Sperm Agglutination

Last Updated: March 9, 2020

Definition - What does Sperm Agglutination mean?

Sperm agglutination is when sperm stick clump together. It is usually measured as a percentage of sperm in a sample that has become stuck together. When sperm agglutinate, they cannot swim properly and will be unable to fertilize an egg.

Therefore, sperm agglutination can cause fertility issues in men.

FertilitySmarts explains Sperm Agglutination

Sperm analysis will measure the motility (movement), morphology (shape), and agglutination (sticking together) of sperm. Results of this test will categorize sperm agglutination by the number of sperm cells stuck together in a group, called an agglutinate. The grading system is as follows:

  • Grade 1, Isolated: <10 sperm cells per agglutinate, many mobile sperm
  • Grade 2, Moderate: 10–50 sperm cells per agglutinate, many mobile sperm
  • Grade 3, Strong: > 50 sperm cells, only a few mobile sperm
  • Grade 4, Complete: completely agglutinated spermatozoa, no mobile sperm visible

The most common cause of sperm agglutination is the presence of anti-sperm antibodies. 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.

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