When you're young and enjoying an intense sex life, fathering a child is the last thing on your mind. But when you're already getting on in years and
When you’re young and enjoying an intense sex life, fathering a child is the last thing on your mind. But when you’re already getting on in years and you don’t see any sign of a junior yet, doubts about your fertility and virility can weigh heavily on you.
The best and most utilized means of assessing a man’s fertility is through a semen analysis, which measures several features and parameters of your sperm and semen. Find out how low sperm morphology can affect your fertility and your chances of fathering a child.
What is Sperm Morphology?
Sperm morphology, referring to the size and shape of sperm cells, is just one of the parameters examined when you get your semen analyzed. Sperm morphology is typically measured as the percentage of your sperm cells that are of normal shape and size.
The higher your sperm morphology percentage is, the better your chances of successful fertilization. In reality, only about 4-14% of sperm are normally shaped. This means that all men have sperm cells that are abnormally shaped or sized, and you don’t really need even half of your sperm to be of normal morphology.
However, if your sperm morphology percentage is below 4%, it may present some challenges when you’re trying to conceive. A very low sperm morphology percentage is referred to as teratozoospermia or teratospermia, and it may take you and your partner longer than expected to achieve pregnancy.
Normal vs. Abnormal Sperm Morphology
Sperm morphology is assessed by measuring the size of the sperm head and tail, as well as by examining the shape of each structural component of the sperm cell.
The tail, for instance, should be 45 micrometers long, while the head should be 5-6 micrometers long, 2.5-3.5 micrometers wide, and free of vacuoles.
If the sperm head is smaller or bigger than this, it’s considered abnormal. The sperm head should also be oval in shape and smooth, with an acrosome covering about 40-70% of the sperm head. The acrosome is a sperm organelle that is crucial for the penetration of the egg cell membrane.
The midpiece, which connects the sperm tail and head, should be as long as the head but slimmer. The tail should be uncoiled, and it should be slimmer than both the head and midpiece.
Abnormalities in the sperm head morphology include irregularly shaped head, presence of vacuoles, detached head, elongated head, small or no acrosome, and a large or small head.
On the one hand, the neck and midpiece are considered morphologically abnormal if it is bent, asymmetric, thick, thin, irregular, or if it has cytoplasmic globules. Sperm tail defects include coiled, broken, hairpin-shaped, short, twin or multiple tails, and the presence of a droplet at the end of the tail.
Even if a sperm cell is morphologically abnormal, it may still be able to fertilize an egg cell. Sperm morphology abnormalities only become problematic if the defects affect a sperm cell’s ability to swim toward the egg cell and fertilize it.
What’s more important is that the genetic material contained in the sperm cell is complete and intact. However, if the sperm morphology abnormality affects the genetic material, such as if the head is too small and the DNA material inside it is incomplete, then it would cause problems later on if that particular sperm was actually able to fertilize the egg.
When there is absolutely no sperm with normal morphology, the condition is referred to as severe teratozoospermia. If you have severe teratozoospermia and you are hoping to father a child, you and your partner will most likely be advised to proceed with assisted reproductive technology.
In fact, 0% normal sperm morphology is actually considered a criterion for immediately proceeding to either in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Either procedure involves the collection of sperm from the testes.
The collected sperm cell will then be used to fertilize the egg cell in a laboratory setting. The difference is that IVF uses many sperm cells placed in a petri dish together with the egg cell, while ICSI makes use of a single sperm cell that is injected directly into the egg cell. After successful fertilization, the embryo is then placed inside the uterus.
Is It Possible to Improve Sperm Morphology?
Aside from genetic causes, toxic substances, free radicals, and reactive oxygen species are also known to negatively affect sperm morphology. Although it may take several months before your sperm morphology improves, there are several measures you can take to increase your percentage of sperm with normal form.
Obesity is also associated with poor sperm morphology, so losing weight through diet and exercise can also help in improving sperm morphology.
Antioxidants help combat reactive oxygen species and neutralize free radicals, so taking antioxidant supplements or increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods can also help.
Certain herb-based fertility enhancers have also been shown to have positive effects on sperm morphology and other semen parameters. Fenugreek, Tribulus terrestris, Maca, Ashwagandha, and Tongkat Ali are all antioxidant-rich, and these herbs have been found to have fertility-enhancing properties.
Fenugreek, Tongkat Ali, and Tribulus terrestris are also good for increasing your testosterone levels, which means that if you take these herbal remedies, your sperm will have an increased supply of testosterone for their nourishment.
Tongkat Ali, Ashwagandha, and maca not only help lower your stress levels but also increase your protection from oxidative stress. When your sperm cells are subjected to oxidative stress, damages such as DNA material fragmentation, lipid peroxidation, and cell membrane dysfunction can happen.
High oxidative stress levels also contribute to poor sperm morphology. Other known causes of high oxidative stress levels include smoking, substance abuse, chronic and excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity.
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With natural ingredients such as maca, Ashwagandha, Tongkat Ali, Tribulus terrestris, and fenugreek, Male UltraCore is able to deliver not only huge improvements in your fertility but also in your sexual performance.
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