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Oligospermia is a condition in which the sperm count is below 15 million/ml semen. Many reproductive and non-reproductive causes have been reported, but the cause remains unexplained in most cases. It is the cause of infertility in approximately a third of couples seeking assisted reproductive techniques in order to conceive.
Some common etiologies include:
Men with severe oligozoospermia, when the sperm count is less than 5 million per ml semen, present with a higher risk (7-10 percent) of genetic abnormalities. These may result in structural or functional testicular abnormalities. Only 20-30 percent of men with azoospermia or severe oligospermia are finally diagnosed to have a specific disorder, while the vast majority of gene abnormalities leading to male infertility remain unknown as of date.
Identified genetic causes of male subfertility include:
It is important to genetically test in men with severe congenital idiopathic structural abnormalities or severe oligospermia. This is because many of these cases may be due to paternally transmitted mutations, or be associated with a high risk of miscarriage or fetal abnormality.