Can there be infertility when sperm count is good and motility is not?

Emobiliclinic Patient’s corner:Low Sperm Motility

Emobileclinic Specialist

A couple trying to have a baby are usually opened to suggestions, advice, and education related to fertility and conception. One of the important things they should know, however, is understanding sperm count and sperm motility. When a man is asked to do a semen analysis to determine the health state of his sperm, you might hear many terms, such as sperm count, sperm morphology (the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape), sperm motility and even ejaculate white blood cell count.

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What is Sperm Count?

The simplest measurable part of a man’s reproductive health is sperm count, or the number of sperm in his ejaculate, most often expressed as the number of sperm found per milliliter (ml) of semen with each ejaculation. A sperm count anywhere in the range from 15 million to 150 million per m is considered normal, as long as the total ejaculate sperm count is over 22 million sperm. Because count is a function of sperm numbers per volume of semen fluid, some men will have lower counts per ml, but a normal TOTAL count in the ejaculate (because they have high semen volume). Sperm count should always be viewed as both the count per ml, and the total count for the ejaculate.

Many factors – from a simple virus to environmental factors (e.g. very hot weather) to a hormone imbalance from chemical exposure or even infrequent sex – can cause a low sperm count. Sperm count can be increased through increasing frequency of ejaculation and intercourse, taking antioxidant vitamins, weight loss, and other lifestyle changes.

What about Sperm motility?

Simply put, motility is the way sperm moves. Sperm with healthy motility move progressively forward, not sluggishly and not traveling in circles. A man might have a normal or high sperm count, but if his sperm motility (i.e. ability to swim) is low it may hinder the ability to conceive.

Specialists have four motility grades they give to sperm, from an A for the straightest, fastest swimmers, to a D for sperm that fail to move at all. When a sample shows that fewer than 32% of sperm don’t swim forward progressively, the motility of that sample is considered low. It is important for a couple to understand that neither a man’s sperm count nor his sperm motility can be analyzed in isolation. The values for “normal” sperm counts and motility were developed by the World Health Organization after studying semen from 4,000 fertile men. Although a high count or a high level of motility can offset a lower corresponding sperm measurement, anytime either count or motility are below guidelines, a man should repeat his semen analysis.

Causes of Low Motility

Low motility can be caused by genetic or physical issues that cannot be remedied, it can also be caused by smoking, excessive drinking, drugs abuse, high BMI, frequent exposure to extreme heat (working in extreme temperature or regular sauna), working in cramped conditions (e.g truck drivers), acute viral illness.

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Treatment of Low Motility

Numerous studies have shown with strong evidence that sperm motility can be improved by changes in a man’s diet and lifestyle changes (weight loss, smoking cessation, less bike riding, antioxidant vitamins, not using car seat heaters and many others). One of the best things a man can do to improve sperm motility is to have frequent intercourse, as this leads to increased testosterone production and more rapid sperm production. Your doctor will help you analyze the results of your sperm analysis. But be sure to educate yourself as well on becoming healthier to develop a strategy for increasing sperm count or improving motility if the numbers are low.

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