Abnormal Sperm Morphology: What Does it Mean?

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Abnormal Sperm Morphology: What Does it Mean?

What is Sperm MoRphology?

Semen is the fluid in which the sperm are contained and Semen analysis is the most common test of Male fertility. 

It helps to measure various characteristics of the sperm-like their number, motility, the morphology of the sperm and the volume of the liquid. 

Although most of us know about the role of sperm count in infertility, Sperm Morphology is another significant factor that needs understanding when we talk about male-related infertility. 

Sperm Morphology pertains to the shape, appearance and anatomy of a man’s sperm as visible under the microscope. 

Whereas healthy sperm tend to have a uniform shape to facilitate adequate swimming of sperm, the head shape influences the sperm’s capability to dissolve the outer surface of an egg during fertilization.

Assessing Sperm Morphology 

It is pertinent to mention here that some kinds of Sperm morphology issues are experienced by many men, with the abnormal sperm ranging from 4 per cent to 15 percent of the total sperm. However higher prevalence of abnormal sperm can lead to issues with male fertility.

To assess the sperm morphology, the sperm are analyzed under a microscope to estimate the percentage of abnormally shaped sperm. This establishes the ability of the sperm to be able to fertilize an egg and this percentage can give a clue about the man’s chances of making his partner pregnant.

 Usually, two sets of lab characteristics are used to assess m morphology:

  • Kruger criteria are stringent and evaluate minute irregularities as abnormal. 
  • World Health Organization (WHO) criteria which are more relaxed classify relatively lesser sperm as abnormal. 

Sperm morphology can be a decisive factor in whether a couple should use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to attempt a pregnancy. It is best to check with your physician to see which method was used to assess sperm shape and the significance of the results. 

Sperm Morphology  

A normal sperm are those with:

  • A smooth, oval-shaped head, 5-6 micrometres in length and 2.5-3.5 micrometres in width. 
  • A well-defined cap, covering 40% to 70% of the sperm head 
  • No apparent irregularity of neck, midpiece, or tail 
  • Absence of fluid droplets bigger than one half of the sperm head size, in the sperm head.

The various examples of poor sperm morphology include

  • Large sperm head
  • Small sperm head
  • Double-headed sperm
  • Jagged sperm tail
  • Short sperm tail
  • Elongated sperm tail
  • Double sperm tail

Relationship between sperm morphology and fertility

The sperm needs to be of a particular shape to be able to penetrate an egg. Thus male fertility is largely affected by sperm morphology as it affects the viability of the sperm. However, morphology is just one of many aspects when we discuss fertility. The all-around number of the sperm and their ability to move are other criteria that can affect fertility and make conception through natural methods difficult. 

Sperm Morphology and Genetic disorders

It is imperative to mention here that if a sperm with poor morphology manages to penetrate the egg, it will cause pregnancy. However, the risk of birth defects of many kinds and pregnancy loss increases with Poor Sperm Morphology. Poor sperm health can also be a reason for health issues for a baby. 

Moreover, the same type of morphology abnormalities as is found in the fathers’ sperm may be inherited by the offspring.


The sperm is usually healthier when the man is younger. Dr Shivani Bhutani at Eva Hospital suggests freezing the sperm earlier in life can ensure the availability of the healthiest sperm when one is ready to start a family. 

Few diet and lifestyle changes can impact the health of the future sperm and they include:

  • Weight loss
  • Regular Exercise
  • Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs
  • Wearing loose fitted cotton underwear
  • Manage or reduce emotional stress.

Normal sperm morphology can be boosted by some natural supplements and vitamins too.

Treatments for Poor Sperm Morphology

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for quite some time, without success and you feel there may be a problem, you should consult your doctor for a full workup. Sperm morphology may also be one of many possible causes for Male Infertility.
There are a few options that can be considered when it comes to treating sperm morphology issues:

  • Sperm Washing:  A distinctive method of removing low-quality sperm and mucus from a man’s semen, increasing the chances of pregnancy, Sperm washing is part of many fertility procedures.
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): It is a method of artificial insemination that involves placing sperm directly inside a woman’s uterus. It helps to increase the chances of successful pregnancy in case of male-factor infertility.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Fertilization of an egg inside a lab before transferring the embryo to a woman’s uterus, IVF boosts the likelihood of pregnancy manifolds 
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): Used as part of the IVF process, ICSI implies injecting the sperm directly into an egg. This can help improve the chances of fertilization and pregnancy.


Dr. Shivani Bhutani Best IVF Specialist In Ludhiana, explains that among the many available options to address sperm morphology issues, finding the best suited option, one must consult an experienced fertility specialist who can suggest the best suited method after adequate discussion and examination.

Sperm morphology is just one trivial part of the fertility puzzle, so it’s essential to discuss the results with the doctor to see if your range could affect your chances of conceiving with your partner. 

For more information about dealing with sperm morphology problem and improving your chances of fertility, book an appointment with Dr Shivani today.

About The Author

Dr Shivani Bhutani
A doctor with a rich background and high success rate, Dr. Shivani Bhutani offers the boon of parenthood to couples dealing with infertility. She has opulent knowledge and expertise in offering successful treatment for infertility in females, gynecological disorders and family planning consultation services. Highly dedicated, concerned and attentive, Dr. Shivani understands the bliss of parenthood and offers appropriate medical help.