Recognizing Various Sperm Abnormalities

About 13 out of 100 couples find it difficult to have children despite having regular sex. One of the causes is sperm abnormalities. This abnormality can lie in the number, shape, or the ability to move sperm cells.

Sperm cells or spermatozoa are produced in the testes or testes. The production of sperm cells is influenced by many factors, such as testosterone levels and the temperature of the testicles. When a man ejaculates, millions of sperm cells will be released through the penis along with a fluid called semen or semen.

These sperm cells will then move in the uterus to the fallopian tubes or female fallopian tubes, where the sperm cells can fertilize the egg and cause pregnancy. If there is an abnormality in the number, shape, or motility of the sperm, fertilization of the egg will be more difficult.

To confirm the condition of the sperm cells, the doctor will suggest a semen analysis or sperm examination. In this examination, the semen that is ejaculated during masturbation will be accommodated in a sterile container and examined in the laboratory to find out whether there are sperm abnormalities.

Sperm Abnormalities in terms of Quantity

The low number of sperm causes the chances of fertilization to decrease. This is because not all sperm cells that make it into the uterus will make it through the fallopian tube and fertilize the egg.

A man is said to have oligozoospermia when the number of sperm cells he secretes during ejaculation is less than 15 million cells per milliliter of semen, and is said to be azoospermic when his semen contains no sperm at all.

Some of the conditions that can cause oligozoospermia or azoospermia are:

  • Hormonal disorders, such as low testosterone levels
  • History of testes not descending into the testicles (cryptorchismus) as a child
  • Widening of the veins in the testicles (varicocele)
  • Infections of the testes or surrounding structures due to bacteria, such as: chlamydia and gonorrhea; or viral infections, such as mumps
  • Blockage or damage to the epididymis and ducts vas deferens which carries sperm out of the testes
  • Smoking habits, excessive alcohol consumption, or using illegal drugs
  • overweight (overweight) or obesity
  • Use of certain antibiotics and corticosteroids
  • History of chemotherapy or radiotherapy

Sperm Abnormalities in terms of Movement Ability

Sperm that can move in the uterus and reach the fallopian tubes are sperm that have good motility or ability to move. In contrast, sperm that have poor motility move slowly, in circles, or don't move at all.

Sperm are said to be motile (actively moving) if they are able to move forward, at least 25 micrometers per second.

If a man has a sperm count with normal motility of less than 40% of the total sperm he produces, then the man is said to have asthenozoospermia. The lower the percentage of motile sperm, the lower the chances of fertilization.

Some things that can increase a man's risk of asthenozoospermia are:

  • Genetic or hereditary factors
  • Smoking habits, especially if you smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day
  • Varicocele, which is widening of the veins in the scrotum
  • Disorders of the male reproductive glands, such as the seminal vesicles that produce semen

Sperm Abnormalities in terms of shape

Normal sperm cells have an oval head and a long tail. The shape of the head of the sperm cell will greatly affect the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg and carry out fertilization. The tail of the sperm is also important to determine the ability of sperm to move.

If the shape of the sperm cells is not normal, the chances of fertilization will decrease. A man is said to have teratozoospermia if the number of sperm that are normally shaped is less than 14% of the total sperm he produces. The lower the number, the lower the fertility rate of a man.

Some things that can cause abnormalities in the shape of sperm are:

  • Elderly
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Smoking habit
  • Exposure to radiation or harmful chemicals

Sperm abnormalities, both in terms of number, shape, and the ability to move, can interfere with male fertility. To reduce the risk of abnormalities in sperm and improve sperm quality, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods.

Research shows that adequate intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and beta carotene, can help maintain healthy sperm. These antioxidants are found in many vegetables and fruits.

If you have had sexual intercourse regularly for 1 year but have not succeeded in having children, you and your partner should consult a doctor. The doctor will perform a series of examinations to find out the cause, including semen examination to determine whether there are sperm abnormalities.

Written by:

dr. Irene Cindy Sunur