Everyone knows that it takes two to conceive. Do you know the science of conception? There are many variables to be considered, the egg, the sperm, endometrial lining, the quality of health, etc.
Let’s talk about sperm. There are 3 basic parts of the sperm- head, body, and tail. Each part is crucial for natural conception. An acrosome at the tip of the head produces enzymes that help penetrate the ovum (egg). Remember the Coneheads movie? That’s what you want- a tip for the sperm head rather than a rounded head for ease of penetration. The body contains mitochondria, providing energy to the sperm. The mitochondria are tightly spiraled around the filaments of the tail that helps the sperm to move.
If you thought all sperm look alike, think again. Morphology is the size and shape of the sperm. Normal sperm have oval shaped head with a long tail, and abnormal sperm can be misshaped heads with short tails, therefore inhibiting the ability to penetrate an egg. According to the Strict Krueger Criteria, normal morphology range is 15% or higher of normal sperm.
Motility is very important- there is a need for speed! What is the ability of the sperm to move towards the egg? Samples are considered normal if they are 40% motile or above. Grading is also given to determine the quality of movement:
Grade 1- Immobile
Grade 2- Non-progressive and not moving forward
Grade 3- Moving slowly and perhaps in a curved path
Grade 4- Swimming the strongest and in a straight line
Count is crucial for conception. Though we may think that only one sperm needs to penetrate, we need millions to protect that one soldier to enter the egg. The optimal sperm count is 20 million and above. Anything below is considered infertile. By the time the sperm finds the egg, approximately 40 out of the 20 million may be still alive and surrounding the egg. The egg will choose one and allow it to penetrate it for conception.
Certain nutrients can help with sperm health. For instance, consuming more selenium, vitamin C, folate, zinc, and antioxidants have been researched to improve sperm health. Acupuncture can also help sperm parameters by increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and igniting the cell’s mitochondria.