How to Increase Sperm Motility

By CNY Fertility Updated on

If you are wondering how to increase your sperm motility, then you have likely undergone a semen analysis with some less than stellar results.  But don’t fret just yet.  There are many natural ways you can improve sperm motility and if those don’t work there are also fertility treatments available like ICSI IVF, which were developed specifically for men with low motility in mind.  

Let’s dig into the supplements to take, foods to eat, and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sperm’s motility!

Fast Facts

  • For sperm motility to be considered normal, at least 50% of sperm must be moving at the time of semen analysis testing.
  • Many nutrients have been shown to improve sperm motility.
  • Some medications can also be used to increase sperm motility.
  • A combination of different supplements and lifestyle changes can significantly improve sperm motility.
  • Sperm take approximately 80 days to develop.  As such, it is best to enact changes to improve sperm motility approximately 2-3 months before trying to conceive.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection in-vitro fertilization (ICSI IVF) is a fertility treatment that was developed for men with low sperm motility.  The ICSI technique fertilizes on average 50-80% of the eggs that are injected, whereas conventional IVF fertilizes around 50% of eggs.

What is Sperm Motility? 

Sperm motility is a measure of how well sperm move with forward progression. For traditional pregnancy to occur,  sperm must wriggle and swim through a woman’s cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes to reach the egg. Naturally, sperm motility is one of several parameters measured in a semen analysis used to measure sperm health.

When embryologists analyze sperm samples, they place a small volume of the specimen on a Makler counting chamber, which has a grid with 100 squares. The motility of a semen sample is determined by calculating the percentage of the sperm that are moving in the same ten squares. The progression of the sperm (forward motion) is graded on a scale of 0 (no motility) to 3+ (moving quickly across the grid in a forward direction). 

If a high percentage of a man’s sperm don’t move forward efficiently, then the chances of sperm reaching the egg and fertilization occurring are lower.  A lower chance of fertilization equates to lower chances of achieving pregnancy.  

Normal Sperm Motility

According to the parameters determined by the World Health Organization, for a man’s sperm motility to be considered normal, at least 50% of sperm must be moving at the time of semen analysis testing.  Sperm are considered to have healthy motility if they move with forward progressions of at least 25 micrometers per second.  

If a sample is determined to be below these standards, then the man’s sperm motility is considered low or poor.  Poor sperm mobility is referred to as asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia.  If a man does have low sperm motility and he and his partner are struggling to conceive, then the couple may be experiencing male factor infertility.

Nutrients to Improve Sperm Motility

Many vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to improve sperm motility along with other semen parameters and overall male fertility

Carnitine (L-carnitine)

L -carnitine plays a pivotal role in sperm metabolism by providing readily available energy for use by spermatozoa(male gametes), which positively affects sperm motility .  Several studies have shown that L-carnitine can help to treat male infertility by significantly improving sperm motility .  Supplementing L-carnitine is especially effective for improving motility levels for men with asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia.  It has also been shown to improve several other semen parameters for men who have infertility. 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 is naturally produced by the human body and helps to generate energy in human cells.  Several studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation can significantly improve sperm motility levels, especially for infertile men with asthenozoospermia or poor sperm motility .  Researchers believe that the reason Co Q10 is so effective at improving motility is due to its antioxidant properties and its contribution to cell energy production. 

Click here to purchase CoQ10 supplements and to learn about all of the fertility benefits!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is known to reduce cellular damage throughout the body. A study of infertile men showed that men taking vitamin C supplements twice a day for up to 2 months increased sperm motility by 92% .  

As you can see in the figure above, the average motility level increased from 31.2% (18.8% below the WHO motility level for a fertile male) to 60.1% (11.1% over).   

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects our cells against free radicals and improves the function of other antioxidants.  Research has shown that supplementing a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10 can effectively increase semen parameters, especially sperm motility, for infertile men .   Supplementing vitamin E can help treat men diagnosed with asthenoteratospermia (abnormal motility and morphology of sperm)  or asthenospermia (reduced sperm motility) .  

On its own, vitamin E is only so effective, but it improves the function of other antioxidants and nutrients, which produces a greater effect on sperm motility. 

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral that functions as an antioxidant and helps decrease damage from free radicals.  Selenium acts similarly to L-carnitine, Co Q10, and vitamins C and E in the way it helps to decrease damage from free radicals.  Selenium is vital for several male reproductive functions. When it is combined with vitamin E, it has been shown to significantly improve sperm motility .

