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Abstract

Volume 11, Issue 5 (September 2009) 11, 609–615; 10.1038/aja.2009.46

Human semen hyperviscosity: prevalence, pathogenesis and therapeutic aspects

Jlenia Elia1, Michele Delfino1, Norina Imbrogno1, Francesca Capogreco1, Marco Lucarelli2, Tiziana Rossi1 and Fernando Mazzilli1

1 Department of Medical Physiopathology, University of Rome, Sapienza, Rome 00189, Italy
2 Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, University of Rome, Sapienza, Rome 00189, Italy

Correspondence: Prof. Fernando Mazzilli,fernando.mazzilli@uniroma1.it

Received 22 January 2009; Revised 16 June 2009; Accepted 2 July 2009; Published online 24 August 2009.

Abstract

The aims of this study were (a) to determine the prevalence of subjects with semen hyperviscosity (SHV) in a large population of male partners of subfertile couples; (b) to identify any correlation between SHV and infections or inflammation of the genital tract; (c) to assess the effects of therapeutic approaches for treating SHV; and (d) to assess sperm kinetic parameters after successful treatment of SHV. A retrospective study of 1 833 male partners of subfertile couples was conducted. Next, clinical, seminal, bacteriological and ultrasound studies involving 52 subjects suffering from SHV were performed, and the SHV was classified as being mild (length of thread > 2 cm and 4 cm), moderate (> 4 cm and 6 cm) or severe (> 6 cm). The prevalence of SHV was observed in 26.2% (480) of the subjects, with 13.2% suffering from mild, 6.6% from moderate and 6.4% from severe SHV. Treatment was completely successful in only 27 subjects (52.0%), primarily in those who had mild basal SHV with a positive semen culture. In these subjects, progressive motility percentage, straight line velocity and linearity were significantly higher than pre-treatment levels. SHV is often found in subjects with subfertility. Pathogenesis was strictly related to infective/inflammatory factors in only 48.0% of cases; therefore, it is possible that biochemical, enzymatic or genetic factors have a role in this condition.

Keywords: genital tract infection, genital tract inflammation, genital tract ultrasound, semen culture, semen hyperviscosity (SHV), sperm motility

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