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Volume 14, Issue 5 (September 2012) 14, 683–686; 10.1038/aja.2012.58

Sperm counts and sperm sex ratio in male infertility patients

Michael L Eisenberg1, Lata Murthy2, Kathleen Hwang3, Dolores J Lamb2 and Larry I Lipshultz2

1 Department of Urology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2 Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA 3 Department of Urology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

Correspondence: Dr ML Eisenberg, (eisenberg@stanford.edu)

published online 30 July 2012


In recent years, investigators have noted a trend toward a declining proportion of male births in many industrialized nations. While men bear the sex-determining chromosome, the role of the female partner as it pertains to fertilization or miscarriage may also alter the gender ratio. We attempted to determine a man's secondary sex ratio (F1 generation) by directly examining the sex chromosomes of his sperm. We examined our male infertility clinic database for all men who had undergone a semen fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Patient demographic and semen parameters were recorded. Chi-squared analysis was used to compare gender ratios (Y chromosomes/total chromosomes). Multivariable logistic regression was used to predict the odds of possessing a Y-bearing sperm after accounting for demographic and semen parameters. A total of 185 men underwent sperm FISH. For the entire cohort, the proportion of Y chromosome-bearing sperm was 51.5%. Men with less than five million motile sperm had a significantly lower proportion of Y chromosome-bearing sperm (50.8%) compared to men with higher sperm counts (51.6%; P=0.02). After multivariable adjustment, a higher sperm concentration, total motile sperm count and semen volume significantly increased the odds of having a Y chromosome-bearing sperm (P<0.01). As a man's sperm production declines, so does the proportion of Y chromosome-bearing sperm. Thus, a man's reproductive potential may predict his ability to sire male offspring.

Keywords: infertility; sex ratio; spermatogenesis; sperm chromosomes

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