Sperm morphology refers to the shape, size, and structure of sperm cells. Abnormal sperm morphology can significantly impact a couple’s ability to conceive. In this blog, we will discuss what sperm morphology is, how it is measured, and how it affects fertility.
What is Sperm Morphology?
Sperm morphology is an essential factor that determines the ability of sperm cells to fertilize an egg. Abnormal sperm morphology can mean that the sperm cells have defects in their shape or structure, which can reduce their ability to move efficiently or penetrate the egg.
Sperm morphology is typically evaluated as part of a semen analysis, which is a test that measures various parameters related to male fertility. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set guidelines for what is considered normal sperm morphology. According to the WHO, a semen sample is considered normal if at least 4% of the sperm cells have a regular shape and size.
How is Sperm Morphology Measured?
Sperm morphology is measured by examining a semen sample under a microscope. The sample is stained with a special dye that allows the sperm cells to be seen more clearly. A technician then examines the sample and counts the number of sperm cells that have a regular shape and size.
There are several criteria used to evaluate morphology of sperm, including the shape of the head, the length of the tail, and the presence of any abnormalities. Common abnormalities that can be seen in sperm cells include a bent or crooked tail, a misshapen head, or multiple tails.
How Does Sperm Morphology Affect Fertility?
Abnormal sperm morphology can significantly impact a couple’s ability to conceive. Sperm cells with abnormal morphology may not be able to move efficiently or penetrate the egg, which can reduce the chances of fertilization.
Studies have shown that men with high abnormal sperm morphology have a lower chance of conceiving naturally. In one study, men with less than 4% normal sperm morphology had a significantly lower chance of achieving a natural pregnancy than men with normal sperm morphology.
Abnormal sperm morphology can also impact the success rates of fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). In these procedures, the sperm cells are directly injected into the woman’s reproductive system or combined with the egg in a laboratory. If the sperm cells have abnormal morphology, the chances of successful fertilization are reduced.
What Causes Abnormal Sperm Morphology?
There are several factors that can cause abnormal sperm morphology. One common cause is genetics. In some cases, genetic defects can cause abnormalities in the shape or structure of sperm cells. Certain medical conditions, such as varicoceles (enlarged veins in the testicles) or infections, can also impact sperm morphology.
How Can Abnormal Sperm Morphology be Treated?
There are several treatments available for men with abnormal sperm morphology. In certain cases, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy weight can improve sperm quality. Certain medications can also be used to improve sperm morphology.
In cases where the cause of abnormal sperm morphology is unknown, assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI and IVF can be used to achieve pregnancy. In these procedures, sperm cells are directly injected into the woman’s reproductive system or combined with the egg in a laboratory. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used, which involves injecting a single sperm cell directly into the egg.
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