Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sperm Morphology, a strange dimension of male infertility

Sperm Morphology, a strange dimension of male infertility

As an infertility expert I need to look into every case minutely. Female infertility is still easier to handle as compared to male infertility because it has clear clues. Male infertility, on the other hand, is quite complicated and the symptoms are similar.

Semen analysis is the major tool to know about the sperm quality. The number of sperms and sperm movement can be captured by the semen analysis. We see another angle that is equally important to determine male fertility (or infertility) levels. It is the sperm morphology or shape of the sperm.

Kruger’s morphology: the effective method

We use a special test to know about the shape of sperms. This test is called as Kruger’s morphology method. Historically, this test was tried to measure the chances of success in fertility treatment like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). It is the method of fertilizing the female egg in the laboratory by mixing sperms and matured egg.Very recently scientists have tried it to establish the need of ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) method where sperms are injected directly in the core the egg.

What is a healthy sperm?

A healthy sperm is usually five to six micrometers in length and has a smooth oval shaped tip (head). The thickness of a sperm is 2.5 to 3.5 micrometers. The cap of a sperm covers almost half to two-third part of the head. The shape is welldefined and no deformity is visible. Healthy sperms swim fast and able to reach the matured egg quickly.

Sperm abnormality and infertility

In the normal case, the number of sperms with incorrect morphology is less than 4%. The remaining sperms are enough to fertilize the egg. However, in case of male infertility problem it becomes a crucial factor. In such cases where the sperm quantity or mobility is low, even less than 4% abnormally shaped sperms can cause infertility. This reduction is applicable for normal as well as clinical fertilization.

There has been no link established so far between the sperm morphology and the chromosomes. Even if pregnancy is caused by a deformed sperm, no ill-effects are anticipated. The offspring may inherit tendency of deformed sperms. There has been no correlation found between chromosome linked diseases and the sperm shape.

What is the way out?

There has been extensive research done so far to understand the correlation between lifestyle related factors and sperm morphology. Scientists have found a link between excessive consumption of alcohol/tobacco and sperm shape though. Some drugs also cause bad effect on sperm quality and shape. Caffeine also put harmful effect on the sperm shape.

It is important to adopt good food habits for improving sperm shape. Consumption of vitamins and minerals help a lot. Dietary supplements, multivitamin tablets, fresh fruits and vegetables and protein-rich food improve the sperm quality.

Reduction in weight also helps a lot. Studies indicate direct correlation between overweight and sperm count. Weight reduction helps not only in raising the sperm count, but the morphology as well.
It is possible to correct sperm shape by making corrective changes in the lifestyle.

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