Infertility is a major issue that has been growing rapidly in our country, and both men and women are equally affected by it. Infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy after six months or one year of unprotected sexual intercourse.
There are many factors that can cause male and female infertility. Teratozoospermia is one such condition that can cause infertility in men. In this article, we’ll have a detailed look into teratozoospermia, its types, causes, and the treatment men can undergo to treat the issue
What is Teratozoospermia or Teratospermia ?
Teratozoospermia or teratospermia is a male infertility condition where the majority of the sperm in a semen sample has abnormal morphology (shape & structure).
A healthy sperm with good morphology should have the following features:
Any characteristic that is different from the above, like a double-head, short or crooked tails, or neck-piece defects, indicates teratozoospermia. These defects make it difficult for the sperm to swim to the egg and fertilize it, thus causing infertility.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a man is considered to have teratozoospermia if more than 96% of the sperm in the semen sample are abnormal. Another theory, Kruger’s criteria, argues that a man with more than 85% abnormal sperm in the ejaculate has teratozoospermia.
Types of Teratospermia
There are several types of teratozoospermia, depending on the severity of the condition and the type of sperm abnormality.
Types depending on the condition
These types are classified based on how severe the condition is for the male partner. They can be mild, moderate, or severe teratozoospermia..
This is when the percentage of normal sperm in the semen sample is around 10–14%. Natural pregnancy is still possible for men with this condition.
This is when the percentage of normal sperm in the semen sample is around 5–9%. The chances of natural pregnancy are very low for men with this condition. They might have to go for fertility treatments like IVF (In vitro fertilization) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).
This is when the percentage of normal sperm in the semen sample is less than 5%. There are almost zero chances of natural pregnancy in this condition. Men can choose ICSI or IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically-selected Sperm Injection) to fertilize the egg and achieve pregnancy.
Types depending on sperm abnormality
Teratozoospermia can also be defined based on the type of sperm abnormality. Below are two of those types of teratozoospermia.
This condition is a combination of asthenozoospermia and teratozoospermia. That is, the majority of the sperm in the semen sample have not only abnormal morphology but also low motility.
There are no chances of natural pregnancy here. Men must choose either ICSI or IMSI for pregnancy.
Oligo Astheno Teratozoospermia
This condition is a combination of oligospermia, asthenospermia, and teratozoospermia. That is, the majority of the sperm in the semen sample have not only abnormal morphology and low motility but also low sperm count.
Men need to undergo IMSI to choose the sperm with the best quality for fertilization.
What Causes Teratozoospermia?
Teratozoospermia can be caused due to various factors. Most of these causes play a role in affecting sperm production (spermatogenesis), thus leading to abnormal sperm morphology. Below are some of those causes.
Treatment for Teratozoospermia
Teratozoospermia is not the end of the road, and couples can still get pregnant if they consult a fertility doctor and undergo the required treatments. Here are some treatments couples can choose to overcome teratozoospermia.
A healthy lifestyle & nutritional supplements
Men with mild cases of teratozoospermia can still achieve pregnancy naturally. They just need to modify their lifestyle and take the supplements prescribed for them.
A healthy lifestyle includes
Men can take nutritional supplements like Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, L-carnitine, and antioxidants to improve their fertility.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs)
Men with moderate to severe cases of teratozoospermia might need to opt for fertility treatments like IVF, ICSI, or IMSI to fertilize the egg and get pregnant. The fertility doctors will analyze the sperm and suggest the right methods suitable for their condition.
In these fertility treatments, the sperm are analyzed, and the best sperm among them will be chosen to fertilize the egg. This ensures the quality of the embryo and increases the chances of a successful pregnancy.
The Effect of Teratozoospermia on Sex Chromosomes in Human Embryos
Several studies have been conducted regarding the effects of teratozoospermia on the developing embryo’s chromosomes. It has been found that embryos that develop from sperm with abnormal morphology have higher risks of aneuploidy (having fewer or extra chromosomes than the normal 46) than normal embryos.
So, it is important for fertility doctors to analyze the sperm carefully and select the one with the highest quality. This is to prevent chromosomal abnormalities from passing from the sperm to the embryo.
Men diagnosed with teratozoospermia can find it difficult to conceive a baby. But it is not impossible for them to have a child. Technology has advanced, and there are many fertility treatments that they can undergo to overcome their situation. They can discuss with their fertility hospital and undergo the treatment that will help them with the issue.
Teratozoospermia is a male infertility condition in which there are more morphologically defective sperm than normal sperm in the semen sample. Because the sperm cannot swim to the egg, the odds of successful fertilization and pregnancy are reduced to a great degree. So, certainly, teratozoospermia can be a major problem at times.
IVF/ICSI is by far the best treatment option for men with treatozoospermia. Healthy and normal sperms will be selected under the microscope in cases of mild to severe teratozoospermia. To achieve fertilization, the chosen sperm will be inserted directly into the egg’s cytoplasm.
Yes, though it might be a bit difficult, women can get pregnant even if their husband has teratozoospermia. If natural pregnancy doesn’t work, they can go for fertility treatments like IUI, IVF, or ICSI to achieve pregnancy.
If the issue has been due to controllable factors like infection, inflammation, unhealthy lifestyle, or diabetes, there are still chances of treating teratozoospermia. However, if it is caused due to factors like genetics, irreversible injury, or other serious conditions, the possibility of curing it reduces significantly.