Difficulties getting pregnant are often related to issues with sperm. The three main problems include:
- Sperm Motility – This means that the sperm struggles to navigate through the cervical mucus and the female reproductive system.
- Sperm Count – Low sperm counts in the semen make getting pregnant more difficult.
- Sperm Morphology – Deformed sperm fall into this category.
A low sperm count refers to a situation in which a man's semen does not contain a "normal" amount of sperm. You will be diagnosed as having low sperm count if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
A low sperm count is the most common fertility problem for men. Low sperm motility means a man's sperm do not move forward as they should. If the sperm does not move forward, they cannot make the journey from the vagina past the cervix towards the fallopian tubes, where they can fertilize an egg.
Changing what you do on a day to day basis might be all you need to treat low sperm motility.
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 has 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 friendliest host for sperm, so sperm motility issues can cause massive problems when trying to conceive.
WHY IS SPERM MOTILITY IMPORTANT?
Sperm motility is essential for fertility because sperm needs to be able to travel forward up the vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus 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 is unable to travel toward the egg. Sperm that doesn't or can't move will not be able to fertilize the egg and achieve pregnancy.
MAJOR CAUSES OF LOW SPERM MOTILITY
Changing the habits below can naturally improve sperm motility.
- Hot Testicles - If you like extra hot showers, sitting in the hot tub, or wearing tight-fitting undies and pants, you need to stop those activities if you have low sperm motility. The overheated testicles harm the sperm.
- Being Stressed Out - Stress can wreak havoc on your body, and sperm health is not exempt. When you are stressed out, your body produces chemicals that can negatively affect overall sperm quality and lower your chances of getting pregnant. Figuring out how to relax is in your best interest. Meditation and mindfulness are both excellent practices that reduce stress and boost fertility.
- Bad Eating Habits - Many vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy sperm. If you are eating a diet of convenience foods and fast foods, you are likely not getting the nutrients you need to have healthy sperm.
- Smoking and Drinking - Both smoking and alcohol consumption can cause changes in all sperm parameters - sperm count, motility, and morphology. If you are trying to get pregnant and have low sperm motility, eliminating these vices might help.
Some of these sperm issues are harder to correct than others. Luckily, sperm motility can be improved in several different ways.
Improving Sperm Motility with Diet and Lifestyle Changes
If you're experiencing issues with sperm motility, making changes in your diet and lifestyle can help.
Nutrition can also affect sperm motility. Diets low in carnitine can cause sperm health issues. The amino acids, L-Carnitine, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine help improve sperm motility by providing sperm with extra energy. Red meats are especially rich in these amino acids.
Deficiencies in specific nutrients, especially vitamin A and C and zinc, can also impact sperm quality and motility.
Eating foods high in folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy sperm production. If you find it challenging to consume the right types of foods or nutrients required for robust sperm health, high-quality supplements can help.
There are some supplements specifically intended to promote sperm health and improved motility, making them ideal choices for men suffering from sperm issues.
Low Sperm Motility and Hormone Deficiencies
A deficiency in testosterone is another common culprit of low sperm motility. However, this issue is easily resolvable. There are many ways in which you can naturally increase testosterone levels, including:
- Weight Loss - Being overweight can severely impact both your general health and testosterone levels. By taking efforts to lose weight, you can improve both simultaneously.
- Intense Exercise Routines – While exercise is generally good for your health, rounds of short, intense workouts can help to build your testosterone levels. However, it is vital to keep in mind that longer, more moderate workouts will not produce the same effects.
- Increase Levels of Vitamin D – Healthy doses of sunshine or taking supplements for vitamin D are essential. Adequate Vitamin D consumption helps to increase testosterone levels.
- Reduce Stress – Stress triggers the body to produce cortisol, a hormone that blocks the effects of testosterone. Taking the initiative to reduce stress through exercise and meditation can help.
- Medication – Sometimes, modifying your lifestyle isn't enough. Fortunately, some medicines can help in these instances.
Low Sperm Motility and Physical and Genetic Issues
In some instances, improving low sperm motility is, unfortunately, impossible. If a genetic defect is the cause of low motility, there is no way to correct the issue through the use of supplements, medicines, or hormones.
In other cases, low motility is caused by physical defects such as varicocele. While the physical problem can be corrected, sperm motility might not improve as a result.
It is crucial to seek a proper diagnosis of genetic and physical issues. If you find that neither a genetic or physical problem is the source of low sperm motility, you can turn to lifestyle modifications or other methods to effect positive changes.
USING A FERTILITY SPECIALIST
If lifestyle changes do not improve your sperm motility, you can see a doctor who specializes in fertility issues. The downside is treatment plans for treating low sperm motility are expensive and complicated.
A fertility doctor can collect your semen and use it in fertility procedures.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) injects the semen into the woman's body at ovulation with hopes of fertilization.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment fertilizes the egg with the semen in the lab and then places in the woman's uterus.
Both of these procedures eliminate the need for the man's sperm to swim forward.
These treatments work around the fact that the sperm lacks the motility they need to fertilize an egg on their own.
Ahmadi S, Bashiri R, Ghadiri-Anari A, Nadjarzadeh A. Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence based review. International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine. 2016;14(12):729-736.
Kothari RP, Chaudhari AR. Zinc Levels in Seminal Fluid in Infertile Males and its Relation with Serum Free Testosterone. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR. 2016;10(5):CC05-CC08. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2016/14393.7723.
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