By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 02/20/2018

Hypospermia is a condition that affects the quality of a man’s semen sample by causing low semen volume. The sperm parameter that is affected is the sperm volume, which is below the reference value of 1.5 ml per ejaculate. It is the opposite of hyperspermia, and should not be confused with oligospermia, which is defined as having a low sperm count.

Hypospermia can cause male infertility if it prevents pregnancy in the couple. The good news is that it doesn’t happen in all cases. As a general rule, a man is able to conceive naturally in spite of having a low ejaculate volume as long as the sperm count and quality are normal.

Definition

Hypospermia is a condition that causes a man to have an abnormal volume of ejaculate, which is below 1.5 ml. Low sperm volume, as well as any other type of sperm disorder, can be diagnosed using a semen analysis or seminogram.

Sperm volume is considered normal when it ranges between 1.5 and 6 ml according to the reference values published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On the other hand, when the ejaculate volume is too low, that is, when there is almost no semen in the ejaculate, it may be a case of anejaculation (inability to ejaculate in males). It is often caused by a blockage or retrograde ejaculation.

Get more info by clicking the following link: Post-Testicular Factors of Male Infertility – Causes & Treatment.

Causes

Firstly, it should me reminded that the sperm volume is significantly affected by age—it decreases eventually as the man gets older. Unfortunately, this is a natural process that occurs in every male.

On the other hand, the following factors may cause hypospermia as well:

Partial retrograde ejaculation
Sperm travel toward the bladder when the man ejaculates. It can be caused by congenital anomalies of the male urethra or medications to treat prostatic hyperplasia. It has been associated with prostate surgery as well.
Vasa deferentia and seminal vesicle agenesis
As a consequence of a congenital anomaly of the male genital organs.
Ejaculatory Duct Obstruction (EDO)
Due to an inflammation or infection in the ejaculatory ducts, like prostatitis or varicocele.
Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS)
It occurs when a person who is genetically male is resistant to male hormones (i.e. androgens), either partially or totally.
Neurologic erectile dysfunction
Loss of the nerve impulses that travel through the penis.
Ejaculating too much
Repeated ejaculation result in lower sperm volume.
Bladder Neck Incision (BNI)
In men with problems passing urine.

Some studies have shown that men who smoke or have overweight problems may have a lower amount of ejaculate as well.

In any case, your urologist should examine your case in detail in order to detect the presence of other severe conditions that may be going unnoticed.

Symptoms & risk factors

Unless there is another disease or abnormality causing hypospermia, this sperm alteration often comes without symptoms. The most obvious sign is, however, the presence of a lower semen volume during ejaculation.

If you identify with any of the following risk factors and have recently noticed that your ejaculate volume has decreased, you may be suffering from hypospermia:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Infections
  • Advanced age (>40 years old)
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress and other psychological issues
  • Trauma in the testicles
  • Retrograde flow of semen

Also, having a low volume of semen may come hand in hand with other signs associated with abnormal semen. If your semen has a yellowish or greenish color, has traces of blood, comes with a foul odor, is abnormally thick or too watery, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

These signs of abnormal semen can indicate the presence of a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), infections, retrograde ejaculation, inability of your ejaculate to clot properly, etc. and can definitely affect your fertility.

Fertility & pregnancy

In order to evaluate the sperm quality with a semen analysis, a sexual abstinence period of between 3 to 5 days is required prior to collecting the sample. Otherwise, you may be at risk of being diagnosed with hypospermia for this reason.

To get an accurate diagnosis of hypospermia through a semen analysis, the semen sample should be collected within at least three days after the last ejaculation.

Also, being diagnosed with hypospermia does not mean that you are infertile by default. It is only logical that, when a man produces a low amount of sperm, the sperm count is lower than in males without hypospermia. However, it is possible for the sperm count, sperm morphology and sperm motility to be normal in spite of hypospermia.

