Semen culture and the assessment of genitourinary tract infections

Indian J Urol. 2017 Jul-Sep;33(3):188-193. doi: 10.4103/iju.IJU_407_16.


The male factor contributes approximately 50% to infertility-related cases in couples with an estimated 12%-35% of these cases attributable to male genital tract infections. Depending on the nature of the infection, testicular sperm production, sperm transport, and sperm function can be compromised. Yet, infections are potentially treatable causes of infertility. Male genital tract infections are increasingly difficult to detect. Moreover, they often remain asymptomatic ("silent") with the result that they are then passed on to the relevant sexual partner leading to fertilization and pregnancy failure as well as illness of the offspring. With the worldwide increasing problem of antibiotic resistance of pathogens, proper diagnosis and therapy of the patient is important. This testing, however, should include not only aerobic microbes but also anaerobic as these can be found in almost all ejaculates with about 71% being potentially pathogenic. Therefore, in cases of any indication of a male genital tract infection, a semen culture should be carried out, particularly in patients with questionable semen quality. Globally, an estimate of 340 million new infections with sexually transmitted pathogens is recorded annually. Among these, the most prevalent pathogens including Chlamydia trachomatis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Mycoplasma hominis. Escherichia coli are considered the most common nonsexually transmitted urogenital tract microbes. These pathogens cause epididymitis, epididymo-orchitis, or prostatitis and contribute to increased seminal leukocyte concentrations.

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  • Review