Want to get to grips with all things sperm motility? You’ve come to the right place. Motility is all about speed and how your swimmers move – so let’s get in the learning fast lane with this easy Sperm Motility 101 guide.
What is normal sperm motility?
Sperm motility is all about how your swimmers swim! Healthy sperm cells can make their way to the egg in a matter of seconds, and instinctively know where to go. However, if there are issues with your sperm health, it might mean that your sperm cells aren’t very fast or can get a little lost!
There are three different types of motility:
1) Progressive motility (PR) – sperm that swim actively towards the egg in a straight line, or large circles – this is what we want to see!
2) Non-progressive motility (NP) – sperm that don’t travel in straight lines, or swim in small tight circles.
3) Immotility (IM) – The sperm has no movement at all.
Even in a healthy semen sample, you may see a mix of all three types of motility. However, problems start to arise when the immobile sperm or non-progressive sperm cells outweigh the motile ones.
Of course, the higher the percentage of motile sperm cells you have, the higher your chances of conceiving. But generally speaking, anything above 40% motile is considered normal and you ideally want at least 32% to have good progressive motility – this is the WHO threshold and what we measure against with our home sperm tests. If you have less than 32% progressively motile sperm, this is classed as below normal and whilst it’s definitely not impossible to conceive, low motility can make it more difficult.
What causes low sperm motility?
Many factors can impact motility, from bad habits to injury – here are a few of the biggest contributors:
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your overall sperm health as the toxins in cigarettes can cause havoc with your sperm production. One study found that men who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day were more likely to have low sperm motility.
Issues with prostate
Your prostate gland may be nowhere near your testicles (it’s actually in the rectum!) but it does play an important role in overall sperm health and particularly motility. Part of the liquid that makes up your semen is produced by the prostate. These secretions help to make the semen thinner (easier for sperm cells to swim in) and contain enzymes and hormone-like substances that directly correlate to sperm motility. Therefore if you have any health issues that impact the function of your prostate, you may notice you have issues with sperm motility.
Injury to testicles
Your testicles are a very delicate area of the body and prone to injury. Injury could occur through intense contact sports like rugby, through operating heavy equipment that could make contact with your pelvic region or even just through day-to-day activities (like dogs or kids jumping on your balls!) Testicular injury has been linked to various sperm health issues including lower sperm count and motility.
A varicocele is a condition where veins in the scrotum become enlarged and entangled. This impacts blood circulation and healthy sperm production and has been known to cause issues with sperm motility.
How can I improve my sperm motility?
- Exercising regularly and ensuring you have a less sedentary lifestyle
- Taking control of your diet. Eating more sperm superfoods and less sugary or processed foods that could harm your sperm health
- Try to get most of your nutrients from whole foods but give yourself a boost with a good male fertility supplement (our ExSeed Multi can help with that)
- Make sure to be getting enough selenium (some studies have found that selenium intake correlates to improved motility)
- Reduce the risk of heat damage by avoiding saunas, hot tubs and tight boxer shorts-wearing loose boxers and keeping your phone and laptop away from your testicles
- Make sure you’re ejaculating regularly so that your swimmers don’t get lethargic (and aren’t in your testicles for too long where they are at risk of damage!)
If you make all these changes and still aren’t seeing an improvement, it would be a good idea to chat with a specialist in case there are any underlying health issues – like problems with your prostate – or genetic issues that could be the root cause of poor motility.
Can I get pregnant with poor sperm motility?
It’s definitely possible to get pregnant even if your motility isn’t at an ideal level – it might just take a little bit longer. Focus on ensuring you are timing sex correctly (and learning about your partner’s fertile window) and staying on top of a healthy lifestyle. If you are still struggling to conceive, assisted fertility treatments can be very helpful for those struggling with low motility.
If you have a mild to moderate case of low motility, you might want to start with IUI or ICI (artificial insemination) as this will give your swimmers a helping hand to reach the egg if they are a bit slow! IVF and ICSI also have good success rates for patients with low motility as they are
How can I test sperm motility?
A good starting point for any sperm analysis is to get an easy and fast at-home fertility test like ours! We measure sperm count, motility and sperm volume to give you a Total Motile Sperm Count, which is one of the best indicators of male fertility according to the World Health Organisation.