Sperm motility and infertility

Sperm Motility

Sperm count, sperm health, and sperm motility are the three major factors that are observed for men when checking for male fertility.

Motility is defined as an ability of an organism or fluid to move. Sperm motility refers to the movement and swimming of sperm efficiently through the female partner’s reproductive system in order to fertilize an egg. When sperm does not swim properly then it is called as poor sperm motility or Asthenozoospermia. Poor sperm motility leads to male infertility.

Sperm motility is of two types:

  • Progressive Motility: Sperm tends to move in straight lines or large circles.
  • Non-Progressive Motility: sperm does not move straight in lines and swims in very small circles.

Healthy sperm motility is defined as sperm with forwarding progressions of at least 25 micrometres per second through the cervical mucus to reach and fertilize an egg.

What are the causes of Low Sperm Motility?

There are several factors which are responsible for Low Sperm Motility:

  • Genetic
  • Medical condition
  • Lifestyle and Environmental factors
  • Stress
  • A lack of sufficient vitamins and minerals
  • Exposure to heavy metals
  • Smoking


Sperm motility can be diagnosed through a routine semen analysis. The person is advised to abstain from sexual activity for at least two to seven days before collecting the sample. At least two samples are collected at a doctor’s place in a private room in order to maintain the sample’s quality upon evaluation. Your doctor will use a semen analysis to test:

  • Sperm Motility
  • The health of the male genital tract
  • Accessory organs
  • Ejaculation

One ejaculate of semen may contain over 39 million sperm in a man with normal fertility. For an ejaculate sample to be considered normal at least 40% of the sperm should be motile and at least 32% of the sperm should show progressive motility. If it is less than 32% then it is considered as poor sperm motility.


Few lifestyle changes may help increase sperm motility:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit cell phone exposure
  • Reduce alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Have a well-balanced diet
  • Keeping stress levels low
  • Avoid overheating of the genitals by laptops, saunas, hot tubs, etc.

If the sperm which has low sperm motility but it is healthy then pregnancy can occur using a reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF): It is an assisted reproductive technology which is used for fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus, creating a pregnancy that will be carried out for a period of 9 months and delivered normally. It is used for men whose sperm motility is less than 30%.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): It is a treatment for fertility which involves placing a sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. This procedure increases the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and eventually increase the chance of fertilization. It is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to IVF. It is generally used for men whose sperm motility is only a little low that is between 30% to 40% range.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): It is a procedure in which your partner’s single sperm is injected directly into your egg for fertilization with IVF.