Low Sperm Count could be an Indicator of Other Health Issues: Research

Low Sperm Count could be an Indicator of Other Health Issues: Research

Low sperm count should not be considered just as a fertility issue as it could also be an indicator other health issues, a new research has revealed. A large study evaluating semen quality, metabolic risk and reproductive function among men has linked low fertility to cardiovascular risk and low bone mass. The study team analyzed results for 5,177 men and found that men with low fertility were 20 percent more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, higher body fat and cholesterol related issues.

Study results will be presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago on Sunday. Commenting on study results, study's lead investigator, Alberto Ferlin, M.D., Ph.D. informed, "Our study clearly shows that low sperm count by itself is associated with metabolic alterations, cardiovascular risk and low bone mass."

The study team also noticed lower testosterone level among men with low sperm count, which could lead to reduction in muscle mass and bone density. Lower bone density could lead to osteoporosis in later life, and turn bones brittle, highly prone to fracture at old age.

Professor Ferlin added, "Infertile men are likely to have important co-existing health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives. Fertility evaluation gives men the unique opportunity for health assessment and disease prevention."

Lower than 39 million per ejaculate is considered as low sperm count by WHO guidelines. The study team noticed 12-fold increased risk of hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, in men with low sperm counts.

The research paper further informed...
Specifically, Ferlin and his colleagues found that about half the men had low sperm counts and were 1.2 times more likely than those with normal sperm counts to have greater body fat (bigger waistline and higher body mass index, or BMI); higher blood pressure (systolic, or top reading), "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides; and lower "good" (HDL) cholesterol. They also had a higher frequency of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of these and other metabolic risk factors that increase the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the investigators reported. A measure of insulin resistance, another problem that can lead to diabetes, also was higher in men with low sperm counts.

These study findings, according to Ferlin, suggest that low sperm count of itself is associated with poorer measures of cardiometabolic health but that hypogonadism is mainly involved in this association. He cautioned that their study does not prove that low sperm counts cause metabolic derangements, but rather that sperm quality is a mirror of the general male health.

The bottom line, Ferlin stressed, is that treatment of male infertility should not focus only on having a child when diagnostic testing finds other health risks, such as overweight, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

"Men of couples having difficulties achieving pregnancy should be correctly diagnosed and followed up by their fertility specialists and primary care doctor because they could have an increased chance of morbidity and mortality," he said.