Age and duration of testosterone therapy predict time to return of sperm count after human chorionic gonadotropin therapy

Fertil Steril. 2017 Feb;107(2):351-357.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.10.004. Epub 2016 Nov 14.


Objective: To determine factors that influence sperm recovery after T-associated infertility.

Design: Clinical retrospective study.

Setting: Academic male-infertility urology clinic.

Patient(s): Sixty-six men who presented with infertility after T use.

Intervention(s): T cessation and combination high-dose hCG and selective estrogen modulator (SERM) therapy.

Main outcome measure(s): Whether patients successfully achieved or failed to achieve a total motile count (TMC) of greater than 5 million sperm within 12 months of T cessation and initiation of therapy.

Result(s): A TMC of greater than 5 million sperm was achieved by 46 men (70%). Both increased age and duration of T use directly correlated with time to sperm recovery at both 6 and 12 months of hCG/SERM therapy. Age more consistently limited sperm recovery, while duration of T use had less influence at 12 months than at 6 months. Only 64.8% of azoospermic men achieved a TMC greater than 5 million sperm at 12 months, compared with 91.7% of cryptozoospermic men, yet this did not predict a failure of sperm recovery.

Conclusion(s): Increasing age and duration of T use significantly reduce the likelihood of recovery of sperm in the ejaculate, based on a criterion of a TMC of 5 million sperm, at 6 and 12 months. Physicians should be cautious in pursuing long-term T therapy, particularly in men who still desire fertility. Using these findings, physicians can counsel men regarding the likelihood of recovery of sperm at 6 and 12 months.

Keywords: Infertility; azoospermia; human chorionic gonadotropin; sperm; spermatogenesis-blocking agents; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Androgens / adverse effects*
  • Azoospermia / chemically induced
  • Azoospermia / diagnosis
  • Azoospermia / drug therapy*
  • Azoospermia / pathology
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / therapeutic use*
  • Fertility Agents, Male / therapeutic use*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / blood
  • Hypogonadism / diagnosis
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Testosterone / adverse effects*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / deficiency
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Androgens
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Fertility Agents, Male
  • Testosterone