High body mass index has a deleterious effect on semen parameters except morphology: results from a large cohort study

Fertil Steril. 2014 Nov;102(5):1268-73. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.07.1212. Epub 2014 Sep 12.


Objective: To evaluate the influence of body mass index (BMI) on semen characteristics.

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: Single private andrology laboratory.

Patient(s): All patients (n=10,665) consulting for a semen analysis from October 9, 2010, to October 8, 2011. When analyses were repeated on the same patient, only the first was included.

Intervention(s): Recording of self-reported weight and height and of semen analysis.

Main outcome measure(s): All parameters of standard semen analysis: pH, volume, sperm concentration per mL, total sperm count per ejaculate, motility (%) within 1 hour after ejaculation (overall and progressive), viability (%), and normal sperm morphology (%). Parametric and nonparametric statistical methods were applied, and results are given either with mean±SD, or 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles.

Result(s): Semen volume decreased from 3.3±1.6 to 2.7±1.6 mL when BMI increased from normal (20-25 kg/m2) to extreme obesity (>40 kg/m2). The same was true for semen concentration (56.4±54.9 to 39.4±51.0 million/mL), total sperm count (171±170 to 92±95 million), and progressive motility (36.9±16.8% to 34.7±17.1%). The percentage of cases with azoospermia and cryptozoospermia increased from 1.9% to 9.1% and from 4.7% to 15.2%, respectively. The other semen characteristics were not affected. Multivariate models including age and abstinence duration confirmed these results.

Conclusion(s): In this study, on a large patient sample size, increased BMI was associated with decreased semen quality, affecting volume, concentration, and motility. The percentage of normal forms was not decreased.

Keywords: BMI; concentration; morphology; motility; obesity; semen volume.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Causality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Male / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Semen / cytology*
  • Semen / physiology
  • Semen Analysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thinness / epidemiology
  • Thinness / pathology*
  • Young Adult