Low Sperm Motility: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment
Vanakkam, Namaste, and Welcome to Dr. Shah’s Clinic. My name is Dr. Shah Dupesh, I am a full time practicing andrologist in Chennai. In this post, I am going to tell you everything under the sun about low sperm motility and also all about the causes of low sperm motility, its diagnosis and also about getting pregnant with low sperm motility.
Do read the article till the very end, since I have included a tonne of information for your personal benefit.
Alright then!. Let’s begin
What is the normal sperm motility?
One of the most common questions I get from my patients about sperm motility is ‘dear doctor what is the normal sperm motility for pregnancy?’.
The answer, of course, is not a straightforward one. The sperm progressive motility required for pregnancy is 40%. However, this is a combination of both progressive and non-progressive sperm motility. But what is the meaning of progressive and non-progressive motility? I have explained what these fancy terms mean below.
Progressive sperm motility – A sperm is said to have progressive motility if it moves systematically from one microscopic field to another. For men, who are trying for a child, sperm progressive motility should be 32% or higher.
Non-progressive sperm motility – A sperm is said to have non-progressive sperm motility if the sperm does not move from one field to another but instead just moves around in the same place or shakes about in the same field.
Total motility – This parameter, on the other hand, refers to the sum of progressive and non-progressive sperm motility
Total Motility = Sperm progressive motility + Sperm non-progressive motility
More importantly, the total motility for a man trying to get his partner pregnant should be 40%. Now, even more, important is the total motile sperm in the entire ejaculate.
As per WHO 2010 manual, the calculated total motile sperm in the ejaculate for pregnancy in the 1st year of marriage is about 9 million motile sperms for a man who has an average semen volume of 1.5 ml and conc of 15 million/ml @ a 40% total motile sperm fraction. You can do the math. To calculate the total motile sperm in the ejaculate, the formula below can be used
Total motile sperm in the ejaculate = sperm concentration in ml x semen volume x total sperm motility (%)
What is low sperm motility ?
A patient is said to have low sperm motility if at least 2 semen analysis test reports indicate that sperm progressive motility is less than 32%.
Of course, there are different grades or degrees of low sperm motility issues. While a patient is said to have low sperm motility if his values are less than 32%, a more severe form of motility issues called very low sperm motility is seen in a small proportion of patients.
A patient is diagnosed and said to be in the very low sperm motility range if his semen tests consistently show motility percentages of moving sperm cells less than 5%.
Furthermore, in more severe cases of male infertility, some patients may also have zero sperm motility. This condition is called total asthenozoospermia.
In these instances, the chances of fathering a child naturally are usually very slim. On the other hand, less than 1% of male factor infertility patients suffer from zero sperm motility. In these patients, usually, there is a genetic problem in the sperm production process. Most of these patients may suffer from a condition called 9+0 syndrome.
In this condition, the patient’s testis produce spermatozoa with defective tails that miss the central microtubules needed for sperm movement.
What causes low motility in sperm?
There are a variety of causes that can result in low motility in sperm. Some of them are
A. Poor lifestyle factors
B. Spilled Ejaculate
C. Erection problems
E. Alcohol, smoking and chronic medication use
F. Chronic diseases like Diabetes, renal or liver failure
G. Testicular pathologies, injuries, past surgeries
H. Male hormonal deficits and imbalances
I. Testicular infections and Sexually transmitted diseases
J. Genetic conditions
A systematic medical history followed by a thorough clinical evaluation and testing often reveals the exact cause of sperm motility being low.
How is low sperm motility treated?
Low sperm motility treatment can be done with a variety of food and lifestyle changes first. At Dr. Shahs Clinic we used a combination of medical therapy, combined with diet and lifestyle changes to treat sperm motility issues.
However, an important point to bear in mind is that the treatment purely depends on whats exactly causing the low sperm motility. Establishing a correct diagnosis is often the key to successful treatment.
Can you get pregnant with low motility?
Absolutely, natural pregnancies happen all the time even for men were motility is low. However, in my personal experience, I have seen numerous patients with motility percentages in the low 20’s or 10’s still father children. In these instances, the fertility of one partner frequently compensates the subfertility 0f another.
All said and done, apart from severe genetic causes of low motility like 9+0 syndrome were medical therapies often fail, for all other causes a certain degree of improvement in motility can definitely be attained.
Does stress affect sperm motility?
In one word yes. Stress causes low sperm motility. But how quantifiable is it? That’s guesswork at best. However, a high amount of stress for a man can affect his libido, mood and overall sex interest. Consequently, high stress affects erectile function and thereby consequently with less erection, the overall semen quality goes down. Furthermore, with high stress leading to lower amounts of circulating testosterone, the overall quality of sperm production definitely comes down
What foods improve sperm motility?
A variety of food tips to improve sperm motility are given below, of course their medical male infertility treatment options for low sperm motility as well.
A. Take lots of oranges, lemon, and citric acid-rich fruits at least thrice a week
B. Restrict bread, wheat, and white rice intake
C. Take lots of carrots, beet, and apples or better yet juice them up
D. Avoid carbonated drinks and packed juices
E. Take lots of fats like cheese. Moreover, fats are good but carbs are bad
F. Avoid deep-fried chicken and fish. Instead, take it grilled instead or better still stick to the steamed variety
G. Moreover, take lots of green leafy vegetables. It’s worth it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article on low sperm motility. Do share this article with all your friends and loved ones and stay healthy & happy.