Teratozoospermia is a disorder associated with the occurrence of sperm cells with abnormal or unusual structure that greatly results in male infertility. The occurrence of sperm cells that have abnormal shapes can greatly affect male fertility. With this disorder, the motility of sperm cells is decreased, and it also prevents the sperm cells to go through the ovum for fertilization to occur. With this condition, fathering a child may be difficult among affected males. Normally, for a sperm to fertilize an egg, it should have a normal oval head, neck and a tail. Abnormal sperm cells have a decreased ability to fertilize an ovum. If the number of good sperm cells is lower than normal, the incidence that it will reach the ovum for fertilization is also decreased.
The existence of unusually shaped sperm cells greatly affects male infertility. Symptoms of this condition are normally seen among married males who had been trying to get their wives pregnant for about a year, despite their wives having normally functioning reproductive system.
Causes of Teratozoospermia
Specific causes of teratozoospermia are not yet known. Although diseases such celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and Hodgkin’s disease are known to contribute in the formation of abnormally structured sperm cells.
In sperms with circular heads, as in globozoospermia, it has been found out that the sperm’s golgi apparatus is not transformed into an acrosome, which is needed for the sperm to penetrate the ovum during fertilization.
Other possible causes are the following:
- Acrosomal defects
- Idiopathic oligospermia
Teratozoospermia can either be mild, moderate or severe. Other than that, they are also classified according to their appearance or the abnormality they present. These are the known types of teratozoospermia:
1] Polymorphic teratozoospermia
In this kind of teratozoospermia, the bulk of spermatozoa exhibit more than one anomaly. In this condition, there is only a little increased in the aneuploidy frequency upon observation.
2] Monomorphic teratozoospermia
This kind of abnormality shows only one type of anomaly, anomaly in the structure of the head. This comes in several types, too, such as:
- Round head
- Amorphous head
- Small head
- Tapering head
- Pin head
- Mid piece anomaly
This is presented by circular spermatic heads with nonappearance of mid-piece and tail.
4. Enlarged head teratozoospermia
in this kind of teratozoospermia, most of the spermatozoa possess an enlarged head with multiple tails and an abnormal acrosome.
In diagnosing teratozoospermia, harvesting sperm cells form patient is a must. These sperm cells are then analyzed and scrutinized under a high-powered microscope to find any anomalies. These anomalies may include abnormally structured heads, no tail, multiple tails, and an abnormal acrosome.
Other diagnostic procedures include the following:
- History taking
- Physical examination
- Semen analysis
- Hormonal analysis
- Semen penetration assay: This is to check the acrosome if it’s functioning normally.
Treatment for Teratozoospermia
Management and treatment of teratozoospermia vary from modern to traditional methods. These methods include:
- Antiestrogen: This kind of therapy has been efficient in treating this disorder.
- Intracytoplasmic Aperm Injection (ICSI): This is the direct introduction of normal or good sperm cell into the ovum. This kind of therapy also showed great results especially to those who really wanted to have kids. This method is also used even in severe teratozoospermia.
- Sperm retrieval techniques: These are procedures that manually extract sperm for future use or for storage in sperm banks.
- Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
- Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA)
- Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA): This extraction of sperm from the epididymis.
- Traditional Chinese Medication and Acupuncture: The focus in this kind of treatment is on the liver and kidney acupoints because it is said that these points control the reproductive activities of men.
- Vitamin Supplements: Vitamins and antioxidants are said to guide motility of sperms, raise sperm counts, and decreased lipid peroxidation while reinforcing viability of the sperm cells.
The following are the recommended supplements:
- Vitamin C: This is said to have chain-breaking antioxidants, which protects the sperm from free radicals and oxidative stress. It also reduces incidence of decreased sperm motility.
- L- Carnitine: It reinforces sperm metabolism and gives an antioxidative property. It also improves sperm motility, concentrations of sperm, and their structure.
- Vitamin A: The fat soluble beta carotene and its antioxidative property portray an important function in restoring damage resulting from aging and environment, thereby decreasing sperm damage.
- Selenium: It has antioxidative ingredient the said to improve the motility of sperm and structural development.
- Grapeseed extract: Reduces cell damage via its antioxidative properties, which helps improve development of healthy sperm cells.
- Zinc: This mineral is said to have a great effect on the structure of sperm cells, in metabolism of testosterone and sperm movements. Zinc is very important in differentiation of reproductive cells and in the development of the reproductive system.
- Fertility diet: This is a diet designed to reduce damage to sperms. This includes eating oysters, mussels, and fish because they have high amounts of proteins, fatty acids and zinc, which are essential for the production healthy and functional sperms. Adding vegetables like spinach, broccoli and cabbage in the diet are also encouraged because these vegetables are high in fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as zinc. Men are instructed to avoid foods that contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners, sugars, additives and chemicals.
- Activity: Affected males are also taught to avoid using products are harmful to sperms like cigarettes, addictive drugs, steroids, and marijuana.
The prognosis for teratozoospermia depends on its severity. In severe teratozoospermia, there is poor prognosis in fertilizing an egg and conception is unlikely. Moderate and mild teratozoospermia showed normal rate of fertilization, but very low likelihood of conception. Prognosis is also individualized.
The only known complication of teratozoospermia is infertility among males. There no other known complications related to this disorder.
Prevention normally depends on the patient’s level of awareness about his condition. Health educating the patients is also an important factor in the prevention of this disorder. Males should be educated to avoid lubricants that are harmful to sperm cells. Proper diet is also encouraged with supplementation of proper vitamins and minerals. Avoiding activities that might cause testicular injuries or damage is also important. Adherence to therapy and continuous interaction with your doctor will also improve your condition.