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Abnormal sperm morphology: What does it mean?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sperm-morphology/AN01305
- With Mayo Clinic endocrinologist
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.read biographyclose window
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.Todd Nippoldt, M.D.
Dr. Todd Nippoldt is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and endocrinology and metabolism. He has special expertise in the area of hormone disorders affecting the pituitary and adrenal glands as well as the testes and ovaries. He has been a member of the Mayo Clinic staff since 1988.
He's a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition and works with patients who have disorders of the hormone-producing glands. Common disorders include diabetes, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and elevated cholesterol levels.
He's also involved in andrology, the study of male hormonal disorders, male infertility and male sexual dysfunction, and is an assistant professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Nippoldt, a St. Paul, Minn., native, has also contributed to "Mayo Clinic Health Letter," the "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and a Mayo Clinic CD-ROM. He's a fellow in the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Society of Andrology, The Endocrine Society, The Pituitary Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
"I have found that those patients who have gone to the Internet and obtained accurate medical information come to their appointment with me very well informed, and the discussions regarding the evaluation and management of their condition are very productive and satisfying," he says.
"The key, however, is obtaining accurate medical information. As a medical editor, I hope to be able to ensure that accurate, relevant and up-to-date information is available for patients and their families."
Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Is a home sperm test useful?
- Male masturbation: Does frequency affect male fertility?
- Semen allergy: A cause of infertility?
- Abnormal sperm morphology: What does it mean?
- see all in Causes
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Fertility herbs: Do they enhance fertility?
Abnormal sperm morphology: What does it mean?
My fiance had a semen analysis done. He was told he had abnormal sperm morphology. What does this mean?
from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.
Sperm morphology — the size and shape of sperm — is one of the things checked in a semen analysis for male infertility. Sperm morphology results are reported as the percentage of sperm that appear normal when semen is viewed under a microscope.
Normal sperm have an oval head with a long tail. Abnormal sperm have head or tail defects — such as a large or misshapen head or a crooked or double tail. These defects may affect the ability of the sperm to reach and penetrate an egg.
However, having a large percentage of misshapen sperm isn't uncommon; in fact, if your sperm sample contains only 4 percent "morphologically normal forms," it's considered normal.
Morphology is just one piece of a fertility analysis and, by itself, does not determine fertility. Other important factors checked in a sperm analysis are:
- Semen volume
- Total sperm number
- Sperm concentration
- Vitality of sperm
- Motility of sperm
If a semen analysis shows irregularities in any of these areas, a wait-and-see approach is generally tried first. Another semen analysis is usually done after four to six weeks to see whether sperm quality has improved on its own. If there are still abnormalities, tests may be necessary to look for an underlying problem.
Even with abnormal sperm morphology, motility problems or a low sperm count, it's important to remember that an abnormal semen analysis does not mean you are infertile. Many men with low semen analysis values are still able to father children. It just may take longer, a year or more. If you and your partner aren't able to conceive through sexual intercourse, assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization may be an option.Next question
Secondary infertility: Why does it happen?
- Cooper TG et al. World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. Human Reproduction Update. 2010;16:231.
- Hwang K. et al. Contemporary concepts in the evaluation and management of male infertility. Nature Reviews: Urology. 2011;8:86.
- Wein AJ, et al. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th. ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6911-9..00021-9--s0035&isbn=978-1-4160-6911-9&sid=1281744725&uniqId=323462154-3#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6911-9..00021-9--s0035. Accessed March 12, 2012.
- Pavone ME. The progressive simplification of the infertility evaluation. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. 2011;66:31.