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Interpretive Handbook

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Test 8893 :
WHO Morphology

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Infertility affects 1 out of 6 couples of child-bearing age. Approximately 40% of infertility has a female-factor cause and 40% a male-factor cause. The remaining 20% of infertility is due to a combination of male- and female-factor disorders or is unexplained.


Male fertility can be adversely affected by a number of causes, including sperm with abnormal morphology. The World Health Organization morphology third edition procedure provides a rapid, subjective estimate of sperm shape and size, and reports the presence of WBCs and germinal cells. High numbers of germinal cells and WBCs are indicative of possible disorders in spermatogenesis and genital tract infection, respectively.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Determining male fertility status

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Teratospermia, a morphology score of <15% normal oval sperm heads, is associated with impaired fertility. This association is variable and does not rule-out normal fertility.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

A morphology score of <15% normal oval sperm heads does not rule-out fertility.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

Morphology: > or =15% normal oval sperm heads

Germinal cells/mL

<4 x 10(6) (normal)

> or =4 x 10(6) (Elevated germinal cells in semen are of unknown clinical significance)


<1 x 10(6) (normal)

> or =1 x 10(6) (Elevated white blood cells in semen are of questionable clinical significance)

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Kruger Morphology Conference, Boston, MA, October 9, 1993

2. The World Health Organization Laboratory Manual for the examination of human semen and sperm-cervical mucus interaction. Third Edition. Cambridge University Press, 1992