What Is Sperm Motility And How Do I Increase It?
Consider your sperm motility - how does it affect your ability to conceive a pregnancy, and how can you improve it?
What is sperm motility?
Sperm motility refers to the movement and swimming of sperm. Motility is one of many important factors to consider with conception and achieving a pregnancy. Sperm have to reach the egg to fertility it.
Other important factors include semen volume, total sperm count, sperm concentration and vitality, sperm morphology, time to liquefaction, some pH or acidity and white blood cell counts. While all the above factors may make it may seem complicated, treating male factor disorders is often easier and quicker than treating female fertility factor disorders. That is one good reason a complete fertility workup usually involves both female and male partners.
At least 40 percent or more sperm should be motile, or moving. At least 32 percent should be progressively motile, rather than just moving in circles or twitching. Over 12 percent should have rapid linear motility or movement in a relatively straight line. Sperm that move rapidly and in a straight line are more likely to fertilize an egg.
Sperm motility can be affected by many things, but often if motility is a concern, some of the other factors listed above may also be a concern.
Sperm motility can be affected by exposure to environment chemicals, illness, exposure to heat or cold, poor health habits such as smoking, disorders of the male reproductive tract such as varicocele.
Factors You Can Control
Some factors you simply cannot control, such as childhood or early life illnesses that may have affected some of your reproductive tract. However, you may improve other factors such as diet, that can have a positive effect on sperm motility.
Researchers have identified the “Prudent Diet”.This diet contains fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Studies have shown that focus on this consumption improves sperm motility.
Regular readers of this blog know that we are proponents of eating healthy, whole foods so not surprisingly, the Prudent Diet is recommended.
Other research suggests antioxidants can assist with sperm motility. A diet rich in antioxidants including beta carotene found in large amounts of yellow and orange vegetables, seems correlated with the largest number of progressive motile sperm. Others have suggested a diet high in vitamin C and lycopene, often consumed in tomatoes, and a diet that is lower in protein and fats, may lead to improved sperm quality.
Ironically, other studies have shown that a diet high in selenium may negatively affect sperm health. Selenium is found in seafood, organ meats, dairy and especially Brazil nuts.
Given this somewhat contradictory study, and the perpetual vilification of various foods over time, generally we suggest consuming real, whole foods, in balance, under the care of your health professional.