Ashwagandha Root

Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb with multiple known benefits for male fertility.  Ashwagandha can help to improve testosterone levels, antioxidant status, sperm count, volume, and motility.  

In one study, researchers treated men with poor sperm quality for three months with 675 mg of ashwagandha daily .  On day 90, the men treated with Ashwagandha showed a 57% increase in sperm motility compared to there baseline levels.  

In the study, the men’s motility levels increased from 18.6% at baseline to 29.9% after three months of treatment.  Several other studies have also shown that ashwagandha can improve male fertility and sperm motility .  

Ashwagandha is not produced naturally by the body, nor is it found in any of the foods you commonly eat.  Unless you have access to an ashwagandha plant (small shrub grown in the Middle East, India, and Africa), you will need to rely on supplements to reap the benefits.  

Shilajit

Shilajit is a naturally occurring substance that is considered safe to be taken as a supplement and is reported to have many different benefits for male fertility.  In one study, men treated with shilajit for 90 days saw up to a 17.4% increase in their sperm motility

Maca Root

Maca root is similar to ashwagandha in that it comes from a plant.  Maca root is known to have several positive effects on male fertility like improving libido and sexual performance

A recent study found that maca can also improve semen parameters, especially sperm motility .  Researchers tested the participants’ semen throughout the 12-week study.  They found that sperm motility showed a rising trend throughout and concluded that maca possesses fertility-enhancing properties for men.  

Omega 3s

Omega 3s play a vital role in the structure and formation of all human cells, including sperm.  Omega 3s can be found naturally in foods like fish and other seafood.  Studies have shown that a large percentage of the U.S. male population does not meet the recommended daily allowance for omega 3s .  As such, fish oil and other omega 3 supplements are beneficial to improve sperm motility and overall male fertility .

Male Preconception+ to Increase Sperm Motility

Male Preconception+ for Increasing Sperm Motility

When selecting the best male fertility supplements to improve sperm motility, be sure to look for products with a wide range of ingredients.  As mentioned in this article, many nutrients work together, and when taken in combination, they provide optimal results.  At CNY Fertility, we recommend Molecular Fertility’s Male Preconception+ which includes a hefty dose of Carnitine, Selenium, Vitamins C and E, ashwagandha, shilajit, maca, and many more vitamins and nutrients known to improve male fertility.    

Fish Oil to Increase Sperm Motility

VIVOMEGA Fish Oil

There is often a concern when taking fish oil supplements regarding their purity, potential heavy metal exposure, and oxidation.  Simply put, not all fish oil products are made the same.  Molecular Fertility’s VIVOMEGA Fish Oil is comprised of over 2000 mg of omega-three per serving (7 times the standard).  It is also made up of non-GMO natural fish oils that shatter the highest international purity standards. 

Co Q10 Supplement to Increase Sperm Motility

CoQ10 for Increasing Sperm Motility

If you prefer to take a separate Co Q10 supplement, you want to look for a product that contains the most absorbable and bioavailable form.  Molecular Fertiltiy’s Co Q10 supplements contain a technologically advanced VESIsorb® delivery system which significantly increases the Co Q10 absorbability and bioavailability.  The patented nutrient delivery system is clinically shown to have 6 times the absorption and bioavailability of traditional CoQ10.  By increasing the absorption and bioavailability of Co Q10, these supplements produce faster and better results.  

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Sperm Motility

Taking supplements isn’t the only way to improve sperm motility.  There are many choices you can make throughout your daily routine and eventually incorporate as lifestyle changes to improve your motility and overall fertility.  It likely comes as no surprise that a man’s fertility health and overall health are strongly correlated.  By following the same guidelines we know to improve overall health, you can significantly improve your sperm motility.  

Eat a Healthy and Thoughtful Diet

Diet is one of the few influencers of fertility that we have complete and total control of.  As such, it is important we make informed decisions about the foods we put in our bodies. Think about the nutrients mentioned in this article when you look for foods to improve sperm motility.  As previously mentioned, fish and other seafood are a great source of Omega 3s.  Vitamin E can be found abundantly in foods like eggs, and pork contains high levels of selenium.  Many different foods support male fertility, and the nutrients they contain can help to improve several different semen parameters.

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can cause many changes to a man’s fertility, including shrinking the testes, changes to the shape, size, and movement of sperm, and lower testosterone levels. Alcohol has been shown to have a significant effect on sperm movement, straight-line velocity, and other factors that influence sperm’s motility .  

Sperm take up to 80 or so days to develop, so if you want to improve the motility of your sperm and chances of having a baby, consider cutting back on alcohol consumption three months prior to trying to conceive.  

