Abnormal sperm morphology, or the shape and size of sperm, can potentially cause birth defects, although it is just one of many potential causes. It can lead to a decreased chance of conception, an increased risk of miscarriage, or chromosomal abnormalities.
What exactly is Sperm Morphology?
Sperm morphology refers to the shape and size of sperm cells. A healthy sperm cell has a specific shape and size that allows it to move effectively and efficiently to reach and fertilise an egg.
Sperm cells are typically elongated and have a head, midpiece, and tail. The head contains the genetic material, the midpiece contains the energy-producing mitochondria, and the tail propels the sperm forward.
An examination of the quality and quantity of sperm in a man’s semen is performed as part of a semen analysis. A semen analysis can provide information about the concentration of sperm, the motility (movement) of sperm, and the overall shape and size of sperm (morphology).
What Are the Causes of Poor Morphology?
Poor sperm morphology, or the abnormal shape and size of sperm cells, can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Genetic disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome or a chromosomal abnormality
- Infections, such as the mumps or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Toxin exposure, such as pesticides and heavy metals
- Certain medical conditions, such as varicocele (a condition that causes the veins in the testicles to enlarge)
- Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor diet
- Environmental factors, such as heat exposure
- Medications such as testosterone replacement therapy or anabolic steroids
- Age: Age is associated with a decrease in sperm quality
It’s also worth mentioning that there are cases where the cause of poor sperm morphology is unknown.
It’s important to note that poor sperm morphology is not always a clear indicator of infertility. Some men with poor sperm morphology may still be able to father children without any treatment, while others may need fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to achieve pregnancy.
Can abnormal sperm morphology cause birth defects?
Abnormal sperm morphology, or the shape and size of sperm, can potentially cause birth defects. However, it is important to note that there are many factors that can contribute to birth defects, and abnormal sperm morphology is just one potential cause.
Some of the ways that abnormal sperm morphology may contribute to birth defects include:
- Decreased chance of conception: Sperm with abnormal morphology may have difficulty reaching and fertilizing an egg, leading to a decreased chance of conception.
- Increased risk of miscarriage: In cases where conception does occur, there may be an increased risk of miscarriage.
- Chromosomal abnormalities: In cases where conception does occur, there may be an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus.
It’s important to note that abnormal sperm morphology is not always a clear indicator of birth defects. Many couples with abnormal sperm morphology may have healthy babies, and many other factors are involved in the development of birth defects.
How do I improve sperm morphology?
There are several ways that men may be able to improve their sperm morphology, including:
- Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes can help improve sperm health, including quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.
- Avoiding environmental toxins: Avoiding exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation can help improve sperm health.
- Treating underlying medical conditions: Treating underlying medical conditions such as varicocele or infections can help improve sperm health.
- Medications: Some medications, such as antioxidants, may be recommended by a doctor to improve sperm health.
- Assisted reproductive technologies (ART): ART such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can help improve sperm morphology by directly injecting a single sperm into an egg for fertilization.
- Sperm DNA fragmentation test: If the sperm morphology is poor and other tests are normal, a sperm DNA fragmentation test can be performed to help identify any genetic issues that may be affecting sperm health.
It’s important to note that not all men with poor sperm morphology will be able to improve it, and for some men, the cause of poor sperm morphology may be unknown. For the best treatment option, you should also consult a specialist, such as an urologist or a fertility specialist.
Sperm morphology refers to the shape and size of sperm cells and is evaluated as part of a semen analysis, which is a test that examines the quantity and quality of sperm in a man’s semen.
Abnormal sperm morphology can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetic disorders, infections, exposure to toxins, and certain medical conditions such as varicocele. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and a poor diet can also contribute to abnormal sperm morphology.
1. Does Sperm Quality Have an Impact on the Baby?
Sperm quality, including factors such as sperm count and morphology, can potentially affect a baby’s health through decreased chances of conception, increased risk of miscarriage, and chromosomal abnormalities. It’s important to note that many other factors are also involved in the development of a healthy baby.
2. How to Get Pregnant With Poor Sperm Morphology
Couples with poor sperm morphology may consider assisted reproductive technologies such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which can help improve the chances of fertilisation by directly injecting a single sperm into an egg, or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to get pregnant.