What Does Low Sperm Motility Mean- Causes, Treatment & More

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What Does Low Sperm Motility Mean- Causes, Treatment & More

What Does Low Sperm Motility Mean- Causes, Treatment & More

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The ability of sperm to move efficiently is called sperm motility. Sperm motility is a vital fertility factor because it is needed for sperm to travel through women’s reproductive organs and fertilize the egg. Poor sperm motility is a sign of Male Fertility Problems.

With infertility being the most common issue among couples these days, arriving at an accurate diagnosis and identifying the effective fertility treatment timely is one of the main factors for the healing. Most infertility cases involve complex and multiple factors, some of which are known, and others, the unknown ones, are speculated. The more experts can pinpoint the issue, the more helping hands it will provide for effective treatment.

More than 15-20% of the couples worldwide face difficulties getting pregnant, affected by infertility issues. Of this number, 30-40% of the cases land on male infertility issues, sperm motility contributing to 60% of the cases. Another 20-22% of the couple experience the same due to combinational factors, with both male and female issues contributing to it.

There’s nothing to panic about if you and your partner got your reports tested for fertility issues and diagnosed with low sperm motility. Experts at Aastha Fertility Care have the best course of treatments that will improve the couple’s chances of conceiving, assuring immediate and assured positive results.

Please read the blog as we guide you through the details of sperm motility, treatments, and causes to get a clear view of the infertility issue.

What is Sperm Motility? 

Sperm health is a vital factor affecting the couple’s ability to conceive. Healthy sperm is, therefore, a combination of six main criteria-

  • Shape,
  • Motility,
  • Volume,
  • Acrosome reaction,
  • Nuclear Decondensation,
  • Ability to pass through women’s reproductive tract,
  • Zone pellucida binding.

A breakdown or issue with any of these criteria results in positive male infertility reports, arising difficulties for the couple while conceiving.

The term motility refers to the movement of sperm, its ability to swim appropriately through water, or women’s reproductive tract to fertilize the eggs. Sperm are ranked based on letter grades, from A to D, to find the sperm motility index. A is for the most active, fastest, and straightest swimmers, whereas D is for those who do not show any movement.

If the test sample ranks only 25-30% of the sperms in A grade, this reflects low sperm motility, referred to as asthenozoospermia or asthenospermia.

As determined by WHO (World Health Organization), sperm analysis results vary from person to person. Sperm Motility Index by WHO says:

WHO Reference Range
Total Motility (Non-Progressive and Progressive)40-81%
Progressive Motility32-75%
Sperm Morphology4-48%

Low Sperm Count vs Low Sperm Motility

No motility, sluggish or slow motility, or non-progressive motility sums up the sperm motility issues. These two terms sound similar but explain two different topics. Low Sperm motility is when you have a healthy sperm count but still face some problems while conceiving. Sperm shape also plays a role in sperm motility.

Furthermore, low sperm count means that fluid that men ejaculate during an orgasm contains fewer sperms than average. This condition is known as oligospermia, and the complete absence of sperm refers to azoospermia.

What is Progressive or Normal Sperm Motility?

Progressive sperm motility means the sperm can swim in a straight pattern and effectively reach their destination. This term is used to describe healthy, well-functioning sperm. Progressively motile sperm move at 25 micrometers in a second. To be deemed, as usual, more than 30-32% of the sperms need to be progressively motile.

What is Slow and Non-Progressive Motility?

In non-progressive or slow sperm motility, the sperm is still motile but cannot travel in a straight line. In sluggish sperm motility, the sperm travels at a speed of fewer than 25 micrometers per second, and in non-progressive sperm motility, it spans less than 5 micrometers per second.

Causes of Low Sperm Motility

The exact reason for sperm motility varies from individual to individual. Some of the possible causes for the sluggish sperm movement are:

  • Genetic problems
  • Undiagnosed medical conditions
  • Environmental and Lifestyle Factors
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking or drinking
  • Excessive heat
  • Trauma to the pelvic area
  •  Enlargement in the veins inside the scrotum, also known as Varicocele. 


Semen analysis is ordered to test the sperm motility index. A patient needs to provide the semen samples to the lab for analysis. These are usually obtained at the fertility expert’s office by masturbation. Individuals are also given an option to acquire the sample while having protected sex with a condom. Therefore, the sample withdrawn at home needs to be stored at room temperature and delivered between 30-60 minutes to the facility.

During the analysis, if more than 35-40% of the sperm are found slow or non-progressive, the patient is considered to be suffering from sperm motility.

Sperm Motility Treatment:

Sperm motility is a curable infertility issue. Some positive changes in your daily lifestyle will help you with an increased number of progressive sperms-

  • Reduce Alcohol Intake and Stop Smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Wear loose boxer shorts to improve the semen quality
  • Limit exposure to screen to reduce the radiations and radiofrequency

If Varicocele or low hormone levels are the reason for the motility issue, experts will advise some medicine for progressive movements, including human chorionic gonadotrophin or FSH. Other than this, some portions of selenium with Vitamin E are also known to increase sperm motility.

Consult your physician before switching to any doses or taking any supplements, and place the orders for the same from reputable vendors to avoid any duplication risks.

Food for Sperm Motility

Switching to healthy food habits will also positively impact sperm motility. Foods that can improve Sperm count and motility index include:


Consuming around 18-20 walnuts a day for 12 weeks continuously can help with improved sperm motility.


A high content of fatty acids and Omega 3 also helps improve the sperm motility index, and fish is the richest source of Omega-3.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and vitamins help prevent cell damage, increasing sperm motility index.


Male fertility is affected by multiple factors. If the sperm are healthy, the chances of conceiving with low sperm motility are still high. Furthermore, IUI and IVF treatments can help increase the successful chances of pregnancy. These treatments bypass the need for healthy or straight swimmers to cover the path independently and use reproductive technology for the same.

If you are also trying to conceive for more than a year and still not able to get the desired results, then talk to your fertility experts to know the reasons. Your doctor will order a few tests to see the health conditions affecting infertility, determining the next steps for a successful pregnancy treatment.

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