Mens body mass index in relation to embryo quality and clinical outcomes in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization

Men’s body mass index was not associated with clinical outcomes among couples undergoing conventional IVF, but male obesity was related to lower odds of live birth after intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Daniela S. Colaci, M.D., M.Sc., Myriam Afeiche, Ph.D., M.P.H., Audrey J. Gaskins, B.S.E., Diane L. Wright, Ph.D., Thomas L. Toth, M.D., Cigdem Tanrikut, M.D., Russ Hauser, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D.

Volume 98, Issue 5, Pages 1193-1199.e1, November 2012


To evaluate the association between men’s body mass index (BMI), early embryo quality and clinical outcomes in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization.

Prospective cohort study.

Fertility clinic in an academic medical center.

114 couples that underwent 172 ART cycles.


Main outcome measure:
Fertilization rate, embryo quality, implantation rate, clinical pregnancy rate, and live birth rate.

The fertilization rate was higher among obese men than among normal weight men in conventional IVF cycles. No statistically significant associations were found between men’s BMI and the proportion of poor-quality embryos on day 3, slow embryo cleavage rate, or accelerated embryo cleavage rate. Men’s BMI was unrelated to positive β-human chorionic gonadotropin rate, clinical pregnancy rate, or live-birth rate per embryo transfer. Among couples undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection, the odds of live birth in couples with obese male partners was 84% lower than the odds in couples with men with normal BMI.

Our data suggest a possible deleterious effect of male obesity on the odds of having a live birth among couples undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

  • NicoGarrido

    Dear Dr Colaci, congratulations for your interesting paper

    Many different papers can be found throughout the literature trying to address the
    relationship between male obesity, sperm count and few included reproductive
    results when using ART.

    Many of them find statistical differences, but given that only show crude data, all
    potential biases are uncontrolled, leading to dubious findings

    In your work, the use of nice statistical regression models permits this kind of
    control, increasing data credibility. Impeccable.

    Interesting the finding of altered odds ratio for obese patients with ICSI. Do the authors have any hypothesis about the reason?
    It is not clearly found in the Discussion, and this is ne of the most relevant findings of the work.

    Thank you!

  • Pravin Rao

    We have seen many associations between obesity and altered semen parameters and sperm functional tests. Your nice report offers more useful outcome measurements to counsel patients — thanks. In your study, I’m curious about the reasons that couples underwent ICSI versus conventional IVF. For example, where any of these patients NOA patients? Was any sperm surgically retrieved, and/or cryopreserved?

  • laurenwroth

    The literature regarding male obesity’s effect on ART is so limited and this paper adds interesting knowledge to the field. By far the most interesting finding is the couples requiring ICSI had a significantly lower live birth rate in if the male partner was obese (a finding not shown in the conventional IVF group). Perhaps the altered hormonal environment in obese men with abnormal semen parameters has a larger impact than previously recognized.

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