In fertility treatment with donor sperm, the sperm must be of very good quality to give the best chances of a pregnancy. That is why we thoroughly test every sperm donation and label all our sperm straws according to the sperm motility, which you can learn more about below.
What is sperm motility or MOT?
Sperm motility, also called MOT, is one of the parameters that helps us measure the quality of the sperm. MOT is the amount of active sperm cells pr. milliliter sperm. This means that MOT20 sperm contains at least 20 million active sperm cells per milliliter sperm.
Most of Cryos’ sperm straws contain 0.5 milliliter sperm. Therefore, if you buy a MOT20 sperm straw, you will get at least 10 million active sperm cells after thawing. Some straws contain 0.4 milliliter sperm and are offered with a 20 % discount.
At Cryos, you can order sperm straws with MOT5, MOT10, MOT20 and MOT30+. This gives you the possibility of choosing the exact quality needed for your fertility treatment.
Which type of sperm motility should I choose for my fertility treatment?
Your choice of motility depends on the type of fertility treatment and your fertility clinic’s preference. Please consult your clinic regarding which MOT to choose for your personal treatment.
Below you can see the general recommendations when choosing sperm motility:
- For IUI treatment, we recommend using 1 IUI straw of MOT10 or higher.
If your clinic prefers ICI straws, that they can prepare themselves for IUI treatment, we recommend choosing either 4 straws with MOT5, 2 straws with MOT10 or 1 straw with MOT20
- For IVF we recommend using 1 IUI straw of MOT5 or higher.
- For ICSI, we recommend speaking with the clinic before ordering, as their recommendations can vary. Generally, 1 MOT5 straw is enough to perform ICSI. Both IUI straws and ICI straws can be used, depending on your clinic’s preferences.
- For ICI treatment, we recommend using 2 MOT10 straws or higher. Both IUI and ICI straws can be used, depending on your clinic’s preferences.
Follow the link, if you want to learn more about the difference between IUI or ICI sperm straws.
How to measure sperm motility?
There are several ways to measure sperm motility and quality. When we receive a sample in our laboratory, we look at:
- The concentration of sperm cells
- The sperm cells’ ability to move
To ensure excellent sperm quality, we measure these parameters on a sample after it has been frozen and thawed as sperm may react differently to freezing. We measure the quality and motility of the sperm with the help of an automatic system called CASA (Computer Assisted Sperm Analysis), which ensures a very precise result.
However, sperm is a biological material and extremely sensitive to a number of factors, including temperature. This means that a variance in the exact motility can be expected when comparing two independent analyses of a sperm sample. At Cryos, we accept a difference of 20%. We always do our best to ensure that the number of active sperm cells equals the stated motility or more (e.g., a MOT10 straw includes at least 10 million active sperm cells per milliliter sperm), and in many cases, the sperm sample will prove to have a higher motility than stated. However, if, after following our straw-handling protocol, your clinic finds that the post-thaw count shows a motility that is more than 20% lower than the stated motility of the sperm sample, your clinic can file a complaint. We will then, together with our laboratory staff, evaluate your claim.
Low sperm motility and chances of pregnancy
As men’s sperm quality varies over time, we thoroughly analyse all sperm donations at Cryos. Only the ones with a motility of 5 or more will be available for purchase in our Sperm Donor Search.
Men can temporarily experience low motility due to factors such as stress (e.g., during exam periods), illness, and over- or underweight, and studies suggest that about 20% of all men experience reduced sperm quality at some point.
A low sperm motility does not mean that it is impossible to get pregnant using the man’s sperm, but in fertility treatment with donor sperm we want to give you the best possible chances of success. That is why we have high demands regarding the quality and motility of our donors sperm, and only men with a very high sperm quality will be accepted as donors at Cryos.
All sperm donor candidates are asked to provide a preliminary sperm sample shortly after sending in their donor application, and only if their sperm quality proves to be excellent can they proceed in our sperm donor screening process.
At Cryos we do our best to ensure high-quality donor sperm for your treatment, but there are also some things you can do yourself to improve your chances of success.
What influences sperm motility and how do you improve it?
Lifestyle choices are some of the important factors in maintaining high sperm motility. Things such as alcohol, smoking, and unhealthy food can influence the quality of the sperm negatively. Therefore you need to focus on a balanced and healthy diet in order to raise your level of sperm motility.
A part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise. In relation to improvement in your motility, it is important to exercise the right amout. Over-exercising could decrease your sperm motility, which is why a moderate amout of exercise is recommended.
Another important factor that can lower the motility is exposure of the testicles to heat. Saunas, hot tubs, solarium, and tight underwear can have a negative effect on the sperm and should be avoided in order to improve or maintain the sperm motility.
It may take up to three months before a change in lifestyle visibly improves a man’s sperm quality. You can learn more about what causes male infertility and how to prevent it here.
Would you like to have your sperm quality tested?
If you are trying to conceive naturally, you might like to know the quality of your sperm or your partner’s sperm. You can have your sperm motility tested through a sperm quality test - also called a semen analysis. A semen analysis can be done at a fertility clinic or a sperm bank (at Cryos we offer this at our departments in Denmark).
You will have to provide a semen sample, and a laboratory technician will then assess the motility and other parameters such as the total volume of the sample and the number of sperm cells per milliliter semen. In that way you can learn if your sperm is healthy.
Next step in your journey towards parenthood
We hope that the above has helped clarify the term sperm motility. As mentioned, we recommend that you talk to your fertility clinic about which motility to choose when you order donor sperm for fertility treatment.