The evaluation of morphological characteristics of human spermatozoa according to stricter criteria

Hum Reprod. 1990 Jul;5(5):586-92. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.humrep.a137150.


The evaluation of the morphology of human spermatozoa varies widely between and sometimes even within laboratories. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the method that has been developed in our laboratory and which resulted in the use of stricter criteria for the evaluation of sperm morphology is a practical, reliable and repeatable method and to establish the within and between observer variations. The criteria used for a 'normal' spermatozoon are based on the appearance of spermatozoa found in the mucus of the upper endocervical canal. The results of the morphological evaluations of 26 samples by four observers were statistically analysed by various methods. The method of Barnett showed a high degree of relative accuracy between observers with error variances of between 2.89 and 19.67 as well as high Spearman rank correlation coefficients of between 0.8675 and 0.6537 (P less than 0.0003). The Spearman correlation coefficient for 15 duplicate evaluations by one observer was 0.9650 (P less than 0.0001) while the coefficients of variation for repeated evaluations of single samples were also within acceptable limits. Based on these results, the method described in this article allows comparable and reliable results between and within observers to be obtained. From this and other studies it can be concluded that the method also has a good prognostic value for the prediction of expected IVF fertilization, the hamster test and hemizona assay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cytodiagnosis / standards*
  • Cytodiagnosis / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / pathology*
  • Male
  • Quality Control
  • Specimen Handling
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*