Many characteristics of sperm determine male fertility. One of those features is sperm motility. It refers to the movement of sperm to reach the ovum for fertilization. The motility depends not only on the number of motile sperm but also on how those sperm move.
This article is a brief overview of what is normal sperm motility and things that can lead to abnormal movement of sperm cells.
Sperm motility is crucial because the ovum cannot move on its own. The ovaries in women are present inside the body. They produce ovum in the abdominal region but the implantation of the fertilized embryo occurs in the uterus.
Ejaculation happens in the vagina; therefore, sperm have to move from the vagina to the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes appear like two arms of the uterus that connect it to the ovaries.
Fallopian tubes have cilia in them, which are small thread-like projections. They collectively move in a rhythmic motion and sweep the ovum from the ovaries to where the uterus begins.
Since the uterus does not have cilia, this is as far as the ovum can go. That is why sperm have to float and cover this distance.
Sperm cells have supportive apparatus to keep them accelerated in their journey. From the testis to the epididymis, cilia perform this task. These cilia are similar to hair-like structures in fallopian tubes of female reproductive tubules.
In the epididymis, each sperm cell develops a long tail. These flagella-like tail structures make them independent and capable of motion. Other supportive elements include semen in the male reproductive tract, which lubricates the pathway.
However, from the cervix to the ovum, these sperm cells are lone riders and have to move independently. The tail drives energy from mitochondria present in the mid-piece and makes this happen.
The typical motility depends on the pattern and speed.
The usual pattern of motility is either forward progression or circular motion. If a sperm cell moves in narrow circles or has aberrant direction, fertilization becomes impossible. This abnormality in motility refers to asthenozoospermia.
The average velocity of sperm cells is up to 25 micrometer per second at least. It takes 5 to 10 minutes for a sperm to reach the fallopian tube from the cervix. Depending on the health of sperm, this process can delay or may not happen at all.
The progressive motility means sperm can float at a speed of 25 micrometers per second or more.
Non-progressive motility defines the slow movement of sperm measuring as less than 5 micrometers per second.
For healthy sperm motility, both these parameters should be in the normal range.
Yes, it does. For healthy fertility levels, at least 40% of your sperm should be motile. This proportion is the bare minimum and does not include the typical forward progression and patterns of motility.
So, to be precise, at least 32% of your sperms cells should have productive motility that can make them reach the ovum. Anything below this percentage means you may not be able to impregnate your female partner.
It is not hard to measure your sperm motility. Semen analysis testing, which is the initial test for male fertility investigation, can tell you that. It judges the motility of your sperm cells in the following categories:
It measures the total proportion of sperm in a semen sample that are capable of moving.
It represents the percentage of motile sperm per mL of the semen sample. An appropriate ejaculate volume should be at least 2 to 4mL.
It is the measure of total sperm with progressive motility, forward direction, and an appropriate velocity. This factor is paramount and plays the most critical role in determining male fertility.
Average sperm velocity quantifies the speed of sperm. It calculates the distance covered by sperm cells in microns per second.
Many structural and functional factors can lead to abnormal sperm motility. They range from tail defects that occur during spermatogenesis to structural changes in the male reproductive tracts. Even the female reproductive tract can be a culprit. If it does not provide sperm with a favorable environment, they may not be able to float.
Some of the parameters you should look out for are listed below:
Some of the healthy practices that you can incorporate in your life are as follows:
Understandably, keeping tabs on your fertility can be exhausting. You can preserve it by freezing your sperm when they are in great shape.