Men with semen defects such as low sperm count, low semen volume, shape and motility anomalies showed greater risk of death compared during a study that lasted for eight years.

The findings suggest that a man's sperm may be linked to important and treatable factors of his general health. The researchers said that diabetes and smoking double the mortality risk and male infertility shows the same risk but while there are many studies on the two, the latter is relatively understudied.

The researchers checked with the Social Security Death index and National Death Index to compare mortality data with quality of sperm. They studied the data of almost 11,935 men in Texas and California and discovered that men with sperm abnormalities were over twice as likely to pass away within eight years after being diagnosed of infertility.

Doctors had records on the semen quality of patients, including sperm counts, semen volume, shape and movement. The researchers compared the data with death rates while looking into other health issues that potentially compromises the quality of semen. The study shows that single semen defect in itself did not predict early death but men who had two or more abnormalities were 2.3 times more at risk of death within the study period than men who did not have a semen defect. The more defects, the higher the death risk.

"This is almost like a teaser," urology chief Dr. Keith Jarvi of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto said. "Because we don't know how these men died, we can't take that next step of using infertility as a means of identifying men who are at higher risk for certain types of problems.

The study was not able to detect it but there is a possibility that pre-existing health problems may cause infertility. However, there are other factors such as hormones, genes or developmental ones. It could also be that the experience of raising children may actually lower mortality. It could also be caused by blood pressure, blood sugar and other measures. The researchers are doing prospective data collection at the moment, collaborating with several centers to find out more information about their recent findings.

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