What Can Cause Low Sperm Motility?



If your doctor has diagnosed your partner with low sperm motility, or asthenospermia, you may be wondering what that means and what exactly caused it. An In-Depth Report on Infertility in Men by the New York Times describes asthenospermia as the sperm’s inability to move correctly. If the movement of the sperm is sluggish or not in a straight line, then the sperm will have a hard time attempting to invade the cervical mucus, or penetrate the egg. If at least 40 percent of the sperm can move in a straight line, then low sperm motility is usually diagnosed.

Having low motility can be detrimental to conceiving a child, but there are methods and ways to fix the problem and help increase your odds at having a child.

What is Low Sperm Motility?

Low sperm motility occurs when the sperm does not make it past the vaginal canal and if it does, it dies soon after. The sperm have to be very quick to get where they are going, and in some cases if they are not strong enough swimmers, they will perish before they ever reach the egg. The vagina is not the most friendliest host for sperm, so sperm motility issues can cause massive problems when trying to conceive.

What Causes Low Sperm Motility?

There are many different causes of low sperm motility, although most of these issues can be easily addressed:

  • Stress: Stress can affect the sperm and can cause problems with motility. Doing what you can to alleviate stress can help increase motility.
  • Heat: Heat can cause many problems for sperm, so avoid hot showers and saunas, sitting in hot tubs, wearing tight underwear and clothing, and never rest your laptop directly on your lap for extended periods.
  • Vitamins and minerals:  A lack of vitamins and minerals can cause problems when it comes to sperm motility. There have been a few studies conducted that showed that elevated zinc levels, which can assist with low sperm count, may also cause low sperm motility. Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 can help improve sperm motility, and if your body is low on these, sperm might not respond as they are supposed to. Eating a balanced diet can also help with sperm motility.
  • Heavy metals: Recent studies have shown that sperm motility can be directly linked to heavy metals. It is suggested that you avoid all foods and sources that might expose you to heavy metals.
  • Sex: Having too much sex can cause problems for the sperm. Only have sex every 2-3 days during the time when you are not ovulating to make sure that the sperm is healthy and will be mobile. You can have sex every day for the days surrounding ovulation but do not overdo it, as this cannot only affect motility, but overall sperm count as well.
  • Medications: A few medications can be responsible for low sperm motility. For example, hormones and a few types of steroids can slow sperm down, make them weaker, and decrease motility levels.
  • Smoking: In addition to being an unhealthy habit, smoking tobacco is thought to cause low sperm motility as well.
  • Alcohol: Too much alcohol can also affect overall sperm motility.
  • Genetics: Low sperm motility can be the result of DNA fragmentation. This genetic problem can be passed on to children.

Last modified: June 3, 2014