Can sperm motility be improved?
Can sperm motility be improved?
All About Sperm Motility
Have you ever wondered how sperm can move from the male reproductive organs to the female reproductive organs? The answer lies in sperm motility, which is the ability of sperm cells to move independently.
What Is Sperm Motility?
Sperm motility is the ability of sperm cells to propel themselves through a fluid medium—in this case, semen—and travel towards the egg. This process is also sometimes referred to as “sperm swimming” or “spermatogenesis.” The actual movement of sperm cells is known as “flagellar motility,” which occurs when tiny hairs called flagella beat in a whip-like fashion to propel the cell forward. As the sperm move through the ejaculate they are propelled forward by their tails and guided by their heads.
It’s also referred to as “progressive motility” or “forward movement” and is one of the main factors that determine a man’s fertility.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines four categories for evaluating semen quality based on progressive motility:
- A - Greater than 25% progression velocity (fastest)
- B - Greater than 12% progression velocity
- C - Greater than 6-12% progression velocity
- D - Less than 6% progression velocity (slowest)
It's important to note that even if you fall into category D—which indicates poor motility—you may still be able to conceive naturally with some assistance from your doctor or fertility specialist.
How Does Sperm Motility Work?
The process behind sperm motility begins with spermatogenesis, which occurs inside the testes and takes about 64 days to complete. During this process, immature germ cells mature into mobile sperm cells that are capable of fertilizing an egg. Once these new sperm cells are created they are stored in a structure called the epididymis until ejaculation occurs. At that point, they travel along with other components that make up semen and are propelled forward due to their flagellar movement.
Sperm motility relies on several factors including temperature, pH levels and other environmental factors like lubrication and viscosity (the thickness or thinness of a fluid). If any of these factors are out of balance it can affect how well the sperm can swim, either slowing them down or preventing them from moving at all.
Why Is Sperm Motility Important?
For successful fertilization to occur there must be enough healthy, active sperm present for one of them to reach and penetrate an egg successfully. That means that having good quality semen with healthy amounts of active, mobile sperm is key to conception success. Poor motility decreases your chances of getting pregnant because fewer viable sperm will be able to make it all the way from your partner’s ejaculate into your fallopian tubes where fertilization can occur. Low fertility rates associated with lower than average motile count can be treated with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise as well as certain medications depending on what underlying cause may be present such as varicocele or hormonal imbalance.
Improving Sperm Motility
A variety of lifestyle factors can greatly impact sperm production and motility, thus it's important to be aware of the following and make changes where possible:
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can lower sperm count, lower sperm motility, increase the number of abnormal sperm, and may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Marijuana: Using marijuana may decrease the amount of semen produced and negatively affect sperm production and motility.
Alcohol: Consuming large amounts of alcohol can lead to abnormally shaped sperm, hormonal changes, and erectile dysfunction.
Anabolic Steroids: These drugs suppress testosterone, leading to small testes, potential erectile dysfunction, and a severe reduction in sperm count, sperm motility or complete absence of sperm.
Bicycling: While cycling is a great form of exercise, it can put pressure on the testicles and increase the risk of fertility issues impacting sperm motility.
Chemical Exposure: Exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, compounds and inhalants can result in decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm.
Cocaine: Using cocaine can decrease sperm motility, result in abnormal-looking sperm, and potentially harm the development of their children.
Laptops: Placing a laptop on your lap can overheat the testicles and decrease sperm motility, it's better to put something between you and the laptop, or use it on a desk or table.
Medications: Some prescription drugs used to treat high blood pressure and depression may negatively impact fertility. It's important to discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor if you have low sperm count or erectile dysfunction.
Weight: Being overweight can decrease fertility in men, losing weight may increase sperm motility and boost energy.
Knowing about sperm motility can help you better understand why fertility problems exist and how they can be addressed when trying to conceive a child naturally or with medical assistance if needed. By understanding what healthy semen should look like and what factors may impede fertility success you will have a better idea if medical intervention might be necessary for you or your partner to become pregnant or if lifestyle changes may suffice first before seeking further advice from a doctor or fertility specialist if needed. Understanding this important part of human reproduction will help ensure that you have access to all available resources so that you achieve your goals whether that is pregnancy or just simply understanding more about yourself!
DISCLAIMER: THIS SHOULD BE USED FOR INFORMATION AND EDUCATION PURPOSES. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO TREAT, DIAGNOSE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONS BASED ON RESEARCH AND ADVICE FROM A QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL