Teratozoospermia – Teratospermia – Causes & Treatment

As per WHO, if a man’s ejaculate contains less than 4% of normal sperm, he is said to be suffering from Teratozoospermia (or Teratospermia).  As per Kruger’s strict criteria, if less than 15% of the sperms are abnormally shaped, then the man is said to be suffering from Teratozoospermia.

Kruger’s is a more strict criteria than that published by WHO.

Teratospermia is defined as a condition where the sperms in a man’s ejaculate are defective or not well formed. When the sperms are not well formed, they may not be able to swim to the egg or they may not be capable enough to fertilize the egg inside a woman leading to infertility.  Seminogram or Semen analysis is done to check sperm morphology and to determine if a man is suffering from teratozoospermia when he presents with infertility problem.  Your sexologist uses a dye test to see the shape of sperms under a microscope.


How should the sperms be in a healthy individual?

  1. The head of the sperm should be perfectly oval
  2. Every sperm should have a single, long and perfect tail (called flagellum)
  3. Each sperm will have a neck portion below the head which should be little thicker than the tail.
  4. The size of sperm’s head is typically 5 microns and the total length of the sperm will be around 50 microns.

What causes teratozoospermia?

Some of the known reasons that causes teratospermia are:

  1. Problem in testicles (can be infection or injury etc)
  2. Varicocele
  3. Smoking (Smoking take a toll on a man’s health, including his sperms and the sperms of his children)
  4. Smoking weed / marijuana or drug abuse
  5. Excessive consumption of alcohol
  6. Vasectomy (A micro surgery done to sterilize a man)
  7. Diabetes
  8. Treatments for cancer such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  9. Surroundings that increase the temperature of the testicles. (This can be because of work related environment or spending more time in hot tubs, saunas or wearing tight under pants etc)
  10. Genetic defects.

Is teratozoospermia curable?

Yes. If teratozoospermia is caused due to stress, injury to the testicles or due to smoking or consumption of alcohol or abuse of drugs, the problem can be fixed with lifestyle changes and with some medications.

Grading the severity of teratozoospermia

Teretozoospermia is divided into 3 types:

  1. Mild teratozoospermia – In this case, there are 10 to 14% of sperms whose shape is normal.
  2. Moderate teratozoospermia – If 5% to 9% of the sperms are in good shape.
  3. Severe teratozoospermia – When less than 5% of the sperms are in good shape, the person is said to be suffering from severe teratozoospermia.

Treatment of Teratozoospermia

  1. Natural Treatment – As said earlier, lifestyle changes and quitting smoking, alcohol should be done. Foods rich in anti-oxidants, amino acids and L-Carnitine must be consumed to improve fertility.  Omega 3 rich fatty acids should be consumed. (Either supplements or in the form of fish). Vitamin E also plays a very important role in sperm production and male fertility.  Eat foods rich in Vitamin E and also take supplements after taking advice from your trusted sexologist.
  2. Fertility Treatment options
    1. Intrauterine Insemination – IUI – This will be the first choice among couples where the man is suffering from teratozoospermia problem. If the man is suffering from mild teratozoospermia and if the woman is perfectly healthy, direct injection of semen near the egg will help in fertilization of the egg.
    2. IVF/ICSI – Invitro Fertilization or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – In cases of moderate to severe teratozoospermia, healthy and normal sperms will be selected by looking at the semen under the microscope. The selected sperm will be injected directly into the egg to achieve fertilization.
    3. IMSI – Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection – This is a more advanced technology considered above ICSI. This technique allows the sexologist to look at the sperms in more detail and to pick better sperms that can achieve fertilization

What is 0 Morphology?

If the percentage of healthy sperms is near 0 in a man’s ejaculate, such severe teratozoospermia condition is called 0 morphology.  In this case, IVF/ICSI are the available solutions to fertilize the egg in his female partner’s body.

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