A man with a good ejaculate volume but diagnosed with poor sperm motility and/or morphology may have the same chances of achieving pregnancy than a man that has hypospermia and produces normal, high-quality sperm.

Although it is true that hypospermia often correlates with oligospermia or low sperm count, the truth is that these sperm disorders do not always come hand in hand.

If you have been trying to conceive for a while without success and you find that hypospermia is preventing you from having a baby, you should consider having it treated via any of the potential treatment options that you shall find in the following section.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for hypospermia. There exist, however, a series of pills and diet supplements that can boost your sperm volume to some extent.

If the cause of hypospermia is an infection in the seminal vesicles or the prostate, surgery may be a solution. However, this treatment option doesn’t always work and the semen volume does not increase in all cases.

Also, if hypospermia is diagnosed along with other sperm disorders such as poor motility (asthenozoospermia) or abnormal morphology (teratozoospermia), your chances of pregnancy may be dramatically diminished. In such case, you may have no alternative but to turn to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), whether Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), depending on the results.

For example, in cases of anejaculation or total absence of ejaculate, the specialist may need to use special techniques for the collection of spermatozoa prior to IUI or IVF, such as epididymal sperm aspiration or testicular biopsy.

If you need to undergo IVF to become a mother, we recommend that you use "The Calculator". In 3 simple steps, it will show you a list of clinics that fit your preferences and meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, you will receive a report via email with useful tips to visit a fertility clinic for the first time.

FAQs from users

Can low sperm volume cause infertility?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Only if it comes along with other sperm abnormalities, such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and/or abnormal sperm morphology. When it is only a case of hypospermia, these males are still able to achieve pregnancy, either naturally or by means of ART.

Does small amount of ejaculate mean low sperm count?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Not necessarily. Although it is true that ejaculating a small amount of semen is often associated with having low sperm count as well, this is not like that in all cases. A man can ejaculate a small amount of semen but have a normal count.

Does vasectomy affect ejaculate volume?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

No. A man continues to ejaculate after a vasectomy. Keep in mind that sperm make up only 2 to 5 percent of the total ejaculate, so it is not possible to notice any difference in the volume.

Is having low ejaculate volume a sign of prostate cancer?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Although having less semen than usual during ejaculation is a symptom of locally advanced prostate cancer, it does not mean prostate cancer by default.

Can anabolic steroids lead to low sperm volume?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, the use of anabolic steroids and other drugs in general can affect the male reproductive function to a large extent. However, the good news is that it is reversible in most cases. It can also affect the sperm count and rise the number of deformed spermatozoa.

Does low ejaculate volume mean low testosterone?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Low testosterone (i.e. hypogonadism) is just one factor that can cause a decreased ejaculate volume, but they are not directly linked in all cases.

Suggested for you

As briefly explained above, a seminogram or semen analysis is a diagnostic test used to detect potential sperm disorders, including hypospermia or low semen volume. You can learn all the details about this common test here: What Is a Semen Analysis Report? – Purpose, Preparation & Cost.

There exist many other sperm disorders that can come along with hypospermia, or even be the cause behind low sperm production. The following post may provide you with a much deeper insight: Sperm Disorders that Cause Male Infertility.

Sperm agglutination is another sperm disorder that can be detected through a semen analysis and can cause a man’s sperm to be sticky. Check out this for information: What Is Agglutination in Sperm? – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.

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Authors and contributors

 Zaira Salvador
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Embryologist specializing in Assisted Procreation, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). More information
License: 3185-CV
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2 comments

  1. Featured
    Patrick Blue

    Hello, with by wife we want to have a baby but pregnancy never shows up… I think my sperm volume is too low, is it because we have sex too often or what’s going on with us?

    • Sandra FernándezBA, MA

      Dear Patrick Blue,

      Ejaculating too much is a common cause of hypospermia, but not the most concerning one. My advice is that you refrain from intercourse for 3-5 days and then undergo a semen analysis to check if everything is okay with the remaining sperm parameters.

      I hope this helps,

      Best wishes