Semen quality in a population of volunteers from the province of Barcelona

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      A prospective study was carried out on 1005 male volunteers residing in the province of Barcelona. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their health status and lifestyle, and provided a semen sample for analysis. Sperm concentration and percentages of motile, and normal forms were evaluated. The effect of smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and previous disease on semen parameters was also evaluated. Normal parameters were found in 22% of volunteers and sperm counts and/or percentage motility below normal threshold values were found in 78%. Asthenozoospermia was detected in 62% and oligozoospermia in 17% of volunteers. No statistically significant association was found between semen quality and age, with the exception of a decrease in semen volume (P = 0.04) and progressive motility (P = 0.01). No statistically significant differences in semen parameters were found between smokers and non-smokers or between males who consumed alcohol versus those that did not. However, stress had a negative effect on sperm concentration. In conclusion, the prevalence of normal semen parameters in the study population evaluated was markedly lower than that reported for the general population (60–70%). Since sperm concentration did not appear to decrease with age, the decrease observed in the last decades may be related to exposure to environmental toxicants during the fetal period, as previously suggested.



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      Dr Marisa López-Teijón is the Director of the Service of Reproduction of Institute Marqués in Barcelona and Medical Director of the Centre of Embryo Medicine in Madrid. She is an active member of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology and the Sociedad Española de Fertilidad. She is also member of the Spanish National Commission of Experts in Assisted Reproduction of MUFACE. Her research interests are mainly focused on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the disruption of meiosis in the male germline and the clinical applications of the study of meiosis in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.