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Laboratory Semen Assessment and Prediction of Fertility: still Utopia?*


  • H Rodríguez-Martínez

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden
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    Edited by D. Rath.

Author's address (for correspondence): H Rodríguez-Martínez, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Ullsvägen 14 C, Clinical Centre, P.O. Box 7039 Ultuna, SE-750 07, Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:


Finding a laboratory test reliable enough to predict the potential fertility of a given semen sample or a given sire for artificial insemination (AI) is still considered utopian, as indicated by the modest correlations seen between results obtained in vitro and field fertility. Male fertility is complex, and depends upon a heterogeneous population of spermatozoa interacting at various levels of the female genital tract, the vestments of the oocyte, and the oocyte itself. For this reason, laboratory assessment of semen must include the testing of most sperm attributes relevant for fertilization and embryo development, not only in individual spermatozoa but within a large sperm population as well. Strategies for the discovery of in vitro predictors of semen fertility require evaluations of low sperm doses for AI, so that differences in innate in vivo fertility can be accurately detected.