Sperm Mobility – What You Need To Know

Male Infertility Factors

Anytime infertility is suspected, both the male and the female partners of a couple should seek help from a fertility specialist since a couple’s inability to conceive is just as likely to be the result of male infertility as female infertility.

The most likely cause of male infertility is problems with the sperm or sperm quality. This can be comprised of a number of factors, including: the (rare) absence of sperm, low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape or morphology, and poor sperm mobility – also known at sperm motility.

More about Sperm Mobility

Sperm mobility or motility refers to the ability of sperm to move and is determined by two factors: sperm speed and quality of movement. If sperm move slowly, or if sperm cannot travel in a straight line, they will be unable to penetrate the cervix mucous or the shell of an egg. Sperm with such sluggish movements are often a contributing factor to male infertility since they are incapable of fertilizing a woman’s egg.

How to Test Sperm Mobility

Whenever male problems with fertility are suspected, a semen analysis is the first test performed. In this procedure a man’s semen sample is sent to a lab where it as analyzed. The results of a semen analysis provide information regarding sperm count, sperm concentration, sperm volume, sperm morphology, and sperm motility.

Sperm mobility or motility is determined by a “motility grade” ranking system, wherein the mobility of sperm is divided into four categories or four grades:

Grade 1: Sperm fail to move at all or make little forward progress.

Grade 2: Sperm move very slowly, or they exhibit “non-progressive motility” – where they move their tails but fail to progress forward

Grade 3: Sperm exhibit “non-linear motility,” where they move forward but travel in a curved or crooked fashion. This stage is also denoted as “motility b.”

Grade 4: Sperm have good progressive motility. They swim fast, strong, and in a straight line. This stage is also denoted as “motility a.”

Treatment: The Good News

The good news is that male infertility is highly treatable! Once the barriers to fertility are identified, treatments or interventions can begin.

Treatment options for male infertility depend on the cause of the problem. In some cases fertility drugs are prescribed that help improve sperm production and development, while in other cases surgery or assisted reproduction techniques are employed.

In cases of severe male infertility a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used as part of IVF treatment. In this process sperm are injected directly into an egg rather than just being placed in the vicinity of an egg in the hope that fertilization will occur. For men with poor sperm motility, this procedure may be very apropos since the movement of sperm plays a minimal role.

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