Semen infections in men with primary infertility in the real-life setting

Luca Boeri, Filippo Pederzoli, Paolo Capogrosso, Costantino Abbate, Massimo Alfano, Nicasio Mancini, Massimo Clementi, Emanuele Montanari, Francesco Montorsi, Andrea Salonia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To study the impact of asymptomatic semen infections on seminal parameters in men presenting for primary couple's infertility. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Academic center. Patients: Socio-demographic, clinical, and laboratory data from 1689 infertile men were analyzed. Intervention(s): Semen analysis was based on 2010 World Health Organization reference criteria. Each patient underwent semen culture test to identify common urogenital pathogens. Infections by Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, and Chlamydia spp. were evaluated through a real time polymerase chain reaction platform. Descriptive statistics and linear and logistic regression models were used to test the association between semen infections and clinical, seminal, and hormonal parameters. Main Outcome Measure(s): Prevalence of asymptomatic semen infection and impact of semen infection on sperm parameters. Results: Of 1689 men, 354 (21.0%) had an asymptomatic positive semen culture. Ureaplasma urealyticum (37.6%) was the most frequent single pathogen, followed by Enterobacteriaceae (any type; 24.8%), other pathogens (20.3%), Chlamydia trachomatis (3.4%) and Mycoplasma spp (3.4%). Positive semen cultures were associated with lower sperm concentrations (P<0.001) and progressive motility (P<.001). These latter findings were mostly particular to men with infections caused by Ureaplasma urealyticum compared with negative semen cultures. A positive semen culture was both univariably (P<.001) and multivariably (P=.04) associated with a lower sperm concentration. Conclusion: One out of five men presenting for a couple's primary infertility had asymptomatic semen infections, which were significantly associated with impaired sperm concentration. These observations point out the importance of an accurate investigation of semen infection in the everyday clinical practice diagnostic workup of infertile men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1174-1182
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Male infertility
  • risk factors
  • semen analysis
  • semen culture
  • urogenital infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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