RESEARCH QUESTIONS: Can a previously defined relationship between sperm capacitation and the probability of a man generating pregnancy within three cycles, prospectively predict male fertility in diverse clinical settings? A second study asked, what is the prevalence of impaired sperm fertilizing ability in men questioning their fertility (MQF), and does this relate to traditional semen analysis metrics?
DESIGN: In the multicentric, prospective observational study, data (n = 128; six clinics) were analysed to test a published relationship between the percentage of fertilization-competent, capacitated spermatozoa (Cap-Score) and probability of generating pregnancy (PGP) within three cycles of intrauterine insemination. Logistic regression of total pregnancy outcomes (n = 252) assessed fit. In the cohort comparison, Cap-Scores of MQF (n = 2155; 22 clinics) were compared with those of 76 fertile men.
RESULTS: New outcomes (n = 128) were rank-ordered by Cap-Score and divided into quintiles (25-26 per group); chi-squared testing revealed no difference between predicted and observed pregnancies (P = 0.809). Total outcomes (n = 252; 128 new + 124 previous) were pooled and the model recalculated, yielding an improved fit (P < 0.001). Applying the Akaike information criterion found that the optimal model used Cap-Score alone. Cap-Scores were performed on 2155 men (with semen analysis data available for 1948). To compare fertilizing ability, men were binned by PGP (≤19%, 20-29%, 30-39%, 40-49%, 50-59%, ≥60%). Distributions of PGP and the corresponding Cap-Scores were significantly lower in MQF versus fertile men (P < 0.001). Notably, 64% of MQF with normal volume, concentration and motility (757/1183) had PGP of 39% or less (Cap-Scores ≤31), versus 25% of fertile men.
CONCLUSIONS: Sperm capacitation prospectively predicted male fertility. Impaired capacitation affects many MQF with normal semen analysis results, informing diagnosis versus idiopathic infertility.
Keywords: Andrology Assisted reproduction Diagnostic Infertility Pregnancy Real world data Real world evidence