Failure of fertilization in in vitro fertilization: The "Occult" male factor

Sergio Oehninger, Anibal A. Acosta, Thinus Kruger, Lucinda L. Veeck, Jill Flood, Howard W. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Failure of fertilization in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) deserves extensive analysis for better prediction of the success or failure of this therapeutic modality. Consequently, we retrospectively studied the 52 couples in whom fertilization failed during Norfolk series 18 to 25, in an effort to establish the precise causes of failure. In the initial evaluation, pure oocyte abnormalities were identified in 19.2% of the cases; 32.6% showed sperm abnormalities, and a combination of oocyte and sperm anomalies was found in 7.7%. In 40.4% of the cases, failure of fertilization could not be explained. Re-assessment of sperm morphology by new, strict criteria increased the identification of sperm abnormalities to 61.5% and of combined sperm and oocyte anomalies to 13.4%, for a total of 74.9% of sperm factors involved, as opposed to 40.3% in the original evaluation. The incidence of unexplained failed fertilization was substantially reduced, to 11.5%. In a control group (tubal infertility) matched by age, date, and stimulation, in whom fertilization occurred, 83.3% had normal sperm parameters as judged by the new criteria for morphology evaluation. This paper emphasizes the need for a more accurate diagnosis of sperm abnormalities to establish the true incidence of this factor in failed fertilization and to obtain information of prognostic value to patients and clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 1988


  • abnormal sperm morphology
  • failure of fertilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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