As sperm have to swim forward in order to reach an oocyte, it is important that at least some of them are able to move. Sperm motility is one of the three components of a spermogramm (the other two being concentration and morphology). It is usually counted as a percentage of spermatozoa that are determined (under a microscope) to be progressively advancing forward at no less than 25 µm/s. According to most sources, motility over 40-45% is regarded as normal, as long as the other sperm test parameters are within normal limits.
What Causes Reduced Sperm Motility?
Unfortunately, in some cases, a semen analysis will reveal a below normal percentage. There are various reasons why this can happen. It can be genetic, the result of a medical condition (such as varicocele or a hormonal imbalance) or trauma to the pelvic area, or be lifestyle-related.
How to Increase Sperm Motility?
The good news is that, at least for the last group, it might be relatively easy to improve sperm motility by simply changing your lifestyle: quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, losing weight and exercising regularly, limiting exposure to mobiles, and so on. Certain supplements have also been shown to have a positive effect.
When caused by other reasons, however, treatment is usually more complicated, and you may even require the use of assisted reproductive technologies.
IVF and Low Sperm Motility
IUI and IVF and ICSI have been used in cases of abnormal sperm motility. While some success was achieved with IUI for patients with over 30% motile sperm, pregnancy is almost unachievable without IVF with ICSI at lower percentages. Reported ICSI success rates are very high, regardless of the motility test results. That is because only 1 motile spermatozoa is required per egg with this procedure.