What is Teratozoospermia or Abnormal Sperm Morphology- Causes & Treatment
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Dr. Namita Kotia has been practicing infertility treatment at Aastha Fertility Care since 2010, and during this time, she has helped around 2000+ couples become parents through IVF treatment and also other assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods like ICSI, IUI, GIFT, etc. Dr. Namita provides her patients with the best possible care and treatment options.
From hormonal disorders to disrupted functioning of the testes and ovaries, infertility is at the spike in the world. It is defined as a clinical condition in which women and men cannot achieve natural pregnancy without birth control after a year of intercourse. According to AIIMS, 12-15% of couples in India are facing fertility issues. Infertility can be caused by several factors, with both men and women contributing to it.
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According to experts, more than 30% of the cases are inclined to men’s infertility. Men’s fertility refers to issues with sperm count, sperm quality, and sperm motility like Teratozoospermia. Teratozoospermia, also defined as abnormal sperm morphology or teratospermia, is, therefore, one of the prime issues contributing to the inefficiency of conceiving. It is a sperm disorder that affects the shape of sperm and is caused by a defect in the sperm’s head, neck, or tail, affecting their chances of egg fertilization.
What is Teratozoospermia?
Teratospermia is when sperm in a man’s semen is not well-formed or defective. When the abnormal shape of sperm reaches over 85% of deformation in semen samples, it is diagnosed as Teratozoospermia. It decreases the sperm’s capability to fertilize the egg or makes it difficult to swim to the egg inside a woman, leading to infertility.
According to studies, a normal shaped sperm’s characteristics include-
- A distinct, clean cap covering the sperm’s head,
- An oval-shaped head,
- A regular looking midpiece and neck in a tail,
- No drops of fluid in the head.
Teratozoospermia produces wonky-looking sperms that may have a round head, two heads, or two tails. Semen Analysis or Seminogram is done to check sperm morphology. It helps determine whether men’s sperms are damaged or not, highlighting the infertility issue.
Types of Teratozoospermia
Defects in sperm cells can be found in any part of their bodies, in the head, tail, or midpiece. It can also be in all parts or combine any two types of abnormalities.
Teratospermia is identified in different stages, depending on the percentage of abnormal and normal sperm in the semen sample. Sperm morphology determines the severity of Teratozoospermia:
- Mild Teratospermia- The normal sperm morphology ranges between 10-14%.
- Moderate Teratospermia- Sperm morphology ranges between 5-9%.
- Severe Teratospermia- Here, the sperm morphology rate is less than 5%.
Apart from the range of sperm morphology, Teratozoospermia is categorized under two more different heads-
It is a clinically approved male infertility condition characterized by reduced sperm motility. It is often observed in men with PCD (Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia) or immotile ciliary syndrome.
Oligo Astheno Teratozoospermia
This condition is a combination of Oligozoospermia (low sperm count), teratozoospermia, and asthenozoospermia. It is the most common cause of subfertility in males and is usually caused by medicines, genetics, infections, lifestyle choices, abnormal hormone levels, antibodies, and other factors.
What Causes Teratozoospermia?
Clinical experts have mentioned that the exact causes of Teratozoospermia or teratospermia are yet not identified and not determined. Psychological stress is therefore said to affect the morphology of the sperms. Some of the possible factors known for teratozoospermia are:
- Genetic traits,
- Infections or chronic diseases,
- Drug use,
- Testicular trauma,
- Unbalanced diet.
Aging is also linked with abnormal sperm morphology. With increasing age, the ability to produce good quality sperm diminishes in men, leading to structure and other related defects.
Treatments for Teratozoospermia
A man diagnosed with teratozoospermia can still achieve natural pregnancy until all the other semen parameters, including sperm count and sperm motility, are normal. Moreover, if a man cannot achieve pregnancy naturally, they can follow a series of medical tips to improve the morphology index of their sperm.
On the other hand, if teratozoospermia is due to a genetic origin and congenital (present from birth), finding an ideal treatment will help them with the desired results.
One of the predictable reasons identified for teratospermia is lifestyle factors. Men diagnosed with it must adopt a healthy lifestyle, changing or quitting their unhealthy habits, including cigarette smoking and alcoholic drinks.
Switching to a balanced diet with food rich in antioxidants, and amino acids, including L-carnitine, will help boost sperm quality, increasing their effectiveness in swimming to the egg and fertilizing it.
IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
To all males suffering from teratospermia, IUI is the first choice of medical treatment. However, if a man is diagnosed with mild teratozoospermia and the partner is perfectly healthy, then direct injection of men’s semen near the egg will help facilitate the fertilization process.
In cases with moderate to severe teratozoospermia, normal and healthy-looking sperms are selected after an inspection under the microscope and injected directly into the egg for fertilization through ICSI or IVF Procedure.
IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection):
IMSI is an advanced technology considered more effective than ICSI for teratospermia. This technology provides a better view of the sperm, allowing sexologists to pick the best quality and place them in the egg for fertilization.
FAQ on Teratozoospermia
- Can IVF show successful results with Teratozoospermia?
IVF is a lab-based procedure where the semen sample is collected and analyzed. As a result, the best healthy sperm is picked for the fertilization process, increasing the chances for positive results.
- How to treat abnormal sperm morphology naturally?
Consuming healthy food rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins and quitting unhealthy habits will help elevate sperm quality, increasing the chances of conceiving naturally.
- Is achieving natural pregnancy possible with Teratozoospermia?
If all the other factors, including the partner’s age, reproductive health, and semen analysis, are positively ranked, then a couple can conceive naturally.
- Can abnormal sperm morphology lead to miscarriage?
They’re very few chances for miscarriage in teratozoospermia. If the sperm contains genetic disorders, it will not be able to fertilize the egg. Once the egg is fertilized and the embryo is attached to the womb, the involvement of genetic sperm disorders is eliminated from the reproductive process.