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For couples who have been trying to get pregnant for a number of years without success, semen analysis of the male partner will certainly be among the first fertility tests that is suggested by healthcare providers. Semen analysis is a relatively non-invasive test for a couple, and it provides quick results without a high cost. A semen analysis looks at a number of factors that are relevant for male fertility. One of them is sperm morphology.

Morphology? What is that? If you are asking yourself this question, you are not alone. While most people have heard of sperm count, the other factors that contribute to male fertility, including motility (which will be another topic!) and morphology, are not something the majority of us have ever needed to learn about. Morphology looks at the size, shape and structure of sperm. Normal, healthy sperm have a long tail, and an oval head. I am sure that you have seen this image before! When sperm is abnormal, they can either have a head that is not shaped correctly, or they have a tail that is too short, or even a double tail. Every man has some sperm that are shaped abnormally. This is completely normal. Only when a large percentage of a man's sperm are abnormally shaped is fertility affected.

If a semen analysis showed morphology problems, your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes, and order another sperm test at a later date, usually around six weeks after the first one. Temporary causes of an abnormal morphology include, but are not limited to, an infected anywhere in the body, a fever, the use of prescription drugs, and enlarged veins in the scrotum. Even men with large numbers of abnormally-shaped sperm do not have to be completely infertile. They will still usually have a certain amount of healthy sperm, that can fertilize an egg. However, conceiving is statistically likely to take a lot longer in such cases, and sometimes, medical assistance is necessary.

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