Causes of male infertility: a 9-year prospective study on 1737 patients with reduced sperm counts

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Nelson Vergel

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"The primary cause of infertility was defined for 695 of 1737 patients (~40%).

The analyzed causal factors could be divided into absolute (secondary hypogonadism, genetic causes, seminal tract obstruction), severe (oncological diseases, severe sexual dysfunction) and plausible causal factors (congenital anomalies in uro-genital tract, acquired or secondary testicular damage). The latter were also detected for 11 (3.4%) men with proven fertility (diagnoses: unilateral cryptorchidism, testis cancer, orchitis, mumps orchitis).

The causal factors behind the most severe forms of impaired spermatogenesis were relatively well understood; causes were assigned: for aspermia in 46/46 cases (100%), for azoospermia in 321/388 cases (82.7%), and for cryptozoospermia in 54/130 cases (41.5%). In contrast, 75% of oligozoospermia cases remained unexplained.

The main cause of aspermia was severe sexual dysfunction (71.7% of aspermia patients). Azoospermia patients accounted for 86.4% of all cases diagnosed with secondary hypogonadism and 97.1% of patients with seminal tract obstruction. Of patients with a known genetic factor, 87.4% had extreme infertility (azoo-, crypto- or aspermia). The prevalence of congenital anomalies in the urogenital tract was not clearly correlated with the severity of impaired sperm production.

Previously defined ‘potential contributing factors' varicocele and leukocytospermia were excluded as the primary causes of male infertility. However, their incidence was >2-fold higher (31.0 vs 13.5% and 16.1 vs 7.4%;
P < 0.001) in the idiopathic infertility group compared to controls. In addition, the proportions of overweight (or obese) patients and patients suffering from a chronic disease were significantly increased in almost all of the patient subgroups."

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