Asthenospermia/ Asthenozoospermia and Male Infertility
Asthenospermia/ sub-optimal sperm motility describes the ability of sperm to move properly through the female reproductive tract to reach and fertilize the woman’s egg, and is a common form of male infertility. Not to be confused with Azoospermia, which is the medical condition of a man whose semen contains no sperm; a more severe form of Oligospermia.
Azoospermia is present in 2% of the general male population, and is a frequent contributing factor toward the inability to conceive and male infertility.
While the most common cause of male infertility is low sperm count, some men are infertile because of poor sperm motility. Normally, at least 50% of a man’s sperm should have good quality progressive motility. When levels are below this percentage, the condition is called Asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia. Many men with low sperm count will also have poor sperm motility issues. However, some men can have a normal sperm count, but very poor sperm motility.
What causes Asthenospermia?
Although scientists still aren’t entirely sure why some men have better sperm motility than others, studies suggest that asthenozoospermia as a form of male infertility may be genetic or may simply be the effect of the aging process on sperm function.
In other cases, underlying health and lifestyle factors are believed to play a role in male fertility. These may include:
- Exposure to pesticides, solvents and heavy metals
- Increased testicular temperature such as from use of hot tubs, saunas and long periods on hot car seats
- Varicoceles (varicose veins) causing blood to pool in the testes
- Infections in the genitals or urogenital tract
- Antisperm antibodies, which confuse the body’s immune system into attacking its own sperm cells
Does Asthenospermia have any symptoms?
Asthenozoospermia is easily diagnosed with a semen analysis. In this simple test, you’ll be asked to provide a fresh semen sample at the clinic. Along with sperm count and morphology, this tests the motility of your sperm cells. Generally, if fewer than 32% of the sperm cells in a given sample are able to move properly, a man is considered to have asthenozoospermia.
A semen analysis is different to the home test kits for sperm count. Some of these brands claim they can measure sperm count accurately, but this won’t tell you anything about the sperm cells’ motility. It’s possible to have a normal sperm count but low motility, so see your doctor if you and your partner have been unable to conceive after 1 year of trying – even if it seems like your sperm count is normal.
Is pregnancy still possible, with a sub-optimal motility?
Male infertility should ideally be diagnosed by a specialist, where your sperm count, motility and morphology are examined. In this cases where male infertility occurs due to Asthenospermia/ low motility, pregnancy may or may not occur depending on the severity of the Asthenospermia.
Sperm quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to your odds of successfully conceiving. After all, if sperm cells aren’t able to move properly, then they’re going to have a much harder time of reaching the egg!
Improving your sperm parameters may be possible with the right lifestyle changes – and advances in reproductive technology mean that even with poor sperm motility, your odds of becoming a father are far from zero.
What are my options for Asthenospermia treatment?
Asthenospermia treatment options for male infertility are entirely dependent on the type and cause of the condition. Although there’s no specific treatment for asthenozoospermia, it’s thought that lifestyle changes can go a long way in terms of improving sperm parameters.
A healthy reproductive system depends a lot on general health, so by following a varied and nutritious diet, you’ll be giving yourself the best possible chances of maximising male fertility.
In particular, you’ll want to make sure you get the Vitamin C and E needed to support healthy sperm cell development. Zinc is also considered a vital nutrient for sperm motility, as it prevents the sperm cells from clumping together and slowing down. Fertilmas includes all of the vital vitamin, minerals and a unique formula of amino acids to make sure nutritional defficiences are not the reason for male infertility.
Limiting or eliminating your exposure to harmful toxins could help limit the damage they spell for your reproductive health. The more exposure you have to these substances, the worse the potential impact on your semen quality.
Although you don’t necessarily need to go living in a cabin in the forest, limiting your exposure to industrial chemicals like solvents and pesticides is important. Quitting smoking and limiting your alcohol intake is another positive step to take torwards solving any male infertility issues.