A seminogram is used to analyze the motility of the sperm. To perform this analysis, the man has to leave a sample of his sperm inside an approved bottle, labelled with his name, in the andrology laboratory. In addition, the collection of the semen sample should be done after a sexual abstinence of 3 to 5 days.
The laboratory will use this sperm sample to analyze the movement of the spermatozoids, an essential parameter so that sperm can reach the fallopian tubes and fertilize the egg.
Mobility assessment consists of several parts. First, the total percentage of mobile and immobile spermatozoids is analyzed and, secondly, the way the spermatozoids move is also analyzed:
- Progressivity, that is, if the spermatozoid advances and, if the distance that it runs is rectilinear or not.
- The total number of mobile and viable spermatozoids in the ejaculate is calculated.
The pathology more often associated with the motility of sperm is called astenozoospermia. It is defined as an alteration of semen, characterized by low sperm motility. A man suffers from astenozoospermia when the number of sperm with progressive mobility (rectilinear or not) is less than 32% and when the total number of motile sperm in the ejaculate is less than 40%, according to the values established by WHO.
This alteration can be a fertility problem, because it prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg naturally.
Alterations in the sperm mobility usually have an unknown origin and have no specific treatment. However, in some cases, these parameters can be improved with antioxidant treatments with vitamin A, C and E.
Motility and vitality
It is important to note that motility is not always related to vitality. When the sperm is microscopically observed, we might think that the lack of mobility means the spermatozoids are dead, but this need not be the case.
There are tests, like the eosin or hypoosmotic test, that detect vitality in sperm that do not move and allow us to distinguish between those spermatozoids that do not move because of their deterioration or some mechanical failure, from those that do not move because they are dead.
There’s a pathology, related to sperm motility, called Kartagener Syndrome. This is an unusual syndrome characterized by the existence of immobile spermatozoids that are not all dead.
The lack of motility happens due to a disorder characterized by the non existence of ciliary movement in the sperm cells. Human airways are affected by this disorder, so the man normally knows he suffers from this disorder even before he starts thinking about being a father. ICSI is an assisted reproduction technique that can be used in these cases.