There are many factors that come into play when you are getting pregnant. For women, ovulation, menstrual cycle regularity and hormone balance are the main players. For men, it is all about the sperm. When there are issues on either side, getting pregnant can be more difficult.
Without healthy sperm, getting pregnant becomes increasingly more difficult. There are three main components when considering sperm health. Sperm count, sperm morphology and sperm motility.
What is Sperm Motility?
Sperm motility refers to the movement of sperm. In a healthy man, normal sperm motility is considered to be 50%. That means at least half of all the sperm in a sperm sample should be traveling forward. If a man’s sperm sample has less than 50% motility, it is considered to have low sperm motility.
Why is Sperm Motility Important?
Sperm motility is important for fertility because sperm needs to be able to travel forward up the vagina, past the cervix and into the uterus in order to fertilize the egg. It doesn’t matter how much sex a couple has, or what a man’s sperm count is, if the sperm are unable to travel toward the egg.
Causes of Low Motility
Low sperm motility may have one of a few different causes: a man’s sperm motility may be influenced by genetics or age, overall health, or hormonal balance in the pituitary. A lesser cause might be wearing too restrictive underwear or spending too much time in hot tubs—it seems like an old wives’ tale, but there may be some truth to the idea that a man’s sperm count and motility may be affected by keeping the testicles too warm.
How to Improve Chances of Conception
The least invasive way is to ensure that the man is eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. Important vitamins to sperm health include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. The best and most absorbable way to get these nutrients is by eating a good diet full of quality fats and proteins, although there may be some benefit to taking supplements targeted to improving sperm motility if a man is concerned that his diet is inadequate.
The next method to increase chances of conceiving with a man with low sperm motility is intra-utero insemination (IUI). This is a method wherein the sperm are harvested, cleaned, and then “shot” into a woman’s cervix while she is ovulating, in the hopes that one of the sperm will meet the egg.
The most invasive and expensive method is in-vitro insemination. This is where both eggs and sperm are harvested, fertilized in a test tube, and implanted into the woman’s uterus. This method is especially taxing to the woman, as she is required to be injected with hormone shots at specific times and is required to attend many follow-up appointments. Still, this is a step that many couples are willing to take if it increases their chances of conceiving. Low sperm motility can be a challenging condition to overcome, but many couples have found success with these interventions.