What Is Sperm Morphology?

The shape of your sperm cells plays a vital role in determining male fertility. Although the scientists are still studying its impact, the evidence is clear that an appropriate proportion of sperm cells being in good shape are imperative for male fertility.

Due to this reason, a sperm testing analysis also analyzes the morphology of your sperm.

For your understanding of sperm morphology, here is a brief guide about the typical sperm shapes and their effect on male fertility rates.

Sperm morphology is a scientific term for the shape or structure of sperm cells. It elaborates what sperm look like under a microscope.

It might come as a shock to you that only 4 to 10% of sperm cells have a complete structure even in a fertile male. However, you do not need to worry because this number multiplies exponentially.

To give you some perspective, you need only one viable sperm to fertilize the egg but produce million per ejaculate. Nevertheless, it is crucial to ensure adequate sperm cells being in perfect shape. Less than 4% of normal sperm cells result in infertility.

  1. What Is The Normal Morphology Of Sperm Cells?
  2. What Are The Common Abnormalities Found In Sperm Cells?
  3. Which Factors Are Responsible for Abnormal Sperm Cells?
  4. How Can You Find Out If Your Sperm Are Morphologically Sound?
  5. How Can I Improve Sperm Morphology?

What Is The Normal Morphology Of Sperm Cells?

The normal morphology of sperm cells includes a head, midpiece, and tail.

Each of these organs has its role in fertilization. The head has chromatin (DNA) which has to be transferred during successful fertilization. The midpiece provides the fuel for travel, and the tail helps in mobility.

You can think of a sperm cell as a truck with a front deck where the driver sits. The midpiece is the engine, while the tail acts as the tires of this vehicle to reach the destination. The defect on any of these constituents leads to an inability to work.

What Are The Common Abnormalities Found In Sperm Cells?

The abnormalities of the head, tail, or midpiece make sperm cells unhealthy. Some of the problems in these structures include:

Head Defects

The Head has a nucleus encasing the DNA material, which floats in jelly-like cytoplasm. It also consists of a cap called acrosome, which breaches the boundaries of the ovum to enter into it. The acrosome accomplishes that by a set of enzymes that eat the protective cover of the ovum. An abnormal morphology can have various head defects.

  • The head is large or small in size.
  • It may be detached from the rest of the body of the sperm cell.
  • It is irregular in shape.
  • It has a large area with cytoplasm but a tiny nucleus.
  • The head does not have an acrosome.
  • The acrosome is elongated and non-functional

These abnormalities are due to defective spermatogenesis and lead to a decrease in the proportion of fertile sperm.

Neck Defects

The neck is another name for a mid-piece. A structurally sound midpiece has rows of mitochondria. Mitochondria conduct a series of chemical reactions to convert fructose from the semen into energy. It can be defective if:

  • The neck is asymmetrical.
  • It does not have mitochondria.
  • It is bent and lies at 90 degrees from the head.
  • It is thicker than the usual diameter.
  • It contains a large droplet of cytoplasm that renders mitochondria homeless.
  • It is thinner and does not have adequate space for mitochondria.

Having an abnormally shaped midpiece means inadequate fuel for the sperm cells, and what’s a car without its engine?

Tail Defects

The tail of sperm cells is like a whip. It moves to and fro like a flagellum and helps sperm cells in swimming. A defective tail constitutes the following shortcomings:

  • It is coiled around the head or neck.
  • It is smaller in length.
  • It is bent like a hairpin.
  • It has a cytoplasmic droplet at its end, which weighs it down and inhibits movement.
  • It has a duplicate copy, and sperm cells consist of two tails.
  • It is broken from the middle and does not have the required strength to move.

Since sperm have to swim from the vagina to the fallopian tubes in females to reach the ovum, an unhealthy tail makes fertilization impossible.

Which Factors Are Responsible for Abnormal Sperm Cells?

Our environment is no more fertility-friendly. Scientists are worried that fertility is decreasing with time. It is due to a fall in sperm concentration, weak sperm structure, and a lack of motility. Our eating habits, lifestyle, and environmental exposures are primarily to blame.

Pesticides, junk food, liberal use of alcohol and tobacco, pollution, and a sedentary lifestyle add to these grave numbers.

How Can You Find Out If Your Sperm Are Morphologically Sound?

That’s what sperm analysis testing is for. You can now take a test at home and find out how many of your sperm cells have the adequate structural strength to achieve fertilization.

How Can I Improve Sperm Morphology?

You can follow these simple guidelines to strengthen the structure of sperm cells:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables in abundance.
  • Avoid processed food with high caloric content.
  • Replace preserved dietary elements with fresh produce.
  • Wear appropriately fit or loose boxers and avoid tight garments.
  • Regularly check your sperm health with a sperm analysis kit.
  • Preserve your sperm when they are healthy with sperm freezing technology

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Some sperm is lost and damaged during the transport, storage, freezing, and thawing process. The semen analysis reflects values at the time of the analysis, after transport and before freezing. These values will decrease throughout the freezing and thawing process. A semen analysis alone cannot be used to predict fertility.
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