Low sperm count

How to get this problem diagnosed and the treatment options available

Infertility is when a couple cannot conceive (get pregnant) despite having regular unprotected sex.

Around one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving. This is approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.

About 84% of couples will conceive naturally within one year if they have regular unprotected sex.

For every 100 couples trying to conceive naturally:

  • 84 will conceive within one year
  • 92 will conceive within two years 
  • 93 will conceive within three years

For couples who have been trying to conceive for more than three years without success, the likelihood of pregnancy occurring within the next year is 25% or less.

Deciding to seek help

Some women get pregnant quickly but for others it can take longer. It is a good idea for a couple to visit their GP if they have not conceived after one year of trying.

Women over the age of 36, and anyone who is already aware they may have fertility problems, should see their GP sooner. The GP can check for common causes of fertility problems, and suggest treatments that could help.

A couple will only be diagnosed as being infertile if they have not managed to have a baby after one year of trying. There are two types of infertility:

  • primary infertility, where someone who has never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving
  • secondary infertility, where a person has had one or more pregnancies in the past, but is having difficulty conceiving again

Read more information about how infertility is diagnosed.

What causes infertility?

There are many potential causes of infertility, and fertility problems can affect either the man or the woman. However, it is not always possible to identify the cause.

Common causes of infertility in women include lack of regular ovulation (the monthly release of an egg), blockage of the fallopian tubes and endometriosis, although for 25% of couples the cause is unexplained. In men, the most common cause is poor quality of semen (the fluid containing sperm that is ejaculated during sex).

For some people, leading a healthy lifestyle and staying up to date with regular health checks and tests may help to prevent infertility.

What treatment is available?

Types of fertility treatment available include:

The treatment offered will depend on what is causing your fertility problems and what is available from your local CCG.

You may wish to consider private treatment. This can be expensive and there is no guarantee it will be successful.

It is important to choose a private clinic carefully. You can ask your GP for advice, and you should make sure you choose a clinic that is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Read more information about how infertility is treated.

Some types of infertility treatment can cause complications including:

Read more information about complications associated with infertility treatments.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2013

Next review due: 20/11/2015


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Manisha20 said on 13 August 2012

I started to take Clomifene 50mg this month. I went for my 12 day scan and the consultant said that they can see if the medication is working if the ovaries are over 2cm.
My right ovary was measured 2.5cm but the left oveary was only measured 1.8cm.
Does this mean that the medication isnt working?
I dont know what this results mean for me.
I went to get the day 21 progestorone blood test today. I wont know the results.
Can you please help?

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missybrown said on 02 February 2012

i have been trying for 5 years with my husband i have a child who is 7 and a half from previous partner. I have pcos and just recently had ultrasound scan that confirmed i have a big cyst on one of my ovaries and a fibroid in my uterus and now going for tests as there is a lump low down on my belly suggested endometriosis. i'm worried i will not conceive with my husband and as im 30 this year im more concerned im not getting any younger and therefore my chances are ever decreasing. Is there anybody who will put my mind at ease that i will conceive soon having similar symptoms themselves/ x

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haleyk8 said on 08 January 2012

I was trying for a baby for 15 months which sounds like such a short time now when i look back. It felt like a lifetime! I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and thought i'd never have a baby! My GP was doing test on infertile women at the time, screening them for vitamin D deficiency. I was found to have very low levels and was put on Colcalciferol. I got pregnant the very same month that i started taking them. Colcalciferol is a vitamin D supplement in a higher strength than those bought in health food shops. Still, it's worth a try, either ask your gp to screen you.

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CookieMrie1991 said on 24 October 2011

is there anyone who can help me find out about going private for fertility tests,i have had enough of my GP is useless ! i am not getting any answers then i already knew!. i have been trying 5years of unprotected sex have now been in a relationship 2years still no luck! i have had some problems that i wish to talk private about and very weird periods plus extreme pain !

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MissC172 said on 16 October 2011

Hia, Me and my partner have been trying to have a baby for 3 and a half years now and nothing has ever happened. I havent contacted my gp about it as i am a little embarrest incase i have to do a load of tests. I also have very irregular periods. I could have up to 4 in a month, since i came off the contraceptive pill. I also suffer with bad achne on my back from time to time, I have read about PCOS, but my family dont suffer with high chlorestrol or any of the symptoms showing. My weight always differs, and i can lose weight as quick as i put it on, as it shows ive lose around a stone and a half in a week. What should i do? Do you suggest anything with these symptoms.

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