Race, race awareness, privilege, etc. It’s all over the news, occupying our thoughts and consuming our conversations. But race is, in fact, more of a social construct, based in culture and attitude. Children of parents of different race are often thought of as belonging to the race of one of the parents, not both.
Still, despite the roots of race being social in origin, race is associated with risk of disease. In the world of urology, it is well known that black men tend to have more virulent prostate cancer than their white counter parts. On the other hand, the risk of African Americans getting testis cancer is much lower than it is for whites. So, can race affect fertility or sperm count?
A study by Khandwala et al in the August 2017 issue of urology explores this topic looking at a cohort of 1230 white men and 701 Asian men who had analyses done at a single center. Results revealed Whites to have a higher semen volume but Asians to have a higher sperm concentration and total sperm count (concentration times volume). Morphology or sperm shape was similar between the two groups as was percent motility. African Americans did not make up a sizeable population for this clinic.
Although the correlation between a slightly higher sperm count and fertility potential may be in dispute, the findings of different semen parameters across racial lines could hold implications for male fertility treatment across different racial groups.