Obesity and age affect male fertility potential

3 min

Background

Age-related testicular alterations have been shown to be associated with poorer semen parameters and decreased testosterone levels. The association between body mass index (BMI) and sperm quality or number is not clearly defined. 

Aim

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between BMI, age, semen quality, and fertility-related hormones in a large group of patients undergoing investigations for infertility.

Methods

A case-cohort study of 2,157 patients being investigated for infertility, aged 17-67 years, was performed to assess the impact of BMI and age on male fertility.

The following semen parameters were measured: total sperm counts (TSC); total count of sperm with normal morphology (TCN); percent of motile spermatozoa. Serum concentrations of testosterone (T), inhibin-B, LH and FSH were also measured.

Unpaired Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to test differences in various sperm and hormone measures across BMI groups. Spearman rank correlation coefficients were calculated to look at associations between pairs of linear variables.

Multiple linear regression was performed with BMI and age as dependent variables and an age x BMI interaction term.

Result

Based on BMI categories, 5% of the cohort was underweight, 46% normal weight, 38% overweight and 11% obese. Age increased across BMI groups. TSC and TCN were lower in overweight and obese men compared to normal weight.

Obese men also had significantly lower serum concentrations of T and inhibin-B.

Multiple regression analysis across the total cohort showed only age to be significantly correlated with all spermiogram parameters and serum hormones, but in patients aged 20-30 years (n = 617) the total sperm count was significantly negatively correlated with body mass index.

Conclusion

The study showed that semen quality in general was more closely associated with age than BMI. However, a normal BMI appeared to be related to total sperm count in men of prime reproductive age i.e. 20-30 years.


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