperm straight from the testicles or epididymis.
  • Sexual intercourse treatments. In cases of erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, medication or counseling might assist increase fertility.

How to Get My Wife Pregnant with a Low Sperm Count

IUI with a low sperm count is recommended to get your wife pregnant, as the IUI procedure inserts the semen directly into the uterus so that the sperm do not have to work as hard to swim up to fertilize the eggs. This gives your sperm a head start, which improves your success rate of conception.

Does Smoking Reduce Sperm Count?

Studies have shown that male smoking has been linked to a reduction in the quality of sperm. Men who smoke have lower sperm counts, lower motility, less properly formed sperm, and more sperm DNA damage.

Interesting facts about the effects that smoking has on sperm:

  • Men who smoke have a 23 percent lower sperm concentration, according to studies.
  • Smokers’ sperm has been discovered to have more DNA fragmentation, according to studies. Fertilization, embryo growth, embryo implantation, and higher miscarriage rates may all be affected by DNA-damaged sperm. Smoking can cause abnormal hormone levels in men, which might impact fertility.
  • Smokers have less sperm with a healthy shape than non-smokers. Oddly shaped sperm may not be able to reach the egg and hence will not be able to fertilize it.
  • Researchers discovered a 13 percent reduction in sperm motility in males who smoke. If sperm are unable to swim effectively, they may have difficulty reaching and fertilizing the egg.

What Sperm Count Is Considered Infertile?

A sperm count of less than 15 million sperm per milliliter (mL) of sperm is considered low. However, the average is over 75 million sperm per mL.


Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.