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Objective: the aim of our study was to put forward insights to treat any possible correlation among sperm quality, sperm DNA damage and male age as they may have fertility implications for men who choose to delay fatherhood.
Materials and methods: Our study is a non-interventional retrospective analysis of 3124 semen samples from patients that were investigated for the conventional semen parameters. Tunel test assay was set up for the evaluation of the sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI). We applied the Kappa index to compare both the 1999 and the 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) reference criteria to evaluate the competence of such semen parameters categorization during the standard routine of our laboratory.
Results: With regards to our findings, it is possible to underline a significant relationship between aging and semen volume (p = 0.001), motility (p = 0.009), semen viscosity (p < 0.003) and sperm DNA damage (p < 0.009). We found a trend when focusing on the semen concentration (p = 0.05). The analysis of sperm morphology did not show any influence with advancing age (p = 0.606). When comparing both the 1999 and the 2010 WHO scales we found no accordance in the appraisal of sperm morphology but a very good one in the evaluation of the other parameters.
Conclusions: Conventional semen analysis represents the opportunity to draw up a proxy insight on the male fertility status even if semen quality can only indirectly assess the probability of pregnancy. Several studies have verified a decay in the male reproductive system, sperm quality and fertility with advancing age although the reported results are not yet conclusive. Our results substantially agree with those findings outlined in the literature. Moreover we find that the discrepancy between the two WHO reference scales would eventually lead to an improper diagnosis of infertility.