Journal of the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy


Time has come to include Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing in sperm donor banks

C.E. Depuydt 1,2* , G.G.G. Donders 3,4,5 , L. Verstraete 1,2 , D. Vanden Broeck 6,7,8 , J.F.A. Beert 1,2,6 , G. Salembier 6 , E. Bosmans 1,2 , N. Dhont 9 , I. Van Der Auwera 9 , K. Vandenborne 9 , W. Ombelet 9,10

1 Department of Hormonology and Reproductive Health, AML, Sonic Healthcare, Antwerp, Belgium;
2 Intermediate structure for human body material, AML, Sonic Healthcare, Antwerp, Belgium;
3 Femicare, Clinical Research for Women, Tienen, Belgium;
4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Regional Hospital Heilig Hart, Tienen, Belgium;
5 University Hospital Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium;
6 Department of Clinical and Molecular Pathology, AML, Sonic Healthcare, Antwerp, Belgium;
7 National Reference Centre for HPV, Brussels, Belgium;
8 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Ghent;
9 Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, ZOL Hospitals, Genk, Belgium;
10 UHasselt, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, LCRC, Diepenbeek, Belgium.


infertility, infectious, intrauterine insemination, transient virion producing, spermatozoa, semen, donor sperm

Published online: Jul 24 2019


HPV is well known as a potential cause of cervical cancer. Less well known is its link to temporal subfertility that is caused by binding of infectious virions to the spermatozoa’s head which induces sperm-DNA damage and causes a reduction in clinical pregnancy rates in women receiving HPV positive semen.

This impact on the global fertility burden remains greatly underestimated and underexplored. This risk of reduced fertility due to infectious HPV in sperm is especially important when donor sperm insemination is considered, since
testing for the presence of HPV virions before use seems warranted.

We tested 514 donor sperm samples from 3 different sperm banks for 18 different HPV types.

Overall 3.9% (20/514) of tested donor sperm was positive for HPV, with different prevalence among the 3 different sperm banks (3.6% bank A, 3.1% bank B and 16.7% bank C). Also the HPV virion per spermatozoon ratio in donor samples was similar across the different sperm banks (95% CI 0,01 to 1,07 HPV virions/spermatozoon).

When HPV positive donor sperm was used, no clinical pregnancies resulted, whereas when HPV negative donor sperm was used the clinical pregnancy rate was 14.6%.

From both a cost/benefit and a safety point of view we recommend that donor sperm should always be tested for HPV before using it for insemination.