Body mass index in relation to semen quality, sperm DNA integrity, and serum reproductive hormone levels among men attending an infertility clinic

Fertil Steril. 2010 May 1;93(7):2222-31. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.01.100. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Objective: To examine the association between body weight and measures of male reproductive potential.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Fertility clinic in an academic medical center.

Patient(s): Four hundred eighty-three male partners of subfertile couples.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): Standard semen analysis, sperm DNA fragmentation, and serum levels of reproductive hormones.

Result(s): As expected, body mass index (BMI) was positively related to estradiol levels and inversely related to total testosterone and sex hormone-binding glogulin (SHBG) levels. There was also a strong inverse relation between BMI and inhibin B levels and a lower testosterone:LH ratio among men with a BMI > or = 35 kg/m(2). Body mass index was unrelated to sperm concentration, motility, or morphology. Ejaculate volume decreased steadily with increasing BMI levels. Further, men with BMI > or = 35 kg/m(2) had a lower total sperm count (concentration x volume) than normal weight men (adjusted difference in the median [95% confidence interval] = -86 x 10(6) sperm [-134, -37]). Sperm with high DNA damage were significantly more numerous in obese men than in normal-weight men.

Conclusion(s): These data suggest that despite major differences in reproductive hormone levels with increasing body weight, only extreme levels of obesity may negatively influence male reproductive potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Body Mass Index*
  • DNA Fragmentation*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / blood*
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Infertility, Male / physiopathology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Semen / cytology*
  • Semen / metabolism
  • Semen / physiology
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin