INVITED REVIEW
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-22

Epidemiologic methods for investigating male fecundity


Department of Public Health, Section for Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Correspondence Address:
Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen
Department of Public Health, Section for Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus
Denmark
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.122198

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Fertility is a couple concept that has been measured since the beginning of demography, and male fecundity (his biological capacity to reproduce) is a component of the fertility rate. Unfortunately, we have no way of measuring the male component directly, although several indirect markers can be used. Population registers can be used to monitor the proportion of childless couples, couples who receive donor semen, trends in dizygotic twinning, and infertility diagnoses. Studies using time-to-pregnancy (TTP) may identify couple subfecundity, and TTP data will correlate with sperm quality and quantity as well as sexual activity and a number of other conditions. Having exposure data available for couples with a fecund female partner would make TTP studies of interest in identifying exposures that may affect male fecundity. Biological indicators such as sperm quality and quantity isolate the male component of fertility, and semen data therefore remain an important source of information for research. Unfortunately, often over half of those invited to provide a sperm sample will refuse, and the study is then subject to a selection that may introduce bias. Because the most important time windows for exposures that impair semen production could be early fetal life, puberty, and the time of ejaculation; longitudinal data over decades of time are required. The ongoing monitoring of semen quality and quantity should continue, and surveys monitoring fertility and waiting TTP should also be designed.


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