How to improve sperm morphology

Updated March 17, 2017

Sperm morphology refers to the shape and structure of sperm. Normal sperm have an oval head and a straight tail that measures seven to 15 times the length of the head. Abnormal sperm have irregular shapes and forms. They might have unusually large or malformed heads, or tails that are short, coiled, or doubled. These defects prevent the sperm from either reaching or penetrating an egg. According to the World Health Organization, at least 60 per cent of a man's sperm should have normal morphology. However, if a man has poor morphology, he might be able to improve the shape of his sperm by taking a few key steps.

Avoid heat. According to a 1998 study in the Journal of Human Reproduction, sperm anomalies can result if the scrotum is exposed to heat for prolonged periods of time. However, once exposure to the heat is eliminated or decreased, good sperm morphology increases. To ensure that your scrotum remains cool, avoid hot tubs and saunas, wear boxers (not briefs) and loosefitting trousers, and take care not to engage in long-distance bicycle riding or wear biker shorts for long periods.

Eliminate environmental toxins. reports that exposure to pollutants such as cigarette and marijuana smoke, pesticides, chemicals, and excessive amounts of alcohol can cause sperm to become misshapen. In addition, Dr. Randine Lewis of "How to Make a Family" notes that non-organic milk and meat can contain synthetic oestrogen that can impair the healthy development of sperm. Men seeking to improve the quality of their sperm should adjust their lifestyle so that their exposure to these toxins is minimised or eliminated.

Maintain a healthy diet. Certain vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium, can have a positive effect on sperm morphology. Selenium is an antioxidant-rich trace mineral that can be found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, tuna, beef, chicken, eggs, and cheese. It can also be taken in supplement form, although you should take no more than 400mcg per day, as excessive amounts of selenium can be toxic. Other vitamins and minerals that can help improve the quality of sperm include vitamin C (which can be found in citrus fruits), zinc (found in lamb, beef, and oysters), folic acid (found in leafy green vegetables), vitamin E (from wheat germ, eggs, and sweet potatoes), and the amino acid L-arginine (from Brazil nuts, beef, chicken, chickpeas, and soy).

Seek medical help. Dr. Todd Nippoldt of observes that poor morphology can be caused by structural problems, such as enlargement of the testes or scrotal veins, or by an infection. In these situations, surgery, antibiotics, or other medicines might correct the underlying problem and improve sperm morphology.

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About the Author

Barbara Diggs is a freelance writer living in France. A former corporate lawyer, she has been writing professionally since 2006. She has been published in numerous print and online magazines, specializing in travel, parenting, history and law. Diggs is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Stanford Law School.