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Understanding low sperm motility and its effects

If you or your partner have been told you have low sperm motility, you will probably have a lot of questions. You may be wondering what’s caused it, if anything can be done to improve it and how your fertility may be affected. In this blog post, we answer all these questions and more.

What is sperm motility?

Sperm motility refers to the ability of the sperm to swim in the correct way. If you have low sperm motility, also known as asthenospermia, your sperm does not move as efficiently as it should. If less than 40 percent of your sperm moves in the right way, you are said to have low sperm motility . You can find out whether low sperm motility may be an issue 1 for you by having your semen analysed at a laboratory. Some home testing kits can also be used to determine sperm motility.

What is ‘progressive motility of sperm’?

Progressive motility refers to sperm that mostly travel in straight lines or large circles2. Sperm with progressive motility tends to make forward progression easily, giving it a good chance of reaching an ovulated ovum (egg).

What is ‘non-progressive motility of sperm’?

Non-progressive motility is the term given to sperm that does not move in a linear way. Instead, this kind of sperm tends to move in very tight circles. This means that it does not make forward progression, making it difficult for it to get to the egg.

How should sperm cells move?

Healthy, functioning sperm cells should move in a rapid, linear way. This is so they can travel up through the cervical canal, into the uterine cavity, and make their way to the fallopian tubes to fertilise the ovum. Many natural barriers, such as the acidic nature of the vagina, the narrow cervical entrance, and the thick and sticky consistency of cervical mucus, can impede the sperm’s journey to its final destination. These obstacles make sperm cells’ ability to move correctly even more important.

What causes non-motile sperm or low motility sperm?

When it comes to sperm, there are different grades of motility. You may hear the phrase ‘non-motile’ being used to describe sperm that’s unable to move, while low motility may be used to describe sperm that moves sluggishly or doesn’t make forward progress. If you have non-motile sperm or reduced motility, you may be wondering what’s caused this issue. As there is a wide variety of factors that can contribute to this problem, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your asthenospermia and you may need to undergo investigations to rule out different causes.

Here are some of the reasons for reduced motility or non-motile sperm:

● Genetics

You may have inherited or congenital genetic defects that prevent sperm cells from moving as they should. You may be able to have genetic screening to find out if this is the case.

● An underlying medical condition

Your motility problem may be a result of an undiagnosed medical condition. For example, testicular cancer is known to affect sperm quality. It’s important to see a doctor so that they can rule out any serious medical conditions.

● Testicular trauma

Injury to the testicles can result in reduced sperm quality in some cases. If you’ve experienced trauma to your testicles or pelvic region, you should seek advice from a medical professional.

● Obesity

Various studies have concluded that there is a link between male obesity and sperm quality and function.

● Smoking

Smoking can have a big impact on male fertility, affecting everything from sperm count to sperm motility to the shape of sperm.

● Alcohol

Excessive drinking can increase your chance of developing sperm abnormalities.

● Recreational drugs

Drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, and anabolic steroids can play a part in male infertility by reducing sperm quality.

How to improve sperm motility

Low sperm motility is a common cause of infertility in men. This is because it is more difficult for the sperm cell to meet the egg if it is not moving in the right way. If you have low sperm motility, you may find it harder to father a child. However, it is worth noting that conception is possible.

To improve the motility of your sperm and give yourself the best chance of becoming a dad, you should consider taking these steps:

● Keep your testicles cool

Your testicles need to be kept a little below body temperature in order to make good quality sperm. To help with this, you should avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear that increases the temperature of your testicles, and if your work requires you to operate in hot environments, you should make sure you take breaks regularly.

Maintain a healthy weight If you’re overweight or obese, your sperm quality can be affected and this may make getting pregnant more challenging. You should try to reach and maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise.

● Take supplements that target sperm development

Taking a clinically proven supplement that is designed to optimise sperm health can help to improve the quality of sperm. Such supplements work by enhancing sperm energy metabolism, increasing sperm quality, and protecting sperm from oxidative stress. You can find out where to buy targeted male health supplements online.

● Stop smoking

Quitting smoking may help you to improve the motility of your sperm. These days, there are a variety of aids and methods that can be used to assist you with smoking cessation, from online support to hypnotherapy to nicotine replacement therapy. You can seek advice from your physician to find the best option for you.

● Reduce your alcohol intake

It’s recommended that men do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. These units shouldn’t be consumed at once, rather they should be spread out over three days or more. If you need support with reducing your alcohol intake, you should seek help from your doctor or a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

● Avoid recreational drugs

If you’re planning a pregnancy, you should avoid recreational drugs as they can negatively affect your sperm quality and your fertility. If you need help getting off drugs, you can seek advice from your doctor. You may also find it helpful to get support from drug support services.

While low sperm motility may make getting pregnant more difficult, it does not have to spell the end of your chances of conceiving. By taking advice from your doctor and following steps like these, you can improve your chances of becoming a father.