According to a study published on NCBI, around 40-50% of infertility cases are due to male factors. And, in that, around 2% is due to suboptimal sperm quality, including sperm motility.
This signifies that sperm motility plays a crucial role in male fertility and a successful conception among couples. Sperm motility is the efficiency with which the sperm cells move through the female reproductive tract to fertilize the released egg successfully.
Altered sperm motility can result in several complications. Hence, having a detailed understanding of the subject is crucial.
This article will highlight everything you need to know about sperm motility and its effect on successful pregnancy.
In this Article
What is Sperm Motility?
Sperm motility is the efficiency of the sperm’s movement through the female reproductive tract. In other words, sperm motility defines the sperm’s ability to swim in the right direction and in a uniform manner to result in a successful pregnancy.
Healthy sperm motility is signified by forward progressions after releasing into the female reproductive tract. The rate of movement should be 25 micrometers per second. This is considered the healthy range of sperm motility.
What are the types of Sperm Motility?
In medical terms, sperm motility is further categorized into two types – progressive motility and non-progressive motility.
Progressive motility – the sperm swims in a straight line or large circles.
Non-progressive motility – the sperm swims randomly in closely-knit circles.
Progressive motility signifies healthy sperm motility in the man, especially with the rate of movement at 25 micrometers per second.
Men whose sperm motility is less than 32% can experience infertility or have difficulty conceiving a baby with their partner.
Does Sperm Motility Affect Fertility?
Around 7% of men across the world struggle with infertility. Poor sperm motility is one of the most common reasons behind male factor infertility.
Poor sperm motility leads to unsuccessful fertilization, which later leads to infertility complications in the couples.
The sperm motility issues aren’t just limited to non-progressive motility. Other causes can also include slow or sluggish progressive motility and no mobility, leading to lack of fertilization and pregnancy.
The ideal sperm motility percentage for pregnancy should be more than 32%. Anything less than 32% can lead to complications with the conception.
What Can Lead to Low Sperm Motility?
As we mentioned before, the normal sperm motility rate is 25 micrometers per second. If a man is having a hard time conceiving with their partner, the chances are that they might have issues with low sperm motility.
So, what causes low sperm motility?
The causes are often subjective and depend on the overall quality of the sperm and the sexual health of the partners. Some common causes worth noting are:
- Testicular cancer
- History of testicular surgery
- Trauma or injury to the testicles
- Undescended testicles
Besides these, even long-term consumption of certain medications like steroids is associated with low sperm motility in men.
How can Low Sperm Motility be Diagnosed?
Like most sperm-related issues, even low sperm motility is diagnosed with a routine semen analysis.
The test checks for different factors that dictate the efficiency, anatomy and functions of the sperm cells. It is a non-invasive procedure that provides precise readings.
For the procedure, the patient has to provide one or two semen samples. The samples can be directly provided at the diagnostic laboratory or a doctor’s chamber via masturbation.
If a patient isn’t comfortable doing that, they can engage in sexual intercourse with their partner while wearing a condom. The collected sample from the condom should be kept at room temperature and then given to the laboratory within 60 minutes after ejaculation.
Depending on the reports, the doctor will further suggest treatments or refer to an infertility specialist for further testing and treatment.
What is the Treatment for Low Sperm Motility?
The deficiency of certain compounds like selenium and Vitamin E can contribute to low sperm motility. So, depending on the cause, your infertility specialist might start with lifestyle changes and occasional supplementation.
If you are wondering, “Is low sperm count treatable?”, the answer is yes. However, there are no direct treatment options.
But, leading an active lifestyle with a balanced diet has proven benefits in improving sperm motility.
Also, obesity is a common contributor to low sperm motility. So, weight management is also an effective way to enhance sperm motility in men. Some men are also advised to wear loose-fitting underwear to reduce the temperature of the scrotum.
A study has found benefits with supplementation of Vitamin E and selenium in patients with low sperm motility, so that is a possible line of treatment in some cases.
However, if the low sperm motility is due to severe medical complications like varicocele, hormonal imbalance or obstruction in the male reproductive tract, the doctor might suggest medications or surgical intervention for the issue.
Sperm motility is a common deciding factor behind male fertility. Successful pregnancy with low sperm motility is possible and not an obsolete thought. However, low sperm motility associated with other anatomical or functional issues with the sperm can lead to rising infertility concerns. Consulting the right specialists and getting an early diagnosis can help overcome the shortcomings effectively.