Sperm Motility – How Does it Affect Fertility


After years of hearing about accidental pregnancies, it is normal to have the misconception that it is easy to get pregnant. Ask any couple who are trying to have a baby, and you will see that the reality is radically different—getting pregnant is one of the hardest possible things when you really want to have a baby.


What Does Sperm Motility Mean?

Motility refers to the ability of an object or a thing to move, sperm motility, therefore, refers to the capability of the sperm to move forward towards the ovum. The sperm of a man should be able to move forward at the rate of at least 25 micrometres per second, for it to be classified as ‘healthy’. If the sperm does not move at this rate, the condition is termed as asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia.


The degree of sperm motility can vary greatly. The sperm may simply be slow or sluggish to move or have non-progressive motility. The latter means that the sperm moves less than 5 micrometres per second. In some other cases, motility issues also mean that the sperm simply does not move at all. Also, at least 40 percent of the sperm in a sample must have the adequate speed mentioned above for the man to have ‘normal’ sperm motility.

Why Is it Important for Pregnancy?

As you already know, the sperm has to reach the ovum and fuse with it for the pregnancy to happen. Therefore, it is extremely important that the sperm is motile enough to reach the ovum, which is within the uterus of the female. In the case of poor sperm motility, the sperm does not swim well and eventually dies before they reach the ovum. Hence, pregnancy does not occur, and couples are left unable to conceive.

The man usually ejaculates the sperm near the cervical canal, when he has sexual intercourse with the woman. While he does not have to, sperm can even swim up from the vaginal opening to the cervical canal. The sperm needs to be near the cervical canal for better chances of fertilization. The egg simply stays within the fallopian tube, waiting for the sperm to reach it. Therefore, it is important that the sperm reaches it before the egg dies from lack of nutrients.

Sperm has to move through the cervical canal into the uterus and traverse it to reach the fallopian tube where the egg will be waiting to be fertilized. Even then, the sperm must be able to move into the ovum for the fertilization to be complete. Therefore, it is safe to say that sperm motility is one of the most important factors and has a direct say on whether you will be blessed with a baby.

What is Normal Sperm Motility?

All of the sperm need not swim for normal motility, only around 40% of the sperm needs to be moving for conception to occur. This means that at least 40% of the sperm must be strong swimmers, before moving on to check the next factor.

Progressive motility is another important factor, which plays a huge role. This means that the sperm needs to be swimming from one place to another, rather than moving around in circles or in a zigzag manner. The benchmark for progress motility is 32 percent, this means that at least 32% of the sperm in the sample needs to be progressively motile, for it to be considered healthy.

Finally, the speed of the sperm is also checked. The sperm needs to be quick and moving in a straight path, for it to be considered healthy. If the speed of movement of sperm is around 25 micrometres per second, it is considered to be healthy, anything less than that is not great, and the sperm is considered non-progressive if the speed is less than 5 micrometres per second. At least 12% of the sperm sample must be quick, straight-moving, and progressive for the man to have normal sperm motility.

What is Low Sperm Motility and How Does it Affect Fertility?

By low sperm motility, it is meant that the sperm will probably not reach the ovum in time for the fertilization to occur. This is a leading cause of infertility among males who are trying to conceive. The sperm might be too slow, non-progressive or may simply swim around in circles and not in quick, straight paths. In any case, you will need to consult a doctor to rectify the situation.

What Causes Low Sperm Motility?

The causes of low sperm motility in men can vary. In some cases, it is genetic in others, it may be a medical condition or due to unhealthy lifestyle factors. The environment around him can also play a huge role in deciding the motility of his sperm.

  • Smoking is an unhealthy lifestyle choice that leads to low sperm motility. If a man smokes more than ten cigarettes per day, the chances of low sperm motility are greatly increased.
  • Work-induced fertility issues are also common in some men, especially those who work in the military, or paint, drive or simply are subject to repeated trauma around the pelvic area.
  • Varicocele is a medical condition that causes the veins inside the scrotum to enlarge. It can also cause low sperm motility in men.

How is Low Sperm Motility Diagnosed?

To diagnose sperm motility, semen analysis is the best way. You have to provide at least two samples of your semen to the doctor, for him to analyze the sperm. The sperm can be provided either via masturbation, or you can withdraw it from a used condom. The samples need to be handled carefully and need to be kept at room temperature always. You have to deliver it within an hour to the office where the test is to be conducted.

Sperm moving

Medical Procedures to Treat Low Sperm Motility

Following are the medical procedures that may treat low sperm motility in men:

  • If the cause is low hormone levels in the body or varicocele, there are medical procedures like surgery or medicines to increase sperm motility involving follicle-stimulating hormone which can help you improve the motility of your sperm.
  • If the sperm motility is not improving even after trying for a long time, you can use Intrauterine Insemination processes to help get pregnant. In this process, the sperm is injected directly into the uterus so that they have to swim only for a short distance to get to the ovum. This is useful if the sperm motility is only a little low in a man.
  • If IUI does not work, you can always opt for In Vitro Fertilization. The sperm and the ovum are made to fertilize in a lab dish, after which the fertilized egg is implanted into the surrogate mother or the real mother. This has a higher chance of success compared to other methods.

How to Increase Sperm Motility Naturally for Pregnancy?

Getting pregnant with low-sperm motility is more common than you think. There are many ways as to how to increase sperm motility fast for men. A few of those are given here:

1. Eat well

A man eats healthy breakfast

You have to consume the right food, for your sperm to have great motility. Processed meats can result in your sperm health plummeting, while food like dark chocolate, eggs, bananas, and garlic can improve the health of your sperm.

2. Keep electronics away from your lap

You need to keep your phone and laptop away from your lap, for the health of your sperm. The heat and the radiation are not good for sperm motility.

3. Cool down

The scrotum needs to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of your body. Therefore, avoid tight clothing like skinny denim or underwear to keep your sperm swimming well.

4. Stop smoking

A man quits smoking

Smoking has been found to have a direct impact on the health of your sperm, so put out those cigarettes quickly if you are trying to make a baby.

5. Sleep

You need to catch up on your beauty sleep if you want to get your wife pregnant. Men who have poor sleep patterns have been found to have low sperm motility, owing to a lack of testosterone.

6. Exercise

When a man exercises, his body produces testosterone which is highly important in maintaining the health of the sperm. Therefore, start exercising for great results in terms of sperm motility.

Sperm motility is an important factor when it comes to getting pregnant, so you need to keep a watch on your lifestyle if you want to become a father soon. If you still encounter problems after trying all those changes, you should get the advice of a doctor and test the health of your sperm to see how things stand and what can be done.