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Sperm function test

Sperm function test

Traditionally, the diagnosis of male infertility has depended upon a descriptive evaluation of human semen with emphasis on the number of spermatozoa that are present in the ejaculate, their motility and their morphology. The fundamental tenet underlying this approach is that male fertility can be defined by reference to a threshold concentration of motile, morphologically normal spermatozoa that must be exceeded in order to achieve conception. Many independent studies have demonstrated that this fundamental concept is flawed and, in reality, it is not so much the absolute number of spermatozoa that determines fertility, but their functional competence. In the light of this conclusion, a range of in vitro tests have been developed to monitor various aspects of sperm function including their potential for movement, cervical mucus penetration, capacitation, zona recognition, the acrosome reaction and sperm-oocyte fusion. Such functional assays have been found to predict the fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa in vitro and in vivo with some accuracy. Recent developments in this field include the introduction of tests to assess the degree to which human spermatozoa have suffered oxidative stress as well as the integrity of their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Such assessments not only yield information on the fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa but also their ability to support normal embryonic development.


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