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Volume 25, Issue 2 (March 2023) 25, 240–244; 10.4103/aja202278

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on semen quality in male partners of infertile couples: a hospital-based observational study

Tribhuwan Kumar1, Kamlesh Jha1, Md Zabihullah1, Kumari Neelu2, Yogesh Kumar1, Kumar Siddharth1

1 Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna 801507, Bihar, India
2 Akshat Spandan Clinic, Patna 801507, Bihar, India

Correspondence: Dr. M Zabihullah (zabihm81@aiimspatna.org)

Received: 27 June 2022; Accepted: 08 September 2022; published online: 01 November 2022


The effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on male fertility have received considerable attention because human testes contain high levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptors, through which severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can enter. Early studies showed decreases in semen quality during and after recovery from COVID-19. However, no semen quality studies have examined the effects of widespread subclinical and mild disease, as well as changes in lifestyle, psychosocial behavior, intake of dietary supplements, and stress. This cross-sectional study compared semen quality parameters in male partners of infertile couples between men who underwent semen analysis before the COVID-19 pandemic (prepandemic group) and men who underwent semen analysis during the pandemic period (pandemic group); the analysis sought to clarify the overall effects of the pandemic. No participants in the pandemic group had experienced clinically overt disease. Among the 239 participants, mean body weight (P = 0.001), mean body mass index (P < 0.001), median sperm concentration (P = 0.014), total sperm count (P = 0.006), and total percentages of motile (P = 0.013) and abnormal cells (P < 0.001) were significantly greater in the pandemic group (n = 137) than those in the prepandemic group (n = 102). Among abnormal cells, the percentages of cells with excess residual cytoplasm (P < 0.001), head defects (P < 0.001), and tail defects (P = 0.015) were significantly greater in the pandemic group than those in the prepandemic group. With the exception of morphology, the overall semenogram results were better in the pandemic group than those in the prepandemic group.

Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic; male infertility; SARS-CoV-2; semen analysis

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Asian Journal of Andrology CN 31-1795/R ISSN 1008-682X  Copyright © 2023  Shanghai Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  All rights reserved.