What Is Sperm Vitality?

Sperm Vitality, also referred to as Sperm viability1 is the percentage of live sperms present in the given semen sample. As per WHO reference value, the healthy range for sperm vitality is between 54%- 97%.2

Motility And Vitality 

It is important to note that, “Not all live sperms are motile”. It goes without saying that a motile sperm is alive; nevertheless, an immotile sperm can also be alive under certain circumstances. Sperm vitality and Sperm motility are two separate parameters where the former gives the measure of all living sperms, both motile and immotile. 

The 6th edition of the WHO Laboratory Manual (2021) recommends sperm vitality testing if total motility is less than 40%. When sperm motility is low, vitality becomes a crucial parameter to be measured since it helps differentiate between the live non-motile and dead sperms. Thus, for the given sample, motility and vitality should be assessed together. 3

What Causes The Death of Sperms?

The most frequent causes for sperm death may include: 4, 5 

  • Stress
  • Consumption of alcohol/ drugs 
  • Poor diet
  • Oncological treatments
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Long period of sexual abstinence
  • Abnormally high body temperature
  • Advanced paternal age
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Problems with the testicles/epididymis
  • Anti-sperm antibodies
  • Medical conditions like Varicocele

Sperm Vitality And Fertility 

Necrozoospermia

Fact: 

Necrozoospermia is a sperm condition marked by the presence of dead sperms. Based on the percentage of dead sperms, necrozoospermia can be classified as: 

  • Moderate (50% to 80% of dead sperms) 
  • Severe (80% or more of dead sperms) 5, 6

Implication: 

Necrozoospermia can occur as a result of stress or the use of certain medications. It's frequent in men who have had spinal cord injuries, infections, or persistent medical disorders, as well as those who have been exposed to harmful substances. Unfortunately, necrozoospermia has no cure or special treatment. To lower the sperm mortality rate, certain advice may be given, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet. Taking vitamins and antioxidants as food supplements may also be beneficial. Also, appropriate abstinence intervals are recommended for improved semen outcome. The best choice is to see a fertility specialist and explore the possible options for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). In case of necrozoospermia, TESE (Testicular sperm extraction) followed by ICSI may be considered. 5, 6

Ways To Improve Your Sperm Health 

1. Avoid Smoking: 

Semen parameters and sperm function test results are lower in smokers than in nonsmokers. Most of these effects are usually dose-dependent.7

2. Reduce Alcohol Consumption And Drug Use: 

Drugs (steroids, marijuana) and alcohol can negatively impact sperm health leading to abnormally shaped sperm, decreased sperm motility and/or decreased sperm production.8  

3. Maintain Healthy Weight:

There exists a clear link between obesity and reduced sperm production. Overweight men who want to improve their fertility should maintain a healthy weight.8, 9

4. Practice Safe Sex:

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a leading cause of infertility. Having safe sex today may increase your chances of conception in the future.8

5. Reduce Heat Exposure:

Men who are exposed to prolonged high heat (like hot tubs or using laptops on your lap)  can affect your fertility by lowering sperm production. 8, 9

6. Avoid Commercial Lubricants: 

Some commercial lubricants/substances used for lubrication should be avoided during the fertile period. This may reduce sperm movement and their ability to survive.8

7. Choose The Right Clothing: 

Men who wear heat retaining clothes experience decreased sperm production 8. As per studies wearing brief underwear may decrease sperm quality.9

8. Manage Your Stress:

Many stress-reducing techniques like Meditation, Yoga, Music, Therapies etc., can effectively keep stress at bay.10

How Can You Check Sperm Vitality?

You can get a semen analysis done. Semen analysis evaluates the characteristics of a male's semen and the sperm contained therein. 

As a result of social stigma in some parts of the world, many men refrain from getting their semen tested. While in-clinic semen analysis was the only choice previously, there is now an at-home option that delivers concrete data. With LifeCell’s SpermScore, get clarity on your fertility by testing 11 sperm health parameters and 14 sperm health conditions from the comfort of your home!

Reference: 

  1. https://www.verywellfamily.com/understanding-semen-analysis-results-1960155  
  2. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030787  
  3. https://wjmh.org/pdf/10.5534/wjmh.210149  
  4. https://www.invitra.com/en/analysis-of-sperm-vitality/ 
  5. https://www.verywellfamily.com/necrozoospermia-1960133 
  6. https://www.invitra.com/en/necrospermia/  
  7. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/practice-guidelines/for-non-members/smoking_and_infertility.pdf  
  8. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/learning--resources/patient-resources/protect-your-fertility3/asrm_brochure.pdf  
  9. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/optimizing-male-fertility/  
  10. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/rf/news-and-publications/bookletsfact-sheets/english-fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/stress_and_infertility_factsheet.pdf  

References