Assessing the impact of semen quality on embryo development in an egg donation model


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VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1, P22-29, MARCH 01, 2021


Lusine Aghajanova, M.D., Ph.D., Chia-Ning Kao, M.S., Marcelle Cedars, M.D., Nam Tran, M.D., Ph.D.



To investigate if any of the World Health Organization semen parameters and/or male age are associated with embryo development.


Retrospective chart review between January 2008 and May 2015.


Academic fertility practice.


Anonymous egg donors aged ≤30 years.


Chart review.

Main Outcome Measures

Sperm parameters were evaluated on a continuum and were dichotomized to determine if low values (strict morphology < 4%, concentration < 15 × 106, low motility < 40%) or older age (>50 years) are associated with embryo morphology. Repeated linear regression measures to determine the associations and multivariate testing to determine independent effects for each predictor were performed.


Three hundred eighty-four donors with 574 egg donation cycles were identified, and 205 subjects with 275 cycles were included in the final analysis. The mean donor age was 25.31 ± 2.81 years, with a mean antral follicle count of 28.09 ± 10.5. The mean male age was 43.25 ± 6.65 years. The mean World Health Organization semen parameters at fertilization were 55.8 × 106 ± 44.3 × 106/mL concentration, 44.8% ± 20.2% motility, and 6.9% ± 5.3% strict morphology. Neither male age nor sperm morphology was associated with embryo morphology. A low total motile count was significantly associated with a higher cell number in day-3 embryos and a 1.56-times higher chance of poor day-3 cell symmetry. There was no statistically significant difference in blastocyst formation, clinical pregnancy, or live-birth rates.


Although statistically significant, the effect of the low total motile count on day-3 cell number and cell symmetry are likely clinically insignificant. Male age, race, or poor sperm morphology were not associated with a poor cycle outcome or impaired embryo development. The use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection likely alleviates the negative effect of diminished semen quality on treatment outcome.

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.