Global trends in semen quality of young men: a systematic review and regression analysis

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2023 Aug;40(8):1807-1816. doi: 10.1007/s10815-023-02859-z. Epub 2023 Jun 19.


Purpose: Many studies have reported declines in semen quality mainly focused on total sperm counts (TSC) and sperm concentration (SC), ignoring the importance of progressive motile sperm (PR), total motile sperm (TM), and normal morphological sperm (NM). Therefore, we performed a comprehensive meta-analysis to explore the trend in semen quality of young men.

Methods: We searched 3 English databases and 4 Chinese databases from January 1980 to August 2022. Random-effect meta-analyses and weighted linear regression models were conducted to perform the trend in semen quality.

Results: Finally, 162 eligible studies including 264,665 men from 28 countries were got between 1978 and 2021. Significant decreases were observed in TSC (- 3.06 million/year, 95% CI - 3.28 to - 2.84), SC (- 0.47 million/ml/year, 95% CI - 0.51 to - 0.43), and PR (- 0.15%/year, 95% CI - 0.20 to - 0.09), and there was an upward trend in TM (0.28%/year, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.32). The results of meta-regression analyses indicated that age, continent, income, WHO criteria, and abstinence time significantly impacted on TSC, SC, PR, and TM. Positive regression coefficients were observed in some categories suggesting that outcomes might not be declining and even increasing in these subgroups.

Conclusions: Downward trends in semen quality among global young men were observed in our study, including TSC, SC, and PR. But TM did not appear to be trending down or even to be leveling off. More studies are needed to focus on the causes of the declines.

Keywords: Global trends; Progressive motile sperm; Semen quality; Sperm concentration; Total motile sperm; Total sperm counts.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Semen Analysis*
  • Semen*
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa