By Laura Garrido BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 01/05/2015

In the sperm analysis, measuring the concentration of leukocytes present in the sample is part of the routine. If this quantity exceeds one million leukocytes per ml, there’s an alteration named leukocytosis, and a sperm culture is performed, to confirm the presence of a bacterial infection.

If the man is beginning a fertility treatment and the results of these analyses are positive for infection, the detection of the infectious agent and its elimination are needed before beginning the assisted reproduction treatment. Since the body suffers from an infection, the seminal parameters may be affected and not be representative, which means that it can’t be decided which technique is better.

Infectious sources

Bacteria can be located in any organ of the seminal tract, such as the testicles, causing orchiditis, in the epididymis, causing epididymitis, or in the prostate, causing prostatitis.

If there’s an infection at any point of the seminal tract, during the displacement of spermatozoa and seminal fluids there will be a contact between the infected area and the gametes, which could alter their capacity of fertilising the egg.

Sterility causes due to an infection

An infection in the reproductive tract may cause a reduction of the fertility, due to several reasons:

  • Obstruction of the seminal tract: can provoke oligozoospermia, since it prevents the spermatozoa from being expelled normally.
  • Astenozoospermia: the infection may cause adherences that reduce the motility of spermatozoa and difficult their displacement to the egg.
  • Changes in the morphology of spermatozoa: the spermatozoa are continuously being produced in the testicles, process that lasts 60-75 days. If there’s an infection that affects spermatogenesis, the formation of the spermatozoa, it can produce an alteration of the shape of the spermatozoa, which reflexes genetics.
  • Increase in the spermatic DNA fragmentation: the DNA chains that can be found in the head of the spermatozoa are modified, suffering small cuts, which seems to have a negative impact in fertilisation and in the implantation capacity of the embryo, if formed.
  • The production of anti-spermatic antibodies increases: which causes the agglutination of the spermatozoa and reduces the likelihood of fertilising the egg.
  • It can infect the reproductive organs of the woman, since it can propagate through the sperm.

Bacteries responsible for the infection

Treatment of the seminal infections

The way of preventing the complications that an infection can cause is, firstly, the consumption of antibiotics for a while, to eliminate the bacterial agents. Before beginning the ovarian stimulation, if being treated, the experts will wait for the seminal leukocytes levels to return to normality, to avoid the problems that have been mentioned previously in this article.

If the infection was severe, because it hasn’t been eliminated during its first stage through antibiotics, a surgical intervention may be needed to repair the damage. In acute processes, not stopping the infection in time might cause an irreversible sterility.

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Authors and contributors

 Laura Garrido
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) of Seville, Spain. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Experience at IVF, andrology, and general analysis laboratories. Embryologist specialized in Assisted Reproduction. More information
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One comment

    1. merga

      I am a male who has been diagnosed with infertility.

      My results:

      Sperm motility 30%
      Volume 4 ml
      WBC 15-20/pr
      PH 7.8

      Culture: staphylococcus Aureus’s. So, what antibiotic is effective for my treatment?