If a baby is the plan, you already know that sperm quality is going to have a starring role. The quality of a man’s sperm is measured a few different ways, but spoiler — motility is critical. It’s the ability each sperm cell has to move. And move it must, in order to navigate the vaginal canal and cervix, all the way up into the uterus and fallopian tube to ultimately, triumphantly fertilize the egg. It really is miraculous. Read on for a deep dive into this aspect of sperm quality, plus how to improve sperm motility.
- Sperm quality plays a huge role on male fertility and the chances of a healthy conception.
- It’s possible to improve sperm quality with the right nutrients.
- There are multiple parameters for sperm health, including quantity, morphology, motility, and DNA fragmentation within the sperm.
- Sperm motility refers to a sperm cell’s ability to move, and deficiencies here are usually an indication of other sperm health issues.
- Male fertility health can be influenced by genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
- Studies show that supplementing with key vitamins and minerals, like those in Beli Vitality for Men, can significantly improve all facets of sperm health, including sperm motility.
Sperm Quality 101
First, a couple of basic truths. One, sperm quality has profound implications on men’s fertility and the chances of a healthy conception. And two, decades of scientific research prove that it is possible to improve sperm quality and even the quality of the DNA within the sperm with the right vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That’s fantastic news, because increasing sperm quality means increasing your chances of conceiving — naturally or with assisted reproduction, such as IUI or IVF — and reducing the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
As mentioned, sperm quality is measured in several dimensions:
- Sperm quantity, or the count and concentration of sperm in semen. A healthy male’s ejaculation has around 55 million sperm. Low sperm count is 39 million sperm or fewer.
- Sperm morphology, or the shape and the size of the sperm. While well-formed sperm should have oval heads and long tails, some can get a little… weird. Abnormally-shaped sperm are associated with lower fertility rates. Poor lifestyle habits are often a reason for poor sperm morphology.
- Sperm motility, or the manner and speed with which sperm swim. Interestingly, a man qualifies as fertile if 40% of his sperm are motile.
So, What Exactly is Sperm Motility?
If you think of sperm as motivated little swimmers, you’re picturing motility in action. Healthy sperm are designed to swim forward with enough strength for that truly epic journey — a trek that takes an average of 2 to 10 minutes after ejaculation. It’s a long way to go for a microscopic cell, and the better the mobility, the better the chances for success.
Sperm motility analysis is a part of routine semen analysis, a test your doctor can order to assess your fertility. Motility is assessed in two ways:
- total motile sperm count, or TMSC, which is the number of sperm cells that are moving out of all the sperm available in a sample
- average path velocity, or VAP, which how fast these guys are moving
Then there’s the progress sperm make in their efforts to get where they’re going:
- Progressive motility refers to sperm that move in a straight line or very large circles. Progressively motile sperm are the most likely to successfully complete the long journey to the egg. These are the go-getters.
- Non-progressive motility describes sperm that swim in tight circles, or wiggle in one place. Think of this group as the slacker type and/or a little confused.
In a normal-range semen sample, there are at least 20 million motile sperm. Poor sperm motility occurs when there are fewer than five million motile sperm in a sample.
Conception is largely about increasing your odds, so the significance of motility really can’t be overstated. The more strong swimmers present in semen, the better the chances that one of them will reach the egg and fuse successfully.
What Affects Sperm Motility?
Most people know that men produce millions of sperm every day. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready for action. Actually, new sperm need around three months to fully mature. When they’re first formed in the testicle, sperm can’t really do much — they have zero ability to swim forward, nor could they successfully fertilize an egg. Every day is important in the life of sperm, and the right vitamins and minerals during this critical window are key to their healthy development. Side note — sperm motility begins to decline around age 35 (yes, it’s the male version of the biological clock), and age also negatively impacts sperm count and morphology.
Usually, when sperm motility is poor, there are other problems sperm health issues. For example, men with poor sperm motility may also have low sperm counts or poor sperm morphology. It makes sense — sperm that aren't formed properly can't swim properly.
So what’s happening here? Why does some sperm just, well, suck? There are a few things at play. Men’s fertility health can be influenced by a range of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, and it’s also common for the causes of infertility and subfertility to remain unexplained. Still, specific causes of sperm motility issues can include:
- Poor diet
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Damage to the testicle from injury, cancer, infection, or surgery
- Long-term use of steroids, cannabis, alcohol or cocaine
- Varicocele, a condition where the veins in the scrotum become enlarged
- Working with chemicals and machinery
- Environmental factors, including exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which include parabens, pesticides, and other chemicals
When it comes to sperm health and conception in general, many factors really are beyond our control. But science has proven it’s possible to improve sperm motility without medicine using the factors we can control — and that incudes ensuring you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals that fuel optimal sperm motility.
Vitamins & Minerals to Improve Sperm Motility
Fueling sperm health cross every parameter was the goal when we began formulating Beli Vitality for Men, and we referenced the most current research. That’s why our men’s prenatal contains evidence-based levels of vitamins and minerals shown in clinical studies to help strengthen sperm motility and increase the chance of conception:
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells from damage and oxidative stress and free radicals. Vitamin C is one of the most abundant antioxidants found in semen and it’s one of the biggest contributors to protecting the sperm’s DNA from free radical damage.
- Vitamin D. The benefits of vitamin D have been well established — and it’s just as important for men’s fertility. Studies show that increasing your vitamin D levels can have a positive impact on improving your sperm motility.
- Vitamin E. Oxidative stress can lower sperm parameters. One recent study found that vitamin E helps protect the sperm’s cell membrane and ward off oxidative stress and free radicals.
- Zinc. When it comes to male fertility, zinc is one of the most important trace elements.
- Selenium. Selenium functions as an antioxidant when supporting sperm motility. Selenium is important for reproductive functions such as testosterone metabolism and is a constituent of sperm capsule selenoprotein. The administration of selenium to subfertile patients induced a statistically significant rise in sperm motility. In one cornerstone study, researchers saw improvement in sperm motility, morphology, or both in 52% of the participating infertile men who took both selenium and vitamin E for at least 100 days.
- CoQ10. CoQ10 helps improve sperm motility by combating oxidation and protecting sperm from radical damage.
- N-acetyl-l-cysteine. Studies show that supplementing with NAC in comparison to a placebo can significantly improve sperm motility.
- Shilajit. Beli Vitality for Men is the only men’s prenatal that includes all-natural Shilajit, an ancient Ayurvedic adaptogen that has been clinically proven to improve sperm motility, boost sperm count, and improve sperm quality. What’s more, this key ingredient has been used for centuries as a safe, potent way to improve energy and enhance vitality. In our blend, it has the extra benefits of of improved athletic performance, improved focus and brain health, and more.
The Bottom Line
The single most important thing you can do to improve sperm motility and overall quality is get the right vitamins and minerals. But there’s a cumulative effect here too, so don’t overlook the importance of generally cleaning up your lifestyle — improve your diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, try to minimize stress, all that good stuff.
First, though, swap the multivitamin for a men’s prenatal vitamin you can trust — one that has been formulated with nutrients clinically proven to improve sperm motility. And yes, we’re talking about Beli for Men.