Male infertility: Poor semen quality

Male infertility: Poor semen quality

It is estimated that 30% to 45% of the cases in which a couple is unable to reach pregnancy is due to factors exclusively attributable to the male (male factor). Most of the cases are relate to a bad or poor semen quality

Sperm analysis, or spermiogram, is one of the basics tests requested by fertility doctors in couples who are unable to conceive. It analyses quantitative traits, such as total sperm count or volume, and qualitative traits, such as sperm morphology and motility. Normal samples have  from 15 million  to more than 200 million sperm per milliliter (mL). A low concentration of sperm (less than 15 million) is called Oligospermia and can be classified in 3 subcategories:

  • Mild: when there are between 5 and 14 million sperm per millilitre of semen.
  • Moderate: when between 1 and 5 million.
  • Severe: when there are less than 1 million sperm.

Men who suffer from moderate and severe Oligospermia can have serious difficulties to achieve pregnancy naturally.

Furthermore, there are other factors that affect the quality of the sperm, such as a poor motility (asthenozoospermia) and morphology alterations (teratozoospermia). These factors are not mutually exclusive, which means that a man could be diagnosed with one, two or even all three of the factors at the same time (oligoasthenoteratozoospermia).

These patienst can benefit of Assited Reproductives Techniques to conceive, specially from ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) in wich the sperm cell is directly injected into the egg.

The total absence of sperm in the ejaculate is called Azoospermia that can be in sometimes overcome with testicular biopsy plus ICSI.

Causes of poor quality semen

Sperm disorders can be caused by several reasons:

  • Hormonal disorder.
  • Unhealthy habits, such as drugs, tobacco or alcohol; obesity; bad diet
  • Stress.
  • Cryptorchidism: testicles do not descend into the scrotum and the temperature is inadequate.
  • Varicocele: the veins of the spermatic cord get dilated.
  • Genetic and chromosomal disorders
  • Testicular surgery complications
  • Swelling, trauma
  • Due to having suffered from meningitis or mumps before puberty
  • Infections
  • Defects of tubules that transport sperm.
  • Tumors
  • Environmental causes (overheating, X-Ray, chemicals)
  • Others

Tests do diagnose male infertility

Semen analysis is the most common test to assess male infertility problems, together with a physical examination and a clinical history.

The analysis includes: semen amount (volume) and apperance, sperm count, abnormalities in sperm size, morphology and/or motility. There are other tests that If the results are abnormal, there are additional your doctor can request you to identify the cause of your infertility such as hormone testing, scrotal/transrectal  ultrasound or Genetic Analysis among others.

At PGDlabs we offer all genetic test for male infertility that you may need.

  • Karyotype: Numerical (e.g. Klinefelter syndrome) or structural abnormalities (e.g. reciprocal translocation) in the chromosomes are related to infertility. Karyotype provides a snapshot of an individual’s chromosomes and allow us to detect these abnormalities.
  • Y chromosome microdeletion: This is genetic disorders caused by missing genes in the Y chromosome. These genes are essential for producing sperm. Absence (deletions) in the region causes oligozoospermia and azoospermia.
  • Sperm aneuploidy: this test evaluates the percentage of spermatozoa with chromosomal abnormalities in a sperm sample. Infertile males with normal karyotypes may be at risk of producing unbalanced or aneuploid spermatozoa. Sperm aneuploidy is directly related to chromosomally abnormal embryo leading to poor embryo development, a significantly reduced pregnancy rate, and an increased risk of abnormalities in newborns.
  • DNA fragmentation: measures the percentage of damaged DNA in thousands of spermatozoa in an ejaculate sample. Individuals with a high percentage of spermatozoa with fragmented DNA have been linked to a significant reduction in the rate of natural pregnancy and an increase in the rate of miscarriages
  • Mutation detection in CFTR gene and any other gene related to a genetic disease that causes infertility (e.g. Kartagener’s Syndrome, Kallman Syndrome)

You can consult us without commitment about our male genetic infertility tests