Good day bloggers.
The creation of life is a miracle and every element to reproduce lies within. The basic requirement is of the best quality egg and competent healthy sperm in an active reproductive system. For conception, there is a requirement of such 1 egg and 1 sperm. Still, the human body has many copies of such genetic material.
In this article, let us understand sperm, rather healthy sperm first!
A sperm cell is a male reproductive cell produced in the testicles. This is the smallest cell of the human body and millions of it!
The sperm cell´s function is to actively unite with the egg to create conception. This process of union is called fertilization. For this to happen, it is very important that the sperm cells have structure and DNA intact during their journey to the egg.
For fertilization, the egg & sperm should have half as much genetic material as the rest of the cells of the body. Such a spermatozoon is called a haploid cell. Such Haploid cells have half of the chromosomes (one of each pair), and in humans, this is 23 chromosomes in haploid cells. There is a process of meiosis in the testicle.
After fertilization of the egg cell with the sperm, the genetic composition is restored. The fertilised egg now has 46 chromosomes. This is called a zygote. Spermatogenesis is the process of formation and maturation of sperm and takes about 64-72 days.
Mature sperm’s tail increases in size and flagellum is created. The head of the spermatozoa decreases as the cytoplasm shrinks and gains a pointed shape.
The doctor will look at the sperm’s tail under the microscope and see if it moves in a straight line. The sperm’s Head should be oval. The tail should be long for smooth movement through the fluid.
Hormones involved in the sperm process are:
Testosterone: helps in differentiations.
FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) promotes sperm development and maturation.
LH (luteinizing hormone): activation of testosterone by Leydig cells.
Inhibin: Inhibits FSH release and halts spermatogenesis.
Under the microscope, sperm can be seen clearly with the sperm head, midsection, and tail. The head shape is most important as it has DNA. DNA has genetic information. Head structure affects the sperm’s ability to penetrate the outer surface of an egg for fertilization. The mid-piece contains enzymes and multiple mitochondria. This part supplies energy to the sperm for travel through the female cervix, uterus and uterine tubes. The tail is made up of protein fibres and should move forward to meet the egg.
Kindly note, there can be defects in any part of sperm, that can hinder the process of fertilization.
Defects that matter!
Head Defects: large, small, elongated, pear-shaped, vacuolated head, double or round heads can cause problems in fertilization.
Midpiece Defects: Structure of bent neck, asymmetrical shape of the midpiece into the head, or an abnormally thin and thick neck that can create problems in motility.
Tail Defects: Includes short, multiple, hairpin, broken or bent tails, and coiled tails that hamper forward motility.
That is the reason, the sperm analysis is beyond numbers.it is found that men with abnormal sperm morphology can father a child but may need a longer time.
Is pregnancy possible with abnormal sperm morphology?
With abnormal sperm morphology, pregnancy is still possible. If natural conception doesn’t occur, the option of assisted reproductive technology can be considered (ICSI+IVF).. ICSI is a process, where sperm can be directly placed near the egg. ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic sperm injection. ICSI has really changed the way, fertilization happens. ICSI requires only one sperm to fertilize the egg. ICSI is a routinely practised protocol when sperm morphology is less than 2%.
Do you know, people with testes produce 200-300 million sperms/day? A healthy male can release 80 to 300 million sperm in ejaculation. Sperm is made up of mitochondria, which provide energy for the tail and can swim about 8 inches per hour
The health and fertility of sperm are determined by,
A. CONCENTRATION: (No of sperms/ml of semen). A healthy sperm count is 15–20 million/ml. Oligospermia has a low concentration of sperm in the semen, while azoospermia is, an absence of sperm.
B.MOTILITY: (ability to swim) 40–50% of sperm in a given sample should be actively motile. Asthenospermia refers to reduced sperm motility.
C.MORPHOLOGY: (The structure, size, and shape of the sperm) for Penetration of the egg for fertilization, morphology is important. A normal morphology means an oval head and long tail. Ideally, at least 4% of sperm will have a proper morphology. Teratozoospermia is such a condition with a high presence of abnormal morphology.
D.GENETIC HEALTH: Like eggs, sperm can have genetic abnormalities and can create defective embryos. Age, infection, fever, and lifestyle factors can affect fertility.
How to determine sperm health?
Semen analysis is an easy and painless test that can detect sperm health. A semen sample can be collected via masturbation or through a special condom used during sex. Then, a doctor or lab tech can determine the sperm count, concentration and percentage of motile and morphologically normal sperm along with the chemistry and volume of the semen
The one factor that can’t be tested in semen analysis is genetic health. DNA fragmentation test can identify sperm’s genetic issues which is not seen with conventional semen analysis.
An abnormal sperm can fertilize an egg but it might take a long time. The DNA of abnormal sperm may be healthy. A sperm with chromosomal abnormalities often result in miscarriage or implantation failure. Sperm quality is often good in younger men. With advancing age, sperm quality may get affected. There are increased chances of genetic defects in such babies.
In a nutshell, healthy sperm is an indicator of good reproductive health.
Semen analysis is a routine simple test to be done at the laboratory of repute, Sperm is vital and important component of fertility. Some signs and characteristics of semen in general can help us identify healthy semen. Other characteristics are only evaluated in lab analysis. Men usually ask if clumpy or jelly-like semen is indicative of a problem. It is usually not, and semen characteristics change depending on nutrition and hydration We at Yash IVF, Deccan Pune have served many such patients with not-so-normal semen analysis and are enjoying the joy of parenthood.