Longitudinal semen parameter assessments and live birth: variability and implications for treatment strategies

Semen parameters are critical for couples undergoing ovulation induction/intrauterine insemination, whereas only low morphology was important to live birth after in vitro fertilization, providing evidence about which parameters are the most relevant in which settings.

VOLUME 118, ISSUE 5, P852-863


Elizabeth A. DeVilbiss, Ph.D., Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Ph.D., C. Matthew Peterson, M.D., James M. Hotaling, M.D., James L. Mills, M.D., Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., Douglas T. Carrell, Ph.D., Erica Johnstone, M.D., Zhen Chen, Ph.D., Neil J. Perkins, Ph.D., Ginny Ryan, M.D., Enrique F. Schisterman, Ph.D., Sunni L. Mumford, Ph.D.



To examine whether semen parameters are associated with live birth among couples seeking infertility treatment after accounting for semen parameter variability.


Folic Acid and Zinc Supplementation Trial (FAZST) prospective cohort.


Four US reproductive endocrinology and infertility care study centers, 2013-2017.


Couples (n = 2,369) seeking fertility consultations at 4 US infertility care study centers.


Semen volume, pH, sperm viability, morphology, progressive and total motility, concentration, count, and total and progressive motile count assessed at baseline and at 2, 4, and 6 months after enrollment.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Log-binomial models stratified by fertility treatment received (in vitro fertilization [IVF], intrauterine insemination [IUI], ovulation induction [OI], or no treatment) estimated risk differences (RDs) between semen parameter quartiles and live birth and accounted for multiple semen assessments per person. We accounted for abstinence time, the biological interdependence of semen parameters, and potential selection bias because of loss to follow-up.


Among couples using OI only or no treatment, 39% had a live birth, and relative to the highest quartile, the lowest quartiles of morphology (RD, −19 [95% CI, −23 to −15] per 100 couples), motility (RD, −13 [95% CI, −17 to −9]), concentration (RD, −22 [95% CI, −26 to −19]), and total motile count (RD, −18 [95% CI, −22 to −14]) were associated with fewer live births. For IUI, 26% had a live birth, and the lowest quartiles of volume (RD, −6 [95% CI, −11 to −0.4]), concentration (RD, −6 [95% CI, −11 to −0.1]), count (RD, −10 [95% CI, −15 to −4]), and total motile count (RD, −7 [95% CI, −13 to −1]) were associated with fewer live births. For IVF, 61% had a live birth, and only morphology (Q1 RD, −7 [95% CI, −14 to 0.2]; Q2 RD, −10 [95% CI, −17 to −2.2]) was associated with live birth.


Semen parameters are critical in couples undergoing OI/IUI. Only low morphology was important for live birth after IVF. Although data supporting the use of semen parameters are fragmented across differing populations, current findings are generalizable across the range of male fertility and couple fertility treatments, providing evidence about which semen parameters are most relevant in which settings.

Clinical Trial Registration Number


Please sign in or register for FREE

Your Fertility and Sterility Dialog login information is not the same as your ASRM or EES credentials. Users must create a separate account to comment or interact on the Dialog.