Scientists now know that sperm morphology, or how the sperm is shaped, affects male fertility similarly to sperm count and motility (how the sperm moves). Patients with normal sperm morphology have improved chances at conceiving a baby, whether by intercourse, intrauterine insemination, or in-vitro fertilisation. Even with poor sperm morphology, pregnancy may still be possible, but improving sperm morphology may result in improved male fertility.
Normal sperm has an oval-shaped head that is 5 to 6 micrometers long and about 3 micrometers in diameter. A cap covers 40 to 70 per cent of the head, and should be well defined. There should be no visible defect on the sperm, and no fluid droplets in the sperm head that are bigger than half the size of the sperm. Sperm are graded on their morphology according to a scale that measures the combination of these factors.
If a male fertility test has come back with a sperm morphology lower than 4 per cent on the sperm morphology scale, test again. The low sperm morphology could be temporary, and sometimes improves on its own. Other times, the low sperm morphology is a result of a testicular abnormality, injury or lifestyle choices, and will test the same on a subsequent test.
Quit smoking, cut back on alcohol consumption and exercise more. Do not use illicit drugs. Living a generally healthy lifestyle improves male fertility in general and improves the quality and number of sperm produced in the body. Cut back on fatty foods and increase the number of fruit and vegetable servings you eat each day.
Tests conducted by Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield, showed that men who ate fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, along with cutting back on fatty foods and alcohol improved sperm counts and quality. Their diets included smoothies specially designed by a dietitian to be high in antioxidants. Mix smoothies with blueberries, mango, raspberries, and oranges. Add honey for sweetness or mineral water for sparkle.
If your lifestyle is already generally healthy, and sperm morphology problems persist, see a specialist in the field. Doctors can treat low sperm morphology with prescription medication or surgery. If a vacuole is found on the testicle, a doctor may perform surgery to remove it. In some cases, low sperm morphology persists despite treatment.
If poor sperm morphology persists despite treatment, take heart. No evidence links birth defects in children conceived to poor sperm morphology. A couple can still conceive a healthy pregnancy despite low sperm morphology through intercourse in some cases, or with the help of infertility treatments such as IUI or IVF.