Teratozoospermia, also known as teratospermia, is a semen alteration in which there is a large number of spermatozoa with abnormal morphology.
It is a sperm condition that may lead to serious consequences, such as male infertility. The sperm parameter that is compromised is sperm morphology.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) offers guidelines to evaluate semen parameters (some examples of these parameters are concentration, motility, or morphology). The values set by WHO can be used to determine normality, so if the value of a given semen parameter is below the reference, it may suggest a sperm pathology.
With regard to teratozoospermia, the shape of the spermatozoon is assessed. Formerly, teratozoospermia was diagnosed if 14% of the sperm had a normal shape. In 2010, WHO updated its reference values, and now a man only has to meet a 5% rate of properly shaped spermatozoa to be within normality.
Therefore, in order to diagnose teratozoospermia by the current standards, a man has to show a high rate of dysfunctional spermatozoa; more than 96% of his spermatozoa have to be morphologically abnormal.
This alteration produces male infertility since unproportioned spermatozoa or with odd morphology are unable to swim in the right way; consequently, they have it harder to reach the egg. Even if they make it, they still have to penetrate the egg, so anomalies in the head may hamper this action.
Depending on the degree of affectation, it can hinder getting pregnant naturally to a greater or lesser extent.
Male-related fertility problems account for 30%-50% of the couples that are trying to conceive naturally. The assessment of a man’s fertility begins with a seminogram, followed by a MSC tests (motile sperm count). Once the diagnosis of teratozoospermia is confirmed, the couple has several alternatives to achieve pregnancy.
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