IMR Press / JOMH / Volume 17 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.31083/jomh.2021.015
Open Access Original Research
A prospective study of variations in conventional semen parameters among local andrology laboratories
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1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kwong Wah Hospital, Hong Kong
*Correspondence: (Mei Ting Lam)
J. Mens. Health 2021, 17(2), 95–100;
Submitted: 27 November 2020 | Accepted: 24 December 2020 | Published: 8 April 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Introduction: Wide variations in semen parameters exist among different andrology laboratories. This study sought to determine the inter- and intra-technician variations in conventional semen parameters among local andrology laboratories.

Methods: Pooled semen samples were prepared and sent in two batches to participating andrology laboratories. One technician who routinely performed semen analysis in the participating laboratories was asked to analyze the study samples. The inter-technician and intra-technician coefficients of variation (CVs) were calculated. Information on the qualification and training of the participating technicians, the workload of the centers, their techniques and participation in external quality assurance programs were collected and correlated with the CVs.

Results: Eleven andrology laboratories participated in the study. The inter-technician CVs ranged from 14.3% to 44.1% for concentration, 13.8% to 26.2% for progressive motility, and 38.8% to 95.3% for morphology. Andrology laboratories which participated in external quality assurance programs had lower inter-technician CVs for concentration (P = 0.004) and progressive motility (P = 0.002), but not for morphology (P = 0.232). Technicians with more experience or higher workload did not demonstrate lower intra-technician CVs.

Conclusion: There were considerable inter- and intra- technician variations in the assessment of sperm concentration, progressive motility and morphology among local andrology laboratories, independent of the workload and experience of the technicians. Participation in external quality assurance programs reduced inter-technician variations in sperm concentration and progressive motility but not morphology.

Semen analysis
Inter-technician variation
Intra-technician variation
Fig. 1.
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