• fertile men;
  • semen donors;
  • semen quality;
  • sperm concentration;
  • sperm morphology;
  • sperm motility


Although it has been suspected that there is a decrease in semen quality over time, the results reported to date remain debatable because of methodological issues. The aim of the study reported here was to investigate the evolution of semen quality over time in a population of 1114 fertile candidates for sperm donation at CECOS, Tours, between 1976 and 2009. We investigated semen volume, sperm concentration, progressive motility, vitality, percentage of normal forms and multiple abnormalities index of the first ejaculate in this population. We did not find a decline in semen volume, whereas we observed a significant decrease in total sperm count (from 443.2 million in 1976 to 300.2 million in 2009), motility (from 64% in 1976 to 49% in 2009) and vitality (from 88% to 80%). Moreover, a significant decline in the percentage of normal forms was noted between 1976 and 1997 (from 67% to 26%) with a steady rise in the multiple abnormalities index between 1998 and 2009 (from 1.19 to 1.65). This study involving a population of fertile men from a restricted area revealed various degrees of decline in semen parameters over a period of 34 years. These findings will have to be compared with findings in other geographical areas.