Highlights: Semen Microbiome, Sperm Impact, and Male Fertility

sperm trying to reach egg imitated by fruit
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PMID: 32794312 DOI: 10.1111/andr.12886

  • Male factor is regarded as being the cause of up to 50 percent of cases of infertility.
  • Studies demonstrate that bacteria can affect sperm function negatively.
  • Utilizing the next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques have provided a better understanding of the human microbiome.
  • Dysbiosis has been reported to impact health.
  • Dysbiosis is a term for a microbial imbalance on or inside the body, such as an impaired microbiota.
  • Evidence regarding the impact of the semen microbiome on sperm function and fertility remains contradictory.
  • The databases MEDLINE, OVID and PubMed were searched to identify English language studies related to the identification of bacteria in the semen of infertile and fertile men between 1992-2019.
  • The research included 55 observational studies with 51299 subjects.
  • The research included studies identifying bacteria using NGS, culture or polymerase chain reaction.
  • The semen microbiome was rich and diverse in both fertile and infertile men.
  • Three NGS studies reported clustering of the seminal microbiome with a predominant species.
  • Lactobacillus and Prevotella were dominant in respective clusters.
  • Lactobacillus was associated with improvements in semen parameters.
  • Prevotella appeared to influence a negative effect on sperm quality.
  • Bacteriospermia negatively impacted sperm concentration and progressive motility, and DNA fragmentation index.
  • Progressive motility refers to sperm that are swimming in a mostly straight line or large circles.
  • Sperm DNA fragmentation index reflects the integrity of and the damage to the DNA, the genetic material of the sperm, thereby detecting potential sperm damage, and it is considered a crucial indicator in evaluating semen quality.
  • There was an increased prevalence of Ureaplasma urealyticum in infertile men.
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum negatively impacted concentration and morphology.
  • There was no difference in the prevalence of chlamydia trachomatis between fertile and infertile men and no significant impact on semen parameters.
  • Enterococcus faecalis negatively impacted total motility.
  • Mycoplasma hominis negatively impacted sperm concentration, progressive motility and morphology.



Tamboli CP, Neut C, Desreumaux P, Colombel JF (January 2004). “Dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel disease”Gut53 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1136/gut.53.1.1PMC 1773911PMID 14684564.

Moos WH, Faller DV, Harpp DN, Kanara I, Pernokas J, Powers WR, Steliou K (2016). “Microbiota and Neurological Disorders: A Gut Feeling”BioResearch Open Access5 (1): 137–145. doi:10.1089/biores.2016.0010PMC 4892191PMID 27274912As reviewed in this report, synthetic biology shows potential in developing microorganisms for correcting pathogenic dysbiosis (gut microbiota-host maladaptation), although this has yet to be proven.



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