Background Little is known about semen parameters among men attending Sexual Health clinics. The significance of asymptomatic non-specific urethritis is controversial.
Aims (1) To investigate whether there is a higher incidence of abnormalities in the semen of men with urethritis compared to controls. (2) To investigate whether asymptomatic urethritis has similar effects (if any) on semen to symptomatic urethritis.
Objective To conduct a case-control study of abnormalities in the semen of Sexual Health clinic attendees compared to General Practice controls.
Methods Rates of semen abnormalities were compared between the different groups (19 with symptomatic and 27 with asymptomatic NSU, seven with symptomatic non-NSU and 64 clinic controls) and between clinic attendees and 417 patients attending general practice for the first investigation of possible infertility.
Results 117 clinic volunteers were included in the study. They were shown to have statistically significantly worse total sperm counts (p=0.002), volume of semen (p<0.001) and percentage of abnormal forms (p<0.04) compared to 417 GP controls. Compared to the rest of the clinic volunteers, asymptomatic NSU patients had statistically significantly lower total sperm counts (p<0.02). Asymptomatic NSU patients had statistically significantly lower total sperm counts compared to symptomatic NSU patients (p<0.02). Compared to GP controls, clinic controls had statistically significantly inferior total sperm counts (p=0.009) and semen volume (p<0.001).
Conclusions Sexual Health clinic attendees are more likely to have abnormalities of semen than patients attending general practice for a first check for possible infertility. A high rate of abnormal semen findings are found in patients with and without NSU but the highest rate occurred in those with asymptomatic NSU. Is asymptomatic NSU therefore pathogenic and does it require treatment like symptomatic NSU?
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