Men with infertility issues have increased risk of developing metabolic diseases including diabetes, researchers found. Past studies have shown that inferior semen quality is linked to reduced life expectancy.
However, since the actual causes remain unknown, no intervention methods have been created. Previous research also found no biochemical markers to conclude the association.
Now, a team of researchers in Sweden analyzed the levels of male sex hormones and various biochemical parameters in men who are infertile. They found that these men have high risks of hypogonadism, a condition where the body is incapable of producing sufficient testosterone, resulting in low sex hormones levels. These infertile men also carried high risks of developing osteoporosis and metabolic diseases.
The 192 infertile men in the study attended the Malmö-based Skåne University Hospital's Reproductive Medicine Centre. Their findings were compared to a control group of 199 same-aged healthy male participants. The biochemical parameters measured diabetes biomarker HbA1c and bone mineral density to check the participants risk for osteoporosis.
Findings showed that one third of infertile men aged below 50 had hypogonadism. Compared with the control group, the rate was seven times more common. Men with infertility issues also had low bone density, a finding that is particularly common among those with low levels of testosterone. This suggested they have higher risks of developing osteoporosis and fractures.
Men with hypogonadism revealed elevated levels of HbA1c, which suggested increased signs of resistance to insulin and a tendency towards the development of diabetes.
"This may be affecting their fertility, but they can also serve as early warning signs for metabolic diseases in later life, such as osteoporosis or diabetes," said study lead Dr. Aleksander Giwercman from Lund University and Skåne University Hospital.
The researchers suggested checking the state of reproductive hormones among men who are experiencing fertility issues. Men who have high risks of developing metabolic diseases as seen in the levels of the biochemical markers should seek additional help upon completing their fertility interventions.
The research was published in the Clinical Endocrinology journal on Feb. 29 and recently presented at the European Association of Urology conference held in Munich over the weekend.