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Andrologia. 2008 Apr;40(2):92-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2007.00819.x.

Chronic epididymitis: impact on semen parameters and therapeutic options.

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Department of Dermatology, Andrology Unit, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.


Chronic inflammatory conditions of the genital tract are frequently encountered in male fertility problems. The diagnosis, however, is hampered by a mostly asymptomatic course of the disease as well as inappropriate definitions and unspecific diagnostic criteria. With regard to their impact on male reproductive function, epididymitis seems to be more relevant than inflammation/infection of the prostate and/or seminal vesicles. Chronic epididymitis may result in reduced sperm count and motility. Impaired sperm motility because of epididymal dysfunction is frequently associated with an atypical staining behaviour of sperm tails. In many cases of chronic epididymitis, the number of leukocytes in the ejaculate is below the threshold of 10(6) per ml; therefore, consideration of additional markers of inflammation such as granulocyte elastase, pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. interleukin-6 or 8) or reactive oxygen species is helpful for establishing the diagnosis. Besides changes in the conventional sperm parameters, alterations in DNA integrity have been observed. Positive effects of antiphlogistic/antibiotic treatment on semen quality have been reported; however, controlled prospective studies are still lacking.

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