Abnormal Sperm

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Abnormal Sperm Production

Male infertility usually occurs because of sperm that are abnormal, because of inadequate numbers of sperm, or problems with ejaculation. Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality can cause male infertility.

For a pregnancy to occur, a man’s sperm must fertilize a woman’s egg. The fertilized egg forms an embryo that implants into the wall of the woman’s uterus. Male infertility can be divided into three major categories that include: abnormalities of sperm production, abnormalities of sperm function, and obstruction or absence of the ductal system. The majority of male factor infertility is idiopathic (cause unknown).

Fertility experts at Footsteps To Fertility Centre identify and manage issues contributing to infertility in men. We are more than happy to work with your busy schedule & cater to your specific, individualized needs.

Causes of sperm abnormalities

Abnormalities of sperm function can be due to an infection of the genital tract (prostatitis), varicocele (enlargement of the veins in the scrotum), anti-sperm antibodies, failure of sperm to attain the fertilization potential (acrosome reaction) and failure of sperm to bind and penetrate the egg (fertilization).

In around one in three cases, male infertility is caused by blockages or the absence of tubes – usually due to an injury or a vasectomy.

In rare cases, a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality can cause male infertility.

If you’ve helped conceive a baby in the past, but can’t now, you may still be producing normal, healthy sperm, but it may mean your sperm is not compatible with your current partner.

Sperm quality can also be affected by:

  • smoking
  • excessive drinking
  • drugs, including steroids and recreational use
  • weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • frequent exposure to extreme heat (working in hot temperatures, or regular saunas)
  • acute viral illness or operations for undescended testes or hernias.
  • working in cramped conditions (for example, truck drivers)

Types of Abnormal Sperm Production

Abnormal Sperm Production

 Orlando Women’s Center. Image source: Pathologies That Contribute To Infertility. Accessed via https://www.womenscenter.com/2023/07/pathologies-that-contribute-to-infertility

1. Azoospermia

This is the medical condition of a man whose semen contains no sperm. It requires careful evaluation and a possible search for sperm in the testis using a technique known as testicular biopsy.

2. Oligospermia

This refers to semen with a low concentration of sperm. Sperm count in your ejaculate can vary throughout your life. A healthy sperm amount is often necessary for fertility. A low sperm count is diagnosed as part of a semen analysis test.

3. Teratozoospermia

This is when a large percentage of sperm have an abnormal shape. Sperm morphology is the shape of the sperm. Normal sperm should have an oval head with a long tail. Abnormal sperm may have an oddly shaped head, more than one head, or more than one tail. If the sperm are not of normal shape, they may be unable to fertilize the egg.

4. Asthenozoospermia

This is when a large percentage of sperm movement is not normal, otherwise known as abnormal sperm motility. Normal sperm should move in a progressive direction. A progressive direction is defined as in a straight line or very larger circles.

5.Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT)

This is when all sperm parameters are abnormal. In other words, sperm count, movement, and shape are all problematic. This is the most common cause of male infertility.


Causes of Abnormal Sperm Production

The most common causes of male infertility are:

I. Obstruction of the ductal system

This includes prior vasectomy (as a contraceptive approach), blockage of the ejaculatory or epididymal ducts and absence of the vas deference from birth (congenital absence of the vas deferens – CAVD).

II. Retrograde Ejaculation

This occurs when semen, which would normally be ejaculated via the urethra, is redirected to the bladder at the time of ejaculation. This can occur due to the muscle that closes the bladder not functioning normally, nerve damage caused by illness, removal of the prostate gland, or side effects of medication.

III. Hyperprolactinaemia

This is the presence of abnormally high levels of prolactin(the hormone responsible for milk production) in the blood. In men, high levels of Prolactin may cause infertility and erectile dysfunction.

Diagnosis and evaluation

  • Physical examination. A thorough physical exam can detect varicocele and give clues to hormone problems.
  • Sperm and semen analysis. Experts assess your sperm count, shape, movement, and other variables.
  • Hormone evaluation. Testosterone and multiple hormones made in the brain control sperm production.
  • Testicular biopsy. This is done for men with very low or no sperm in their semen. A needle biopsy of the testicle can show whether a man is making healthy sperm. If abundant good sperm is found in the testicle, there’s likely a blockage somewhere.
  • Genetic testing. Genetic tests can identify specific obstacles to fertility and problems with sperm

Treatment of abnormal sperm production

When sperm cannot be collected through ejaculation or there are few or no viable sperm, a variety of sperm retrieval techniques can be used to obtain sperm for IVF/ICSI.

At Footsteps To Fertility Centre located in Nairobi, Kenya, our trusted fertility specialist may manage abnormal sperm production with medications that improve hormone levels. They may also recommend assisted reproductive techniques or surgery, which is used to correct conditions that cause a blockage or problems with sperm production and quality.

Our entire team is dedicated to making your dreams of a family into reality. We give you the best chance at starting a family, in the shortest possible amount of time from the start to the finish, until we have realized your fertility goals.

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