What Does Sperm Agglutination Mean?
Sperm agglutination refers to sperm clumped together. It is usually measured as a percentage of the total number of sperm in a sample. When sperm agglutinate, they cannot swim properly and cannot fertilize an egg. Therefore, sperm agglutination can cause fertility issues in men.
FertilitySmarts Explains Sperm Agglutination
A typical sperm analysis will measure:
- The number of sperm
- The motility (movement)
- The morphology (shape)
- The agglutination (sticking together) of sperm
The results of this test will categorize sperm agglutination by the number of sperm cells stuck together in a group, called an agglutinate.
Sperm Agglutination Classification
The grading system is as follows:
- Grade 0: no agglutination
- Grade 1, Isolated: <10 sperm cells per agglutinate
- Grade 2, Moderate: 10–50 sperm cells per agglutinate
- Grade 3, Strong: > 50 sperm cells
- Grade 4, Complete: completely agglutinated spermatozoa
What causes agglutination?
While sperm agglutination is thought to be related to the presence of anti-sperm antibodies, other causes include genital trauma (including surgeries), infections and Vitamin C deficiency.
Some types of anti-sperm antibodies will cause the sperm to stick together in huge clumps, preventing them from moving through the cervix and uterus.
Agglutinated sperm can be washed in a laboratory setting and then introduced into a uterus in a process known as intrauterine insemination (IUI).
If this is unsuccessful in producing a pregnancy, in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used to fertilize an egg.