Sperm Morphology

Sperm MorphologyI decided to write a post about Morphology, as it is often the most confusing and misunderstood part of a sperm test result.

What is morphology?

As per Mayoclinic:

Sperm morphology results are reported as the percentage of sperm that appear normal when semen is viewed under a microscope.  Normal sperm have an oval head with a long tail. Abnormal sperm have head or tail defects — such as a large or misshapen head or a crooked or double tail. These defects may affect the ability of the sperm to reach and penetrate an egg.

It seems that there are two different types of lab tests to determine what is a “normal” morphology rate.  Some lab testing work within the WHO’s reference limit of a minimum of 15% normally formed sperm (i.e. a maximum 85% abnormal forms).  Whereas some labs around the world are now using the Kruger strict scale, which works within a normal reference range of 4%-15% of normally formed sperm (i.e. a maximum of 96% abnormal forms).

When sperm test results come back with a high number of abnormal forms, it is common practice to get another test done in 4-6 weeks.  Sperm results can change week by week, so another test will determine if there is a common problem, or if it will improve on it’s own.

Miscarriage link?

You might have heard or read that there are links between recurrent miscarriage and low morphology, but this link is controversial and heavily debated.  As always in the world of making babies, there is no evidence to prove this either way.

A good thing about morphology

The good thing about morphology is that it does not necessarily mean you cannot conceive or will have problems conceiving.  Even with a low morphology rate, you can still get pregnant.  This is because the result is heavily dependant on the rest of the sperm test results.  For example if you only have 4% normally formed sperm and your sperm count is 100 million, then you’ve still got 4 million normally formed sperm.   Of course it’s not as simple as that, and the rest of the results are of course linked, but you get the idea.

Is it possible to improve morphology?

This is another controversial area.  Some say yes and some say no.  Herbalists and Chinese Medicine will claim to be able to improve sperm quality, but again there is no proof that anything can be done to improve morphology specifically.  The best thing that can be done is to improve the sperm count (which something can be done about), and in turn increase the actual number of normal forms.

Final note ( and a reminder … don’t panic)

I thought this was another good quote from Mayoclinic:

Even with abnormal sperm morphology, motility problems or a low sperm count, it’s important to remember that an abnormal semen analysis does not mean you are infertile. Many men with low semen analysis values are still able to father children. It just may take longer, a year or more. If you and your partner aren’t able to conceive through sexual intercourse, assisted reproductive technology such as in-vitro fertilization may be an option.

Have you had any experience of low morphology levels?  Did you manage to improve them on your own?  Did it cause you any problems TTC?

photo by: chrisjtse


  1. I read something on the internet that they mentioned if u take vitamin c 2000mg/day can improve the morphology by 114% in 2 months.

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      I have done quite a lot of research about this and haven’t found anything which is actually proven to improve morphology. I’d check with your Doctor and see what they think before you start taking supplements.

  2. I read a few articles about vitamin c and other supplements that helps with morphology, also his pH for his sperm is very alkaline so I got him zinc and calcium as well, they only supplements and not medicines so I’m sure it’s ok right? Even if they don’t have proven effects they’re good for his body 🙂 I don’t wanna stress too much this year and try the more holistic ways and see how things go.

  3. My husband has 0% morphology, which means that when the lab looked at his sperm he had 0 normal. My doctor did not say that was a problem, but I’ve had five miscarriages, at least 3 of these have been chromosomal abnormalities. My OB says that it is really strange because of my age, but getting a doctor to even consider it’s abnormal sperm morphology as the cause of RPL is very difficult. It is a difficult place to be as I feel the woman is blamed for the pregnancy loss much more than the men even though infertility issues can be traced back to men 50% of the time.

  4. I am male 31 and got my Sperm test that says 3% morphology. The count is 55 M and motility is 50%. We have been trying since 2-3 years now, once she got pregnant but lead to miscarriage. I think it is because of the morphology. Do any once has any ideas/suggestions based on their practical experience on what shall we do to get a healthy baby. We are getting frustrated now and IVF is a very costly option for us. We believe IUI is not gonna help us. Shall we keep trying for one more year or so or shall we go for IVF with ICSI? Your’s help will be highly appreciated.

    God Bless!!

    • My Situation also same, I am male 30 years and my sperm test says 2% morphology. The count is 55M and motility is 40%. we have trying past 3years.

      Please suggest us IVF is best option or IUI is best option ?

    • My husband had 1 per cent normal morphology and we had ivf with icsi and got pregnant after the first cycle. Ou r son is 10 months old now. It is definitely worth it.

  5. My partner just had a detailed sperm analysis after he had a vericocele op in october. It showed no improvment – very low motile sperm concentration with grossly abnormal morphology. No morphologically normal sperm observed. We have already had icsi and none of my 14 eggs even fertilized. Should i give up? Or is there anything else i could try?

  6. Thanks for writing about your finding on sperm morphology. I am interested when you say that “herbalists and Chinese Medicine will claim to be able to improve sperm quality” because I greatly believe in natural treatments for fertility.

    I’m currently reading a book that talks about using Chinese Medicine to help get pregnant. I’ll have a closer look at the study inside the book to see if it can help increase healthy sperm morphology.

  7. There’s a great section on improving morphology in this book –

    Explains it at the biochemical level, and subscribes a regimen of supplements (mostly antioxidents), diet recommendations and habits (ice pack to “region” daily).

    We’ve just started working on improving DH morphology (2%)…hoping this all helps.

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