Ethnicity Affects Sperm Quality in Infertility Patients

Note: All information is embargoed until the time of presentation at the Scientific Congress, unless otherwise indicated.


Embargoed for Release: 12:01 am CDT Monday, October 8, 2018 


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Ethnicity Affects Sperm Quality in Infertility Patients

Researchers from Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan found that semen quality differed significantly between ethnic groups in a retrospective institutional review.  African American men had lower average sperm counts and motility and more abnormal sperm forms than Caucasian men.  And Middle Eastern and African American men were more likely to suffer from azoospermia (no sperm in the ejaculate) than Caucasian men.

Semen analyses done between July 2012 and February 2018 for 240 men with no prior interventions for infertility were reviewed. Of the group’s members, 43% were Caucasian, 27% African American, 13% Middle Eastern, and the rest were of unknown or another ethnicity. Age, BMI, and tobacco use did not differ among the ethnicities.

African American men had significantly lower average sperm values compared to Caucasian men: their total sperm count was 92.43 million vs. 175.23 million; sperm motility was 39.87% vs. 49.22%; and percentage of normal forms was 4.89% vs. 7.28%. Middle Eastern men were more than twice as likely to be azoospermic than Caucasian men: 32.4% vs. 13%.

Peter Schlegel, MD, President Elect of ASRM, commented,” The differences in semen analysis between the three ethnic groups surveyed were striking.  Further research, including sperm DNA analysis, may be informative. It may also be useful to study the impacts of the unique stressors experienced by men of varying ethnicities and whether men living in neighborhoods where populations of a particular ethnicity are concentrated are exposed to more deleterious environmental conditions.  Finally, it is possible that men with different ethnic backgrounds may be more or less likely to seek medical evaluation, altering the observed sperm numbers for individuals that does not reflect a true difference in the entire population of men from various ethnicities.”


ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers. The Society is committed to facilitating and sponsoring educational activities for the lay public and continuing medical education activities for professionals who are engaged in the practice of and research in reproductive medicine. 

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