Measurement and significance of sperm morphology

Asian J Androl. 2011 Jan;13(1):59-68. doi: 10.1038/aja.2010.67. Epub 2010 Nov 15.


The measurement or evaluation and clinical significance of human sperm morphology has always been and still is a controversial aspect of the semen analysis for the determination of a male's fertility potential. In this review the background of the development of the evaluation criteria for sperm morphology will be discussed. Aspects of criticism on the strict criteria definition and use of the criteria for sperm morphology evaluation will be discussed as well as possible reasons for the decline in normal sperm morphology values and how we can compromise for this phenomenon resulting in the very low normal reference value as published in the 2010 WHO manual for the Examination and Processing of Human Semen. One of the possible solutions may be to give more attention to a limited number of abnormal sperm morphology categories and the inclusion of sperm morphology patterns. It is concluded in this review that if done correctly and with care and with strict application of existing guidelines as outlined in the 2010 WHO manual, sperm morphology measurement still has a very important role to play in the clinical evaluation of male fertility potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Shape / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / diagnosis*
  • Infertility, Male / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Semen Analysis
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*