Your ability to impregnate your partner will depend a lot on the health of your sperm. There are various criteria for healthy sperm including semen volume, shape or morphology, sperm count, and sperm motility. If there’s a problem with any of these factors, it can lead to male-factor infertility.
Healthy motile sperm cells move forward 25 micrometers per second or more. When your sperm cells are not able to move this much, the condition is called asthenospermia. Sadly, 1 in 5,000 men has complete asthenospermia, meaning all their sperm are immotile. Below you’ll find more details about sperm motility and how you can address this problem.
Causes Of Poor Sperm Motility
Poor sperm motility is caused by a variety of factors resulting in different types of motility issues. For instance, your sperm may be able to swim forward, however, their movements are sluggish or slow.
If your sperm only moves forward by 5 micrometers per second or less, it’s referred to as non-progressive motility. If you have complete asthenospermia, your sperm are not able to move at all. This is a problem that causes infertility because your sperm cells are supposed to swim towards your partner’s egg cell to fertilize it.
There are instances when poor sperm motility is caused by genetic factors. However, in most cases, medical conditions, lifestyle and environmental factors are the main reasons why sperm motility is poor.
For instance, the association between tobacco consumption and decreased sperm motility has long been established by various scientific studies. This is especially true if you smoke ten or more cigarette sticks every day.
Environmental factors such as your type of work and where you work may also cause decreased sperm motility. Those whose jobs involve painting and driving for long hours, for instance, have higher risks of work-induced male-factor infertility.
Poor sperm motility is also linked to a condition referred to as varicocele. Just like varicose veins, the veins inside your scrotum become enlarged when you have a varicocele. If you have experienced any injury or damage to your testicles, you may also suffer from poor sperm motility.
Examples of damage to the testicles that may cause reduced sperm motility include infections, injuries, cancer, surgery, and genetic issues. If you had undescended testicles when you were young, you may also be at risk for developing infertility due to poor sperm motility.
Treatment Options For Low Sperm Motility
In most cases, when you get treated for low sperm motility, it will also necessitate many changes in your lifestyle. These changes aren’t limited to just eating properly or exercising regularly.
If you used to smoke and drink a lot, you may need to limit your alcohol consumption and quit smoking altogether. You’ll also need to maintain a healthy weight since obesity is another risk factor for infertility.
Although the main objective is to increase your fertility, these lifestyle changes will cause a lot of improvements in your health. As a bonus, these will also help improve your sexual function, so you can look forward to performing better in the bedroom.
If the reduction in your sperm motility is caused by an underlying medical issue such as if you suffer from hormonal imbalance, your doctor may prescribe hormone medications. Human chorionic gonadotropin and follicle-stimulating hormone are often used to improve hormonal balance.
Your doctor may also recommend making use of assisted reproductive technology. In artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI), your sperm is collected and then your doctor will insert the fastest moving sperm into your partner’s womb through the use of a fine plastic tube.
In IVF or in vitro fertilization, your partner’s eggs and your sperm are collected separately. The eggs are fertilized with your sperm and if an embryo is formed, the embryo is then returned to your partner’s womb. IVF is currently the most commonly used type of assisted reproductive technology.
Supplements For Improved Sperm Motility
One way to increase your sperm motility is to take supplements. Although there are many supplements that you can take to improve your sperm health, if your goal is to improve sperm motility, you should take supplements for vitamin E and selenium.
Vitamin E is a known antioxidant that helps protect sperm cells from damage. Selenium, on the other hand, is necessary for your testicles to develop normally. This essential element is also important for spermatogenesis and sperm motility and function.
In one study, the effects of vitamin E and selenium supplementation on the semen parameters of infertile men were investigated. The study involved close to 700 men who were suffering from unexplained asthenospermia.
Prior to participating in the study, these men had been infertile for a long time. The shortest duration of male-factor infertility among the participants was one year, while there were also those who battled with infertility for ten years.
The treatment involved taking selenium supplements at 200 micrograms every day, in combination with 400 units of vitamin E also taken daily, for a duration of 100 days. The results were very interesting in that more than half of the participants showed significant improvements in sperm morphology, sperm motility, or both.
What was even more impressive is that among the 690 men who participated in the study, there were 75 cases of spontaneous pregnancy reported after the treatment. The results of the study showed that both selenium and vitamin E, when taken together, have significant protective effects on sperm motility.
Aside from vitamin E and selenium, you can also take zinc supplements. Zinc is another important nutrient that provides antioxidant protection to your sperm. Zinc, just like selenium, is also necessary for proper sperm production. Infertile men usually have much lower levels of zinc as compared to healthy men.
You can also increase your zinc intake by eating more foods that are rich in zinc such as oysters and other shellfish. Red meat, poultry, eggs, legumes, and fortified breakfast items are also rich in zinc.
Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10 are also great antioxidants for protecting your sperm and improving your sperm parameters. For natural sources of vitamin C, you should eat more fruits like strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits.