Impact of seasonal variation, age and smoking status on human semen parameters: The Massachusetts General Hospital experience

  • Zuying Chen
  • Linda Godfrey-Bailey
  • Isaac Schiff
  • Russ Hauser
Open Access



To investigate the relationship of human semen parameters with season, age and smoking status.


The present study used data from subjects recruited into an ongoing cross-sectional study on the relationship between environmental agents and semen characteristics. Our population consisted of 306 patients who presented to the Vincent Memorial Andrology Laboratory of Massachusetts General Hospital for semen evaluation. Sperm concentration and motility were measured with computer aided sperm analysis (CASA). Sperm morphology was scored using Tygerberg Kruger strict criteria. Regression analyses were used to investigate the relationships between semen parameters and season, age and smoking status, adjusting for abstinence interval.


Sperm concentration in the spring was significantly higher than in winter, fall and summer (p < 0.05). There was suggestive evidence of higher sperm motility and percent of sperm with normal morphology in the spring than in the other seasons. There were no statistically significant relationships between semen parameters and smoking status, though current smokers tended to have lower sperm concentration. We also did not find a statistically significant relationship between age and semen parameters.


We found seasonal variations in sperm concentration and suggestive evidence of seasonal variation in sperm motility and percent sperm with normal morphology. Although smoking status was not a significant predictor of semen parameters, this may have been due to the small number of current smokers in the study.



This study was funded by support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant # ES09718 and ES00002).

The authors thank Lucille Pothier, Computer Programmer at the Harvard School of Public Health, for assistance with data analysis. We also thank Ana Trisini, (Research Assistant at Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health) for assistance with manuscript editing and Nelta Mercedat Lozius (Clinical Laboratory Assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital, Obstetrics & Gynecology Services) for assistance with analysis the samples.


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Copyright information

© Chen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zuying Chen
    • 1
  • Linda Godfrey-Bailey
    • 2
  • Isaac Schiff
    • 1
  • Russ Hauser
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Vincent Memorial Obstetrics & Gynecology ServiceAndrology Laboratory and In Vitro Fertilization Unit, Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental HealthOccupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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