Is IUI Good For Low Sperm Motility?
Conceiving through intercourse doesn’t always happen as planned and it’s estimated that 1 in 7 heterosexual couples face fertility problems in the UK alone. When you can’t conceive, the next step is fertility testing and treatment.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of many fertility treatments we offer at IVF Matters, and we may recommend it for those with low sperm motility. This blog post will look at what IUI treatment is, how you can increase your chances of conception and if IUI is good for low sperm motility.
What is IUI?
IUI is a fertility treatment that involves placing washed and prepared sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chances of fertilisation. It is a simple and non-invasive procedure fertility specialists often use as a first-line treatment for couples experiencing infertility.
During an IUI procedure, sperm is collected and ‘washed’ to produce a concentrated sample of healthy sperm. The fertility expert then inserts the prepared sperm into a thin catheter and places it directly into the uterus to increase the chances of sperm reaching the egg.
Fertility specialists may recommend IUI in various situations, including:
- When a man has a low sperm count or poor sperm motility
- When a woman has problems with her cervical mucus
- When there is unexplained infertility
IUI can be used with fertility medications to stimulate ovulation and increase the chances of pregnancy. It can also be performed with donor sperm — making it suitable for same-sex couples or people without a partner.
What is considered low sperm motility?
Low sperm motility is a condition in which sperm have poor swimming ability, making it difficult to reach and fertilise an egg.
Fertility experts can diagnose low sperm motility through semen analysis, a test that measures the number, shape and movement of sperm in a man’s ejaculate. A normal sperm motility range is considered to be between 30 and 40% but can vary.
There are several causes and risk factors of low sperm motility, including:
- Varicocele – the veins draining the testicle swell, causing a decrease in sperm quality and quantity
- Hormonal imbalances – low testosterone levels can affect sperm production and motility
- Infections – sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or inflammation of the prostate gland can damage sperm and affect their motility
- Genetic factors – chromosomal abnormalities or inherited conditions can affect sperm motility
- Lifestyle factors – smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use or obesity can affect sperm motility
- Environmental factors – pollutants and chemicals in your environment can cause low sperm production and motility
Is IUI good for low sperm motility?
Fertility specialists often recommend IUI for couples who have been trying to conceive for at least a year without success and have low sperm motility or other male fertility issues.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence estimates that around one third of infertility cases are due to male fertility problems such as low sperm count or motility.
In cases of low sperm motility, IUI can increase the chances of successful fertilisation by placing a higher concentration of sperm closer to the egg. Sperm with poor motility are less likely to reach the egg when trying to conceive naturally. But with IUI, the sperm is placed directly in the uterus — giving a better chance of success.
The success rates of IUI for low sperm motility vary, but when doctors use it to assist with conception, there is a higher chance that you could become pregnant.
One study found that using IUI for low sperm motility led to 12.95% of the participants becoming pregnant. However, the study achieved this with multiple rounds of IUI, and the success rate was higher when the male partner’s sperm motility wasn’t severely low.
Success depends on various factors, such as the number of IUI cycles and total sperm motility, so it’s vital you keep this in mind when undergoing treatment.
Preparing for IUI with low sperm motility
Before starting an IUI treatment for low sperm motility, the following factors need to be considered:
- Severity of the male fertility issue — IUI is generally recommended for couples with mild to moderate male fertility issues. However, if the male partner has a very low sperm count or poor sperm motility, other treatments, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), may be more appropriate
- The woman’s age – success rates for IUI decrease with age, so older women may need to undergo more cycles of IUI to achieve pregnancy
- IUI’s timing – fertility experts typically perform IUI around ovulation, so it is essential to track this using methods such as basal body temperature monitoring or ovulation predictor kits
- Sperm quality – while IUI can improve the chances of fertilisation in cases of low sperm motility, the sperm used in the procedure must be of the highest quality possible. To achieve this, sperm from a donor or using medications may be required to improve the sperm’s quality.
- Other fertility issues – couples with additional fertility issues, such as blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis, may not be good candidates for IUI and may require more advanced fertility treatments
When preparing for IUI treatment, follow any instructions provided by your fertility specialist, such as taking medications or tracking ovulation.
Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as avoiding smoking, using drugs, or drinking alcohol excessively can all help to improve overall fertility. Try to remain positive and hopeful — the success rates for IUI are encouraging.
IUI can be an effective treatment option for couples with low sperm motility. However, it is essential to discuss your circumstances with a fertility specialist and follow their instructions to ensure the best possible outcome.
How to improve low sperm motility
You can sometimes improve low sperm motility through lifestyle changes. These changes can include the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight or underweight can affect sperm production and motility
- Exercise regularly – regular exercise can improve overall health and increase testosterone levels, which can positively affect sperm production and motility
- Avoid excessive heat exposure – wearing tight-fitting clothes or using saunas and hot tubs can negatively impact sperm motility
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption – both of which can affect sperm health
- Manage stress – engage in stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation
- Take supplements – certain supplements like zinc and vitamin D could help improve low sperm motility
- Medications – your doctor may prescribe medications to help improve sperm production and motility
- Surgery – sometimes, surgery may be necessary to correct issues such as varicoceles
It’s essential to note that improving sperm motility may take time and may not always be successful.
Other fertility treatments for low sperm motility
Fertility specialists can use other fertility treatments for low sperm motility. For example, IVF can be a good option for those with low sperm motility as the sperm is injected directly into the egg, giving it a greater chance of fertilisation.
At IVF Matters, our IVF success rates are more than double the national average — and this rate includes people who have low sperm motility.
If you still can’t conceive with fertility treatment, you may need to consider other options, like using donor sperm or adoption.
Book a fertility consultation
If you cannot conceive, book a fertility consultation with IVF Matters. Our expert, qualified fertility consultants can help you discover why you are struggling to conceive and provide you with a personalised fertility treatment plan.
Book a free advisory call today and begin your journey into parenthood.