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What are the causes of altered sperm morphology?

By Dr. María Arqué.
Last Update: 05/25/2020

Teratospermia stands for an alteration of sperm morphology, be it by presenting defects in their head, intermediate piece, or tail.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for 2010, a man has teratozoospermia when more than 96% of his spermatozoa present a strange or abnormal morphology.

A man with at least 4% of normally shaped sperm does not have fertility problems and could theoretically achieve a natural pregnancy without any problems.

Sperm with good or bad morphology can be counted by doing a semen analysis.

Teratozoospermia is one of the causes of male infertility because morphologically altered sperm may not be able to fertilize the egg.

There are several causes that provoke alterations in morphology and a diagnosis is not always easy:

  • Genetic alterations
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Seminal infections and orchitis
  • Testicle's trauma
  • Varicocele and other testicular disorders
  • Febrile period
  • Diabetes mellitus or meningitis
  • Tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse
  • Inadequate living habits: poor diet, exposure to toxic agents, tight clothing, etc.

Some of these factors can cause reversible teratozoospermia, which disappears when the fever, infection, or periods of stress are reversed. In the same way, it is possible to recover some of the good sperm morphology by following healthy lifestyle habits, taking care of your diet, quitting smoking, etc.

Suggested for you: What Is Sperm Morphology? – Meaning & Normal Range.

Dr. María Arqué
Dr. María Arqué
Medical Director at Fertty International
Doctorate in Reproductive Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. María Arqué has many years of experience as a Reproductive Medicine and Gynecologist Consultant and currently works as Medical Director at Fertty International.
Licence number: 080845753
Medical Director at Fertty International. Doctorate in Reproductive Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. María Arqué has many years of experience as a Reproductive Medicine and Gynecologist Consultant and currently works as Medical Director at Fertty International. Licence number: 080845753.
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