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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 402

Sperm morphology and reproductive success

1 Men's Health Center, 8240 Naab Road, Suite 220, Indianapolis, Indiana 46260, USA
2 Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

Date of Web Publication05-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jason R Kovac
Men's Health Center, 8240 Naab Road, Suite 220, Indianapolis, Indiana 46260
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.179253

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How to cite this article:
Kovac JR, Lipshultz LI. Sperm morphology and reproductive success. Asian J Androl 2016;18:402

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Kovac JR, Lipshultz LI. Sperm morphology and reproductive success. Asian J Androl [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 May 28];18:402. Available from:

Drs. Sikka and Hellstrom [1] provide an excellent summary focusing on the basics of the endocrine evaluation of male fertility with a detailed look at the specifics of semen analyses. Discussing details such as concentration, motility and morphology, Sikka and Hellstrom [1] expand on how these tests are conducted in a laboratory setting. An understanding of these particulars is valuable to the Andrologist who must subsequently synthesize these reports and relay them to patients in a simplistic manner.

Of all the different laboratory investigations conducted in the male fertility analysis, sperm morphology has traditionally been judged to be the "most complex and difficult component to perform and interpret." [1] Indeed, the authors [1] point out that the multiple steps required in the process can each induce artifacts that could potentially alter the final interpretation.

Dr. Kruger, in the late 1980's, [2] first proposed the idea that sperm morphology contributed to reproductive success. Illustrating an inverse relationship between successful oocyte fertilization and sperm morphology, these results were propagated in the study by Bonde et al.[3] In that manuscript, men with abnormal morphologies had a decreased likelihood of achieving pregnancy. Unfortunately, these early works are not conclusive. As noted by Sikka and Hellstrom, [1] sperm morphology remains subject to inter- and intra-laboratory differences making it difficult, if not impossible, to draw an accurate assessments of the predictability of sperm morphology on outcomes.

Andrologists are often referred patients with isolated low sperm morphology. Given that morphology is not representative of fertilization potential, decisions on how to improve sperm morphology remain difficult to address. Smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake and drug use can affect fertility; however, a conclusive connection between these factors and sperm morphology has not been demonstrated. Furthermore, use of dietary supplements and vitamins has not been shown to directly affect sperm morphology. While previous studies have found that varicocele repair improves strict morphology [4],[5] with changes observed as early as 3 months following surgery, [6] these results are also still controversial. [7] Large-scale studies are needed focusing on the importance of sperm morphology on both natural and artificial fertilization outcomes to obtain final conclusive proof as to its role in fertility.

  References Top

Sikka SC, Hellstrom WH. Current updates on laboratory techniques for the diagnosis of male reproductive failure. Asian J Androl 2016; 18: 392-401. [Doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.179161] [Epub ahead of print].  Back to cited text no. 1
Kruger TF, Menkveld R, Stander FS, Lombard CJ, Van der Merwe JP, et al. Sperm morphologic features as a prognostic factor in in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril 1986; 46: 1118-23.  Back to cited text no. 2
Bonde JP, Ernst E, Jensen TK, Hjollund NH, Kolstad H, et al. Relation between semen quality and fertility: a population-based study of 430 first-pregnancy planners. Lancet 1998; 352: 1172-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schatte EC, Hirshberg SJ, Fallick ML, Lipschultz LI, Kim ED. Varicocelectomy improves sperm strict morphology and motility. J Urol 1998; 160: 1338-40.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kibar Y, Seckin B, Erduran D. The effects of subinguinal varicocelectomy on Kruger morphology and semen parameters. J Urol 2002; 168: 1071-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
Vazquez-Levin MH, Friedmann P, Goldberg SI, Medley NE, Nagler HM. Response of routine semen analysis and critical assessment of sperm morphology by Kruger classification to therapeutic varicocelectomy. J Urol 1997; 158: 1804-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Hauser R, Paz G, Botchan A, Yogev L, Yavetz H. Varicocele: effect on sperm functions. Hum Reprod Update 2001; 7: 482-5.  Back to cited text no. 7

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