Sperm Morphologic Characteristics and Their Impact on Embryo Quality and Pregnancy Outcome

  • Bhushan K. Gangrade
  • Ashok Agarwal


The successful outcome following in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET) depends on a large number of variables ranging from maternal age, cause of infertility, number and maturity of oocytes, sperm characteristics, embryo quality, and ultimately the quality of embryo transfer. In the order of significance the two parameters that influence the outcome of IVF most are the age of the female patient (or the egg donor) followed by the quality of the embryo(s) transferred. It is well established that the morphological characteristics and the quality of the embryos are largely dependent on the oocyte (Hum Reprod 12:1750–5, 1997; Hum Reprod 12:1267–70, 1997; Fertil Steril 72:240–4, 1999; J Assist Reprod Genet 16:287–93, 1999). A combination of sperm characteristics such as concentration, morphology, and motility offers some predictive value as it relates to the fertilization of oocytes in vitro; however, their importance in predicting embryo morphology is controversial. In fact the contribution of sperm to the process of reproduction can be divided into three steps: (1) transfer of paternal genome to the oocyte; (2) activation of the oocyte; and (3) transfer of centriole/centrosome to the oocyte to assist in the organization of mitotic spindle. It is only logical to assume that any abnormality or defect in the spermatozoon fertilizing the oocyte will be reflected in the embryonic development and pregnancy outcome following transfer of the embryo. The term “embryo quality” generally refers to the morphological assessment of the embryo; however, in terms of implantation potential the embryo quality suitably includes criteria such as the rate of embryonic cleavage and its genetic (chromosomal) status. Several publications have analyzed the relationship between sperm morphology and implantation and/or pregnancy outcome with little or no mention of embryo quality. Since successful implantation and clinical pregnancies are indirect indication of potentially good quality embryos, these studies have been included in this review.


Hyaluronic Acid Fertilization Rate Embryo Quality Sperm Head Sperm Morphology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IVF LaboratoryCenter for Reproductive MedicineOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Andrology Laboratory and Reproductive Tissue BankGlickman Urological and Kidney InstituteClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Center for Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

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