Low sperm motility refers to the inability of a male’s sperm to reach the egg after ejaculation. If the sperm cannot move quickly enough or cannot move at all, it becomes difficult for a woman to become pregnant. On average, sperm motility is greater than 50 percent, which means that 50 percent or more of the male sperm is "motile" or has the potential to move quickly enough to fertilize the egg; in rare cases, it can fall to almost nothing.
There are several potential medical options that can improve sperm motility in some men. If the low motility is caused by a hormone deficiency, testosterone supplements may be prescribed. L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine are also thought to impact sperm motility, and according to The Mayo Clinic, taking protein supplements can improve motility for some men.
If low sperm motility cannot be remedied, there are two alternative methods to become pregnant, even when the male providing the sperm has untreatable low motility. These two fertility alternatives are known as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). IVF allows a woman’s eggs to be removed from a woman’s ovaries and placed in a medium in a lab where they are united with a man’s sperm. Once the sperm fertilize the egg, they are implanted back into the female’s uterus non-surgically with the hope of allowing her to become pregnant. Where ICSI differs is that, instead of merely being incubated together (sometimes at the ratio of 75,000 sperm to one egg), a single sperm is injected into a single egg and incubated. ICSI procedures often incubate and implant more than one egg at a time, at times resulting in multiple pregnancy.
For many people, the costs associated with these medical treatments are prohibitive enough to warrant alternative remedies. Several herbs have been anecdotally linked to increased sperm motility. Use of maca, a root and herb found commonly from Bolivia to Peru, has been reported by some couples to have aided in pregnancy when sperm motility issues existed. An extract from Japanese knotweed known as resveratrol has shown some promise in increasing sperm motility in lab rats studied by scientists. Gingko and ginseng have also been linked to sperm motility, but some scientists believe that these alternative cures can do more harm than good by affecting sperm count.
Homeopathic medicine has long sought to cure maladies with natural cures, and some claim that various homeopathic remedies aid in greater sperm motility as well. Massage and acupuncture—designed to relieve stress, muscle tension, and increase blood flow—have been reported to achieve greater sperm motility. Vitamins C, E, and B12 are linked to higher sperm motility as well. Certain amino acids and minerals can be purchased with the express purpose of assisting couples with this issue to become pregnant, although excess amounts of some (notably the mineral zinc) have been demonstrated to be deleterious to sperm health.