Quit Smoking

Smoking is flat-out bad for your overall health and nearly all parameters of sperm, including motility.  Research has shown that smoking is highly correlated with decreased sperm motility .  In one study, men who smoked had an average of 16.6% less motile sperm when compared to their non-smoking counterparts .  Researchers believe that the toxins that enter your body during smoking are responsible for the decrease in sperm motility.  

When combined with alcohol, smoking has an even greater effect on sperm motility and other sperm parameters .  

Light Exercise, Not Too Intense

Exercise is great for supporting overall and fertility healthy, but did you know too much or too intense of exercise can actually be harmful?  Research indicates that sperm motility is progressively affected as intensity and volume of exercise increase .  

Light exercise on the other hand, like yoga or stretching, is extremely beneficial for male fertility.  It can help improve circulation and blood flow to the male reproductive system, which improves sperm development and sperm motility.  

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential to supporting our overall health, so it’s not surprising that it also affects fertility.  Getting insufficient or poor-quality sleep have both been linked to low sperm motility .  If you want to get your swimmers swimming and improve your sperm motility, you have to get enough sleep!  Ensure you are getting 7-8 hours a night of good quality and restful sleep

Medications to Improve Sperm Motility

Fertility medications can also be used to improve sperm motility.  Most fertility medications influence hormone production, which can positively impact several aspects of male fertility, including spermatogenesis (the development of sperm cells).  When spermatogenesis improves, more sperm cells develop normally and a greater percentage of sperm are motile.  

Clomiphene Citrate

Clomiphene Citrate, also known by its brand name Clomid, is sometimes sued to treat male infertility.  Clomid has not been approved to treat male infertility by the FDA, so it is prescribed off-label to increase sperm count, motility, and testosterone levels.  Clomiphene treatment has been shown to improve sperm motility over time. 

In one study, researchers verified that clomiphene could improve sperm motility.  Researchers also combined clomiphene treatment with vitamin E supplementation to see what effect the combination treatment would have on sperm motility .  

 

Treatment Mean Baseline Motility Mean Motility at 3 Months Mean Motility at 6 Months
Clomiphene  23.00% 29.5% 33.33%
Clomiphene + Vitamin E 23.67% 33.17% 40.50%

Researchers concluded that clomiphene can improve sperm motility on its own, but it should be combined with vitamin E supplementation for optimal results.  

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human growth hormone plays an important role in both spermatogenesis and male fertility.  Research around HGH and its effects on male fertility is on the rise.  Studies have shown that HGH therapy can be used to improve sperm count, motility, and other sperm parameters .  

Fertility specialists believe that HGH may be an effective treatment for infertile males, especially those who are growth hormone-deficient.  One study found that HGH can help restore sperm concentration, morphology, and motility in GH-deficient men .

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG is known to have many positive effects on male fertility, including improving and restoring sperm production.  Research has shown that by improving sperm production hCG can improve several sperm parameters, including sperm motility .  

hCG injections are FDA-approved for men with reduced spermatogenesis whose bodies don’t appropriately stimulate the gonads to produce testosterone.  Research has shown that hCG therapy can help induce spermatogenesis and improve sperm motility for gonadotrophin-deficient men .

hCG is the only on-label pharmaceutical drug approved for the treatment of male infertility. 

Treatments to Overcome Sperm Motility Issues

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection in-vitro fertilization (ICSI IVF) is a fertility treatment that was developed for men whose sperm had low motility and could not penetrate the zona pellucida (coating around the egg).  In a ICSI IVF procedure, all the benefits of traditional in-vitro fertilization (IVF) remain.  IVF helps to overcome female fertility problems such as blockages in the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or when previous IUI cycles were not successful.  

During traditional IVF, many sperm are placed together with an egg in hopes that one of the sperm will enter and fertilize the egg on its own.  During ICSI IVF, an embryologist identifies and uses what appears to be the best sperm and injects them directly into the egg(s).  This keeps sperm from having to penetrate the zona pellucida which improves the chances of successful fertilization.  The ICSI technique fertilizes on average 50-80% of the eggs that are injected, whereas conventional IVF fertilizes around 50% of eggs.

In Conclusion

As you can see from this article, semen analysis results indicating low or poor sperm motility is not the end of the world.  There are many foods you can eat, supplements and medications you can take, and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sperm motility.  Enacting a combination of these strategies approximately 80 days before trying to conceive either naturally or with fertility treatments provides the best chance for improving your sperm motility and overall fertility.  

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