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The combination matters - distinct impact of lifestyle factors on sperm quality: a study on semen analysis of 1683 patients according to MSOME criteria

Johannes Wogatzky1*, Barbara Wirleitner1, Astrid Stecher1, Pierre Vanderzwalmen12, Anton Neyer1, Dietmar Spitzer3, Maximilian Schuff1, Birgit Schechinger1 and Nicolas H Zech1

Author Affiliations

1 IVF Centers Prof Zech-Bregenz, Roemerstrasse 2, Bregenz, 6900, Austria

2 Centre Hospitalier Inter Régional Cavell (CHIREC), 1420 Braine-l‘alleud, Brussels, Belgium

3 IVF Centers Prof Zech-Salzburg, Innsbrucker Bundesstr. 35, Salzburg, 5020, Austria

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2012, 10:115  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-10-115

Published: 24 December 2012



Poor sperm quality can negatively affect embryonic development and IVF outcome. This study is aimed at investigating the influence of various lifestyle factors on semen quality according to MSOME (motile sperm organelle morphology examination) criteria.


1683 male patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in our clinic were surveyed about their age, BMI (body mass index), ejaculation frequency, nutrition, sports, sleeping habits and social behavior. Semen samples were collected and evaluation of semen parameters according to MSOME and WHO criteria was performed. Results were grouped and statistically analyzed.


Although single parameters had minor effects on sperm parameter, the combination of age, BMI, coffee intake, ejaculatory frequency and duration of sexual abstinence were identified as factors having a negative effect on sperm motility. Additionally, we could demonstrate that MSOME quality was reduced. The negative impact of age, BMI and coffee intake on sperm quality could be compensated if patients had a high ejaculation frequency and shorter periods of sexual abstinence.


Combinations of adverse lifestyle factors could have a detrimental impact on sperm, not only in terms of motility and sperm count but also in terms of sperm head vacuolization. This negative impact was shown to be compensated by higher ejaculation frequency and a shorter period of sexual abstinence. The compensation is most likely due to a shorter storage time in the male gonads, thus reducing the duration of sperms’ exposure to reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Sperm quality; MSOME; IMSI; Lifestyle; BMI; Ejaculation frequency; Oxidative stress