Background: Urogenital infections and inflammation are a significant etiologic factor in male infertility.
Methods: Data for this review were acquired by a systematic search of the medical literature. Relevant cross-references were also taken into account.
Results: We address infectious and inflammatory diseases of different compartments of the male genital tract and discuss their andrological sequelae. Chronic urethritis might be responsible for silent genital tract inflammation with negative impact on semen quality. In chronic pelvic pain syndrome, morphological abnormalities of spermatozoa and seminal plasma alterations are detectable. In the majority of men with epididymitis, a transient impairment of semen quality can be found during the acute infection. However, persistent detrimental effects are not uncommon, even after complete bacteriological cure. The relevance of chronic viral infections as an etiologic factor in male infertility is believed to be underestimated. Data concerning the impact of HIV infection on male fertility are of increasing interest as with the improvement in life expectancy, issues of sexuality and procreation gain importance. Moreover, effects of noninfectious systemic inflammation on the male reproductive tract have to be considered in patients with metabolic syndrome, a disorder of growing relevance worldwide. Finally, microbiological and related diagnostic findings in urine and semen samples are reviewed according to their relevance for male infertility.
Conclusions: Available data provide sufficient evidence that in men with alterations of the ejaculate, urogenital infections and inflammation have to be considered.