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Everything You Need To Know About Sperm Motility

For most couples in Australia, sperm motility isn’t a concern until it’s time  to grow the family. But knowing what it means, what is normal and what is not, can make all the difference. Motility is simply an organism’s or fluid’s ability to move. Therefore, sperm motility entails the movement or swimming of the sperm.

If your medical care expert in Australia says you have poor sperm motility, it means your sperm isn’t swimming properly. This condition is known as asthenozoospermia, and it can cause male infertility.

What is good sperm motility percentage?
What is a good sperm motility percentage?

Why do sperm swim?

Naturally, sperm are motile cells that can make themselves move automatically. This is an essential aspect when it comes to conceiving. To get pregnant through vagina sexual intercourse, the man will generally need to ejaculate semen close to the cervical canal or at the farthest end of the vaginal canal so the sperm can find their way easily to meet the egg for fertilisation. Even when ejaculated close to the vaginal area, sperm will find a way up to the vaginal canal and enter the cervix, thanks to motility.

It’s also possible for semen to get into a woman’s vaginal canal without ejaculation. This happens through the pre-ejaculation process, whereby a tiny amount of semen-like fluid emerges from the man’s urethra whenever he is sexually aroused. This is one of the primary reasons why the pull-out method is not recommended to prevent pregnancy.

Sperms meet egg

The sperms are naturally designed for swimming so they can get to the ultimate destination: finding the egg and fertilising it. However, the egg moves from the ovary to the fallopian tube, where small hair-like projections known as cilia, an egg cannot swim. What it does is float its way through and get into the fallopian tube with the assistance of the cilia.

On the other hand, sperm can move naturally. They are programmed to swim up from where they are deposited (primarily the cervical canal) through the uterus until they reach the fallopian tube. This is where they are supposed to meet with an ovulated egg. Once they get there and meet the egg, the sperm must fertilise it, a process that also requires constant movement. Various studies have shown that it takes about 2 to 10 minutes for the sperm to get to the fallopian tube after ejaculation.

What improves sperm motility?
What improves sperm motility?

Improving Sperm Motility Through Diet and Lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle play a significant role in sperm health, including motility. Certain foods, such as beef, liver, salmon, oysters, and specific nutrients like Carnitine, Ashwagandha, Vitamin C, CoQ10, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, have been shown to support healthy sperm motility. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking can also improve sperm health. Managing stress levels is also important, as chronic stress can negatively affect sperm health. Furthermore, avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals and extreme temperatures can help maintain optimal sperm motility. It’s worth noting that while these strategies can improve sperm health, they may not be enough to overcome severe sperm motility issues caused by medical conditions or genetic factors. Therefore, men concerned about sperm motility should consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive evaluation and personalised advice.

Sperm motility and general semen health

Generally, mortality is one measurement of sperm and semen health. Other factors must be considered when analysing semen to determine their mortality and overall health. This includes:

  • Semen volume: This refers to how much one ejaculates, and this is measured in millilitres (ml)
  • Sperm concentration: This refers to how many sperm a man has in 1 ml of ejaculation
  • Total sperm count: This is the number of sperm  in a semen sample (they should be approximately 33 to 46 million sperm  on average)
  • Sperm morphology: This is the general shape of the sperm
  • Vitality: This is the percentage of live sperm per sample
  • Time to liquefaction: This is the time it takes for semen to change naturally from thick to liquidy (approximately 20 to 30 minutes)
  • White blood cell count: This refers to the number of white blood cells found in a semen sample(a high count may indicate infection)
  • Semen pH: This refers to the semen acidity

Sperm Motility Measurements in semen analysis

Motility can be evaluated in another analysis of the semen in various ways. This includes:

  • Percentage motile: This refers to the percentage of all the sperm that are moving in a single ejaculation
  • Percentage motile concentration: This is the percentage of sperm moving in one measurement of semen, mainly millions of cells per ml
  • Total motile sperm count: This is the number of sperm that swim in a single ejaculate. The number is most relevant to male fertility prognosis.
  • Average path velocity: This is the movement speed of the sperm, which is measured in microns per second

Progressive, non-progressive, and total motilities

The way the sperm move is also crucial. Progressive mortality refers to how the sperm swim, mostly in large circles or a straight line. Non-progressive motility alludes to sperm that move but do not make the forward progression or manage to swim in tight circles. Total motility is the percentage of sperm that make any movement, which can either be progressive or non-progressive.

For instance, sperm that vibrate in one place may be considered mortal but non-progressive. Sperms that can make zigzag movements and forward progression are deemed to be progressive. Progressive motility is required for the sperm to swim up into the female reproductive tract to fertilise an ovulated egg.

Can you get pregnant with low motility sperm?
Can you get pregnant with low-motility sperm?

The Role of Supplements in Improving Sperm Motility

Supplements can also play a role in improving sperm motility. Certain supplements, such as CoQ10, alpha-tocopherol, and carnitine, have significantly improved sperm count and motility. These supplements provide the body with essential nutrients that support sperm health and function. However, it’s important to note that while supplements can support sperm health, they should not be used as a healthy diet and lifestyle substitute. Furthermore, not all supplements are created equal, and some may contain ingredients that can be harmful or ineffective. Therefore, men considering supplements to improve sperm motility should consult a healthcare provider to ensure they choose safe and effective products.

What’s the number of Sperm Motility that needs to swim properly?

If a man has normal fertility, a single ejaculation of semen may have over 39 million sperm. Not all these firms are expected to be healthy. For each ejaculation sample to be considered normal, it must have about 40% motile or moving sperm. This may include non-progressive and progressive movements; at least 32% of them should have progressive motility.

A poor sperm motility diagnosis is usually made based on the percentage of motile sperm. But studies have found that the total number of motile sperm is a better measurement. Having a total motile sperm count of about 20 million is known to be normal. If a man has less than five million, it means they have poor sperm motility. Less than 1 million is considered a severe or poor sperm motility case.

What cause low speed in sperm?
What causes low motility in sperm?

Understanding the Impact of Environmental Factors on Sperm Motility

Environmental factors can also impact sperm motility. For example, exposure to certain chemicals and plastics can disrupt hormonal balance and negatively affect sperm health. Similarly, keeping electronics off the lap can help maintain optimal testicular temperature, which is crucial for sperm production and motility. It’s also important to avoid extreme heat, as it can impair sperm production and function. On the other hand, certain environmental factors can support sperm health. For example, antioxidants and linolenic acid found in many fruits can boost sperm health and improve motility. By understanding these environmental factors and making appropriate lifestyle adjustments, men can take proactive steps to improve their sperm motility and overall reproductive health.

What factors affect sperm motility?

Usually, when a man has poor motility, they may deal with one or several sperm health issues. For instance, a man with poor sperm mobility will likely have a low sperm count or poor sperm shape (sperm morphology). Any sperm that are not appropriately formed will not be able to swim as expected, and this will affect their capability to travel to the fallopian tube.

In some cases, sperm motility can be harmed by severe illness, constant exposure to chemicals, lifestyle habits such as smoking, extreme cold or heat, or abnormalities in the male reproductive tract such as varicocele.

Poor sperm motility might sometimes occur if the man does not frequently participate in sexual activities. The first ejaculation will probably show poor motility in such a situation, but the second one and the others that follow will get better.

So, if you have sperm motility issues, consider talking to your healthcare provider to know your condition and options if you want to get kids.

Sources:

Fertility2Family only uses trusted & peer-reviewed sources to ensure our articles’ information is accurate and reliable.

Brusie, C. (2023) Sperm motility: Causes, treatment, and more, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/fertility/sperm-motility (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Chen, T. et al. (2022) ICSI outcomes for infertile men with severe or complete asthenozoospermia, Basic and clinical andrology. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8981622/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Cooper, T.G. et al. (2009) World Health Organization Reference Values for human semen characteristics*‡, OUP Academic. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/16/3/231/639175 (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Encyclopaedia Britannica (2023) Semen, Encyclopædia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/science/semen (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Fertility Solutions with an affordable edge (2020) So your sperm morphology is low – should you be worried?, Fertility Solutions Australia. Available at: https://fertilitysolutions.com.au/so-your-sperm-morphology-is-low-should-you-be-worried/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Hamilton, J.A.M. et al. (2015) Total motile sperm count: A better indicator for the severity of male factor infertility than the who sperm classification system, OUP Academic. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/30/5/1110/591132?login=false (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Healthy Male Australia (2023) Male infertility, Healthy Male Australia. Available at: https://www.healthymale.org.au/mens-health/male-infertility (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Mens Health Melbourne Australia (2023) Premature ejaculation Melbourne: Erectile dysfunction: Promescent Melbourne, Mens Health Melbourne Australia. Available at: https://www.menshealthmelbourne.com.au/premature-ejaculation/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Suarez, S.S. and Wolfner, M.F. (2021) Cilia take the egg on a magic carpet ride, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8271566/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

Perry, V (2021) The role of sperm morphology standards in the laboratory assessment of Bull Fertility in Australia, Frontiers in veterinary science. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34124227/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).

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Evan Kurzyp

Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified Registered Nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.

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