Deleterious impact of COVID-19 pandemic: Male fertility was not out of the bag.

The emergence and the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) induced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has multiple consequences in all countries around the world. Male germ cells of infertile patients which are shown to be vulnerable to many environmental conditions, could be particularly vulnerable to such an exceptional pandemic situation. We aimed through the current study to investigate the potential variations in sperm quality of infertile patients during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tunisia.

This was a cohort study including 90 infertile patients addressed to Laboratory of Cytogenetics and Reproductive Biology of Monastir Department of Maternity and Neonatology in Monastir, during the two first COVID-19 waves in Tunisia and who already have a spermogram before the pandemic period.

We have pointed out a significant decrease in both total and progressive sperm motility during COVID-19 pandemic (p<0.0001 and p = 0.001 respectively). The percentage of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa increased from 90.99±7.38 to 93.67±4.55% during the pandemic (p< 0.001). The remaining sperm parameters were similar between the two compared timepoints. Interestingly, the univariate analysis didn't show any other associated factor to the observed impairment in sperm mobility and morphology.

These data highlight the severe impact of the pandemic of the male reproductive health of hypofertile patients. Delaying infertility investigations and management after pandemic waves is recommended to hope a better gamete quality and hence to improve conception potential.

PloS one. 2023 May 08*** epublish ***

Siwar Garrouch, Amira Sallem, Manel Ben Fredj, Rim Kooli, Manel Bousabbeh, Ines Boughzala, Asma Sriha, Awatef Hajjaji, Meriem Mehdi

Laboratory of Cytogenetics and Reproductive Biology, Maternity and Neonatology Center, Fattouma Bourguiba University Teaching Hospital, Monastir, Tunisia., Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Fattouma Bouguiba University Hospital, University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia., Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Maternity and Neonatology Center, Fattouma Bourguiba University Teaching Hospital, Monastir, Tunisia.