Fertility and the chances of conceiving are influenced by many different factors. The balance of hormones, the menstrual cycle and ovulation are all important aspects affecting women, but for men, the sperm are the key. When looking at sperm health, you need to bear three factors in mind: sperm count, sperm morphology and sperm motility (movement). Sperm motility affects fertility as the sperm have to swim up the vagina, through the cervix and across the womb to reach the egg and achieve fertilization.
What Is Normal Sperm Motility?
When sperm motility in a single ejaculate is 50% or more, this is seen to be normal. Even a lower motility, between 25% and 50%, may not lead to issues. However, when the motility is consistently under 25%, the risks of fertility problems are much greater. Normal fertility is very unlikely if the motility is constantly under 10%.
- Connection Between Sperm Motility and Sperm Count
Even with a large sperm count of over 20 million sperm/ml, a man may still have fertility problems if the sperm are not motile enough. Conversely, low sperm counts may not be anything to worry about, especially if the sperm have good motility with 60% or more of the sperm exhibiting adequate forward momentum.
How to Know Your Sperm Motility
Semen analysis evaluates whether a man has any reproductive issues, including the sperm motility. The tests include:
1. Sperm Count
Sperm per ml in one ejaculations worth of semen
2. Sperm Motility
Proportion of sperm that have normal sperm motility
Semen volume in one ejaculation
4. Sperm Morphology
Proportion of sperm in the sample with a regular shape
5. Liquefaction Time
The duration of the liquefaction of semen that is ejaculated as a thick gel
To test how acid/alkaline the semen is
7. Fructose Level
Percentage of fructose sugars in the semen
8. White blood Cell Count
There shouldnt be any immune cells in the semen
What If the Results are Abnormal?
There are several reasons for an abnormal sperm test:
- Poor practices during semen collection
- Taking too long between obtaining the sample and laboratory testing
- Not waiting enough time since a previous ejaculation before taking a new sample
- If the man has suffered a systemic illness within the past three months
However, bad results dont necessarily mean that youre infertile. Sperm counts naturally vary and the testes take six weeks to make new sperm. If your first report comes back abnormal, you will need to repeat the test after waiting a while. To confirm abnormalities, doctors require several abnormal results over 3-6 months.
Ways to Increase Your Sperm Motility
Sperm production takes around 10-11 weeks. Therefore, for normal sperm motility, make the necessary lifestyle changes now and you should see an improvement in the results in three months time.
1. Limit Alcohol and Cigarette Consumption
Smoking and drinking lots of alcohol are two of the main causes of reduced sperm motility. They adversely affect both the sperm count and general sperm health.
2. Eat a Nutritious Diet
Sperm motility is also influenced by diet. For example, carnitine which is found in red meat, increases sperm motility by supplying them with energy from fatty acids. Deficiencies in certain nutrients, particularly zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamins A and C, may adversely affect sperm quality and motility, so ensure you get plenty of these in your diet. Vitamin D raises testosterone levels, so increase your intake by eating lots of fish, eggs and cheese. Get some healthy exposure to sunlight. Moreover, there are specific supplements designed to ensure normal sperm motility.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess body weight can seriously damage your testosterone levels, as well as your overall health. Thus, by losing weight, youll see multiple benefits.
4. Do Intense Exercise
Although all physical activity is good for your health, to increase your testosterone levels, short and intense bursts of exercise are best. You wont see the same results with more moderate activities.
5. Reduce Stress
Anxiety and stress stimulate the release of cortisone, which inhibits testosterone secretion. To cut stress, try increasing the amount of exercise you do or practice some meditative techniques.
6. Go for Certain Vegetables
These have been shown to improve sperm quality and motility by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health. Increasing the levels of beta-carotene (found in carrots, spinach, and lettuce) and lutein (in spinach and lettuce) in the diet was demonstrated to boost sperm motility by 6.5%. Consuming high amounts of lycopene, a molecule found in tomatoes, gave a 1.7% increase in sperm motility.
7. Keep Cool
Testicles are situated on the outside in order to maintain the cool temperatures to adequately produce sperm. Avoid hot baths and Jacuzzis, as these heat the testicles. You should also refrain from balancing your laptop on your knees. Just 15 minutes of exposure to computer heat can raise scrotal temperature by 2.5C.
Culled: Health Advisor
Featured Image Credit: BioMaternity
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