What is Asthenospermia (Low Sperm Motility)?

Asthenospermia also known as asthenozoospermia or low sperm motility refers to the ability of sperm to move and swim effectively. In individuals with asthenospermia, the sperm may have difficulty swimming towards the egg, which can potentially impact fertility.

Sperm motility is a crucial factor in achieving successful fertilization because it allows sperm to navigate the female reproductive tract and reach the egg for fertilization. Asthenospermia can be one of the contributing factors to male infertility.

Low Sperm Motility - Asthenospermia

How is Asthenospermia and infertility related?

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular unprotected intercourse. Asthenospermia is one of the potential causes of male infertility. However, it’s important to note that infertility is a complex issue, and other factors, such as sperm count and morphology, as well as female reproductive health, can also contribute to difficulties in conceiving.

Symptoms of Asthenospermia (Low Sperm Motility)

Asthenospermia is often asymptomatic, making it challenging to detect without a comprehensive fertility assessment. However, common signs may include difficulty conceiving and recurrent unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy.

Causes of Asthenospermia

Various factors contribute to Asthenospermia, including:

  • Varicocele: Enlarged veins in the scrotum raise testicular temperature, harming sperm production and motility.
  • Infections: Reproductive tract infections damage sperm, reducing motility.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Testosterone and FSH imbalances impact sperm production, leading to asthenospermia.
  • Genetic Factors: Certain genetic conditions affect sperm production and motility.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol, drug use, and obesity contribute to asthenospermia.
  • Structural Abnormalities: Physical defects in sperm structure, especially the tail, hinder proper motility.
  • Environmental Factors: Toxins, chemicals, and heat exposure negatively affect sperm motility.
  • Medications: Certain drugs, like antibiotics or anti-androgens, may impact sperm motility.
  • Systemic Diseases: Conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases have secondary effects on sperm function.
  • Idiopathic Causes: Some cases of asthenospermia have unknown causes, classified as idiopathic.

Complications of Asthenospermia

Some potential complications associated with asthenospermia include:

  • Reduced Fertility
  • Increased Time to Conception
  • Increased Risk of Infertility
  • Need for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
  • Emotional and Psychological Impact
  • Relationship Strain
  • Repeated Pregnancy Loss

Diagnosis of Asthenospermia

Accurate diagnosis involves a thorough examination, including:

  • Semen analysis: Assessing sperm count, motility, and morphology.


  • Automated or AI semen examination: Automated examination, sometimes also known as CASA(Computer assisted semen analysis) is a tool that objectively measures Sperm motility. The results are observer independent. Specially Designed machines, detect the velocity of the sperm and give additional parameters other than what can be seen with conventional manual semen examination. These parameters include Sperm velocity, sperm motility index and functional Sperm concentration. of this sperm motility index can be a good tool to decide line of treatment.


  • Hormonal tests: Evaluating hormone levels related to sperm production.


  • Genetic testing: Identifying hereditary factors impacting sperm motility.

Treatment of Asthenospermia

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can positively impact sperm motility. Recommendations may include maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, avoiding excessive heat exposure (e.g., hot tubs, saunas), limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and managing stress.


  • Hormonal Therapy: If hormonal imbalances are contributing to asthenospermia, hormone replacement therapy or medications to regulate hormone levels may be prescribed.


  • Treatment of Infections: In cases where infections are identified, appropriate antibiotics or antiviral medications may be prescribed to address the infection and improve sperm health.


  • Varicocele Repair: Surgical correction of varicoceles, if present, may be considered. Varicocele repair can help improve sperm motility by reducing testicular heat and improving blood flow. However only severe grade (ultrasound grade 3 or 4) varicoceles require surgery. Surgery helps sperm count more than sperm motility


  • Antioxidant Supplements: Antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins C and E, Coenzyme Q10, L carnitine , Astaxanthin may be recommended to reduce oxidative stress and improve sperm function.


  • Genetic Counseling: If genetic factors are identified, genetic counseling may be recommended to provide information about potential hereditary aspects and family planning options.


  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART): In severe cases of asthenospermia where natural conception is challenging, assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be considered. These techniques involve fertilizing an egg with a single sperm in a controlled environment before transferring the embryo to the uterus.


  • Empirical Treatments: In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe empirical treatments without identifying a specific cause. These treatments may include medications or supplements aimed at improving sperm motility.

How to prevent Asthenospermia?

  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
  • Avoid Excessive Heat Exposure
  • Quit Smoking
  • Limit Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Manage Stress
  • Protect Against Infections
  • Avoid Exposure to Environmental Toxins
  • Treat Medical Conditions
  • Regular Check-ups
  • Genetic Counseling


Yes, the period of abstinence can influence sperm motility. It is recommended to maintain a balance, as both excessively short and long periods of abstinence may impact semen quality.

While it’s possible to conceive naturally with asthenozoospermia, the chances may be reduced. Fertility treatments, such as assisted reproductive technologies, can enhance the likelihood of successful conception. For most cases of severe asthenospermia where cause is not identified, assisted reproductive technology is required.

Sperm motility is an indicator of a Sperm being live. While all motile sperms are alive, non-motile sperms can also be live. In case of 0% motile Sperm Medicine, such as pentoxyphillin can be tried to stimulate sperm motility. if after exposure with pentoxyphillin, Sperm remain nonmotile, they can be differentiated as life or dead by a specialized test. Live non-motile sperm can be used for IVF-ICSI.

The results of IVF in cases of these patients may reduce significantly, patients can expect around 30-50% reduction in result in comparison with patients with normal semen parameters.

In cases of idiopathic asthenozoospermia (unknown cause), a thorough evaluation is conducted to identify underlying factors. Treatment may involve lifestyle modifications, medication, or advanced fertility interventions tailored to individual needs.

A semen sample is diagnosed with Asthenospermia when the majority of sperm show poor motility. This is determined through a semen analysis, where the percentage of progressively motile sperm and or total motile sperm is below the normal range.

Yes, frequent intercourse may enhance the chances of conception, even in cases of moderate asthenozoospermia. However, consulting with a fertility specialist is advisable to optimize the timing and improve the overall success rate.

Not necessarily. The causes of asthenospermia vary, and with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes, sperm motility can improve. It’s essential to consult with a fertility expert to determine the most suitable course of action.

While there’s no specific food that guarantees improved sperm motility, maintaining a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is beneficial. Avoiding excessive alcohol, processed foods, and trans fats may contribute to overall reproductive health.

Asthenospermia can have genetic components, but it’s not solely hereditary. Environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions also play significant roles in sperm motility. If there’s a concern about hereditary factors, genetic testing can provide more insights.

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