September 19th, 2017
The morphology of sperm refers to the shape, size and appearance of sperms. It is imperative to mention that sperm morphology is one of the key determinants of male fertility.
Sperm cells are not all identical or look exactly the same, but minor differences in morphology doesn’t mean that sperm cells are abnormal or dysfunctional. Abnormalities in sperms may involve tail, mid-piece and/or head and consequently lead to abnormalities in sperm motility, movement, ascent in vaginal tract, ability to penetrate within the egg membrane or other vital functions.
Healthcare providers evaluate sperm morphology and other characteristics as part of the fertility analysis through semen examination. Mild abnormalities of semen alone are not always suggestive of infertility.
Sperm morphological analysis involves assessment of semen sample under a microscope for structural or functional abnormalities. Following are the characteristics of a normal sperm:
In the lab, semen analysis involves putting a small quantity of semen on the test tube; air drying it and adding a dye to make individual sperms more visual under the microscope. Other advanced techniques are also available besides traditional semen analysis under the microscope, such as computer-aided sperm morphometric assessment (CASA). Various research studies suggest that accuracy and sensitivity of computerized tests is much higherdue to minimal risk of human errors. Other advanced tests that can determine the quality of semen are:
Ideally multiple semen analysis tests should be performed before reaching to a final assessment; this is because, several factors can interfere with the quality of results, such as:
Following are certain terms that are used by experts to describe sperm morphology:
If you have a higher percentage of morphologically abnormal sperms; you should speak to your healthcare professional to ascertain the cause. Pregnancy is usually possible with treatment or assisted reproductive techniques.
Besides morphology; other factors that determine the quality of sperms are: