In This Article
In This Article
Many couples struggle to get pregnant, which can occur because of various circumstances and reasons.
Some of them have to do with a man’s sperm, its physical characteristics, and its motility. In fact, 40-50% of infertility cases worldwide are due to male infertility, which sometimes affects sperm health.1
“Infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected sex,” clarifies our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.
A healthy sperm, an adequate sperm count, and progressive motility will increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Suboptimal sperm can heavily impact fertility and the likelihood of conceiving successfully.
Luckily, you can make several lifestyle changes to improve sperm motility and your chances of conceiving naturally. The choices you make, whether it’s exercise or diet, affect sperm motility heavily.
Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move or propel itself efficiently.
When an organism is “motile,” it makes itself move. This is particularly important for sperm, as they need to navigate the cervical canal post-ejaculation, find, and fertilize an egg in the fallopian tube.
Healthy sperm are very motile and can easily make the journey from the cervical canal to the fallopian tube. However, poor sperm motility can cause the sperm to swim poorly and fail to reach the egg, fail to penetrate the egg, or even fail to pass through cervical mucus.
If your doctor determines that sperm motility is the problem, they may do further tests and measure the following:2
Poor sperm motility is characterized by:
Your sperm quality is important and has to be at its best to capitalize on your chances of conceiving.
When doing semen analyses, your doctor won’t just check if your sperm move.
While sperm that’s moving and swimming is considered “motile,” the movement isn’t always a good sign. Sperm that wriggles in place is still considered motile, but if it can’t swim straight and towards the egg, it won’t increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Sperm motility is classified into three categories:3
Progressive motility is achieved when your sperm can travel at 25 micrometers per second. This is why only efficient movement is considered when testing sperm motility. While other sperm may be motile, they’re not always productive.
“Sperm motility isn’t the only factor that guarantees fertilization. It is important to also check the physical characteristics of the sperm. We often check the sperm’s color, odor, pH, viscosity, etc.,” reminds Dr. Mira.
What’s considered normal sperm motility is when the sperm can swim forward progressively at 25 micrometers per second. Failing to clear this means that the sperm may be sluggish and suboptimal.
Motile sperm can swim at this speed and easily make the journey from the cervical canal to the egg.
If less than 32% of sperm move forward progressively at this speed, it’s considered poor or low motility.
“The sperm travels from the cervical canal to the uterus then to the fallopian tubes, where it meets the egg. This process occurs in about 72 hours,” explains Dr. Mira.
There’s no single cause for poor sperm motility.
Many factors can affect sperm motility, such as:
The health and quality of your sperm rely heavily on the lifestyle choices you make. With a poor diet, little to no exercise, and some vices, your sperm may suffer in terms of motility.
Excessively warm temperatures also affect motility and sperm count. With higher temperatures, motility is impaired and decreases the number of healthy sperm.
Your doctor may ask you for a semen analysis, which will show you an assessment of the following:
When it comes to sperm motility tests, they will test how much efficient, progressive movement your sperm makes by observing the sperm in your sample. By taking note of the number of sperm moving progressively compared to how much are in the sample, they can determine the percentage of your sperm that’s motile and efficient.
Testing for sperm motility helps you better understand any difficulties you may be experiencing when it comes to having a baby.
Knowing that your sperm may have poor motility can help you identify the changes you need to make to be in a better condition to conceive.
When you’re aware of what you need to improve and adjust, you eliminate other possibilities of infertility and can focus on rectifying that area.
You can improve sperm motility by adjusting your lifestyle choices, avoiding foods that contribute negatively to your diet, and ensuring you aren’t in excessively warm temperatures when attempting to conceive.
Your sperm motility directly results from how you take care of yourself. So a lifestyle full of junk food and little to no exercise can negatively affect sperm motility. An unhealthy body creates unhealthy sperm.
You should also get checked by a healthcare professional if you want to be sure.
“Doctors also check for infections or varicoceles that may be present that can also impact sperm motility,” says Dr. Mira.
While you may be worried that poor sperm motility will forever impact your chances of having kids, don’t panic.
It can be something that you can work on so, yes, you can still have kids.
If sperm motility doesn’t improve drastically even with major lifestyle changes over several months, you can still opt for the following:
Conceiving naturally isn’t your only option. Even with poor sperm motility, there are still ways to have a baby.