Teratozoospermia

ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) fertilization method offers higher success rates for patients with Teratozoospermia by selecting a normal sperm and injecting it directly into the egg.

What is Teratozoospermia?

Teratozoospermia is an increase in the concentration of abnormal sperms in the man’s semen.

This condition is diagnosed when sperm with abnormal morphology exceed 96% of a man’s total sperm sample. As most abnormal sperm are unable to travel to the egg to fertilize it, it affects fertility directly.

Teratozoospermia causes

Although teratozoospermia causes are not exactly known, sperm quality can be affected by factors such as:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Varicocele
  • Vasectomy (over 5 years)
  • Seminal infections
  • Testicular problems
  • Injuries
  • Malnutrition
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake or other drugs such as cocaine or marijuana
  • Exposure to toxic agents such as insecticides
  • Age (abnormal sperm concentration increases after the man reaches 45)
  • Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Febrile episodes
  • Prolonged exposure to heat in automobiles, saunas or hot tubs

How is teratozoospermia diagnosed?

It is diagnosed through a spermiogram or semen analysis, which should be performed following a 3-5-day sexual abstinence period.

Sperm morphology is analyzed according to the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, which states that:

  • There must be at least 4% of normal morphology sperms in a normal sample.
  • According to Kruger parameters, a sample in which 4 to 15% of sperms are normal indicates moderate Teratozoospermia.
  • A sample with less than 4% of normal sperms indicates severeTeratozoospermia.

To be considered normal, a sperm must consist of a 5 to 6 microns (micrometers) oval head and be between 2.5 and 3.5 microns in diameter. It must also have a middle part and a tail (or flagellum) of about 50 microns in length.

Treatments to achieve pregnancy in patients with teratozoospermia

Fertility treatments to achieve pregnancy when suffering Teratozoospermia include:

  1. Artificial insemination, where a previously capacitated couple or donor sperm sample is introduced into the woman’s uterus just at the time of ovulation. This method is only recommended in women under 35 and only when there are no other infertility causes detected. 
  2. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), which allows to join the patient’s eggs with an improved quality sperm sample in a special laboratory dish under controlled conditions to increase the likelihood of a successful fertilization.
  3. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Microinjection (IVF + ICSI). In this specialized procedure a single sperm is carefully introduced directly into the cytoplasm of a mature egg using a microscopic needle via micromanipulation. This technique offers the highest pregnancy rates by disregarding sperm motility as a necessity to fertilize the egg. This is thus the best option for couples with severe Teratozoospermia.

Treatment for Teratozoospermia should always be accompanied with healthy lifestyle changes, which can help restore fertility in some cases. A regular intake of essential amino acids such as L-carnitine and antioxidants is also beneficial in patients with Teratozoospermia.