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Scott P. Roy

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The Severity of Spinal Cord Damage Influences the Infertility Problems Experienced by Men with SCI 


Nancy Brackett, Ph.D. and Charles Lynne, M.D.March 2010 – The Male Fertility Research Program has been in existence at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis for over 19 years and is one of the most experienced and comprehensive programs in the world studying how spinal cord injury (SCI) alters male fertility.  Drs. Nancy Brackett and Charles Lynne have studied over 500 subjects in this program.  Along with coworkers, they recently published a manuscript in the journal Urology evaluating the factors contributing to normal semen quality in a small minority of men with SCI.  Of the 400 subjects evaluated for that study, only 30 had normal semen parameters.  Several factors were analyzed that could influence the probability of an ejaculate having normal semen parameters, including 1) age at time of semen collection, 2) age at time of injury, 3) years post-injury at the time of semen collection, 4) cause of injury, 5) method of semen retrieval, 6) level of injury, 7) completeness of injury, 8) method of bladder management, and 9) history of fatherhood before injury.  Having an incomplete spinal cord injury was the only factor that was significantly related to the presence of normal semen parameters.


Previous research has demonstrated that erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction, and semen abnormalities all contribute to male infertility after SCI.  In particular, their research has demonstrated that there are abnormally high levels of inflammatory chemicals secreted in the seminal fluid which inhibit sperm motility.  Furthermore, neutralization of those inflammatory chemicals with antibodies enhances sperm motility.  Their latest results now indicate that factors causing abnormal semen quality in men with SCI are related to the severity of neurologic damage.  This finding suggests that as acute neuroprotective treatment interventions are developed and tests, autonomic outcomes should be assessed in addition to motor and sensory preservation.  The autonomic nervous system regulates many bodily functions and SCI results in dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.  Restoration of autonomic functions has been indicated as a very high priority by the SCI community for improving quality of life.


To learn more about the Male Fertility Research Program, please contact Dr. Brackett at


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