Semen parameters are unrelated to BMI but vary with SSRI use and prior urological surgery

Rachna Relwani, Dara Berger, Nanette Santoro, Cheryl Hickmon, Michael Nihsen, Athena Zapantis, Michael Werner, Alex J. Polotsky, Sangita Jindal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: Male infertility affects approximately 6% of reproductive-aged men. It has been suggested that overweight men or men with obese body mass index (BMI) experience prolonged time to pregnancy, though the influence of male BMI on fertility remains understudied. Aims: We hypothesized that BMI is inversely correlated with fertility, manifested by reduced sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. Methods: Males of age 18 to 50 with semen analyses and self-reported BMI were included (n = 530). Patient parameters analyzed included age, BMI, smoking, urological, and fertility history. Leutinizing hormone (LH), Follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, steroid hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and free androgen index (FAI) levels (n = 55), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use (n = 12) were also measured. Results: The men in this study had a mean BMI of 28.2 ± 4.9 kg/m2 (range = 15-60), which is considered overweight, and a mean semen concentration of 55.4 ± 46.8 million/mL, which is in normal range, according to WHO standard. No consistent relationship was observed between increasing BMI and sperm concentration, motility, or morphology, although the testosterone levels trended downward with increasing BMI; there was a suggestion for decreased sperm concentration in current smokers. Men treated with combination SSRI and other psychotropic agent therapy (n = 12) had significantly reduced sperm motility (P =.009). Not unexpectedly, prior urological surgery (n = 77) was associated with lower sperm concentration (P =.0001) and morphology (P =.0008). When in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) was used as a treatment modality (n = 121), male BMI was not a significant predictor of clinical pregnancy (P =.06). Conclusions: In our study, we did not observe a significant association between male BMI and sperm concentration, motility or morphology, or clinical pregnancy following IVF-ET. Significantly, SSRI use may affect sperm parameters negatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-397
Number of pages7
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • BMI
  • SSRI
  • fertility
  • male
  • semen
  • sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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