The different types of abnormalities in the sperm of infertile men

The inability of a man to get his wife (partner) pregnant can be due to several causes. One of such is an abnormal sperm. A man's sperm can be faulty in different ways, all of which will make him infertile. Hence, it is important any man whose wife is finding it difficult to conceive accompanies her to the hospital and they see the doctor together. One of the most important and commonest tests a doctor (urologist) recommends for the man, in this case, is called a seminal fluid analysis (SFA); this test is carried out to examine the sperm for every possible abnormality associated with infertility.

Below are the common abnormal findings from seminal fluid analysis associated with infertility in a man:
1. Low Semen Volume

For a man to be able to impregnate a woman, the volume of his semen at ejaculation should be at least 1.5mL. Anything less than this lowers the chance of getting a woman pregnant. Low semen volume can be due to retrograde ejaculation (a condition in which most of the semen enter the bladder at ejaculation and are passed out when urinating) or obstruction of the duct that carries the sperm from the testes to the outside.

2. Sperm Count

Also known as sperm concentration, a normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm cells per 1mL of semen. Sperm count less than this decreases the possibility of any sperm cells reaching the woman's egg in the fallopian tubes from the vagina where they are ejaculated, and the condition is called oligospermia (low sperm count). Wearing of tight underwear (boxers) increases the temperature of the scrotum which can negatively affect sperm production, leading to low sperm count.

Sometimes, there may be no single sperm cell in the man's ejaculate, a condition called azoospermia.

3. Sperm Movement

During seminal fluid analysis, the sperm is viewed under the microscope and one of the findings that can affect a man's fertility is how fast majority of the sperm cells are moving. It has been found that if only less than 40% of the total sperm cells in an ejaculate have normal and fast movement; the chance of such sperm cells reaching the woman's egg is very very low, meaning the man will not be able to impregnate a woman.

4. Sperm Structure

Also, the shape and size of sperm cells in an ejaculate are associated with the fertility of a man. For a man to stand a chance of impregnating a woman during sexual intercourse, at least 30% of the total sperm cells in his ejaculate must have normal shape and size.

Infertility in a man can result from either one or more of the above sperm abnormalities. Moreover, these abnormalities have been linked to lifestyle behaviour such as cigarette and marijuana smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and constant exposure to things like radiation, lead and pesticides for men working in some chemical factories.

After sperm analysis, the result is sent to the doctor (urologist) who may recommend additional tests based on the identified abnormality. With these further tests, the doctor will then explain the identified problem to the man and his wife, and counsel them on the various treatment options such as medications, surgery. He will also advise the man on the importance of healthy lifestyle modifications such as stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake; and taking occupational safety measures in the workplace if he works in the heavy machinery or chemical industry.

It is also important for the couple looking to have a child to have sexual intercourse regularly, 3 times a week, especially around the time of the menstrual cycle when the woman ovulates, and the Kangpe app has a period calculator which helps the woman monitor her cycle with her husband.

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