Limits of current male fertility testing

Notwithstanding the limitations of semen analysis in terms of intra-laboratory and inter-laboratory variabilities, it remains the cornerstone of the evaluation of male infertility.

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Volume 111, Issue 5, Pages 835–841


Sergio Oehninger, M.D., Ph.D., Willem Ombelet, M.D., Ph.D.


In the current approach to male fertility testing, basic semen analysis has limitations as a predictor of fertility status, and the technology is fraught with variability. Nonetheless, it remains the cornerstone of the evaluation of the male infertility, and we recommend adherence to most recent World Health Organization guidelines. Although the current sperm function tests (bioassays) have important drawbacks, they are still valuable as research tools. Sperm quality assays with analysis of sperm DNA fragmentation need further investigation before they can be recommended for routine clinical use. The answer to the many current challenging questions relies on identifying spermatogenesis pathologies and the resulting sperm dysfunctions at the cellular and molecular levels. New discoveries may bring answers or new avenues to explore.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.