Concepts in diagnosis and therapy for male reproductive impairment

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2017 Jul;5(7):554-564. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30043-2. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


An accurate medical history and directed physical examination are essential in diagnosis of male infertility. We review the hormonal assessments and specific genetic analyses that are useful additional tests, and detail other evidence-based examinations that are available to help guide therapeutic strategies. By contrast with female infertility treatments-especially hormonal manipulations to stimulate or enhance oocyte production-spermatogenesis and sperm quality abnormalities are much more difficult to affect positively. In general, a healthy lifestyle can improve sperm quality. A few men have conditions in which evidence-based therapies can increase their chances for natural conception. In this second of two papers in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Series on male reproductive impairment, we examine the agreements and controversies that surround several of these conditions. When we are not able to cure, correct, or mitigate the cause of conditions such as severe oligozoospermia, non-remedial ductal obstruction, and absence of sperm fertilising ability, assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), can be used as an adjunctive measure to allow for biological paternity. Not considered possible just two decades ago, azoospermia due to testicular failure, including 47,XXY (Klinefelter syndrome), is now treatable in approximately 50% of cases when combining surgical harvesting of testicular sperm and ICSI. Although genetic fatherhood is now possible for many men previously considered sterile, it is crucial to discover and abrogate causes as best possible, provide reliable and evidenced-based therapy, consider seriously the health and wellness of any offspring conceived, and always view infertility as a possible symptom of a more general or constitutional disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / diagnosis*
  • Infertility, Male / therapy*
  • Male
  • Semen Analysis*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*


  • Biomarkers