Duration of Infertility Associated With Sperm Concentration in Men

sperm, artwork
sperm, artwork
A longer duration of infertility was associated with lower sperm concentrations and higher rates of azoospermia in men with primary infertility.

A longer duration of infertility was associated with lower sperm concentrations and higher rates of azoospermia in men with primary infertility, according to study findings published in BJU International.

Some prior research has indicated that an increasing duration of infertility is associated with a significant decrease in live-birth rates, but information examining the relationship between duration of infertility and reproductive parameters and outcomes in real-world settings is limited. In this study, researchers assessed the relationship between duration of infertility and semen parameters in a cohort of 1644 men seeking their first medical help for primary infertility. Patients were categorized according to their self-reported duration of infertility into 12-month time frames.

The median age at first presentation was 37 years and median duration of infertility was 18 months. When duration of infertility was divided into 12-month time frames, patient age (P <.001) and body mass index (P <.001) both significantly increased as duration of infertility increased. There were no differences between groups across the Charlson Comorbidity Index, smoking status, testicular volume, and rate of cryptorchidism, and hormone levels were also similar. However, a significant decrease in sperm concentration was observed as duration of infertility increased (P =.01) and idiopathic nonobstructive azoospermia was higher in men with longer duration of infertility (P =.03).

The researchers suggested that these results require external validation with a larger, more diverse sample. The cross-sectional nature of the data also cannot infer causation between duration of infertility and semen parameters.

“As a whole, [duration of infertility] should be considered as a potential risk factor for impaired reproductive parameters in the everyday clinical setting,” the researchers concluded. “[Greater] public awareness of the negative association between [duration of infertility] and semen parameters in infertile couples should be promoted.”

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Boeri L, Ventimiglia E, Capogrosso P, et al. The duration of infertility affects semen parameters in primary infertile men: results of a single-centre, cross sectional study [published online December 4, 2018]. BJU Int. doi:10.1111/bju.14613