What is teratozoospermia?

Teratozoospermia or teratospermia is an increase of abnormal sperm in a man’s sperm.

It is diagnosed when sperm with anomalous morphology exceed 85 percent and it causes infertility because most of the abnormal sperm are incapable of moving towards the egg and penetrating it.

Causes of teratozoospermia

Although the exact causes of teratozoospermia are unknown, we know that the quality of sperm can be affected by factors such as:

•    Diabetes mellitus
•    Varicocele
•    Vasectomy of more than 5 years
•    Seminal infections
•    Testicular problems
•    Trauma
•    Incorrect diet
•    Smoking
•    Excessive alcohol consumption or other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana
•    Exposure to toxic agents such as insecticides
•    Age (the number of abnormal sperm increases after the man reaches the age of 45)
•    Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
•    Fever episodes
•    Prolonged exposure to heat in automobiles, saunas or hot tubs

How is teratozoospermia diagnosed?

Teratozoospermia can be diagnosed through a simple semen analysis. It is advisable that the man has not ejaculated between three to five days, but not more than seven days prior to the analysis.

Sperm morphology is analyzed in accordance with Kruger’s criteria, which establish that:

•    A healthy sample must have at least 15 percent of sperm with normal morphology

•    A sample with between 4 and 15 percent normal sperm indicates moderate teratozoospermia

•    A sample in which fewer than 4 percent sperm are normal indicates severe teratozoospermia

To be considered normal, a spermatozoon must be formed by an oval head between 5 and 6 µm (micrometers) long and between 2.5 and 3.5 µm in diameter, a middle part and a tail or flagellum about 50 µm long.

Treatments to achieve pregnancy when suffering from teratozoospermia

Treatments to achieve pregnancy when suffering from teratozoospermia include:

•    Intrauterine insemination, in which the man´s previously capacitated sperm are introduced in the woman’s uterus at the exact time of ovulation. This method is used to facilitate fertilization in couples with moderate teratozoospermia, and is only recommended when the woman is less than 35 years old

•    In vitro fertilization, which allows joining the egg and the best quality sperm in a laboratory dish and thus increase the probability of fertilization in cases of moderate teratozoospermia when the woman is over 35 years old

•    In vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF+ICSI), which consists of selecting a normal sperm and injecting it directly in the cytoplasm of a mature egg with a microscopic needle. This technique offers the highest pregnancy rates and is the best option for couples with severe teratozoospermia

Treatment of teratozoospermia must always be accompanied by healthy living advice, which in some cases can help re-establish fertility. It is advisable for patients with teratozoospermia to take essential amino acids such as L-Carnitine and antioxidants.

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